Words Of Wisdom For Anyone Considering Retiring To Belize

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Two years ago, Jim and Kathy Suits retired to Belize.

Kathy wanted to be living someplace warmer than Tacoma, Washington, where the couple had been living. Jim wanted to be someplace where the government wasn't interfering with his day-to-day life.

So Jim and Kathy made a country short list. Where might suit them? They focused on Mexico, Panama, and Belize.

"We decided Mexico was too dangerous, with all that's going on there," Kathy explains. "We came very close to choosing Panama. We actually almost bought a house there. But when that deal fell through, we decided to take a look at the third country on our list before making a final decision.

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"When we got off the plane on our first trip to Belize, we knew immediately that this was the place for us," Kathy continues. "It just felt right, right away."

One thing that attracted Jim and Kathy to Belize was the fact that the language is English. "Learning Spanish wasn't something we wanted to deal with," Jim admits.

"Another thing we really appreciate about this country is the people," Kathy adds. "We've lived all around the world with the military, and we find the people in Belize to be wonderful and friendly. Belize is one of the top 10 happiest countries in the world. When they say 'good morning,' they actually mean it."

"On the other hand," Jim adds, "living here, you need patience. Belize moves at its own pace, and Belizeans are on mañana time. Monday may mean Monday, but not necessarily next Monday."

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Here are six more tips Jim and Kathy offer, things they wish someone had told them before they made their move:

  • Birds are noisy. "They wake us at the crack of dawn most mornings," Jim says...

  • Bugs are a part of life here. This is the tropics, after all. "Ants came into the house," Kathy explains, "and they found something in our storage area they liked. We had a sea of ants. 'Cleaner ants,' as they're called, migrate through every four or five years. They clean out spider webs, mites, etc. When they come to your place, just go out for a few hours. When you get back, they'll be gone..."
  • Belize has no big department stores. "You must look for what you want in small shops, and you'll find things in unusual places," Kathy explains. "The best place to find electrical parts in San Ignacio is the Esso station in Spanish Lookout. You can buy Victoria's Secret-style underwear at the bakery. They have some drawers off to one side. We bought our car insurance at the auto-parts store and our phones at the local hotel..."
  • Check your canned goods before purchase. "I bought three cans of beans," Kathy says, "and two cans out of the three had no beans. So now I shake my bean cans to make sure they have beans in them and not just bean juice. A friend bought a can labeled green beans but opened it to find corn. These are U.S. brands coming from the United States..."
  • Don't ask if a price is in U.S. dollars or Belize dollars. "Assume that everything is priced in Belize dollars. If you ask, they may tell you U.S. dollars and you just paid twice as much as you should have," Jim says...
  • Which side of the road do Belizeans drive on? The side with the fewest pot holes...
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    Jim and Kathy have many entertaining tales of the trials and tribulations they've faced as they've worked to build new lives and a home of their own in Cayo, Belize.

    "Would you do it again?" I wondered.

    "Absolutely," Jim and Kathy replied in unison.

    "This is a beautiful country with beautiful people."

    "If we could offer one final word of advice," Jim continues, "it would be this:

    "When you come here, embrace what Belize has to offer. Embrace the country and the way of life it offers. And adapt. Don't bring the United States with you. Come here to discover Belize. Come with an open mind and an open heart. Belize will reward you with the adventure of your lifetime."

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