Living at Lake Chapala
Living at Lake Chapala- your Dream Retirement in Mexico
We “Mexpats” consider it both a pleasure and a privilege to feel so welcome living at Lake Chapala, Mexico. Although there are no confirmed statistics, some 17,000 to 20,000 foreigners have made Lake Chapala their home, either full or part time. The area has grown to be one of the most popular colonies in North America. Unlike the traditional resort locations on the coast where people like to vacation, Lake Chapala is a place where people come to live. Here in Chapala and Ajijic, we enjoy a much lower cost of living, a more temperate climate and a ready-made infrastructure. It is no wonder that Lake Chapala is the # 1 place to retire to in Mexico.
Not only are we welcomed with open arms by the warm Mexican nationals, we are also embraced wholeheartedly by the foreign community in a way that extends well beyond what we would find back home. When foreigners find themselves in a new country and culture, there is a common bond, an almost instant camaraderie and friendship. But more importantly, the influence of the Mexican people and their culture have a profound and lasting effect on us.
The Warmth of the Mexican People
One of the first things you will notice after spending a little time living at Lake Chapala is the lack of consumerism and materialism on the part of our wonderful Mexican hosts and perhaps this is a special part of the charm. The Mexican people value friends and family and aren’t into “things” the way we are. People on the street will always greet you with a friendly “Buenos dias!” and a big smile. Walk day or night and enjoy the special warmth of the Mexican people as they invite you to share their culture and history.
One thing you’ll notice in Lake Chapala is the color – year ‘round. The flowers you see every day are exquisite.
Mexico is vibrant and alive with color and so much creativity and talent. Wonderful little boutiques in colorful painted buildings. Houses painted orange, pink, blue; anything goes. Murals everywhere—inside and outside: schools, churches, houses, shops, museums, government buildings; everywhere you go you will see color. Read Five Ways People at Lake Chapala Live Well and Live Longer.
Living in Lake Chapala – Among the Best Climates in the World
The incredible weather we enjoy in Lake Chapala – year round – is an obvious major attraction to the area. Although we seldom talk about the weather, this wonderful temperate climate is the foundation that allows us to enjoy our lifestyle in this very special pocket of paradise.
It is no surprise then that the Lake Chapala area will continue to be discovered as more and more Boomers come of age and start looking for their special Shangri La. Lake Chapala will definitely be on their radar as the perfect place to spend the ‘best of their lives.
So what do we do all day?
A low-stress life, with lots of things to do…
|Todos Hola: Over two years in Mexico. 7:30 on a soft spring evening, Sitting on my front door step, chatting with a neighbor or two, greeting and being greeted by those passing by. None of whom are gringos. I have one Canadian neighbor in the next block and he is a friend. We call him the dog Shepard, as he walks his four pups each evening. Since there are no dog leash laws here it is hard to tell the street dogs from the ones that belong to someone. The street dogs here are amazing. They are so laid back and just go about their lives. I made the mistake of carrying some treats one morning on my walk. I had to toss rocks at this poor guy as he was going to follow me home. Just another learning experience in Mexico. We have truly fallen into the rhythm of life here, nothing really needs to be done today if it can be done tomorrow. We plan to do one thing a day and if that doesn’t happen? There is always tomorrow. I guess we have really slipped into the lifestyle. We have so fallen in love with this country, the culture, the people, the history. We hope to enjoy many more years here. We miss you all but, have made many new friends here. It has been a wonderful experience and we look forward to each new day.
Love to all Ed and Rasa
Living at Lake Chapala offers a low-stress life, where every single day can be an adventure. There are over 5,000 registered fiestas a year in Mexico so there is something to do every minute of the day if you choose. They have wonderful religious and cultural celebrations, piñatas and fireworks galore. The children learn the history of the country in school through folkloric song and dance
There is also an established infrastructure, much of it created or assisted by the foreign community. We have over 50 English-speaking organizations in which to participate. To name a few: the American Legion, the Canadian Club, the Lake Chapala Society, French Group, German Group, the Irish Society and the British Society.
There’s a lot or little to do—it’s all up to you. We have a paved bike path, tennis and golf year ‘round, two golf courses lakeside and a dozen more within an hour’s drive. You can dance the night away, take in some jazz or big band music, or sit and enjoy our glorious sunsets… The sunrises and sunsets will amaze you, and bougainvilleas bloom everywhere.
