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Your Escape Blueprint

Impressions of San Ignacio

 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)

  1. Small Italian restaurant in town $35,000
  2. Furnished gated home on outskirts of town 3 bed 2 bath $119,000
  3. Hilltop house, two miles from town centre, 6 bed, 2 bath $299,000
  4. 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

Expat exchange site


About the author: Born in the UK, with what must be more than a dash of Romany blood in her veins, Yvonne loved to travel even before she met Michael. Yvonne has a varied career history, which includes several laborious years as a laboratory manager, followed by a fun few years as a scuba instructor and crew in the British Virgin Islands, and then many boring years in financial services. Her discontent along with the passing of a dear friend was the prod that led to the realisation that there was a lot more do in life. It has taken almost 40 years to come full circle to realize what Yvonne’s English teacher saw all those years ago……… Yvonne’s true passion (apart from travel) is writing and now finds herself fortunate to have the time to follow her bliss and combine the two as a blogger and travel writer. Yvonne loves to tell stories and talk to lots of strangers (the best way to get the real scoop on the place). Yvonne is a “rainmaker” and makes things happen!

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