Mary Arnold: «Found My Heaven – This is For Me»


I have always dreamed of retiring in Central of South America. I searched a few countries but was attracted to Belize when I realized the native language was English and they use the English Common Law for all legal transactions, simplifying the process. The added benefit of the close proximity to my family in the States made it an easy decision. I enjoy the exercise I get from bicycling through the development and kayaking & canoeing in the river. I especially enjoy the diversity of the country and people. I can enjoy the view of the mountains and the river and everyone can be self-sufficient while coming together as a Community. I grew up on a farm and truly appreciate the organic gardens, plants, and I even have my own chicken coop!

London, Ontario – 2016

Gerry: «Sharing and Caring»


I was attracted to the warmth of the climate and the people. I immediately fell in love with Carmelita Gardens when I saw the potential to connect with a village and be a part of the lives of the local people in the area. I encourage all those who visit and move to the area to get to know the local people. My mission is for everyone to feel they are a part of the village, Santa Familia, as well as the community of Carmelita Gardens.

Minneapolis, MN – 2013

Tony: «Dream Come True»


I was immediately attracted to the weather and climate of Belize. As a resident and native in the Bronx of New York City, I was looking for warmer weather, a lower cost of living, and the ability to spend more time outdoors. I found all three while discovering the beauty of Carmelita Gardens all around me. I feel that I am now living the dream!!

Bronx, NY – 2016

David Caddy and Kacie Crisp: «Built a Life…including our own Home»


David: I chose the Cayo District in Belize for the cooler climate and the Independent Living. One of the most attractive parts of Carmelita Gardens is the river that runs along our property. We enjoy the ability to sit on our porch and look out among the luscious landscape and hear the river as it runs along the edge of the property. I am a Builder, and I have built my Mothers home and I have built my best friends home, but the opportunity to build our own home here in Carmelita Gardens is everything…it has been my climax in life. Kacie: I appreciate the fact that others have come before us and are a great resource for information. There are people I turn to for assistance and help to accomplish what I need to do.

Scotland & USA – 2014

Dianne Dodson: «The home for my heart, mind and soul»


I was looking for a place to retire that would be come “the home for my heart, mind, and soul.” That is important for me-after all I’ll be spending my retirement years in that place. I wanted, of course, to be close enough to visit my family in the States if I wanted to, and to find a place where I would be able 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.

I didn’t know if I could find that utopia or not, but I was going to look.

I’ve always wanted to travel, live in other countries, meet other cultures, and live simply and sustainably. I never got the chance to do this while raising my children, going to nursing school, and then caring for my oldest daughter…

…while she was on dialysis. Then I started my nursing career, went into management, and was also raising my grandson because my daughter couldn’t due to her 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.

But when I turned 50 and after spending most of my nursing career working with the elderly and disabled populations (and knowing first-hand what they were experiencing in their daily lives), 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.

So I began what was the start of my search for retirement options.

I soon became aware after looking at all the options, both domestic and overseas, that if I wanted any quality of life, I would have to retire outside the United States, which was fine with me and exciting at the same time.

It was during my research when I heard the word expat for the first time. Retiring out of the Unites States was no problem for me, I’d always wanted to travel anyway, experience different locales, different ways of life, and most of all, live simply and sustainably. I also realized that I wanted to be in Latin America-just not sure exactly where.

While I was looking at travel and retire overseas sites, I came across all types of glossy, too-good-to-be-true retirement information. I ignored most of these and was doing my own research on different countries, but something made me click on a link that said something like “How To Retire Overseas”.

Little did I know what that one click would do…

I started looking at Mexico, Panama, Columbia, Nicaragua, and then Belize.

When I clicked on Belize, I found a wealth of information, including a link to a place called Carmelita Gardens. Everything I read about it was so interesting and exciting to me because it sounded like everything that I was already interested in, knew something about, and even more.

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. I remember seeing a dirt road and the beginnings of the organic orchard. I kept going back to that picture and article many times.

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

Then my daughter that was on dialysis passws away, and for a time, I put everything on hold-I didn’t even look at traveling or any other retirement options.

Six years later, in 2016, I started looking again. I went back to Live and Invest Overseas website-thank goodness those emails kept coming.

I found out that a conference was going to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, with representatives from many different countries available to talk to and ask questions.

With an open mind, I went to my first conference with Live and Invest Overseas, and boy, did I learn. After talking to many representatives and entrepreneurs at the conference, I realized that Belize was really where I wanted to be.

At the conference, I met one of the staff members of Carmelita Gardens and asked her many questions. I ended up taking all the information from every destination that I thought was even a remote possibility to consider to my hotel room. After looking at all the literature, I always circled back to Carmelita Gardens. At the end of the conference, I knew Belize was where I would ultimately want to be.

My next step was going to a conference in Belize to find out more, and, finally, in January 2019, I went to Belize. From the moment I saw Belize, I loved it. 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.

My youngest daughter Shanna, who’s also a nurse, came with me to Belize. After the conference, we went to a tour of Carmelita Gardens. As soon as she saw Carmelita Gardens, she said “Mom, this is your place. This is so you, you’re done looking.”

After the tour, she asked “Well, when are you coming back? What are your options for buying property? Because I know you’re going to!”

In October 2019, I came back to Carmelita Gardens and stayed for six nights. During my stay, I was able to experience what life is like living there, thanks to their residents offering to take me under their wings and show me 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 on my journey to Carmelita Gardens.

I’m looking forward to starting a life that I’ve always wanted to live with like-minded people who come from many different backgrounds, simple, down-to-earth living, clean food, off-grid living, interacting with the community, peacefullness…

And the best is yet to come!

