Real Estate

Real Estate

1. As a foreigner, can I acquire Mexican property in my name?

Yes, for a number of years foreigners could only acquire property through a Trust, but now you are permitted to acquire through a Direct Deed. The legal requirement is to advise the Foreign Relations Department, of your desire to acquire property. All this must be done through a Notary.

2. What is a Trust?

A Trust is a way of purchasing for foreigners. There are various banks who handle Trusts. Acquiring through a Trust gives you the advantage of First, Second and Third place beneficiaries. Husband and wife teams can acquire in First Place in a Joint Ownership with rights of survivorship, and normally you would put your children in second place. The advantage of a Trust: You can set it up as you wish. Beneficiaries do not necessarily have to be direct blood line.

3. How many beneficiaries can I have in my deed?

In a Direct Deed you can only have direct blood line (children or parents) as beneficiaries. In a Trust you have the option of putting as many beneficiaries in Second and Third place as you wish.

4. How much are utilities?

Electricity costs about $600.00 pesos ($60 US) every two months for a normal 2-bedroom home year-round . If there is a pool or spotlights in the garden it increases. Telephones have a monthly rental cost of $180.00 pesos ($18 US).

5. How much are property taxes on a 100,000 dollar home?

Property taxes depend on the appraised value of the property. You can expect to pay around $1,500.00 pesos per year ($166.00 US).

6. How much does a maid or gardener cost?

Maids and gardeners cost around $20.00 pesos per hour ($2 US). The Mexican Government establishes salary increases every January.

7. Are there cooks available? How much do they cost?

Cooks are not easy to come by. Many homeowners use their maids as cooks. But for special occasions and parties you can hire a professional cook to cater your event.

8. Are there chauffeurs available?

Yes, some locals chauffeur retirees to Guadalajara and some drive all the way up to the border.

9. Do you have gate-in communities?

Yes, there are a many gated in communities.

10. What is a Fideicomiso?

A Fideicomiso is a Trust.

11. What can I purchase in 100K price range?

A small 1 or 2-bedroom home.

12. What are the city, state, and federal annual taxes on a 100,000 dollar home?

$1,500.00 pesos (150 USD) more or less. Property taxes are based on the appraised value of the home.

13. Can I feel safe leaving my property unattended for several months a year?

It is best to hire the services of a Real Estate agency to provide a Management service. This way your utilities, maid and gardener are paid and a qualified person will be making a bi-weekly inspection of your property.

14. How can Coldwell Banker Chapala Realty help me?

Coldwell Banker Chapala Realty with over 31 years of experience can help you buy, build, remodel, rent or manage a home, lot or condo. Coldwell Banker Chapala Realty provides a Management Service and presently is managing over 80 homes. The services include all utility payments, payment of maid and gardener, a bi-weekly inspection of your home, interior and exterior maintenance, tax payments, trust fee payments, Sub-Development fees and rental of your property if you so desire. We are equipped to handle all your real estate transactions, from purchasing to selling your property. We handle over 100 rentals in the area for long and short term rentals.



1. What banks in Mexico handle Trust needs?

The main banks handling Trusts are: Santander Serfin, Banorte, Banamex and BBV.

2. Can I have a dollar account in a Mexican bank?

You can have an investment dollar account in a Mexican bank, but only corporations can have dollar checking accounts.

3. What are the interest rates?

Interest rates vary depending on the banking Institution. Individual operators usually have the best rates. Rates in Mexico are usually higher than in the US and Canada, the peso is regarded as a weaker currency and therefore can have more volatility.



1. Can I get medical insurance in Mexico?

Yes, there are various private medical insurance companies that offer lower rates than in the US and Canada.

2. Can Blue Cross cover me in Mexico?


3. Are there any good doctors at Lakeside?

The Lakeside area has three small hospitals, each of which has a full staff of doctors. You are sent to Guadalajara for any major surgery.

4. Can I find all kinds of medicine in a pharmacy at lakeside?

Yes. (Farmacias Guadalajara the biggest pharmacy in the state has a store in Ajijic.)


Moving to Mexico

1. Can I bring computers into Mexico?

Yes, but import taxes must be paid at customs on some products.

2. Are there U-HAULS?

The company U-HAUL does not operate in this part of the country although Guadalajara has company’s that do the same.

3. Are there storage rooms?

Yes. (Self Storage is the biggest and most reliable outfit presently at lakeside)

4. How do people take their belongings?

If you decide to move here, it is most likely you will want to change your immigration status from Tourist to an F.M. 3. If this is the case the Mexican government will permit you to bring all your furniture into the country.

5. Do most people when moving sell everything and start there all over?

Most of our properties are sold completely furnished, but some still prefer to bring their own. Remember as a Tourist you cannot bring your furniture to Mexico.

6. How can I bring my furniture?

Guadalajara has moving companies with English speaking personal who will move all your belongings.



1. Do you have homes or condos to rent on a short time lease?

Yes, we handle short and long term rentals, winter is our high season so book fast.

2. Do you have hotels at lakeside?

The lakeside area has five major hotels and many smaller ones ranging in service and in price.

