Living Lakeside

October 14, 2018

We have been living at Lake Chapala for four months now and I thought it would be a good time to check in and report on how things are going.

The Weather

We love the weather here.  We arrived in the middle of June, having left hot and humid Mazatlán.  We immediately started enjoying the cool nights and mornings, and now as fall is here we actually put a blanket on the bed!  We hadn’t slept with a blanket in so many years that it is a cozy and pleasant experience we’d almost forgotten. Most days are warm and sunny, too!  I like to walk a few miles daily and I can head out at any time without any risk of heat stroke or the need to mop my forehead.  I am looking forward to wearing a cute pair of boots and even a muffler now and then during the winter and also making use of our fireplace. People complain online about the mosquitoes Lakeside but we haven’t been bothered much except right around dusk.  I would say the weather here is A+.  

The Gringo Community

There has been a large expat community here for many, many years.  There is also a lot of movement in the community as people come and go every year.  I believe it makes old timers somewhat wary to invest much time in new friendships until they see if you are really going to last, but I find that very understandable.  There are lots of established social and charitable groups that do a lot of good in the community so finding things to do and getting to know people is easy enough to do.  I do see that I got a bit lazy socially in Mazatlán as all we needed to do if we wanted to have a social evening was head to the Machado or Olas Altas and we would enjoy visiting with lots of people we knew without planning ahead.  Here things do need a bit more planning but we do bump into people we know pretty much every time we are out and about.

The Mexican Community

Obviously we haven’t been here that long but already we are starting to feel like we belong here and are recognized neighbors in San Antonio Tlayacapan.  Everyone here greets each other as we walk about and I am developing those friendly neighborhood relationships that are so important to me.  Walking as much as I do and chatting with people whenever possible is a really big part of feeling a part of a place.  I love it.

Speaking Spanish

Since there have been expats here for such a long time, locals have made it a priority to learn English.  So even if you go into a tiny tienda you might encounter someone who speaks English.  At first that just felt strange to me but now I just go ahead and speak Spanish. I have even been thanked for speaking Spanish, too.  As we observe others we do notice that many people don’t even use the most basic Spanish, which does seem strange.  We have seen online how some totally fluent expats are very generous helping those who don’t manage so well.  

Food Shopping

One thing I love here is that except for a few items we really don’t need to go to big stores like Walmart or Soriana.  For the most part we shop locally – on Mondays I go to the San Antonio farmer’s market.  Tuesday is the farmer’s market in West Ajijic and Wednesday is the tianguis on Calle Revolución in Ajijic.  We haven’t gone to the Chapala tianguis yet as we haven’t needed anything more.  Oh, and Fridays there is a small tianguis right in the San Antonio plaza.  We have noticed that our cupboards and fridge are less full as we buy smaller amounts more often.  Oh, and for those of you who know how much I like my health nut goodies I buy all kinds of great stuff like water and milk kefir, naturally fermented pickles and veg, organic beet kvass, ginger juice, kombucha etc.  There are a number of very good organic stores and on my regular route I can pick up vegan bacon and sausages along with a bamboo toothbrush and much more.  

Other Shopping

Because of the transient nature of the expats here – plus houses are often sold furnished – there are a lot of resale shops Lakeside.  Some are better than others but we have been astounded at the great resale shopping.  There are also some really decent furniture stores, too.  Shopping for clothes is not the greatest unless you are into resale shops – if you want a pair of new Levis you will want to go to Guadalajara. The trick for me is remembering where a place is as most are dotted along the highway between Ajijic and Chapala and diving off and on while watching traffic and searching for a place can be a bit crazy. Costco is an hour away and we are looking forward to Ikea opening next year in Guadalajara.


There are a lot of charitable animal groups here doing a lot of good work.  There are also a lot of doggy play/boarding places for your animal friends as well as a variety of places to buy high quality animal food.


We have enjoyed some very good meals here Lakeside but often the food is almost there but not quite. So far the best meals we’ve had have been at Tabarka, Tremezzo, Go Bistro, Xolo, La Pacena and Huerto Cafe.  One thing I’ve noticed is that because of the very active vegan community here (more on that below) many restaurants have been encouraged to put vegetarian and vegan items on their menus.  This means I have had more choice here than I had expected.  

