Nestled in the Sierra Madre mountains of southwestern Mexico is Lake Chapala, the country’s largest natural lake. It is located in a valley at an elevation of around 5,000 feet. The protective mountains and lake offer a natural ameliorating effect on the climate, which is rated one of the best in the world.
With its near-perfect climate, cobblestone streets, flowering trees, lush mountains, tranquil lifestyle and low cost-of-living, Lake Chapala has become a popular destination for foreign visitors, retirees and other expatriates.
Lake Chapala’s shores are dotted with a string of charming and peaceful towns, all connected along the lakeshore by a single highway call the Carretera. Approximately 20,000 expatriate North Americans (some estimates go as high as 30,000) reside on the lake’s north shore. The community is an international/intercultural mix of native Mexicans, and individuals from Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, etc, etc. Once a predominately retirement area for expatriates over age 45, a steadily increasing number of young families with children are moving here and now call it home.
Although the lake measures about 55 by 15 miles wide, most of the expatriates live within 20 miles of one another in the Northshore towns of Chapala, Ajijic and Jocotepec (and numerous smaller towns in between). The towns of Jocotepec and Chapala (the county seat) are the Northshore’s largest, followed by Ajijic, which holds the largest segment of the expatriate population. The north shore of Lake Chapala—typically called “Lakeside” and sometimes called “the Chapala Riviera”—is situated about 45 minutes south of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, and about 35 minutes south of the Guadalajara international airport. Offering easy highway access to such popular destinations as Puerto Vallarta, the Costa Alegre (Manzanillo, Barra de Navidad, Melaque), Morelia, Zacatecas, Patzcuaro and San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala is indeed ideally located. Almost everything you could want can be found either at Lakeside or nearby Guadalajara.
In addition to numerous forums and blogs, a wealth of information is available elsewhere on this site, and through the web site of the local English language newspaper, the Guadalajara Reporter.