Known to local expats as lakeside, the towns and villages along Lake Chapala’s northwestern shore are retiree heaven. No other place in Mexico comes close to the number of retirees sprinkled along the shores of Lake Chapala.
Attracted by one of the best climates in the world, a low cost of living and breathtaking views, expats from the U.S., Canada, Europe and other places around the world have flocked over the years to Lake Chapala. They are not all retirees, although an estimated one-third of expats living there are no longer working.
Many expats are drawn to the area by its social life. Much of the activity centers on the Lake Chapala Society, which is located in Ajijic. Its mission is to “promotes the mutual exchange of knowledge, expertise, culture, heritage, language and talents, thereby contributing to the social enrichment of its members as well as the lakeside Mexican community.”
The Lake Chapala Society has about 3,000 members and provides social, recreational and educational opportunities for expats. It also helps the local Mexican community through education programs in computer technology, English, art and other academic studies, as well as providing student aid and a Spanish language library.
If you are not worn out by all of the activities provided by the Lake Chapala Society, there also is an active theater scene lakeside with several venues and an auditorium that features top notch entertainment. The Lakeside Little Theater streams performances of plays, concerts and orchestra recitals on its screen.
The mild year-round climate, mountains and lake invite expats outdoors to golf, play tennis, ride horses, fish, bird watch, hike and sail on the lake. Water skiing, triathlon contests, sailing and regattas are organized by the local Yacht Club.
The Lake Chapala-area also has many supermarkets and one-stop markets where people can get everything they need in one place. Costco, Walmart and other major chains are well represented as well as many local markets and shops.
If you like to dine out, you can do it lakeside inexpensively and well. Ajijic is the culinary center with a wide range of excellent restaurants, from the Argentinean beef dishes of Ajijic Tango to the French-inspired food of Yves’ Restaurant Bar. Chapala also has an active dining scene with an array of Greek, Italian, German, French, Chinese and other ethnic restaurants adding to the wonderful Mexican restaurants found along the lake. Many of the restaurants and bars feature entertainment and dancing.
If you would just like to stroll and enjoy the views of Lake Chapala, both Chapala and Ajijic have malecons, or boardwalks. The Chapala Malecon has manicured gardens, palm trees, fountains and artwork lining its path.
Chapala also celebrates its patron saint – Saint Francis of Assisi – between the end of September and the first few days of October. The whole community is involved and takes part in the processions that end at the church atrium, capped off by popular evening festivities and fireworks.
If you are looking for a stronger big city vibe with lots of nightlife and fine dining, Guadalajara is less than 45 minutes away. The city’s VFG Arena, which hosts major international pop concerts, is less than 30 minutes from lakeside.