A Stress-Free Zone

Lonely backroad in the Cayo District of Belize near Mennonite settlement of Spanish Colony

A Stress-Free Zone

In the Cayo District of Belize, the burdens, stresses, and concerns of the rest of the world feel far away and unimportant…

“We watch the news each evening, and we know what’s going on in the rest of the world… But we choose a different reality,” says long-time Belize expat Mick Fleming.

It doesn’t take long for any other reality you’ve brought with you to fade once you get here…

The Cayo District is a rugged, sprawling region of the Belize mainland that’s full of rivers and rain forests, as well as rustic small towns and villages with strong community spirit.

It has long held a kind of mystique… Its rich history dates back thousands of years to the Maya empire, with relics and ruins strewn about the vast natural landscape.

Today, Cayo’s population is made up of an eclectic community of expats and locals who appreciate space, freedom, privacy, the outdoors, and back-to-basics values.

The biggest of Belize’s six districts, the Cayo is paradise for nature lovers, containing some of the country’s best opportunities for exploring rivers, caves, mountains, tropical forests, and wide-open spaces, including several nature reserves.

It has a scattering of small towns and villages, but San Ignacio town is the nucleus. Over the years, it has developed from middle-of-nowhere outpost to charming, well-appointed hub.

It’s home to a town square lined with boutiques, restaurants and cafés, tour companies, and real estate agencies, as well as a pedestrianized thoroughfare.

It’s a market town, with lively fruit and vegetable markets a few days per week, and the commercial center of the country.

This is a benefit because it offers the widest selection of goods and materials… which can be difficult to source in other parts of Belize. San Ignacio offers an unmatched level of convenience.

Just down the road from San Ignacio is Carmelita Gardens, an eco-focused community made up of a couple dozen expats with a shared interest in simple, self-sufficient living.

Many choose to live here because they appreciate the down-to-earth nature of the place… It doesn’t take long to become a part of the community in the Cayo…

You’ll soon know the shop owners, farmers, schoolteachers, yoga instructors, artists, and your expat neighbors. A friendly smile and nod of the head are the standard greetings around here.

Whether you plan to relocate full-time, part-time, rent, buy, start a business, or simply get off the grid and relax a while, Cayo is a great option. It’s a largely untouched natural paradise where you can settle into a welcoming community and forget the world’s troubles.

It can also be a bargain…

Cayo has a relatively low cost of living. Figure on about $2,005 a month for a couple—that’s 58% cheaper than the average cost of living in the U.S.

One reason why you’re likely to reduce your spending here is that there’s not much to spend on: there are no malls, outlets, or big shopping centers.

That said, certain things, like electricity, fuel, and electronics, cost more in Cayo than in the States. Other things (water, internet, and basic utilities) cost much less.

Plus, there’s no need to grapple with a language barrier here. Because of its British colonial past, English is Belize’s official language. In fact, it’s the only English-speaking country in Central America.


Sophia Titley

Editor, Overseas Living Letter

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