Oct 212015
 
Checking Belize expiry dates is a must. Common practice when the “best before” date expires is to reduce the price rather than remove the product.

Checking Belize expiry dates is a must. Common practice when the “best before” date expires is to reduce the price rather than remove the product.

Checking Belize Expiry Dates.

I must preface this post regarding checking Belize expiry dates by saying that it is neither my intention to promote nor to criticize life in Belize. It is my intention to inform, and while life here is usually everything we expected and hoped for, as with anywhere you might go, from time to time I find myself shaking my head and with an inside voice asking “why”, while at the same time with an outside voice accepting the situation and   saying, “it is what it is”.

In today’s picture you will see some familiar products that are sitting on the shelf of our local grocery store. These packages of dry cereal are priced at $3.75 while down the shelf a little further is the brightly colored box with the famous Toucan priced at $8.75 for the exact same size package and product. So, Where’s the box? Has the box been crushed? Has the box been lost? Is the box actually worth $5.00? In all cases the answer is probably no.

What’s the date in Belize today?

In Belize it is common practice that when the “best before” date passes (expires) products are not necessarily removed from the shelves but rather are reduced in price. It is important to be aware to check expiry dates on all perishables carefully. Lorilee came across mayonnaise a few weeks ago marked down to less than half price, great deal. As always watching for deals she grabbed it. At this point because we have learned the hard way in the past, she is now checking Belize expiry dates, as a result she returned the bottle while informing the young lady that was building the display that the date had expired. The young lady replied “yes ma’am, that is why it is at a reduced price”.

Where did the $5.00 go?

Back to the original question of where did the $5.00 go? Well……………..the short answer is that it simply expired. The box containing the “best before date” was removed. Again I don’t mention this as a criticism but rather to inform. I am not saying it is right or wrong, I am just saying make sure you are checking Belize expiry dates. This is one of those times I find myself shaking my head and with an inside voice saying, “it is what it is”.

What do these terms mean?

This is not a new practice in Belize and although it is not condoned by public health officials, the practice continues.  It is important to know the meaning and the difference between the following terms;

  • Shelf Life
  • Best Before
  • Use by
  • Sell by/Display until
  • Expiration Date

For the definition of these terms and for guidelines on how long some products are good for, read this 2011 article that still remains relevant.

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Oct 142015
 
Due diligence will prevent your Belize dream home from becoming a nightmare.

Rent don’t Buy. Avoid your Belize dream home becoming a nightmare. The photo on the right courtesy of tacogirl.com

Belize Dream Home.

Looking for your Belize dream home? A picture is worth a 1000 words, that’s a mouth full and maybe why two pictures can sometimes take your breath away. The picture on the left is a picture of the street we lived on until we moved in August. I took that picture last December after a day with a few of my neighbors filling potholes and repairing the road. We loved the house on Brain Coral Street. Right on the lagoon with spectacular sunsets and water views. Our backyard was even mostly ponds fed from the lagoon that was home to all kinds of fish, a lobster, many different species of birds and even stingrays were regular visitors. We called it our “Belize dream home”, and sure it was a bit buggy (mosquitoes) from time to time, and sure sometimes the high tides would flood the lot across the street and even into our yard a little bit for a day or two every couple of months, but It was only a minor inconvenience compared to the many other benefits.

Go with the flow. “It is what it is”. Really?

The picture on the right is of the same road during the past few weeks. This water is not from rain, but rather exceptionally high tides. Now we realize that we are still learning about life in Belize and that we have to go with the flow, but when the flow becomes a daily flood, that can become a bit disheartening, especially if you are stuck on the deck of your Belize dream home because your yard is underwater. Wading in and out the road would have been a pain that would have started and ended every trip. I don’t know how long I could have said “it is what it is” before I would have snapped. Whatever that time would be for me, you can divide that by at least two for Lorilee.

Do you believe everything has a reason?

I know everything happens for a reason, and yes we were always looking for cheaper places to live in, but could this be the reason that we ran into our friend Joyce in late July. We mentioned we had seen a place for rent, but also that we were a little bit relieved that it was already rented because we really didn’t want to move from our dream house on the lagoon. Anyway she told us about a new building that was just being finished that she was moving into and that there was a vacancy with our name on it. Long story short we left our Belize dream home and live there now.

Belize Dream Home Becomes Nightmare.

This is the reason that all of the blogs and websites including this one tell you, “rent don’t buy for six months to a year”. I would now say definitely a year, this problem would have not have even come up until after nine months. Had that house been for sale, and had we been able to afford it, and had our need for a bit more space not changed, we might have bought that house. After six months we might have said, it’s our Belize dream home, what could go wrong”? And that may have been our first major disappointment in Belize.

Due Diligence is Your responsibility.

Do your due diligence, be patient, rent don’t buy. Please heed these warnings, It is very easy to purchase your Belize dream home, but if it becomes a nightmare, will selling be just as easy? Well, not so much.

Special thank you to tacogirl.com for the picture on the right and the courtesy of using it. Please follow her on Facebook for more information on daily life in Belize, and her Blog is another great source for “the unbelizeable truth”.

 

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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let me know if you enjoyed this post.

