Lake Chapala, Mexico – Retirement Paradise

Lake Chapala

I just received a wonderful email from Verl, a retiree who is considering Lake Chapala for his retirement paradise.

Verl writes: “Thanks for your correspondance. We are planning a trip in July to possibly purchase in the Lake Chapala area. It is difficult from here to get the real scoop on the most desirable retirement spots and then the best neighbourhoods, we’re shooting in the dark.  And we think we should purchase now before prices go through the roof.”

Lake Chapala

Shopping the native markets

And so, I introduced him to Charlie after assuring him that to hurry the process is not wise – prices have leveled off just as they have in the States – relax – shop around.

Charlie has  rented a three bedroom, two bath home, with a maid’s casita and bath, garage, patio and nice yard about 30 miles south of Ajijic on the other side of the Lake Chapala for $200 a month.

He lived in Ajijic while looking for a permanent place and paid the Ajijic prices for everything and out here it is about half.  Even the food, and pharmacies are cheaper a little distance from the Lake Chapala, because it seems that here everything is priced for the economy of the town.

A few months with the Gringos in Ajijic and it was an easy decision, Charlie said. It wasn’t an economic move but being away from the Gringos who do drive the prices up where ever they go it certainly turned out that way.

You may remember the article in AARP magazine that offered Lake Chapala at $800 a month.

Well the Gringos drove it up to an easy $1200 to $1400 a month at Lake Chapala.

Charlie is here to tell you that if you don’t desire the hubbub of the crowd and you don’t mind a 25 or 30 minute drive to the larger towns tell your folks that $800 a month is a breeze.

He writes, “You know the climate & beauty here, the people in the country, like in the U.S., are more friendly and helpful than city folks and the only thing we don’t have out here is the noise of the city.

 “My advice to a prospective person coming to Mexico is to rent for a few months and look around for what fits their economic and social desires. There is something here for every one. In my community I don’t spend or act like a Gringo and I am accepted as a member of the community.”

Lake Chapala/Ajijic article by Barbie.

On Facebook? Comment on this post...


26 Responses to Lake Chapala, Mexico – Retirement Paradise

  1. Joe

    November 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I would add that it is somewhat important to find out about what basic services that are offered in the area that you are considering to live in the Chapala area. Close to Ajijic, most services are available, however as you go further out, such things as internet service, potable water, electicity, sewer connections, water delivery, etc, may not be available. Make sure the things you need are available in the area that you are planning to live in.

    Very true! Thanks. Barbie

  2. Adri Pedersen

    December 27, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Thank you, Barbie, for this wonderful blog. Great advice to live in a new place for a few months. It is important to not rush into things when in Mexico. Even if you have traveled throughout Mexico often, there’s no substitute for experiencing things as someone who lives there and is part of the community. I love your note about behaving as a member of that community, sharing, giving back and learning about your prospective new home and its people. As long as you have tourist mentality you will forever be treated as a tourist … and miss out on so much!

  3. David Krug

    February 3, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Thank you so much for sharing having lived in Mexico for 3 years and then returning to the states it’s all a bit strange but Im getting ready to go back and looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  4. Barbie


    February 10, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    HI, David!

    You are very welcomed. Barbie

  5. Shirley Lebato

    March 4, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I am exploring the opportunity to semi-retire in Mexico. I hold a Doctor of Education degree, would there be any employment opportunities?

  6. Barbie


    March 7, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Shirley – read my opinion at

  7. Rick Hamilton

    May 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Hi thinking of retiring in Lake Chapala area would be interested in other expats who have gone this route and and still living there.

    Rick Hamilton


    May 24, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Do you anything about the town Talquepauque that is close to Jalisco?I hope that is the way it’s spelled. Do they have nice apartments there an are they reasonable?They have a spanish school that I’m interested in but I don’t know if they except of age. I mean I’m 64, but I want to learn the language if possible.
    I’m also on a limited income from S.S So I don’t know if I can afford Lake Chapala

  9. Barbie


    May 26, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Hi Diane – Have you read Cathie Jean’s reply? here it is: ” Hi Barbie,
    I am a 58 yr old widow….Have now been in Baja going on 4 years.
    I dont speak the language ( Im not even close to Spanglish) I live on disability, have some heath issues,,,but I am so Happy to be here….I could not afford to live in the States. Yesterday I went grocery shopping at our local Walmart in Rosarito….Spent $85.00 on groceries that will last me 2 weeks +…Ya cant do that in the states…..I buy my meats…Yes, I even got some small steaks, 2 pkgs of Huge chicken breats, bacon 18 eggs, fresh baked bread, fruits and veggies. I also got 2 for 1 on butter and laundry detergent. I also go to the local fruit and veg stands here in my little town of Primo Tapia…I am only 38 miles from the border but worlds away from the stress and costs of living in the States.. I moved here not knowing a soul…I have met and formed new friends here…We all have that bond of being a “free spirit” and living “outside the box”. Hope this helps your readers. Cathie”
    SO – you see, Diane, it can be done just about anyplace – just depends on what you are able to be happy to live with – I think you will find you can live most anyplace in Mexico fine. Barbie

  10. Capt Jim Marshall

    July 6, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I am a 69 yr old military retired officer and am thinking of retiring in Mexico. I would like a place south of San Diego so that I can cross the border to use the commissary and BX. Is there anyone that lives within 50 or so miles south of San Diego? If so drop me an email and let me know what you think.
    Jim Marshall

  11. Leslie

    July 14, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Hello Jim
    I own a townhouse at the exit San Antonio Del Mar in Tijuana/Rosarito.
    Many people go to San Diego one to two times a week to pick up mail and do shopping.
    It would be wonderful if you were able to rent a place for a while in order to find out where you would like to live.
    Prices here are super cheap, at present, so wouldn’t be in a rush to purchase.

