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Bruce Fraser – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Fresh produce, Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingFood in the markets in Chapala and Ajijic typically are of very high quality, very fresh, picked today and sold on the market some time tomorrow, available pretty much all year long. There might be a few things like mangoes and tomatoes that tend to be seasonal and a couple of other things but for the most part, you can get just about everything all year long. 
 
It's just a matter of finding what you prefer; if you prefer the outdoor markets or if you prefer to go to some places that are permanent and fixed. I go to three or four different places. I even go to Walmart for some things because I like the quality of their melons and their watermelons. I go to my little corner store for bananas, lettuce, and tomatoes. I go over to the big market in Chapala to get things like spinach, broccoli, and onions.
 
When you get used to things, you've got the time, or you're driving by, you can go to different stores. If you don't care, you just go to Walmart and buy all your food there or just go to the Mexican supermarket and buy there. But invariably, it's way cheaper than what you would spend up North. The cost of survival is just incredibly less in Chapala and Ajijic.  
 
Off topic, you don't have to buy long-sleeved shirts. You don't have to buy boots. You don't have to buy parkas unless you're riding in the back of a pick-up truck at four in the morning.
 
For the markets you have a choice between the US/Canadian style supermarkets like Walmart or even the Mexican versions, which are Soriana, Chedraui, Mega, and Aurora. They have good prices. 
 
You could go to a little tienda, which usually have signs that say “abarrotes,” which means “groceries” in Spanish. These are tiny, little stores, normally family-run, and no more than 100-square feet. You could go to farmers’ markets every week. Ajijic has its Wednesday farmers’ market. Chapala has its on Mondays. San Juan Cosala, which is another little area, has its market on Tuesdays. 
 
Here in Chapala and Ajijic, we have a lot of individual places, which I don't think they have so much in the US any more like a butcher by himself or a guy who sells seafood by himself. You can go to these roadside stands where they'll have fruits or vegetables sometimes, as opposed to in the US, you will just go to the supermarket. 
 
The little tiendas are the least expensive. You never know what they're going to have. Sometimes they've got a box of fresh mangoes. The first mangoes I saw this year were in my little tienda. It was totally unexpected because it was the end of January. Wow! This is a month early for mangoes.
 
(Fresh produce, Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
Andrew McFarlane of Muebles NOMAD (Nomad Furniture) – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Blackberries grown on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe food is great in Chapala and Ajijic markets. Chapala has a large Monday market with many vendors selling great quality fresh produce. Ajijic has its own market every Wednesday. When fruits and vegetables are in season, the prices can be exceptionally inexpensive. Many berries are grown at the lakeside for the export market and so in most shops, raspberries blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are for sale from 30 pesos (US $1.50) a liter. Local fresh made cheeses, packages of vegetables already chopped for soup, fresh fish and shrimp, candied nuts, and fresh flowers are also for sale.
 
We do have an excellent store that caters to the needs of expats, so you can find products imported for many different country cuisines: Indian, United Kingdom, Japan, Greece, USA, Italy etc. 
 
There is a large Wal-Mart in town if you prefer not to shop the markets and there are many specialized stores, butchers, fish stores, excellent bread/pastry shops selling local pastries and breads or French pastries even Scandinavian.  The produce is usually from the surrounding area, which means your food hasn’t traveled far. This also makes it friendlier for the environment. Ajijic also holds an organic market every week where local merchants sell everything from home grown peppers to pates and preserves.  
 
(Blackberries grown on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
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Andre Bellon of Bellon Insurance Agents – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Pink mushrooms at the Lake Chapala Farmers Market, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere’s a bakery that sells delicious, marvelous, fresh and tasty bread in the market in Chapala and Ajijic. 
 
There’s a market in Chapala and that sells fresh fruits and vegetables that are cheaper than in the supermarkets. If you go to the artisan markets in each of the towns in the Chapala area that are around once a week, you’ll get fresher, more interesting, and much cheaper produce, nuts, and breads, but I would not recommend buying meat there. 
 
You can go to these artisan markets or to the American-style supermarkets like Wal-Mart or Soriana, a Mexican supermarket that can be compared to a typical American supermarket, where you’ll find products very similar to what you’ll find in the United States with prices that are about 30% cheaper, generally speaking, for produce and meats, unless it’s imported from the US, in which case it will be the same price or more as in the US.
 
(Pink mushrooms at the Lake Chapala Farmers Market, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Michael Kavanaugh of Continental Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Vegetables in an open air stand in Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe food in the markets in the Chapala – Ajijic area is fabulous. I go up the street to the little vegetable-fruit stand up on Hidalgo, right up the street from my office and buy my cucumbers to make my own pickles.  They also have fabulous cauliflower; anything you want. The fresh fruit and vegetables are so much less expensive than what you would pay in the US, it’s just mind-boggling.
 
The local pork products here are fabulous. The ribs you can buy, the pork tenderloins, the pork steaks! The local beef is pretty much all grass-fed so it needs to be tenderized. But if you buy a beef tenderloin, no matter if it’s grass-fed or grain-fed, it’s a cut that is never used by the cows so it’s always going to be tender.
 
