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An Unconventional Retirement in Belize

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An Unconventional Retirement in Belize

Who knew that a single mother in Florida, happily raising eight kids (don’t ask — 2 are biological and 6 adopted!) would cheerfully pull up stakes and follow a hunch, a gut feeling, a powerful calling to a new life in a new land. Who could predict this experience would result in a wealth of warm friendships and profound connectedness to a new country and community — and even a thriving business that has set new standards there and won many awards.

My name is Macarena Rose. And this is my true story of a journey begun 6 years ago which continues to develop and unfold. I took a chance on life and most wondrously, that life has proved to be a greatly rewarding transformation on so many levels.

The Pioneering Spirit

How does one get from here to there? I think there are many paths that lead to life changing transitions. This was mine. I know many outwardly crave challenge and excitement in their life and are looking to make changes. But not me! I was a mom in Florida and content with the status quo. My life seemed to already be a daily adventure — I had no idea what was about to take place!

Though now when I reflect I must say I think our pioneering spirit is alive and well and probably lurking just under the surface in most of us. It’s just waiting for the right stimulus package — to ignite and send us off in new directions!

Cahal Pech BelizeIf you’re me, you discover there’s a Caribbean paradise where English is the native language. Where the inhabitants are warmly welcoming. Where the natural beauty of the land and endless scenic views thrill you every day. So do those heavenly beaches and delightful surf. You (me) come to realize you’ve discovered a very special place of delightful escape —-a bit off the beaten track —- which holds the promise of fulfillment.

Blackberry? What blackberry!

Then you learn this magical place is one where you can leave so many of the usual daily stresses of life far behind and live a slower pace. You won’t need your Blackberry!

Ak Tun Munal Ak Tun Munal

So you let your imagination soar……and daydream —- of a culturally diverse environment where you can live your life intimately connected to fellow humans. We’ve all fantasized about finding a place with a small town feeling — that’s what you find throughout Belize. And just think — there’s no stress to learn a new language – your native English is their native English!

Monetary Musing

What a pleasant shock to your system to learn Belize is a country where your monetary resources will be more than enough to let you live in comfort. This in itself is a major revelation in today’s world economy. So you get to leave the stress of not having enough money to exist —- to having more than enough money to live and to ENJOY stress free living! Paradise indeed!

All of this happened to me – because that pioneering call sang out loud and clear. I assure you the enterprising spirit is alive and well. Like me, you may not be fully aware of it — but once it grabs your imagination and propels you into action — you’re a goner! Just like me.

Heeding the call led to my packing up, leaving the United States and relocating to beautiful Belize where I still reside.

Woman Alone, Watch Me Thrive

I was a woman arriving in a Central American country – yet this was not a barrier. Instead, I was welcomed with open arms and able to quickly immerse myself in the local community. One opportunity after another presented itself and I was only too happy to join in with great enthusiasm. Here are some activities as examples and I will tell more about them later.

I have been able to open my own successful real estate company in Belize  Rainforest Realty was awarded the best BelizeReal Estate Agency in all of Belize, by CBS and the New York Times. It is an honor to be considered the Relocation Expert of Belize. I’m also the voice you hear on the cell phone system there. Additionally, it is my pleasure to host a weekly TV show featuring Belizeans and I also greatly enjoy coaching the semi-professional men’s soccer team.

It is very rewarding to be a founding member of the Belize Realtors Association and I recently became its first full term President.

I also serve on the Board of the Winsom Foundation there, an organization with two purposes: to help keep children in school and to let them experience the arts. I am a Board Member of the Belize Humane Society —- Belize Loves Animals. This is very appropriate for a woman who supports 9 dogs!

So you can see I’m busy and participate in many activities! It continues to be breathtakingly rewarding for me — to understand that not only did I change my own life, but in doing so, I can now participate in bringing about change in the lives of others in my community also.

How could I have known all this lay before me — had I not followed my heart to my adopted country of Belize.

The Journey Begins

Now back to that comfortable life in St. Petersburg, Florida where I had lived for half my life. You may well wonder what happened to inspire me to leave and take up residence in Belize. I must say what I have found there is so much more than what I could have ever imagined!

