Michaela & Ricardo: Retire In Lake Chapala Team
Updated: Aug 20
Hi. This is Michaela. So many people told me I was crazy! That it took guts to move to Mexico. Well... yes and no. Mexico is not a third world country as many people think and living here is not much different than in the U.S. or Canada. Furthermore, moving to Lake Chapala in particular couldn't be easier due to it's helpful and long standing expat population. So why did I do it? What motivated my partner Ricardo to do it? Can you do it? Find out as you explore our histories and see that we are not any different than any of you.
I was born and grew up in a small village in the communist ruled country of Romania. At the age of 19, my boyfriend and I made a break for the border. After two failed attempts we were successful in escaping to former Yugoslavia. After a series of travel adventures we arrived at the refugee camp in Rome where we spent 9 months before we were welcomed to emigrate to Canada in 1983.
I studied computer science in Windsor, University before being accepted into the Transport Canada Training Institute to become an Air Traffic Services Specialist. The study and training were grueling but in 1987 I passed all the exams and worked in Air Traffic Services in London, Ontario for 12 years. The job nearly crippled me with the constant sitting and long shift work.
One day someone mentioned to me about Pilates and how good it was for the body, especially the back. I applied to the Joseph Pilates original school in New York City and was accepted. Over the course of the next year I lived and worked between New York and London and became a Pilates Instructor. Rounding out my training I got certification in Sivananda yoga and practiced every style of yoga I could find in London, Ontario.
I quit air traffic services and opened my own pilates/yoga studio in London to help people overcome physical issues, especially back pain, like I have. Business was good but like any business in Canada, after paying business and personal taxes and expenses, trying to survive in Canada's high cost of living became too much. In addition, I hated the cold/snow of Ontario winters and the pollution, humidity and mosquitoes of summer.
In 2010, I happened to come across a person who told me that Lake Chapala is “the best place in the world to live” so upon further research, found 'Focus on Mexico', an informational tour company helping potential expats get acquainted with Lake Chapala. I was so sure I would love Lake Chapala that I sold my home before even taking the tour! Sure enough I loved my week here and I moved to Mexico alone as a single women. Three years later, I met Ricardo, another potential expat scouting the area and we fell in love. We moved in together and have been living happily ever after!
Lake Chapala is one of the largest expat communities in the world. It was easy to make friends here (even as single woman as there are many). I now have a mix of expat and Mexican friends. With my Latin language base It was easier to learn Spanish but I found that it was not essential to fluently speak Spanish to make Mexican friends. Besides the extensive expat community and the variety of activities that come along with them, there are many other excursions that can be taken from here. Whether it is to the City of Guadalajara and its cultural experiences or the thermal baths, ruins, fishing, shopping, kayaking, hiking, art/craft shows, etc, there are an abundance of activities in the area and something for everyone. Recently my partner Ricardo and I have finished building a home in Lake Chapala and have settled in to stay. Don't think that you can't do it too because you can! Read more below to find out what motivated Ricardo to come to Ajijic.
Hi. This is Ricardo. While Michaela's story in moving to Ajijic is one of progress and personal growth, mine was more like a big right hand turn. Born on a farm just outside Vancouver, Canada I mastered in Business Administration but found out that I did not like management or being an administrator. I did, however, enjoy various other aspects of running a business. I worked many jobs throughout my life which provided me with a well rounded resume.
In 2011 I received the shock of my life when my wife called it quits on our 23 year marriage. Six months later, with the house sold and most of my meager belongings in storage, I strode out for adventure hoping to find a new purpose in my life. My first stop was Barra de Navidad just north of Manzanillo. Always in love with the ocean, I thought that this might be my ideal location. I loved it but it was a little expensive and being that I was there in October, extremely hot and humid. I asked myself, “Could I live in a place like this all year around?”
My next stop was to Ajijic for the month of November and honestly I didn't like it at first. What's to like I thought? Where was the ocean that I loved so much? As I learned later, it wasn't far. Only 3 hours by car to the beaches of Cuyutlan and 3.5 to Manzanillo. I carried on to Guatemala, Nicaragua and then back to Mexico to the Baja Peninsula before finally returning to Canada to regroup and work for the summer as a whale watching captain off of Vancouver Island.
Something about Ajijic kept calling to me though. “What was the attraction for so many expats?” I wondered. I figured I would give it one last try and I would stay for 5 months in order to really see what it was all about. Still lost and in despair, I took yoga classes and continued with my meditation that I had started with after my divorce. I encountered lovely people here in Ajijic. Helpful, sympathetic and kind people from all over the world with interesting and exciting life stories. I joined as many groups as I had time for. Yoga, Pilates, tennis, volleyball, pool volleyball and going to the gym, were my major activities along with lots of walking, running and going out to concerts and dances. I started to meet lots of young people in their 30's and 40's too. Within a couple months Ajijic became an exciting and interesting place to live. It was very soon after that I met Michaela as my Pilates teacher and asked her to go hiking with me. As they say, the rest is history, but there is lots more to Ajijic than Micheala.
After a couple years I studied to become a personal trainer. While not new to exercise and the gym, this was a different field for me. Already I was becoming a different person than the one I was back in Canada. Soon I developed a booming business with 20 personal sessions a week and a solid client base. With Michaela being a real estate agent, it was a natural progression to become one too and to work together as a team. I applied and took the training at Michaela's office Lake Chapala Real Estate and we have been working together ever since.
Ajijic is a town so unique and with so much to offer that you need to at least do yourself the favor of trying it on for size and see if it's a fit for you. There is a tremendous amount of activities and events available for you to do in a very small area. All the modern conveniences are here, yet there is still the ways and livelihoods of authentic Mexico. Being in close proximity to the Guadalajara International Airport is an additional bonus to respond to family emergencies and as a launching point for vacationing throughout the world.
Our stories are ones of success! Despite the concerns expressed by friends, and family, we uprooted ourselves and moved to Mexico. I hope that you will be inspired by our life histories and come to check out Lake Chapala for yourselves and see that your lives can truly be enriched by making such a move. Now, our friends and family want to come down and visit as they are very curious about our lives and many who have said they are jealous of how good we got it.
Does it take guts to move to Mexico? It's a change in life for sure but you don't need guts. Only the willingness to embrace something new. To make it even easier, we're here to help. Contact us and join our Facebook Page. We're always here for you. Thank you for reading and taking an interest in our lives.