3. Do you have B&B’S?

Yes, there are currently many bed and breakfast inns and more are being opened.

4. Do you have trailer parks?

Currently there are small parks taking in trailers, there is no trailer park in the area.

5. What is the average rate for a clean, inexpensive hotel in Chapala?

$45.00 US dls. per night



1. What kind of public transportation do you have?

Local buses to all the small towns around the lake and an excellent bus service from Chapala to Guadalajara.

2. Is your public transportation safe?


3. When travelling in Mexico, what car insurance do I need?

You need to buy insurance from a Mexican insurance company, keep the emergency telephone number handy.

4. Where can I get car insurance?

You can get it at the border or in Chapala.

5. Is it safe to drive in Mexico?

Driving in Mexico is just as safe as driving anywhere else, avoid driving at night. If your driving from the border its a good idea to have an extra gas filter, a fix-a-flat and extra fan belts.

6. Is there a highway from Guadalajara to Chapala?

There is a four lane highway from Chapala to Guadalajara.

7. Can I bring my own car into Mexico?


8. Can I bring more than one car to the country?

No, one car is all you can bring as a tourist.

9. Do I need to rent a car to get to Chapala or can I get a taxi from the airport?

You can do both, most people hire a taxi to the lakeside area and rent a car from a local car rental company. (Renting a car at lakeside is cheaper)

10. Are there any car rental agencies at Lakeside? What is the daily/weekly cost for a mid-size and full size vehicle?

Yes, $30 USD for a mid size.


About Lakeside

1. What are the names of the towns that surround the lake?

Lake Chapala is surrounded by small fishing villages, many of which have become permanent homes for foreigners. Some of these are Chapala, San Antonio, Ajijic, San Juan Cosala, El Chante, Jocotepec, San Pedro Tesistan, San Cristobal, Tizapan and Tuxcueca.
For more information on the main villages please visit

2. How big is the lake?

The lake is 110 Kms. long and 25 Kms. wide.

3. How deep is the lake?

At its deepest points it varies from 6 to 8 meters. (4 meters is about average)

4. Can you swim in the lake?

Some people do swim in the lake, it is mildly contaminated.

5. Are there any information booths?

Yes, in Chapala and in Ajijic.

6. Is it safe to live at lakeside?

This area is considered very safe.



1. What part of Mexico is Chapala located in?

Lake Chapala is located south of Guadalajara (Capital for the state of Jalisco.)

2. What is the distance between Guadalajara and Lake Chapala?

62 Kms. from Chapala to Guadalajara.

3. What is the distance between the airport and Lake Chapala?

32 Kms.

4. What is the distance from lakeside to the nearest beach?

The nearest beach, Manzanillo, is a four hour drive from Chapala.

5. What is the distance between Chapala and Ajijic?

Six kilometers.

6. What is the population of Guadalajara?

Six million.

7. What is the population of Chapala?


8. What is the Canadian-American population at Lakeside?

6,000 permanents.

9. What is the Canadian-American population in Guadalajara?

4,000 permanents and from 7,000 to 9,000 in winter months.

10. How many snowbirds do you get every winter?

4,000 snowbirds.



1. What is the average temperature at Lakeside?

77º High and 58º low. (For more info please visit our link “Temperatures” located at our homepage.

2. When is your rainy season?

From June thru September.

3. Does it snow at Lakeside?


4. Is it a humid or dry climate?

A dry semitropical climate.

5. What altitude are you at?

5,200 ft

6. Are coats necessary in the wintertime?

No, but it does get chilly at night and early in the morning.

7. Do you need air conditioning or heating in your house?

Airconditioning is not necessary, but in the winter it is nice to have a fireplace going.



1. What is your typical Mexican food?

Chiles rellenos made with large green peppers stuffed with either meet of cheese. Chilaquiles, made with fried corn tortillas and sauce, pozole made with hominy and pork, tamales made with corn meal stuffed with vegetables or meet, tacos and lots of beans.

2. What kind of restaurants do you have?

There are many types of restaurants in the area, sea food, international cuisine, French, Italian, Argentinean, Greek, Tex-Mex, Mexican and many more.

3. Does your seafood come from the lake?

All seafood is brought in from the coast.

4. What fruits or vegetables grow around the area?

Tomatoes, corn, onions, beans, raspberries, tangerines, lemons, papaya and bananas.

5. Is water safe to drink?

Some sub-developments in the area have potable water.  In other areas bottled water is a must, big jugs are sold in the supermarkets although they can be delivered to your home by the local water trucks.

6. Can I purchase foreign beer and wines at lakeside?

Yes. There are various licor stores that sell wines from all over the world.

7. Can I purchase American groceries?

Yes, at Superlake and El Torito. Also chartered buses can take you into the city to Walmart, Sams and Price Club. Many foreigners do their shopping there.

8. Is there any special preparation (washing) for fresh produce?

Most people soak there fruit and vegetables in iodine or Microdyn. Others just wash anything that will be peeled with potable water.



