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Information from a Canadian perspective


zakjaderex
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Hi

We are a Canadian couple looking to retire outside of Canada.  We spent a month in Boquete, Panama last year, but the weather was not at all what we expected!  The heat & humidity was too much to handle as I have mild asthma.  We are looking for information about the Lake Chapala area to determine if it may be an option for us.  The cooler climate is definitely an attraction for us; however, we do have concerns about the water & air pollution we have read about.  We are looking for information such as the best airline to use when travelling to Lake Chapala from Toronto, ins & outs of car rentals in Guadalajara, currency exchange, etc.  Any advice from a Canadian perspective would be greatly appreciated.  Comments here or to zakjaderex@me.com would be very helpful.

Thanks

Brian & Gisele

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The best advise you will get is to come down for a visit and see for yourself if this is right for you.

There are no direct flights from Toronto so shop for the best price for the time you decide to come. I have not found any airline better than another for this trip.

The weather is great all year . the humidity is low We have hot dry weather April and May the 2 hottest months of the year The rains start about mid June to cool things off It generally rains at night  This is the winter season so a bit cooler ,a light jacket is nice in the mornings but not needed by noon.

Most homes are equipped with some form of water purification system There is no problem with air pollution around the lake You may be thinking of the larger  cities such as Mexico city and Guadalajara where the air quality is reduced as it is in any major center.

The people are great and there are lots of things to do. Fresh vegetables and fruit all year at affordable prices is a big bonus for those of us who like to cook, but there are numerous affordable restaurants if you prefer to eat out. 

You need good quality shoes to walk safely on the cobblestone streets Sketchers, Keens and Crocs are the most common footwear I have seen. It is worth playing safe to avoid a broken arm or twisted ankle. Walking is a great way to see the various places of interest in the village as the streets are narrow driving around to see the sites is not advisable.

ATM machines are the best way to get pesos while you are here.  I do not know anything about car rentals other then that they are available.

Enjoy your visit.

 

  

 

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I have mild asthma.  The altitude actually seems to help.  In April and May when they are burning off fields in the area I might have a little discomfort but not to the level requiring the inhaler.  The same when we get very high prolonged humidity at times in the rainy season.

I had a lot more trouble with it in New Mexico particularly when it got really cold.

The climate overall is the big draw of this area.  It basically never gets really hot or cold.  The most I have ever had to wear in the Winter is a sweatsuit.  Right now it is the first of December and I have on my usual shorts and T shirt.

You learn to practice "broken field walking" here as the sidewalks and streets are pretty primitive and the very poor local government hasn't been doing much maintenance in the last few years.  Ditto with the roads, this state has poor roads even relative to the rest of Mexico with the exception of the toll roads which are among the country's priciest.  

So you just get used to that, one doesn't move to this country or this area for the quality of the infrastructure or government services.

Power and water services have improved significantly in the last few years and we find telephone and internet service in Ajijic to be quite reliable even if the internet is slow by U.S. standards.  Cell phones are dirt cheap and seem to work well.

As noted, this area has an astounding number of very moderately priced and decent restaurants.  Over 100 according to some reports.  You won't find haute cuisine here and you won't find those high prices either.

People like to party loud here, it is important to understand your personal tolerance for noise and locate yourselves accordingly.

As always, the recommendation to come for a few weeks and bring your walking shoes.

 

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We are at 5000ft/1600M (same as Denver) so we have 15% less oxygen in the air. You do adjust on a temp basis and later on a long term basis.  Not sure how this works with Asthma but you might research it out.  It does make some people leave with heart problems sometimes. Guadalajara has a set of mountains between us and them and the air is much nicer here but sometimes the air blows from Mexico City or Guad. and it gets a little stinky.  I find the air lakeside to be very good most of the time. Going into Guad. on some days and the air is pretty bad as you can taste the air. You can smell diesel and clunker fumes  along the highway that runs thru Lakeside sometimes I admit.  I would say life pollution wise is very good lakeside but not perfect.

