An Unconventional Retirement in Belize

A single mom moves from Florida to Belize to start a second career.

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At an age when most Americans are thinking about retirement, Macarena Rose made a radical move from Florida to Belize. A single mother to two biological and six adopted children, Macarena and her youngest 15-year-old daughter left the U.S. seven years ago to launch a new life in San Ignacio.

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Rose visited Belize twice before the move. She first traveled with the Sentient Temple of Florida to San Ignacio, in Belize’s interior rain forest Cayo District, to participate in a workshop in April 2003. When I returned to Florida, I couldn't get the trip out of my mind,” Rose says. Six months later she and a friend traveled the length of this little Caribbean nation. “Watching a local parade in Belize one day, I was taken aback by the intimacy of the event,” she says. “It was a defining moment, one I will always look back on as the beginning of this new phase of my life.”

Rose returned to Florida to tell her children that, when the last one graduated from high school, she was moving to Belize. Her youngest daughter, Chiara, responded in a way her mother never could have predicted. “Why wait?” she asked. “Why not move to Belize right away?” They both moved abroad together.

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Rose sold her family home, shipped a container of belongings, and boarded a plane to Belize with her daughter and two dogs in tow. When you make your initial announcement that you're moving to another country, prepare yourself,” Rose cautions. “The reactions will be both pro and con.”

Now she’s running a real estate company, Rainforest Realty, in San Ignacio, hosting a weekly television show featuring local Belizeans, and coaching the Cayo’s semi-professional men’s soccer team. She also serves on the boards of two nonprofits: the Humane Society and the Winsom Foundation, an organization that aims to keep children in school and help them experience the arts.

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Rose has reinvented her life in a beautiful, English-speaking country. She has also discovered that there’s more to life than being connected to a Blackberry. Maybe what appeals to me most living here is the chance that has been given to me to leave all the day-to-day stresses of my former life far behind,” she says. “I think many of us fantasize about finding a place with that small-town feeling, and that's just what you find throughout Belize.”

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.