Area Overview

 

The revitalized Mexican economy has earned the praise of global economists. The economic growth over the past years has been steady and with this increase in confidence there has been a resurgence of foreign capital investment. Savvy investors, including an increasing number of Europeans and Asians, are taking this opportunity to invest in the Mexican marketplace, not only in business and industry, but in real property as well.

The reactivated Mexican economy has contributed to the passing of the buyer’s market. However, there are values to be found lakeside in all types of properties, from residential to large parcels of land. The law of supply and demand is evident in this marketplace, and as the area has become more in demand, the prices reflect this popularity.

The Lake Chapala area of Mexico has one of the finest climates in the world. People from many countries have retired to enjoy the warm days and cool nights along the shores of this 55-mile-long body of water.

After the dry month of May, the rainy season is welcomed. It lasts from mid-June to mid-October and brings rains most evenings. During this season, the weather is warm, yet it is much less humid than Mexican coastal destinations. Because the lake is a mile above sea level, you may need a sweater in the cooler evenings. For many visitors and residents, this is the preferred time of year. Their enjoyment is heightened by the crimson sunrises and golden sunsets that start and finish each majestic day.

According to historians, the first American came to the area in 1885, but it wasn’t until 1955 that the larger influx of foreigners began. Now it is estimated that more than 7,000 foreigners, mostly Americans and Canadians, live on the north shore. The area is now one of the most popular retirement colonies in North America.

A multi-lane highway connects Lakeside’s north shore to Guadalajara, less than 40 minutes away. The airport is located midway, about 25 minutes from lakeside.

Area Descriptions

The town of Chapala and the village of Ajijic are the focal points of the north shore. Vista del Lago is to the east of Chapala and Chula Vista, San Antonio, La Floresta, Ajijic, Rancho del Oro, Villa Nova, San Juan Cosalá, Las Fuentes and Jocotepec are to the west, in that order.

Vista del Lago

Chapala Country Club, nestled in the Vista del Lago residential area, is about 15 minutes east of Chapala, near the town of San Nicolas. A well-maintained nine-hole regulation par-36 golf course offers a relaxing morning. In the clubhouse good light lunches and bar service are offered. Evening meals are also served. This Vista del Lago area is a good choice for those looking to acquire a home in a golf course setting that is both private and secluded; a favored area for those looking for peace and quiet, away from it all in a neighborhood with magnificent lake views.

Chapala

Father Miguel de Bolonio who converted the Talticas Indians to Christianity founded Chapala in 1538. Their chief was Chapalah, from which the name Chapala came.

The open mall on both sides of the street coming into Chapala from Guadalajara, all the way to the shores of the lake, is paved with tile and has a lovely center island with tropical trees, shrubs and flowers.

Chapala is proud of its charming plaza on Madero Street with its graceful and interesting bandstand. There is a market behind the plaza with fresh vegetables and assorted handcrafts and other goods. In Chapala there’s a different tempo, so just sit back and relax or stroll the streets.

The villa where British author D. H. Lawrence wrote his widely read "Plumed Serpent," is on Zaragoza Street. The Cazadores Restaurant, a converted mansion on the lakefront, was once the home of the Braniff family of aviation fame.

On Calle Francisco I. Madero stands the Nido, once Chapala’s oldest and most central hotel. In 2001 it was converted to public offices and inaugurated in the summer of 2001 and now houses the city government. Now municipal offices are conveniently located under one large roof.

There are several sidewalk cafes near the center of town serving as focal points for socializing as well as offering good breakfasts and a variety of tasty snacks.

Local and Guadalajara sailors dock their sailboats and speedboats at the Chapala Yacht Club east of the pier. Across the street is a public park, horses for hire and the Chapala Handicrafts Market. You’ll find excellent gifts. The stalls offer everything from leather goods to hand-embroidered dresses and blouses, carved wooden items, toys, jewelry, and a bewildering range of souvenirs. Be sure to bargain if you want the best price.

