The Adventurers Guide to Chapala Living
It’s one of the largest North American retirement communities in the world. Lake Chapala (ch’-PAH-la), Mexico ( http://retireearlylifestyle.com/chapala_today.htm ), a thousand miles due south of Phoenix, Arizona is only a couple of hours flying time from the U.S. and foreigners have been coming to this area to retire abroad since the early 1950’s.
We first came to the friendly town of Lake Chapala in 1993 planning to visit for two months. One thing led to another, then another, and our first stay lasted four years. You might say we were bitten by the taco bug, but really, it was the hospitality of the Mexican people and wonderful semitropical climate that kept us here. More and more North Americans have discovered this quaint city and are choosing Chapala as a fulltime residence.
Over time many of our Readers have mentioned to us about their fears of traveling in Mexico, and have asked about hardships of living there. With sixteen years of firsthand experience, we address all of this and more in The Adventurer’s Guide to Chapala Living ( http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/chapala_guide.htm ) Table of Contents ( http://retireearlylifestyle.com/cg_toc.htm ) .
There is no doubt that the Lake Chapala area’s prices have been altered by the impact of so many foreigners living here. Still, the Cost of Living (http://retireearlylifestyle.com/chapala_living_costs.htm ) in this handsome environment is much less than you’d find in the States. The quality of life is priceless, and you don‘t need to be a millionaire to live this lifestyle.
Located southwest of Guadalajara, the town is nestled in the mountains at about 5000 feet above sea level, on the north shore of Mexico’s largest natural lake. The seasonal change here is so mild, that the locals say in the winter you walk on the sunny side of the street, and in the summer you walk on the shaded one. Either way you’re wearing shorts most of the time. With no industrial business in Chapala, there is little or no air pollution.
Because of the pleasant climate, living in this area of Mexico is an indoor-outdoor Mediterranean lifestyle. Homes often have indoor garden areas and many times the dining room or other rooms are open-air giving a sense of spaciousness and freedom.
Chapala is a café society. Restaurants and coffee houses alike are places where people gather to sit and catch up on each other’s lives. Daily, you will see the same faces at the same places, giving you a nod as you walk by, or they’ll invite you to sit down and join in on the conversation. One thing will lead to another and before you know it, you’ll be playing bridge at their club, joining a mountain bike riding group, taking a meditation class or a painting course. The people here are genial and inviting.
When we first arrived in Chapala in 1993, one household in ten had a telephone. We depended on this ‘café, taco-telegraph’ system to get our local news, learn where the best deals were, and find out where the weekend parties were being held. Now everyone has a landline phone or at least a cell phone, yet the café society has thrived keeping it a socially connected town.
If you would like to add longevity to your portfolio with a more manageable cost of living, consider Chapala and retire to Mexico.