12 Things You Wish You Knew Before Moving To Lake Chapala
Updated: Sep 29
Once in a while there is a post on Facebook that really hits to the core of the matter and is helpful for people considering retirement in Lake Chapala. Recently there was just such a post and I was interested to find out the answers. The question was:
For those of you who live in the area FULL TIME, how would you finish this sentence:
"I wish I would have known more about __________ before making my move".
Love it! You might be surprised by the answers!
If you want to read the full thread with 188 responses (at time of writing) you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/112561076007959/permalink/807219436542116
or continue reading below for a synopsis of the answers.
The No. 1 response was SPANISH.
It seems that even though people knew they were moving to a Spanish speaking country, they were still surprised at how much Spanish they needed to know in order to live in Lake Chapala. Yes, you can live just fine in Ajijic without knowing any Spanish at all but your world becomes very small. As soon as you venture out of the village the need for Spanish becomes a priority. So I'm telling you now, the more Spanish you can learn the better the life you will lead here. Get started.
The number 2 response was HEALTH INSURANCE.
This is something that should have been researched ahead of time. I can't even imagine moving to another country and not looking into this before making the move. So when you come for a visit, take the time to visit some insurance brokers, sit down with them and get some quotes. Also mentioned was MEDICAL which ties into this. This is basic 101 retirement preparation planning!
Note: As part of our Retirement Seminar we take people to see a doctor to discuss hospitals and Mexican government heath care plans. We also arrange for a visit with a insurance specialist to get quotes on health insurance for your specific needs.
The number 3 response was CULTURE.
There seems to be people moving down here that are having troubles adapting to the culture of Mexico. This is not uncommon and there is really no way to prepare yourself for the culture shock that might come other than living here. Things mentioned were: the difference between men & women in Mexican culture, dressing, the hidden meanings behind Mexicans not saying “no”, and more. Keeping an open mind, having patience, being kind to yourself and others, embracing the adventure, all these things can help you adjust but ultimately you either do or you don't.
The number 4 response was NOISE.
Obviously many of these people have not spent enough time here beforehand to figure this out. Mexico is noisy! How bad is it? Read my blog on “How Bad is the Noise in Lake Chapala” and watch the video at the end. People who answered spoke of cohetes (the super loud fireworks that are set off regularly), barking dogs and noisy neighbors (this is often parties and/or eventos). This is Mexico and all I can tell you is that you will get used to it so don't fret.
The number 5 response was CAR NATIONALIZATION.
I was a bit surprised to see this one rank so high up. Again, people didn't do their homework. I'll tell you now that it is best to sell your car at home and buy here. The car nationalization process is fraught with danger and if you don't pick the right person to do it for you then you might not have it done legally and you won't find out until you want to sell. It's not particularly cheap either costing upwards of $4000. So do yourself a favor and say “goodbye” to your car.
The number 6 response was PATIENCE.
It's widely known that Mexico runs on it's own time. There is a certain rhythm to life here and no matter what activity you engage in you are going to need patience. For many of us who have lived north of the border in the rat race, this can be difficult to adjust to. You need to remind yourself that you are retired and that it's time to take life a little easier and a little slower.
This ties in with another mention about NOT WORRYING. It simply doesn't pay to get too uptight and worry about things. All will get resolved in it's own time OR it wasn't worth worrying about in the first place.
Other things that were mentioned were:
RE-MODELING VS. BUILDING
DRIVING IN MEXICO
Let's briefly look at each of these in turn.
MYSELF – This relates to #3 & #6, culture shock, patience, worrying and being able to adapt to life in Mexico.
RE-MODELING VS. BUILDING - I'll tell you right off, don't even consider building. It's so fraught with danger and is such an open check book that you just don't even want to go there. Is re-modeling any better? Well, not really, but at least it's controlled to just the re-model and your downside is limited.
DRIVING IN MEXICO – It's tough here. We're used to everything so controlled up north but here it's more of a free for all. It takes practice but you'll get used to it.
INTERNET – I was surprised by this one too. It has long been known that the internet has not very good in Lake Chapala but there have been tremendous improvements in the past 3 years and there is fiber optic almost everywhere now along with several providers to choose from. My advice is to get the best you can afford by one provider and also sign up to another provider as a backup.
WEATHER – The weather is fabulous here but some thought it can be too cold in the winter (or too hot in May). Well, nothing is perfect but this is as close to a year around perfect temperature as you can get. For the rest there are fireplaces and space heaters, fans and A/C but I doubt you'll need either for more than a couple weeks. You can read more about it in my blog "Ajijic Weather: The Best In The World?"
DENGUE FEVER – This is a real concern and we have flareups of dengue every few years. Protect yourself during the rainy season if mosquitoes like you and otherwise....like I said, no place is perfect but this shouldn't be a deal breaker for retirement in Lake Chapala.
It's my firm belief that you can learn a lot about a place by tapping into the lives of those who have gone before you and this article does just that. It's not the intent to scare off anyone contemplating a move to Lake Chapala but rather to inform and bring awareness to the things that you should know about so that you can make the most informed decision as possible.
Content creation for these blogs (I have over 100 on our website) and for our YouTube Channel takes a lot of work and we work equally hard for you when it comes time to help you find a home. We also offer a week long Retirement Seminar. !! Check it out!
Well, there you have it. I loved writing this blog and invite you to contact me with your questions about retirement Lakeside. We're always here for you!