The Lake Chapala region in the Mexican state of Jalisco has arguably one of the most pleasant climates in North America. The warm days and cool nights have enticed people from around the world to make Lago Chapala their preferred retirement choice. Why?
Climate, Natural Beauty, Cost of Living, Community, Quality of Life, and Like Minded Individuals are all among the first things mentioned when a transplanted expat resident is quizzed about why they made the Chapala Riviera their retirement choice. Let's take a look a look at each...
Most visitors come for the mild winters, when Lake Chapala enjoys the dry season that is a hallmark of Mexico's central plateau. Beginning in May, the rainy season is a welcome relief to the often dusty conditions that prevail then. The wet weather generally lasts from mid-June to mid-October and brings rains most evenings. During this season, the weather is warm, but much less humid than either Mexico's Pacific coast or the sweltering Gulf coast. During the winter, a sweater is advisable in the cooler evenings as the lake sits at 5200 feet.
At 55 miles in length Lake Chapla is Mexico's largest natural lake, and lies oriented east-west approximately 35 miles south of the city of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. Sitting at about 5200' about sea level, the lake is about 19 miles across at its widest north-south point. The most populated area, known as the Chapala Riviera, lies on its northwestern shore, stretching about 20 miles from the town of Jocotepec in the west arcing across to Chapala, lying in the center of the northern shore. A number of mountain ranges front the lake, rising steeply from the lake behind the pueblas of Ajijic, San Antonio and Chapla.
Cost of Living
The dollar goes far in Mexico, even in Lake Chapala, where housing costs have steadily climbed in the last few years. Short-term rentals for a two bedroom home can be as little as $375 for a week off-season in central Ajijic with longer term rentals running in the $500-1000 a month range, depending on location and size. Purchasing land is less complicated than on Mexico's coasts and prices range can from $75,000 in a very 'local' barrio in Chapla up to $750,000 in the more exclusive Los Olvios neighborhood of Ajijic. More information on cost of retirement living
The Lake Chapala area has a vibrant community, both local and expat, with a some crossover between the two. The influx of foreigners has brought prosperity to the locals, and you see a lot more Mexican men of working age in area towns than in many other parts of Mexico because of this (they have gone north across La frontera seeking employment). A noted institution is the Lake Chapala Society
, that counts nearly 4000 expats from 24 countries as members and ofers them a host of services ranging including mail-forwarding, health care, group travel and yoga classes. The society is located on beautiful grounds covering nearly half a block in central Ajijic.