Welcome to Chapala Club!

The Lake Chapala area basically consists of Chapala and 5 surrounding villages and a number of subdivisions with independent homeowners’ groups.

Although the area has been inhabited for thousands of years in the last few decades it has seen an influx of artists, writers, and retirees from all over the world.

On the surface the lakeside villages are not unlike many others in Mexico. They have the cobblestone streets, Spanish tiled roofs, and relaxed atmosphere: however a closer look reveals some distinct differences.

Language: With so many North American retirees in residence it’s natural that the area has many English – speaking shopkeepers, waiters, doctors, etc. In fact there are more than 75 English language organizations and churches. We even have a local English language newspaper and two monthly English language magazines that serve our area.

Conveniences: The Chapala area has all the modern conveniences, There are fine medical facilities, well stocked super markets, cable and satellite TV and High Speed Internet,

At over 5,000 feet above sea level the area is verdant, with semi tropical and tropical plants, with mostly sunny days.

Bargain Prices: Your pension or investment income will go a long way here. The cost of living in Mexico is significantly lower than that of many countries including the USA and Canada.

Are there other places cheaper? Of course there are, but not with the infrastructure and accessibility to North America that we have. (Chapala is only 20 minutes from an International airport with direct flights from many gateway cities in North America.

For example, Dallas, Texas is approx. 3 hours away via American Airline. Currently there are 3 daily flights from Dallas via American Airlines.

Some of the best values in our area are food, medical care, housing, utility bills, and domestic help.

Electricity – Under $35 a month typical usage 2 persons in 2000 sq. ft. house.

Maid or Gardener per hour – About $4.00 USD.

Housing Example: An attractive brand new 2 bedroom , 2 bath home in a convenient location close to shopping, with potable water, fruit trees, covered terrace, laundry room, two car carport, mountain views, range, and refrigerator ready to move in are listed in July 2008 for under $130,000 USD.

Dinner at a good restaurant – $10 and up. A good meal at a Mom and Pop type place is about $4.00.
Avocados – If you don’t have a tree in your yard you can buy 3 for a $1.
First run movie – $4.50

Shopping: Our area is a shoppers dream come true. At the colorful open air markets called “Tianguis” (tee – an – geeze) you can find everything from fresh fruits and veggies to clothing, hardware items, auto parts, sun glasses, jewelry, watches, and household items. Some tianguis specialize in crafts, hand blown glass, pottery, dishes, art objects made of silver, wood, leather and Paper Mache, and even furniture.

A new WalMart Super Center is under construction now in the Lake Chapala area and Guadalajara has Sam’s Wholesale, Price Club, Costco, Home Depot, Office Depot, Radio Shack and a number of upscale malls to choose from if you get homesick for malls or familiar stores.

Tourist Destinations: While we have many fun things to do right here in our area it’s sometimes fun to take in a change of scenery. There are a number of areas just a half day drive away including beautiful tropical beaches only 4.5 hours or less away by car. (Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo)

Medical Services: In the Guadalajara – Chapala area you’ll find compassionate, well trained doctors and dentists, at very reasonable prices most of whom speak excellent English and many of whom have received training in the USA.
Prescription and over the counter drugs, are often lower priced here than is the USA.
Plastic surgery of the highest quality is also available at substantially less cost than in the USA.

Government sponsored Health Care: IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Suguro Social) permits foreign residents to join the system for an almost unbelievably low cost … approx. $300 per year. The first year of coverage not many services are covered, the second year more services are included , but by the 3rd year all services are included with no (zero) deductible.
And, many hospitals here will accept your US health plan insurance and often without a deductible.

Quality of Life: The Mexican lifestyle seems to me to be conducive to good health. We learn to live a more relaxed lifestyle here. With the great weather you likely will find that you spend a good bit more time outdoors and in general just being more physically active. A 365 day a year growing season allows lush foliage like that around the pool shown above.

