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#467875 - 07/09/13 03:48 PM I've had it and I think I need to leave...
Vhoghul Offline
Toronto, Canada that is...

My job is killing me, my bills crushing me. any other job I take that I could afford to keep the mortgage going would be just as bad or worse, and 6 months of the year, the weather sucks...

So I've been talking with my wife over our favorite places, and we keep coming back to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye...

I'm seriously thinking about taking the next 6 months to prep the house and listing it in January. I think, once all fees are taken care of and debts are paid, I could wind up with about 30 - 40k to float me, but after that, I'd be flat broke...

So my question is less should I do it, but more can I do it?

I'm a tech junkie for a living, but hoping to become a recovering tech junkie. I did work as a retail store manager up here for 5 years, when I was in my 20s and my wife is the main customer service/office manager for a small Financial Analyst firm.

I'd actually like to open my own business down there, an Ice Cream shoppe has always appealed to me, though I'm not sure how I could compete with DandE's, in quality or price... Anything that you guys would desperately like to have open down there? I can cook a mean Poutine!!! :p

How hard is it to open a business in Belize, and can foreigners apply for a small business loan in the country? If I worked fast, I could likely sink 20 - 30k of my own into a startup, but even in Belize, I bet that's less than half what I would need...

Looking at the employment forum, it seems finding a job is a struggle, as I have no bar or restaurant experience, though due to a bad back, I can't do jobs anymore that require me to stand all day, anyway. Not as young as I once was... Is the job situation as grim as it appears? If I can't open a startup, I'll need to find some way to earn an income?

To sum it up, my wife and I have no kids, we desperately want an escape, and would like to relocate to Belize, but I'm not the kind of person to jump into things. I imagine the best way to see if I like the life is to try it out, but the problem isn't if I like it, it's if it doesn't like me...

Sorry if this is a ramble, I'm just looking for thoughts from other expats that made the leap. I'm probably a little longer in the tooth that many were that made the jump (40ish), and a little poorer that those that were my age when they did, so I'd just like some input from those that got it right...

I'm not looking for an early retirement, I'm looking to move to a place that I love, and am willing to work my ass off for it, if I can...


#467881 - 07/09/13 05:15 PM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: Vhoghul]
collyk Offline
Hi Sean,

Great that you are ready to start an adventure and a new chapter in your life. San Pedro is a great place for many, but not for everyone. Anyone who has lived here for any length of time will tell you not to sell up quite yet. Come down and live here for at least 6 months before even considering it. Get to know what living here is really like and if it is exactly what you are dreaming of before burning your bridges.

DandE's Frozen Custard rocks, but is not the only game in town. There are a few ice cream shops, so you may find the market already saturated. Those are the sorts of things you'll learn about when you live here.

It's not hard to open a business in Belize. You'll need to apply for and pay for a work permit if you or your wife wish to work in it at all though. Otherwise you'll have to hire locals. You are unlikely to get a small business loan without substantial collateral in Belize and the interest rates are shocking.

Jobs for expats are few and far between unless you come with specialist skills, particularly in the hospitality industry, but it's highly competitive and you'd need a work permit or residency to work legally.

The rule of thumb is to make sure you've got enough money to live for a couple of years while you find your feet. If you find a niche, work hard and don't party too much, you might just scrape by a living.

Living in paradise has a lot going for it, but it's not cheap and it's not easy.
Belize Wedding Photography

#467935 - 07/10/13 12:17 PM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: collyk]
SnoopysMom Offline
Dear Sean - I think it is safe to say we have enough bars and restaurants, ice cream joints, etc.

In determining what type of business, please try to evaluate not only what everyone tells you they need (bowling alley would be nice, but could our little Island sustain it?), but what might actually contribute to the Island in some beneficial way (recycling being one example) and might reduce costs for the residents here. Just a quick thought: Could you teach your trade to others?

It might take living here to figure that out, like Collyk has said.

#467941 - 07/10/13 01:39 PM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: Vhoghul]
Vhoghul Offline
Hi Guys,

That's kind of my thought.

The problem with a short term move is that I can't carry the expenses on my property or get time off work, so if i move down, it will be for good, unless I change my mind. Basically, I would need to unload everything up here, move down, and get a 6 month lease or so. As you said, then I figure out where I fit in, and choose at that point if I'm going to renew the lease and stick around, or retreat back to the frozen north and our Yetis.

My plan would be to move down with my entire savings, enough money to be able to survive on $1250 US a month for 2-3 years, while I try to carve out my niche. Longer if I can stretch my dollar further. My only problem is, that money is also what I would use to open a business.

I definitely haven't really been looking at restaurants or bars, as I'm not surprised that locals would say that they're already saturated. I don't remember many other ice cream parlours, but it's very possible that I just missed them. I just remember DandEs and a place that started with an M which admittedly was almost as good.

