Welcome to Lake Chapala
Lake Chapala is a charming, iconic, and unique part of Mexico that can be best described as magical.
Every year, thousands of people -of all ages and parts of the world- pack their bags and head on a life-changing experience that there’s no coming back from.
See, Lake Chapala is a lot more than a destination; it’s a way of life.
We will be the first to say that Lakeside is something that everyone needs experience; in order to fully grasp its complex simplicity.
There really isn’t another place like it… anywhere in the world.
The people, culture, landscape, architecture, and gastronomy are unlike anything you will ever experience.
Sadly, not many people can pick up their bags, leave their responsibilities behind, and travel to Mexico and experience everything first-hand.
That’s why we decided to create Chapala Living.
What Is Chapala Living?
If we had to describe Chapala living, we would call it Lakeside’s ultimate information guide.
Its goal is to give you, the reader, as much quality information and resources as possible on Lake Chapala and its surrounding areas.
Chapala Living will be your number one source for everything pertaining to:
- Living in Lake Chapala and its surrounding areas
- Real Estate
- Buying or renting a vehicle
- Social events and activities
- Working in Mexico
While it may seem like a lot to cover, the above topics are only the tip on of the iceberg.
There is so much information about Lakeside, its surrounding areas, and Mexico -in general- that has still yet to be covered.
The goal is to make all of this information as easily accessible as possible, through a single click.
Are you ready to joins us and discover the real Lake Chapala?
Why People Move to Lake Chapala
One of the biggest facts, regarding Lake Chapala, is that most people move here to retire – this is largely true.
First off, the area is home to a series of culturally-rich communities that are situated around both the largest lake in Mexico and a strip of beautiful mountains.
People have also often described Lake Chapala as having some of the best weather in the world; an assumption that’s true.
The area itself isn’t too big and it’s fairly easy to travel around. So easy, in fact, that a good amount of people don’t even own a car.
It goes without saying that all areas are different, and there are a few that require some form of transportation to get to.
Cost of living is definitely a lot lower than in the USA, Canada, Europe – and comparable to some places in Latin America.
People are very friendly and you’ll be surprised to find that a good part of the Mexican community speaks some level of English.
This is a unique characteristic of the area that’s comforting for those that are still working on their Spanish skills.
It’s worth noting that there’s no shortage of good food, entertainment, and shopping. If you look hard enough, you will always find something to keep you busy and entertained.
To be honest, if there were such a thing as the perfect retirement community in Mexico; Lake Chapala would probably be in the running for the first spot.
But, here’s the thing… Lake Chapala is a lot more than that.
Lake Chapala is home to one of the most active communities in Jalisco.
And, it’s located only an hour away from Mexico’s very own Silicon Valley; Guadalajara.
Venture off a few dozen miles -in each direction- and you will discover new destinations that will make you appreciate Mexico that much more.
Getting to Know the Area
One of the biggest misconceptions, regarding Lake Chapala, is that most of the expat population is concentrated in the town of Chapala.
Remember how we said that there are a series of small towns, surrounding the lake?
Well… Chapala is only one of them.
Although the expat community constitutes a significant part of the Chapala population; the town of Ajijic definitely gives it a run for its money.
San Antonio Tlayapacan and a few other towns have also seen a noticeable population increase in the form of expats.
In order to understand what makes each town unique though, it’s important that we analyze their pros and cons.
So, let’s go ahead and quickly break down Lakeside and its different towns.
The town of Chapala is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state of Jalisco.
Every weekend, thousands of Tapatios (Guadalajara natives) pack their bags, hop in their cars, and make their way to the famous pueblo mágico.
It’s common for those who still aren’t familiar with the area to believe that Lake Chapala and the town of Chapala are the same – they are not.
Remember how we briefly mentioned that Lake Chapala is home to a series of towns, situated around the lake?
Well, Chapala -although probably the most popular one- is only a small piece of the pie.
We will get to that in a second, but first let’s talk about what makes Chapala unique and different from the other towns.
Chapala is a very charming spot that thrives off of tourism.
The town itself is mostly inhabited by Mexican nationals and not foreigners. Most of the homes are quite old, simplistic, and traditional-looking.