With the combination of more exercise and a healthier diet many people find that they actually lose weight without really trying (No guarantees, OK?)
Feel like being pampered, how about a manicure or a pedicure or even a full body massage (under $25 for an hour long relaxation massage).

Many people reinvent themselves here. They find a creative spirit within themselves that may have been lying dormant for some time. Some enjoy painting or sculpting. Others try their hand at writing (we have a writers club for accomplished and aspiring writers by the way.)

Some enjoy learning a foreign language. There are many different Spanish language classes at all levels at very low rates. Do you have to learn Spanish? The answer is “Not really”. Will you pick up some along the way? “Of course you will.”

If you study the language and then practice it, even with the shopkeepers etc. who speak English, you will be rewarded with broad smiles of encouragement and a growing sense of achievement. Soon you will be at survival level. So you can shop anywhere even if no one speaks English.

Most folks find that they can get to basic survival level very quickly. This allows you to more fully enjoy the country and all it has to offer.

Finally, we have room for almost everyone here. If you are a bigoted, totally self centered, obnoxiously opinionated know it all… please stay at home.

If on the other hand you are like most of us… willing to experience a different culture without giving up your own, understand that not everyone everywhere has to think just like we do, that perhaps we can learn something new from our host country and perhaps teach them something new as well, then you’re just the type of person who will blend right in here and can benefit greatly from the cross pollination of cultures you will find in our area, and not just from the Mexican culture, but from all the different culture represented in this truly international retirement community.

I almost hate to use the word retirement. In some circles this means “ out to pasture, in active, in the twilight years, etc.” BUT, I think of retirement as retired from stress, retired from work I don’t want to do, retired from the burdens of too much ice and too much snow, or too much heat and too much yard work, But not retired from living a full and vigorous life doing the things that fulfill me (This need not be self centered as there are many fulfilling things to do here that bless others greatly.)

No, to me, retirement means having the time, money, and energy to do all those self fulfilling, helpful things that I have always wanted to do, but either didn’t have the time, or the resources to do. Here I have the time and the favorable exchange rate gives me the money to live my dreams.

Dare to Dream: Why not think “out of the box” a bit more. You’ve already begun by reading this information. Now take the next step and give me a call or e mail me with any questions you may have.

One of the things that’s self actualizing and fulfilling for me is to help others to “Make Their Dreams Come True”.

I truly enjoy introducing people from all over the world to our lovely area. I look forward to hearing from you. I want to help make your dreams come true too !

Siempre tu amigo (Always your friend),



  • karen constantine

    I just turned 62 (how did THAT happen!?). Anyway, I am not in a position where there are absolutely no ties whatsoever to where I live (and have lived for 22 years). My children have been grown and gone for a while and live all over, my SO died several years ago and my elderly mother whom I cared for passed away last year. Caring for her forced me to leave a job and now I work part time and am (I guess) “officially” retired. I will be leaving this area in June (that is a definite) but am having a problem deciding just where. I have looked all over at places that I have always liked but still can’t make a decision. I have spent a lot of time in Central America and Mexico and have looked at the Chapala/Ajijic area for quite some time. Any insight you can give me into a move to the area would really be helpful – i.e. activities (I love kyaking, arts, photography, easy to make friends with both couples and singles (I’m single), is it clickish, well just info on anything. Thanks for your help.

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

    Hi Karen, Thanks for your friendly post. You’ll fit right in here. I guess there must be a few clickish folks here, but the vast majority of our Ex Pats are everyday down to earth folks like you and me. We help each other as well as the more needy Mexican people.

    We are from all walks of life, all political and religious backgrounds and from all over the world (the largest group are the Americans, then the Canadians, and Europe with a small percentage from the rest of the globe.

    You mentioned activities. The Lake Chapala Society is a hub of activities of all types and has been helping newcomers and old timers for over 55 years. There are ap[proximately 80 or so English speaking organizations from very informal to fairly formal (By laws etc.).

