A writer who relocated from Pennsylvania to Belize in search of a more economical lifestyle remarked that while she has saved money, the newfound peace of mind is priceless.
Back in 2015, Cristina Johnson, a disabled writer from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, was yearning for a fresh start. She decided to move outside of the US due to her condition and the challenges in seeking employment there.
Johnson was split between moving to Asia or Central America. However, after careful consideration, she chose Belize, a small tropical country of around 419,00 people, located between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast of Central America.
Moving to Central America or Asia, Johnson was torn between the two locations. But after giving it some thought, she decided on Belize, located between a tiny Mexico and Guatemala. This tropical nation of only 419,00 people in Central Americas Caribbean coast.
When considering the practicalities, Johnson told Insider, “Belize just made more sense”. “It is a driveable, English-speaking country”. Living expenses are far lower, and I could work from home.
Johnson boarded a flight in November 2015 for Belize, a country she had never been to that was more than 3,000 miles away. Johnson packed three large suitcases and a tote. She has lived there for the last eight years while constructing a home for a small fraction of the cost of a starter home in the US.
The digital-nomad wave, which Johnson pioneered became extremely popular during the pandemic. Numerous Americans have traveled and settled abroad due to the phenomenon caused by the pandemic increase in remote labor according to a report by MBO Partners on the independence of US workers 16.9 million Americans identified as digital nomads in 2022, a 131% rise from 2019.
Although there are many varied reasons why people choose to live remotely as digital nomads, the cost is a major consideration for many. That pushed Johnson, who is now 52, to relocate to Belize, where her monthly expenses are just about $250.
Johnson, a content-marketing copywriter who presently earns approximately $1,200 per month, has saved thousands because of the currency conversion rate of about two Belize dollars to one US dollar.
Johnson used her savings to construct a one-bedroom, one-bathroom home in 2021 in the historic Forest Home Village, a part of the Toledo District in the southern part of the country known for its Maya chocolate. The project cost her $18,000.
She said that she had only recently begun construction and that no inquiries were made about the size of her septic tank, load-bearing walls, or anything else. She continued by saying that “the property taxes are almost nothing” was one of the main factors in her decision to build there.
Johnson asserted she never would have been able to afford to build a home in the US. She admitted that, in retrospect “I would have died broke and poor with nothing to show for a life of hard work and effort, despite disabilities.”
However, living in Belize has other benefits besides affordability. The mental tranquility is priceless. “I could not even venture a guess on how much I’ve saved over the years but even if I saved a million dollars, it would not be as valuable as the mental, emotional, physical, and psychological things I have gained.”