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  • Scott Woodard

Considering The Expat Life In Lake Chapala

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Living here is an experiential process, not a logical one.” ~ Marc Miller

My wife, Camille, and I are wrapping up our initial reconnaissance trip to Ajijic, preparing to move here permanently after the first of the year. We’ll have been here for two weeks when we catch our flight back to the U.S.

The first week was spent under the guidance of Ricardo, as he took us through his Retire in Lake Chapala Seminar.

Pro Tip: Take, his seminar! You can’t do this on your own.

Ricardo has been invaluable in leading us through the vagaries of preparing for the expat life in Lake Chapala. He personalized the seminar to our needs, which to our surprise changed a bit as we accumulated and processed new information.

Ricardo set up meetings that covered such vital issues as rental opportunities, health care and insurance, automobile ownership, immigration and visa issues, moving household goods from the U.S., banking and transferring funds from the U.S. to Mexico, the benefits of the Lake Chapala Society, the joys of the Tuesday organic market and the Wednesday Farmers Market.

Camille and I (mostly Camille) had done a lot of research on Lake Chapala and Ajijic prior to our trip. We thought we had some clear ideas of what we wanted: We’d rent for a year before buying; we wanted a two-plus bedroom home with traditional Mexican décor; we didn’t want a gated community; we thought that we wouldn’t want to live in Ajijic -- we didn’t want to live in an area with too many expats -- we wanted to experience the local culture.

Here’s what happened:

  • Within the first two days, we fell in love with Ajijic and decided that’s where we wanted to live.

  • We realized that our timing was off -- we were here in October and most of the long-term rentals were off the market. What if we couldn’t find what we were looking for? Would we settle for a short-term rental, then move again after the busy tourist season?

  • We met some terrific expats who gave us a LOT of advice and insight. We visited with them in their homes and heard their experiences of living in their local neighborhoods.

During our second week, we tried to set up appointments with rental agencies to view properties of interest. It took a LONG time to get return calls, some didn’t call back at all. We were getting a bit anxious that we’d leave Ajijic without accomplishing our major goal -- having a place lined up to live when we returned in January.

Then a pivotal event occurred. A Facebook friend -- an acquaintance really -- who lived in Ajijic reached out. Marc and his wife had just purchased a home in town and needed to break their rental lease where they had lived for the past few years.

Hmm, the timing might just work. We met with Marc and Lotus and toured their house. It checked all our boxes! Marc put in motion the necessary communications between his realtor and his landlord. The upshot was that we’re taking over his lease in January. So, in effect: Mission Accomplished!

We still have a lot of “homework” when we return to the U.S., but we have a clear path forward and a place to land when we return.

Thank you Scott for a well written blog article. For more information on our Personalized Retirement Seminars please contact us.

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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