    Many of them started because someone wondered, “Why don’t they have a (fill in the blank) group.” Then, they posted a note on the bulletin board at the Lake Chapala Society or placed a small classified ad in the local weekly paper and before they knew it they had a Club or Group for (fill in the blank).

    There are more single ladies here than single gents (You gals tend to out live us), but no need to feel like a 3rd wheel. Some ladies and gents team up to participate together as “buddies” and not sweethearts while others team up with another lady to go to dinner or out to a club.

    WE have loads of great area restaurants, a number of churches and religious oriented groups, the Lake Side Little Theater group, regular concerts. a 3 screen movie with first run hits in English with Spanish sub titles, etc.

    So, your social calendar can be as full as you want. There are the social butterfly types and the sit and watch the sunset types here. My Mexicana wife and I fall somewhere in between. We socialize more with other “mixed” couples, who like us are basically bi lingual or working on it. This way no one is left out of the conversational group, and we all improve our language skills.

    I hope this gives you a flavor for our life here. Oh, a final thought. WE all share a love of Mexico and its people, we all think out of the box to some degree or we would not be here, we all breath the same clean fresh mountain air and enjoy the same social activities together no matter how big or fancy our home is or how how large or small our retirement pension might be.

    All for now. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Vicki

    Just wondering,my husband and myself are thinking of wintering and maybe even spending more that 8 months in the Chapala area. There is a group called focus that has an informative tour and were thinking of taking it this summer. Does anyone know of them or heard of them? Any feedback would be appreciated. We have been reading and searching information for years on this area and it sounds like our kind of place. Sounds like a very friendly place.

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

    Hi Vicki, Sid here with my input. First a disclaimer. I’ve not taken the Focus tour. Several of my clients have done so. Each of them thought it was very good. Of course they give you more than information and you do have the fun of interacting with the others in the group who very well may become your neighbors if you both decide to move here.

    Of course this could also be said of the interesting people you will meet at any of the Bed and Breakfast places in our area. Each morning at breakfast you can compare notes and learn from each other.

    That being said I will now offer my “opinion”. From what my clients have told me I cover everything and more that the Focus tour covers. Mine is free. There’s is not. They also will refer you to area Realtors who are anxious to be of service.

    Now, these folks are my friends, associates, and colleagues and I have nothing mean, bad or ugly to say about any of them. Most are hard working, honest, conscientious good people. To the best of my knowledge all of them also both list properties for sale and represent buyers as well.

    I used to be just like them. However, I always felt a conflict that I was uneasy with. I like to think I always did what was best for my client, knowing that in the long run, this would be what was best for me too… and to the best of my ability I consciously did just that.

    The problem occurs when a Realtor has a client interested in one or more of his own or his firms listings. Who does he/she represent then? He/she has two clients… the one considering buying a home and the one that expects him/her to sell their house or perhaps a third; the broker who prefers that his agents sell an in house listing that his/her form has listed.

    So, for over a year now I’ve been an Exclusive Buyer’s Only Realtor. I have no listings and therefore have given up a large potential income to be made form having listings that other agents might sell. Further more, I have an Independent Contractor’s agreement with my broker in which I earn the same portion of the commission due to a selling agent when I sell a property he or his other associates have listed for sale or if I sell a property listed for sale by other brokers and agents.

    So, no more even potential conflict of interest for me. Well what does that mean for you?

    It means I have one client.. “You”…. and not 2 or 3. In other words you have an advocate looking out solely for your best interests. I’m very comfortable in this role. Please send me an e mail to Sid@ChapalaClub.com if you’d like to learn the many other advantages an Exclusive Buyer’s Only Realtor can provide for you and my particular services.

    Also see the article/video on this site at which is a clip from a news program where a consumer’s advocate talks about the value of having your own “buyer’s agent”.

    If the link doesn’t work just go to the Archives button on the Club home page and scroll down to the article on 10/08/08 and click it to go straight to the Article in the Club archives.

    I hope others who have attended the Focus program will add their comments to this thread.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • http://www.metinbereketli.com/pages/MEXICO_Healing_Art_Workshop_2009.html Roberto Silverman

    in MEXICO a SUCCESS!!!

