Who May Not Like Lake Chapala – Ajijic ?

July 6, 2008

We all have dreams of what we would like our life to be like. Our advise, don’t just dream about it ! Do a bit of planning, get some professional input (Here’s where I come in), and then tailor make a lifestyle that’s just right for you.

I admit that our area is not for everyone. But, that being said… our area has so much of what most folks want, that I think you should give us a look. To Learn More and See if Our Area Might be Right for You, Please Read On !

First, let me tell you who may not like our area. People who are intolerant of other cultures or think that their way is the ONLY WAY to do things, or they think that anyone who doesn’t speak English must be somewhat retarded. These folks may want to look elsewhere.

This person is the stereotype of the “Ugly American” which has been defined as follows:

The Encarta dictionary defines “Ugly American” as: stereotypical offensive American: a loud, boorish, nationalistic American, especially one traveling abroad, who is regarded as conforming to a stereotype that gives Americans a bad reputation.[12] In contrast, Dictionary.com defines “the Ugly American” as: Pejorative term for Americans traveling or living abroad who remain ignorant of local culture and judge everything by American standards.[13]

Thankfully, most people don’t fall into the above category. A lot of folks are however, a bit skeptical, and that’s OK. They say something like, “Well, the Lake Chapala area of Mexico sounds wonderful, but what will I have to give up to live there. ” My answer is always the same: “Nothing except STRESS. You have to leave your stress behind.”

Let me explain: You will read about low prices, low taxes, perfect climate, friendly people, a nice mix of interesting neighbors from all over the world, affordable housing, etc. etc. Admittedly, it sounds almost too. good to be true and so the skepticism.

BUT, it is true that you may need to adapt your thinking a little, especially, if you are like I was. How was that? Well, I’m the kind of person who used to be pretty impatient (with myself, with family and friends, with merchants, with government services, etc.).

That impatience caused me stress and slightly elevated blood pressure. Here, there is much to reduce stress like the calming vistas of our beautiful lake, year round perfect climate, low crime, low taxes, low utilities, and in general less economic stress to make ends meet on a pension.

But, since the culture here puts some things ahead of chasing a peso, like family, church, time to relax, being polite, celebrating life’s important moments (birthdays, weddings, first communions, mother’s day, religious days, etc.) you will notice a difference in how quickly things get accomplished.

Things may not be ready when originally promised, but when they are ready you will usually find them to be done very well and at a low price. Your doctor, lawyer, government official may not be on time for his/her appointment with you, but when you do have your meeting you will find that it is not rushed, that all your concerns are addressed and in a very friendly way.

So, we must adapt, we must leave our stress behind. We must be tolerant of a different culture. And, once we do this, we can truly enjoy all this wonderful country has to offer.

NOW, let’s talk about some specifics of our area to see if it is right for you: Some folks say, “I really just want to sit back and relax. I don’t socialize much.” That’s fine, there’s no pressure here to be a social butterfly. You can socialize as little or as much as you want. If on the other hand you are the social butterfly type, there’s plenty of events to keep you busy.

Most folks fall somewhere between the two extremes. That’s were my wife and I fit in. We have friends that are always doing something and friends that rarely leave home. There’s room for us all.

Then, there are the folks who come to retire, yet wind up doing something with a profit motive. They may have been a world famous chef in a big city restaurant and then decided to open their own restaurant here, not so much as to make a bunch of money, but because they always wanted to have their own restaurant and do it their way.

We have a lot of folks who are learning to express their creative energies in one or more forms of art. Ajijic has a number of art studios, art shops, painting classes, drawing classes, for those who want to try their hand at artistic pursuits.

Some have become involved in little theatre. Have you always wanted to be thespian? Why not give it a try in our little theater group.

Want to continue your education: The University of Guadalajara (less than an hour away) accepts foreign students of all ages and there is always some group studying something worthwhile at the Lake Chapala Society (History, Culture, Great Books of the Western World, Literature).

