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An Expat Talks about Living in Ambergris Caye, Belize


San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize

An expat in Ambergris Caye talks about living on the island, meeting people, starting a business and more.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Ambergris Caye

How long have you lived there?

Four years

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

It is really easy to meet people on Ambergris Caye. Here are just a few ideas of where we regularly socialize.

Anything outdoor and health oriented is great on the island. My husband and I built the San Pedro Fitness Club, so I go there most days. Ladies tend to enjoy the water fitness classes, in particular, since it is both exercise and social time. But there are sailing groups, plenty of scuba and snorkeling opportunities, places that specialize in sailing or kayaking, and fishing groups and competitions.

There are now also several yoga schools where you will meet health oriented people. So for those of us who like to balance healthy activities with a little indulgence, it is easy to do here...

For those who enjoy live music, there are a variety of places where people hang out and listen to local bands, all for free. Beach bars include Crazy Canucks, BCs, and Fidos, all near town. On the north side, Legends often has good music. We love to dance to a live band on the beach, cooled by a sea breeze!

Sunday afternoon lunch is a time when everyone goes out for beach BBQ and to socialize. Popular places include Caribbean Villas (they have plenty of water toys), Crazy Canucks, BCs, and the Palapa Bar (up north).

We go to Wine de Vine on Friday nights. This is a "smoke free" environment where many expats, business owners and tourists drop in for a nice glass of wine, and a cheese platter.

There are regular festivals and fund raiser events that many expats attend. It is a great way to socialize and also donate to a good cause.

There are more volunteer organizations than I can mention. Many expats join both to contribute, and to meet people. The most popular are the Saga Society (which is the local Humane Society), the churches, Lion's Club, and various school organizations.

Some groups get together to play cards such as bridge. And many of us get together for group dinners. Sometimes we meet a favorite restaurant. Other times we enjoy a pot luck with friends.

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

Yes, although there are more Hispanics on the island than the other Belizean groups. And there are also a good number of Middle Easterners, who run the hardware stores and some food stores.

But everyone gets along remarkably well. There are also a variety of religious groups.

It has always impressed me that in Belize there is so much diversity, but in general people get along so well. I have never felt that I am resented as an expat. But it is very important to treat people here with respect. Those visitors and expats who don't treat Belizeans with respect can have a different experience.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Tourism is the name of the game on Ambergris Caye. So restaurants, shops, tour companies, are the primary businesses for an expat to start. But there are also quite a few banks and some financial companies.

I always recommend that expats consider starting a business, as there are many opportunities to do so. But it is not easy to take a job here, as the priority goes to Belizeans, as well it should... But expats with unique qualifications that Belizeans don't have a better chance to find a job here.

Also, people who are running on-line internet businesses do well here. Our internet, power and other services are reliable. I work from home, and on the internet, much of the time.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

It's a real mixed bag. The Belizeans are all working, as do many expats. Some expats live here only 3-6 months a year. We all have different priorities. You can find whatever you are looking for. But family is very important to Belizeans. So there are a lot of festivals and performances that we expats join in for.

Socializing is really big here. We spend much more time with friends than we ever did in California. We still are very involved in business, but that also involves a lot of socializing.

For us, our lives include all of the above.

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Come check it out first and spend some time. I visited here for a number of years before deciding I could live here fulltime. I knew how I'd spend my time. I have never regretted it. But I knew what I was getting into.

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