Belize Buoys Expat Spirits

Many U.S. citizens searching for retirement bliss end up in Florida, but a persistent downturn in the housing market and unstable prices on other staples due to a …

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Many U.S. citizens searching for retirement bliss end up in Florida, but a persistent downturn in the housing market and unstable prices on other staples due to a struggling economy has put retirement in Florida out of the reach of many. Some have discovered the benefits of retiring abroad, particularly on the coastal waters of Belize. Engineer Chuck Bilbe and his wife, Jamie, traveled the area in 2010 and settled on building a house in Corozal, and now enjoy an affordable beachside lifestyle they describe as the Florida of the 1940s, especially when it comes to their new, lower cost of living. For more on this continue reading the following article from International Living.

In 2007, after years working as an electrical engineer all over the U.S., my wife Jamie and I decided we’d like to move to a warmer climate and chose Florida. I was still working at the time and could continue over the Internet.

Times were good until the economy began its downturn, crashing the real estate market. We were concerned that our retirement savings wouldn’t see us through, so we began looking overseas for a place where our ever-shrinking nest egg might last longer.

We had always been intrigued by the idea of living somewhere “beachy” and exotic. And with the kids all grown—the youngest is 23—it seemed a good time to make the leap.

So we began looking at Belize as a possibility, and took an exploratory trip in early 2010 to see Corozal, Placencia, and Ambergris Caye. Corozal is close to Chetumal, a good-sized city in Mexico, and it just seemed to feel right. We purchased a half-acre lot close to the water and built a house for about $125 per square foot.

We were surprised by how many people have come here from the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and elsewhere. The time spent renting (while our house was under construction) in town was invaluable in helping us form some real connections and friendships.

Our barbecue grill has been very busy since we moved in. The open-air market in Corozal is a wonderful way to stock up on fresh vegetables and fruits—far better than what we had been buying at the supermarket.

What we like the most about our move to Belize is that we can now have a lifestyle like Florida in the 1940’s, but at a price we can afford. Our stress level is down and our satisfaction with life is definitely up. We’re eating better, sleeping better, and enjoying social activity much more now than we did before. Living next to the water is something we had always wanted to do but could never afford before now.

This article was republished with permission from International Living.

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