At what age should you think about retiring overseas?
It’s almost never too late…or too early.
Laurie Norton and Paul Jewitt, two easygoing Canadians, low-key and modest, started their new lives in Belize four years ago, as young 30-somethings.
As Belize Correspondent Ann Kuffner explains, “Laurie and Paul are part of an emerging trend. Move over, Baby Boomers! An increasing number of adventurous 30- and 40-year-olds are making their mark on the local San Pedro Town scene here on Ambergris Caye. They’re making their way down here to La Isla Bonita with small savings and pockets full of dreams, and they’re starting small businesses so they can stick around.
“Laurie and Paul, for example, had vacationed in the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Each time they returned to Toronto, they were more determined to escape the winters. Laurie kept pushing Paul to make their move sooner rather than later.
“A series of ‘going nowhere’ retail jobs made it easy for Laurie to leave Canada. Paul had worked for high-powered companies like Edward Jones and Mosaic, in advertising and business development. Along the way, he picked up web design. Then he became an independent contractor. He felt he’d be able to make a living anywhere.
“Laurie and Paul finally made their move in January 2006. Destination: Belize. First stop: San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. It was love at first sight, with the island and with the people. Why? ‘Of all the places we’ve visited,’ Laurie explains, ‘this is the quirkiest, funniest, and friendliest.’
“The first year in Belize they tightened their belts and became volunteers. ‘We recommend that everyone spend time volunteering when they make a move to a new country,’ Laurie explains. ‘It’s a great way to meet people and to quickly fit into the community.’
“Thanks to their volunteering, they easily made new friends. Doors began to open.
“In 2007, Paul helped Laurie start a blog about living on Ambergris Caye. Initially, Laurie used it to keep in touch with friends and family. She tried to show them a slice of her new life on this quirky Caribbean island.
“Laurie has always focused on giving her readers a fun, colorful depiction of everyday life on Ambergris Caye.
“‘Little did I imagine,’ Laurie says, ‘that, due to the Belize message boards and people’s love for Ambergris Caye, my blog would take off the way it did and turn into a full-time job.’
“Laurie’s blog, tacogirl.com, is geared toward expats and travelers. Over the past three years, it’s gained a worldwide following. Readers tune in to get their daily fix of life on Ambergris Caye. It features a mix of island life, travel tips, local news, and restaurant and resort reviews.
“In 2009, Laurie traveled to San Francisco to accept a Lonely Planet Travel Blogger Award. After only two years, the tacogirl.com blog won their popular vote for the Best Image Blog. It will be featured in ‘Great Destinations Guidebook.’
“What about Paul? He started two more web-related businesses. AmbergrisDaily.com is a local news blog and AmbergrisVacations.com is focused on travel.
“Is the Taco Twosome happy living on Ambergris Caye?
“‘We celebrated our four-year anniversary this year, and we’ve loved every minute of being here,’ Laurie says. ‘While it has not always been easy, we have no regrets. Making this move was the best thing we ever did.'”
Kathleen Peddicord www.liveandinvestoverseas.com