Moving to Belize in Your 70s

How one couple decided to move abroad in retirement.

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Cecilia and Robert are 70-somethings from Michigan preparing to reinvent their lives. They have sold their home, downsized their lives, and are nearly ready to hit the road.

[See The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012.]

After years of research and consideration, Cecilia and Robert are focused on moving to Belize. They think this could be a place where they want to live, at least part-time. But what really attracted them to Belize, over all the other countries they considered, was finances. “We aren’t wealthy people, but we’ve managed what we have,” says Robert. “We see this new adventure as a next step in that process.”

On their first scouting trip to Belize, the couple focused on Ambergris Caye. “We loved the island and really enjoyed our time there,” says Cecilia. “Mostly, though, that first visit to Ambergris was important because it helped us to realize that we do not want to be on the beach. We’re not lay-out-on-the-beach people.” They also found the Ambergris Caye area, around San Pedro where the expat community is centered, to be noisier than they would like. "We know that we want a quieter atmosphere,” she says.

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For their second visit to Belize this month, Cecilia and Robert are planning to visit the country’s Cayo District. This part of Belize is nothing like Ambergris Caye. While Ambergris is a Caribbean island, offering a quintessentially Caribbean lifestyle, Cayo, in Belize’s interior, is a rain forest with rivers and mountains. This area has a much quieter, simpler, and more relaxed way of life, perhaps just what Cecilia and Robert are looking for.

The couple is taking their time researching retirement spots that might meet their needs. “We’ve been thinking about this, researching, and planning for more than two years,” Cecilia says. “This is a process. One thing builds on another, and the next thing builds on that.”

[See Affordable Places to Retire Abroad.]

They have at times been nervous about their decision to relocate overseas. For both of them, this is a big adjustment, as it would be for any couple preparing, at this stage of life, to reinvent themselves in a new country. They’re taking it one step at a time, gradually getting comfortable with the idea. “We just kept pushing ahead, and, in time, the pieces began to fit together,” says Robert. “Everything started to gel.”

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.