There is a reason why Ambergris Caye was recently rated “The Best Island to Retire To” and the “Best Island for Retiring Early” by Islands Magazine. Friendly people, pristine white sand beaches, 82 degree turquoise waters, and a lower cost of living make it the ideal retirement location for many expats. Here are a few tips to ensure your transition to living in paradise is as enjoyable as possible.
Anytime you make a major life change like moving to a new place, you go through a period of adjustment. We are all creatures of habit, and in general resist change because it tends to take us off of auto-pilot. Change requires that we learn how to live differently, adapt to new customs, and communicate effectively with new kinds of people we don’t know. Here are some useful tid bits to help you transition well. Pass it on.
Educate yourself as much as possible before you arrive. Learn about Belizean culture, history and traditions. The internet is a wonderful tool for learning something about everything. Never in human history has there been so much information available with such convenience. Use this to your advantage. I recommend that you read blogs, watch videos, read the local newspapers, and listen to pod-casts about Belize. If your feeling “old school” you might even try reading a book.
Once you arrive, and settle into your residence, get out and start to enjoy all that Ambergris Caye has to offer. An easy way to meet people here is to be active. Belize is often recognized for having the friendliest people on earth, so get out and meet some of these fine folks. Go scuba diving. If you don’t know how, get certified. You now live in one of the premier scuba diving destinations in the world and the world’s second largest barrier reef is so close you can see it from shore. If you are not up for scuba diving, then at the very least go snorkel. At Hol Chan Marine Reserve, you can see sharks, rays, grouper, and a myriad of other tropical fish while swimming in crystal clear, 82 degree Caribbean water. Other activities I highly recommend are fishing, cave tubing, parasailing, jungle exploration, zip lining, bird watching, kayaking, the jaguar preserve, Mayan ruins, and of course sailing. Once you do all those, get back to me and I will suggest some more.
Experience the local Belizean culture and adapt. Become a part of it. Belize is a beautiful country rich with friendly, welcoming people. Don’t come to Ambergris Caye and think that you are going to change the attitudes and culture of the people who have lived here for generations. The slower pace of life and relaxed attitudes, is what makes Ambergris Caye so special and we like it that way. In time, you will learn to love it too. So for now, just slow down, put your mobile device away, and start enjoying this island paradise. There is beauty everywhere, soak it up.
Become part of the San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye community. Take ownership of your new home and community and strive to help make it better. Volunteer your time doing something that you have expertise in or at least a strong interest in learning more about. There are many expats on the island that do not work and therefore volunteer. Reach out to these people and offer to help, you will meet them everywhere. Few things in life feel as good as giving. Make it part of your daily practice here on the island and see how good you will feel.
Feeling good is what life is about, so taking care of yourself is important, too. Living on Ambergris Caye will reduce your stress naturally which is a good start, but it is also important to also stay fit. Start by eating healthy fresh fruits, fish, and vegetables. Practice Yoga and exercise. Get a massage and frequent the local gym. Refresh with some fresh squeezed juice from locally grown fruit or enjoy some fresh coconut water while walking along the beach. Take a bike ride and when your done relax and read a good book. Finally get a good nights rest while listening to the tranquil sounds of the ocean and trade winds as they blow through the palm trees. Tomorrow, do it again.
Other activities I would recommend. Go to the movies with friends, yes we have a theater on the island. Have some wine and cheese at our local wine bar. Get some fresh sushi. Have a Belikin Beer or a tall cool Rum drink with friends. Catch a spectacular sunrise or sunset over the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Take a trip to some of the surrounding islands or just be still, present, and do nothing.
Welcome to Paradise!