Daily Living and Retirement in Lake Chapala

I am an older, single woman. I am not telling you my age but I am getting social security. I have been living at the lakeside area for several years now. I love it here. Sometimes friends write to me and ask what I do here all day. It is hard for people to imagine life in Mexico. There are lots of fears floating around in the world about the dangers of Mexico. I want to share what it is like for me to be here. I will introduce you to some of my friends and take you through my daily life. I hope my experiences will help ease your mind about living here and give you inspiration to at least check it out for yourself. You might love it and want to move here too.

The Lake in Chapala
The Lake in Chapala

January 6th, 2011.

Today is the last holiday of Christmas. It is the day that the children got their presents. I read this morning that there would be some festivities at the plaza in Ajijic. It is called Three King’s Day. Three old, (probably bearded, white haired) Gringo’s were going to dress up like kings and ride around on a float at sunset. Then they would go to the plaza and stand on the balcony at the Cultural Center and throw down candy and small gifts to the children below.  What excitement. I love to watch children having fun.

I intended to see it but by the time evening rolled around I had forgotten all about it. There is so much to do here. I miss most of it. Many times it is just because I have forgotten about something through the course of my day.  I had to go to the dentist today. After that, all I could think of was getting home and resting. I can’t say it was an enjoyable time. Not many people enjoy seeing the dentist. But my friend Ilona went with me. She had to get an estimate on some dental work too. We spent a total of two hours in his dental chair while he explained to us how to fix our dental problems. She went first and I sat on a chair nearby and listened. Then it was my turn and she watched. The dentist’s name is Dr. Carlos Aguirre Lang. His phone number is 01 (376) 766-5357. His e-mail address: marionosterberger@hotmail.com A friend recommended him to me. I never see a doctor or dentist without a recommendation first.

Ilona and Amy in the Dentist's Office
Ilona and Amy, Waiting for the Dentist

Let me backtrack to the beginning of the day and tell you about my friends Ilona, Casey and their beautiful dog Amy. They arrived here just a few days ago. They live in Canada. They first went to a small beach town, Santa Cruz. They were there for two months but decided to leave for various reasons. One was boredom. There isn’t much to do there after going to the beach for a few hours. There are also those pesky Jejenes. They are almost invisible bugs that bite and are out mostly in the mornings and evenings. It is important to always wear a mosquito repellent when there.

So my friends came to check out this area. After being here only two days, Ilona fell in love with it here. She is talking about wanting to move here. Casey likes it but he is more cautious about making a major move like that.  I live in Ajijic and that is where they settled. They will be here for a month or two.

Casey and Ilona and Amy and I went to Chapala in the morning before the dental appointment. We walked down to the water and took photos buildings on the main street and the fountain. I lived in Chapala when I first came here and I love that town too.

Fountain in Chapala
Chapala Fountain
Old Building in Chapala
Chapala Building

Then we went to the church. Ilona is Catholic. She was impressed with it. I took photos of Casey and Amy standing outside while Ilona went in to check it out.

Church in Chapala
Chapala Church
My Friend Casey in Front of the Church
Casey and his Dog in Front of the Church

It was a beautiful morning. Ilona likes to shop so she went into a little gift store and bought a couple of things for friends. Casey and I waited outside. Typical man, he doesn’t like shopping but he was patient with Ilona.

Ilona in the Gift Shop in Chapala
A Gift Shop in Chapala

After our brief walk, we couldn’t put off going to the dentist any longer. We took Amy into the office with us.  They didn’t mind that the dog came into the waiting room with us. I love this about Mexico. It is more relaxed than any other place I have ever been. I can’t imagine a dentist office in the States allowing a dog to come in and sleep on the floor.

Casey left with Amy before the dentist called us in to have our teeth checked. I got to watch the dentist and Ilona in their struggles with communication. English isn’t the the first language for Ilona or for the Dentist. Ilona is Hungarian but they managed.  He told her that he could fix her problems for around five hundred dollars. Later she told me that in Canada the estimate was over three thousand dollars. Big difference. Her problems included three crowns and a possible root canal.

Ilona in the Dentist's Chair
Iona with the Dentist

Ilona decided to make another appointment and start the process. I asked him what he typically charges for crowns and he said between a hundred and twenty to three hundred dollars, depending on the problems involved.  He also does the zoom teeth brightening. That is about a hundred and fifty dollars. Replacing old fillings is around thirty-five dollars.

I just needed him to check on a bad root canal another dentist had done. He said he wasn’t a specialist and gave me a referral.  At the end he charged us each 150 pesos for all his time. Not bad.