English newspapers, English library, English videos and DVDs and even English movies at the theater are all available. In fact, there is little you won’t find lakeside. Communications are superb so it is easy to keep in touch with family and friends back home. This is where you realize that Mexico is a land of contradictions. Practically everyone carries a cell phone. Yes, even the maid and gardener and many teenagers. Believe me, the first time you see a man on horseback using a cell phone, it will surprise you!
The variety of restaurants will delight and amaze you—Greek, Italian, French, German, Chinese, International, Argentinean, English Fish & Chips, Mexican…just to name a few. Eating out in Lake Chapala is extremely affordable, the variety is immense, everything is close by and it becomes a wonderful way to socialize.
For certain, if you decide to spend time in this area, be prepared for lots of company. There is so much to see and do and get involved in. Read “Things to Do” for a myriad of other activities. You will be astonished at the variety.
When you walk down the street, people make eye contact and smile and even stop to chat. We can always tell when someone is new as they haven’t caught on yet to how genuinely friendly people who live here are. If you are walking with parcels, don’t be surprised if people stop and offer you a ride. While having coffee in an outdoor coffee shop, people at the next table might invite you to a party or local gathering. Really, it is like going back in time 50 years. If someone has cancer and no insurance, there will be fundraising events to help. It really is heart-warming. For an in-depth look at what there is to do, read 50 Things to Do At Lake Chapala.
Be Happy Living at Lake Chapala
A friend of ours once said: “If you are happy, you are healthy.” Enjoying the 2nd best climate in the world with sunshine 365 days a year and little or no humidity, a lower cost of living, excellent health care, lots of things to do, an established infrastructure among incredible beauty and the warm welcome of the Mexican people, is it any wonder people are happy living in Lake Chapala, Mexico? “Live Younger Longer” is the natural extension to being healthy and happy and you won’t find any place where that is truer than in Lake Chapala, Jalisco in Mexico.
Living at Lake Chapala Offers a Laid-back Way of Life…
Every village in Mexico has a plaza where people gather for special events as well as regularly on Sunday evening. It is delightful to see that “old-fashioned courting” is very much alive in Mexico. Mexican children, on average, are very well behaved and respectful, with the older ones looking after the youngsters without complaint and actually seeming to enjoy it. There are numerous fiestas in the plazas in each of the villages depending on the occasion and time of year. There will be music, food and, of course, fireworks galore. Some of the local fiestas run a week to 10 days long and at the end of each night, there will be a special fireworks structure called a castillo. It is amazing. It is created to allow one section of fireworks after another to go off, taking about an hour in total.
We even have natural thermal waters in San Juan Cosala, a little village next to Ajijic. There are several swimming pools and spas of different sizes and temperatures, all filled with therapeutic mineral waters. The natural mineral waters, fed from underground hot springs, are recommended for the relief of arthritis, rheumatism, stress, fatigue and insomnia.
Get Involved – Integration with Mexican Community
We think it’s important to become involved in the community and give back to Mexico some of the goodness we find here. One of the personally rewarding aspects of living on the lakeside is the charitable contribution you can make, sometimes with no effort at all.
The Lake Chapala Society (LCS) offers some twenty-six English classes (every year)…some free…as well as six computer classes free to Mexicans (adults and children). The Mexican people realize there are increased opportunities if they can speak English and get computer skills so they’ll willingly take these lessons. If you are planning on upgrading to a new computer, consider donating your old one to the Lake Chapala Society. They are in desperate need of additional computers as the demand for lessons by Mexicans is ever rising.
Many of the abundant social events are actually fundraisers for local charities. The Lakeside foreign community can take pride in the generous charity work they do here. Most of these organizations donate 100% of the money raised directly to the cause as the labor is totally volunteered.
Often, when you go to a show or a dance, the proceeds are committed to the School for the Deaf, or the Niños Incapacitados or a local orphanage. Many of the charities are supported by both the local and the foreign communities. This integration between the Mexicans and the expat community is one of the nice things about living here. It really is lovely to see. We are not at all resented. The Mexican people know their lifestyle has improved and jobs have increased because of us living and investing in the area and they warmly welcome us and appreciate our involvement.
