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Don_N

Best Month to Visit the "Real" Chapala

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Apologies to the long-time members as I'm sure this is an oft-repeated topic, but my wife and I are considering moving to Mexico when I retire and Ajijic/Chapala area is high on our list as a jumping off point to ease the culture shock. We may decide to move every six months or so after a settling in period, to find our favorite area.

We're both taking beginning Spanish now to get ourselves ready when we take the leap in a few years, but want to know when the best time is to visit Ajijic/Chapala when it's fairly normal, that is not at the peak tourist season or devoid of people because of the heat.

We've read that Chapala area has become fairly expensive and difficult to find rental homes that allow pets (we currently have four dogs and a cat), but want to visit to see what the real story is.

Our windows to visit are limited due to my wife's class schedule, but have open periods in March, May, August, and December/January.

Any advice would be appreciated, even if it's "It's too crowded already, move someplace else!"

Thanks,

Don and Ellen

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You might consider August. The snowbirds are up north. The weather is beautiful with rain in the nights (the hot season is May & 2 weeks of June). . The hillsides are green and beautiful. 

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August is your best month to come down and check things out. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's the "rainy season" since the rain most often happens at night and the days are glorious.

March... snowbirds are still here. May is the HOT month. December and January the snowbirds are already back

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As to when you should visit -- I would say August, or maybe March. 

The rainy season starts in June, and in May it is hot and we are all rethinking our decision to not have an air conditioner.  It is when we start counting the days, and placing our bets, to the start of the rains.

December and January are nice, but it is the snowbird season.

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1 hour ago, jonnyintrouble said:

IMHO it's not the best month it's what was the best year, the "Real Years". 

Good for you to be studying Spanish.  I take it Ellen is a teacher or administrator.  Excellent!

It's pretty much a fact that qualified observers make better commentators than participants.  With that being said, the place isn't for me.  Yes, of course, there are lots of good folks living there, you can find them on this website.  But I'm a young old guy and what I like to do isn't found there.   I'm not a drinker.  

For me it's Guadalajara.  Best city in the World!

The good weather months start in March usually.  

Oh, I don't think the good weather months start in March! In my experience I have found that April and May are the worst - hot, dry and dusty. When the rainy season begins (mid June) it is perfection until October more or less. 

 

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March, April, May, and the first two weeks of June are my least favorite months. Hottest weather, very dry, and the dust is awful. Plus the mountains and fields are brown. In April and May the farmers are burning the fields to prepare for planting so add lots of smoke to the air. December and January are wonderful but it is the height of high season. Even more traffic and everyplace busy and crowded. August is a perfect time for a first visit. Low season and weather is wonderful with amazing storms and rain mostly at night and early morning. We have had more rainy days the last two years but still a wonderful time. Most importantly everything is lush and green. I have never seen so many shades of green as I see lakeside in the summer. I suggest August without reservation.

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1 hour ago, jonnyintrouble said:

When I think of fauna/flora beauty I think of Costa Rica.  And the PPL are good lookin too.  More species of plant and animal life in that tiny country than in all of North America, which includes Canada, USA and Mexico..

Did any of yáll consider retiring there?  

apologies for being off topic but Jonnyintrouble - Why are you here then??

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October. The rains are over. Temperature is just right. Wildflowers everywhere. The mountains are green.Traffic isn't too bad as snowbirds haven't arrived. Of course it all depends what you prefer. In your time period I would say August.

Unless you speak Spanish you will probably not live in the "real" Chapala.

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12 minutes ago, WideSky said:

apologies for being off topic but Jonnyintrouble - Why are you here then??

Thanks WideSky. I don't know how long the 'newbie' has been here but sounds like he should be on his way to the perfect place.

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Please note that the OP said: “Our windows to visit are limited due to my wife's class schedule, but have open periods in March, May, August, and December/January.”

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35 minutes ago, cedros said:

October. The rains are over. Temperature is just right. Wildflowers everywhere. Traffic isn't too bad as snowbirds haven't arrived.

I agree, especially the second half of October.  Rain has usually stopped, everything is green, wildflowers blooming, nice weather, not high season.

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4 hours ago, Don_N said:

 

We've read that Chapala area has become fairly expensive and difficult to find rental homes that allow pets.