So just how it all begins, how does the transformation take place. In my case, I was offered an opportunity to travel with the Sentient Temple of Florida to San Ignacio, Belize to participate in a healing workshop. It was exciting to anticipate such an interesting trip and I eagerly set off. My teen daughter accompanied me.

The First Visit

After arrival in Belize in April 2003, we settled ourselves into an area called the Cahal Pech Village Resort. I was astounded by the stunning natural beauty all about, the lush mountains, and the friendly Belizeans. I was traveling on a mission of healing…..but oh my, the healing would work in many ways — and on many levels! Thus did my unexpected journey of relocation and change begin.

When I returned to Florida, the trip stayed uppermost in my mind. I could not get away from it; it was always “there”. I could not ignore the exhilarating flow of positive, happy energy racing through my heart and mind. I assumed it resulted from the excellent workshop in Belize….but somehow, I knew that wasn’t it. Slowly I came to understand that this wonderful new found energy came from the experience of being in Belize itself! I had resonated well to everything I found there and I was continuing to resonate to it back in Florida!

The Second Trip

How else can I express it —- I felt the call, the pull, the lure of the land and life in Belize every moment of the day. It entered my dreams — the country was calling me back! The feel of it and the memory of it spoke to me very strongly. Then came the “aha” moment and the course became clear.

Hence, I decided to make a second trip to Belize and see how things went. Six months later in October 2003, a friend and I were on our way there. We traveled throughout the country but found ourselves especially drawn to the San Ignacio area (where I still live) and ended our stay there.

This additional time in Belize was just as special, just as exciting as before and made clear to me how positive my feelings were. Thus, the moment of decision had arrived. it was right there in front of me — a chance to take a chance on life. Watching the intimacy of a local parade, I was taken aback at how real life is in Belize. I knew it was a defining moment, one I would always look back on as the beginning of this very amazing journey.

Belize For Me

Upon returning to Florida, I felt confident and told my children that when the last one graduated, I was moving to Belize. Then came a huge surprise. I was stunned when my daughter Chiara, who was 15 at the time, said she had a “feeling” — that we were meant to move there immediately and not wait. This was the last thing I ever expected to hear from her!

Well, being ever the practical mother and true to form, I asked her to please do research on Belize, to see if anything she uncovered might change her feelings. She did this and remained steadfast in her resolve that we should go to Belize.

That was it for me. I didn’t wait. I sold our family home, packed up our containers and took them to the shipping yard in Florida. With our 2 dogs in tow, we boarded the plane to Belize and have never looked back.

You’re Going To Do WHAT??

Prepare yourself for reactions, both pro and con! Because if you want to start riots and become a controversial figure among family and friends, just announce you are leaving the country! And settling in a new land! With your children and dogs!! Do what I did — add that you’ll be doing it within 60 days!

That certainly gets the conversation going!! Everyone has an opinion to offer you – especially since you are a single mom taking this on. I heard it all — in fact, two close friends invited me over to dinner immediately to try to talk me out of it. They stressed how dangerous it would be, much too far away, and how would my daughter cope. This was typical of what I got from the “con” side. (Later, these same two ladies couldn’t make plans fast enough to come visit!).

The vote of confidence from my birth son was heartwarming. “Mom, do whatever makes you happy”. My other sons, known as the three B’s, were overjoyed and asked to come visit as soon as possible.

The support from my children meant everything and was obviously a huge boost to my resolve.

Interestingly, another friend said it was her dream to be able to throw the hat over that wall and go to where she felt called. I explained that from my viewpoint, the only thing keeping her from doing it was herself — and I was just not going to stand in the way of myself and my dreams!!

Later, she came to visit and understood why I would not want to wait to live my life in Belize. She saw that my life there was truly an intimate experience full of rich connections. Hmmmm – I certainly agreed!

Arrival

Gales Point Manatee BelizeWe, the mother and daughter, lived at the Cahal Pech Resort in San Ignacio for awhile, becoming familiar with our new town and the community that would become home. Chiara immediately started school here – can you imagine her reaction to a uniform that went down past her knees. Oh, the changes (and tears) she went through! I wondered if she was wavering…..and already had regrets.