Vegan Community

There is an active vegan community here and a number of vegan restaurants, too. A couple of weeks ago there was a very well attended and fun Vegan Fest as well.  So if you are vegan you will find plenty of awareness locally, lots of products available to buy and a group that regularly meets for meals and chatting.  

One of the things I am enjoying after so many years in the city is living in such a peaceful, beautiful spot so full of birds.  Horses and cows pass by on the little lane near us and we are constantly seeing new birds.  This week huge quantities of white pelicans have returned from the North and we saw a large red bird on the fountain. Hopefully he’ll come back so we can identify him!  At night the only things we hear are frogs or crickets.  

We’re looking forward to another visitor coming later this month and then not long after, El Dia de los Muertos! It’ll be fun to experience the holiday here… and it’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since our Day of the Dead in Tepoztlán



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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Thanks for the update. When Kim returns, I hope to get up your way. You can fill me in on some of the reasons you traded the beach for the highlands.

    1. Sound idyllic and peaceful; a contemplative new way of life and there is still water! I love birds sounds and actually ANY living thing sound from crickets to frogs, the faraway neighing of a horse, the plaintive moooooo of a neighbor’s cow and no rushing buses past one’s door. (I KNOW you don’t miss that one teeny bit) Maybe one day I can take a walk with you. xo

      1. Hi Zoe! It really suits us well right now, love being renters, too! Life is good. Come on down anytime! xoxo

    1. Ola Nancy, nice to hear you’ve settled in, as I sit here with a propane heater pointed in my direction.
      Sounds like you have found a place with perfect climate. When we are in Mazatlan sweating I think of here, when I am here I think of the warmth of Mazatlan, sounds like we need to visit in a few months when it really drops in temp up here.
      Glad all is well, say hi to Paul.

      1. Hi Tancho, The climate here really is lovely, although in the coldest part of winter I will probably long for that bone warming heat of Maz. But seven months of brutally hot and humid I will never miss! Come visit, we would love to see you! xoxo

    1. Lovely Nancy, such a lengthy and detailed rundown. Wonderful to know so much more about your daily experiences. Thanks for going to so much effort.

      1. Hi Wendy, Thanks for commenting! You are welcome! It is a very different life here than we had in Maz but we are enjoying the change even though we miss our mates! Big smooch to you, xoxoxo

    1. So happy that you’re loving life there! Enjoy Day of the Dead…see you late November!

    1. Nancy, I’m thrilled that you have found your spot. The views of the lake are enchanting. I started going to Chapala and Ajijic in the early 80’s when there was not much of an expat community. My first impression was that it reminded me of Hawaii for some reason. Back then there were few restaurants and no traffic. Chapala was more up to date as it had been a wintering place for US citizens in the winter from the Northeast.

      I exported from a factory there. It is no longer in business. Try as I might, I cannot remember the name of it, but I can see the product in my mind’s eye!

      Enjoy, I’m happy for you and Paul. Let mw know if you are ever heading over this way. You can get on ETN at the bus station and come to SMA!

      1. Hi Babs! I think both of us are resettled in some pretty great places. We plan on visiting SMA this winter sometime, I will give you a holler when we have dates so we can get together! xoxo

    1. Wonderful update. Love how you have assimilated into your new home and surroundings. I have never been drawn to that area because of all the expats but this post makes me see it in a different light.

      1. Hi Contessa, Yes, we stayed away from here for the same reason but after all that we have really ended up liking it. We ignore the things we don’t like and participate in what we do… and we are thrilled with being in such a rural setting, too. I’m enjoying your travels,, sounds like you are having fun. xoxo

    1. Hi Nancy
      Wondering about the prices of things in Lake Chapala. Comparable to Maz? Or more expensive? I would miss the ocean so much!! Any yarn shops? 🙂

      1. Hi Trish! I would say prices are more reasonable here compared to Mazatlán for the most part. Lake Chapala is 26 miles long and it is almost like living on the ocean. And the mountains North are gorgeous, too. So I don’t miss the ocean except for the long malecon. There are several malecons here but they are a mile or so is all. There are yarn shops in Guadalajara, I am going to go on an excursion to a bunch of them next time one gets advertised.

        I hope you are well, it has been too long! xoxo

        1. Hi Nancy. I’m doing good, Bob not so good. We might be down there one day, but my two grandsons are in Cambridge, UK, so I spend all the time I can there. Lots of great fibre festivals in Britain, so I’m a happy camper! Hope to meet up again one day!

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