Thursday, January 4, 2018

Part I: Why do some people choose to move to Belize after a vacation here?

Canadians and Americans make up the bulk of the expat population in Belize. So why is it that some individuals move here? Here are the top reasons given...

1.) The weather - once some people experience year round summers, it is VERY hard to go back. Most of the US experiences 4 seasons, and many people do genuinely love to experience that. For others - they are just summer people. And the weather in most of the US (and definitely north of there!) does not cut it. Except for southern Florida, it does get "cold" in the winter. For those that are uncomfortable when the weather dips below the low 70's, you do have to be close to Miami or south of there.
Actual pic taken recently from NE US, vs Belize in winter...
2.) Why don't people just live in the southernmost parts of the US? There are a lot of great places to live in the US, where it does stay warm enough for most folks. In general - there is a vibe in the Miami area that does not match what everyone is looking for - for others, it is perfect, and Miami grows every year for this reason. Key West is a crowd pleaser for many - but it is one of the most expensive places to live in the US, and a bit challenging to get to. There are also many other choices on the southern tip of Florida, so to dig a bit deeper...

There is a different culture and vibe in Belize, and for some people, when they show up here, they feel at home. What are some of these cultural differences that make it better to live in Belize for some people....each one deserves its own section - read on!
 If the idea of sand streets, golf carts, and rustic, candy colored street buildings appeal to you, you might like it here - pic from
3.) Lack of materialism - appropriate attire for Belize is flip flops or bare feet, and you are welcomed everywhere in what you might wear to the gym in the US. It doesn't occur to you after a while here why you'd need a designer bag, jewelry, expensive shoes, fancy car, or most of the electronic toys that are part of everyday life in North America. The longer you are here, the less money you find you spend and the less you feel you need. If you are partial to a minimalist lifestyle and have felt turned off by the "keep up with the Jones's" culture in North America, this could be a big reason you are drawn back here. For those that have lived here for a length of time - it is generally quite shocking and uncomfortable to experience the materialism cultural difference when they return to North America.

4.) A "swim at your own risk" mentality - Many people find it very refreshing (and at first, overwhelming and even confusing!) that the restrictions/rules/regulations in Belize are very different than the US. This does NOT work for everyone - in fact, there are some that are put off by this lack of regulation, and they feel safer in places that have a list of rules posted everywhere you look. And in fairness, if you do have an issue of some sort, this difference in structure can cause you to long for home or get cultural fatigue.

Things like drinking a beer while driving your golf cart, the fact that golf carts are allowed like cars in places in Belize; the fact that you can swim with sharks or jump from high places without signing a waiver; walking on the beach with a drink (even if it is in glass!); if you want to rent out your space, or start a business, compared to a tourist place like New Orleans or Key West - the barriers to entry are wildly different; major differences in the regulations needed to build - this one can again be a positive or negative, but if you desire to trust in what you are building, with a permit, you have a different amount of freedom compared to what you can do in the US; enjoying the vast amount of small businesses that pop up by locals, right next to their homes sometimes, where they provide wonderful authentic food or experiences, and I could go on and on. It is a different day to day lifestyle here. I would describe it as a bit of a libertarian mentality - those that prefer to live and let live, think for themselves, decide for themselves what level of risk to take, who want less restrictions than the US will find it refreshing here.
You'll find this sign all over Belize - and it is not totally joking....from
5.) Nature - There are parts of Belize that are just jaw dropping, and this is enough for some people. There are parts of Belize that look like the very best parts of the US all in one. I wrote this in my first few months of living in Placencia, and it is still true:
"The peninsula is very special and unique. We drove onto the peninsula the first time we came. The drive is so gorgeous and go from watching the Maya Mountains, which look like Hawaii, to driving through what feels like a North Carolina arriving at Hilton Head-like homes (Plantation area and North) driving through Maya Beach, which looks and feels like 1940's Florida (at least what I imagine it did :) ), to seeing authentic Belize culture in Seine Bight (this town is rough around the edges, but friendly, right on the water, and tons of local character), to arriving in the village, where not a structure is over a few stories high....everyone is friendly.....Caribbean-colored wooden homes and cute restaurant and shop after another...and throughout this whole drive, you can see the lagoon and Maya Mountains on your right, and the gorgeous Caribbean the whole time on your left, and palm trees everywhere. I have never been in a place that had so many charming natural aesthetics."

