If I’m being real, Belize has never been at the top of my list of places to consider for my Plan B. Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama were all up there, but Belize, not so much. When I reflect on why it never made it into my top 3, I can definitely pinpoint a few pre-conceived notions I had about it:
#1: I felt it was too expensive in relation to other countries in the region,
#2: I felt it was too small (stupid reason, I know),
#3: As you can guess by looking at #1 and #2, I just didn’t know much about it.
But, and I swear to you this is not just a plug for Escape Artist Insiders, when I read this month’s issue, a Deep Dive on Belize, I became incredibly intrigued about Belize and all it has to offer. Whereas before, it wasn’t on my radar at all, now I am very eager to visit and experience this beautiful country for myself!
So, in today’s article, I wanted to give you the rundown on what really caught my attention about Belize that I think makes it a standout destination and somewhere I definitely want to visit in the near future.
Addressing my pre-conceived notions
#1: Too expensive
While it’s true that Belize is more expensive than some countries in Central America, it is still a tremendous bargain when compared to its British Commonwealth cousins Bermuda and the Bahamas.
And, compared to Canada, most goods and services are still far cheaper, property taxes are much less, and even the real estate in most of the country is much cheaper than you’ll find up here. You can get healthcare for a song and a dance, too. Where you’ll get caught is on the imports, so live like a local and you’ll be good to go!
While it is more expensive than neighboring countries like Nicaragua and Honduras, it likely still maintains a significant advantage over your home country. And it is a tax-friendly regime, which is always an important factor for those of us putting together our Plan Bs!
#2: Too small
I am certainly not the kind of person that is interested in living in or even visiting some Judge Dredd-era mega city. But for me, Belize just seemed so small! I couldn’t fathom there being that much to do there.
What I learned from reading the Deep-Dive on Belize issue of Escape Artist Insiders is how wrong I really was. Yes, it is a small country. But there is a ton to do there!
From exploring caves, to snorkeling and scuba diving, to ziplining, to hiking amid the Mayan ruins, there is so much to see and do. Aside from that, there is the dancing, cultural celebrations, beautiful beaches, and so much more.
I don’t see Belize as a tiny country with not much going on any more. I see it is an exciting destination with tons of opportunities to explore.
#3: I just didn’t know much about it
You would think, with me being a long-time reader of Escape Artist Insiders and now working for Escape Artist, that Belize would totally be on my radar. I mean, we talk about it all the time in the blogs and magazine, right?
But, for some reason, it always played second fiddle to other Latin American countries for me.
I love Mexico and it is a super easy and affordable residence to get, plus it is very accessible to us from Canada. (Pro tip: if you can visit during their Mexican Independence Day celebrations in September, make sure you do it! You will have the best time!)
I’ve always felt drawn to Nicaragua due to it being a little more off the beaten path, having an extremely low cost of living, and its natural beauty. Not to mention the agricultural investments, like teak. I love me some teak.
When I think of Belize, I guess I think of banking first, and that’s just not super alluring to me. But, once I took the time to learn more about the country, I could really see why people love it so much. From its stunning beauty and adventure, to the history, people and culture, it has so much more to offer than offshore bank accounts, although that is certainly a nice perk!
Highlighting the amazingness of Belize
So, given that this country is now firmly on my radar, I wanted to dig in a little more to some of the aspects of Belize that really made it stand out to me.
You guys, the history of this country is absolutely incredible! When you read about how they have fought for their independence and were a crown colony all the way up until 1981, when Britain granted them their sovereign independence, I promise you will be intrigued.
Up until then, they were known as British Honduras, and I think this name change may be part of why Belize has remained as sort of a hidden gem for so long, and are just now starting to really come into the mainstream for a lot of people.
Even knowing some of the history of their tourism industry was really interesting to me, as you could see how Belize started out and has grown steadily over the past few decades into the tourist powerhouse it is becoming today. When you are thinking about investments, it is extremely valuable to understand the history of your destination and whether it has the chops to deliver for you.
I seriously had no idea that so many cultures came together to form the rich fabric of Belize. Belize’s seven ethnic groups are Mestizo, Garifuna, Creole, Mennonite, Chinese, East Indian, and Maya. I’m sure you can just imagine the delicious food, interesting customs, and cultural celebrations to be had!
And the people sound so friendly and willing to engage with those who want to learn more about their culture and country. I love that they are so proud of it.
In many first-world countries, like Canada, we have lost a lot of that pride. Rather than celebrating our history, we look down upon it. So it is refreshing to hear about a country like Belize where the people actually appreciate the struggles their ancestors underwent to build their country. Where they hold huge celebrations in gratitude of the sacrifices of their forefathers, and understand the unique contribution so many different peoples have made to their land.
The eco-friendly adventure
While I was aware of the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world and a massive draw to divers, there sure are a lot of other things to do in Belize!
You can go hiking in the Maya Mountains, and explore caves and ancient Mayan ruins. You can visit beautiful crystal-clear waterfalls and check out the symphony of spectacular indigenous birds, such as the Scarlet Macaw, in the rainforest. You could wander the various cities and towns, checking out the local restaurants and bars and commiserating with the locals.
Getting back to the ocean, you could go diving around the coral reef and even check out the Great Blue Hole, a giant sinkhole filled with spectacular marine life, caves, and stalactites. Or head over to Shark & Ray Alley to snorkel with the sharks and stingrays. There are so many opportunities for adventure in Belize.
And what I really love about the adventure of Belize is their commitment to doing it in an environmentally responsible way. They have dedicated nature reserves on both land and sea – a total of around 26% of the country’s area. And many government and volunteer organizations work together to ensure the safety of both the flora and fauna throughout the country.
It’s all good in Belize!
Belize has been referred to as the Unknown Caribbean Paradise, but I don’t think that is going to last very much longer! Just as Belize has finally arrived on my radar, it is rapidly rising to prominence among investors and tourists alike.
So, let’s you and I get ourselves down there and see what all the fuss is about sooner rather than later – sound good?
In the meantime, make sure you check out this month’s issue of Escape Artist Insiders for our Deep Dive on Belize. It does a great job at teaching you more about Belize and I challenge you to read it cover to cover without wanting to go visit!
See you next week!
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