A Tale Of Three Expats in Mexico


By Michaela

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People come from all over the world to retire in Lake Chapala, Mexico. Why? What motivated them to make the transition to a different county and more specifically to Lake Chapala? In this blog, I sit down with three recent expats and ask them a series of questions to help us understand their reasons for leaving their home country and moving here to beautiful Lake Chapala, Mexico.

Interview No. 1 Bruce Dugdale

Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today. Please tell us a little about yourself

Hi, my name is Bruce, I’m 62 from Seattle Washington and Portland Oregon. I am a Photographer. Lived in Prague in the 90’s shooting for Elle, Business Week, Time, Wall Street Journal, etc. Traveled many times to Mexico, mainly Southern Mexico.

How did you find out about Lake Chapala?

I knew about Chapala from friends who had lived here.

Describe some of your first impressions during your first visit to Lake Chapala?

My first impression was a lot of Gringos in Ajijic, great weather and an amazing individual named Ricardo that showed my friend Mark and I around the area.

What was your motivation for moving to Lake Chapala specifically? What drew you to it?

I enjoyed time in Chapala and Riberas very much, warm and friendly people, nice climate, and good food.

What made you decide to Buy vs. Renting?

I was motivated to buy for investment and found a flat that I absolutely love!

What are some of the things you LOVE about living here?

Besides my lovely flat, I enjoy the people here, both Mexicans and Gringos. People are generally friendly and happy and willing to engage in conversation. I’ve made some amazing friends in a very short time being in Chapala.

What are some of the frustrations you found out about after moving here?

My number complaint is insects. For some reason Mexican bugs love me. Sometimes it’s difficult to find odd items I’m in need of, making it time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. And lastly, Gringos that complain!

In hindsight, do you feel that you made the right choice in moving to Lake Chapala? Why?

To me coming here is the start of a new adventure, I am very motivated to make this experience here positive and satisfying. Peddle to the metal.

Interview No. 2 Ron & Charlotte Huckabay

Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today. Please tell us a little about yourselves.

Charlotte and I, like many others locally, are retired and want to get the most out of the remainder of our health and lives.

Charlotte grew up mostly in the Highland Park area of Dallas and attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. I came from a farming community in West Texas. I had graduated from TTU in 1973. We met while I was managing a restaurant in Lubbock and she was a student at TTU. We met in October of 1976 and were married in June of 1977.

After 22 years together in Lubbock, and 3 wonderful children, we moved from Lubbock to Andrews, the oil country north of Midland/Odessa. I labored in local government administration for many years and retired in 2015. Charlotte raised our children and worked in the medical field in both Lubbock and later in the Permian Basin. Charlotte retired in June of 2018.

How did you find out about Lake Chapala?

Through a foreign exchange program and artistic performances, we encouraged our children to appreciate life outside the United States and the variations of world cultures. I had subscribed to a periodical International Living for several years and had studied many viable relocation destinations both before and after my retirement.

I began to focus on Central and Northern South Americas. Because we have children, and Charlotte’s mother in the States – we did not want to be too distant (Western Europe). I found a lot of things to interest me in Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, Belize, etc. I considered all the items that everyone considers: health care, cost of living, climate, accessibility to international transportation, adaptability (for someone of only English language capabilities) and safety. Mexico was not on my list due to my concerns about safety. So, for a couple of years, I focused on the regions south of Mexico.

Describe some of your first impressions during your first visit to Lake Chapala?

After Charlotte retired, I booked a VRBO casa in Ajijic for 25 days in late October-early November 2018. I wanted to be here for the Día de las Muertos. We checked out as much as possible for a couple of pedestrians and thoroughly enjoyed every day – especially the friendliness of the locals – both expats and natives of the area. Just such fun. The food and ambiance were marvelous. We agreed that this was a very good possibility for our future.

What was your motivation for moving to Lake Chapala specifically? What drew you to it?

I had seen a couple of articles in IL about the Lake Chapala area. On the internet, I found several FB pages – and a great post from Tangerine Travels about Ajijic. As my research south of Mexico continued, I kept returning to information about Lake Chapala. I kept focused on (1) health care – Guadalajara had all you could ever need; (2) climate – altitude of about 1,530 meters (>5,000 ft.) called the second best climate in the world – I’ve no idea who decided that but not for me to challenge today; (3) cost of living is very affordable; and, (4) we can be in Houston in three hours – but we can also be in all the other countries mentioned above plus Western Europe after a short cab ride to GDL.

What made you decide to Buy vs. Renting?

After we returned to Texas, Charlotte had to consider her mother (84), her needs, her care, and how to separate or bring her with us. I kept an eye on chapalamls.net for properties for sale. Charlotte indicated a desire to rent and learn the areas for a time. This was a trying time for us both. We knew that we wanted to return and learn more, but the number of available options and the necessary processes to achieve each seemed overwhelming. I had watched the residential sales market in the general Ajijic area and felt certain that two years prior would have been much more advantageous for property purchase and that two years later we would incur a greater expense for a similar choice. So, I kept a constant eye on the MLS website and often contacted Michaela at Lake Chapala Real Estate for further information on listings.

In January 2019, a property came onto the market which was in a familiar location that met or exceeded our desires. With Michaela’s help, we moved forward with a successful purchase offer and closed in mid-March. Excluding all we could pack into a cargo van, we sold all our worldly goods and departed to our new home in Ajijic.

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What are some of the things you LOVE about living here?

What are some of the frustrations you found out about after moving here?

With only three months into our new home, it is difficult to itemize our likes and dislikes. Getting through the end of the dry season has brought us a much greater enjoyment of the climate. We made friends with some snow birds that have since departed – we look forward to seeing them again next fall. We are meeting a number of year-round residents and greatly appreciate their wisdom and the freedom with which they share it. We continue in amazement at the friendliness with which we are welcomed as guests into this country. The arts and traditions here are so rich and omnipresent. Mexicans have great pride in their various cultures/heritages and in the strength and endurance of its people. As for the negative side, we are still in the honeymoon phase of our adventure. It is offensive to me to hear someone say this or that should be more like it is/was in the United States. We accept Mexico as is, with all faults. We expect happy and healthy lives and the enjoyment of the quality of life offered here.

In hindsight, do you feel that you made the right choice in moving to Lake Chapala? Why?

Charlotte and I have absolutely no regret for our choice or the quick actions we took to achieve this quality of life. After going firm on our contract and again after being in our home in Ajijic for two months, we asked one another if either felt that we should have visited more locations. We both feel that we are very fortunate to have found such a lovely home in this wonderful village to enjoy. The Lake Chapala area is perfect for us for all the reasons herein and more that we have yet to discover.

And, oh yes, we feel very safe in our community.

Thank you to Bruce, Ron, and Charlotte for taking part in this interview. It has been my pleasure to help them in making the expat transition to life in Lake Chapala, Mexico and it’s an honor to call them my friends.

If you have questions about moving to Lake Chapala, I want to hear from you. Contact me and thanks for reading!

ABOUT Michaela

Hi, I am Michaela and thank you for visiting this website.  I moved to Ajijic 9 years ago from London, Ontario after attending a Focus on Mexico tour group.  After 12 years as an air traffic controller in Canada, I realized my passion in life has always been to help other people. Becoming a Master Pilates Instructor, I helped thousands of people over the next 20 years develop stronger bodies and minds through the Pilates Method, Yoga and Theta Healing.

Ajijic is one of the most beautiful places on earth!  I still thrill at the opportunity to help others by helping them in finding the perfect home for their retirement years.

Come visit Ajijic and you’ll stay to live your best life ever!

Source: retireinlakechapala

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