San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize
San Ignacio, also known as Cayo is a main hub in Belize. Together San Ignacio with its sister town Santa Elena–on the other side of the Macal river–forms Belize’s second largest urban area. The Western Highway runs right through San Ignacio. This two-lane road connects Belize City to Guatemala, which is just 9 miles away from San Ignacio.
Some of the narrow streets are lined with wooden shiplap buildings topped with rusty tins roofs making this place look like a set out of a Western movie, others are lined cheek to jowl with concrete structures, housing stores and hotels. It is a busy vibrant town with a large open-air market acting as a magnet for buyers and vendors alike.
There is a combined population of about 20,000 living here. Like much of Belize, the population is very diverse, consisting of Mestizo, Kriol, Lebanese, Mopan, Chinese and some Mennonite’s in the outlying areas. San Ignacio’s residents are laid back, friendly, and very, very welcoming.
There are many expats here with the majority living in the outskirts of town and the surrounding small villages and communities.
San Ignacio is a major hub, meaning that banks, doctors, dentists and shopping are all here, there is even a delightful bakery steps away from the open-air market.
There is a plethora of hotels and restaurants as tourism is a major business here. Those looking to connect and volunteer may want to consider the San Ignacio Humane Society or Habitat Belize (Habitatbelize@gmail.com)
Beerenomics (prices in US$)
- A local beer in a restaurant is about $2
- Restaurant meals $3 to $12
- 1 kg Boneless chicken breasts $6.50
- Dozen Eggs $2
- 1 kg Tomatoes $1
- 1 kg Papaya $1
Current Property Prices (October 2013)
- Small Italian restaurant in town $35,000
- Furnished gated home on outskirts of town 3 bed 2 bath $119,000
- Hilltop house, two miles from town centre, 6 bed, 2 bath $299,000
- House with acreage, 2 miles from San Ignacio in Cristo Rey, 2 bed, 2 bath $175,000
Rents vary considerably dependant on area, size, furnished or unfurnished and the length of time, this site is a good starting point.
What’s to love?
San Ignacio and the surrounding area, enjoy unsurpassed beauty, acres of unspoiled jungle, rivers, streams, farms and a very diverse and tolerant mix of ethnicities. The people are what make this country so welcoming, especially if you are eager to jump in and make friends.
What’s not to love?
San Ignacio itself is a very busy place, with lots of traffic and activity, especially around the town centre, which can get rather noisy.
Although English is the official language of Belize, knowing at least some Spanish will be very helpful here as not all of the residents speak English.
Our Perfect Abode Checklist Comparison
- A stable government and economy √
- Affordable properties with foreseeable appreciation √
- Sunny and warm climate √
- Friendly locals √
- Ease of obtaining residency or buying property √
- Affordability, total living costs have to be less than $2000 per month ?
- A home with a view, either mountain, lake or ocean ?
- Close enough to the ocean to fulfill our SCUBA urges X
- Prefer a small village or town rather than a big city ?
- Readily available fresh produce and/or room to grow our own √
- Some expats nearby, especially in a non-English speaking country √
- A vibrant community spirit that we could be involved with ?
San Ignacio and Belize, score high on our checklist, however we are not convinced it is right for us.
How would this list compare to your own?
Note: We spent only two weeks here in December 2012, as always we recommend spending a minimum of a month, in anyone place. Unless you have already decided that, it is not for you.
Useful contacts, links