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Dec 222014
 

Thanks to our due diligence we were not surprised when plane started flying just over our houseDue Diligence Research is your Responsibility

Due diligence told us our alarm clock had a 30 minute snooze button. We don’t have a typical alarm clock. It has no face and does not tell time. The volume is always on the loud setting and cannot be adjusted, also it has no options like buzzer or radio to alert you when the alarm does sound to wake us up. (See the video below for an explanation)

Every morning at 6:30 AM our alarm goes off as the first airplane taxis down the Tropic Air runway, crosses the lagoon, and flies right by our bedroom window. As I lie in bed, most times I can look out the window and see the pilots face in the cock pit. That is the wake up call, at this point I know I have another 30 minutes in bed. At 7:00 AM is when the snooze goes off and all hell breaks loose, with as many as twenty flights departing or arriving over the next half hour. Departures are louder as they leave the runway and climb at full throttle to miss our house. Arrivals are not quite as bad, and although they are a bit lower they have already cut power to hit the runway that is less than 1000 feet away.

Fortunately we did our due diligence research so this was not a surprise to us. Also, we were warned when we rented the house, and experienced several flights when we viewed the house. Our experience living next to a train track back in Canada several years ago told us we would soon get used to it. And, we have. Even Phoebe our pet pooch, doesn’t even lift her head anymore. Now, had we visited at the right (or should I say wrong) time of the day during a really quiet time of the year. And had our landlords been more interested in renting than in our happiness with the house, or had we not done our due diligence, we may have arrived in Belize to a terrible surprise and a major disappointment.

Do your Due Diligence is the moral of the story, and my point again. Spend time in the area you think you might like to live. Especially in a new country, there can be many things you haven’t even thought of that can turn your dream home into a nightmare. Most of the due diligence research I have done has told me, rent for at least one year before you buy, that way you get to know the area and the people. Experience all of the different seasons, here in Belize there are only two seasons, the rain season and the dry season. However, both seasons can bring there own unique problems ranging from flooding due to rain or exceptionally high tides, to unbearable heat and humidity, just to mention a couple. And of course, some things like the planes that do not bother us, might drive you completely bonkers.

“Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see”.

In conclusion, be vigilant. Don’t let anyone else sell you on their vision of your “piece of paradise“. Ask your questions to more than one person. When doing your due diligence research use more than one unbiased source. In both cases keep asking yourself, “what does this person or source have to gain?

 

 

Dec 082014
 
This is the place we rent. It is one of the modern Belizean houses and well equipped.

This is the place we rent. It is one of the modern Belizean houses and well equipped.

Our Search of Belizean Houses.

This is a picture of the house that we rented when we first arrived in Belize.  Located in the San Pablo Area of San Pedro Town, it was one of more than 20 different Belizean houses, condos, and apartments both on the main land and here on the island, The house pictured here was the one we fell in love with. It was spacious and very clean. It had great outdoor space and being right on the lagoon had a great view of the water. There were also some incredible sunset photo opportunities from the back deck. I have taken full advantage of this and have posted a few in the Photo Gallery section of this website for your enjoyment.

Due Diligence Research.

As with most things in Belize, it is important not to assume that it will be like it is in Canada or the US. For example, not one of the Belizean houses we looked at had heating. You also cannot assume that there is electricity for  AC or hot water. Several places we viewed had electricity but no hot water. A few had hot water only in the shower via what is referred to as a “suicide shower “, this device is essentially a 220 Volt instant hot water heater hard wired to the shower head with wires and connectors fully exposed (hence the name I guess). We have a shower only, and of all the Belizean houses we looked at, only one had a bathtub.

Some Belizean houses come with water views.

The gorgeous view of the San Pedro Lagoon from our back deck.

Because there is no need for heating very few Belizean houses have central air conditioning, our place has one unit over the window in the bedroom. Most places collect rain water into cisterns to be used for daily needs like dish washing, laundry, and showers. We buy 5 gallon water cooler jugs that are available at most stores for BZ$5.00/US$ 2.50 for cooking and drinking. Glass windows and screens are also an option as many Belizean houses only had wood or metal shutters on the screen-less window openings.

 

In San Pedro units are rented either short term or long term. Long term is 6 months or longer and terms less than six months are subject to a 9% hotel tax.

The place we rent is one of the modern Belizean houses and well equipped. It has electricity, AC in the bedroom, CATV/telephone jacks, heat on demand tank less hot water system delivering to all sinks, laundry area and of course the indoor shower (note: some places have outdoor showers only). We use rain water that is collected into a cistern, but we also have a town water connection and meter that can be unlocked if required should the cistern run dry during the dry season. We have sliding glass windows and screens to help keep the bugs out, although every couple of days a small salamander (harmless of course) will breach the perimeter and have to be herded out the door with the broom or captured with our minnow net and removed to a new location outdoors (so far no salamander has been harmed by this process).

Some Belizean houses come with great sunsets.

This is just one of the many spectacular sunsets we have seen from our back deck.

Should I Rent or Buy?

The last recommendation I have for anyone from Canada or the US looking to purchase Belizean houses or property, or houses in any other location in Central America, is that you first RENT, DO NOT BUY (for at least six months to a year). Be very sure that the location you have chosen does not present any surprises later. Things like flooding due to excessive water during the rain season, or maybe you are at the end of a road that washes out every year. Remember that it is extremely easy to buy Belizean houses and properties, but if you need to, it may not be not so easy to resell in a short time.

Due diligence is your responsibility, and will be a recurring theme in my posts and on this site. Do not take anything for granted and if possible, always have someone that knows the ropes help you to realize and ask the right questions.

 

I would Love to hear from you,
let me know if you enjoyed this post.

Leave a comment or ask your questions to help
me to make this site your go to resource on Belize.

And
Please subscribe

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