So you have done your research by visiting the Lake Chapala & Ajijic area and have decided to make a permanent move. Making this step is very easy, however one thing you do have to decide on is if you are going to be renting first or make the leap of faith by buying a home before knowing the area well enough.
Each Lakeside town and subdivision has its virtues and problems. Some common questions to ask yourself are: Do I have noisy neighbors? Are the fireworks that go off during the local celebrations close by? Does the gated community I want to live in have tight regulations for guests, pets or children? Are there any rooster living close by (Yes this happens)? These are just a few questions to consider but the list goes on. In your initial visit, consider renting a car to drive around the different towns and gated communities, drive by during different times of the day to see what the “neighborhoods” look and feel like. This will allow you to get a first impression of the different areas and choose the one you are most fond of.
Always Rent First, Get a Feel for Lakeside Before Buying
Before you decide to buy in a certain area, consider renting a home, in fact, rent a few places, this will allow you to be more flexible and gather as much information as possible in that particular area during different times of the year (remember each town has its celebrations during 2 weeks each year, example: Ajijic Fiestas), plus 90% of Lakeside rentals come fully furnished, so your only expense is the monthly rental payments. You must learn the ropes before you make an important decision such as buying, exploring the local areas before doing so is a plus.
Most newcomers try to research as much as possible to make sure they are making the right choice, but you cannot research what you don’t know, however renting before you buy can help you make the best decision on which area, gated community, or individual lakeside town is right for you. Renting for 12 months in an area you have researched and believe is right for you is the first step to getting a feel for the community.
After living in a home for a year, you have experienced the different seasons, towns (including its traditions) and most importantly your surroundings, this will help you make a more concise decision on if it is right for you. If you feel the area is a perfect fit then you can start looking for homes for sale in that particular area, if it’s not for you, then you have a more flexible option to rent somewhere else.
After all, investing in a home is a very important and emotional decision in your life, making sure the location is correct, is a very important part of your decision.
Comparing the Different Communities in Lake Chapala
There are several different types of living Lakeside, the two most common are living in a gated community or settling in the downtown areas of Lakeside, below is a comparison that lists the pros and cons of both scenarios:
1) Living in the Village
(Ex: Downtown Chapala, Ajijic, San Antonio, San Juan Cosala etc)
Is living in the heart of a Mexican Village right for you? If you want to blend in with the locals rather than living in a quite gated community then village life sounds like it fits, however there is a sacrifice to make which is putting up with some noise if local celebrations are to be had or if you have neighbors that are not as “quiet” as you. Each city street is very different, there are quiet ones and others that are not, to know which is which you have to experience it first. Here are some pros and cons of living in downtown village areas:
- Pros: Very convenient for walking to shops/restaurants, a car is not necessary to have, experience Mexican traditions, neighbors, and blend in with the locals, close by “moma pop” shops almost every 2-3 blocks and most importantly learn Spanish by talking to your neighbors and locals.
- Cons: Usually more commotion and occasional noise such as: barking dogs, local fiestas, trucks with loud speakers advertising products, occasional firework rockets go off celebrating religious traditions, noisy neighbors, a few locals tend to keep roosters in their yards.
2) Living in a Gated Community
(Ex. El Parque, Los Sabinos, Raquet Club, La Floresta, Chula Vista, El Dorado, La Huerta, Vista Alegre, La Reserva etc..)
Do you prefer privacy, security and an organized way of living that you are a costumed to up north? Living in a gated community lakeside can be similar to the communities in the US/CAN such as controlled access, common areas such as pool, club house, tennis courts and an HOA (Home Owners Association) that manages the community. There are two types of communities:
- A “Fraccionamiento” which means it is not gated “roads are public” but it does have similar features to a gated community such as security and a HOA.
- A “Condominio” which means a Condo Association/Gated Community, where the streets belong to the Condominium and the access is manned through guards and controlled security. It has common areas that the homeowners maintain with strata fees such as the pool and clubhouse.
Living in one of these communities has great benefits most importantly privacy and security, however it also has some drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons of living in these communities:
- Pros: Security 24 hours a day, common areas that one can enjoy, less commotion opposed to living in the village, organized way of life.
- Cons: Paying HOA fees, respecting the HOA bylaws, any changes made to the bylaws by a majority vote must be respected, if some homeowners do not pay fees the common areas suffer the cost and most of all tighter restrictions with the bylaws such as amount of visitors/kids, pets etc.
Podcast regarding the topic Rent vs Buy
Here is an interesting podcast you can listed regarding this topic.
. It was made by a couple planning their move to Ajijic and they want to conduct a survey on the best option, buying or renting. They interviewed a local man who has went through this experience and talks about his journey, his conclusion and advise was to rent first before buying, you can listen to it here:
Listen to it here:
Read more about this podcast here: The Prepat Podcast – Episode #3: Rent vs Buy
To learn more about the local traditions and see some pictures, check out our “Photo Gallery” and “Blog” where you will find allot of extra information and some visual insight on what we mention in this article.