The first time we traveled to Belize we were just taking a vacation and wanting an adventure. We made no advanced plans and no reservations beyond the hotel in Belize City the first night, and we packed as little as we could. This allowed us to go anywhere we wanted on the fly. If we ran into someone who said "you have to see ________" we could go the next day. There was absolutely nothing first class about that trip. We didn't spend a single night in a fancy resort, didn't eat a single meal in a top restaurant, didn't rent a car or join a tour group. We simply picked up our backpacks, and traveling by bus, taxi or on foot, we explored the country. One of the keys to doing that successfully was not having any luggage. We packed the minimum we thought we would need in great backpacks we borrowed from our parents. These worked out so well we bought our own! We used Rick Steves Convertible Carryon and found that it had exactly the right amount of room (with none to spare!) for everything we needed including our snorkeling gear. The pack itself weighs only 3 pounds which meant that the total weight only depended upon what we decided were necessities. When you think about packing everything you need for a month on your back, you realize there are a whole lot of things that do not qualify as necessities!
This is the only picture I have of the backpacks - but it gives you the idea.
We plan to do a post on how we pack and what we take as we prepare for our next trip.
We should start by saying it is vitally important to actually GO TO the place that you think you may want to live and spend as much time there as you can afford. We learned from our travels in Belize that there are places we loved more than others, and they weren't necessarily the places listed in the tour guide books. The other benefit is that now that we're looking for property we don't get fooled by great sounding descriptions and pictures taken from the perfect angle. We can look at a place and say "oh yeah, that's the place right next to the dump", which for obvious reasons is not mentioned in the listing.
Going there will also prepare you for things you may not have anticipated, like an opossum watching you watch him for an entire night while he travels the top of the wall beneath the palapa roof. And bugs, there will definitely be bugs. Mostly, I use the "if I can't see them they can't see me" strategy of dealing with them, but I find that a little difficult when they crawl up my leg from the shower drain. You need to know if this makes you want to pack up and run for home, or if you can towel off, get dressed, and head down to the local bakery for a fry jack.
Like many people, we have taken a vacation, fallen in love with the area and wanted to move there. Belize is that place for us. We have been there twice, staying both times for a month, and have longed to go back permanently. We have officially gone from daydreaming to planning! We wanted to create a log of our process and progress, both for ourselves and to help others learn from whatever mistakes or successes we encounter along the way.