We were laughing about it as we walked down the street together. Neither of us had ever had a dentist say good bye by kissing us on the cheek. And having a dentist spend all that time for so little money? That is unheard of in the States or Canada.

I was starving by then because I had skipped breakfast. They took me to see their apartment and I took some photos of the garden.

Plants in the Garden
Strange Plants in the Garden

Ilona had made soup the night before and it was delicious. After lunch they took me home and I forgot about all the festivities in the Plaza. I sat in the sunshine in my yard and read. Okay, I also took a little nap in the middle of the day.

I am starting to get used to Mexican ways and afternoon napping is quite enjoyable. Never before have I allowed myself to take naps in the afternoon. I guess it is part of my puritan upbringing. You keep busy all day and sleep at night.

I like this new lifestyle. If you want to know more about this area please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help. And if you come to visit, let me know and we can meet for coffee. I will help you out in any way that I can. From time to time I will put on other installments of my daily diary. I hope this will be of interest to you in considering if you want to live in Mexico or not. (I am kind of sorry I missed seeing those old Gringos riding around in a float and throwing candy to the children. But I can’t see everything.)
If you want to know more, we are here to help.  You can contact me in the comments below and either I or one of the Access team members will be glad to help you and answer questions :

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11 thoughts on “Daily Living and Retirement in Lake Chapala”

  • Ginger Blymyer

    I lived there for fifteen months and I love looking at the photos and hearing about Ajijic. My husband passed away just about two year years ago and I came back to the USA. That is fine, but I have so many wonderful memories of living there.

    • accesschapala

      We hope to have you back here again one day Ginger.

  • steve

    that is 1 of the arguments my wife uses ………we will run out of things to do !!

    I don,t think so

    • accesschapala

      So much to do here Steve, so little time 🙂

      • Peachy Spence

        Hi there,

        I enjoyed reading about your example of daily life in Lake Chapala. I am jealous even though the dentist is not a great place to visit. I am looking into residing in this area by the end of of the year. I am a single Canadian 62 and will have approximately 1000/month to live on. I plan to rent a room and hopefully get into expat activities and teach ESL and learning Spanish in my spare time if that is possible. I hope to come down to look around in October. I had lived overseas in Sinagapore, UK, Iran and Bahrain while I was married with my kids. I loved the community type living while I enjoyed the different cultures and people. Do you think my monthly allowance sufficient? I would really appreciate your feedback…..thank you

        Peachy Spence

        • Patricia Evelyn

          Hi Peachy, I answered your question that was sent to my blog but I will write again for people here to see. Yes, I believe you can live on that amount. I do. But you must find inexpensive housing. That will be your greatest expense…. Beto’s Motel in Downtown Chapala is great. His rooms are only 200 dollars a month and 300 dollars for a two room apartment. It is within walking distance of everything and near a bus line. Patricia

          • Peachy Spence

            Thanks Patricia for you mentioning Beto’s it gives me an idea of what there is!


  • Janath Cristo

    We are expats interested in continuing our retirement in Mexico after spending nearly nine years in Costa Rica. What are the requirements for gaining residency?

  • Dave Carnes

    Hello, The Lake Chapala shore area is my target for retirement. I visit sometimes and I always really do enjoy myself. I still have a few years to work (here in the U.S.) before I can retire and move down.
    One of biggest concerns is that I want to bring my television and radio with me down there unchanged. All of my music stations, tv stations, sports teams, ballgames, NFL, baseball, news programs, movies and everything that’s here.
    I hope this won’t sound like I don’t embrace the culture there, but part of my retirement dream is to continue with my sports and music and live out my days enjoying all the fun things I grew up with here.
    Please let me know if you have any information on how to accomplish this.

  • Sharron Mccuistion-Lewis

    Hello — We are seniors who have never been to Mexico, but we are seriously thinking of Lake Chapala area. I do have a couple of questions. We are moving from a very peaceful and quiet home in the country and we’re a little worried that the towns around the lake would feel too noisy and too busy for us. Can you comment and direct us? Also we So enjoy our private pool where we are living but homes with swimming pools don’t seem very common there. Just one more thing: while we certainly want expats nearby, we don’t want tol lose the feeling that we are in Mexico. What has been your experience with that?
    ThNks so much for any help you can give.

  • Elizabeth Haymaker

    Hello, My husband and I are coming to Chapala Feb 27 this year. We have rented a house for the week and a car but are looking for some local recommendations on areas for amore permanent location. We would love to meet up with other expats.


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