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Paris, TX – 2019

JD and MaryAnn Longwell: «Our Carmelita Gardens Journey»

Our first visit was in February 2018. My wife, MaryAnn, and I had both been Peace Corps Volunteers in Belize in the 70’s, and we’d already fallen in love with the Cayo District. After visiting Carmelita Gardens we knew this was the community we’d been searching for. Soon after meeting Phil Hahn and his team we purchased a lot overlooking the Belize River. We worked with Phil on our home design, taking ideas from several of the homes that were already in the neighborhood.

Phil introduced us to Gerson Salas, a local contractor from nearby Bullet Tree Falls, who had built several homes in Carmelita Gardens. We broke ground in June 2019 and, almost exactly 8 months later, we spent the first night in our beautiful new home. Frequent site visits and the wonders of modern technology allowed us to closely monitor progress on the home and there were virtually no surprises. All-and-all, we couldn’t have asked for a better building experience.

Poncha Springs, CO – 2018

Andre: «I like to refer to Phil as the Elon Musk of development»

I learned about Carmelita Gardens over 6 years ago and was very impressed with Phil’s vision. In fact, I like to refer to him as the Elon Musk of developement! Carmelita Gardens builds unique, beautifully crafted homes that are close to a winding river, stunning lush nature, and fertile land where you can grow your food organically and sustainably.

The community values are what struck me as very unique. It’s a giant family of like-minded people who support and encourage each other.

In these challenging Covid times, many of us can work remotely and are looking for a home away from home — in a safe, peaceful location, with strong community and space to roam. You will find all of that and more at Carmelita Gardens.

Montreal, Canada – 2015

Dave Carlson: «Worth the ride? YES! Go for it!»

Overwhelming at times…

Amazing at times…

Frustrating at times…

Interesting at times…

Astounding at times…

Emotional at times…

I could go on and on, but I want to say that it was quite an experience from that first shovel overturned to the last bit of cement being poured!

Please heed my advice: Listen to everything being said before

Phoenix, AZ – 2013

Steven Potts «Why Carmelita Gardens in Belize, you ask?»

The ability to travel internationally finally opened, and I could not wait to get back to Carmelita Gardens, Cayo, Belize. Why Carmelita Gardens in Belize, you ask? Belize is a small country with a diverse eco-footprint, and you have some right in the vicinity of Carmelita Gardens. The relatively low cost of living and the beauty of the country helped make the decision easy. English is the official language of the country, but if one wants to integrate with the local communities, picking up Spanish will be very helpful. I was particularly impressed by the off-grid nature of Carmelita Gardens.

Being enclosed on two sides by rivers, one has convenient water activities such as swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. the 93-acre community of Carmelita Gardens is a wide-open space with lots of room for walking and enjoying nature. On the property, there is the historically significant Mayan Hills, which has yet to be…

…significantly explored by the archeological community but is just waiting for the right crew to come along and make potentially significant finds. The property is conveniently located in the Cayo district near Santa Familia Village and a Mennonite community. Access to these town’s commercial district makes it possible for Carmelita Gardens to remain a residential community.

Carmelita Gardens is a community that is off-grid houses and a well though out development plan. There are cottages already built for those who like a small footprint and significant benefits. Screened-in porches area a high priority for people planning to enjoy the outdoors, the breezes, and the sun. When I first visited Carmelita Gardens, it had very few residences built. Most of them were on a single row of cottages of approximlately 800 square feet. These cottages are great for a retirement home for single people.

These cottages are examples of good planning of space and convenience. They are laid out to take advantage of the breezes that come through and harness the sun through solar energy. Did I mention that being off-grid, the entire property will be powered primarily by solar power? Initially, it was thought that there would be shared solar developments but as solar panels and storage became more efficient, and there was a better handle on how much energy each unit might use, all of the newer buildings are independently solar powered.

The planning of the community, including a community town center area, was one of the things that attracted me to the development. Phil Hahn has gone to great lenghts to make sure that the community is built up realistically, preserving the natural beauty of the area and envisioning the development of a self-governing and sustaining community. Green space is planned in the community. There are community gardens built into the plan and lot sizes large enough to allow individual ownders to have their horticultural designs.

Carmelita Gardens is not a cookie-cutter community. Unlike many developments in the states, restricted to two or three different home designs, repeated over and over again, each house seems designed with the owner in mind. The individual development starts with the prospective owner discussing their needs and wishes, and then the actual development process begins. Initial drawings of the house, ensuring that its position is appropriate to get the most benefits from the winds and sun as possible, is the next step for the owner. With guidance from Phil, decisions made, permitting and licensing details are handled, and the construction begins. Not being a contractor, having Phil take these things but to my specifications is the big reason I am building in Carmelita Gardens.

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Fullerton, CA – 2020

Debbie Fogel & Bob Johnson: «Good Vibes: Peaceful and Loving»


As “Artists in Residence” visiting Carmelita Gardens, we found Carmelita Gardens a source of good vibes with the friendly and inspiring people and lifestyle. We were able to unplug from a very busy and stressful lifestyle in Michigan. While we enjoy our lifestyle and work in our hometown in Michigan, we found our stress just melt away in Carmelita Gardens. We were able to play our instruments and paint on the canvases we brought with us, as well as cook, bake, and enjoy the organic gardens right behind our cottage. We were so inspired by the people of the local village, we decided to give back by visiting the local primary school with instruments for the children to play as we performed several folk songs in the classroom!

Dexter, MI – 2019

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