More interested in fun than scholarly pursuits: (Not that scholarly pursuits aren’t fun for those who enjoy them) There’s still plenty to do. We have a number of concerts each year from visiting jazz groups, dance groups, symphonic orchestras, touring rock groups, and in addition there are several local bands playing Latin, Rock and Country style music at various area clubs and restaurants.

More technologically oriented ? Then the computer club or Ham radio Club might be your cup of tea.

More into physical activities? There’s a number of tennis courts in the area, two golf courses, a water park, ultra light airplanes, horseback riding, hiking in the mountains, and at least 10 swimming pools open to the public in the area all to keep you physically fit while having fun.

There’s self indulgence activities like hour long full body relaxation massages for about $20, or a manicure or pedicure might make you feel special. The ladies will find a number of good beauty salons ( at last count we had 10) at very reasonable prices so you can always look your best.

Veterans will be pleased to note that there are several active American Legion Posts in the area and there are at least 40 other special interest or service clubs in the Lakeside area.

A partial listing includes: The Lake Chapala Society, Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge club, Canadian Club, Culinary Arts Society of Ajijic, Ajijic International Film Festival, Amigos Internationales, British Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Lakeside Garden Guild, Lakeside Fishing Club, Ham Radio Club, Rotary Clubs, Senior Citizens Club, and Writers Group.

And, I would be remiss if I did not mention the many opportunities to volunteer in any number of worthwhile charities and mentoring groups here at lakeside. If you want to give back and thereby receive more than you give in appreciation and blessings, then lakeside is definitely the place for you too.

OK, I know, I left out fishing and beach activities. In Chapala the newly renovated Malecon has a small beach but most North Americans hang out at one of the pretty pools in the area surrounded by palm tress with nice lake views,

But, if this doesn’t quench your thirst for a beach like atmosphere, the real beaches of Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, and Barra de Navidad are all less than half a day drive away. All offer superb beaches, and great fishing, not to mention night life, and great seafood.

But you don’t have to go to the coast for great seafood or night life as we have that right here at Lakeside, thank you very much. It’s nice to know that world class resorts are close by, when we feel the urge to play tourist.

Speaking of tours there are several local tour companies here at Lakeside that offer inexpensive tours to areas throughout Mexico and all over the world, some with Senior discounts.

So, it’s up to you. It’s all here for you…. Just waiting for you to take advantage of. Some folks try a little of this and a little of that activity to see what pleases them and makes them feel self fulfilled, and some just jump in and get the whole meal deal.


I want to help you, to smooth the way, to prevent the mistakes you might make on your own, to make you a new friend, and of course if you decide at some point to buy a home in our area, I am one of the few exclusive Buyer’s Agents fully accredited as a local Realtor in our local real estate association referred to as GIL (Grupo Inmobilarios del Lago) and the Mexican National Real Estate Assocation (AMPI).

So, give me a call or send me an e mail today. Let’s get started on your new life !

  • Jim Foster

    Would like to drive to Mexico from Can next year stay 3 months Jan-Mar. Wife & I 71, retired, consider moving somewhere Chapala, Mazatlan-Manzanillo on Pacific Coast. Would a 2 week stay in Chapala at beginning of our trip give us time to feel out the place, with a possible month stay in each of a couple of places on the coast to compare? A 2 week stay in Chapala on the return could be done. We have been looking at the morning temps since Jan 1 this year and it gets cold overnight there. I have seen indicated central heat and air are not needed but what happens when the am temp feels like 25 farenheit? I know what that is like being in Fla this year. Have been to Costa Rica several times so culture shock not a problem. Are there places to stay in the area for a couple of weeks that are reasonable – say a 2 br. for $250 wk?
    Thanks in advance for your response.
    Jim Foster

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jim, You’ve asked some very good questions.

    First let’s talk cold weather temps, Our homes here really need almost no supplemental heat or AC.