A huge plus is that everything is located within walking distance; restaurants, stores, town square, and even the famous Chapala Malecón.
If the town life isn’t for you, you’ll be happy to know that there are several private communities -located several kilometers away from downtown Chapala- that offer peace, quiet, and privacy.
If you choose to live here, you will probably need a car to commute.
San Antonio Tlayacapan
San Antonio Tlayacapan is one of the nicest/smallest towns in the entire Lakeside area.
As far as nice, traditional towns go, San Antonio Tlayacapan will always be in the running for the top spot, Lakeside.
Why? Because it possesses a lot of positive aspects that plenty of towns wish they had.
First off, it’s strategically located between Chapala and Ajijic; only a couple of kilometers away from the famous bypass (libramiento) that leads to the city of Guadalajara.
This means that you’re located only a few minutes away -by car- from each major town and less than an hour from the Guadalajara airport.
The streets in San Antonio are wider and not as rough as the ones in Ajijic. They are comparable, in that sense, to the ones in Chapala.
The town itself is fairly small, quiet, and doesn’t receive the attention that its sister towns do.
Yet, every possible service/amenity is located within arms reach.
Some of the best shopping, dining, and entertainment are located in San Antonio Tlayacapan.
We would go as far as saying that there aren’t many -if any- negatives associated with this intriguing town.
If you do a quick online search for the term “Lake Chapala”, you will most likely come across a series of images and information that actually belong to the town of Ajijic.
Ajijic is famous for its beautiful architecture, colorful scenery, and upbeat lifestyle.
The small pueblo is also home to thousands of expats that want to fully indulge themselves in the Mexican-American culture.
It goes without saying that one of its biggest attractions is its English-speaking population.
If you don’t speak Spanish, you won’t have too much trouble communicating with most of the locals or expats.
Ajijic is also a good place to window shop, thanks to its wide array of interesting stores.
Love to eat? Pick a restaurant and enjoy your preferred type of cuisine – it doesn’t matter if you’re craving Asian, Italian, Mexican, etc.
The fact that you can literally walk outside your house and have everything at your fingertips is a great feeling, unlike any other.
Like Chapala, Ajijic is home to a series of private housing communities that offer a lot more exclusivity and privacy.
San Juan Cosala
San Juan Cosala is a bridge between the east and west ends of Lake Chapala – or at least half of it.
The area is famously known for housing one of the most popular gated communities – known as the Raquet Club.
Home to some of lakeside’s most amazing views; the Raquet Club is private, unique, and quiet.
The town of San Juan Cosala is small and is made up (almost) in its entirety of nationals.
We believe that less than 1% of the population is actually composed of expats.
This could be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it.
El Chante is located a couple of kilometers before Jocotepec, and it’s a very peculiar community.
Ever since we can remember, the El Chante/Jocotepec area has been less popular than Chapala, Ajijic or San Antonio.
And, why wouldn’t it?
Back in the early 2000s -when we first moved here- there wasn’t much of anything… literally.
Surrounding homes belonged to Tapatios that only visited every once in a while.
There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment and we had to go head into town (Jocotepec) for school, grocery shopping, etc.
Things eventually changed though.
Most of the neighborhood homes were purchased and remodeled, and there are now two popular hotels that cater to people from all over Mexico.
A new bypass was also built that opened the door of opportunity for those that wanted a faster way to go back and forth to the city.
Because of it, you can be in Guadalajara in 40 minutes, or less.
Truth be told, the Jocotepec/El Chante area is one of Lake Chapala’s best-kept secrets.
The last town we want to quickly talk about is located approximately 22 kilometers away from Chapala’s town square.
Jocotepec is very different than the rest of the towns; specifically Chapala and Ajijic.
Believe it or not, its differences are the reason why a lot of expats are choosing to live here.
Generally speaking, Jocotepec is not a very big town, but it has quite a bit to offer.
Education is good, the streets are nice, and shopping is very easy.
There are a ton of stores around town, including the town market that sells just about everything.
A few years back, Bodega Aurrera (mini Walmart) opened up a store that makes shopping a breeze.
A few of its shortcomings include its distance from the East end of Lake Chapala and its lower concentration of expats.