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uniblonder

Considering moving to Lake Chapala with kids

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Hi. I'm new here and have done a quick look at old posts on this site regarding moving to the Lake Chapala area with kids and haven't seen a lot.  I am a single mom with two children, aged 10 and 12.  I am looking for an opportunity to live in a Spanish-speaking community for a year or more.  I am financially secure.   I am fluent in Spanish and my kids are well-traveled.  I have read a lot about the Lake Chapala area being great for retirees and it seems to have a large English-speaking community.  I have also researched the local schools and it seems there are great options.  What I haven't found is a lot of information about families with children moving to the area.  

From my research, Ajijic comes across as a place for a lot of retirees.   I am curious--are the retirees intermixed with families or others?  We currently live in a community where there are a lot of older individuals and I love the relationship my kids have with them.  At the same time, I want to make sure that we'd be in a community where my children would find speaking in Spanish a necessity and be able to commune and develop friendships with peers. 

Any words of wisdom?  

We are hoping to come and visit the area before committing to the school year....

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I think you'll find that the majority of kids there will be native Spanish speaking, there are expat kids there, not a lot. So Speaking Spanish at their age is going to be necessary to develop relationships. You'll also find many Mexican kids are learning English as well so there are opportunities in building friendships in exchanging knowledge via language as well. Having school age children there will expose you to more activities based around activities for students, performances, sports, events. You'd probably be looking to live in an area where more school aged children lived so they'd have friends on the street. We live in an area with a fair amount of kids, some don't like the associated noise of music and the impromptu street soccer game that breaks out, but we don't mind. And several of the kids use us for English practice and we use our Spanish.

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10 minutes ago, zerbit said:

I think you'll find that the majority of kids there will be native Spanish speaking, there are expat kids there, not a lot. So Speaking Spanish at their age is going to be necessary to develop relationships. You'll also find many Mexican kids are learning English as well so there are opportunities in building friendships in exchanging knowledge via language as well. Having school age children there will expose you to more activities based around activities for students, performances, sports, events. You'd probably be looking to live in an area where more school aged children lived so they'd have friends on the street. We live in an area with a fair amount of kids, some don't like the associated noise of music and the impromptu street soccer game that breaks out, but we don't mind. And several of the kids use us for English practice and we use our Spanish.

Thanks for your reply. I am a U. S. military brat, so I would like to think that I am very flexible when it comes to adjusting to new surrounding and situations.  I am doing my best to raise my kids the same way.  May I ask the area you live in?   It sounds like it might be a good fit for us!

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Lake Chapala, for gringos, was "originally" sought out by artists and writers. Then it was 'found' by the retiree set and that is predominately what it is (gringo-wise) to date. Lately, however, as more gringos can 'afford' to retire early, one is seeing a slightly younger clientel. Families with children, not so much as might be expected but I do see more all the time... and at other times than just during a Holiday visit.

Having said all of that, remember that the communities are still 99.999% Mexican. If that is what you want you will have no problem finding housing where there is mostly only Spanish being spoken. Where you will run into the most English spoken is in the many restaurants that gringos 'support' or at favorite watering holes.

You may want to pick/live in Chapala rather than Ajijic as it tends to feel 'less gringo-ized' than the smaller Ajijic.

 

 

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If anyone is still in contact with"Beverly Dos" who used to work at Laguna RE she would be a fountain of information for the OP. Her husband Ronnie was a drummer. Going back a few years but someone may still be in contact with her.

Edit. Husband was Ron, daughter was Ronnie.

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You might want to consider a more Mexican and cultural in one of the many great Colonial cities of central Mexico.  Places like Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Patzcuaro, Morelia, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, to name a few.  This area is more touristy and somewhat "gringoized" with a lot of old folks like my wife and I.  If I were younger I'd definitely want to spend a lot more time in one of those places or something similar.  You have a real advantage in terms of being fluent in Spanish which gives you a lot of options.

 

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You can definitely live in Ajijic without learning Spanish.  That`s where the American and Canadian retirees are.  You  cannot live in Chapala without knowing Spanish.  Almost no expat retirees. Just a normal vibrant Mexican town. With the normal mix of people of all ages, including a lot of kids your childrens` ages.  As Mainecoons is saying, not a lot of high culture here.  You`d have to go to one of the cities on Mainecoons` list for that.