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The walking in Chapala and Jocotepec is no problem as these towns are flat and mostly have better sidewalks than Ajijic which is built on the side of a mountain. There are quite a few of us Canadians living in Chapala and even a Canadian Legion. People swim in the lake which is less polluted than a lot of beaches in California and certain areas of Lake Ontario.Other than January,the water is nice and warm. I no longer use an inhaler but during allergy season and when it's dry use Buckleys regular on occasion. TO has a nice brown dome over it and and part of the weather report is the pollution index. Not here in Chapala but yes in  Greater Guadalajara which has a po, of 6.5 million. The north shore of Lake Chapala's pop. is about 80,000.

United flies to Guadalajara. from TO with a change of planes in Dallas,so yes except for those 2 hours, that's direct. A lot of us Canadians fly to Puerto Vallarta with Westjet and take a first class bus or domestic flight to Guadalajara to avoid that other country in between.

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My wife and I have been coming here for many years and the incredible climate is the first reason followed by the cost of living, which is also great. Dispite our dollar vs the US$ the peso conversion is the best I ever remember. Coming for a month or two to check it all out is the best advice. We fly out of Toronto and although we have used US airlines via Atlanta or any number of other US cities for that one stop, more recently we fly Aeromexico to Mexico City then back to Guadalajara. We have found them to be very good and you don't have to deal with US Customs which can be quite lengthy a process.

Car rentals can be quite expensive here at around $700. US per month but a visit will help you decide about driving your own vehicle. You can walk many places if you rent centrally but a car gives you much more flexibility and then a wider choice of places to live. If you limit your stay to six months a car is not an issue but if you plan to stay more than six months then bringing in a car gets more complicated. There is so much more to consider and so many positive reasons to come here, at the very least to check it out for yourselves. Are you by chance from the Toronto area as we are just north? We are coming home at Christmas and would be happy to meet you at a Timmy's. We would need a couple hours for sure,,,, just a thought. There is too much detail to cover in a venue like this. Good luck!!

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Water pollution is a definite problem. Some housing areas get clean but many don't. As for the lake don't expect to swim in it. Very few locals do. It is polluted and too cold year round.

To avoid the US I have flown Guadalajara to Mexico City and then direct to Vancouver. I don't know if this combination still exists.

 

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13 minutes ago, cedros said:

Water pollution is a definite problem. As for the lake don't expect to swim in it. Very few locals do i. It is polluted and too cold year round.

Ahem! Here are some foreigners on the coldest day of the year raising money for Cruz Roja. Some swallowed a bit of water and are still alive nor do they glow in the dark. During the hot season whole families of "locals" frolic in the lake when the beach sand has been put there.

chapala cruz roja swim volunteers.jpg

chapala, cruz roja polar bear swim.jpg

cruz roja polar bear swim,2013 004.jpg

cruz roja polar bear swim,2013 009.jpg

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29 minutes ago, ned small said:

Ahem! Here are some foreigners on the coldest day of the year raising money for Cruz Roja. Some swallowed a bit of water and are still alive nor do they glow in the dark. During the hot season whole families of "locals" frolic in the lake when the beach sand has been put there.

chapala cruz roja swim volunteers.jpg

chapala, cruz roja polar bear swim.jpg

cruz roja polar bear swim,2013 004.jpg

cruz roja polar bear swim,2013 009.jpg

 

29 minutes ago, ned small said:

Ahem! Here are some foreigners on the coldest day of the year raising money for Cruz Roja. Some swallowed a bit of water and are still alive nor do they glow in the dark. During the hot season whole families of "locals" frolic in the lake when the beach sand has been put there.

chapala cruz roja swim volunteers.jpg

chapala, cruz roja polar bear swim.jpg

cruz roja polar bear swim,2013 004.jpg

cruz roja polar bear swim,2013 009.jpg

I don't see anyone swimming in the lake in those pictures. They look like they are fortifying their spirts to endure it. I visit many places around the lakeshore and it is a novelty to see locals (or anyone ) swimming in the lake. The temperature of the water is in the low 20s year round-too cold and murky to be enjoyable except for polar bears. Because of the murkiness you can't see the many hazards on the bottom (broken glass, barbed wire, tin cans, etc.)

