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Chuck Bolotin of Best Mexico Movers – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Typical expats in AjijicQuite a bit of how people answer the question about what the expats are like in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area has to do with their view of other human beings in general.  The best answer I’ve heard to th is question came from an expat in this exchange:
 
"How are the expats in the Lake Chapala / Ajjic area?"
 
“How are the people where you live?”
 
(Whatever the answer; it doesn’t matter.)
 
“That’s exactly how the expats will be here.”
 
That said, we can make some generalizations about the expats in the Lake Chapala and Ajijic area.
 
The first is that, all of them chose to live here, which makes them more adventurous and perhaps even a bit braver than people who never live abroad.  Given this perspective on life, they will tend to have more unusual experiences such as traveling more extensively and perhaps living in several different places, which will tend to make them more interesting.  In a typical day last week, I spoke with a famous and retired Ford model, the first Playboy Playmate in Europe, and a member of the Czech Olympic water polo team.
 
I would suspect that about 40% of the expats in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area are Americans, about 40% are Canadians, and the rest are from other places, with a fairly surprising (at least to me) large percentage from central Europe (Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, etc.)
 
Politically, they are quite diverse, although judging from the most outspoken of expats, you would think that the expats here were all Trump-hating Liberals.  This is not the case.  My suspicion is that the political views here are about evenly matched with those in the US or Canada, with perhaps a slight tilt to the left.
 
I have found zero evidence in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area of the Ugly American; a brutish, loud, self-centered lout.  The reality is quite the opposite.  The vast, vast majority of Americans and all the other expats here here are exceptionally fine people, respectful of the local culture, reserved, generous, thoughtful, and caring.  There are countless charities and volunteer activities.  Also, Mexicans providing services to expats (house keepers, gardeners, restaurant workers, manicurists, etc.) will tell you that they love their gringo clients and, as a general rule, prefer them over Mexican clients.
 
As a rule, expats living in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area are much friendlier and accepting than their countrymen living “back home,” and this goes for Americans, Canadians, Europeans, or any others. Perhaps it’s because “we are all new here” or that expats just tend to be more interesting and interested people.  You will tend to find less of the rigid cliques and class divisions here as you would in your home country.
 
Living abroad offers an enhanced opportunity for personal “re-invention” and you will find many expats pursuing life goals, learning experiences or hobbies that they had to put off when they lived in their home country, but can and are pursuing here in the Ajijic area.  Part of the reason is that it costs less to live here, and the expats can easily afford household and gardening help, which frees up their time, energy and attitude for more interesting pursuits.  Another reason is that many are retired, either because they can now afford to be, or they would have been retired in any circumstance.  This free time affords the expats to be friendlier and engage in more and deeper interpersonal relationships than otherwise, which many, many do.  You will see expats engaging in lots of communal activities, whether it’s hiking, taking ukulele classes, or just enjoying the weather and golfing or playing tennis.
 
Expats tend to really enjoy their lives here, which makes them easy, fun, and interesting to be around.
 
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Roberto Millan of Roberto Millan Design and Construction – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Jet Metier of Best Places in the World to Retire with fried grasshopper vendor, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe expats in Chapala and Ajijic, from my perspective as a Mexican, generally are good people, very friendly, and mostly help the local people. 
 
However, we have different kinds of people. I know some foreigners who are not very good with workers and look down on them, speak loud, and have bad manners; but this doesn't happen often. It's a big community. There are some good and bad people, but expats are mostly good and the locals like them. The local people are very helpful to expats.
 
(Jet Metier of Best Places in the World to Retire with fried grasshopper vendor, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Andrew McFarlane of Muebles NOMAD (Nomad Furniture) – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Nomad Muebles client at Christmas time, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are all sorts of expats from all over the world who come to live here in Chapala and Ajijic. Many are European and North American from a huge variety of social and economic backgrounds. A friend of ours, who is a retired teacher from Florida, used to live here 10 to 15 years ago. She just made it back here to retire again and she is very happy. 
 
Some expats tend not to interact much with the local lakeside community.  Other expats are very engaged with the Mexican community and that’s a really positive thing.  You can however, and many expats do, live here with no ability to speak Spanish. Many of the Mexican population here are bi-lingual and fluent in English which makes life much easier for those visitors who have no Spanish language skills.  
 
It’s tough to make a generalization because the expat population is very varied. There are some great characters to be found.  We did have a wonderful retired lawyer who used to ride in a cart pulled by a donkey to the pub. Not just any donkey, an albino donkey with a hat full of flowers. He wore a cap with a feather in his hat and an Indian vest and made everyone he passed, smile. A local character indeed.
 
You never know who you are going to meet in Chapala and Ajijic. There's no way to generalize on expats. 
 
(Nomad Muebles client at Christmas time, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Gabriel Varela, MD of Gabriel Varela - Neurosurgeon – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Expats giving testimony for Dr. Gabriel Varela – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI believe the expats in Chapala and Ajijic are happy here. 
 
They tell me that the place here is beautiful; it’s like paradise. The weather they say it’s the best in the world or the second best in the world. The cost of life is lower than in their countries, and Mexican people are very friendly.
 
They have everything very close to their houses, but if they want to be in a modern city, Guadalajara is very close and it has everything for enjoyment. We are also very close to the beach. Puerto Vallarta and Barra de Navidad (close to Manzanillo) are two and a half hour away.
 
The expats here have many, many things. On weekends they can go for an hour and a half and be in the mountains like Mazamitla or Tapalpa. The expats here have many, many different things to do and places to go.
 
(Expats giving testimony for Dr. Gabriel Varela, pictured.)
David Truly of Dr. David Truly Ph. D. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Expats exercizing around Ajijijc, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI have written a dissertation on this topic, so I can summarize that the expats in Chapala and Ajijic are a very diverse group. The ones who stay the longest here are well-travelled, well-educated and open-minded folks.
 
We have people who come down from places like Toronto and decide to move here who might acclimate well or they might leave within 2 years. We have a lot of part timers who come down here for 4 to 6 months a year. Many of the expats who come here are teachers/educators, self-starters, and independent types of people or people who have traveled a lot.
 
For some expats, it is still a challenge because living in the Chapala / Ajijic area is still living in a different culture and even though the menus are in English and most of the Mexicans (not all) can understand and speak English, the people who come down here have to be relatively adventurous, open-minded, and ready to adapt to a new culture. The ones who stay here tend to leave their prejudices at the border. Those expats are the ones that I see do the best around here over time.  
 
(Expats exercising in Ajijic, Mexico.)
 
 
Chris Gruenwald of Biencom Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Expat Chris Gruenwald and his young daughter,  Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe expat community in Chapala and Ajijic is an older crowd and generally of retirement age. If you are 50 years old and you are in Chapala or Ajijic, you are young.
 
The expats here are predominantly from the US, followed by people from Canada and then from Germany and Britain. Usually they are retired and living on a budget although that varies as well. They come from all areas and all sorts of economic backgrounds. 
 
If you are on a limited budget, Chapala and Ajijic is an awesome area in which to retire because your quality of life here goes up significantly compared to how you are living up north. That is a definite plus for people on a limited budget.
 
If you are not a limited budget, you could be here in the summer because it doesn’t get too hot and you could be at the beach in the winter. People who have unlimited or less limited resources buy two or three houses and travel around Mexico and choose their location based on the climate.
 
(Young family man and expat, Chris Gruenwald Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
Michael Kavanaugh of Continental Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mexican Cesar Balsa with Walk Disney in Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMost people who are willing to pick up stakes and move to a foreign country are people that you probably want to know because if you moved here, you’re one of those people; you’ve pulled up stakes and moved to a foreign country. These types of people are usually outgoing and friendly and interesting and those who aren’t usually don’t stay because they don’t fit in.
 
The reasons that people move away from the Chapala – Ajijic area are age, health, problems with children, and problems with grandchildren, and they feel they need to go home and deal with that situation. That’s why people leave. Or they just fit in socially.
 
(Mexican Cesar Balsa with Walt Disney in Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
Luzma Grande of Ajijic Concierge Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The malecon in Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYou will find different kinds of expats in Chapala and Ajijic. There are expats who came here because of the cheaper cost of living. There are expats who came here to learn more about Mexico, to learn Spanish, and to experience living the Mexican way. There are expats who came here for the nice weather.
 
And there are expats who are very happy to be here because they have friends here. There are people who never had so many friends in their life as much as the friends that they have now in Ajijic because now they don’t live in a rat race. They don’t have to wake up early, go to work, come home, and repeat the same thing the next day. They now have time to meet people so they make friends.  Plus, they have the time and the money to do it.  
 
(The malecon, the boardwalk in Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Thomas Hellyer of Lake Chapala Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Thomas Hellyer running into friends in and around Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe have all types of expats in Chapala and Ajijic. The expats here are a mix of younger, older, very young, very elderly, and they come from all over the world. There is a good representation of Europeans here. Certainly there are Canadians and Americans, too.  We have all types of religions, all types of persuasions covered here as well. 
 
At the end of the day, the expats in Chapala and Ajijic are a pretty interesting group of people. They are fairly well educated. They are a group of people that have traveled a lot and we all have things in common. We are from different areas and we have different outlooks in life, but we all left our comfort zone and our home country and in many cases, left our families and our lifetime friends in order to come down here. The expats in Chapala and Ajijic have a bond. We help each other out. We become each other’s family when we are sick or have a need of some kind or if we want to celebrate a holiday or a birthday. That makes for a fun and interesting lifestyle for the expats. 
 
The expats in Chapala and Ajijic are very social and there are a lot of A-type personalities so that people like me, who were introverts back home, become extroverts here because of our lifestyle and the fun people around us. Part of that are the Mexicans who always want to find a reason to celebrate, which kind or rubs off on the boring, old gringos.
 
(Thomas Hellyer running into friends in and around Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)

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