Also add to this that ALL THE BEACH IS PUBLIC! And you can find fun, lively beach action, or the prettiest remote stretch without another person in sight. And as this post is not specific to Placencia, I will add that I have never seen prettier water than Ambergris Caye, and the whole coast of the country has retained a vintage beach town feel that does not exist in the US.
I can verify this is a real pic because that is me sitting there!
6.) So add to above - cost to live here. You may read complaints that it is very expensive in Belize. It is for certain things, but if you give it some time and experience, you figure out how to live more cheaply here than you ever could in the US - let alone a popular beach town in the US. When people see that the real estate prices look like the US, and that a bag of Doritos is $6us at the store, and that gas is twice the price of the US, some say forget it, why would I live here without all the first world benefits?

Here are some ways this tax is pennies on the dollar compared to the US. It is almost nothing. If you compare this to the real costs of owning on a coast in the US, it is not even comparable. Water, gas, cell phone, are much cheaper here, electricity is relatively expensive, but this is somewhat in everyone's control how much they want to use. Internet is reasonably priced - again this is a complaint here, but after 4 years here I can say I truly do not understand the complaints about internet access, speed, or cost - I am an average computer user and I experience no difference, and the cost is less here for us than in the US. Most people do not need a car here. If you do, you will only have one, and rarely use it. You walk and bike everywhere. If you get a golf cart (and let's face it, this is a fun and charming way to get around!), there is no comparison in cost in every way to a car in the US. There are very few stores or things to buy - because the materialism needs are SO much less here - I barely spend money on anything here outside of food. Imported food and wine are expensive, period. But who doesn't love the idea of farmer's markets for shopping - which are way cheaper than any food shopping in the US. Local chicken, rice, beans are super cheap. And another huge money saver, which deserves its own section next...
7.) The entertainment is cheap, free, and plentiful - people who love it here are people who can sit on a pier or dock and enjoy their rides, swimming, happy hours, horseshoes, walks on the beach, hiking, relaxing in a hammock, kayaking.....all year long. Because some parts of Belize are set up for entertaining tourists - you find so many great activities that provide endless fun - trivia nights, movie nights, karaoke, games, drink specials, live music, dinner specials - there is something every night, and for the cost of a drink or two, or dinner less than $10, you can have fun any night you choose. Not to mention the many festivals, and the random things you see, like the high school band marching through town, or a fisherman fighting with pelicans and sea gulls as he's cleaning his fish.

When I am in the US - the entertainment and cost is SO different. Socializing in the US usually involves movies, pedicures, expensive dinners, yoga classes, themed parties like makeup or jewelry which revolve around buying things, of course shopping, theme parks, miniature golf, trampoline gyms, Chuck E Cheese, golfing, skiing, and the endless ways we spend our money for entertainment. It adds up!
8.) Some random things - fatigue over the political climate in the US - and this is everywhere, you can't get away from it, but by being a guest in another country, I can promise it feels much less personal and upsetting no matter what side you fall on. People also often ask about crime in Belize - seeing that I just read about multiple carjackings and gunpoint robberies near my hometown - please consider that while theft here is common, it is usually the result of leaving things unsecured or crimes of opportunity (leaving doors unlocked, leaving things unattended). The rarity of guns, organized crimes, and nonexistence of mass shootings...while the police here are limited compared to the US, so is access to weapons that can be used against you here. Meeting people from all over the world - who are usually pretty interesting! Although you do find this in some parts of the US - plenty of us are from places where we see very limited demographics and backgrounds. The tourism culture - to succeed in Placencia or Ambergris Caye, you really do need to enjoy this kind of environment. I love the energy of new guests, the signs directing guests to the best snorkeling excursions, the happy hour with local music on the chalkboards at Barefoot Bar, seeing backpackers get off the water taxi, things like crab races and chicken drops, the many booths and stalls the locals set up for tourists, gives some people a feeling of a perpetual vacation, and some of us find that's the best way to live!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Latest news out of Belize! New airport, arena, top 10 lists, and more!