Life is full of surprises, especially when you have teenagers! Her main requirement for happiness, it turned out, was that she had to find Dr. Pepper to drink. (!) So, while I was out getting her lunch at one point, I actually found it. I was then able to work out a deal for the vendor to bring a supply into Belize, special for her. That was it — she was solidly sold on Belize!

Never underestimate the firm determination of a mother!

Indeed, we had been here less than 10 days when Chiara decided, like me, that Belize was home.

Becoming Part of the Community

I’ve been very fortunate in how I quickly became very involved in my new community here. Since coming to Belize, I’ve had the privilege of hosting a weekly TV show which provides biographies of Belizeans lives, belizeteve.com.

Soon I was nick named “OPRAH in Belize ! “ This is a wonderful opportunity for our locals to get their wisdom and history of Belize known and into the record books. While hosting this TV show, I was then asked to be the voice on the Smart cell phones for automated replies.

I was also asked to be the fitness coach and team medic for the Cayo Avengers semi pro men’s football (soccer) team. This is an interesting aspect of being in Belize, as “football” is the life blood of locals here.

Cayo Avengers Cayo Avengers

Through this experience, I have had the opportunity to travel and visit all over Belize. It was interesting to see folks reactions to a woman on the field! I am very appreciative for all the support given to me in this role. In addition — and lucky for me — it was like I got to be Mom to a whole team of great guys and also be their number one cheerleader! This has been a greatly rewarding experience.

A New Business

Shortly after settling in, we began our search for a home to buy. This was an eye opener as we were surprised and disappointed with the lackluster quality of salesmanship amongst most of the real estate agencies. In addition, we discovered the agents here were neither licensed nor trained.

That’s when I decided to open up my business, Rainforest Realty. I came to Belize as a Director of my church and a Reiki Master — but the opportunity to start this business presented itself, the timing was right, and I decided to offer my vast experience in real estate to the public. My emphasis was to be total integrity, service and southern charm!

Rainforest Realty BelizeRecognizing I had an uphill battle in this endeavor — not only as a newcomer but a female in a Latin American culture, I knew I needed to approach the “right people” for help and training. I give thanks daily to the Lands Department for their excellent training and support.

Rainforest Realty

Then I was up and running. To this day, I assist the Lands Department in clearing up title work and work with others to help with offshore banking, financing, and incorporation’s. I help just about anyone who walks through the office door with a legitimate issue.

I take great pride in saying that Belize is a truly amazing country where one can move, live your life, and become one with the community.

As Americans moving to Belize, we were always welcomed with inviting arms. With that said, I invite you to come see for yourself WHAT BELIZE IS ALL ABOUT! Do not hesitate to drop into my office and say hello! We here in Belize aim to please!

16 comments

  1. That is very cool to getting river front land in Burrel Boom. Not seen a lot of the area but have liked what I have seen so far – congratulations. You can rent a house not sure of mainland property agents for that there are a few here on island who deal with rentals if you decide to visit here. For mainland try posting here http://www.belizeforum.com/belize/ and you light get some leads.

  2. Good Morning:
    My wife Gina and myself are comming to Belize for a month in early Feb.2011.It will be our first visit,we have purchased a river front property at Flowers Bank near Burrel Boom.We have of course not seen it yet risky,I know but were so optimistic about Belize we couldn,t wait did our due dilegence and hope all is well.We are not married to that property and would like to still look around at realestate when we are there perhaps a completed home.We will be bringing our two small dogs and we, re wondering if it would be possible to rent a house for a month, rent a car and tour around.Would appreciate any help with this first trip.
    Best regards,
    Warren and Gina Zant. British Columbia,Canada

  3. Do come for a visit Golf Cart guy you would have a great time here. I like the sounds of a 10 passenger cart that would be perfect for our crawl parties.

  4. wow this is a great story and encourage me to visit i was already selling many golf carts over there so here more chance to sell some
    Maybe marcena Rose will start selling some for us
    before i get there
    we sell Club Car and EZGO
    2-4-6-8-10 Passengers and all there commercial carts also
    happy belize day !!!

