An Expat Talks about Moving to
Lake Chapala, Mexico
Lake Chapala, Mexico's Islet and Pier
An expat in Lake, Chapala shares her experiences moving there. Lake Chapala has an active, large expat community with a theater group, choir, art society and more.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
Two things that I didn't bring and eventually did buy in the states was a vacuum and a sponge mop. We brought down large area rugs to put on the floors in the bedrooms that need to have a vacuum run over them. Everything here were shop vacs although now you can find vacuum cleaners. Sponge mops are still not found. I brought down a counter top dishwasher since our home did not have one. I also purchased a rice cooker and proper food processor on a trip to the states. I didn't need to bring my straw broom. The dust does not sweep up as well as it does with the plastic bristled brooms that they sell here.
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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
Do your research. Figure out what is really important to you. There is so much to do here and lots of people who speak English. The locals are very friendly. There are always exceptions but we have been very happy. It is a noisy country and there is dust. Bill is a musician and does sound for many of the productions and I am a quilter. There is a theater group, a community choir, an art society and a multitude of clubs, restaurants, live music that you will recognize. Medical care is good and you will find alternative as well as traditional medicine. You will see donkey carts and BMWs sharing the road. Working is a problem since jobs are reserved for the citizens so planning on working here may not happen.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
We live in a single family dwelling that shares side walls with my neighbors. It is 2 story with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Houses are made with brick or cider block with a skin coat of concrete. Many houses have beautiful, lush gardens with indoor/outdoor living. We chose not to have one. Many people have maids and gardeners but it was not in our budget. Square footage of houses include covered porches so be aware of that. We looked at one house that a porch was 1/3 of the square footage which left very little living space.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
When we started looking at the money we would have to live on after retirement, I realized that I would never be able to quit work and live comfortably. We started looking at places we could live. We wanted to be close enough to hop up to the states to see family but be able to afford to retire. Mexico was the obvious answer. After much internet research, I stumbled on Lake Chapala. My husband and I knew nothing about Mexico. His vision was from the old westerns. There is a group that provides a week long seminar that will answer all of your questions and also show you the fun side of the area. We booked a trip 3 months away. I used the time to look at real estate offerings. I had limited funds. This is a cash economy so it had to be a house I could afford. They have an MLS listings here so I could check out everything. I contacted a realtor and he helped weed out houses that had issues or less than savory neighborhoods. I wanted city water, a pressurized/filtration water system and city sewer. Many houses are on septic so I knew that I might have to make a compromise there. We had 14 houses on the final list. We bought the second one we had looked at and we paid cash. And it is on city sewer.
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Much lower. We pay our property taxes and water yearly. Our taxes are $699 MX and water is $1000 MX per year. Electricity is expensive in Mexico but still less than the US and is paid every other month. We have our propane tank filled on the off month and runs about $1600 MX for 2 months. Phone and internet is $600 MX per month and that is with unlimited long distanse. We have satelite which comes out of Canada. They have grocery stores that carry US products but it is imported and therefore expensive. Produce, eggs, meat, chicken and fish is amazing and reasonable. You can pay as much as you want or as little as you have for a house and find something to fit your needs.