Once in a while I like to round up all the happenings in this country, as I follow these like a hawk, and it might be helpful to have a summary of what's been going on that you may have missed! As always, this tiny country somehow always ends up in world wide news pretty frequently. Here is the latest stuff!!
(and enjoy some totally unrelated-to-the-news-stories pics of Belize sprinkled throughout)
Silk Caye
---In arguably the biggest news for Belize, the government just signed a deal to start building a $100 million international airport on Ambergris Caye! 

---A $33 million sports arena - seriously state of the art - just opened in Belize City after 2 years in the making:
Rick's Cafe
---This is a bit of a niche area, but interesting - apparently Rugby is becoming a big thing in Belize!

---I have followed this amazing green decor line for years - they just featured Itzana from Placencia!
Ranguana Caye
---Forbes has been hot for Belize in the last couple years, they decided in this article that it was one of the top 30 cheapest places to travel:

---Love this article from highlighting some of the crazy sounding food you can sample here:
Tipsy Tuna beach
---Wow - here Belize is rated by the Telegraph and one of the world's most underrated destinations:

---I was thrilled to hear that Tropic Air is going to be starting a miles program for frequent travelers here!
Barefoot Bar
---New non stop flight between Toronto and Belize!

---Hilton just opened one of the first branded properties in Belize:
Friends Near the Pier
---Belize won the Bronze at the Central Amercian games in basketball - this is amazing in such a small country!

---And recently Placencia had its End of the World Marathon!
Tipsy Tuna

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Our favorite pics from the start of high season in Placencia, Belize!

The start of high season in Placencia usually means that the village is in tip-top shape....all the painting, construction, etc, mostly ceases and it becomes all about the visitors! Here are our top 12 favorite images from around CBC and the village in the last couple weeks! You may find yourself booking a flight after you take a look...
 The first views our guests see as they enter CBC...
The view from the tower in Hacienda...
Our new office! And we are now offering cold towels at check in along with your welcome drink :) 
Had to add this one....our lovely guests sent these to staff after check out!
Love this view of the beach, that you'll see each time you leave CBC and head into the village 
Spectacular sunrise
Must-do on every beach vacation! 
Great photo op by Tipsy Tuna...
 Our two favorite beach pics from CBC! #1....
Beautiful, clear day - the view from the Villas 
My personal favorite of the bunch :) 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The start of high season in Placencia, Belize is an exciting time of year!! Here's some new can't miss ideas...

If you follow our Facebook page, you'll see all the new and exciting things to look forward to for this upcoming high season! If you visited in October, you may have seen/heard all the painting and updating many businesses do right before reopening in November. Below is some new information and images of what is new for this upcoming season!

CanAm Health and Wellness: Healthy food and classes....
From their new Facebook page:CanAm Health and Wellness was created to help assist our clients explore a different way of health and lifestyle. As coaches we share our knowledge of primal foods and movement. One way we have decided to share this is through our CanAm Cafe. We recently opened up the doors to this new venture. We currently are offering baked goods(all gluten-free) coffee drinks , fresh brewed chai tea, green smoothies and fruit smoothies. Coming as soon as this week, we will offer a 3 course breakfast. We prepare foods in an alternative way using locally sourced products, whole foods, gluten-free and organic/pasture raised. This breakfast offering will be available on select days. Please follow us on Facebook and we will share our menu and days available. The menu will be set for each day with fresh juice and coffee included. Lucky decisions to make! Have a seat, relax and let us serve you.

Here for Thanksgiving? Check out this locally famous spot to try a Belize Thanksgiving dinner!Back by popular demand Cliff's delicious finga licking turkey dinner sale Thanksgiving Day Thursday November 23rd at Nite Wind Tours next to the old shell service station.Super moist oven baked turkey served with coconut rice and beans,real Belizean Christmas ham,potato salad,homemade stuffings and gravy and cranberry sauce.Price $15.00bz per plate.Place your orders here or call Ms. D at 660-6333.
From their Facebook page...
Paint and Sip at Lost Reef!
Paint & Sip Classes @ Lost Reef Resort as well as Artwork for sale by Eddie Guerra
We are blessed to have "Eddie the Artist" Eddie Guerra come teach for a sip an Paint! ....Classes will be held on the sea side under the shade of palms in natural light. Class sizes will be limited to 8 people...We will do one class at 11:30, and another at 3:00. We will supply the following: paint, easel, brushes, one yummy adult beverage, and a 2 hour tutorial lesson with this amazing artist! Located in Riversdale approximately 5 miles north of Maya Beach. Classes are already filling up, so please contact Molly Morton directly to secure your spot and take home an original piece made by the one and only YOU!!! Molly Morton 668-5053
From their Facebook page...
This Sunday - local culture at Tipsy Tuna!
From their Facebook page...
Also at Tipsy Tuna - check out this weekly volleyball tournament with prizes!
From their Facebook page...
New frozen yogurt place in town.....Deja Moo (how cute is that!)
From their Facebook page...

