Today, it’s the turn of Belize…
You don’t hear much from this little Caribbean nation in the mainstream media. So it’s over to Belize Correspondent Phil Hahn to give us the scoop on how Belize has been faring in the face of a global pandemic…
Editor, Overseas Property Alert
The News From Belize Today Is… “No Worries, Mon”
By Phil Hahn in Cayo, Belize
More than ever, people are asking, “What does the future look like?”
In Belize it looks appealingly like the past. A past when the quality of life in small, tight-knit communities was treasured. A time when people didn’t live to work—they worked to live. Belizean culture cherishes and celebrates that lifestyle and the balance between an industrious life and a laid-back one. No wonder it is consistently ranked as one of the happiest places on Earth.
Belize is fundamentally a melting pot of freedom seekers. Freedom is the overarching spirit of the nation and was memorialized in 1925 when Samuel Haynes composed the lyrics, “Land of the Free by the Carib Sea,” which later became the National Anthem.
A few years later, Aldous Huxley wrote, “If the world had any ends, British Honduras would certainly be one of them. It is not on the way from anywhere to anywhere else. It has no strategic value. It is all but uninhabited.”
When Huxley penned those words in 1934, the population of Belize (or British Honduras as it was then) stood at 52,000. Though it has grown to 400,000 today, Belize
still boasts one of the lowest densities anywhere in the world. And, contrary to Huxley’s words, Belize has plenty of strategic value. It’s in the tropical Caribbean, close to North America, and has vast arable land, vibrant island culture, lush rainforests, and a welcoming hospitable culture.
These essential elements have made Belize an attractive destination for a new wave of freedom seekers. Amid the global crises of a pandemic, civil unrest, and political malaise, this small, unassuming country has remained calm. With a self-sufficient population and vast natural resources, the nation is resilient and food secure. Belizeans have a quiet confidence about their future. As always, it’s “No worries, Mon.”
What About Real Estate?
As the only country in Central and South America with English as its official language, Common Law as its foundation, and strong private property rights, there is good reason to be confident about the future. Many Belizeans own property and can live off their own land or from the sea, which adds to their self-assuredness.
These factors are also why the real estate market tends to be less volatile in Belize. If you spend time searching, you can dig up good deals. But the pandemic has not caused a massive decline in prices. This may change if there is a prolonged economic recovery, but the folks here are not desperate and are on “Belize time.” News from the outside world doesn’t cause them to panic.
In 1988, Morley Safer of “60 Minutes” fame said, “The news from Belize today is there is no news from Belize today.” In a world supersaturated with news, it’s a relief to know that Safer’s words still hold true. Few places have escaped international reports about their COVID-19 status, yet there was little to no news about Belize being the last country in all the Americas to register a case. The country was able to stave off a first wave until a couple of months ago when cases were brought in with repatriation flights and border jumpers.
Today the news from Belize is that it is adjusting to the existence of COVID-19 by establishing reasonable protocols and providing training for airport, hotel, and tour company staff. The Government of Belize and the Belize Tourism Board are now finding a balance between keeping Belizeans and visitors safe while rejuvenating the economy.
Belize Is Open For Visitors
In preparation for the reopening of the international airport on Oct. 1, the tourist board created a health app that provides a QR code for ease of entry. After being locked down since March 23, the reopening of the airport was a welcome event for a country that loves hosting tourists. It was long-awaited news for residents and expats anxious to return to their homes and businesses in Belize.
The folks stuck in North America desperately missed their blissful lives in Belize. At the same time, those living in Belize didn’t panic. Like many others in the world they had to deal with COVID-19 protocol inconveniences, but as a resilient society they peacefully went about their daily lives and harmonized in typical Belizean fashion.
We saw this play out here at Carmelita Gardens—our self-sufficient community located in the Belize River Valley. Surrounded by nature, the Belize River, and farmland, the residents here live comfortably in their solar-powered homes and pull together as a community. Carmelita residents share in the bounty from the gardens and river and help each other with projects. A couple of the residents built a chicken house, so they could have fresh organic eggs for themselves and to share with others. Another resident built a fire pit to host barbecues with grilled fish, skewers of shrimp, vegetables, and baked potatoes. As new residents move in, they are greeted with fresh eggs, organic produce, and freshly baked carrot cake. During lockdown, the residents continued with their day-to-day life—gardening, fishing, baking, playing games, canoeing, and relaxing.
Interest In Belize Is On The Rise
As things worsened in North America, we saw more interest in Belize and the quality of life on offer in a community like Carmelita Gardens. While travel restrictions were still in place, we began hosting virtual tours. Many of our tour attendees went on to buy properties, and some designed their dream homes. We’re looking forward to our next “Golden Shovel Event”—when residents and staff celebrate the groundbreaking on a new house. Golden Shovels and Golden Ribbon-cuttings (housewarmings) are traditions in Carmelita Gardens, and we have many scheduled over the next few months.
Today the news from Belize is that the most popular real estate markets in the country are booming. Now that the airport has reopened, old residents return and new ones arrive to start their new lives in this non-meddlesome Caribbean country.
Editor’s Note: Carmelita Gardens is the brainchild of developer Phil Hahn who planned the community, in the heartland of Belize, as a small traditional town. It’s a welcoming, safe haven in the face of an uncertain future—with the motto “independent together” at its core. The development also offers incredible value for the lifestyle you can enjoy here. Fully off-grid cottages start from US$76,250 and building lots from US$35,000. For more information, get in touch with Phil and the Carmelita team here.