Ajijic Lake Chapala Mexico: Life in a privileged climate
The north shore of Mexico’s largest natural lake is blessed by nature. Located at the same latitude as the Hawaiian Islands, its tropical heat is tempered by altitude. The Chapala lake shore is a mile high, the same as Denver. In fact, National Geographic rates its climate as the best in the Americas.
Once known as Mexico’s inland sea, the long blue lake nestles amid indigo mountains in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Charming towns and villages line the shore, each one with its own unique ambience, its own allure. The most popular are Chapala and Ajijic, but there are many more options for the lifestyle you love.
Chapala is only a few hours’ flight from the U.S. and Canada
Guadalajara – Mexico’s second largest city – is just an hour’s drive, yet Lake Chapala has the peacefulness of small town living. Forty-five minutes away on a good highway, the Miguel Hidalgo International Airport means you’re only a few hours’ flight from loved ones back in the U.S. and Canada. Chapala’s northern shore is the single most popular area for Mexico retirement.
AccessLakeChapala.com lets you leisurely explore the area in each location: Chapala, La Floresta, San Antonio Tlayacapan, Ajijic, San Juan Cosala ( Raquet Club) and Jocotepec
Like Venetian palazzos, Mediterranean style mansions line the sea wall walk, or malecón in Chapala. It leads to the pier that juts out into the lake to end in a picturesque kiosk. The municipal seat of lakeside towns, Chapala has a lovely air of yesteryear with beautiful Victorian architecture. The traditional municipal market is a good place to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, but a large new supermarket is another option. A modern bus station connects the towns themselves with buses leaving every 20 minutes or so, and links the lake shore with the state capital and points beyond. A yacht club, tennis courts, and lakeside promenade lure you outdoors to enjoy the sunshine.
Chapala rental options and houses sales tend to be single family homes with gated parking in the front and sunny gardens in the back; property taxes are low. Cable TV, high speed Internet access and flat fee telephone plans keep you connected.
AccessLakeChapala.com has a great selection of real estate and rental properties for those who consider on staying longer.
San Antonio Tlayacapan: A traditional Mexican neighborhood
San Antonio Tlayacapan is a Chapala side town of its own. The plaza with its wrought iron bandstand is a block from the shore, across from the church dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua. Home of the Lakeside Little Theater, San Antonio also boasts upscale gated communities with single family homes at accessible prices. Some of the best priced homes can be found in this town, and there is a good supply of rentals. Expats live side by side with Mexican neighbors in a community of real friendship.
Mailboxes, Etc., is located in San Antonio. Super Lake is a small food store stocking hard-to-find items from North of the Border. Next door, the liquor shop is well stocked and sells Cuban cigars, rolled by hand in the store. Tony’s Meats cuts roasts, chops and fillets to order, and a seafood shop is located a few doors down. Seven-Eleven, furniture stores and a variety of other shops line the highway. San Antonio also includes the new Wal-Mart Super Center within its limits.
Ajijic, home of fisherman, artists, artisans and expats
The fisherman’s village of Ajijic is home to more expats than any other Chapala lake shore community. Home of the Lake Chapala Society, Ajijic’s cobblestone lanes invite exploring on foot. Galleries, boutiques and jewelry shops vie with restaurants of every kind. A weekly street market, or tianguis, provides shoppers with farm-fresh fruits, vegetables and cut flowers, seafood brought that morning from the coast, and a wealth of useful items in breathtaking array.
Hotels range from the beautiful lakeside properties that fill up with city folk at the weekends to cozy bed and breakfast inns. Renting in the area is available during the winter high season or all year round, and most shopping is usually within walking distance of the plaza.
San Juan Cosala: Thermal spas and Racquet Club living
Further west along the carretera is the town of San Juan Cosalá. Heated by underwater volcanoes, thermal mineral pools are renowned for their curative properties, and popular balnearios (swimming pools with restaurants, terrazas and gardens) are located along the shore. On the mountain side of the highway, Racquet Club homes line cobblestone streets named for Jimmy Conners, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and Arthur Ashe, as well as Raul Ramirez, Pancho Gonzalez and other Mexican tennis stars.
At the top of the hill with a spectacular view of the lake and mountains, Coxala is a spa and gourmet restaurant housed in architectural replicas of pre-Hispanic monuments.
Jocotepec: All the beauty of Lake Chapala living with fewer tourists
At the western end of the carretera, Jocotepec is a traditional Mexican town with two large churches on the plaza, one on either side of the highway. Its recently refurbished lakeside promenade, or malecón, is a privileged spot to watch the sunset over the Chapala lake vistas. Cabañas set around a pool in splendid gardens are a popular choice among hotels, and tourists enjoy restaurants serving spicy birria, a savory goat meat stew that is a regional favorite.
Jocotepec is home to fewer expatriates than other towns along the northern shore, and homes in Jocotepec are quite accessible. This town also hosts a weekly tianguis street market where locally grown raspberries and blackberries are wonderfully inexpensive, healthy and delicious.