If by Chapala area, you mean Lake Chapala and its North shore, then yes, it is more expensive here then in many other parts of México, minus the beach towns.  Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta, among others, are quite a bit more expensive than here.  But on the North shore, the Ajijic area is the most expensive and most crowded part of the region.  The city of Chapala is cheaper and not as crowed with expats.  I live here and hardly even notice the couple extra snow birds on the streets of Chapala during our short winter.  It is still mostly Mexican here.  Expats aren't so numerous here.  You see a few here and there, walking around, but nothing like you see in Ajijic.  The rentals are less available here but cheaper when you find one.  Walking in Chapala is more pleasant and easier, due to our flatter, wider, and smoother streets.  Check out both cities, of course.  There was a recent thread about renting with pets in the high season, you can search for it.  I think the consensus was that it isn't as hard as people initially think it will be to find.  Weather wise, it is wonderful here all year except March through the first two weeks of June.  The best time is July through mid November in my humble opinion because of the comfortable temperatures and the lush greenery everywhere.  By mid November everything is becoming brown and dry and it is starting to feel quite chilly for us full timers.  Good luck on your visit.

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1 hour ago, Xena said:

Please note that the OP said: “Our windows to visit are limited due to my wife's class schedule, but have open periods in March, May, August, and December/January.”

Xena, while you are right you are assuming that everyone actually reads what all is said. Often we just glance and can't wait to start typing.... never mind that our answer doesn't meet the criteria posed.

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Highly recommend August.  The area is all a bloom and the rains make the mornings fresh and great for walking.  It is true it usually only rains at night.

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"Our windows to visit are limited due to my wife's class schedule, but have open periods in March, May, August, and December/January."

With your windows in mind: Hands down first: August.

Second: March. 

But as you've already heard above, the "Real" Chapala is all year long. It just changes month to month. Good luck and have fun!

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Yep, August for sure.  But there really is no "real" Chapala anymore, this area is a tourist mecca for expats and snowbirds and a weekend favorite of Tapatios.  Sorta like a Sayulita without the sand.  Even in the off season for the foreigners, the Tapatios are here pretty much every weekend these days.

If you decide to move here,  it is more important than ever to chose location carefully to avoid landing in the thick of things, unless that is your bag.  If it is, bring ear plugs.  Lots of them.  :D

 

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9 hours ago, RickS said:

Xena, while you are right you are assuming that everyone actually reads what all is said. Often we just glance and can't wait to start typing.... never mind that our answer doesn't meet the criteria posed.

I now realize that not everyone even finishes reading the original post before responding. Some may read only the topic heading and, in this case, it did say, “Best Month To Visit” without the qualifier.

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5 minutes ago, Mainecoons said:

Yep, August for sure.  But there really is no "real" Chapala anymore, this area is a tourist mecca for expats and snowbirds and a weekend favorite of Tapatios.  Sorta like a Sayulita without the sand.  Even in the off season for the foreigners, the Tapatios are here pretty much every weekend these days.

If you decide to move here,  it is more important than ever to chose location carefully to avoid landing in the thick of things, unless that is your bag.  If it is, bring ear plugs.  Lots of them.  :D

 

In the summers the Tapatio families who own homes here, often spend the entire season.  Usually the kids and Mom are here full-time while the working Dad arrives Thurs. night or Fri. afternoon and returns to the city solo early Mon.  

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Yes although this is a much smaller group than the weekenders.  I've noticed the Tapatio crowd thinning considerably after the first week of August as schools resume.

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25 minutes ago, Mainecoons said:

Yep, August for sure.  But there really is no "real" Chapala anymore, this area is a tourist mecca for expats and snowbirds and a weekend favorite of Tapatios.  Sorta like a Sayulita without the sand.  Even in the off season for the foreigners, the Tapatios are here pretty much every weekend these days.

 

 

That is the real Chapala a touristy town..a placethat is overcrowded in the center without any parkng and full of people...If you do not want touristy move to Jocotepec.or out in the country or to another area.

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25 minutes ago, Mainecoons said:

Yes although this is a much smaller group than the weekenders.  I've noticed the Tapatio crowd thinning considerably after the first week of August as schools resume.

We know when Guadalajara schools are closed by the sound of racing ATV's on weekday nights 😁  Yes, it is a smaller group that own homes here, but they are well-heeled; we see Mom + kids (and often an abuela) out most weeknights for dinner.  

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How does one actually and consistently identify a Tapatio as opposed to other visitors?  Do we just assume that if they are Nationals and driving a nice vehicle and maybe there are ‘children’ tagging along that they are Tapatios?  

 

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1 minute ago, RickS said:

How does one actually and consistently identify a Tapatio as opposed to other visitors?

 

If it is winter and the person is in shorts, socks, and wearing sandals, they are not Tapatios.

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19 hours ago, jonnyintrouble said:

By here you mean Mexico or Lakeside?  

I got in trouble in C.R.

Take your pick. And if you 'got in trouble in CR'  it could be construed that you are 'on the run' and we wish you would lay low

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