MEXICAN FIESTA DRAWS OVER 3,000 SUPPORTERS
|As reported in Ojo del Lago|
|“This is the fifth year that the “Help Create a Smile” grand fiesta has been organized by the supporters and parents of children who have received medical care—currently or in the past—by the Niños Incapacitados. Held March 19 at Cristiania Park in Chapala, the fiesta-fundraiser was first conceived by Ramon & Claudia Cardenas and Josefina Garcia as a way for the Mexican community to show their appreciation to the Niños Incapacitados. Each year, the fiesta has grown increasingly in the numbers attending and in the amount of funds it brings the Niños Incapacitados to help in continuing its work for the financially disadvantaged sick and disabled children at Lakeside.”|
There is so much incredible talent in this area and getting involved is a great way to not only contribute but to use your talent. Just because you are retired doesn’t mean you forgot everything you have learned in life. While living at Lake Chapala you have the opportunity to get involved in activities that keep you alert and alive with a real sense of purpose. It’s what “Living Younger Longer” is all about. Read “The Magic of the Lakeside.”
There is a very special camaraderie among the expat community here in Lake Chapala and I guarantee you that within two weeks, you’ll need to buy a calendar to keep track of your social commitments.
Karen Blue, now a friend of ours, was tired of corporate America and retired to Lake Chapala. She decided to do something she had always wanted to do —write a book. First, she joined the Writers Club, then she proceeded to fulfill her dream. Her first book, Midlife Mavericks, is a fascinating collection of interviews she had with single women and men who moved to Lake Chapala—why they came, how they live, what they do, what they like etc.
|Quotes from Midlife Mavericks:|
|“I enjoy seeing the Mexicans all dressed up. The men and boys saunter around the plaza counterclockwise, and women and girls stroll the opposite direction. It’s their way of flirting. Older women sell little eggshells full of confetti, and when a young man takes a fancy to a young lady, he cracks the eggshell on her head, which crowns her hair with colorful scraps of tissue paper.”|
|“I came here for the sense of adventure and the climate. I stay here because I’m learning new lessons from the Mexicans—lessons on how to live.”|
|“They have unlimited tolerance. They’re much less materialistic people than we are and infinitely more spiritual. Their generosity and caring are wonderful attributes. And the people have time—time to talk and time to listen.”|
|“In Guadalajara I’ve been able to enjoy so much more culture than in New York. Front-row seats for the Jalisco or Philadelphia Philharmonic orchestras cost less than ten dollars. Operas, ballets and symphonies from all over the world come to the city.”|
|“On every street in these Mexican villages, there’s a feeling of life—day and night.”|
|“How safe do I feel here in Mexico? Safer than I did in Dallas or Belize. The Mexicans are gentle people. I don’t hesitate to walk down to the restaurant alone or to the village plaza on Sunday evenings.”|
Places of Worship
We are so very fortunate to have such a wide variety of places to worship in Lake Chapala; Spanish, bilingual and many English services.
Mexicans are very different from their northern neighbors
You’ll learn early on one big difference between Mexicans and their northern neighbors. In Canada and the United States the term “Time is Money” is well understood and respected. In Mexico, there is simply no connection between “Time” and “Money.” It takes longer, much longer, to get things done in Mexico. A simple task can seem to take forever. There seem inherent inefficiencies built into everything.
It is easy, especially when you first arrive, to look at these differences and label them as poor management, lack of business acumen, lack of caring or whatever you want to call it. However, over time you will realize they do manage to get things done, manage businesses, bring up their children; in fact, everything we do they manage to do, too—only without all the stress and pressure we are good at building into all our activities. The big difference comes down to their value system.
Mañana doesn’t necessarily mean tomorrow.
It just means “not today.”
Mexico might not be right for you
The fact that you have a confirmed appointment with a plumber for 10 a.m. takes second priority if the plumber’s brother needs a ride to go to the doctor. When you offer your maid or gardener extra hours or to work holidays or during fiestas, you’re surprised that they don’t accept. Why don’t they want to earn more and have a better “living?” This is another important difference. In the United States and Canada we “live to work;” here in Mexico, Mexicans “work to live.” They don’t consider working overtime to have a new car more important than spending weekends off with the family and taking the bus. They don’t consider it poor business to miss the appointment with you to fix your plumbing; they consider the needs of the family to take precedence. They simply value family and friends above “things.”
Another interesting tidbit—Mexican people do not like to say NO. It just doesn’t sit well with them. They are accommodating by nature and truly want to please. So you ask the plumber “can you come at 8 o’clock,” and he tells you he’d prefer to come at 10 a.m. When you become persistent that you need him to come at 8 a.m., he will finally agree. He still probably won’t come at 8 o’clock, but he’d rather agree and keep you happy than debate the issue with you. Punctuality isn’t a strong trait in Mexico for day-to-day living. However, in the business world, Mexican businessmen will try to accommodate their foreign business associates by being on time.
