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Chuck Bolotin of Best Mexico Movers – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Ajijic plaza with Jet MetierI wrote an entire article about the seven worst things about living in the Chapala / Ajijic area, which you can read here.  To summarize: 1) fireworks; 2) burning fields and burning trash; 3) driving and walking can be treacherous; 4) uncomfortable furniture; 5) the power goes out and the Internet can be slow (being remedied now, at least with regard to the Internet); 6) it can be noisy; and, 7) the plumbing.

When considering this list, please consider a few other things:
 
  • If I asked you to come up with the seven worst things about living where you live, what would your list be?
 
  • What is there to offset these worst things?
 
Regarding offsetting these worst things, are lots of great things, so to keep it balanced, I’ll choose seven:
 
1. The pace of life and the general tranquility of the area (article here).  Compared with most places in the US, it is quite relaxed here in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area (the locals would call it tranquilo.)  People tend to have the time to have more genuine interpersonal relations and your blood pressure will go down.  That counts for a lot.
 
2. For the same or better lifestyle, the cost of living in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area is less than half of what you would pay in the US or Canada, and sometimes much less.  (See lifestyle upgrade article here.)  Health and dental care is about a quarter of cost or less, as is anything where locals provide the service.  You don’t get that tightening in your stomach if you need a new transmission or if you scratch your car.  For example, a $1,000 repair of a tiny crash in the US may run you $50 here.   Just think how that would also affect point 1, above.
 
3. The people are great.  Not only will you find lots of interesting expats from all over the world, but you will also enjoy the locals, who as a group, are wonderful people.
 
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4. If you choose to, you won’t have any chores to do.  (Refer to points 1 and 2.)  The low cost of housekeepers (about US $2.50 per hour) and gardeners (about US $3.00 per hour) means that, if you choose to, you can afford help.  This gives you more time to do what you like.  (See article on how not having to do chores can change your life here.)
 
5. The health and dental care is great.  Your doctor may spend an unhurried hour with you and charge you $25 out of pocket.  My healthcare insurance dropped from over $1,000 per month to $225 per month, and it’s better insurance! (See article comparing healthcare in Mexico with healtchare in the US here.)
 
6. The weather is awesome.  Unless you’re from North County San Diego or Hawaii, you’ll like the weather better here than where you’re from.  Lake Chapala is at about 5,000 feet altitude, so it’s not as hot as by the ocean, and the lake (the largest in Mexico) moderates everything even further.  In my view, the rainy season is the best part of the year, but any time except for about a month starting in late May is great.  You literally won’t know what season you’re in.  If you like being outside, in a relaxing, gentle climate, Lake Chapala / Ajijic is your place.
 
7. You’re not “roughing it.”  If you need a big city for healthcare, more sophisticated shopping, or to fly somewhere, Guadalajara is about an hour away.  There are major, sophisticated and expensive malls (if you need that); first-class, large hospitals; and an international airport with lots of non-stops to the US.  If you don’t want to drive and love Wal-Mart, there’s one right in Ajijic.  If you need Costco, Home Depot or Office Max, Guadalajara has them.
 
Moving to Mexico?  If so, check out Best Mexico Movers.
Centeya of Radisson Blu Ajijic – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Guests enjoying the weather  in the spa area of the Radisson Blu Ajijic Resort & Residences , Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best thing about living or retiring in Chapala and Ajijic is the weather. Anywhere you are that has good weather, you’re going to be a happy person.
 
The second best thing about living or retiring in Chapala and Ajijic is the people. Almost everyone is very friendly, always smiles, is willing to help you, and isn’t afraid to acknowledge someone walking down the street.  I’m a very friendly and open person, and I honestly had quite a tough time making friends in the United States probably because I lived in areas where people are more afraid of opening up to transients. That is why living in a place like Lake Chapala where you can make friends on a daily basis is so great. It makes it very comfortable to have that warmth of people.
 
Finally, one of the best things about living or retiring in Chapala and Ajijic is the food. You’ve got to love Mexican food.
Some of the worst things about living or retiring in Chapala and Ajijic include governmental things like waiting in line for certain things that you can get quickly done online in the United States, such as getting a visa. In Mexico, you really tend to wait a little longer in line, but if you’re patient enough, you’ll be fine. One of the ways around this is just have to be organized and take everything that you need. That way you’re not going back and forth.
 
