Friday, October 31, 2008


It's Friday and it's Halloween. We've had a little rain here and there, but nothing speak of. But, it seems to have driven all the kids away. The way Halloween is now, the parents take their kids to the Mall where it is safe and controlled.

I remember as a kid, roaming the neighborhood, everybody in costume. Hundreds of us. You knew the good houses and hit them up first, then on to the apartments. It was a big deal. Then as you got older, you went to costume parties. I even remember going down to Hollywood Blvd one year, for Halloween. We ended up in a bar called the FireFly. As you're really not sure what kind of bar it is in Hollywood, when we entered it seemed to be OK. Well after a short time we found out why it was called the FireFly. They locked the doors, so no fire marshalls, and proceeded to fill the bar drink well (you know, the one that backs up the main bar counter) full of lighter fluid and then lit it afire. What a sight to watch it race from one end of the bar to the other. The Fire Marshalls would have loved that.

Back to this years' Halloween. More kids are beginning to show up and this may not be such a dud afterall. We bought lots of candy and of course it is all the good stuff like Reeses, PayDay's, Butterfingers, M&M's and more. I would hate to think of what would happen if the kids didn't show up. Misch and I would probably gain 10lbs. each. Cute kids. Probably ended up with about 50 kids. We decorated our yard as usual, with the tombstones, carved pumpkins and lighted monsters. I wonder, do they celebrate Halloween in Belize? If not, they will when I get there!

And tommorow begins the breakdown of the Halloween gear and packing it up until next year. Unfortunately, when the Holloween stuff goes back in the attic, the Christmas stuff comes out. All the stores are having big sales now for Christmas because they're afraid you won't have money at Christmas, so they want to try and get your money now. Actually there are some good deals out there. Several stores have gone bankrupt and are selling things at close -out prices. I think Christmas is going to be a little tight this year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Plans for the Future

The planning begins.

I have an idea of how I want the house to look, keeping it simple in design. I don't want to go overboard on the design because it will drive up the cost and the time to build if I do lots of curves and odd angles. Thats not to say I won't have some interesting designs, but KISS (keep it simple stupid). My friends Kit and Tim are going to send me pictures of their place in Mexico that use palm frond designs on the ceiling and Tim came up with an idea to make the supporting columns look like palm trunks. Interesting idea.

The plans have gone through a few redesigns, mostly to add things we thought we would like have, but won't break the bank. But unfortunately, Wall Street has done that for me. The plans have been downsized due to the downsized state of my savings acct.. I have now made the design so I can build the house in sections. Kitchen, living room and half bath on the first floor and the Master bedroom and bathroom on the second floor. We figure we can add the extra bedrooms and bath, that are in the picture, at a later date.

If this ends up being the design we use for now, I want to finish all the landscaping, add the pool and possibly the dock. As you can see, the design is rather basic. I did the rough mock up just to see the overall look and if that is what I really wanted. We would just build the two storey part of the structure and add the rest later.

I also have designed how I want our lot to look when it is finally finished. With it being a little over 250 ft from the ocean to the road, I have quite a bit to work with. I'd like to place the house about here.
The dream is there, can we make it happen? Now, I need to find a contractor. One that shares my dream and also can afford my pocketbook. I have seen the work of a few of the contractors online, as a couple of people have blogged their experiences and included pictures ( , I also have a few other recommendations from the, that I will also check out. There is a world of information out there, you just need to find it. I will add sites that I think are important, or at least interesting, as this blog continues.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Belize from afar

