Thinking of Moving Abroad to Belize? This Sustainable Community Is Creating Safe, Green Spaces for Families

by Khaila Gentle

Moving abroad isn’t just for retirees. In fact, now more than ever, young families are making the conscious decision to pack up their things and put down roots overseas. While this may seem like a daunting task (and it often is), it also has its benefits. From being able to truly experience another country and its culture to having the chance to forge deeper familial bonds, moving abroad can change your life. Even more, it can change the lives of your children in a multitude of positive ways. 

Recently, Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle had the chance to speak with one family that decided to take the leap. Kristen Kestel from the self-sufficient community of Carmelita Gardens, Belize made her move in 2021 and hasn’t looked back since—and neither have her children. 

For Kristen’s children, who are six, nine,  and twelve years old, Belize is already “home.” For the past two years, their answer to the question “would you like to move back to the US?” has been a resounding “no.” 

A New Home in Belize

Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor at International Living Magazine told Forbes in a January 2022 article that “Americans today are looking long and hard at their own values, and at the way they spend their days and many are coming to the conclusion that they need a change.” 

That change, said Stevens, includes having more time with family and friends. It also means having more time to pursue interests, and more freedom to arrange their days how they prefer. That is exactly what Kristen and the kids found at Carmelita Gardens in the Cayo District. Especially when it comes to daily life and schooling. 

Belize has a number of educational options available for families with children. Kristen, like most others, opted to go the homeschooling route. Thanks to this, and with the schedule for daily lessons being as flexible as it is, the kids have more than enough time, not just for play, but for actual hands-on learning outside the classroom and inside the community. This, Kristen told us, is much different from what things were like back in Washington State. There, everyone was constantly on the go, leaving little space for spending time together as a family.

“In the US, it was get the kids up, sometimes before the sun was up, making sure teeth were brushed, clothes were on, backpacks were ready to go. Then we’d get them onto the school bus or drop them off to school and I’d go off to work,” she said. 

In the evenings, things were no less busy. “Then it was get the dinner ready, make sure all the homework got done, get the dinner on the table, bath time, brush teeth, read some books together and then into bed. The freedom that the kids have to be kids and do the things they wanna do is a lot more flexible here in Belize. So they like it so much better.”

Thinking of Making the Big Move? Carmelita Gardens Might be the Goldilocks Community for You 

As far as family and friends go, Kristen says that finding community in Carmelita Gardens came easily. That includes finding like minded parents who also decided to embrace homeschooling. 

“It’s really easy to meet people in Belize,” she said. “Far easier than it is in the US where we have immediate access to everything, while down here, it’s more word of mouth and people talking.”

For example, shortly after moving, she learned about a group of families, from Carmelita Gardens and other surrounding communities, who get together every week for group schooling. The weekly meetups also include doing sports and arts and crafts.  

Here in Belize, the old notion that “it takes a village” still holds true, and it is something that the residents of Carmelita Gardens, including Kristen, find themselves grateful for. 


Safety, community, and self-sufficiency. When it comes to comfortable living for you and your family, Carmelita Gardens has it all. This ever-growing community is made up of residents who moved to Belize in search of freedom and independence. It offers sustainable off-the-grid living for those seeking a respite from the fast-paced lifestyle that has become a prevalent part of modern society.

Here, community members are able to escape the rat-race while still being close to towns and other attractions. (San Ignacio Town and Spanish Lookout Town both sit just 7 miles away.) 

Complete with solar power, natural organic gardens,  parks, river access, walkability, and more, the community embodies perfectly its motto, “Independent Together.”

Discover this Family-Friendly Sustainable Community for Yourself 

Today, Carmelita Gardens is working towards creating even more family-friendly amenities. Those include a swimming pool, community center, playhouse, wood shop, auto shop, and even more recreational areas.

Interested in moving abroad with your family? Take a virtual tour of Carmelita Gardens. The next one is scheduled to take place on April 5th at 6:00 pm Eastern Time (US and Canada). See the community for yourself. Meet the developer, Phil Hahn. And, of course,  ask all your pressing questions.

Register for the Virtual Tour here

Missed the tour? No worries! You can book a Discovery Tour for Carmelita Gardens here

All photos courtesy of Carmelita Gardens unless otherwise stated. 

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