Also one of the worst things about living or retiring in Chapala and Ajijic is setting up a telephone line or the electricity. One of the factors that makes this difficult is the language barrier. The good thing is we’re getting much better at that. A lot of the locals are now being more trained in English and that makes it less of a problem.
 
(Guests enjoying the weather  in the spa area of the Radisson Blu Ajijic Resort & Residences, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Joan Silver – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Terrace overlooking the pool, town and lake, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne of the best things about living and retiring in Chapala and Ajijic is the climate. What I enjoy most is having my windows open pretty much all year whereas in Ottawa we would have the windows closed up. We would always play a lot of music in Ottawa but here in Chapala and Ajijic, the sound of the birds is our music. We have skylights to get more natural light in the house so we don't need to use electric lights during the daytime. I love the fact that my terrace seems like an extension of my living room and I get to spend most of my time outdoors rather than indoors. When I go back to Ottawa, I feel almost claustrophobic because everything is a little bit dark and closed up to keep either the air conditioning lower in the summer or furnace lower in the winter time. I don't have the fresh air in Ottawa like I do in Chapala and Ajijic.
 
Another best thing about living and retiring in Chapala and Ajijic are the people. I have made friends here in Chapala and Ajijic that will last me a lifetime. In Ottawa I went to work and barely knew my next-door neighbors, whereas in Chapala and Ajijic I really have time to foster relationships. The expats that come to Chapala and Ajijic have been to different parts of the world and are better educated so we have a wealth of interesting people to associate with. When you go out to dinner, you never know who you're sitting next to. People from all walks of life have discovered Chapala and Ajijic, which has enriched our lives tremendously. Back in Ottawa, we would be limited to visiting friends from work, church or university. People who are fearful of living in Mexico, like being suspicious of everything and everyone, don't stay very long. If my husband goes first, I have absolutely no urge to go back to Canada. Chapala and Ajijic is home for me and I know that I will be okay here. There are people who really look out after each other.
 
The slow Internet speed would be one of the worst things about living and retiring in Chapala and Ajijic. The Internet connection is sporadic making it unreliable and it drives me crazy. Also, Mexicans do not have the same work ethic like we have in Canada. I'll get up in the morning and make a list of 20 things I want to get accomplished for the day but I can’t get them done because for example this place didn't open at 9:00 AM, or that place is closed and the other place doesn't have what they say they have. You just have to slow down and just be happy with getting 3 or 4 things accomplished in a day.  Then it’s time to chill and have a margarita.
 
(Terrace overlooking the pool and lake, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Alicia Gomez of Collins Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Alicia Gomez at a local and foriegner mixer, Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingSome of the best things about living and retiring in Chapala and Ajijic is the environment, the weather, the warmth of the people around here, the exchange rate (for US expats), and you could have a house here that you won’t have in the States for the same price. Also, healthcare is cheap compared to the US.
 
The worst thing is for people who do not feel secure and worry that if they sell their house in the US, they won’t find what they need in Mexico. They come to Mexico and worry about different things. They have to know that the security here is the same as everywhere. These people need to read and find out how other expats have lived here and how it was nice for them.
 
(Alicia Gomez at a mixer for locals and foreigners, Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)  
Mirna Segura of Ajijic Rentals – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Children marching in a 16th of September parade, Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne of the best things about living in Chapala and Ajijic is the weather. We never experience extreme weather here. It is never very hot or very cold; it’s always somewhere in the middle.
 
Another nice thing about living here is that the people in Ajijic are very warm and most expats notice that. If you were an expat in Ajijic, you wouldn’t feel like you are treated differently. People see you as nobody different so they treat you the same way as they treat everybody else. 
 
The prices of things here in Ajijic are good. We also have lots of restaurants and people like that. One of the best things that people like about Chapala and Ajijic is that we are near Guadalajara, which is the second largest city in the country of Mexico. We are also near the airport, so if you are an expat and you have an emergency and you really need to fly, it is very easy to do it here. 
 
One of the worst things about living in Ajijic is that it is a party place, so it is noisy. Mexicans like to party and sometimes people get annoyed by that. But usually the people who do not like party noises would not tell you about it. What they do is to leave and go to the ocean about a week before the partying starts. The parties usually start around Thanksgiving in November. If you do not like a lot of noise, do not come to Ajijic during Thanksgiving.
 