  12. Diane Merrill

    July 16, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Hi Boarbi,
    Well I’m on my to Tlaquepueque, Mx. I have rented an apt. there for $400.00 a month. The electric and water are free.It looks lovely. it’ a1 bedroom, with a kitchen and living room. It also has a walk in shower. The problem is it’s so busy,but my fiance lives close by in Tonala. I really want to see more of the outer villages. My fiance has lived in Tonala for a long time, he’s use to all that noise. I don’t like it. I probably will be here for 6 months out of the year, so I hope to get to lake Chapala and see what it’s like. Sounds like what I would really love.
    Wish me luck.

  13. billy king

    March 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Nice easy going web site, thank you. Will forward to friends considering mexico for retirement.

  14. Ann Doan

    April 22, 2011 at 2:43 am


    I would like to find out more about rental accomodation in Ajijic for July and August 2011.I am a Canadian living 10 months in Mazatlan but find the summer here too hot!! A small furnished house with a garden would be wonderful as I love to garden! Even house sitting for pet care and a garden would be great.
    Many Thanks for your help.
    Ann Doan.

  15. Sam

    June 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    I have to say that some of these letters make me chuckle. I was born in Mexico City and have lived in the country off and on (travel a lot) all my life. It astonishes me when someone lives in Tlaquepaque and says they live in Tlaquepueque. This is typical of the fantasy bubble so many people live in. Another vaunts the $200 or so rent he pays some miles from Chapala. Of course, no one is aware that dengue fever is rampant on the Lake (if you’ve gone through the rainy season in the area you should have experienced the countless mosquitos, no?). Now, if you are over 65 and get dengue, that is not good at all. If you are in your 70’s and 80’s, it could be your ticket to the Great Beyond. Or take the question of noise. Few Americans are prepared for the extraordinary noisiness of Mexico popular areas. Once they are stuck in it, they rationalize it as “part of the culture:isn’t it colorful?” It is not colorful, it is terribly and pathologically inconsiderate, and partly the result of rampant weekend alcoholism which is endemic in the country and from which everyone suffers. It can also make your life unbearable, depending on the immediate neighbors. But one doesn’t talk about this because it is “negative.”
    I think your readers would be well-served by a more realistic presentation than the usual International Living pollyanic nonsense, intended to sell real estate.
    Here is a golden rule I learned in the Mid-East: they say, “first the neighbor, then the house.”

  16. Mario

    December 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story about retiring in Lake Chapala. I have been living here since I was a child and do my best to spread to world about our little slice of heaven.

  17. Kaz sokol

    April 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

    hi Barbie
    I read your blog ,which is very educational and full of good information . I am 54 male living in Canada, a beautiful country with cold winters, and more and more i am tired of cold winters . I have visited Playa del Carmen and Mazatlan. It is hard to believe that when we are having – 40 oC temperatures in Mexico is plus 30 oC and no cold winds, no ice on sidewalks or roads, no heat bills!I am planing to go
    back to Playa del carmen or Tulum area to find a place to buy and move south .I am looking for a good real estate agent at those areas and expats living there who could provide me with more information.

  18. Barbie


    April 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Expat readers…can you help?

  19. Sid Grosvenor

    May 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Hi Rick, I’ve lived at Lake Chapala full time for over 10 years. Out of well over 100 Realtors in the area I’m the first of just 4 who are Buyer’s Only Realtors. NO charge ever to my clients. ZERO pressure.

    You can live here like a local (least expensive), like a North American (most expensive but still 30% or less
    expensive than in North America or somewhere in between.

    I choose to live in between being married to a Mexican lady now for 10 years.
    Tu amigo, Sid

    Edited by Barbie

  20. Joe Butz

    May 31, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Interesting about the alcohol issue, I would like more information about the safe areas vs the areas that we should all avoid. The drug lords are a big concern and does anyone know the do’s and don’t of different areas. Are there completely safe and secure areas that one never has to worry about? Please let me know, everyone paints a Rosen picture but no one says the cons so one can make a good decision on where best to live a happy and safe life.

  21. Barbie


    June 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Gosh, just read all my articles – think you’ll find all the info you want… If not, I’m here. Barbie

  22. Ruth

    June 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Barbie, I hope you got my message that I just received word yesterday that our good friend, Charlie, who lived on the south side of Lake Chapala, passed away. He will be missed by so many.

  23. Barbie


    June 18, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Oh No, Ruth – I did not get your first message – thank you for letting me know. Charlie was a really wonderful friend to so many. Yes, he will definately be missed! Barbie

  24. Kate

    September 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I’m 67 and am just now starting to think of a move to Mexico. I still do some freelance work but really want to live on no more than $1500/month, total. Less would be better. I’m intrigued by Lake Chapala because of the climate but am alarmed by the dengue fever risk. Also by what I’ve read about the noise level. What I really want is a relatively quiet place, not touristy, but with a reasonable population of expats and the possibility of befriending Mexicans as well. Other writers/artists/musicians a big plus.Not interested in the ocean, prefer mountains or hills. Access to an airport would be essential, and access to quality health care as well. Suggestions?

  25. Barbie


    September 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    My suggestion for you and for anyone with this thought, is to take a trip and actually visit the Chapala area. You’ll make better decisions when you actually experience the area. The main areas around Lake Chapala, where Expats gather may be more expensive than what you want – you need to search the smaller areas. Please – read the articles I’ve written about Lake Chapala area and other areas – then, visit the area you think would fit you.

  26. Merle Parker

    December 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Thank you for your letter, Joe Butz! You expressed my concerns exactly. I would like to hear more about safe locations where I don’t have to worry about drug lords and kidnapping.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *