If you’re reading this post, you’re probably wondering, “What is it like to live in Ajijic and Chapala?”
A very friendly and joyous expat shares her story.
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A few days ago, Sheree and I became friends on Facebook. My mother in law, who runs Panama Relocation Tours, introduced us and suggested Sheree would have a lot of great information to share about living in Ajijic and Lake Chapala.
And boy, did Sheree share her wealth of knowledge after living there for over 10 years!
So if you’ve been wondering what life is like in Ajijic and Lake Chapala, then this post is for YOU!
Perfect Weather in Ajijic? Hype or Real?
I’ll be honest, every time I read about Ajijic, and it’s perfect weather, I am curious to know if this is hype.
And in talking with Sheree today, she confirmed that although the weather is enjoyable, Ajijic and Lake Chapala tend to have some warm months, especially since air conditioning isn’t common in Mexico.
To give you an idea of the typical weather in Ajijic here’s a graph
You’ll notice that beginning in April through June; there are some hot days in Ajijic. And although the weather does tend to drop a lot after the sun goes down, it can still get sweltering in the Lake Chapala area.
Sheree prefers overcast days with 70-degree weather and even joked about preferring Seattle over Ajijic in the hottest months. But that’s her perception of what “perfect weather” is like.
So don’t immediately buy into the hype that “year-round perfect weather” is exactly what you’ll find here. For some of you, this might be too cool, and for some of you, it might be too warm!
This brings me perfectly to my next point on doing some research before selling everything and moving to Mexico!
Get Educated On Mexico
I had a long and very enjoyable conversation with Sheree, whom I would like to consider a friend at this point. And one of the recommendations she made for any of you who are considering moving to Mexico is to get an “education” in Mexico.
And it’s a great point.
It’s a completely different country. It’s a different culture. And if you’re not very good with change, then this place might not be for you.
Sure, there are things like gourmet supermarkets, newspapers, and meetups exclusively catered for Americans living in Chapala that should make your transition easier. However, she warns that not learning about Mexican culture can be a pitfall.
“It’s your chance to start over” she tells me.
And I couldn’t agree with her more.
Ajijic and Chapala are very ex-pat, friendly towns. English is widely spoken everywhere. Restaurant menus are in English. There’s a local newspaper that’s in English. There is a newcomers lunch that’s in English. There’s even a weekly market where vendors mostly speak English.
So with all these comforts surrounding you, why would you ever struggle and learn Spanish?
Well, it opens a whole world to you that you would not otherwise explore. You could start making friends with the locals. And making friends with the locals will give you a whole perspective into Mexican culture!
And when you understand Mexican culture, you’ll be much more comfortable being in this amazing country!
You might notice yourself saying hi to total strangers on the street. You may catch yourself trying out more Spanish, even if it makes you uncomfortable. And overall, you’ll see that Mexicans are incredibly friendly and warm people who tend to be very welcoming.
But you have to try to get to know them so you can have this whole new experience!
Making Friends in Ajijic
I’m a social butterfly, but Sheree isn’t, so I was very curious what her opinion is about making new friends in Ajijic.
She was very enthusiastic in reassuring me that you’ll have a great time in Ajijic if you are very social.
She mentioned that it’s very common to sit at a park bench and have a total stranger approach her and start a conversation. She also told me about popular groups like Lake Chapala Society. You can join the Lake Chapala Society for $15/month or under $40/month yearly.
With organizations like Lake Chapala Society and others in town, there are monthly and weekly events that will introduce you to many new people if you’re looking for that.
She also mentioned that since she is not a social butterfly, she tends not to attend most of the events but has made many friends from those groups.
Especially if you are a single person moving to Mexico, this might be right up your alley. And Sheree assured me that making friends should not be a problem in the Ajijic and Lake Chapala area.
Cost Of Living In Ajijic
What about cost of living in Ajijic?
I think it’s fair to say that you can live very comfortably with $1,000 USD a month if you’re a single person.
However, to give you an idea of what Sheree’s lifestyle is like, here are some of her basic expenses:
- Rent in a 2bed 2bth condo with water included- $600/month
- Utilities- $15-$30 USD every 2 months
- Healthcare Insurance – $150/month
- Personal Trainer and Spanish Teacher – $13/hr
- Internet – $20/month
- Groceries – $30/week (she cooks a lot at home)
Sheree lives in the San Antonio Tlayacapan neighborhood, and her condo has a community pool. The community she lives in is small and intimate, with only 13 condos in total. Each one has a balcony and is within walking distance of most basic needs.
I hope you can see that living on $1,000/month as a single woman is VERY doable in Ajijic. In fact, Sheree knows many people who live on that or less and live very comfortably.
Now Sheree did admit to me that she doesn’t live on $1,000/month. Even though she knows plenty of people that do, she lives on about $2,000/month, but she splurges on traveling to the U.S. and within Mexico often and buying vitamins she says are very expensive.
So your cost of living monthly will vary greatly depending on your expenses and your budget.
Walking A Lot Is Common
“A lot of your daily exercise will come from walking” Sheree tells me.
And that’s because all the towns in the Lake Chapala area are small and have all the immediate conveniences nearby.
Sheree walks almost everywhere, she tells me. She even laughs that she has to turn on her parked car every once in a while so the motor doesn’t lock.
And that’s a beautiful thing! Not needing a car is exciting. Having the freedom to walk over to the store if you want to pick up something is very freeing.
Think about how much time you spend in your car daily. Unless you live in New York or some big city where public transportation is prevalent, you probably drive almost everywhere!
If you’re excited about not having to sit in traffic and becoming a little more active, then Ajijic is the place for you!
Learn more about Ajijic and other “Best Places to Live in Mexico“.
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I want to thank Sheree for her time and very valuable perspective on life in Mexico. I am incredibly grateful to have met her. If you are an expat who would like to share your experience living in Mexico, please send me an email.
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