Expat Living is a new feature that will inspire those of you who are planning a move to Belize. Venturing into unknown territory is half the fun but it helps to have a good map and a realistic sense of direction in all areas 🙂 A great way to prepare yourself for moving to Belize is by reading personal interviews and advice from expats living and working in Belize.
Some of us could not move here fast enough after one visit, Sue and Steve are a great example of that. Their story will speak to those who know when they are meant to be somewhere and everything lines up fast to make their move and get settled into their new life. Enjoy 🙂
1. What made you choose a trip to Belize in the first place?
Being scuba divers, Belize and specifically Ambergris Caye had been on our radar for many years. In fact, we knew people who were coming down to Belize and loving it when we lived in Vancouver 20 years ago. Our first time visiting was last May when we came down to check out business opportunities on
2. Was it love at first sight when you got here?
Pretty much. We really liked the laid back attitude we encountered and the extreme friendliness of both locals and visitors. The beauty of the Caribbean and the reef captivated us as well.
3. How long after your first visit did you decide to move to Belize, what did your friends and family say when you dropped the bomb?
Within a couple of weeks after returning home in May we decided to go for it! We were at a point in our lives where we wanted a change and had talked about doing something like this for years. We’d sold our house in Toronto and downsized a couple of years back, so we were able to be fairly spontaneous about our decision. Our close friends and family were aware of our general intention to move to a warm climate, but we still took them by surprise when we announced that “we bought a little beach bar and we’re moving to Belize”. Reactions were mixed – mostly excited, lots of surprises, a lot of admiration expressed for our “guts”. There was a little skepticism and a couple of people told us they thought we were crazy.
4. How many trips back before you moved and long did the process take to wrap up your old life and embrace your new one?
None – the next time we flew into San Pedro was the day we moved here! After taking a couple of weeks to decide that we were actually going to do this, we entered into negotiations to purchase a condo and a beach bar. After that it was all about slowly selling our furniture and other “stuff” we didn’t want to move down with us, bringing bags and bags of clothing to various charities (we have no intention of ever needing any winter apparel again!) and generally tying up as many loose ends as we could think of. We entered a period of “lasts” – last dinner at our favorite restaurants, last day of work, etc. We insisted on saying “see you later” to friends and not “good-bye” and generally focused on the new adventure ahead of us and not the life we were leaving behind.
We arrived in San Pedro on a Friday evening exhausted but excited, spent Saturday getting our bearings, and by Sunday we were on the No Rush catamaran with a new group of friends discovering Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. New life embraced within 48 hours!
5. What did you love most about living in Belize when you first moved, how long have you been here and do you still love it just as much?
We were actually a little overwhelmed by how friendly and encouraging most people (both locals and expats) were, and how quickly we felt at home here. We loved how casual the lifestyle is on Ambergris Caye and don’t think we’ll ever get tired of staring out at the beautiful Caribbean. We’ve only been here 6 months and look forward to exploring the rest of Belize as soon as we can.
6. I know work factored into your ‘Living in Belize’ vision. How did you choose your new career path?
It was the business that actually brought us here. We were searching for the “idea” – a little business that we could buy somewhere warm by the ocean. I literally did a Google search for “Caribbean businesses for sale” (and then quickly modified the search to “Caribbean businesses for sale that we
could afford”!) and one of the listings that popped up was for Coco Loco’s Beach Bar. Intrigued, we started doing research on moving to and living on Ambergris Caye and liked what we came up with. I started an email correspondence with the listing realtor, soon after we decided to fly down for a long
weekend to investigate further. We had a whirlwind introduction to San Pedro, saw several different businesses for sale within our price range, and left knowing that it was only a matter of time before we returned for good. After weighing all our options, we decided to buy Coco Loco’s. We loved the location of the bar and felt that we could easily take over and put our own stamp on the place without feeling too overwhelmed. We’ve been at it for 6 months now, and so far, so very good!
7. What were you doing back in Canada before you made your move abroad?
I spent the last 4 years before moving here on the Ontario Film Review Board, where I was one of 20 or so people who classified movies (gave them their ‘G’, ‘PG’ etc. ratings) for the province of Ontario. I had also been studying to become a sommelier. Steve had been with Warner Music Canada for the last 14 years, first as the VP of A&R – scouting, signing and developing bands for the label, and then as the VP of Artist Services where he oversaw everything from merchandising to concert promotion and ticketing to managing bands.
8. Best piece of advice for someone who is looking to move to a new country?
If you think this is what you want, then just do it! You can talk yourself out of anything, but you won’t
regret having tried.
Coco Loco’s Beach Bar is your first stop north of the bridge on Ambergris Caye. They’re open from noon to 10 pm daily. They’ve got a beautiful view and fun and games including free wi-fi, swim up pool bar, bocce on the beach, Monday cribbage tournament at 4 pm and Tuesday Nite Trivia at 7 pm. They serve delicious pizzas and pulled pork sandwiches. Join the fun on Coco Loco’s Beach Bar Facebook page.
2017 Update: Steve and Sue have since sold the bar and moved on to their next adventure, but this Q&A is still relevant for those looking for their own adventure.