A typical house in Chapala might have five rooms and a little kitchen at the back, and two bathrooms. Those kinds of houses are made for a big Mexican family. They have a maid that does the cooking so they do not care about the view. They say, “Those crazy Americans who want a big house with a bathroom for every bedroom, a great view, and big kitchen better than the restaurants, then they eat out all the time!”
We also have “casitas,” which means “little house.” You can have an eight-bedroom mansion and with it have a casita that is bigger than a three-bedroom house. It’s still called a casita. Sometimes a casita is just one little room that you can use for storage or an art studio. If it has a bathroom then you can have it as a guest bedroom. In Chapala, you can have a typical house of five-bedrooms, a couple of bathrooms, and a long, narrow backyard. When you get into Riberas, you’ll find that the houses are more Canadian or American style where they want a nice front yard but they sit in the backyard. There are walls around them, too. A decent house in Riberas costs US $100,000 to US $150,000.
When you get into Ajijic, you will find tiny houses and tiny lots. You can get a three-story house with two rooms on each floor and a view from the top. They are more expensive because they are in the village. Everybody wants to live in the village where they can walk everywhere. The villages along Lake Chapala are Ajijic, San Antonio, Chapala, Jaltepec, San Juan Cosala, and Jocotepec. Chapala and Jocotepec are the largest two of the villages, with each having around 20,000 to 25,000 people. Ajijic has around 15,000 people. I call them like a string of pearls along the lake. I always say, “Which village do you want to walk to?” Get a little car and drive to whatever village you want or walk around and get your groceries and come home because you can’t live in all the villages.
When you get west you can find bigger parcels of land but we do have a problem because people say they want 4 or 5 acres because they have horses. There are not 4- or 5-acre lots typically because the mountains are around the lake. You get some expanses of land but if you want to have acreage you have to go over the mountains and then they will get bigger pieces of land. Otherwise, if you stay on this side of the mountains, you will pay a fortune for 1 or 2 acres and it’s just not worth it.
(Home with a pool and casita, Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)