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  • Writer's picture Michaela & Ricardo

The 10 Most Important Factors For Buying Your Dream Home In Lake Chapala

Are you considering moving to Lake Chapala? You've worked hard your whole life to accumulate the capital you need to retire in style and now is the time to enjoy, relax and live your best life in Lake Chapala. Whether you prefer tower living, a gated community, the village life, or a countryside setting, Lake Chapala has a multitude of housing options and locations to fit your desires.

However, searching for your dream home comes with different considerations than you may have had in the past. With children out of the house and proximity to work a non-issue, you finally have the opportunity to search for a home that encompasses all that you love and desire. Hoping to have a beautiful garden? The climate in Lake Chapala is the perfect location! Everything grows here! Maybe you desire to live on or near a golf course or possibly you never want to mow the lawn again and are looking for a low maintenance home? This is the time to seek what your heart desires so don't be afraid to be picky and hold out until you find a home that feels just right for you.

How can you tell that you’ve found your perfect place? Most of our clients say it just feels right. You’ll simply just know! However, it's important to be prepared with a weighted list of what you feel is most important to you before we start looking at homes together.

10 Factors To Consider When Buying Your Dream Home

1. The Basics

Time to start making your wish list. Write down everything you want in a home and then isolate the top 3-5 things that you really MUST have. Consider too, if you will be having pets with you either now or in the future. Do you need or want a yard? How large? Is view important to you? If so, how much of one? Do you want a pool? Private or community? How many bedrooms/bathrooms? Workshop or art studio? Do you like modern, contemporary or Mexican style? Bovedas or two story ceilings? A Mirador or only a terrace? Once you start looking at homes you can isolate these ideas further.

2. The Community

Give serious consideration to location. There are many communities and areas that make up Lake Chapala and we can view them all depending upon your needs.

What activities will you be engaged in when you retire in Lake Chapala? For example, it doesn't make much sense to purchase out in Vista del Lago if you don't golf and you want to attend the Lake Chapala Society several times a week. It's a 40 minute drive!

So in addition to making a dream wish list for your house, start making a list of how you see yourself spending your days at Lakeside. What do you love to do on a daily basis? This is really important.

Once you start zeroing in on an area, take the time before making a purchase to visit local restaurants, grocery stores and services. This will help you determine if the services you want are conveniently situated near your potential dream home.

3. The Size Of Lot

Another important aspect to consider is the size of the lot. Many people during Covid who were already living here, sold their properties and upgraded to a larger lot and/or view lot. After they were forced to stay home for 6 months, many realized that the lot or view that they had were not what they could tolerate for months at a time.

Also consider the lot’s location in respect to it's orientation, the condition of the streets, how you navigate to it, and the surrounding properties. This is not the time to compromise!

4. The Age Of The Home?

Are newer homes better than old? Or vise versa? Well, there is really no easy answer to that. Both older homes and brand new homes can have their issues. A good real estate agent can help you in determining what to look for in either case.

While old homes were generally way better built from the foundation level and up, they can often suffer from old plumbing, faulty or inadequate electrical, or even structural issues. Whereas new homes can be sloppily and cheaply built with cheap fixtures and poor or even non-existent foundation. Remember, there are no building codes or home inspections that they must pass in the building stage.

5. The Style?

As mentioned in parts throughout this article, the options are nearly endless as each home is custom built. Think about what fits your style. Apartment? Town home? Gated community with attached or detached home? Gated with guards? Gated no guards? Gated with community facilities? Gated with no facilities? Modern? Mexican? Contemporary? There is absolutely everything here and it's great advice to start making a list of the features you love as we start touring homes for sale and equally important to recognize the features you don't like as well!!

6. The Size Of Your Home

Speaking from personal experience, determining the right size of home is more difficult than one would think. We ended up building a home far too big, and conversely, looking at the people moving during Covid, many of them purchase homes far too small. To find that right balance can be challenging. While we all hope that there will never be a repeat of 2020, one never knows, so it's important to find a home comfortable enough for when you are both active and spend outside the home, and together (possibly for days or weeks!) inside the home. Does the home offer areas where you both can be apart to enjoy your separate activities? Does it offer areas for entertaining? You'll find you will make more friends in Lake Chapala in a month than you probably ever had in your whole life!

Think about the space you currently live in? How did it feel during Covid? Since you both retired? When you have parties? Remember that everything under a permanent roof (including the pool) is counted as square footage in Mexico! So the garage, all terraces, mirador covers, and all overhanging eves are counted as part of the total square footage. If you currently own a 1800 sq ft home and think you want the same size, you'll need to be looking for a home that's at least 2500 sq ft in Lake Chapala!

Also give consideration to things that you might get here that you didn't have back home? Perhaps an Ebike, golf cart or moped? Where can you securely store it? Leave room to take up old or new hobbies and areas for quiet contemplation. These are the years where you're going to have lots of time.

7. The Layout

Virtually all the homes in Lake Chapala are custom designed. A common Mexican trait is for homes to be chopped up in many small rooms but there are also lots of open floor plans in more recently built homes. Adding on to homes is a popular past time and many homes can end up with bizarre configurations.

Depending on the number of bedrooms in a home, a similar sized 2500 sq ft home can have a huge inviting living area or a small living area that can barely handle 4 people.

I also strongly recommend that unless you love dust, to choose a home that requires the least amount of renovations. If the home your considering involves bashing out walls to make it to your liking then I would suggest it's not the home for you.

So make your focus to find a layout that is as close to perfect for you as possible. Think about how you go about your day? Where will you be spending most of your time? Where will your significant other be? What activities will you do in the home on a daily basis? Where are the bedrooms located? Laundry? What does the living space feel like? How is it in relation to the kitchen? What's the kitchen like? Where will you be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do you need a dedicated TV room? Do you and your spouse enjoy the same shows or do you require 2 separate locations? Lots to think about.

8. Future Additions?

While I don't recommend major construction, it's a fact that many home owners will continue to customize their home as their lives evolve. Bedrooms are often required on the main floor as one or both parties cannot navigate stairs, terraces are often enlarged or closed in, even hot tubs are added to soak those aching bones.

So give consideration to future projects or needs as you get older.

9. The Carrying Cost

As we are all aware, the cost of owning a home does not stop after you sign the closing contract. Taxes, utilities, and HOA fees add to your monthly cost of owning a home in Lake Chapala. While costs are very low compared to the U.S and Canada it is still something to consider now that you are retired and living on a budget.

Taxes are between $200-500 per year; utilities vary depending on use and if there are solar panels; and HOA fees vary widely depending on amenities and location. When getting serious about a home purchase, that's the time to dig deeper and get the facts from your agent as to all the fees associated with living on the property.

Note: Keep in mind that everything goes up in this world so keep the existing costs comfortably within your budget to prepare yourself for future increases and the unexpected.

10. The Compromises

There is NO perfect property!!! You will be forced to compromise! Remember that weighted list I proposed you write? Also give consideration as to what compromises you will make. What features that you dislike are you willing to live with? Things that simply cannot be changed? Remember, this is YOUR DREAM home but it can't be 100% perfect. Nothing in life is.

Wrap Up

Doing all the above exercises with not only help you find a home faster but will help in getting to know yourself better. We've shown hundreds of homes to prospective clients and we encourage them to seek a home that is at least 80% of what they desire. If you can find 80%, you'll be very happy. Then, of course, we've had many clients that have purchased homes with literally none of the weighted features that they wrote on their list. When questioned, they simply reply "It just feels right."

Contact us and tell us about your DREAM HOME. We're here to help.

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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