I hear people say all the time, “I just wish he’d tell me the truth instead of lying to me.” In his mind he isn’t telling you a lie, it’s a little story. He is helping you manage your frustrations by simply telling you what you want to hear.
We too have come to think of these as “stories” not lies. And each story comes with its own guarantee. If you don’t like that one, another one will be readily available.
Part of the charm of Mexico is their rich culture and history. Don’t try to understand it or change it, just enjoy the differences and come to terms with them.
If you are fortunate enough to cut yourself some slack and lighten up a little, you’ll soon feel release from the stress you have been causing yourself by not letting go. We move to Mexico to be part of a new culture, and then many times we bring our old rules and regulations with us and try to impose them on our new hosts.
This is one of the reasons we tell people “Mexico is not for everyone.” If you are very set in your ways and not at all flexible, then maybe Mexico is not for you.
On the other hand, I know many people living here now that did initially arrive with all their old “tapes,” but have since managed to open their hearts to embrace this new culture and appreciate the differences. If you can do that, you will cross over the threshold into what we call “The Magic of the Lakeside” and when that happens, you really will have a new lease on life.
Living at Lake Chapala – One of the Last Best Places on Earth!
Simple words can never do justice to the beauty of this area, nor can they describe what it is truly like to live in our little pocket of paradise amongst the friendliest people in the world, our Mexican hosts. There is no way to paint the magical picture for you that we see every moment and no way to tell you how we feel about living at Lake Chapala. You MUST experience the Magic of the Lakeside for yourself as we did.
The End… Or it could be just the beginning for you!
The best way to find out is to sign up for a “Focus on Mexico Program” and experience a taste of Mexico and see for yourself if Lake Chapala, Mexico could be your special Shangri La. We invite you to join us! You’ll be glad you did.
Thomas Dewyer says
HI Id like some info on wher to rnt a place in Lake chapala for a moth or more and more info on it as to how safe is it and do u fly in or can u drive there from usa
michael nuschke says
We have a list of rental agencies we recommend trying, and there are also VRBO.com and Craigslist.com and other online resources. Keep in mind, if you are looking to rent in the high season (Nov – Mar), it will be much harder to find a place. Many rental property owners try and get longer-term rentals and only if they can’t find someone long-term will they open up their property to shorter term rentals – but this will typically happen only 4-6 weeks before the rental period! Word of mouth is a key way for people to find rentals even before they get listed – but you need to know people on the ground who would help you for that. Another approach is to just book a B&B – but likely more expensive than a 1-month house rental. Focus On Mexico offers a “Rental Assistance Service” for a fee if none of those methods work. I suggest you email us with the dates you are thinking of coming and we will email you more info. Send us an email with more details on your trip to firstname.lastname@example.org
We can also send you more info on travel options (tell us where you live!) and safety concerns. So drop us an email with your particulars and we will get back to you.
Jim Lane says
I hear the water is not drinkable & even swimming in the lake is not recommended. If that is true, why ? We are into water sports.
michael nuschke says
We posted a recent review of the Lake quality on our website that will directly address your concerns. Just go to the Focus On Mexico homepage https://focusonmexico.com/ and scroll down until you see the “State of the Lake 2017” picture on the right side-bar. You can then download a report that gives you the accurate picture on Lake quality.
All the best,
Just wondering about the quality of dental care. I am presently looking for dental implants and bridge work. I would appreciate any recommendations, please.
michael nuschke says
We sent you a private email reply to this inquiry.
All the best!
Yvette Tullier says
Please send us information on living in Chapala. We are retired and are very impressed with the information we have read. Thank you!
michael nuschke says
Focus On Mexico leads 6-Day Learning Experience seminars at Lake Chapala several times a year. We also hand out a 200+ page workbook – so that might give you an idea that there is a lot to consider and learn.
We think many people learn best in a small-group learning experience where the experts come to them, present their area and answer your questions – so my suggestion is, if Lake Chapala area is a serious option for you, come to one of our Programs! (see the Programs tab on this website).
If you have any specific questions that I could help answer, let me know here.
Hope to see you Lakeside so you can truly “kick the tires”.
Yvette Tullier says
Oh one other question. Someone asked about the quality of the lake ie. Swimming etc. and you didn’t answer his questions. Is there anything wrong with the lake water? Please respond. Thanks
michael nuschke says
Best answer is to read this report on the current quality of Lake Chapala;
Tom Miles says
Hello. My wife, Patricia Forbes, and I will be making an exploration visit to Chapala/Ajijic from September 29 to October 12 and would love having an opportunity to meet you and just chat over a cup of coffee if that is possible.