    Here’s why. In the winter we still have sunny days and we keep our drapes back, blinds open and soak up the sun through large windows and clear glass sliding doors to the exterior. So our homes are quite warm as the sun goes down. We close the drapes or blinds and sleep under either a light or heavy blanket depending upon your own body thermostat and how actually cold it might get.

    Some people use electric blankets and others use a small gas or wood log fire in the fireplace or use a small oil filled electric radiator.

    These measure would not be needed all winter long. Again much depends up the individual’s thermostat.

    The temps you’ve been reading are probably for Guadalajara which has the same average temp. as we do at Lake Chapala, but our lows int he winter are not as low and our highs in the sumer are not as high as Gudalajara. Here’s why.

    The lake in winter heats up all day in the sun (like our homes) and then after dark it radiates the heat back into the air. The Lake is surrounded by mountains with our homes built between the lake and the mountains which helps to concentrate and trap the warmer air and thus the warmer in reality winter temps as compared to Guad.

    My wife and I sometimes spend the night at her Mom’s home or one of her sisters and IO notice a big difference and wear extra layers plus ue a blanket or two at night in the winter there.

    In the summer we get rains mostly at night. The next monring the sun comes out and the wet ground evaporates in the morning sun and this has an evaporative cooling effect without giving us high humidity as our elevation at 5,000 ft. gives us realatively low humidity.

    Afternoons in Summer if you’re in the sun it can be uncomfortable but once you step into the shade it’s like you stepped into air conditioning.

    Finally for both heating and cooling our homes here are made of cement, stone, solid brick and solid cement black and the walls tend to b thick all of which keeps our homes warmer int he winter and cooler in the summer too much like mother earth does for underground homes.

    I’ve shown homes in the afternoon in the summer when if in the direct sun it can be too warm. Then we stop and enter the home to check it out and on a number of occasions I’ve had my clients say,”Sid, I though homes here didnt have AC?”

    I respond that no, they don’t unless the person has some type of health condition, but that the thick walls hold the cool from the night before. It really does feel as if you’re entering an air conditioned home.

    YOu just have to get used to opening and closing drapes, windows etc. to take advantage of the breezes, the sun and the natural rhythms of the lake. It becomes second nature… and we save a lot of money on utilities.

    Your Visit Two to three weeks visit here would give you a good feel I think for our area. Winter rental prices are highest, next the summer rentals. Fall and spring the rentals are less expensive. The same for B and B prices.

    The mountains are at their best in Summer due the nightly rains. You really have to shop to get nice rentals at lower rates, but they can usually be found. I’d lock in a rental early if you plan to begin here in Jan. as this is high season, but not as difficult as December.

    If you can’t find a rental that suit you on line come down anyway and booking a B and B for a few days and then we can probably find a rental for several weeks to a month. Not all the rentals are on line. The Lake Chapala Society bulletin board often has otherwise un advertised rentals. It would be difficult to find a rental for 2 weeks for as low as $250 USD but I don’t think impossible.

    Since our weather is good all year long there are folks who make Lake Chapala Ajijic home base but also like the beach and drive there for vacations and avoid the higher prices there and the humid sweltering hot summer months.

    I know some folks who had friends who moved to the beach and they could not wait to sell their home here, and go live at the beach.

    In less than 2 years they moved right back here to Lake Chapala to live full time. Too hot and humid for much of the year.

    Thanks again for the good questions. I bet we answered the unspoken questions of other club members.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Jim Foster

    Thanks, Sid, for your prompt reply.
    Will take your advice on looking for rentals in advance and will be sure to contact you prior to arriving.
    Your comments concerning construction make perfect sense as we have copied those ideas ourselves up north.
    Muchas gracias.