And you guys raise a good point about the needs of the island vs. the wants of the island. With a population of 13k, there are a few things that would come in handy, or would be nice to have, that would die a miserable death due to being too much of a 'niche'.

To be honest, I'm shocked that the Caye doesn't have a recycling program. I've actually helped start those up in the past, in small scale, for recycling electronics in my old company.

I might get in contact with the existing Recycling Network in Belize and see about that. I know that there's a loan program that foreigners are eligible for that go towards businesses that will serve to 'greenify' Belize. If i can tie in with the existing network, then a boat, some bodies and a roof would get me started, and if I hire some Belize locals, it would definitely help my applications get processed.

To be honest, a non-retail startup would definitely be more my speed. I might have to go deeper into the forums and see what other gripes there about life on the island that I might be able to start helping with. I'd love to be the most liked person on the island for fixing one or more major areas of complaint. I definitely like the idea of getting into the recycling game, even if it's just something that i break even on to keep me busy for the first few months while I figure out how to make money off of it in Belize's specific market.

#467954 - 07/10/13 07:25 PM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: Vhoghul]
klcman Offline
where is Deacon+ when you need him? whistle
_ _ _ _ _ _ _________________ _ _ _ _ _ _
But then what do I know, I am but a mere caveman

#467978 - 07/11/13 09:24 AM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: Vhoghul]
SnoopysMom Offline
Good ideas and there has been a lot of discussion on this forum relative to all things environmental!

I actually "re-use" wine and other bottles for my little business and everyone is so helpful is saving bottles (so much so, I have had to ask them to stop as I was getting overwhelmed with the shear volume!). On another note, there are a lot of cool ideas for art / lighting / landscaping using bottles.... I believe there is an artist painting bottles that were quite beautiful as well.

Good luck to you smile

#467982 - 07/11/13 10:13 AM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: SnoopysMom]
Vhoghul Offline
Wait a minute, do you produce your own absinthe?

It seems island life has yet another draw for me laugh

On a serious note, it's great that people are saving bottles for you, as it shows that at least a selection of the island folk are serious about going out of their way to recycle.

This idea is getting better and better. I'm going to start looking at baler prices, including shipping charges to the island, and boat prices. All it would take it tying in with the existing network and forming the NPO, and, of course, the money to get the materials and get everything off the ground. Time to start up the business plan.

I've tackled bigger fish in my life, and I have no compunctions to working 12-16 hours a day to get this off the ground. As it is, I usually do 9-10 plus 4 hours of commuting a day, so I'm definitely not one of the people looking to move down for a permanent vacation in the islands. I expect to work my ass off making a place for myself, the same as I would up here. The only real difference is, I'd rather do it somewhere that I can finish my days on a patio with a beer (or Absinthe) listening to the surf. It's better than staying as a corporate computer junky being treated like a serf.

Thanks for all the input so far guys. Any more ideas, keep them coming - this has been a big help. smile

#467983 - 07/11/13 10:32 AM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: Vhoghul]
ScubaLdy Offline
Anyone who would invest in a big wood chipper could make money hiring people to clear land and instead of burning it - chip it. This makes great mulch and for those to lazy to do our own composting - you could do this and sell great soil. The 'black' dirt is not always the best.

I have bagged all the chips from the wood being planed and will use it in my l-o-n-g planter boxes where I will grown my fruits and vegetables. My garden will be all around my 2nd level decks with screens to keep out the iguanas.

BTW - one of my friends here is starting to grow his vegetable garden on his roof. On the food network they showed a restaurant guy in New York City doing just that.

There are a lot of inventive things that can be done here - good luck.
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

#467984 - 07/11/13 11:21 AM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: ScubaLdy]
Mike S Offline
I don't want to burst your bubble but if you are renting a place, you can't live on $1250 U.S. a month on this island. My wife and I own a house (paid for) and we still need about $2000 U.S. a month to live. Also, the town is getting ready to start barging the trash off the island and separate recycle items at their own facility in the near future. In Belize time that may be awhile but you never know. Don't give up on your dream but just realize things don't work down here quite the same as back in the north. Good luck.

#467991 - 07/11/13 03:10 PM Re: I've had it and I think I need to leave... [Re: Vhoghul]
Wizardofaahs Offline
You'll also find that most local Belizeans won't recycle. They rarely pick up trash. They will gather bottles that have refund value, it helps with their daily living expenses. It is just as expensive for them to live on the island, too. If you only have $1250/mo for 2 people you will be better off on the mainland.

And, Scubalady, I will be composting and selling the best soil you can find! Be there in a couple of months.
Words have power. Speak it into existence.

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