    Metin in MEXICO!
    http://www.metinbereketli.com/ pages/MEXICO_Healing_Art_ Workshop_2009.html



    I have just come back from a children’s shelter in Chapala , Mexico a small village close to Gaudalaja next to a spectacular lake. I was there to assist Metin Bereketli work his magic and charm with his “Healing Art” program. We were at the Love in Action children’s shelter, a home for abandoned and abused children that were from four months to eighteen years of age. The shelter can be seen at http://www.loveinactioncenter.org

    Metin is an international artist with whom I had the pleasure of an extensive interview with him before making the trip. You can see his art and his work with charities at http://WWW.HOLLYWOODPAINTER.COM The idea of his show is to lift up the children’s spirit, even for a little while, out of whatever unhappiness is in their lives at that moment. To give them the chance, with, Metin’s help, to experience the exuberant immersion into color. Maybe to take the first hesitant step into the world of art.

    The children in the shelter are either abandoned, abused, orphaned and in one horrific case of a sweet, sweet girl whose father held her hands on a stove top until the skin was charred and blackened. These were the children that Metin went to help heal their wounds both mental and physical with his special brand of kindness.

    The show starts with the backdrop of white cloth with flooring the same. Metin comes on stage dressed head to foot in white. White bandana, shirt and pants. He announces in his booming, Turkish accented voice that he is going to introduce new painters to the assembled crowd. Then about thirty children file onto stage from small to tall all dressed exactly like Metin, white bandanas, shirts and pants. A more sweet and innocent group you cannot imagine, I freely admit that along with many others I had moist eyes. With a beautiful young girl as his translator Metin gets all the children lined up to his left and right with him in the center. With their white outfits and white backdrop all that shone out from the stage, was a row of bright shining faces with looks of excitement, trepidation and maybe a little fear as they had no idea what was about to happen.

    With a loud voice Metin announces as all the kids shoot their arms in the air “Ladies and gentlemen….PAINTERS” Then, after a big bow, the children sit in a semi circle facing Metin.

    Metin picks a child hands him a painters pallet with colored paints and a brush and leads him to an artist easle center stage. There is already a large canvas there with the beginnings of a painting of a large circle representing the circle of life. Metin invites the little one to paint whatever he likes on the canvas. At this point the crowd begins to laugh because unbeknownst to the child Metin is pouring different colored paint on the boy’s head and putting handprints on his back. Of course all the kids think this is hilarious and join in the laughter. Metin then dips his fingers in the paint and gently paints the little kids face. At this point Metin invites the boy to paint his face and while its being done Metin pours different colors on his own head. This brings shouts and laughter from everyone particularly the children, because they now get it, they have been given permission to jump into the figurative mud puddle. When the first victim finished he is held aloft as Metin yells out with the boy “ladies and gentlemen…. I AM A PAINTER” with everyone yelling and cheering like mad, much to wildly smiling child’s delight.

    This process went on child after child with everyone getting more and more enthusiastic and the children getting more and more excited waiting for their turn. By this time the kids were painting each other and dumping paint everywhere. One particular young girl was persuaded to come on stage. She had difficulty to overcome shyness. When she had first come to the shelter her foot was completely bent to one side making walking next to impossible. The shelter got her multiple operations until she finally found the joy of getting around her self although with a little difficulty. With all the excitement she had a problem standing, without fuss Metin gently put his big arm around her so that she, like all the other children could express her feelings in color.

    When the canvas was completely covered with every child’s efforts in art, most for the first time, the finished piece was put to one side. With all the children once again sitting in a paint splattered circle, Metin egged them on by liberally spraying them with multi-colored jets of paint. Every kid were now enthusiastically painting each other and even themselves.

