Brits are flocking overseas and heading to the heat and low costs living that Mexico has to offer. Tucked away on the shore of Mexico’s largest lake is a haven for retirees wanting to enjoy both benefits.
The towns and villages enveloping Lake Chapala are home to 40,000 expats and the area is just 40 minutes from Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city.
National Geographic ranks Mexico’s climate as second best in the world, with temperatures in the hottest month of May regularly touching 30°C and above. Expats also revel in incredibly warm winters, with temperatures averaging 24°C.
Lake Chapala sits approximately 5,200 feet above sea level so there is virtually no humidity and the mountainous regions surrounding the paradise protects the area from prevailing northerly wind.
The villages and towns surrounding Lake Chapala are traditional and rustic, reminding many expat retirees of Greece in the Eighties or the Algarve in Portugal before the golf courses took over.
British expat retirees Jean and Robert Morris discovered Lake Chapala on the internet seven years ago and left their home of Milton Keynes to live the dream abroad. “We came here for four weeks in January 2009 and decided to retire here,” states 65-year-old Mrs Morris who is a former nurse.
The couple comment that the area is an incredibly friendly, sociable and welcoming place that gives them scope to be out and active everyday if they desire it. Mr and Mrs Robert rent a house in Ajijic, having been depressed by the property market in Milton Keynes and not being able to buy locally. They are both enjoying learning Spanish and comment that the Mexican people are full of zest for life and very approachable.
Like many expats, the couple miss friends, family and curry! However, Mrs Morris, who returns to Britain twice a year, comments: “We can live very comfortably here without counting the pennies.”
The majority of expat retirees are spread along Lakeside, as it is colloquially known, from Chapala in the east to Jocotopec in the west with the village of Ajijic in the middle acting as a centre for the expat community. The large expat community in the village is home to the Lake Chapala Society, which is an epicentre for information, clubs and community charity work.
There is a vast choice of Lakeside properties available to buy and, depending on size and budget, a home can be purchased for £105,000 – £175,000.
For those seeking a less cemented residency, a one-bedroom apartment can cost around £300 per calendar month, with a 2 or 3-bedroom house roughly in the region of £350 – £625 pcm.
Cost of Living
Many expats estimate they live on approximately £700-£1400 per month, with Mr and Mrs Morris stating they spend roughly £1500 per month, including rent. And, with the Mexican peso having fallen against the pound in the last couple of years, it is even cheaper.
Although Mexico is infamous for drug cartels in the major towns, Lakeside is just tarnished with a smattering of petty thefts and burglaries. The majority of properties have high walls, solid gates and bars on the windows, but expats state if is not a concern of theirs.
For expats wishing to drive in the country, it is not advised. The main roads are riddled with potholes and high streets have overly large speed bumps at regular intervals which can damage some vehicles. Furthermore, outside of the major towns the roads are cobbled, rutted and the pavements are similar death-traps.