Oct 072015
Waving Good bye as more people leave Belize

It is not only important to ask yourself, why Belize? It is just as important to ask, why not Belize?

Many People Leave Belize?

People leave Belize? I have heard stats that say “more than 50% of expats leave after a year”, or other stats that indicate, “as many as 80% of the expats that come to Belize leave within two years”. While I guess either, or even both stats could be true, I admit I can’t find an official documented number, and I don’t truly know what that actual percentage is. What I can tell you from talking to the locals and those people who have stayed is this, they generally can remember more expats that have left than expats that have stayed.

Why do so many people leave Belize?

The answer to this question does not seem to be cut and dry. Especially since, the reasons that some people leave Belize, are the same reasons that other people want to stay. Surely people have read on the websites and blogs where we all advise people to;

  • Do your research
  • Visit for extended periods, not just short vacations.
  • Rent, don’t buy initially.
  • Curb your expectations

and so on, and so on. So why are so many people so surprised or sometimes even disappointed when life is not the same here in Belize as it was back in Canada or the US?

Which People Are Sure To Leave Belize?

You will recognize the people that are destined to fail in their pursuit of happiness in Belize. These are usually the people you hear complaining about things in general, or arguing with a clerk or official that the process is ridiculous, or saying things like “that’s not the way we do it back in Canada”. Those are usually the people that become a statistic and eventually those people leave Belize.

Principles of Paradise, IMHO.

How do you avoid becoming a statistic? Now let me say that we have only been in Belize for almost a year. So I am still in that under two year period, so I may not be the authority yet on what it takes to make it in Belize or why so many people leave Belize. I do think however that this question needs to be addressed. I don’t mean to over simplify this issue but I am betting that if you adopt these basic principles as we have, you will certainly increase your chances at being successful.

  • Adapt ~ Embrace the new culture including its differences. It is not reasonable to expect to have the best of both worlds. You cannot expect a slower more laid back lifestyle today, and then be upset tomorrow that something will take three weeks to get done. If you cannot accept this you might as well get in the line when people leave Belize.
  • Accept ~ Do not try to change the procedures to match what you left behind in Canada. Learn to accept the way things are done and find a way to comply, or find another solution to your problem. “That’s not the way we do it back home”, is a futile and an irrelevant argument in Belize or any other foreign country. You must be able to go with the flow, realize that you cannot change things and instead of asking why, say to yourself, as I sometimes do, “it is what it is”
  • Appreciate ~ If you can truly appreciate the simple life and give up your malls, creature comforts, and other material things like your front row seats at the theater, or your professional hockey, baseball, and football tickets, and appreciate that if you are lucky, things like brilliant sunsets, colorful flowers, a smiling child, walks on the beach, meeting a friend (new or old), or maybe an occasional boat ride to the reef will become the highlight of your days. If you can appreciate the little things in life, you will have a better chance of finding happiness in Belize.
  • Awareness ~ I believe awareness goes beyond doing your research or due diligence. I believe that it is important to do all of those things and to realize that the things you hear about like mañana time (island time) or gringo pricing are real and do exist.Or when you read that a construction project can cost much more than quoted, or can take much longer to complete then promised, or that the quality of healthcare, internet, and most products from appliances to toilet paper is not as good here as you may be used to, believe it and know that you are not the exception to the rule, and it is highly unlikely that you have some secret solution to absolve you of these facts.

In My Humble Opinion

IMHO the reason so many people leave Belize comes down to one common thing that encompasses all of the reasons above and many more. Yes, it is important to do all the research that is documented in the blogs and on the websites like this. It is not only important to ask yourself, why Belize? It is just as important to ask, why not Belize? But, the most important thing to research first, is yourself. Know yourself and be aware of who you are, know what you need to be happy while keeping in mind that happiness is found within who you are, and not where you go. If you will have a hard time with any or all of principles 1, 2, and/or 3, you may have a hard time finding happiness in Belize, and may eventually find yourself on that flight out when people leave Belize.

Here is another great article on this topic from Robert J. Hawkins on his blog Bound for Belize. Follow Robert too, he is another great source on day to day life in Belize and, the “unbelizeable truth”.

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  8 Responses to “People leave Belize. Not always Paradise.”

  1. most have left…if not in a body bag or coffin….
    b/c – thieves stole almost everything they owned…more than once..
    b/c – they were assaulted, stabbed,raped, or were the victims of attempted murder.
    b/c – they got swindled by a crooked real estate agent/co. ….
    b/c – the hired and paid for, contractor….skipped with the cash….b/c- yes, they couldnt take all the stupid that permeates, belizean society.

    • SPmQQse thank you for your comment and point of view. You are right about more people leaving than staying (stats say more than 50% leave by the end of their first year) and while all of the issues that you talk about are real and do play a factor, I think that your comment that “they leave in a body bag of coffin” is a little overstated. My posts are written from my experiences living here and I have never felt unsafe, that been said I also take the precautions that are required here, as well as many places in Canada and the US. We have burglar bars on our home, some people from Canada have said that they couldn’t live like that, but if they think about it, it is no different than the $10,000 security system that they arm every night when they go to bed. We don’t have much to flaunt since moving to Belize and what we do have we don’t show off, many do putting the bulls eye on their backs. We by nature are usually home in the evenings but do not hesitate to go functions and celebrations held at night either.

      People getting swindled is not isolated to Belize, it happens everywhere, but again if you are too trusting of a smiley face and don’t take the precautions to minimize your risk then you will probably get what’s coming to you.

      Again, many people leave, but as my post indicates it is my opinion from talking to people that it is usually because they have not done proper research into the differences between the two cultures and have not been honest with themselves as far as what they need to be happy. I still believe that the majority of people that have done their research, are honest with themselves, and come here to retire with the proper attitude, and don’t become complacent about their safety after a few incident free months will be successful.

  2. What are the gun laws in Belize? Are you allowed to own firearms. Are you allowed to carry firearms on your person, do they issue concealed weapons permits?

  3. Great Post! Thank you.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment and to say so Christine. I appreciate it. Let me know if you can’t find information that you need here. I will be happy to to provide what I can based on my experience in Belize. It might even inspire a new post.

  4. Your common sense article is very refreshing.

    It is usually the postal code between our ears that determines our happiness, not that one on our mailboxes.

    When we moved from Ontario to Atlantic Canada, I asked myself the question ‘what is it about life in Ontario that I CAN’T give up?’ I couldn’t think of a single thing.

    I hate malls and shopping and a lot of ‘stuff’

    My biggest ‘gotcha’ is making sure I have a steady, reliable income – not so I can have ‘stuff’ but so I can meet my financial obligations.

    I have the work, my biggest concern is being able to do it from Belize.

    Love your site – thanks so much

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