Your retirement is nearing, and you've decided to move to Belize. But, the question remains - where in Belize should you buy real estate? While Ambergris Caye is likely on the top of your list due to its popularity with expats, Orchid Bay is another option and one that may be more to your liking. Let's take a look at what each one offers retirees so that you can decide for yourself.
Ambergris Caye, also referred to “Isla Bonita” from Madonna’s song about the island, is known for the azure Caribbean waters that surround it. Its only town, San Pedro, houses the major resorts that accommodate the significant number of tourists who vacation on the island. Ambergris Caye is not only attracting tourists, but it’s an island paradise that offers a sophisticated lifestyle for expats. It’s known for its watersport activities during the day and partying atmosphere at night.
If diving, snorkeling, or fishing is how you prefer to spend your retired days, then Ambergris Caye is undoubtedly an attractive option for you, considering its history as a fishing village. However, if you are looking for calm waters to kayak, paddleboard, and go fishing in, then Orchid Bay would be the better choice. Located in northern Belize, Orchid Bay is also close to many of the ancient Maya Ruins that make Belize so special.
Ambergris Caye is a tourist hotspot that’s known for its active nightlife, live music, festivals, and all-night partying environment. Traffic gets bad during the high season and holidays, which can certainly be bothersome to retirees living on the island. Most people retire in Belize to escape the hustle and bustle of crowds, loud noise, and everything else that comes along with a hugely popular tourist mecca.
On the other hand, Orchid Bay has a unique and welcoming community of people who have made Belize their home. It's filled with like-minded individuals who like to be active during the day and socialize with their neighbors at night. It offers a more tranquil lifestyle than Ambergris Caye, which many retirees prefer.
There are no hospitals on Ambergris Caye, but there is a Polyclinic that has a doctor on call 24 hours. For medical emergencies, a patient would have to be flown to one of the hospitals on Belize’s mainland or one of the neighboring countries, like Mexico or Guatemala. Many retirees seek their healthcare in those bordering countries.
As Orchid Bay is located on the mainland, it’s more accessible to the increasing number of high-quality medical facilities in Belize. Also, as Orchid Bay is located on the Bay of Chetumal, it’s very close to Mexico for those who prefer to get their healthcare needs met there.
The weather in Ambergris Caye and Orchid Bay is similar, and both have their dry season (December to May) and rainy season (June to December). But as Orchid Bay is located in the northern part of Belize, it receives the least amount of rainfall per year. It’s in the driest region of the whole country and is known for its cooling breezes. Ambergris Caye, on the other hand, gets more rainfall, and its climate is more tropical. Orchid Bay is also less likely than Ambergris Caye to be affected by a hurricane or storm surge.
Real Estate Options
There are plenty of condos and small homes on Ambergris Caye for expat retirees to choose from, but they come with a higher price and less living space. The island’s beaches are shared with tourists, and there’s not much green space set aside.
At Orchid Bay, homeowners have several options of the types of home they can buy. Whether you decide to live at Orchid Bay full-time or part-time, the different homes are designed to meet the diverse real estate needs and budgets of North American retirees.
Orchid Bay’s Beach Villas offer the most substantial amount of living space and come with open floor plans and multiple covered patios. The Villas are considered to be Belize real estate at its finest and are perfect for retirees who love to entertain and host visiting family and friends.
The Beachfront Condos at Orchid Bay are unique from the condos found on Ambergris Caye. There are only six units per tower, and most owners don't live there full-time. This means fewer neighbors and more privacy. The Condo’s layout offers large, spacious rooms with an open floor plan to maximize efficiency without sacrificing comfort. Located right on the sand, each condo enjoys unobstructed water views. Also, each tower has an elevator, so there’s no need to climb stairs.
The Bungalows are Orchid Bay’s most affordable homes, with prices starting in the $200,000s. There are multiple floor plans to choose from, and each has a spacious covered patio, modern finishes, and puts you only a short walk away from the waterfront. They are located in the heart of Orchid Bay, which puts you closer to the fabulous amenities the community offers.
The most significant difference between buying a home on Ambergris Caye versus owning a home at Orchid Bay, are the first-class amenities and spectacular environment that makes up the Orchid Bay community. The development provides small-town accessibility, connectivity, and moderns conveniences, with stunning natural scenery that includes private beaches, canals and basins for easy navigation around the community, and 10 percent green space set aside.
Amenities at Orchid Bay include the Tradewinds Beach Club and Restaurant, and under development is a 13,000-square foot new beach club with a 2,000-square foot swimming pool, a gym, a restaurant, bar, lounging decks, hammocks, day-beds, and private beach access. An on-site grocery store and medical clinic are also projected to open in the future.
Deciding whether to retire on Ambergris Caye or at Orchid Bay, Belize comes down to personal preference. If you envision spending your days in the water, scuba diving or snorkeling, then Ambergris Caye may be the better match. However, if you prefer fewer crowds, more tranquility, and living in a community with like-minded individuals who prefer social, peaceful evenings over partying, then Orchid Bay would certainly be your ideal choice.
Contact Orchid Bay to learn more about retiring in Belize and the real estate benefits of owning a home in our luxurious community.