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We have been down here about 6 years and we are raising two American kids down here.  One is 4 the other is 13, they are both fluent in Spanish now.  The little one we put in a Maria Montessori school and the older one we decided to put him in an all Mexican school, Colegio Chapala, where he would more likely be the only English speaker.  He was 8 when we got here and we knew that if we had put him in one of the expensive private schools where most expats send their children, he would have probably latched on to kids that spoke English and would have been slower at picking up the language.  He did real well, by 6 months he was already speaking Spanish.  We live in downtown Chapala, and we really like living here.  It is true that Chapala is the largest town in the area and has much fewer expats living here.  It is flatter here, with much wider and smoother sidewalks, and for basic day to day items, the shopping is probably the best since there are more stores and shops here.  But if we need something exotic or should I say imported, Ajijic, Walmart and Super Lake are just 10 mins down the road.  We very rarely take the car out, we just walk everywhere.  I wouldn't say there are a whole lot of expat kids living here, but there are probably a lot more than you think.  Anyways, once they learn Spanish, they won't need to be around expat kids, they will have their own Mexican friends.  A good thing about Chapala is that if your kids do go to school here and live here, they will probably be within walking distance to most of their friends homes and every time you walk down the street they will pass by kids they know from school. In Ajijic people are a little more well to do and live spread out a lot more through out the gated communities and different neighborhoods.  Chapala is a real Mexican town and is not surrounded by gated communities, what that means is that everybody in town lives fairly close to each other and you really get to mingle with the locals.  

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I work with expats every day and you will find many younger families with children in San Miguel. There are two very good schools that are bilingual that have grades up to and including prepa. If you have questions please email. We have lived in Ajijic as well.

 

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Take a look at queretaro as well. Modern city but with nice centro historico.

Nice mix between mexican and young expats. Upmarket.lots of bars and restaurants. international schools.cinemas etc etc.

If you need work theres pleny of local and multi national companies there. 

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11 years ago we moved to Ajijic with our two kids ages 11 and 12. We enrolled them in Loyola School which bills itself as a bi-lingual school. Well, Loyola wasn't really bi-lingual and the transition for the kids was difficult at first. Fortunately, they became friends with Mexican kids who were bi-lingual and in the space of a couple of years, both kids became conversationally fluent. We got to know our kids friends parents, which turned out to be a real bonus as we were invited into our Mexican friends homes and the Mexican culture. Eventually the kids attended Terra-Nova school and graduated high school from there. Both kids are now living back in the States and are at university. They come back as often as they can and view Ajijic and their friends here as home. Becoming bi-lingual is a gift that our kids will always thank us for.

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It would work but it is a little bit sleepy.  Lots of good comments here. The weather is great but the streets roll up at nine.  Ok not that bad but it would be sleepy sometimes for young people.  It is growing and the summers are not nearly as empty as they use to be.  I do believe lakeside has been discovered with all the good and bad things that this means. Other people who posted here know much more about schools and children than I do. 

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Admitidly, I am no experts on kids and schools in the area but, from my eight years of experience living there and knowing the lifestyle of my grandniecies in the states, I would think they would be bored to tears.

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3 hours ago, barcelonaman said:

i am bored to tears here and im 62 !

B-man, try somewhere else/new.

Try San Miguel de Allende for a while. I find it much more vibrant, cultural and with many great restaurants/chefs. It is a bit cooler some nights in the winter and pretty busy in centro on the weekends but..... 

The 'only' things are that it does not have as good/easy/cheap access to an International airport like Guadalajara if one travels a lot, nor probably as good of access to medical facilities like are in Guadalajara. 

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3 hours ago, El Cartero said:

"The sooner you learn it's on you to make life interesting, the better off you'll be.”

“She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring.” 
― Zelda Fitzgerald

I have always maintained that only boring people get bored.

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Ah the powers of observation,or lack thereof. In my neighbourhood the kids play soccer and other games on the street until after dark. Yes more and more are using i-phones etc.but they still amuse themselves quite nicely. The OP has kids and they won't be bored like most kids are NOB because they don't know how to play anymore. as to any adults here that are bored,three things, jaded,boring themselves or without friends.

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Check out San Miguel. We have a 4 year old. There are lots of young families here, lot's if good school options, great food and amenities. You and family would fit in very easily. PM me if you have any questions. 

Ps lived in both Ajijic and SMA. Love them both.

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I made a simple benign statement about what, I know, my three girls would and would not like and it brought all the nasties out of their closets.  My apologies to all.

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hi there! We too have our eye on Lake chapala. We have kids same age as yours ?

when do you plan on moving up there? We are traveling to ajijic spring break, so I can let you know what we found out,if you'd like?

our family will also be looking at Chapala as well. We know Chapala is cheaper than Ajijic,but are a bit more attracted to Ajijic because our kids don't speak a word of Spanish. My hubby and I are bilingual

If you go up there before we do,please fill us in! I'd like to keep in touch so we have a friend up there! Best of luck to you

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6 hours ago, chapalaobsession said:

hi there! We too have our eye on Lake chapala. We have kids same age as yours ?

when do you plan on moving up there? We are traveling to ajijic spring break, so I can let you know what we found out,if you'd like?

our family will also be looking at Chapala as well. We know Chapala is cheaper than Ajijic,but are a bit more attracted to Ajijic because our kids don't speak a word of Spanish. My hubby and I are bilingual

If you go up there before we do,please fill us in! I'd like to keep in touch so we have a friend up there! Best of luck to you

Never assume. I Ilve in a Chapala barrio and a neighbour down the street who speaks English is teaching his 2 year old.The schools in Chapala have English courses as options. Your kids won't be any better off in Ajijic.

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