Five Tips for Newcomers to Lake Chapala – Ajijic

December 7, 2013

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 Here are 5 Practical Tips for Living at Lake Chapala – Ajijic, Mexico

How to Decide if You Can Trust Street Food 

A lot of great expat areas will have street food vendors offering tempting foods right on the street, Some will have a couple of small tables to sit at. 

You will not see running tap water and while tempted you probably should move on and eat at a regular restaurant.

 But if you do want to give it a go, here’s some tips.

Does the person dishing up the food also take the money. Filthy stuff money. If it’s the same person hopefully they slip on a plastic glove before touching the money and making change. 

Is there some sort of hand sanitizer liquid in use? Do they have a way to was the plates or do they use paper plates?

Some places in Mexico slip a fresh clean plastic sleeve over a regular plate and put the food on top of the plastic sleeve. 

 Do they have lots of business? Are there any North Americans eating there? All good signs. Good eating and Good Luck.

How to Be Sure Your Rental is Really Ready

Most expats want to sample an area of interest before deciding if they want to live there.  

 This usually means a check the area out trip and a hotel or B and B stay. Then, if they like things to that point they usually decide to rent either for long term or until they decide if they want to buy.

Often times rentals are not up to USA or Canadian Standards. If you ask if the rental is ready to move into you will be told yes.

Often it will not be REALLY ready. Habitable yes, really ready perhaps not.

Here’s how to be sure it’s ready.

Tell the rental agent a white lie about a horrible experience a friend had where the first few weeks they had to wait for workers who did not show up on time and many delays on getting the work done that should have already been done. 

They will insist that the rental is in fact ready. You say, Yes, of course I believe you, but would you personally go check it and give me your personal assurance that all the switches work, the toilets flush properly, etc.

This puts their personal credibility on the line. Be sweet, but insist. You’re rental will almost always be really ready if you use this trick. 

Altitude Sickness

Many of the great expat places in the world are in the mountains somewhere.

Unless you’re coming from a high altitude area and are acclimated already to altitudes well above sea level here are some tips for you. Take it easy.

Don’t overdue the exercise for the first few days. Eat lighter than usual. Be sure and get plenty of rest. Walk slow. Stop and rest on a bench and do a bit of people watching.

Don’t walk in the heat of the day. Breath deeply to get more oxygen into your body.

How to Avoid Stomach Problems

Avoid alcoholic beverages until you’re sure your body has adapted to the altitude.

If symptoms are severe, or last more than a day or two see a doctor. Avoid alcoholic beverages until you’re sure your body has adapted to the altitude.  If symptoms are severe, or last more than a day or two see a doctor

Most folks know this one, but good to hear it again. Ask if the water is safe to drink by people who should know.

Bottled water is always a good bet, but not always necessary. All our restaurants at Lake Chapala serve purified water and ice made from purified water.

Also, eat light for a few days to allow your system to get used to the local food.

Be extra careful with seafood. I’ve only had stomach problems twice in over 10 years and both time I had eaten a seafood gumbo. I carry Pepto or similar product when traveling to new areas, just in case.

 How to Choose a Realtor 

Make contact before you leave home with a Buyer’s Only Realtor in the area you’re checking out.

A buyer’s only realtor does not accept listings and only represents potential buyers, He will be paid usually by receiving a portion of the fee paid by the seller to the listing agency broker.

Buyer’s Only Realtors do not list homes or represent sellers so there’s no built in conflict of interest. In areas without Realtors or without any Buyer’s Only Realtors ask on forums like this one for recommendations from other Expats.

Many countries allow anyone to sell real estate with no special licensing. You want and need someone on your side and only your side even if you have to pay their fee directly. Get references. Buyer Beware. 

All for now, Tu amigo, Sid

  • CeeZee

    Were you a real estate agent in the US? In the US and Canada only agents who are members of the board can use the term “realtor” as it is copyrighted.

  • Linda

    My husband & I will soon be coming down to Ajijic for the winter. We plan to buy a vehicle down there this year and would like to know how to pay for it. We do not have a Mexican bank account and would like to just use our Canadian accounts. could you please advise? We would be happy to use our VISA card if that is an option.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi CeeZee, Good question.

    Our local Real Estate group has many former US Realtors. I was a Texas Real Estate Broker (but never wanted to pay the fees to become a Realtor there) Our local real estate group subscribes to the Ethical code
    of the National Board of Realtors and is authorized to use the term Realtors here in our area of Mexico.

    Real Estate agencies and agents are not regulated by the Mexican government in Jalisco (the Mexican State where we’re located). As far as I know no Mexican state licenses real estate agents as such. Local businesses usually have to pay a fee to open a business, but as far as I know there is no government supervision or licencing. Tu amigo, Sid

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