There are probably almost as many reasons for moving to Mexico as there are expats in the Republic, but most come to Lake Chapala for the adventure.
The top two reasons most often mentioned by visitors considering a move to Lake Chapala in west-central Mexico are the climate and the economy. They both hold valid benefits for residents, but neither is the best foundation for making the decision to move.
It’s true; the weather at Lake Chapala is usually great with moderate temperatures, low humidity and gentle breezes. The area is even protected from threats of tropical storms and hurricanes by the beautiful ancient mountain range, the Sierra Madres. The climate of the nearby city of Guadalajara and our lakeside villages are touted as “eternal spring.” There’s even an elusive, perhaps mythical, report from National Geographic magazine that Lake Chapala sported the second best climate in the world, following on the heels of Johannesburg, South Africa.
The problem is that weather patterns change and there could be a hotter than normal April and May “hot season” instead of our usual afternoon highs of 85 to 95 F with nighttime lows in the 60s and very low humidity. There could be a longer or wetter or drier mid-June to mid-October rainy season. Even now there’s pathetic lament when a tropical storm on the coast pushes that warm, wet air up and over the mountains creating rain, God forbid, in daylight hours.
Economics is the other reason often cited for moving to Lake Chapala. The Mexican economy, peso/dollar exchange and cost of living can be just as fickle. Those who based their move on living cheap in Mexico and planned their budgets when each U.S. dollar could be exchanged for 20 or more pesos are shocked when the Mexican economy strengthens (or the U.S. dollar weakens) and they get fewer pesos per dollar. Oh, and yes, prices for goods and services go up, even in Mexico, just like everywhere else.
So, what is the best reason to move to Mexico? The Adventure!
Living a new life, surrounded by exotic terrain, experiencing diverse customs, colorful holidays and exciting and unusual foods, provides unending days of wonder and joy for those who are ready for adventure and who learn to see it.
Our Lake Chapala area is surrounded by adventure. From the riotous mounds of vividly flowering trees and hedges to the brisk and bright tunes of the bandas, the romantic ballads of the trios, to the jazz and rock and roll drifting from clubs and restaurants, there is always opportunity for new experiences, sights and smells.
Exploring a vast array of events, clubs, groups and sports, learning a bit of Spanish, and meeting the intriguing diverse population of both expats and locals with rich life experiences so unlike our own, are all sources of the adventure that is Mexico.
All that adventure can be jarring at first for those of us raised on white bread in small towns across the rest of North America. I know, I grew up in Iowa, part of the sixth generation of Iowa families. Iowa is a wonderful place to be from with beautiful vistas, kind people, and stability…no diversity, few exciting activities, but lots and lots of staid stability.
Living at Lake Chapala fed my hungry soul’s need for color, music, diversity and joy that I’d only tasted during a seven-year stint in San Diego and Orange County, California.
There were no helpful Internet websites or blogs in 1990. Life was both simpler and oddly bulky to manage, strangely complex. With rosy lenses focused on adventure, I learned to see the joy, the color and beauty of my new world. In time I realized a little-known truth: every event, even the momentarily insurmountable crises, morph into a part of the adventure – as soon as I share it as an amusing anecdote.