Thanks for your kind consideration.
Bette Brazel says
Would be happy to meet with you. Please contact us closer to the date. Best, Bette
Eric Mintz says
I will be coming down from SoCal for a very short scouting adventure. Hope to retire within the next 6 months. I’d also like to meet with you folks if available between 9/11 and 9/13,.
michael nuschke says
We will put you in touch with a Focus Team member that can help you during your trip here.
jim brogan says
im interested to moving to Lake Chapala soon. Is it hard to deal with immigration as far as living permanently there?
Bette Brazel says
Mexico immigration is easy to deal with but you must start the process in a Mexican consulate in your home country. See our post “Getting Your Retiree Resident Visa”.
terence rice says
Hi my wife and I live in Los Angeles …we were looking to perhaps move there in about three or four years though I must admit we’ve never been there just heard lots of things about it…..is it getting built up and losing its small town appeal? is buying a home difficult at Lake Chapala?
michael nuschke says
It’s important to keep in mind that there are many towns along the Norther shore of Lake Chapala. Chapala is a big town, Ajijic is now a medium sized town, but there are several other small towns. Ajijic in particular had become more built up, but also has kept much of its charm at the same time. Buying a home is not difficult – although right now, with virus shut-down – a little tricky. Email me privately if you have more questions at email@example.com Cheers!
LUIS MIGUEL ARRUBARRENA GOMEZ says
hola buen dia
estoy buscando un articulo que se publico en 2009 sera posible verlo?
es que en la busqueda no me aparece
Saludos y gracias
michael nuschke says
Hola Luis Miguel,
This was on our old website and I was able to find it. Here it is;
Why I tell people I love them?
By Tere Ruiz
When I was around 8, I met my new friend Maria who became a sister to me. Ever since then, we’ve been Friends Forever and much more. Sharing wonderful times of play while kids, lot’s of romantic stories while teenagers, and joyous moments while raising our children.
Maria and I went school together and we also went to the fair, traveling, partying, and much more. When Maria and I were 35 years old, my dear friend was expecting her third baby and while giving birth to her, she had a thrombosis. Her baby made it to this world on time, but my friend was very sick. I really don’t remember how long she stayed in the hospital, the only thing I remember is that we couldn’t visit her there. The information regarding her health would filter drop by drop through her maid, her husband’s secretary, or anyone who could reach her mom or someone for a couple of minutes on the phone.
I remember I used to cry all day long thinking of my beloved friend Maria and her three children who were about to loose their mom.
Finally some weeks later my friend came back and recovered miraculously from the thrombosis. But of course it was months until we could finally reach her and have a “normal” conversation with her, if possible.
I recall that about 6 months later I finally was able to get to visit her in her house. She was finally back to normal and she told me everything that had happened to her during those months.
When she was finished, I asked her to listen to my side story and how much I had suffered during those times. When I was finished, I promised to her and to myself that I would always tell her how much I loved her, from then on. And I asked her to tell her children our story together, so they would know that they would always count on me and that I would always love them too.
I guess, in my despair, I lost the shame and fear to let everybody know that I love them. And since that day, I love much more and I let everybody know how much I love them. And it feels so right!
I recovered lot’s of my “loves” from my life and I’ve “collected” many, many beloved ones, since then, as a gift from Living in Lake Chapala and I’ve discovered that saying “I love you” is like a key that opens the heart of the people and that it is quite contagious. Yes, it is contagious, because now, I have no shame or feel embarrassed to say “I love you” and I always get a lot’s of “I love you too!” back.
Is there anybody you love and haven’t told them so? This is the right moment to do it, and it is so easy and priceless.. I am sure that if you have come in a Focus on Mexico Program, you already know it that.
What I learned of this experience is that the most important thing when you say “I love you” is that you give a gift of love to the people, but you also give yourself a gift of joy, and guess what?, most of the times you also receive a gift of Love, back.
So just in case, we don’t get to see each other soon, I send you all my love, till we meet again or till we ever meet and become beloved ones.
Martin Plaskoff says
What is the best entry from New Mexico. Less wait and traffic quick service.
michael nuschke says
This is always changing so best idea is to join a couple Facebook groups, search for “driving to Mexico” and if you don’t find something relevent/recent, post your question on those sites.