  • James Dunn

    Sid, I am retired and considering coming to the Lake Chapala area for a couple of weeks. I enjoy poker and would like to know if there are any games in the area(home games, American Legion, casinos). Also, do you have any security conscerns in Chapala or in Guadalajara? Are there any libraries etc. where I would have access to a computer? What do you recommend for a two week visit as the best choice for a type of place to say(hotel,B&B etc.) at a moderate price? Would you recommend Ajiijic or LC for a 1st visit?
    Can you give me the email address of any other points of contact there who could help me with further inquiries?

    Any information or advice you could give me
    that would help make a first visit more
    satisfactory and productive would be much

    Thanks Sid.

    Sincerely yours,

    James Dunn

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi James,

    Forgive the tardy response as I’ve been on a business trip, but now back in harness. You asked some really good questions. So, let me take them one by one.

    Home based Poker games: Yes, there are friendly home based games in the area. I was just recently invited to attend a new one forming. Low stakes with a $5 USD buy in. I’m sure there are others.

    We have an active American Legion here. Not sure about poker there, but would think you could find a game there.

    Security Concerns – We have seen an uptick in crime in our area, but as a former police officer for 35 years I feel the local authorities while not perfect are very much concerned and more than capable to handle it with citizen/resident support. Our area of Mexico in my opinion is still much safer than most of the USA and all of Mexico (small rural pueblos not considered).

    The Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic has a 30,000 vol. computer indexed English language library. Not sure if they have computer access for members, but may well have. A local mailing receiving service I recommend. Handy Mail has a free high speed desk top computer for member use as well as a free direct USA line for staying in touch back home.

    Cybercafes are scattered around the area as well. Most of the area is served with fiber optic high speed service.

    Hotels or B and B’s I highly recommend staying at B and B’s over Hotels as they tend to be friendlier with more personalized service and if you’re a little extroverted you can enjoy mingling with other first time or repeat area visitors, compare notes at breakfast about what each other has learned etc.

    Prices range from around $45 a night per couple with breakfast to over $80 per couple per night, You do get what you pay for in B and B’s but some of course are better than others. The Lakeside area is not so large that I would recommend one town/village over another, but more B and B’s are located in Ajijic.

    Send me an email to Sid@ChapalaClub.com for a list of good ones in various price ranges.

    The Lake Chapala Society has a very informative website and a llocal law office has good info on immigration concerns.

    Other Points of Contact There are numerous other websites (far too many to list here) but if you e mail me with particular interests I can probably point you to the ones most helpful in your situation. Sid@ChapalaClub.com

    Point of Contact I look forward to being your point of contact hub for pretty much all things “Lake Chapala Ajijic” from when to come and what to pack, private airport pick up service, gratis area tours, reasonable price out of the immediate area tours, immigration services, health care services, rental tips and tricks to get a nice rental at a fair price, etc.

    And of course since I’m an Exclusive Buyer’s Only Realtor looking after the best interests of my clients directly and through a few other carefully chosen Buyers Only Realtors I in all modesty recommend myself and my collegues for any area Real Estate and related information. The Seller has their agent… shouldn’t you have yours? There’s never a fee to our clients for our real estate services.

    Thanks a lot James for the great questions. I feel certain many of our readers and members will profit from them.

    A final word: If you’re not already a member of http://www.ChapalaClub.com please invest a minute or two in becoming a member. Membership is free and we don’t harass you with unending streams of junk e mail. We want you as a member because we don;t want you to miss any of the super information packed articles, videos, and audios we will be publishing.

    So, take less than a minute and go to the upper right hand corner of any page on http://www.ChapalaClub.com and entered your primary e mail address (the one you check regularly) in the box and get ready to get the information you need about living working, and playing in our little slice of paradise here at Lake Chapala Ajijic. Your e mail address privacy is important. We don;t sell, rent, or give away member information to anyone.

    Thanks again James. I look forward to helping you decide if our area might be right for you. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jim, sorry for the tardy THANK YOU. But, a sincere “Thank You” for your nice words. Glad you found the info, helpful. It makes me feel good each time I’m able to help someone. Thanks again, Sid

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