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#209240 - 04/26/03 09:18 AM opening a cafe  
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 2
lillian Offline
lillian  Offline
Hi Everyone, I'm getting clear with the idea that working is questionable unless one is contributing to the economy and employing Belizeans. My husband is looking into a teaching position as a professor (he has a doctorate in psychology) with the medical school but we are trying to figure out how I would generate an income. We would be there for at least five years easily so I think I could qualify for some form of residency status eventually. What I am wondering is if I might be able to open a cafe--coffee, cookies, pastries, etc. and sell artwork (my own and that of local artists). I could employ locals and give local artists a place to display their work. Do you think this is possible or is there so much bureacracy to tread through that it's unlikely? Also, what are the average electricity bills and phone bills we would expect? Thanks:)

#209241 - 04/26/03 10:03 AM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 14
deking3333 Offline
deking3333  Offline
I assume you are thinking of moving to San Pedro? The reality is that we have to MANY restaurants, bars, dive shops, hotel rooms, tour guides, musicians, artist, gift shops and condos on our island. There is no way all of them can survive on the amount of tourist that come each year. Most, or better put; very few of the existing business' make ANY money and I watch many come and go every season. We all are dreamers on this board and that is why we love Belize. Just be very aware that this place will chew you up, digest you and expel you as routinely as a bird eating a fruit does. Whatever idea you have, someone else is already doing it or has tried it. San Pedro really is best as a place to retire and not plan on working there. Of course knowing these things did not stop me from chasing my dream to live here some twenty years ago (although it was much less developed then). Maybe you are one of the few who will make it, hope so!

#209242 - 04/26/03 10:06 AM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 1,191
Chris Offline
Chris  Offline
Lillian; If you can afford it, consider buying an existing business. I have one for sale, it's my Internet cafe/bar. Plenty of room for artwork etc. It might not be quite right for you, but email me at and I will try and point you in the right direction no matter what.

#209243 - 04/26/03 02:08 PM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 287
Sandy C Offline
Sandy C  Offline

For art: recommend you contact Susan Lala, owner of Caribbean Villas Hotel. She started an art group on the island and sells her own art in many galleries, so she has insight and contacts; CV has a link via "Lodging" above. For cafe: Cafe Ole (501-226-2907) across from Tropic Air at the airstrip seems to be a business success (at least they are still open!) - maybe those owners could give you some insight for their business. Other insights could come from Chris and Jennifer at Casa Picasso (a unique restaurant on island) - they have a link via "Goods & Services" above. Maybe the medical school would be of assistance for a work permit, etc. for you, since they probably have to have some documentation for your spouse. If you decide to look for a job, gringos are frequently in demand as managers of hotels and condo complexes. Can't help you with the phone and electrical bills; Susan could probably assist with that also. Best wishes with your adventure!

#209244 - 04/26/03 03:51 PM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 2
lillian Offline
lillian  Offline
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Yes, I thought the medical school might be an option and I'm thrilled to know someone has started an artists' group locally. My husband thinks I'm like a cat with nine lives, always have a back-up plan. I'd really like to get into making more pottery (raku specifically) and maybe teach a couple local girls/women how to do it so we could all generate an income. Thanks everyone. This is a really friendly board and I'll keep checking back.

#209245 - 04/26/03 04:08 PM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 476
Marie Offline
Marie  Offline
Hi Lillian! I always threaten to jump ship and move there. I'm a counselor with two Master's, one in psychology and the other in counseling. I'm also ABD and deciding whether to finish that job. I have no idea about what would have to be done about the whole issue of reciprocity there, if he wanted to counsel on the side of teaching. Maybe that's not his thing. I love Belize and go there all the time. But, do have your husband check seriously into it, and you, too. My guess is, and its what keeps me up North, there is not much interest in the profession there. Maybe more as a teacher, but I'll bet very little as a counselor if he does that, too. So, please, check it out before you 'sell the farm'. My dive master always says, spend 6 months there first before you make a move. It's harder than it looks. Good luck!

#209246 - 04/26/03 04:42 PM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,675
dbdoberman Offline
dbdoberman  Offline
everybody who loves AC would love to try this lillian, good luck.

As I have absolutely nothing to offer, information or first hand knowledge about starting a business there, I will keep my mouth shut about that part.

#209247 - 04/26/03 06:52 PM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 1,191
Chris Offline
Chris  Offline
You are completely wrong in your statement that very few of our "restaurants, bars, dive shops, hotel rooms, tour guides, musicians, artists, gift shops" etc. here on AC make money. Just about ALL of the good ones make good money. All of the useless ones go out of business rapidly.

In case you don't believe me, here's an exercise for the regular users of this message board: Make a list of all of the GOOD restaurants, bars, dive shops, hotel rooms, tour guides, musicians, artist, gift shops on Ambergris Caye and then see if any of them are about to go out of business as deking3333 implies.

#209248 - 04/26/03 08:23 PM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 14
deking3333 Offline
deking3333  Offline
It is no surprise that a few want to disbelieve what I said about few business' making any money. On the surface it seems that they are making money. I have lived here and owned business' for 21 years and I have seen them come and go. Many times the name stays the same but someone new takes it over. I am very close to the owners of many of the "Good restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. and I know first hand that what I say is true. I also am very close to the money supply to San Pedro and I know who borrows and who can't pay their bills. The names on the list would surprise you. I didn't say no one made money, just most and I stand by that statement. I love it here in San Pedro but I think people should get the straight scoop and not just a random opinion from someone who visits every year or who has only been around for a few years. So I like the idea of making a list and seeing who is left next season and the season after...

#209249 - 04/26/03 10:45 PM Re: opening a cafe  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 1,191
Chris Offline
Chris  Offline
deking3333 are you saying that I only visit San Pedro once a year? Or are you saying that I've only been here a little while? Both are implied by you and both are wrong, of course.

Some "small business 101": When a business is "taken over" in our free market society it generally means that it has been sold and bought. I believe one should sell a business when it is doing fairly well, with potential for growth and not when it is failing. Most buyers can see if a business is worth the selling price.

Part of the worth of a business is what you can get for it when you sell it. Just because you sell it doesn't mean it has failed. My experience has been quite the contrary. I have created and sold 4 different businesses here on Ambergris Caye. Of the 4 I sold, 3 are still doing very well indeed, the 4th folded because the owner suffered health problems and handed it over to the wrong person to look after.

I have no intention of telling you which businesses I created and sold; if you have lived here all those years and are as up to speed on your knowledge of business here on Ambergris Caye as you claim I have no doubt you already know each and every one of them.

I am going to concede one very valid point to you: It IS true that a lot of starry eyed Westerners fall in love with San Pedro, move down too rapidly and invest hurriedly. They get in with the drinking and drugs crowd. They think they're into the sharp and suave social scene here on Ambergris Caye, but all they succeed in doing is propping up bars and spending small fortunes each night.

Needless to say, the investments they have made do not get attended the way they should and soon all the money is gone and the dream is dashed.

For anyone considering coming to Belize to live....TAKE YOUR TIME....make several visits, each longer than the last, and get over the "starry eyed falling in love with Paradise" phase. If after a few visits of a few weeks or more each you still like it here, THEN you can make the committment.

And, if you are careful and attentive in your investments you will almost certainly succeed.

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