If you are considering a new life on the northern shore of Lake Chapala, let me tell you a bit about where you will be living.
Of all the popular retirement communities for expats in Mexico, Lake Chapala is one of the most beloved. Lake Chapala, which is home to nine different communities on its northwestern shore, is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico and is located less than an hour from downtown Guadalajara. It rests in the arms of the Sierra de San Juan Casola Mountain range, which is about 8,000 ft. above sea level. Lakeside is about 5,000 ft. The result is one of the best climates on the entire planet, with some of the most comfortable temperatures and gorgeous views. Lake Chapala, like many popular destinations in Mexico, is rich in culture and history. If you are trying to find your dream retirement destination, Lake Chapala is a great place to look.
The History of Lake Chapala
Before the Spanish Conquistadors landed on Mexican shores, Native Mexican tribes had migrated to the Chapala area. One of these tribes, the Nahuatl, represented the very beginnings of the Aztec civilization, which then prospered in that same area. But in the 1500s, Spain invaded and colonized Chapala. Despite colonization, the lakeside community remained largely Native until the 1900s, when the area began to morph into a popular tourist destination.
Visitors were mainly wealthy residents of Guadalajara and surrounding areas. In the 40s, famed writer Tennessee Williams moved to Chapala to finish work on his play “The Poker Night,” which later turned into “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Lake Chapala, with its peaceful, serene view, provides the perfect location to get those creative juices flowing. Today, lakeside is home to roughly 40,000 people. But that doesn’t mean it’s crowded. In fact, owing to the wide variety of different communities that exist within Lake Chapala, the populace is relatively spread out.
Who Lives Along Lake Chapala?
Besides nearly one million visitors each year, Lake Chapala is home to one of the largest expat communities in Mexico, mainly American and Canadian retirees who share their home with the local Mexican population. Because Lake Chapala is both a popular tourist and retiree destination, there also is an influx of jobs for Mexicans. The result is a culturally vibrant community, full of people willing to serve and help you in any way they can.
How Safe Is Lake Chapala?
There is a misconception about the country of Mexico. It is portrayed in the media as home largely to drug lords and criminals. Luckily, that is a misconception. Some areas, like with every country, have more criminal activity than others, but this area, in particular, is very safe. One of the reasons is because the area has such a high percentage of expats and tourists. Both the tourist and retiree communities bring in hundreds of millions of dollars every year, bringing new business and job opportunities. The Mexican government pays close attention to the area. For the sake of the economy, they ensure that Lake Chapala is safe.
What Does Lake Chapala Have to Offer?
A state-of-the-art hospital was recently built and includes a variety of specializations and brand-new technology. And, as a major retirement center in Mexico, lakeside offers several well-respected assisted living homes. Local stores also sell a wide range of things you might need or want, such as water purification systems, computers, cameras, televisions, coffee machines, and that one thing we just can’t live without; high-speed Internet. It is also home to a pretty decent variety of popular American restaurants and businesses; Subway, Walmart and Domino’s Pizza, for example, all of which coexist with traditional Mexican shops and restaurants. Lakeside also is home to five-star hotels, golf courses and even thermal springs.
How Much Does It Cost to Live Along Lake Chapala?
This is one of the most attractive features of living along Lake Chapala. You can expect, for example, to spend about US$200,000 if you choose to purchase a home in the city of Chapala. Rentals range anywhere from US$500 and up, depending on your needs. Most expats rent or purchase homes in Chapala, Riberas del Pilar, Chula Vista, San Antonio Tlayacapan, La Floresta, Ajijic, San Juan Cosala or Jocotepec. Each town has its own character and price ranges. You can really stretch your dollar quite a bit farther in Mexico, which is good news for you. In fact, many expat retirees live solely on their social security payments.