The Foreign Exchange
Expat Exchange
Expat Exchange
A World of Friend Abroad
January 30, 2023

Lake Chapala, Mexico

Lake Chapala is one of Mexico's most popular expat destinations - especially among retirees. Expats love Lake Chapala's near perfect climate, beautiful lakeside homes, low cost of living and thriving expat community. Sadly, Lake Chapala is not immune to Mexico's drug cartel related violence, which those thinking of moving to Lake Chapala should take into consideration. Below are some highlights from our article, 10 Tips for Living in Lake Chapala, Mexico:

What is life in Laka Chapala like?

An expat in Lake Chapala described the area saying, "let me tell a little bit about where I call home or my little piece of paradise. There are several villages on the North West edge of Lake Chapala. Yes, villages. This is not a metropolitan area. Guadalajara is about 30-40 minutes away with an international airport -- so that is a plus. We are at about 5000 ft. between the mountains and the lake, and have wonderful weather. Right now we are experiencing a cold snap, but this is very unusual. There are many expats in the area. About half are snowbirds. The houses are very quaint. You will see cars, many buses, trucks, horses, donkeys, cows and scooters. And that might be in one day. The pace of life is much slower, but we are kept quite busy." Another expat said, "fresh food--veggies, fruit everywhere. Street markets that have everything you need, and the smell of cooking. People saying 'buenas dias' and 'buenos tarde' when passing on the street. No one's in a hurry, except macho jovenes in their cars, and then it's only to the next tope. Tequila and basic Mexican home cooking. The craftsmen and women, who still make items as their parents and parents before them did, and [I never knew] that chicken wire has so many uses."

What is the Cost of Living in Lake Chapala?

"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 satellite 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," explained one expat who moved to Lake Chapala from the US.

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How to Newcomers Meet People in Lake Chapala?

"There are two major social hubs here. The Lake Chapala Society and the American Legion post 7 (largest one outside the USA)," said one expat. "Lake Chapala Society (LSC) has lovely gardens and a coffee bar. They offer services, classes and have people that can answer questions. The Malecon in Chapala is very nice for restaurants and people watching. They have lots of little shops to check out. You can kayak on the lake if you are able. There is karaoke and dancing," said one member living in Lake Chapala. Another said, "in Chapala, the American Legion Lake Chapala always has something going on and is open to the public. Drop in and introduce yourself...friendly bunch of people. Calle Morelos #114-see you there!"

Do You Need to Learn Spanish to Live in Lake Chapala?

"If your Spanish is still a bit rusty, practically every local speaks some English," said one expat. That being said, one expat described her biggest challenge living in Lake Chapala, "mostly the lack of Spanish, but with over 20 years of travel here I knew it really wasn't that big of a deal. But if you want to fully enjoy the experience, you will want to learn their language so that you can be a part what's going on around you and stop having your eye's glaze over when they start talking to you." Another expat echoed that remark and said, "my only advice (which is worth exactly what you are paying for it) is that, if possible, learn the language of the country to which you are moving BEFORE you move." Tip: if you don't learn Spanish before you move, taking classes once you're there is a great way to meet people.