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  • Michaela

How To Avoid Expatriate Failure

Updated: Apr 16, 2022

Brightly clolored art shop downtown Ajijic, Mexico

Thinking of expatriating to Lake Chapala? Are you aware of and considered the difficulties you might face on your expatriating journey? Do you have the right stuff?

Changing countries is not for everyone. Leaving behind all your friends, all the things you know, all the conveniences. Can you adapt? Are you up to the challenge?

You will find in Mexico that in order to enjoy yourself, you will have to adapt to the ancient rhythm of living here which you won't be able to change. It is a different wavelength and if you can't adapt or resign yourself to it then you had better not come to Mexico. If you can tolerate it, you will find that everything can be done here and that it is the land of unlimited possibilities. But what you need more than knowledge or energy or money in order to achieve anything is good old fashioned patience.

Following are my 8 Character Traits To Becoming A Happy Expat In Lake Chapala:


Wow! Love you say? Well, yes. It starts with love for the country and love for the people. Mexico and the Lake Chapala area are beautiful but you really need to love it here, including the Mexican people that you will be interacting with on a daily basis. Mexicans are a wonderful, giving, family orientated culture and all it starts with loving who they are and the country they live in.


They say you can attract a lot more bees with honey and so you will be more accepted if you are kind. After all, you are the foreigner in this country. Don't get upset if someone cuts you off in traffic or your dinner order didn't come out exactly they way you wanted it. Be kind and considerate and all will be well.

Keep in mind that there is often the translation factor involved. You only speak English (or perhaps some pigeon Spanish) and they don't speak English well (or are learning) and your requests can often get muddled in translation.

Ajijic street scene with horse tied out in the road


Yes, it is true that the pace of life is slower in Mexico than in the U.S. or Canada. That is something you will need to get used to. Meals are prepared fresh 'when ordered', workers can be late, things are not necessarily resolved right away and lines can be long. Keep moving forward but do it with patience.


Not in the physical sense but strength of will. Dealing with government issues whether it is to do with the car, house or even CFE (electric company) can and will often test your patience. Therefore you need the strength of will to keep going and keep pursuing the matter to a successful conclusion.

Sense of adventure

Hey, this is a foreign country! If you don't have a sense of adventure, then stop reading now and go back to your hum drum lifestyle. Although most of us try to make things just like our lives were before, (it's only natural) it is important to keep that sense of adventure that started you on this journey in the first place

Buying fresh ground coffee right off the truck in Ajijic

Desire to learn

Whether it is a new language, how to use the payment machine at CFE, navigate the immigration process or recharge your cell phone, everything you do here has a learning curve to it, so embrace it and enjoy the experience.

Open mind

Things are different here. Their systems work differently. Simple as that, so keep an open mind as to how they do things. You can suggest all sorts of things but it won't make any difference. Mexico is Mexico and you will not be able to change anything so keep an open mind as to how things are done.


Which brings me to the final requirement. The ability to adapt. This is not your home town/city. This is not the U.S. or Canada. So adapt. Adapt to the fact that the power can go out for no reason at all, that the roof can leak during the rainy season, that paying your photo radar speeding ticket could take 2 trips to Guadalajara, that your CFE bill does not show up and you need to travel to Chapala to pay it, that your favorite restaurant is closed for no particular reason, etc, etc.

Life here is not always easy or predicable but if you face it with a sense of adventure, love, kindness, patience, strength, and an open mind, you'll find yourself living your best life ever!

If you are considering the move to Lake Chapala then take the time to connect with me and ask me your questions. Is retiring to Lake Chapala right for you?

Michaela & Ricardo are your FULL SERVICE Real Estate Agents. Along with our Retirement Seminars, our over 20 years of combined experience Lakeside, and our network of area Professionals, we help guide you to from beginning to forever in your Retirement Journey to Lake Chapala, Mexico.

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