Back at home , the internet becomes our link to our dreams 3000 miles away. As we google Belize, cruise the forums and follow the links to old or dead end web pages, we wonder if our dream will come true.
Then, a couple of weeks after we returned, we received a call from a friend in Corozal. She knew of a couple of lots that were available at Consejo Shores. As luck would have it, I had visited those lots while I was there, so I had an idea of what the lots looked like. I had taken pictures and decided that lot 27 was the one we wanted. Now comes the price.
We contacted the owner of the lots and she was an expat living in Corozal. She and her friend had decided to sell their lots and knew vacant lots in Consejo Shores were at a premium. They had set a price and were pretty firm on what they wanted. Now the price becomes the deciding factor. Do we spend the money now, and get our slice of paradise, or do we take our chances and wait for other properties to become available in the future.
I had done some research and could not find any vacant seaside lots that had been for sale. There were lots that already had homes, but they were out of the price range of what we wanted to pay. Some also had foundation issues and probably would have to be torn down anyway. So a decision looms. We counter offer on the price, and she accepts. We, are going to own property in a foreign country.
The housing bubble is about to burst but the equity in our home is double what we paid for it, so we decide to refinance, pull the money and buy into our dream. Was it a good idea? We'll see. For now, it was a search for the dream and an early retirement to help fulfill the dream.
We refinance our current home in Camarillo to purchase the lot in Consejo Shores. And the dream begins in ernst.
The process of buying land in Belize is not as bad as buying land in the States. A LOT less paperwork. Just get a good paralegal or lawyer you can trust and be willing to wait. And wait. And wait. Things move slowly in Belize, but isn't that why you want to move here? It will get done in two to three months if all the paperwork is in order.
And then it happens. You get a FEDEX from your paralegal. And there it is.... the deed to your dreams.
And now the work begins on how leave life as we know it, pack it up and move to Belize.
I'm a lucky one, in that, a few years after leaving high school and a few college courses under my belt, I apply for a clerk position at the phone company. Not expecting to spend a lot of time there, maybe a couple of years or so, I begin a career that I would have never expected. After a couple of years as a clerk, I took internal classes at my work to improve my chances for a transfer out of this job as a clerk. Again as luck would have it, I received a transfer to the location and outside job I had wanted and so began my career as a telephone install and repairman. What a job. I'm outside, in So. Cal, where it never rains, I get my work in the morning and away I go. Back in the garage by 4:30. I like this.
But Ma Bell changes, each time losing the family feeling I got being employed by them, even though it was a large company. Ma Bell became Pacific Telesis which then became Pacific Bell. After a few years, Pac Bell was bought by SBC which then bought the parent company ATT and 25 years later we are Ma Bell again. But things have changed along the way. DSL and TV. After 30 years it is time to let the young kids take over. Old habits die hard and ATT is headed in a new direction. And soon, so am I.
We saved our money, made a few wise investments and I had a pension after 30 years with the phone company. Is it the right time to retire early? 6 months, a year ago I would have said yes, but at that time I didn't have my thirty years and needed that last year to collect my full benefits. Now, at this time, with the market as bad as it is, it really makes me think if we can make it.
But plans have been in the works for months, and I'm scheduled to leave for Belize in mid November to pick a contractor to build our home. We will probably have to downsize our plans, but the house is designed so it can be built in sections. I don't want to put the dream on hold, so I hope we find a contractor.
Next is all the planning to make it work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our First Blog Begins

And here it begins. It is our quest to document our trials and tribulations of moving from Camarillo, CA to Consejo Shores, Belize. I'd like to thank Dave and Dianna for their blog, as it has inspired me to create my own blog.

Our dream to move to Belize had its roots from many years back. In my early 20's I had spent a lot of time diving in the Carribean sea. One of my first experiences was Cancun in the early '80's. Only a dozen or so hotels on the entire 10 mile beach. Friendly people and food carts lined the streets. But in time, this slice of paradise was found by timeshare salesmen and it was time to move on.

When Mischelle and I first got together, we had known each other for several years thru mutual friends. One of our first trips was to Cabo San Lucas, where her family had been vacationing and fishing for years. Cabo was a small fishing village not yet discovered by tourists. We loved the starkness of the mountains and the sea. The diving and fishing was amazing.

But in time, this slice of paradise was found by timeshare salesmen and it was time to move on.

We checked out the Bahamas, Grenada and the Grenadines,St. Lucia and the Virgin Islands but in the end we came back to Mexico. Close to home and we love mexican food.

So our next adventures came back to Mexico. We spent lots of vacation time in Cozumel and the Puerto Aventura area and what is now known as the Riviera Maya. Scary drive on two lane highway for an hour or so south of Cancun. Playa del Carmen was a small no-light town. Happy people, food vendors on the street and no timeshare salesmen.

But this too, came to an end. More hotels, and yes, we did end up getting a timeshare, but on the terms we liked and in a nice collection of properties.

But we knew we needed to move on and Belize was next on the map. Friendly people who speak english(?!), excellent diving, and we can still get mexican food.

Now the question is where do we want to live. On the Cayes, or in the Cayos', in the north or in the south.

After looking around and deciding where we didn't want to be, we narrowed the choices. We like the Cayes, but decided that being on a low lying island in the hurricane season would be stressful. Not good. Supplies also can become an issue.

The mountains of the Cayo district are beautiful and adventure is around every corner and cave. But the roads and streams during the rainy season can become unpassable and there tends to be more rain in the mountains.

Same with the south. Lots more rain.

So after whittling away the other places, we decided to look in the north. We started in Corozal town. From there it was off to visit home sites in Progresso Heights, Cerros Sands and Sarteneja. No timeshare salesmen but everyone seems to sell real estate. From there we traveled north to a small town called Consejo. There we found a place with a beautiful view of the Bay of Chetumal. Could we have found our slice of paradise? A small quiet town, not far from the main town of Corozal. And just across the bay is Chetumal. Mexican food, Mc Donald's, Sam's Club, etc.. Not as much rain as the rest of the country. Not a lot of bugs. A short plane or boat ride to spectacular diving. Even gambling near-by.

We visited a small community of expats in a well maintained development next to the sea. Consejo Shores. Mostly half acre lots with a small pitch and putt golf course. We were in heaven. Now if we could live the dream and find a lot on the sea.

Only problem was, there were no vacant lots for sale. So back home we went and tried to find our dream on the internet.