1. Do you have shopping malls?

There are various small malls in lakeside, Guadalajara, just 30 minutes away, has many large malls. The Chapala area is full of small shops selling anything from blown glass, house accessories, typical Mexican clothing, shoes, pottery, etc.

2. Do you have American clothing and accessory brands?

American clothing is quite popular among the Mexicans, and there are many shops which carry American brands.

3. What type of supermarkets do you have?

The area has one large supermarket: Soriana, two medium sized supermarkets: Superlake and El Torito, and many small grocery stores. Several towns have local markets selling fresh produce, sea food, meat and dairy products. We also have what is called "El Tianguis" (which is like a flea market with fresh produce)
on Mondays in Chapala, Wednesdays in Ajijic and Thursdays in Jocotepec. You can buy everything from seafood, fruit and vegetables, flowers, potted plants, jewelry, clothes, shoes, herbs and dairy products.

4. Are there flea markets?

Yes, the “Tianguis” is a popular place where locals do most of their shopping.

5. Are there craft stores around the area?

Yes, quite a lot of them.

6. Does Mexico have good quality clothes?

Yes, quite comparable to Canada or the USA.

7. Are there any antique stores?

There are several second-hand stores where you can find antiques.

8. Do you have furniture stores?

There are quite a few furniture stores and a number of interior decorators in the area who also sell and make furniture.

9. Do you have electronic stores?

Yes, Radio Shack a popular one is located in Guadalajara.


Lakeside Activities

1. What is there to do in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is a city 45 minutes away with 6 million people. You can go to a good movie, theater, concerts, museums, ballet, wonderful restaurants, big malls, shopping, nightclubs for dancing, just about anything any big city offers.

2. Do you have a theater at Lakeside?

There is a movie theater with 3 screens, up to date movies are shown at all times. Also there are many video rental stores. We do have a large group of foreigners involved in Little Theater and they put on about 6 or 7 plays a year. There is also a large auditorium where you can enjoy concerts and ballets.

3. Do you get international plays at Lakeside theater?

Most of the plays are local.

4. Is there a cinema?

Yes, a tri-plex.

5. Is there a video store?

Yes, there are various rental stores and the Lake Chapala Society (largest non-profit organization lakeside) has a large variety of movies for rent.

6. Are there any gyms?

Various in Chapala and in Ajijic, they are much smaller than the ones in the US and Canada.

7. Is there an English-Language library?

The Chapala Society has one.

8. Are there any English-Language bookstores?

One in Chapala, another in Ajijic and a secondhand bookstore in Ajijic.

9. Are there places to exercise in the open air?

There are two 9-hole golf courses, tennis courts, horseback riding, parks for walking, mountain trails, swimming pools and if you like to ride a bicycle you can ride from Chapala all the way to Jocotepec (18 kilometers) on a cycle path adjacent to the highway.

10. Do you have social organizations?

Lakeside is famous for its many social organizations, the following list is but an example of the many here, The Ajijic Masonic Lodge, American Legion Post 7 and 9, Amigos International, Ajijic Society of Arts, British Society, Casa ( Culinary Arts Society of Ajijic ), Garden Club, Genealogy Club, Hash House Harriers, Investors Club, Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club, Tai-Chi, Lakeside Little Theater, Lake Chapala Society, Music Appreciation Society, Navy League, Rotary Club, Link (Assisting Foreign Community ) Seniors, Special Riders and Writers Group.

11. Is there a Chamber of Commerce?


12. Are there activities such as boating, sailing, fishing and water skiing on Lake Chapala?




1. What do I need to be able to get a job in Mexico?

You need working papers. Usually the company hiring you will process your papers.

2. Are there job opportunities for English-speaking teachers?

There are 4 local bilingual schools and various English programs for Spanish-speaking people. Some people do private tutoring.

3. Could I find a job if I am just starting on my Spanish?

Most jobs for foreigners are found in the Real Estate agencies.

4. Are there any organizations that need social workers?

Yes, there are more than 40 local organizations that would greatly appreciate help.

5. Is it possible to own a business in Mexico?

Yes, you can now own a 100% of a Mexican corporation.

4. How can I transfer money from U.S. to Mexico?

There are many ways to transfer money, large sums are usually done by an electronic wire transfer, smaller amounts you can take out with your own US or Canadian debit card. Mexican banks are know part of the global network.

5. Are American banks helping get mortage money in Mexico?



Legal Status

1. What do I need to visit Mexico?

If you are coming down on vacation you will need a Tourist Visa, which usually is handed out at your Travel Agency, or can be picked up at the border. Tourist visas are approved for 30, 60 and 90 day periods.

2. What do I need to live in Mexico?

For short visits you can come and go as a “tourist”. If you’re planning for longer periods of stay, getting a F.M.3 status (which can be renewed once a year without leaving) is what we recommend.

3. Can I retire in Mexico as a tourist?

Yes, but you must leave the country when your tourist visa expires. Most retirees prefer the F.M. 3 status, which can be renewed once a year without leaving.


Hidalgo #223 Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico 45900 Tels. 01 52 (376) 5-2877, 5-3676 Fax 01 52 (376) 5-3528