Living The Mexican Dream on $2,200/Month

Sharrell and Andy (Originally from Portland) have been living in Lake Chapala since 2022 with their large (and beautiful!) service dog, Sebastian.

At first, they moved to Albania after reading about it on International Living. But after spending 2 years there and not feeling like they ever built a community, they started to feel isolated and lonely. Not to mention the Albania was way too hot for them.

“Albania is affordable, it is beautiful, but it has only been out of communism since 1993, and what I found is that people are very reserved. They didn’t open up easily. I was there for 2 years, and we didn’t make a single friend.

“Over the years we looked at Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Panama. But then we looked into Albania. We landed in the Balkans and learned after 2 years it was too hot for people from the Pacific Northwest.”

That’s when they looked into other popular expat destinations like Ecuador and Panama but decided to explore Mexico. At first they moved to Puerto Vallarta, but after realizing it was too hot for them, they decided to check out the Lake Chapala region.

Known for its inclusive community, Lake Chapala is a top destination for expats moving to Mexico who want a softer landing than moving to a foreign country. Lake Chapala is known to have the largest concentration of English speakers in Mexico. Located in the state of Jalisco, the Lake Chapala area is made up of a lot of towns, which include Ajijic, San Antonio Tlayacapan, Chapala, and Jocotepec.

“So we started searching…Where is a temperate climate, with lots of choices, options for my large service dog. and the funniest thing is the country right next to us in the USA was Mexico.. and checked off all the boxes.”

Lake Chapala on Map
Lake Chapala on Map

This is extremely attractive for many newcomers as they integrate into Mexican culture.

“Great tasy food, spicy if possible, good weather… and the big thing was genuine people who are friendly and outgoing and we hit the jackpot here in Lake Chapala. I was mildly depressed and not going out a lot. To now feeling so happy that I am here because the people make me feel welcomed and like I am a friend and that’s such a huge factor I hadn’t even considered.”

Making friends around Ajijic or Chapala isn’t hard because there are numerous expat meetups, events, theaters, and cultural events in English, as well as an overall sense of familiarity in Mexico.

And even though they love living in Lake Chapala, Sharrell and Andy eventually want to explore Morelia, Michoacan, more and see if that could be a good place for them to call home in the future.

“once we got to Puerto Vallata we got intimidated that we hadn’t learned Spanish as much as I wanted. That’s when I learned about Lake Chapala and that it was an easier landing for people who aren’t fluent. But Morelia is still on our long term radar.”

After all, Mexico is very big. And even though Lake Chapala is very attractive to many foreigners, Sharrell and Andy want to get out of their comfort zone a bit and explore more of this wonderful country.

But It’s Not All Sunshine & Butterflies

Lake Chapala is often romanticized by a lot of people from the north as having the “best weather in the world.” However, you should know Lake Chapala still experiences heat waves during the dry season. And even though it has pretty temperate weather most of the year, those who aren’t prepared for the hottest months in April and May usually end up disappointed.

So, we think it’s important to let our audience know that there is no such thing as perfect weather anywhere in Mexico.

Every city/town experiences some level of heat wave, cold wave, downpour, or other natural disaster. Also, one person’s comfort level in the heat, rain, humidity, or cold might be very different from yours. Perfect weather is subjective. For example, many central highlands in Mexico experience the hottest dry season in 2024, from March to April. With some central area temperatures rising above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And considering most central highland homes don’t have air conditioning, you can imagine how uncomfortable those weeks were during the day.

“Weather surprises and how it can get really hot in Ajijic even though it is coined as the best weather in the world. Last year was hotter than usual and we hope it gets cooler this year.”

“We asked ourselves, ‘Why haven’t we considered Mexico?’ And we thought ‘the cartels’ and now we realize that yes there are petty crimes and police involvement with things but the feeling now is that the situation in the USA with mass shottings makes me feel better about Mexico. We were wrong to think that the cartel runs eveyrthing and I just wish I had learned what I know now because we would have moved straight to Mexico.”

In this video, they talk about

  • Their journey moving abroad to Albania and why they didn’t like it
  • Other countries they also considered moving to
  • Ultimately their decision to choose Mexico
  • Why Lake Chapala, and how they chose the San Antonio Tlayacapan small town.
  • Finding rentals and getting around with their large service dog
  • Finding housing
  • Their $2,200 USD/Month budget and how their lifestyle (*Just keep in mind the income requirements for residency are higher than $2,200 USD/Month*)
  • Dealing with the heat in Lake Chapala before the rainy season
  • Some advice for newcomers
  • Getting involved in their local community
  • Why medical care is so much better in Mexico than in the states
  • And so much more.
YouTube video

Ready to Explore Lake Chapala? Consider A Private Relocation Tour

Taking a Lake Chapala relocation tour offers numerous benefits for those considering a move to this scenic region. First and foremost, you get a custom experience, allowing you to explore specific neighborhoods, shopping options, and amenities that align with your lifestyle and budget requirements.

With the guidance of a local expert, you can gain valuable insights into the local real estate market, community amenities, and cultural nuances, which are crucial for making an informed decision. This kind of customized exploration is perfect for the person who is ready to scout Lake Chapala but wants the help of a local with boots on the ground.

Don’t want to go to Lake Chapala? That’s no problem; we have relocation tour guides all across Mexico.

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

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