This question is often asked by future expats on web boards and social media platforms. Is this something to be concerned about when contemplating a move to Lake Chapala? Well, yes and no. It all depends upon you, where exactly you live and and your willingness to adapt.
Following is a letter I found posted on a social media platform which captures some of the exasperation of one expat living in Mexico:
Hello fellow expats,
Many people move to Mexico and experience the noise ordinance which is completely out of control (at least our experience). My wife (Mexican) and I lived in 3 cities and 4 different residential areas in Mexico and experienced the out-of-control noise issues in each residential areas.
Here is some of the list of our experience:
1. Every weekend there are at least a party or two with loud music until 3 or 4 AM. Those people think they have rights to do so and don't care about their neighbors.
2. Don't live close to a "Casa Club" (if you live in a private residence) where people host parties until 3 or 4 AM. It is a nightmare to live next to or in front of the Casa Club. You won't be able to sleep every weekend.
3. So we complained to HOA. HOA has no power (and don't care about your problem). HOA couldn't do anything legally.
4. Police have the power but wouldn't do anything. We called the local police more than a few times but haven't seen a single patrol car.
5. Renting or buying a home is kind of gamble in Mexico. If you hit the jackpot (loud and disrespectful neighbors), your life will be miserable with fighting noises.
What is your experience about the noise ordinance in Mexico? How do you deal with it?
Here are some of the replies received:
You learn to sleep through it:-)
The quick answer is thermal (double-pane) windows and noisy fans.
We live on a hill which gives us a great view of the city - particularly at night. But - there is a nearby cemetery and there is a custom to fire off cohetes when someone passes. I say cohetes but often they are more like pyrotechnics. The richer the deceased the more rockets - and the louder the music. Trouble is, the rockets explode right at the level of our living room/back yard. It is the first one that is the worst. If I am out working in the garden I just about have a heart attack.
Yes, the noise was horrible - especially if you live anywhere near an Eventos place.
We live in the 'country' and I can't recall the last time I have heard a rooster. We do border on a small farm and from time to time we have had goats or cows or horses come by grazing. There are often dogs barking throughout the night - but I hardly notice.
The loud music is a problem in most Latin American countries. I know it's the same in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
In my opinion it's worse in smaller towns. Many people leave the city on weekends and especially holiday weekends and party. If your living in a sleepy little village near a bigger city it will be especially bad from the influx of city dwellers coming to celebrate.
I had to chuckle at this as it was not our experience. Rarely did our Mexican neighbors bother us with noise. However a US expat had an alarm system the tweeted very loudly every time he went in or out. Recently he bought a generator and runs it electricity on or off. We've gotten into a shouting match over the generator running for hours after the power comes back on as he must not hear it in his house and falls asleep.
The all day long loud tweeting of his alarm is startling. He says he needs it that loud.
He has been in conflict over other issues with our Mexican neighbors over issues too.
So for me the irritating noise is from an expat trying to let everyone know he has lots of valuable stuff and should be stolen from. This has happened three times to him. I don't have an alarm beeping and have never been broken into.
Mexico is a noisy country and not for everyone. It sounds like it is not a good fit for you and your lifestyle. My wife is from Alaska and she says it's much, much quieter than Mexico. Good luck in your search for a quiet place.
Loud music is in many places over the world. Very Common in Asia, lived in Thailand 15 years, same same.
I have lived in 3 houses in Mexico in the last 12 years in upper middle class neighborhoods and have not experienced any noise there. I guess if you choose to live in working class neighborhoods with mixed commercial buildings you can expect a very noisy environment. It might be better to pay more and have a peaceful place to live without all the going ons that disturb your sleep and serenity. At retirement age we need to enjoy every minute and avoid people who do not respect you or others.
I agree fully. Many folks come down here not fully aware of what to look for. I always suggest renting for 1-2+ years and ideally in a few different locations. Vacationing + living day to day are 2 different things. If I had a $1 for every time a person considering the move said, “I want to live among locals” I'd be rich. As everywhere their are levels/neighborhoods to research, ocean, mountains, condo, houses. If it is going to be their forever home do the homework..my 2 cents..IMO, Mexico is retirement heaven..Recently saw new article comparing US cost of living to MX cost of living..Mexico cost of living was less than a third of US.
When these people party - they party LARGE. When we see the tents going up in the backyards - we plan a weekend trip. One year we stayed and I must say the live music was incredible! These people get big name entertainment for their events
I was thinking the same thing. No matter where you live, you need to know your surroundings before you move in. I have a hard time reconciling the negative comments made with where I have visited in Mexico
I have come to accept it as part of the culture and keep ear plugs handy.
Speaking of noise, however, I was surprised nothing was mentioned about church fireworks set off at ungodly (pun intended) hours. We all know you need to get God’s attention when you pray. What better means than fireworks, despite the discomfort to the neighborhood. Five in the morning seems a popular time to start. Or it could be a about the time you turn in at night. Or both. Saint’s days--or nearly all the time--also popular. My Mexican wife can never explain to me exactly what is behind the pyrotechnics..
So, do not choose a residence next to or nearby a church. But even if you minimize church noise, you will likely encounter the noise of fireworks and music from the nearest Salon de Eventos. Impious noise is a quirk of Mexico
We hear the local churches set off fireworks right around 7AM on a Sunday. We attribute it to - 'time to get up and get to mass'...
I believe that the reason behind the fireworks at our local cemetery is to awaken the heavens that someone is waiting at the gate.
Mexico has many customs in various regions. We were told in central Mexico that the strange hours of fireworks were sometimes due to a death in the family. If abuela (grandmother) dies in the night, you must set off fireworks to keep the evil spirits away until her body is removed in the morning.
NEVER RENT A PLACE WITHOUT VISITING IT ON A LATE NIGHT WEEKEND OR PERHAPS SEVERAL TIMES AROUND THE CLOCK FOR A COUPLE DAYS. Don't be in a hurry; it's not sex. Stay in the hotel for a couple more nights and if it doesn't feel right, just walk on.
So there you have it. The good and the bad about the noise levels in Mexico and how 21 Expats feel about living in Lake Chapala. Fortunately, there is good news with the latest new law and crackdown on late night noise. This is a Jalisco wide law and is just coming into enforcement now.
Before I end this I'll leave you with one of my favorite videos on village life and village noise.
Hasta luego. Contact me to schedule your free tour of the neighborhoods! Thanks for reading.