  5. In order to work you have to go a couple of routes – start a business – find someone willing to hire you and help you get a work permit – find a niche and apply for a work permit in that area. The going rate they say to live here is $1500 a month and that varies depending on things like if you rent or own and your spending habits. If you have not been here before I recommend a scouting trip to check it out and make some connections. Online classifieds like San Pedro Sun may be hopeful to find a place there also some property management places here that handle rentals.

  6. I am sick of Americans and their greedy, self centered life styles. I have been looking for place to reside in peace. I am all for “a simple life” no modern gadgets. Just fishing, bicycling, cheap rent and basic foods. I am single (never married), and in shape. I am 47 and will be soon receiving Social Security Disability payments of about $1000.00 a month. I was reading that I would be unable to work (even part time) while on a visiting visa. Would this be enough income to enable me to become established? I also am wondering where would be the best place to find a small place to rent for the first few months.

    I will appreciate any and all help.

  7. I am a full time blogger I am not and have never been in the real estate business. I do not know what website you were on but if things were as you read were true I [and likely many others] would not be living here here.

    I met a guy recently who was visiting here and looking at buying. He said on the plane he met 2 people one said not to buy here she had a horrible experience and a year later after buying land her house was still not done. The other loved it bought a great place and had no troubles. I really do believe to a large degree life is what you make it. I also think it is important to do your due diligence when buying property here and anywhere.

    You can bring pets to Belize I am not sure what kind of paperwork you need to do so though.

  8. I have been toying with the idea of retiring in Belize- haven’t been there yet- but would certainly do that first. Wandering around website, I read an awful lot about crime, “jacking” , not being able to leave your home because people will break in and rob you, being raped, murdered for not paying the right people off, etc. etc. This all comes from people who moved to Belize and didn’t like it and left and who were very unhappy there, so naturally their opinions are negative. It is obvious you love it and being in the real estate business, you may not wish to answer this question at all if you cannot do it honestly and I would understand. My husband & I live in SW Florida now and we also have 9 cats. Can I bring them to Belize? Is crime as bad and as unreported as I have read?

  9. Thanks Randy. You might want to consider a scouting trip if you have not done so already. Passport is good. You get stamped monthly here and after 6 months it goes up from $50 bzd to $100 bzd. After being here 1 year without having left more than 14 days you are eligible to apply for Residency.

    Check out this post the info there will be useful to you regarding wnat you need to work here – http://tacogirl.com/2009/01/belize-visas/

  10. Randy L. Ballance

    Hola!

    Great articles, I’m very intrigued since I’m deciding on moving to Hawaii or Belize..next year. ..was wondering if you can give me as an American what documents I need to have besides my passport….how long I can stay with a visa….and documents I might need to work there….or perhaps this is a bit much to ask…..is there a website out there with this information?

    I’m a artist but have worked 30 years in accounting/book keeping.

    Any info would be so greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Randy

  11. That is not a bad time frame to aim for Debrah.

  12. Well, We plan on moving to Belize..but it’s going to take me longer than 60 days to rid myself of most of my material possessions. I am hoping for 24 months.

  13. Kids heck I am not even willing to take on the cost and responsibility pets Remo ha ha. I can imagine it would be a lot raising 8 kids.

    We never go to Costa Maya cause of the price. A lot of people I know here tend to volunteer so they can see some of it while they work the event.

  14. Very interesting story indeed.

    I can’t even afford to raise one kid let alone Eight (wow!)

    Oh and are you going to the 2010 International Costa Maya Festival?

    I heard they raised the price of the tickets to $115 a ticket. Imagine a family of 4 or 5 paying those prices for tickets alone. Not good:(

    I might stay put that weekend and conserve my money for other projects:)

    cheers….

  15. Glad you were inspired by Macarena Rose’s journey Beth. I thought her story would resonate well for many people who are dreaming of Belize in one way or another.

  16. What an inspiring story of life and adventure. I marvel at the strength that it took for you to embark on a new journey with kids in tow.

    Thanks for sharing with all of us who are still dreaming of our first visit to Belize.

    Beth

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