    The next step was to have everyone paint the white background with anything they wanted. It was interesting to note how each child put color to feelings, some dark some joyful and some even destructive, smudging others work. One happily smiling girl wrote “I LOVE YOU” in impressively large letters. Finally Metin finished the piece with his traditional rainbow from one side of the stage to the other, completing a communal work of art eight feet high by twenty feet long. Being a showman to the last, Metin then laid on the ground and the kids attacked him like brightly colored vampires shrieking with delight as they deluged him with paint from head to foot. Eventually Metin emerged from the pile of children looking like a slowly melting, multi colored candle.

    Finally all the children once shining white,were once again lined up in front of their masterpiece themselves dripping in color to in fact becoming themselves living art. With a final bow and “VIVA MEXICO ”, “LA VIDA ES FANTASTICA” they threw their arms and pallets in the air, graduating from Metin’s Healing Art Program, Chapala , Mexico .


    Sincerely Yours,


    Beverly Hills, California

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

    Hi Michael, Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. There are many worthy charitable groups here and the North Americans as I’m sure you know, being one of them, are actively involved by with their time, their money and most of all with their Love. Thanks again, Sid

  • Keith Dutertre

    Do you know of anyone in your club or elsewhere that would be interested in renting a vehicle to 4, 60 year old Canadians with lots of insurance? We need it for the month of Feb. 2011.
    Hope you can help us.
    Keith Dutertre Abbotsford, B.C. Canada 778-808-2934

  • sue

    i love this page,didnt know about the health insurance thats awesome. I’m new to chapala i moved here from Zacatecas with my fiance and child he is mexican from s.l.p. and im from cincinnati,oh lol but i loove it here in chapala its magical just the way Vicente Fernandez said it in the CHAPALA song…lol idk im only 30 but i want to become part of your club. nice page

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

    Hi Sue, Welcome to the ChapalaClub.com

    For now we’re an on line club only although as club members arrive and relocate at Lake Chapala some of them are hooking up and meeting for lunch or dinner and sharing notes and getting to know each other and becoming friends.

    If you’ve not signed up for regular club updates just go to the upper right hand corner of any of the site’s web pages and put your primary e mail address in the box and click go, then watch for an e mail from the ystem and follow the instructions and you’re a member of the best free club at Lake Chapala. Sid

  • http://Google Laurel

    Hi Sid,

    We have written to each other before throgh your post, I have read all of your very enjoyable informative entries. Through your post I have become e-mail friends with Les and David and their blog,” Boomers to Mexico,
    Thank you for these connections”.

    A few years ago, I decided to retire in Lake Chapala (time yet to be determined for permanent retirement) amd will be taking another visit to the area this month. Where is your group meeting? Is there a designated place and time? I am very interested in joining and meeting you and the other group members.

    Could you answer some travel questions for me before I leave this month? Will Chapala banks cash travelers checks now? I heard that nobody in Mexico wants them anymore. Is the best way to get cash to use your U.S. bank debit card and credit card? I have read reports where there has been some copying user’s personal
    information at local ATM’s in the area. What would you suggest?

    Also what is the best way to phone friends and family back in the states when you are there? Should I bring my cell phone or buy a cell phone in Mexico, I am also wondering if I should buy phone cards here to use down there or wait and buy a Mexican phone card? Your input would be greatly appreciated. Can can you give me directions to your office so I can stop by and meet you? Thanks so much. Viva Mexico!



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

    Hi Laurel,

    Thanks for your nice comments.

    First, ChapalaClub is mainly an on line group. We’re all cyber friends. That being said more and more club members are meeting in person and some become very good friends here.

    I gave up my private personal office several years ago and created an even better office at home. I’m affiliated with Lake Chapala Real Estate and they process the closing of my sales and of course I use their office from time to time.

    They’re located at Constitucion 14 in Ajijic.

    I would love to meet you and be of help any way I can when you arrive. My Mexican cell is 331 152 1314.

    USA # is 972 635 5290.

    The best way for a visitor to get pesos in cash is from an ATM machine. Check with yur bank to see if they have afiliates here in Mexico.

    The local banks are Banamex, Bancomer, HSBC, and Serfin.

