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wannaretirenow
2/21/2018 20:06 EST

I just joined, but my husband and I have been doing retirement research for some time now. We're still a couple years out, but want to research and visit places first. We're not just looking at Belize, but it is on our short list. As we have not been there yet, we are planning a trip for the end of the year. We are considering the typical stops - Ambergris, Placencia, San Ignacio, Corozal and/or Hopkins. As this is too many places for even a 3 week trip (max - likely 2-2.5 weeks) we need to really consider what is suitable for us personally as a potential place to live, (rather than a nice place to visit), and pare it down.
I promise I won't ask all the same old questions. I will tell you what we're looking for. Of course we're looking at what is important to us, and what fits our lifestyle. We don't want to be too far from the ocean, as we love water sports of all types. We don't want to be in a super busy, touristy area, but we don't want to be in the middle of nowhere. We're not looking for a gated community. As we're living in quite a growing community now, we're looking for a bit of space to breathe. We're not talking a huge acreage, but at least a big lot or an acre or 2. Not a condo.
I've been reading other posts here and there was a good reply to one that summed it up pretty well, but now I am less sure about finding a good match for us. Ambergris looks too busy/touristy. Cayo is too far from the ocean. Placencia looks better than AC for us, but is it still too touristy and/or expensive? Corozal looks appealing, with access to Mexico and ocean location, but what is the water access like there? What about Hopkins? with ocean access and not so many tourists it checks boxes. I'm going to keep researching, but I'm not seeing a lot of posts about either. If they are not as popular, why is that?

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toddwinston
2/21/2018 21:33 EST

lots of questions there, and you are going to get lots of points of view. I have some time so I will give our point of view;
We bought a house in Corozal that we snowbird at now, and plan to retire at in about 5 years. We did the same thing and researched lots of areas before we settled on Corozal Town.
Some of the points for us were;
- we can drive directly there from the airport and do not need to take a ferry ( probably less time to get to one of the cayes by ferry..but for some reason I don't like the idea of having to rely on it to get to where I'm going)
- more recently we have been taking a hopper flight from the international airport to Corozal to save us the 2 hour drive. For the return trip we always take a local cap company (VIP transport) back to the airport to make sure we don't miss the flight
- we enjoy the town that is laid back and quiet
- we shop at the two farmers markets that keep us eating healthy (always get back to Canada feeling re-newed). Plus our property has a bit of an orchard that produces year long
- last year a "shopping mall" opened up that you can get the harder to find things at. Of course if you are doing larger projects Mexico is only a 20 minute drive. For what we do we; have never had the need to go to Mexico for anything.
- first couple years we never ate at the various small food stands and vendors (worried about getting sick) last couple years we have tried them all out. These smaller restaurants are geared to the locals; if you wanted to eat out every meal it would be cheaper than $15 a day to be overeating. Better restaurants you can expect to pay similar costs to eating out at home.
- we are in the middle when it comes to sociability; Corazal fits the bill perfect for us. Not many tourists. But lots of expats looking to socialize. We have also made lots of friends with locals who are very friendly.
- there are community groups in town town like Rotary,Masons, and other charity groups. Does not interest me much now, but later it might.
- We bought a house on the water. The water is shallow for about 50 yards and then gets deep. It is perfect for us because we have two young kids who can play all day in the water with out the risk of immediate deep water. I believe most of the bay is about the same. We have friends just north in the Serenity sands area. They have really nice private sand beaches, but same thing the water is very gradual until it gets to depth; which may or may not be desirable depending on what you want. We have a beach in our back yard and then a seawall before the water. There is no public beach or anything like that in Corozal. Along the water front there is a sea wall with public parks.
-compared to other areas we have visited in Belize there seems to be less bugs in Corozal. We were just in Caye Caulker and the sand fleas were pretty aggressive. In Corozal I have not noticed them much. Also because we are on the water in Corozal we have not noticed mosquitoes very bad either. It was a concern for us because of Zika and our two young daughters. Definitely when you get out of town at dusk the mosquitoes are thick.
- seems like there is much less precipitation in Corozal which might explain less bugs. Also a bonus not to have none stop rainfall.
-We we usually walk the ten minutes to Corozal Town centre from our house every day. We find it perfectly safe. We get our groceries, eat out, and walk home again. It is almost impossible to walk the streets in San Pedro with two young kids(who don't understand traffic) no side walks and a steady stream of gulf carts.
- one of the biggest bonuses for Corozal is the real estate prices. We bought what would have been over 2 million on any of the cayes for a tiny fraction of that. Since we bought it has also been economically encouraging to see other nice house go up around us. (we are not in Belize to pump it or speculate or make money.. however it is nice to see your property value going up)
Now some not as nice stuff;
- there is definitely as everyone says a culture of theft. We take all the common sense precautions to protect ourselves. I don't know if we are being over careful, but we do not hang out or travel at night. I think we would do this in any Central American country or Mexico. We have neighbours that do not worry about this. For us we just feel better avoiding all risks.
- I think this applies to all Central America; if you are there for anything that requires a rush you are out of luck.
- we wanted to open a bank account. It was not worth the hassle to do it.
- roads are rough but does not bother us because we do not need to commute to work.
...anyhow lots more on both sides.
Hope it helps a bit. We have never been down to Placencia and plan on visiting soon. Will have an opinion on that as well.Todd

