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#513498 - 05/04/16 10:58 AM Is 5 years too early to start planning?
David G Offline
I've yet to even set foot on Belizean soil, but since I made my vacation plans a couple weeks ago, I haven't been able to stop daydreaming about retiring early and living a simple life on the water in Belize. I've read through all the forums, blogs and online communities, even joined a few; have ran my state pension numbers to see what the earliest is that I could reasonably retire; looked at some additional short term investment strategies; perused the real estate and long-term rental listings; I've even started downsizing some aspects of my US life. On paper, it's looking like a solid bet that I can retire at 55 (I turn 50 this year) with a pension of close to $6k before taxes - I had been planning to retire at 62 previously, in order to sustain my California lifestyle.

I know things may be completely different down there in 5 years, especially with regard to cost of living and property availability, but what are some other things I should consider at this early stage? In addition to my upcoming June visit to AC, I am already planning another trip late this year to Placencia to check out that area. Provided that my experiences meet or exceed my expectations, would it be too early to think about acquiring property? Or is it still best to rent long-term (6 months or more) before committing to a purchase?

I know, I'm getting waaaay ahead of myself...can't help it wink

#513505 - 05/04/16 03:11 PM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: David G]
elbert Offline
I unplugged from the US at 40, quit the job,sold the house and car, etc.
Some of the surprises:
It cost about three times what I expected to get settled into residency and the water is full of sharks called expediters.
Lucky/good decisions:
I didn't try and bring a lot of stuff, only money and what could fit in the suitcase. Lots of stuff = lots of problems and heartache with custom and shipping expenses.
I was prepared for extra amounts of stress that always come along with changes...and there are a lot of changes.
I got lucky with a good new vocation choice.
I also chose the Northern part of Ambergris Caye and it developed with me.
Probably the biggest reason I wasn't a crash and burn is I didn't have an escape plan, I cut all the ties and sold everything, no storage facility with stuff left behind, no accounts, nothing to come back to or for.
There was no turning back, no parachute. I had to make it work.
That was 25 years ago.
P.S. I don't believe in retirement, it's bad for your health. fantasizing about retirement is a sad statement about how you feel about what your doing.
The Dive Shops Daily Blog

#513507 - 05/04/16 05:21 PM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: David G]
larrypied Offline
Forget the California lifestyle. I was in Southern Cal last year and in one night between my food and bar bill, I dropped $100. $7 for a beer. I was in San Pedro last week and the same $100 lasted three days. and I still had some change left!!!!!!

#513508 - 05/04/16 05:24 PM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: larrypied]
larrypied Offline
P.S. Just don't ring the gong in Pedro's!!!! You will find out about that soon.

#513529 - 05/05/16 09:19 AM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: David G]
Judyann H. Offline
We did the same thing as Elbert, only a few years ago.....Cut all ties, no US home, no storage, no visits back to the States.....failure was not an option for us.....Not all perfect, however a much better life.....And yes we still work and we love it!.....Unfortunately we see more people leave than stay each year.....Some cannot adjust to the humidity, others the critters, dust, slow pace, cheap Rum and completely new lifestyle..... We were not planning to make San Pedro our home, however it was our favorite of all the places when we had vacation rentals.....And eventually started spending so much time here we wondered why we didn't live here..Sold everything else and made the move........and now we would not change a thing....
My friends call me Judyann


#513533 - 05/05/16 12:44 PM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: David G]
Diane Campbell Offline
Full disclosure - I do work in the field of real estate, but hopefully 36 years of experience gives me a little bit of credibility. I'm also a person who made the leap/move and made it work. I've been here since 92, full-time.

My thoughts - the pension is a great fallback and I would love to have one - if you can stick it out to get that, I'd say do it. The peace of mind that having a reliable cash-flow gives is worth a lot. Downsizing is good regardless of your longer term plans ..... and if you take your time doing it, it can be a lot of fun. Just don't wait too too long ........ dreaming and doing are not the same thing.

Many of my Belize clients/neighbors/friends over the years purchased something 5-7 years in advance of planned retirement..... less than half have followed through with a plan made that far out. Why - because life changes. Nothing bad about Belize, just changes. Health issues, new relationships, divorces, grandchildren .... life is full of those things. Nonetheless, those people who purchased a condo or a lot for the future, generally did well. If they did move into it, they had a lower cost basis than if they'd waited. If they changed their minds they sold and made a little money. Maybe not a lot, but rarely do you loose if you buy something practical and pretty on the water.

Others like Elbert (who was my first landlord here) and myself ..... we jumped in with both feet and no escape plan. Maybe that is why we are still here, or maybe we had some strong sense of intuition about where we wanted to be.

Keep coming back and getting a feel for this place. Get liquid financially so that when the right thing comes along --- whether next week or in 3 years, you can do it.

#513543 - 05/05/16 02:16 PM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: David G]
David G Offline
Valuable insight Diane, very much appreciated! smile I know there's definitely a such thing as "too much planning", and I hope to strike a balance between being prepared but ready to jump when opportunity presents.

#513547 - 05/05/16 03:59 PM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: David G]
Diane Campbell Offline
I should also add that owning property here gives you another level of "belonging" and another way to learn how life and business works here. It is a very valuable learning experience. And best of all, you have a place to stay when you come to Belize ...... or at least a parcel of land on which to plant a coconut tree and sit and dream.

#513582 - 05/07/16 08:09 AM Re: Is 5 years too early to start planning? [Re: David G]
Judyann H. Offline
Diane makes some very valuable points here.....We did much of this however simply by chance.....Our first property purchase was in 2004 and we did not decide to move until 2008.....Yet, that sense of "belonging" was a great introduction to the community......We had some visitors, turned friends last year who had decided Belize was their destination.....They put their business on the market and leased out their home.....Their first trip was to rent a home, research business opportunities and set up bank accounts......3 days into the visit she said to me "how can you people live like this"? .....They changed their minds and have not returned......Therefore, again Diane makes some great points by spending a bit of time as part of the community even if in a pseudo fashion is good practice .... We look forward to meeting you.....
My friends call me Judyann



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