There is a lot of current social media buzz about the flood of foreigners moving to Ajijic, rising prices, etc. A recent video by Tangerine Travels points out some of the drawbacks of Ajijic and generated a flood of comments. Additionally, some people say the town is ‘full’ and the expats are ruining the character of the town. So let’s look more in depth at the ‘ugly’ side of Ajijic:
It is true that prices for both home purchase and rental are rising. The Tangerine video stated that there is nothing available for purchase in Ajijic for less than $250,000 USD, and it is true that if you are looking for a home in the village with NOB (north of the border) amenities, it will probably run at least that and possibly much more. However, a quick search of our local RMLS shows a comfortable 1 bedroom in a West Ajijic complex with a pool for $89,000 USD and a 2 bedroom, 2 bath also in West Ajijic for $179,000 USD.
Rental prices are also rising and a search of one of our local rental agencies shows available rental properties in Ajijic starting at $450 USD per month for a studio or 1 bedroom. A fellow expat recently commented that he and his wife just rented a lovely two-bedroom home with a courtyard near the Ajijic plaza for $600 USD monthly, but it was not easy to find. More typical current Ajijic rental prices are in the $800-$2000+ USD range. Chapala rental prices are now running almost the same as Ajijic, which was not the case as recently as two years ago.
So while it is true that the inventory of available homes in the area is low, there are still places available, particularly if you come in person and also look for properties not listed on the internet. Some properties for sale and rent here never appear on the internet and you find them through local signage or knowing someone who knows someone.
Keep in mind that there are many towns around the lake that provide suitable housing and fabulous views for less. Chapala is a bustling Mexican town only 15 minutes from Ajijic with full services, a better malecon, and no cobblestones. The local RMLS currently shows a Chapala 2 bedroom, 2 bath for sale for $88,900 USD and another updated 2 bedroom, 2 bath for $99,000 USD. Other nearby areas such as Ixtlahuacan de Los Membrillos, San Antonio de Tlayacan, San Juan Cosala and Jocopetec also offer more reasonable housing prices.
Prices in General
Prices for goods and services are rising but fairly stable and still run 1/2 to 1/3 of U.S. costs, so even if you are not saving as much as hoped for on your housing costs, you will incur savings on most of your other living costs, particularly healthcare which is generally high quality and very affordable.
The traffic is every bit as terrible as reported, especially during high season, and locals employ a variety of strategies to deal with it such as not going out in rush hour and/or avoiding the main highway and transiting the cobblestone streets. Of course if you have a beautiful new car, you may not like this option. Many expats purchase a used ‘beater’ just for this purpose and some rely on a combination of foot, bus and taxi to get around.
As Tangerine Travels reported, the cobblestones are treacherous and we frequently see expats walking around with a cast/cane/boot who have fallen in the streets. On the other hand, there are people here with moderate to extreme mobility challenges who have managed to make it work for them, some of whom have even improved significantly with the help of local physical therapists and caregivers. Ultimately, only you can know if it will be practical for you to navigate the cobblestones.
These are local cultural issues that are more nuanced than they appear on the surface, so before making snap judgments about the child beggars or stray dogs, live here for awhile, talk with locals and gain a deeper understanding of the issues and attempts at solutions. Many people are horrified when they come to the big U.S. West Coast cities and see the hordes of homeless people living on the streets, but we might be somewhat resentful if newly arrived Mexicans started throwing out their ideas for solutions to a complex local problem.
Too Many Gringos
A complaint heard frequently mostly by expats complaining about other expats is that there are too many gringos and we don’t need any more. It’s interesting to note that this view is generally not shared by the Mexicans, who are quite welcoming. Although there are many people moving into the area from around the world, people also leave regularly for a variety of reasons usually related to family or medical issues they prefer to treat NOB rather than discontent with the area, although that happens occasionally. A fellow expat who has lived here for 25 years recently commented that she personally knew at least 100 expat friends who have died, so we all leave eventually!
Ajijic is a quintessential tourist town, which means that we have tides of tourist traffic throughout the year, including Mexicans from Guadalajara and all over Mexico, snowbirds who come for six months, and tourists of all nationalities who tend to come during the local fiestas such as Day of the Dead (Oct. 31-Nov.2), the 9-day festival of the patron saint of Ajijic (11/21-11/30/2018), and others. The town is completely packed for these events, including many Ajijic natives who have moved NOB who return to visit during the patron saint festival.
So if you are not a fan of non-stop noise and crowds at all hours, you might be better served living farther away from the Ajijic plaza. Living in a tourist town anywhere is different from living in a quiet bedroom community and this difference is only accentuated in boisterous Mexico. Some people enjoy all of the hustle and bustle and others don’t, so choose what is best for you. You can also leave town during the festivals, which some expats do, especially those who are noise sensitive or who have pets that can’t handle the barrage of rockets.
Let’s Wrap This Up
So don’t despair, there is still room for you Lakeside! While the internet is full of good (and not so good) information. the only way to fully determine if Lake Chapala is right for you is to see for yourself, so come on down for our next learning seminar on Oct 28-Nov. 2 and experience the Day of Dead celebration as well.
By Bette Brazel, Focus on Mexico Content Manager
Focus On Mexico offers 6-Day Educational Programs to Ajijic and Lake Chapala, Mexico. Join us and learn why thousands of Americans and Canadians chose to retire in Lake Chapala.
Our programs offer the perfect balance; a wonderful vacation and an insightful, educational experience. Our expert speakers cover all topics: Health Care, Real Estate, Legal System, Safety, Immigration, Assisted Living/Care Options, Bringing Pets, Cost of Living, US Taxes for Americans, Non-Residency for Canadians, Living on the Lakeside, Investing in Mexico, Mexican Economy and much more…