Journey to Belize: An Expat’s Story

Macarena Rose has a motto in life: Just do it! So when she fell in love with Belize after teaching a 2-week course there, she decided to pack up her family (including five cats and five dogs) and move. Macarena shares a bit of her life with us, including her advice for anyone considering a move to the tropical country.

International Man: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Macarena Rose: Hello to you from Belize! I am Macarena Rose and I live in San Ignacio, Belize. Having been born in the Washington DC area and having lived in Florida since 1982—you may wonder how did I ever find Belize?

Well, as life goes, it can be unpredictable at times. I came to Belize to teach a course in healing for two weeks, and well… I felt this odd pull to live here. Being as I am practical (okay, so my friends may laugh at this one, lol) I decided to go back to Belize for ten days on a pure vacation and scouting trip to see if Belize was right for me. Well it WAS!

I say Belize is not for everyone, and everything to some people. So, being that I do not believe in ever wondering what if? I lived my motto in life, which is “Just do it!” So, off we went—my 15 year old daughter, my 14 year old God daughter, her mother, myself, five cats and five dogs—and landed Belize over seven years ago. And San Ignacio has been home ever since!

IM: How did your daughter feel about moving to another country and how does she like her new life in Belize?

MR: Actually, when I first came back from my scouting and vacation trip, it was my daughter who asked me “Well, Mommy did you decide Belize was right for you to move to?” To which I stated, yes, it is!

To which she shocked me with her reply “Well, I have been thinking WE should all move to Belize!” So as my thought process was, there was no “we”, it was a me thing to move to Belize when she graduated as she was my youngest child. I was stunned that she would even want to think of leaving her friends and all things that were her known comforts. Well, she never wavered in her intention of moving to Belize, so this is exactly what we did. I put my house on the market in Florida, it literally was under contract in less than a week, and we were all Belize bound.

IM: Was it difficult to set yourself up in Belize?

MR: As to moving to Belize, all the time I am asked how hard it was for me. I can tell you that it was a heck of a lot easier—and almost a lateral move with ease—as I listened to two people I knew I could trust: a political minister of the country and “David the Scotsman”, who was also an expat living here. I did not look for information online, as it varies too much as to who is telling you what and for what reason. I found two men who cared to tell me the truth and help me. That was all I needed. I have seen folks spin their wheels trying to listen to too many other people. So, I have to say I was blessed with the wisdom to trust my gut and listen to these two men.

IM: Tell us more about your work… was it difficult to start a career in Belize?

MR: I came to Belize as the Director of a Church, and then in the process of looking for land, found out there were no Belize real estate laws nor any realtors. Being that my mother has been a broker since I was a child, I knew the ethics and code that a realtor must adhere to and made it my passion to help start a Realtors Association here, and I went as far as being blessed to sign in person the Bi-Lateral Agreement accepting Belize into the National Association of Realtors (N.A.R).

I am now an instructor for NAR’s Certified International Property Specialist designation, for which there are only 12 of us allowed to teach these courses.

To start a business in Belize as a woman from another country was not the easiest thing to do—it took sheer will and drive to not give up -- and patience. I can tell you that it has all been worth it, as I have a full life here in Belize: I am the actual voice on the cell phone service here, I have coached the Semi Pro men’s soccer team (the Cayo Avengers), I have hosted a weekly TV show featuring Belizeans lives and have the very best friends one could ask for here. Regrets, I have not one!

IM: What do your friends and family in the US think of you moving to another country?

MR: My family was very supportive of me moving abroad, and have enjoyed being part of my journey along the way. They have an incredible place to visit and get to hear tales of what it is like to live in Belize, where the whole country is like a small town.

IM: If you could go back and do it all again, is there anything you would do differently when it comes to expatriating?

MR: These are a few things that I either wish I had done or known to do, or have seen folks miss out on. Some examples are: I would have brought my comfortable mattresses and some really well made fans. I would have stocked up on my size 10 wide shoes. I would have brought less with me, although we did get to see the joy of sharing all our extras with others herein Belize.

I can say the best thing I did when arriving into Belize was to follow the good advice the people who live in Belize gave me. I never thought that I would know better than they would. I took their advice, and now get to Pay it Forward and help others every day.

IM: Anything else you'd like to share?

MR: "Plan to have a budget that allows you to freely travel back and forth to where you shall move from.” The reason I say this, is that there will be family issues, baby’s being born and holidays that you will want to go back to be with family and friends for. I council people to buy a home in Belize under their allotted budget so they are free to travel and visit family/friends and I live by this plan also. It is all about being to enjoy the stress free life.

I have a saying, “Do not leave your brain at the border!” I mean it. Do not think of moving abroad with rose-colored glasses on, there are rules to follow wherever you live, and there are good people, and these are the ones to follow.

For example, one of my projects involves helping people relocate to Belize, and I explain to them how step-by-step we will help advise them with their Retirement Program Belize offers or their residency papers—to then have people come back and say “well I met someone who says they can ‘PUSH’ my papers”, and nothing is happening.

So, I stress to work with professionals that care about doing things the correct way thru the proper channels. My Belize experience has been stellar as I honor the process of how things are to be done here and love that I am part of Belize.

So, if you are looking for an intimate real life journey, I challenge you to see if Belize is for you, like it is for me.

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