Rethinking Where To Retire: Green Retirement Communities Sprouting in Belize

by Carolee Chanona

Is “green” living important to you? If you’re a boomer or even GenX’er, the answer is likely “yes.” You’re not alone in your interest in environmental sustainability increasing, either. That’s why forward-thinking retirement communities are offering residents everything from greener buildings to energy-efficient lighting to community gardens. In fact, a New York Times story found that the supply of green retirement communities has not kept up with the demand. But that may be shifting, especially in this hidden gem corner of Central America. So if environmental concerns or saving money through energy-efficient housing matters to you, here’s why you should rethink where to retire and consider Carmelita Gardens — a green, off-grid community sprouting in Western Belize.

A Smaller Ecological Footprint with Carmelita Gardens

Sure, it’s off-grid, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing modern comforts at Carmelita Gardens. Settled only seven miles from San Ignacio and Spanish Lookout in either direction, the small-scale sustainable community harmonizes solar, rainwater harvesting, and locally grown produce with all the conveniences of towns, businesses, and attractions nearby. For retirees, access to healthcare is especially important in their older years.

Sandwiched between organic orchards and gardens, the self-sufficient 98-acre neighborhood also means that costs are inherently lower. CG resident Tony Laura outlines that it’s actually US$588 — half of his Social Security benefit. Between utilities for US$138 and food (including wine) for US$450, enjoying a higher standard of living and a greater quality of life is far more affordable in Belize.

“Slower time, simpler living, reduced needs… All of these and other factors combine to give me a sense of freedom I haven’t felt since the ’60s. A feeling of freedom – a culture and a way of life.” 

Tony Laura

With USD widely accepted and English as the first language across the country, retiring in Belize to a sustainable community like Carmelita Gardens could not be more seamless — or more rewarding.

All Within The Harmony Of Community

The whole reason that Carmelita Gardens started this community was to demonstrate how to live more sustainable lifestyles and to put some very good working models on the ground. Practicality and performance in action, solar panels speckle the rooftops of homes — which range from villas to one-bedroom tiny homes.

Finding a happy medium for “artisan urbanism,” homes currently listed on the site are available for rent for US$115 a night or US$980 a month for a one-bedroom, with exclusive riverfront villas for sale for US$389,000.

So if you’re retiring in 2023, it might be time to start living more sustainably by joining Carmelita Garden residents, doing it since 2010 in the verdant Belize River Valley.

All images via Carmelita Gardens.

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