You can’t beat buying fresh fruit and vegetables, beef, pork and fish here.  The chicken here is so much better than chicken in the US. If you buy a chicken in the US, the skin is pale and white. Here, it’s rich and yellow. The fat content / flavor content is so much better. We eat chicken twice a week. We eat pork twice a week. We eat salmon once a week. I probably cook 5 nights a week while my wife cooks the other two.
 
I buy my fruits and vegetables at a tianguis, which is a little store.  I buy my chicken at the local Wal-Mart because I found it’s the best chicken. There are a couple of seafood specialty shops that sells salmon or you can buy the frozen salmon at Wal-Mart. It’s all pretty much the same. It’s all frozen. I buy the pork from a little grocery store in Ajijic. They sell beef and pork and you just can’t beat it.  You learn where to shop for particular items.
 
(Vegetables in an open air stand in Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Robert Martin – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Market in Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingInteresting to me to read how expats live in other areas of Mexico. But first I would comment, "super" does not mean grocery store. Of course we have Costco available near where I live but I prefer to shop Mexican chains rather than with other expats. There are some really excellent Mexican supermarket chains.
 
(Market in Mexico, pictured.)
Jerry Smith, MD – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
View of Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe have a big grocery store here called ‘Super Lake,” where “super” means “grocery store.” They have almost anything an expat could want. The owner specifically caters to the foreigners, but the prices are pretty high because he has to import many of his items.
 
About 10 years ago, Costco came to Guadalajara.  There are two about half an hour to 45 minutes drive from my house. Almost everybody goes there once a month to stock up on some of the things you just have to have that you’d like to get cheaply.  For example, we will buy a whole side of New York strip or rib eyes, which are vacuum packed USDA choice and they’ll cut them up for you. The cost for one of those big steaks, which my wife and I will split, is about $10 per steak.  We’re all just tickled to death to have that quality of meat here at essentially US prices. So groceries are not a problem.  We now also have a Wal-Mart in town. 
 
The fruits and vegetables are about half price. They’re always fresher and they’re available year round.  Having fresh fruits and vegetables is a true delight. There’s a big vegetable store 3 or 4 blocks from my house.  Sometimes when I’m out walking, I stop in there and grab a few potatoes and some carrots or whatever we need and carry them home. I usually pay less than half of what we pay in Texas, and the quality is better as well.  
 
(View of Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
 
 
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Santiago Hernandez of Chapala Med – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mexican hot dog wrapped in bacon – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe food in the markets in Chapala and Ajijic are very typical of the food Mexicans buy. They have tacos that are made on grills right in front of you. The sauces are also made in front of you. Most of the food in the markets is fresh food. There are also some stands that sell hotdogs and hamburgers. The hotdogs that are sold on hotdog stands here usually have bacon strips wrapped around them, which is very tasty. There is a very popular sandwich here called a torta, which is usually made with ham, or pierna.
 
You can buy food in the markets for a fraction of the price that it would cost in the restaurants. A taco costs around 10 pesos (around 55 cents) and a sandwich costs around 20 pesos (US $1). However, you have to be very careful and build up your intestinal flora because a lot of people do tend to pick up infections. Obviously, those people who have lived here for quite a while tend to be immune to bugs but just like anything, if you get exposed to a bacteria that your body is not used to, you would probably get sick for a while. So it is important to take a look and see what the hygiene is like. Everybody has different levels of hygiene and some will even argue that without those bacteria the food will not taste as good.
 
People often opt to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the open air markets or at the tianguis, which are open in Ajijic on Mondays. You will find fruits and vegetables in the tianguis that are cheaper than those from Walmart and Super Lake. It is cheaper to buy fresh produce in the Chapala open-air market than the Ajijic open-air market. It is a bit more expensive in Ajijic because they charge vendors more and in Ajijic and the clientele tend to have more money so they tend to pay more. 
 
There is a Walmart right between Ajijic and Chapala. It looks just like any Walmart in the US. Some of the products that they have are local brands. The number of things that are not available here in comparison to those in the US is dwindling. When I was a kid and I would come down to Mexico for a vacation every 2 years, there were so many things that you couldn’t get but now, there is less and less. There are stores that specialize in importing things from the US. One of those is called Super Lake, which is located in Ajijic. There you can find US brands. For example, there are national brand Oreo cookies and there are Oreo cookies from the US. There is a difference between these two. Some people prefer buying the US brands at Super Lake.
 
Overall, shopping for food in the Chapala and Ajijic areas is definitely a lot cheaper compared to shopping for food in Chicago, where I am from. Tacos here cost around 10 (around 55 cents) to 20 pesos ($1), while at the taco stand in Chicago called La Pasadita it costs around $3. The quality of food here is very comparable to the quality of food in the US but you will find the difference in the price. Things that are produced or grown locally are cheaper by about 1/3 of the price in the US.
 
I particularly grew up on low fat milk and that has been a problem for me to get here. I have to go to Costco to buy my low fat milk. That costs twice as much as the local brand but it is still on par to what a gallon of milk would cost in the US.  
 
(Mexican hot dog wrapped in bacon, pictured.)

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