My Journey to Expat Life: Cheri Majors, M.S.

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

The choice to become an expat was easy for me. The social and political climate in and around my hometown in the greater Los Angeles metro areas of Southern California changed so much that I’d been looking South, toward wide-open beaches. I was searching Baja Norte, Mexico, for inexpensive places to retire while raising my son. This was my first step in my journey to expat life.

My Journey to Expat Life: Early Beginnings

California’s earlier years found me on over-crowded, albeit beautiful, sandy-white beaches with barely enough room to lie down a towel beside ones’ friends.

At Newport Beach, CA, by Cheri Majors
At Newport Beach, CA, by Cheri Majors

Back then, it amazed me that there were so many people actually living in over-priced Newport-Huntington Beaches on the outskirts of Los Angeles County.

One rainy day, a friend suggested we drive South on an excursion to find the sun. We found her shining three hours later, over at Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico. We drove onto the sand to the water’s edge, wondering if anyone else knew about this pristine beach we’d just discovered. There was no one around — not for miles — just us!

A gringo on horseback wandered by and gave us rides down the beach, but still no other people for miles on this gorgeous stretch of sand. It was the perfect beach I’d always hoped to find, and our only cost was a tank of gasoline.

Over the years, I’d taken many such one-day trips to Baja, Mexico, imagining a quieter life, living oceanfront.

This was long before they required passports to cross the border between San Diego and Tijuana, MX. And though long wait times at the border were uncomfortable, that did not deter my desire to live beachfront, in affordable Baja, MX.

My Journey to Expat Life: The Decision to Move

Since life, as I’d known it in Southern California, was becoming more expensive by the day, I longed to be on the secluded Rosarito Beaches in Mexico. I began searching for modestly priced beachfront homes in 2009 and soon found us a beach house I could afford to rent. Motivated by the savings and dreams of living ocean-side, we just packed up and moved!

On Rosarito Beach, MX, by Cheri Majors
On Rosarito Beach, MX, by Cheri Majors

Mexico’s food, housing, and utility costs were lower than So. California’s, but were catching up rather quickly.

Plus, my 12-year-old son and I would now need passports (approximately $120 per person, whether child or adult) to cross our once friendly Mexican border.

Moving into our Baja expat-beachfront community, I realized that modernization had also been driving up expenses, as it did in California.

The realtors became our best friends, because our ability to speak Spanish was limited, and new immigration laws and utility hookups needed competent translation.

And sadly, those beautiful beaches were now hidden by homes and high-rise developments, with correspondingly higher prices, too.

My Journey to Expat Life: A Second Decision

Then I found an ad, listing farms for sale in the Caribbean, starting at $29,900 with a 1/2 acre land to raise livestock in Belize.

In Hopkins Bay, Belize, by Cheri Majors
In Hopkins Bay, Belize, by Cheri Majors

It was far away, not just a three-hour trip. We’d have to fly, then drive into this semi-off-grid expat community in the jungle.

But I was excited about using solar energy, as I’d wasted so much money paying overpriced California air conditioning bills all my working life (sometimes as much as $400 to $600/mo.).

So I couldn’t wait for free solar power, living near the equator! I have saved a fortune! A sound reason to start my journey to expat life indeed.

Filled with wanderlust and determined to live an economical expat life in 2015, we moved – to the Caribbean coast of Belize.

I bought a small farm in the highlands, and although a two-hour drive from the nearest beach, we would live where everything grows year-round, and a family could be self-sustaining! It was a financial dream come true.

The Journey to Expat Life Continues

We’ve been in Belize for six years now, with livestock, gardens, solar power, and money left in our pockets at the end of the month. At the 2:1 exchange rate, doubling my U.S. retirement, we can enjoy low-cost beach excursions like; oceanfront dining in Belize City, or tanning on picturesque beaches in Hopkins Bay where the world’s problems seem to melt away.

Our next step in my journey to expat life will be a beachfront cottage investment, keeping our precious farm as a home base. And with newfound financial independence, my son and I are also involved with mission projects, living peacefully alongside other cultures in family-friendly Belize. Where will you land? Let us know. 

by: Cheri Majors, M.S.