A new influx of retirees is enhancing western Belize’s reputation as not only a vacation paradise, but as a prime lifestyle destination as well, according to a new article in US News and World Report.
And the founder of a Cayo District eco resort agrees that the new arrivals represent a growing trend.
Lucy Fleming, the owner and GM of the Lodge at Chaa Creek, called the arrival of expat retirees an “exciting new trend that enhances Belize’s reputation as a place where people from all around the world can feel at home”.
Ms Fleming and her husband Mick moved to the tiny English speaking country over 30 years ago just as it was making the transition from the former crown colony of British Honduras to the modern, independent nation of Belize.
“It was a very exciting time to arrive in Belize, and we took to it immediately. We were immediately struck by the warmth and friendliness of the people, and when we arrived in Cayo we were overwhelmed by the sheer natural beauty of the area. It didn’t take long for us to realise that this would become home,” she recalls.
The Flemings used their meagre savings to purchase an overgrown orange orchard on the banks of the Macal River, upstream from the then sleepy town of San Ignacio, and went to work.
“There was no road into our place at the time, so we used a dugout canoe and outboard to transport our produce into San Ignacio every weekend. It was a lot of hard work, but the more time we spent with our neighbours and on the land, the more we knew this was where we wanted to be,” she said.
Today, that small farm has evolved to become western Belize’s premier eco resort, recognised worldwide as an award winning example of sustainable tourism and responsible travel. Having long ago expanded into a 365 acre private nature reserve with an abundance of exotic flora and wildlife, Chaa Creek’s unique approach to “casual luxury” attracts a range of guests from your average family to England’s Prince Harry, who stayed in one of the resort’s luxury tree top suites during last year’s Jubilee Tour honouring Queen Elizabeth II.
And now, according to the March 11, 2013 article in US News and World Report , western Belize is attracting a new demographic . “As recently as a few years ago, the numbers of foreign retirees living in Belize’s Cayo District numbered only a few dozen. Today, small but ever-expanding communities of expats and retirees seeking a back to basics lifestyle have established themselves in this pristine land of rivers, waterfalls, and rain forest.
“Many people, reaching this stage of life, are reminded of what’s really important. This realization is spurring a new generation of folks looking for opportunities around the globe to embrace a self-sufficient, resilient lifestyle. In this context, Belize stands out,” the article advises.
Ms Fleming said that Chaa Creek has been assisting people relocating to Belize for years now.
“Over the years we’d find that people would come here on holiday or on one of our all-inclusive Belize vacation packages, fall in love with the country and people, and ask our advice on how to relocate here. We’re familiar with the Government of Belize’s retirement incentives, which are really quite generous, and can point people in the right direction as far as finding land, workers and navigating their way through the legalities and practicalities of moving here.
“Belize still has a very low population density, so we’re always happy to assist people in realising their dreams, whether on a great vacation or in making a more long term lifestyle choice. We find the best way to approach it is to come for a visit and then take some time to check it out, and we’re here to help make the process as enjoyable as possible,” Ms Fleming said.