    You may be able to save some transaction fees.

    Travelers checks are not as welcome as in years past and the rate of excahnge has never been as good as cash dollars.

    To stay in touch with family and friends from here many of us have either a Vonage voice over internet, a Magic Jack line, (I have both) and a lot of people use Skype.

    Your welcome to use the Vonage line I have or the one that Lake Chapala Real Estate has in their office.

    A Mexican cell phone (wit cards) is great for local use, but the USA calls would be expensive.

    Find out how much your USA cell charges for roaming calls from Mexico. It might be less expensive to just use your USA cell when our offices with our Vonage lines are closed.

    A Mexican cell phone with cards can be bought for around $30 to $35 USD, bt the cards go fast. Not sure of the cost per minute but not cheap, especially to the USA.

    Others that read your comment may have more experience with local cell phones. Best bet I think is your USA cell as backup to using our local Vonage phones.

    Glad you’re enjoying Les and David’s blog. They make a good team.

    I just arrived from Dallas late last night so answering this a little tardy. If you’ve already arrived in our area give me a call and we’ll meet and I’ll give you an area tour (no hype, no pressure about anything, and I’ll answer all your questions about living, working and playing in our little slice of paradise.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Malcom

    Hello, I am 60 and I have been medically retired due to an accident in 2006. After my accident we lost everything. My wife and I have only SS so no chance of a new beach house.LOL. Are there longterm rentals there that are do-able for someone like me. We don’t need fancy, but a good 2 BR. All I see for sell is over my abilites and I sure can’t save any money here in the US.

  • Chefkeno

    Hello Sid:
    I enjoy your site and the lago is on our short list of places to visit / stay / live after retirement, which my happen in the next few years.  I’ve lived and worked in Mexico as well as Spain, so I already like the place!  We’re interested in the rental option and would love to hear of your thoughts on that.  Thanks for the great info!

  • http://www.facebook.com/SidGrosvenor Sid Grosvenor

    HI Malcom, Thanks for your comments. Yes, some people do rent here for very long term.

    Best to come down for a check us out trip and check the various bulletin boards for a long term rental. Rentals for a small furnished 2 bedroom in Chapala where you can walk everywhere and not need a car start at about $400 USD per month plus electrci and propane.

    Sometimes you can find a North American couple who have a casita on their property that they rent long term for about the same money which often includes electricity. Hope this helps, Tu amigo, Sid

  • http://www.facebook.com/SidGrosvenor Sid Grosvenor

     HI Chefkeno,  Rent to own is not used here, but renting until you find a home you want to buy, or long term is.

    See my reply to Malcolm above. There are lots of rental beginning at around $400 USD per month and up to over $2,000 per month. Short term rentals in the winter months up North are of course more expensive.

    I can introduce you to the better rental agents here when you come for a check us out visit.  Another good place to find rentals is on the vrious bulletin boards especially the one at the Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic.

    Look forward to being of help. Tu amigo, Sid

  • Willie

    what are the formats to download a picture and name on the blogging and comment page?
    As a writer , I would love to join this fascinating and enlightened group of people we hope to meet in the near future and have many many questions about retiring in Lake Chapala.

  • Miranda K

    Hi! First, thank you for making so much information accessible to me and others interested in learning about Lake Chapala. My partner and I are planning to move there next summer and are already getting excited. We will be looking for a long term rental. Do you have any advice as to how far in advance we should come down to look at available places? Or any other tips on finding a rental, other than just looking at internet listings?

  • loralee222

    Hi Sid, I see everything here is really old. What are the prices like for the above at today’s prices? Are they much different?

  • http://www.tropicXplorer.com Steve Graham, Photographer

    Good article Sid. You sold me — and I wasn’t even in the mood to buy! Seriously, I love what I’ve discovered on your site. After living in 3 countries in Southeast Asia, I’m ready to relocate to the Chapala-Ajijic area to meet other like-minded, open, adventurous people who like to explore the possibilities and have FUN! :)

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