Chapala Area

Today we delve into some helpful information for the people who are still trying to decide what area of Mexico in which to retire.

I received this email from a wonderful guy in the Lake Chapala Area. And he is always there for me, to answer special questions received from people who are wondering about that area.

Here is a portion of one of his email:

“Point of information. Lake Chapala is a huge lake and it takes about 4.5 hours to drive around it.

“Chapala, Ajijic and Jocotepec are the three cities that are on the north side of the lake closest to Guadalajara.

“Ajijic is where most of the Gringo first come to look and is by far the most expensive area for land, houses, rent, labor, etc. Chapala (maybe 4 miles away) is larger, is much less expensive and is the place they look when they can’t afford Ajijic.  Jocotepec is 22 kilometers and the prices drop drastically in everything.

“ I am 14 kilometers from Jocotepec, about 35 minutes from Ajijic , 35 minutes to Sam’s and Walmart in Guad. and it’s almost free by comparison.

“My house in Ajijic would rent for close to $1,200 in Ajijic and I mentioned I pay $200. I have a long term lease and it would be ridiculous for me to buy when I could live on the interest if I left the money in the bank.”

Good news, Chapala is now on GPS systems (if you choose the one for Mexico). The main road that connects all the villages and towns around the lake, as Charlie says, can be navigated. But – don’t be surprised when you run into cobblestone – and remember how “romantic” you used to think that was!

You can avail yourself of a maid or gardener for $2.50 to $3.50 USD, an hour or less, in the Chapala area, and almost any place in Mexico. (Less for weekly, etc.) You can get a hair cut for about $4.00 USD. And a very important one, if you are reading this on your computer, you can have high speed broadband for approximately $30 a month. You’re going to have almost perfect weather in this area of Mexico…the altitude and placement pretty much assures that.

For saving on your shopping, any place you land, you’ll want to visit traditional markets called Mercados, and the outdoor markets, Tianguis for the freshest fruits and vegetables and other food stuff.

Now, let’s take a quick trip around the lake.:

We’ll start on the north shore of Lake Chapala, about two thirds east across the lake. The first little village is Mezcala, on the main road that heads around the lake, just a little fishing village.

Now, we’ll head west to San Nicolas de Ibarra, the home of approximately 1,000 indigenous natives, of mostly extremely modest means and education.

Then on to Chapala, the main town of the north shore of Lake Chapala, and home to many Expats.

Just to the west of Chapala, you come quickly to San Antonio Tlayacapan, a small lakeside village, with many shopping choices just north of the village.

Another hop in the car, and you’re at Ajijic…don’t let the spelling scare you – it’s pronounced Ah hee hek. Expats have discovered this beautiful area, too – and there are hotels, B & B’s, and restaurants, in this artistic village.

Head further west to historic San Juan Cosala, with thermal pools and spas.

Further west yet, and we are at the western end of Lake Chapala at the lovely little village of Jocotepec, with the usual Central Plaza, with several small stores featuring hand-woven sarapes and wall hangings.

Now, curve on south to San Pedro Tesistan, a charming relaxing little village, full of tradition and the perpetual cobbled streets.

On around, and now heading east, you’ll come to San Luis Soyatlan, with a population of around 3,000, the road cuts through the town. At this point, you are about an hour from Guadalajara and the International airport in Guadalajara, Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport, south of Guadalajara, and 45 minutes from Ajijic. The further you travel from the Northshore, the cheaper everything becomes. Here, you will want to walk along the malecon – and just relax.

A little more of a drive and you’ll arrive at Tuxcueca. Expats hardly exist here – just too far from the conveniences most of us expect. Tuxcueca is another agriculture area…and modest living probably is stretching it… impoverished is probably closer.coconuts

Now, further to the west, although unless you are just sight-seeing or heading to Sahuayl, you would have no reason to travel further. The road veers away from the Lake at the East end.

Although, from the beginning of this little trip, if you had started even further to the east, you could go to Ocotlan, an industrial city of about 75,000. But, the road again leaves the lake until you head down to Mezcala, where this trip began.

So, in short…or is it really way too late for that… most Expats have chosen the north, north-west section of Lake Chapala to make their home.

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12 Responses to Chapala Area

  1. Von Harral

    May 13, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Do you know of any organization that organizes “tours” to these areas for us to “check out” the area?
    Thank you!
    Von Harral

  2. John Rutledge

    May 13, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Thank you for the excellent tour! We are renting in Merida to see how we like it, but we are still interested in the Chapala area for the cooler temps and area. We will plan a trip over to see the area sometime. We know we want to live as a part of the local community and not just with expats. This is a help, as always.

  3. Rob Dengel

    May 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Great article. Two things woul be very helpful. Put the pronounciation of spanish words in english. A map of the lake with all of the towns mentioned in the article would have been very helpful too.

  4. Jesse

    May 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Thank You for your fantastic information

  5. Connie Pickerill

    May 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    But is it safe there? We used to go to Nuevo Progreso for our dental work, but are afraid to go now. A woman and two of her children were killed when the bus they were riding was robbed. She was Mexican from Texas visiting family there.

    Our grown children have made us promise to not go to Nuevo Progreso.

  6. Barbie


    May 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Connie. I understand your concern. From another site: “No US citizen was involved and no one has been criminally endangered in any way over the past six years”. But, that’s no guarantee that something won’t happen tomorrow. If you have big concerns, and you have promised your children, you’d better no go. That being said, if you need dental work, can you really afford what’s available in the States? So, the decision is yours, I’m afraid. Barbie

  7. Barbie


    May 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Von – there are usually people who put on info trips. They are usually pretty steep in price, for what you get – but that’s just my opinion. Some people love them. I just did a quick “search”, using information tours to Mexico, and got a few that popped right up.

  8. Connie

    May 20, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    The woman who was killed on the bus…..her two children were US citizens.

  9. Bill Dollear

    December 8, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I have been to Chapala and Ajijic. In Chapala, what do you do for fun? or, just, what is there to do besides eat in restaurants? It’s a nice place, very friendly people. I’m not putting it down, I’m just wondering about what activities, etc. there are there.

  10. Ruth

    December 8, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Sid Grovesnor, an American, and his wife Aurelia, both of Ajijic give tours of anywhere you want to go in the Lake Chapala area. They are both great. He is a “buyers only” realtor with absolutely no pressure and has made hundreds, maybe thousands of great friends over his last dozen years living there.

  11. gio

    December 8, 2012 at 7:06 am

    there were three US citizens killed in Miami last night, one the night before, four last Saturday, previous month there were 18, in the US 22,000 gun related deaths IN ONE YEAR….are you being a bit picky?

  12. Barbie


    December 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Volunteer, join ExPat groups – enjoy yourself! Pretty much what you want to do – same as anyplace.

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