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wannaretirenow
2/21/2018 22:23 EST

Thanks so much Todd for taking the time for such a detailed response. It is much appreciated and helpful. We're thinking of flying into Cancun for the direct flight, so stopping in Corazol would be easy to do.
You seem to be much like us, in that middle of the road bracket. We do like to socialize some, and look forward to meeting new people, but we are way past partying it up in San Pedro. We really like the idea of a small orchard, or at least a couple of fruit trees. It looks like Corozal is in a bit of a dryer zone on the climate map. Is that so? It could explain less bugs thann wetter places, and less beach can mean less sandflies, right? ;) We are also from Canada, btw. Even though greater Vancouver is milder, I am tired of winter. It is snowing right now and traffic is ground to a halt. I can do without the 45 min (or much more in bad weather) commute too. Looking forward to retiring to a simple life and leaving a lot of this lifestyle behind. Not looking for just a warmer piece of Canada :)

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toddwinston
2/22/2018 00:37 EST

..we have not done the flight to Cancun to get to Belize yet. We are lucky in that both Air Canada and West Jet have direct flights to Belize from Toronto (we live an hour from Toronto). We have found West Jet a much better experience thus far. I think for you there is the option of West Jet to Calgary and then a direct flight from there.
We are considering next time flying to Cancun to stay at an all inclusive for a week; then we would take the bus or regional airline down to Corozal and our house for the remainder of our time.
Corozal is definitely the driest place in Belize. We are usually down in Jan, and Feb..and have had times when it barely rains. Todd

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katzgar
2/22/2018 09:23 EST

there are over 400 pages of questions just like yours...read them.

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wannaretirenow
2/22/2018 21:05 EST

Wow. Thanks katzgar for your oh so helpful advice. Seriously, I do wonder why some people even bother to visit a forum like this.

I did searches for Corozal and Hopkins but not so much comes up that is helpful to me at this point (where to go for dinner, or hang out with the other expats, for example). Things that have been helpful I haven’t mentioned here. You have no idea how much research I've done, or how many countries. As for lots of questions, I had 4 at most.

1. Placencia looks better than AC for us, but is it still too touristy and/or expensive? (This was more a question to myself, as “expensive” is dependent on one’s personal budget. I research rent and real estate to get an idea. Perhaps I should’ve worded as –“ Placencia looks better than AC for us, but I wonder if it still too touristy and/or expensive” Now it’s not a question)
2. Corozal looks appealing, with access to Mexico and ocean location, but what is the water access like there? (I had read about there not being much in the way of beaches, but water access is different, and Todd’s explanation about shallow for a ways out is most helpful. We’re not looking to surf! Not expecting to snorkel there either), which is a negative to be weighed)
3. What about Hopkins? (again, more of a question to myself, as that is too vague to be a question really. Should’ve said “Hopkins is somewhere we are considering”)
4. If they are not as popular, why is that? (relating to the last two questions, I was trying to get some feedback about these two locations which don’t have nearly as much said about them as the other locations)

Anyway, Todd… again I thank you for your wealth of information! I’m in sponge mode right now and it is all good stuff, right down to the flight suggestions. We love Westjet and have a companion pass to use, so we plan to fly with them for either route. I was happily surprised to find a direct from Calgary once a week in high season, being only an hour from YVR. We often end up travelling through Toronto. It’s just such a long way, but we end up stopping overnight at my brother’s which is a nice treat. That flight goes twice a week, and arrives 2 hours earlier in BZE than the one from Calgary, so it is an option we are considering for the flight down. Going back we’d go through Calgary, as it’s just too long through Toronto and the connection is tight and crazy. But via Cancun we can go direct from YVR 5 days a week, so we have more flexibility in the length of stay. Plus we wouldn’t mind a couple of nights in Mexico. Better than a night in Calgary in winter. LOL But first we need to put together our itinerary based on where we decide to check out. I do think Corazol is somewhere I will research more and a place we should visit.

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terrific
2/22/2018 21:12 EST

I think Katzgar forgot to say welcome to the forum.
The archives are a great resource for research, so many questions answered by people with experience of life in Belize either current or in the recent past.

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belizelenny
2/23/2018 08:19 EST

Water access to the entire Caribbean is available from Corozal. What is the draft of your boat. We have channel parcels with deep-water access from Cerros Sands. Channel Parcels start at 29K and you can put in a 65' - 80' foot dock.

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belizelenny
2/23/2018 16:06 EST

The tourism group for Corozal is putting together a few things that should assist you. Corozal.com may help.

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wannaretirenow
2/23/2018 17:02 EST

Terrific - That is a nicer way to put it, thank you. I have actually been doing a lot of searches on Google and forums like this for quite some time now. There is an enormous amount of info, and a lot of differing opinions on many topics. Trying to weed out the facts and wait to make my own opinion. However, first time I decide to join an expat forum and make a connection and I'm shot down... not encouraging. At least Todd made me feel welcome and offered up much more than I asked for, which is really nice. I was so unsure about Corozal as an option. Maybe some people forget how daunting it is to know you want to retire south, but you want to make sure it is the right location.
Lenny - Thanks for that, but we don't have a boat yet. We figure we'll likely buy something small with a shallow draft when we're settled, so that is way down the road in research and purchases. Right now it's more about kayaks and SUPs, which we do already own.
Plus we don't intend to buy right away. We had wanted to, but all the advice online has been not to, because it's so hard to sell. Good advice to be patient. Makes it a lot easier to pick up and move to another town, or even country, if just renting and we decide that particular place is not for us. Still, we'd like to avoid a big relocation, so we'd like to try to pick the right place for us from the get go. We're not going to snowbird and maintain a place back home when we go. We're looking for a year round new home.

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bobbyveee
2/23/2018 17:36 EST

You really only need one bit of advice come visit, boots on the ground is the only way, see 4 ur self and make YOUR decisions, is pretty simple really but it takes time and a bit of money, but its your life not anyone elses.

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5allan1
2/23/2018 19:01 EST

Todd and belizelenny promote Corozal and I agree with them perhaps for different reasons. By virtue of its proximity to Mexico its an optimal relocation choice in a less than optimal relocation destination

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Garpy
2/24/2018 20:04 EST

Hi
Hopefully I can add a couple more points of view to the conversation that may you decide where you wish to retire to. These are strictly my opinions and may not reflect the opinions of certain others on here.

Placencia we did find quite busy and touristy.

Corozal. That was on the very short list between it and Cayo. We liked the expat community, closeness to Mexico and just the general friendliness of the locals etc but not the water. It was beautiful to look at but gross to wade into. It was muck or I guess silt several inches deep everywhere we walked in. Some spots up to just below my wife's knees. If going in off a dock or not wading then that's no issue at all. I heard that at a different time of year it all gets washed out to sea but I have no knowledge for sure of that.

Cayo is further from the ocean as you thought but really not more than heading out for a day to spend at the beach and I think far better deals on property

San Ignacio we did like as it had a bit of a nightlife without being crazy. A great market and some more "modern" stores.

So I don't think you mentioned Caye Caulker. Between Ac and Caye Caulker "My" opinion is Caye Caulker is a much more laid back, less touristy area than Ac. It seems to have some nice built up areas with moderate to quite large homes. Of course I'm not sure if you could get a few acre parcel or not. Others more knowledgeable on here could weigh in on that point.

That's my two cents. Hope it helps a bit.

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hrlee7804
2/25/2018 11:33 EST

Katzgar is a d#ck or d#ckette. Definitely not on the official welcoming committee. Must think it is mandatory to reply. Yes the search window is a great tool to begin your search here. How would you like to live next door, wake up next to it or have it go for a walk with your grandkids?

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katzgar
2/25/2018 19:08 EST

What the OPer will find out as they search back through the pages and pages is that most expats return home after a short time. Health care is primitive, extreme poverty and bad roads are all things you will need to tolerate.