New wine shop at Los Porticos - The Wine House opened a branch here in Placencia!
From their Facebook page...
Check out this new cafe located right across the sidewalk from Tipsy Tuna!! Afrodite Cafe -
Afrodite is a unique sidewalk cafe open from 7 am 'til midnight, featuring fresh baked goods, juice bar, salads, pizza, ceviche, Lick Me, full bar and more in a comfortable and stimulating atmosphere. We deliver.

From Taste Belize - Nominated for Tour Operator of the Year by the Belize Tourism Board...
From their Facebook page...
Get your very own Taste Belize T-shirt at our new storefront between Omars Creole Grub & Dragonfly Moon, main street, Placencia Village. Only 4 "Meet the Chocolate Gods" shirts left, get yours before they are gone! "Taste The Adventure, Taste Belize" shirts available in ladies & regular cut. Not to mention all the wine, chocolate, cheese and spices at Ms. Goodies, Barebones Tours and Taste Belize Tours joint location! Open 830-noon and 2PM-530PM Tuesday to Saturday.

New Yoga Schedule for high season!

Does this seem like a lot of new stuff for this little village? I think so, and it keeps things fresh for all the return guests that come here! I seem to have to update this new stuff every few months or so - if you missed any of these posts, you can check out other recent new stuff at the following!!
Click here to see new more new places and what's reopening for high season....
Some can't miss new places here
What you can't miss every night here.
Our recommended itinerary here!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Walk through all the new and improved touches at CBC! Stunning, tropical, exotic scenes....

Many of the resorts in Belize, big and small, have to shut down for a few weeks a year to do some touch ups. The salt air is really hard on paint, mechanicals, etc, and we don't want our guests' experiences to be disrupted by this maintenance. We also closely listen to what our guests tell us that they love, and ideas that they have, and we try to make small improvements any chance we get! Here are this year's improvements, and the first couple weeks we have reopened have been a great success!

The entrance is more soothing, more natural, and now has a huge shaded palapa and reception area! The new office and reception area were our biggest changes this year. 
We are just thrilled with the new office. The lights, art, and seating set a very exotic, natural, and comfortable experience as guests arrive. The cold towel and complimentary drink doesn't hurt either...
Festive lights and a light breeze from above...
Exotic seating area for guests checking in, or waiting for their excursions...
Our new office! On site concierge, and a central place for guests to find us.
Inside the office, cold water, a/c, and friendly faces!
The reception area from behind as you enter CBC...
We made a lot of small landscaping changes, new palapa trim on the Casa, and fresh paint to make the entrance as soothing as possible
New Casa area
Many new exotic plant touches will enhance your experience as you walk through
Sidewalk refacing will be noticed throughout
View from Villa Mar second floor terrace
New second table under the pool! Plenty of seating for all
The Casita has received special attention recently, new couch, pillows....
New lights, stools....
Walking up to Sol veranda....Sol received new indoor lights and new paint
New sidewalk and refreshed landscaping
Sol from the front
The art has all been refreshed, and re-placed, to be even more enjoyable
New game area! All the games are now in one place, and you can go play Cornhole right on the beachfront!
Looking back from the beach
Luna also received paint and lights

Relax in the new hammock or the old favorite, the palapa table!
Close up of hammock
Refreshed art
View from La Hacienda
Closeup of new pool coping
The Hacienda tower got a paint refresh
We have even more wonderful changes and surprises in store for future guests! We have a new logo, and our new logo gear is coming in shortly. We have so many repeat guests and we want each experience to be even better than the last!