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As an American or Canadian looking to immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of Ajijic in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico, there are several key aspects you’ll need to navigate to ensure a smooth transition.  This region, renowned for its picturesque landscapes, balmy climate and a welcoming community, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for North American expatriates.

Why Ajijic, Lake Chapala?

Set in the state of Jalisco, Ajijic (pronounced Ah-hee-heek) is a quaint town on the shores of Lake Chapala – Mexico’s largest freshwater lake.  Notably, Ajijic offers a unique blend of small-town charm, vibrant culture, and moderate weather, coupled with a lower cost of living compared to the US and Canada.

The locale is home to a large community of North American retirees and expats, adding a dash of familiarity in a foreign setting. We’ve seen over the last decade that younger people are moving to the area from the US and Canada.  The area is quite secure, with health facilities accessible and several recreational activities available, ranging from golfing, hiking, local live music, to participating in local fiestas.

Visas and Immigration

Your journey to Ajijic begins with securing the appropriate visa. Two primary options are available: the Temporary Resident Visa, valid for up to four years, and the Permanent Resident Visa.  The type of visa you apply for will depend on your circumstances, including your financial resources, intent to work in Mexico, and length of stay.  It’s advisable to consult with a Mexican consulate or an immigration lawyer to understand your best options.


Next, you need to sort your housing.  In Ajijic, you have the option to rent or buy.  Rental costs vary depending on the property’s size, location, and amenities.  Buying property in Mexico as a foreigner is possible and straightforward, and is something our office can help you with.


Mexico offers an affordable yet high-quality healthcare system, with many doctors and specialists speaking English.  As an expat, you may qualify for public healthcare through the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) or opt for private healthcare. Consider purchasing health insurance that covers medical treatments in Mexico.

Cost of Living

One of the alluring aspects of living in Ajijic is the low cost of living.  However, it’s essential to budget for costs such as utilities, groceries, dining out, transportation, healthcare, and other personal expenses.  Many find their expenses are significantly less than in North America, allowing for a comfortable lifestyle.

Getting Involved in the Community

Becoming part of the local community is integral to your experience.  Fortunately, Ajijic has numerous community groups, volunteer opportunities, and social events that help newcomers assimilate.  Whether you’re interested in education, art, music, gardening, or volunteering, you’ll find a way to get involved.

Learning the Language

While a large expat community and many English-speaking locals mean you can get by with English, learning Spanish will enrich your experience.  Consider taking classes or using language learning apps.

Bringing your Belongings

When moving to Ajijic, you’ll have to decide what to bring.  You can import your belongings tax-free when you first move, but there are restrictions on certain items, such as vehicles.  Review the current customs regulations or consult with a moving company that specializes in international relocations.

Let’s Go!

Moving to Ajijic, Lake Chapala, is a significant decision that involves careful planning.  However, the rewards of immersing yourself in a new culture, in a beautiful setting with a welcoming community, are immeasurable.   So pack your sense of adventure and prepare for an enriching life experience in the heart of Mexico.