Why This Nurse Decided to Retire to Carmelita Gardens, Belize

by Carolee Chanona
Carmelita gardens retire belize

Dianne Dodson, a nurse looking to retire abroad, was searching for the place to become “the home for my heart, mind, and soul.” Of course, Diane also wanted to be close enough to visit family in the States if she wanted to; while also finding somewhere to be involved with people that were like-minded, open-minded, and respectful of the surrounding community and each other. Somewhere that had options for adventure, peacefulness, friendliness, and acceptance. Unsure whether that utopia existed, this retired nurse stumbled upon Carmelita Gardens in Belize, and there was no going back.

How a busy lifestyle led to a minimalistic retirement


Like most adults, Diane never got the chance to travel while raising her children then going to nursing school. Later, she started her nursing career, went into management, and was also raising a grandson due to her daughter’s health condition. This all led to a pretty busy lifestyle and not much time to think about living simply (although I dreamed about it quite often), no free time to travel or even think about going on vacation, let alone going to another country. However, once turning 50, I seriously began to think that I might very well be facing that same dismal retirement situation if I didn’t at least start thinking about my options.

And so began the search for retirement options. After after looking at both domestic and overseas options, it became obvious that for quality of life, retirement would need to be outside of the United States.

Carmelita gardens retire belize sunset

Live independently, together, at Carmelita Gardens, Belize.

Retiring out of the United States was no problem for those wanting to travel; experience different locales, different ways of life; and most of all, live simply and sustainably. For Diane, she also realized that she wanted to be in Latin America—just not sure exactly where. The search began with Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua, and then Belize. Here, Carmelita Gardens stood out; the property was going to be developed into a self-sufficient, off-the-grid community with organic gardens and orchards, and was bordered by a river. Diane remembers seeing a dirt road and the beginnings of the organic orchard; something kept her going back to that picture and article many times.

I remember thinking, “This is my kind of place, how much better could it get?”

Personal Loss, a Pandemic, and More

Then, Diane’s daughter that was on dialysis passed away, and for a time, everything was put on hold—she didn’t even look at traveling or any other retirement options. Six years later, in 2016, Diane started looking again. With an open mind, she headed to a Live and Invest Overseas conference, only to realize that Belize was really where Diane wanted to be. At the conference, I met one of the staff members of Carmelita Gardens and asked many questions. The next step was going to a conference in Belize to find out more, and, finally, in January 2019, going to Belize. For Diane, Belize was love at first sight. After reading everything I could get my hands on about Belize, all I needed was a trip in person to really make sure this was what I wanted.

Carmelita Gardens vegetables
Sustainable living at Carmelita Gardens, Cayo.

Shanna, Diane’s youngest daughter who’s also a nurse, accompanied her to Belize. One tour later and she said,“Mom, this is your place. This is so you, you’re done looking.” In October 2019, Diane returned to Carmelita Gardens for six nights. During her stay, residents were able to offer a true daily-life experience; showing what a typical shopping day was like, what they did day-to-day, the activities that they participated in with both the other residents at Carmelita Gardens and the surrounding communities of La Familia, San Ignacio, Santa Elena, and Spanish Lookout.

My goal is to get my cottage built as soon as I sell my home in Texas.COVID-19 crisis or not, I am continuing onward and forward with my journey to Carmelita Gardens.

As a retired nurse, Diane is looking forward to starting a life that she’s always wanted; to live with like-minded people who come from many different backgrounds; to simple, down-to-earth living; clean food from off-grid living while interacting with the community. Peacefulness. Like Diane, you can find all that, and more, when you retire at Carmelita Gardens in Belize.

This article was originally published on www.liveandinvestoverseas.com.

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