Slowly, Sittee River Emerges on the Expat Scene

The small country of Belize is quickly developing in many well-known areas, such as the island of Ambergris Caye or the laidback peninsula town of Placencia. As reported in the November 2019 issue of International Living, development on the island of Caye Caulker is opening up new real estate opportunities at an unprecedented pace. But Belize is also known for being slow to develop in many areas; those who choose the country as their home wouldn’t have it any other way. And for those who come here for authentic, scenic, tourist-free experiences, there are plenty of places where these still exist.

Sittee River is one such spot that has the frozen-in-time feel. The region is situated next to the authentic, welcoming Garifuna community of Hopkins, in southern Belize. This sleepy, historically Kriol area has some huge draws for expats, many of whom say they fell in love the moment they entered the community. The expat population has seen a slow but steady increase. That’s not a surprise to anyone familiar with the place. Sittee River is packed with real estate opportunities, from scenic riverfront homes in housing communities near the resort area that borders Hopkins, to the chance to buy relatively large lots for farming. Right now, a 27-acre lot is on offer for a price in the low $200,000s. This tropical farmland provides a good foundation for crops or livestock.

What is it that is drawing the crowds? Many describe the area as reminiscent of vintage Alabama, albeit with more of a jungle feel. People will often use the word “lush” to describe the feel of the jungle there. It’s an old fashioned, warm, and friendly area. The dark, alluvial river soil is extremely productive for farming, gardening, and growing fruit.

The Sittee River area is becoming less of a secret now that its neighbor, Hopkins, has its first paved road into town. What used to be a pothole-filled adventure is now smooth and accessible.

On this occasion, the Path of Progress that leads to investment opportunities is not a metaphor, it’s a real, newly paved route to the region. There is also a second (charming) dirt access road you can take directly to Sittee River, passing picturesque farms and work scenes that could be from 100 years ago, with Hopkins about 10 minutes away.

For expats looking for a little taste of First World amenities, Sittee River offers these too, in the form of a world-class, well-managed marina, and the famous Curve Bar, which sits right on a bend in the river (see: Sitteerivermarina.com).

Plenty of untouched land remains available.

New housing developments are planned with opportunities for those looking to build their dream home in a jungle atmosphere. While there’s already some building going on, it is still very slow-moving development, and plenty of untouched land remains available.

Close by is the site of an enormous planned community that frequently changes names—it is a long and costly project that has driven land prices up in the area and has already been publicized under the names The Sanctuary and The Reserve. Those are just two trading names for a project which has been the subject of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. You can draw your own conclusions from that. However, regardless of that development’s current legal status, its existence is a signal that the Sittee River is a desirable location to many. This is an area of Belize that has only recently been discovered by the outside world and has seen a steady increase in property sales and development. It’s early days at the moment, but the interest is significant.

Nevertheless, because it is still a long way from overdevelopment, buyers in the locality can have the best of both worlds: the authentic Belize experience, with the option for some comforts as well. Sittee River still retains acres of untouched riverfront land with significant investment opportunity for homesteaders and homebuilders, or for small-scale entrepreneurs interested in land banking, entering the hospitality industry, or farming. Recently, 10 acres sold for a price in the $130,000s, and this is prime riverfront close to town.

At time of writing, one of the most tempting deals available gives an example of what’s on offer. A 27-acre peninsula within a loop on the river, with almost 2,500 feet of river frontage, along with two homes already completed on the property (one, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom property; the other a smaller one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit. Both are connected to the electricity supply and come with an all-weather access road) is on the market for $225,000 (see: Belizeproperty.com).

Sittee River may be one of the hottest new spots, especially for boaters and fishing enthusiasts. It is one of the few deep-water rivers in Belize, offering quick access to the sea—with Belize’s huge coral reef only minutes away. The potential for long-term investment becomes even clearer when you consider that this is even closer to the dive hot spots of the Caribbean than that other popular village about 45 minutes away: Placencia.

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