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Lots of us Canadians here - come down for a visit and see if it's for you.  We did exactly that  - 6 yrs ago.  Came for 10 days - bought a house on day 8!  Went back to Toronto area, sold the house, sold the cottage - 4 grown kids all thought we'd lost our minds!  We have the best life here - very inexpensive, fantastic weather, great medical care - lots of friends, just a great place to retire.  We fly back twice a year to be with our kids and grandkids.  Delta is great - fly from Guadalajara to Atlanta then on to Toronto.  Check out healthcareinternational.com  - you can obtain a quote online for an international emergency medical plan that is very affordable.  There are also two Mexican health plans you can access - one is IMSS , the other is Seguro Popular.  Lots of options for healthcare.  There are many services here to help you get anything you need - from information, to legal advice to income tax information.   Come down, we're sure you'll love it as much as the rest of us do!  We are all a helpful bunch - enjoying our lives and the many wonderful friends and events this community has to offer. 

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1 hour ago, cedros said:

 

I don't see anyone swimming in the lake in those pictures. They look like they are fortifying their spirts to endure it. I visit many places around the lakeshore and it is a novelty to see locals (or anyone ) swimming in the lake. The temperature of the water is in the low 20s year round-too cold and murky to be enjoyable except for polar bears. Because of the murkiness you can't see the many hazards on the bottom (broken glass, barbed wire, tin cans, etc.)

Your powers of observation seem to be lacking and from what you say your actual experience is zero. During January the water temp exceeds the air temp. sounds like you're describing some hazardous waters on the California ,New Jersey coasts and some of the waters in the great lakes. Want perfection? Stick to swimming pools while some of us enjoy naturalness, including a lot of locals and Mexican tourists who don't have regular access to swimming pools but do have free access to this lake and a very few others in this country. The people in the pictures were in the lake for 20 minutes,standing and swimming. Once the beach sand is replenished again you will see lots of people in the lake including toddlers and people maybe even older than you.

i'm swimmin'.jpg

swim t-shirt 020.jpg

swim t-shirt 031.jpg

swimming oct 31,chapala beach.jpg

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1 hour ago, Guiness said:

Lots of us Canadians here - come down for a visit and see if it's for you.  We did exactly that  - 6 yrs ago.  Came for 10 days - bought a house on day 8!  Went back to Toronto area, sold the house, sold the cottage - 4 grown kids all thought we'd lost our minds!  We have the best life here - very inexpensive, fantastic weather, great medical care - lots of friends, just a great place to retire.  We fly back twice a year to be with our kids and grandkids.  Delta is great - fly from Guadalajara to Atlanta then on to Toronto.  Check out healthcareinternational.com  - you can obtain a quote online for an international emergency medical plan that is very affordable.  There are also two Mexican health plans you can access - one is IMSS , the other is Seguro Popular.  Lots of options for healthcare.  There are many services here to help you get anything you need - from information, to legal advice to income tax information.   Come down, we're sure you'll love it as much as the rest of us do!  We are all a helpful bunch - enjoying our lives and the many wonderful friends and events this community has to offer. 

Thank you!  Looking forward to meeting you.

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2 hours ago, ned small said:

Your powers of observation seem to be lacking and from what you say your actual experience is zero. During January the water temp exceeds the air temp. sounds like you're describing some hazardous waters on the California ,New Jersey coasts and some of the waters in the great lakes. Want perfection? Stick to swimming pools while some of us enjoy naturalness, including a lot of locals and Mexican tourists who don't have regular access to swimming pools but do have free access to this lake and a very few others in this country. The people in the pictures were in the lake for 20 minutes,standing and swimming. Once the beach sand is replenished again you will see lots of people in the lake including toddlers and people maybe even older than you.

i'm swimmin'.jpg

swim t-shirt 020.jpg

swim t-shirt 031.jpg

swimming oct 31,chapala beach.jpg

Ned when was the last time you saw someone swimming at Ajijic, San Juan Cosala, Jocotepec, Mezcala, Soyatlan, etc?

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4 hours ago, ned small said:

Once the beach sand is replenished again you will see lots of people in the lake including toddlers and people maybe even older than you.

This statement is true.   The point is the lake is clean enough to swim in and to say otherwise is simply putting the reality of Lake Chapala in disrespect.   I don't know what a Canadian Perspective is or how it differs from anyone else except perhaps you can't ice skate or play hockey on it.   That's the reality.

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