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terrific
2/25/2018 21:17 EST

Only if they read your posts which is the main claimant of this figure, they wont find many personal stories about that specific "fact" I think th OP was hoping to hear from people who are actual expats in Belize. Not expecting a rude instruction from a person who has probably visited at some historic point, but haunts several EXAPT forums quoting from internet sources.

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hrlee7804
2/26/2018 11:20 EST

Katzgar is on the Mexico site also spewing the negative. I am on both and get tired of seeing it. Dr. A and Bobby V know what they are talking about because they lived it, even if you don't like what they say. Katzgar is just annoying with no experience.

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Conmurphy
2/26/2018 11:40 EST

Here , Here,

Never a truer word spoken,

I had hoped if weignored them the trolls would climb back under their bridge, but it seems not,

C

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terrific
2/26/2018 14:31 EST

funny enough Katzgar also on US expat site. don' use it much but lat time I was looking to answer something about CA up popped Katzgar.

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wannaretirenow
2/26/2018 15:47 EST

I'm still here... just really busy lately. I just want to add that I really appreciate everyone's input, and support. I can ignore the likes of Katzgar. What a negative Nellie! We have no intentions of packing up and going home, as we intend to pick the right place for us. Worst case scenario we move towns, (even countries), but not home to Canada. it is too cold, too developed (where we are for sure), too expensive and too busy. We hate this lifestyle and are prepared for the sacrifices we will make for live South. I'm not surprised that it does happen that people give up and go home. It's all about realistic expectations. If you know what to expect, (by doing lots of research and visiting), and are excited about the "real" aspect of expat life in another country, then the chances of success are great. I mean, the proof is all of you! ...and yes, your experiences, good and bad is what I am looking for. I have been looking for all the blogs I can find as well.
Re: Caye Caulker, I have read that it is more laid back, and upon looking at accommodation there, certainly seems perfect for a vacation. However, we feel it may be a bit small to live on, even for me.
My dream has always been a Caribbean Island. Hubby is concerned about islands being too small, for practical reasons like getting supplies, etc. For example we love Antigua. We've driven all over the island checking it out on our visits, but realistically, we think it would be too small and too expensive to live on. We first considered AC because of it's close proximity to the mainland, and even water taxi to Chetumal. It's the compactness of it that worries me. For a vacation, lots of fun. For day to day life, not so much. Maybe something way further up, but eventually that will be just as busy/developed I think.
Anyway, I don't discount any place and admire that you all love and defend your little slice of Belizean paradise. Good thing everyone is different or we would all want to live in the same place! How would that suck! lol

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bobbyveee
2/26/2018 16:34 EST

Look at St Lucia. Thats all im saying , lived theres on and off for 18 months recently, wonderful place.

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CayeCaulker4Me
2/26/2018 17:23 EST

Your approach & reasoning are SPOT ON!

Here's wishing you as successful as journey as ours! Looking forward to updates & further questions to "real expats" that are actually STILL expats IN Belize.

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MarshaSellsBelize
2/27/2018 08:27 EST

We chose Placencia for many reasons. We love the sea and all the water sports associated with being by the sea. The beaches here are beautiful and the water is clear. We also like being close to the mountains and activities/sites we can explore in retirement.. Being on the Pennisula offers both views of the sea and Mayan Mountains. The expat community here is great as it gives you family when yours is far away. We live in Maya beach so we have alot of peace and quiet. If we want to go to the village its only 15 minutes away. We feel that we have everything we need in one location. Come see us when you visit.

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5allan1
2/27/2018 12:09 EST

@Wannabee etc
This post is a classic example of what to be cautious of. Many of the Belizers on here are trying to market something. So the substantial negatives of relocation to Belize are glossed over. People who have left after variable time periods are likely to give you more accurate data than those who want to leave but cant or those with commercial interest.Then there those like CC4M who are just unpleasant and only capable of derogatory feedback to those he disagrees with. Besides can you really trust someone who thinks Lighthouse Beer is drinkable?

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peggyjune
2/27/2018 12:29 EST

Following this post, as one who is also "scouting for a new home location" (for a few years now) I will say/share - there is no substitute with "personal experience", sending time in a location, taking in the "vibes", speaking to people who are living there now etc. I decided to start with Placencia/and going to San Ignacio inland for a contrast, like mostly staying on the beach. Happy adventure and enjoy the scouting.

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