If you come to live in Ajijic or anywhere in Mexico, in general, you have to understand that it will not be like the States. There are some people who come to live here but expect their life to be like they are in the States but it doesn’t work like that.
 
As an example, if you have a problem with your phone connection and you call to get it fixed, it doesn’t get fixed right away like in the US. Sometimes people call me saying they have a problem with electricity so I help them file a report. They want to know the exact time and day when it will be fixed but you cannot give that guarantee here. Sometimes people say that they will come mañana, which literally translates to “tomorrow” but they won’t come tomorrow and that upsets some people.  
 
(Mirna Segura's son marching in a 16 de Septiembre [16th September] parade, Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
Luzma Grande of Ajijic Concierge Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Reeds and birds on shoreline of Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best thing about living in Chapala and Ajijic is that you can do simple things and be happy. As an example, if you like kayaking, you could join the kayaking club here and they are very friendly even to non-professional kayakers. You could go out and kayak with your friends.
 
Also, a lot of people come to Chapala and Ajijic because of the low cost of living. The weather is another reason why a lot of people like Ajijic. Those two things are usually the reasons why people like living here. It’s either they are after the low cost of living or the good weather. There is a lot of good places to eat and drink in Chapala and Ajijic. There are not a lot places where you could go out and dance but we used to have much more of those.
 
The worst thing about living here for me, is just being far away from my family. If I were closer to my family then I would be happier but Ajijic is where I can work so that is why I am here. I like the ambiance here as well.
 
(Unspoiled shoreline of Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Thomas Hellyer of Lake Chapala Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Thomas Hellyer and family enjoying life in Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe first best thing about living and retiring in Chapala and Ajijic is that you have a year round climate that allows you to make plans to do whatever you want everyday without taking the weather into account. We have seasons, but they are not extreme. The weather does not affect our social activities.
 
The second best thing about living in Chapala and Ajijic is the low cost of living. You could live really well or even better here than you might be able to in the US for less. 
 
Third would be the cultural aspect; the fact that Mexico has such a strong culture and tradition. We have really nice cultural activities, music, and food. We have the tequila, the horse culture, and a strong emphasis on family and family unity. Mexicans do a lot of their activities together as a family. We are also open and warm to strangers, so for those foreigners who live and retire here, if they choose to dive into the culture, it becomes a huge, enriching experience.
 
Some expats tend to stick with their kind and don’t get involved as much and they still live quite well here. However, those expats who actively seek to learn more and be a part of the Mexican culture tend to have an amazing and rich experience. I find that as one of the best things about living here. I chose to dive in, I speak Spanish, I participate in the activities and that has become a huge part of my life. Being close to a big city (Guadalajara; about an hour or less away) but not living in a big city is one of the great things about living here in Chapala and Ajijic. We don’t lack for anything. Not only do we have a lot of shops and stores and services here in Chapala but anything that we do not have here, is available very close by. We have an international airport about half an hour away by car and that has hundreds of flights a day, coming and going to most parts of the world.
 
The downsides about living here is that Mexico is a developing country and so we do not have all of the infrastructure or street maintenance. Some areas do not have sewers; they have septic tanks. Everything may not be up to the same standards as we have back home in the US. The Mexican government is underfunded and they are slow in responding to things such as potholes on the streets or leaking water pipes. There is some corruption at the government level, which can sometimes impede the progress of the country as a whole. It can make some things annoying. It’s not a big part of a foreigner’s life but it can affect the way the government runs some things. 
 
There is a lot of poverty here, which can weigh down on you sometimes. You cannot help everybody, you cannot change everything, and you cannot give everybody a great education and a great job. That is difficult for some people to see.
 
The concept of mañana exists here, which results in things not happening in a timely manner or in a punctual manner, which can be difficult for those of us who grew up in the US or Canada where being on time is a big deal. In North America, when someone says they are going to be there at 10 o’clock on Tuesday, they are going to be there at 10 o’clock on Tuesday. Here in Mexico, they could arrive at 2 o’clock, next Tuesday. That doesn’t work for everybody. Not all people adapt to not having a government that is willing and able to immediately improve or fix things. Some people cannot adapt that sometimes they cannot depend on someone to show up exactly at the time they said they were going to or finish something at the time they said they were going to. These types of things are probably going to be the deal breakers when you decide to live here in Mexico for the long term.  
 
(Thomas Hellyer and family enjoying life in Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)

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