On Hidalgo Street, just before the post office, is the pleasant new shopping plaza of Las Palmas. Strolling along this area one discovers many interesting retail establishments.

A few blocks further west is the Villa Montecarlo, a hotel/restaurant with one of the finest views in the area. Its facilities include beautiful gardens overlooking the lake, natural thermal-spa pools, a charming restaurant, and meeting rooms and facilities for large groups.

Brisas de Chapala

The Brisas de Chapala Hotel is located five minutes from Chapala off the road to Guadalajara, nestled in the mountains. It has comfortable rooms, a restaurant-bar, swimming pool, and tennis courts. A small complex of private homes is located here, many with spectacular lake views.

Chapala Haciendas

Three minutes from Chapala on the highway to Guadalajara is Chapala Haciendas, spanning both sides of the highway with view homes in a tropical setting. The Chapala Haciendas Hotel and Restaurant has a casual atmosphere and overlooks the lake. It has live music for dancing Wednesday and Saturday nights and on special occasions and a popular Sunday brunch. An abundance of shade trees and tropical flowers cover the hillsides.

Chula Vista

Chula Vista Country Club, five minutes west of Chapala, has a sporty nine-hole golf course set into the mountains, and two lighted tennis courts. Some 200 attractive homes surround the golf course overlooking the lake. It’s well worth driving through to see these beautifully constructed homes. Chula Vista has a strong neighborhood association, which works to maintain the quality of services in this area. Chula Vista is one of the few colonies with potable water, and this is certainly a plus here in Mexico.

Mirasol

Many are drawn to this area by its convenience and natural beauty. Mirasol offers residents a truly authentic Mexican ambiance, with easy access to all services.

Puesta del Sol

This is a favored area for those who are looking for peace and quiet in a preferred neighborhood. There are many fruit trees, flowering bougainvillea, large custom-built villas and vistas of the lake and mountains.

 

San Antonio Tlayacapan

Below Chula Vista is the sleepy little village of San Antonio Tlayacapan, right out of a storybook with its church, town square and cobblestone streets. Here in San Antonio, "Dan Chandos" (actually the pen name of two authors) wrote the charming book "Village in the Sun," which brought many people to the lakeside area. San Antonio offers true Mexican village living.

 

On the highway is Super Lake, a grocery store with many imported goods from the states as well as plentiful local merchandise. This is where many in Ajijic shop.

Nearby is bilingual Oak Hill School (kindergarten through ninth grade) and the Lakeside Little Theater building where productions in English are presented throughout most of the year.

La Floresta

At the east entrance to Ajijic is La Floresta, a tree-lined residential area. La Floresta is a very desirable place to own a home. Its convenient location with a good homeowner’s association providing security patrol, and many fine services, have made many choose this as the ideal place to live.

Several blocks south of the highway is the lovely Hotel Real de Chapala with its beautiful setting on the lakeshore. It has 85 suites, heated swimming pool, lighted tennis courts, a children’s playground, restaurant and the Maria Bonita Bar. Its Sunday Mexican Fiesta, held in the beautiful garden overlooking Lake Chapala, with mariachis and a Mexican buffet, is a delightful experience. Next door to the Real is the Ajijic yacht club, Club Nautico, a members-only boating and social club.

South of the highway going toward Ajijic is the Lake Chapala Municipal Auditorium. This cultural center has 465 seats, a stage large enough for an 80-piece symphony orchestra and fine sound equipment with excellent acoustics. Next door to the Auditorium is the Casa de las Artesanias, operated by the state of Jalisco. It contains pottery, clothing and textiles produced in the state and sold at fixed prices.

Plaza Bugambilias

This is a relatively new mall-type area of shops and facilities between La Floresta and Ajijic that includes a grocery store where many U. S. type foodstuffs can be obtained locally that are difficult to find elsewhere in Mexican markets. There is also a three-screen movie theater, fitness gym and several inexpensive restaurants in this complex. The Wednesday street market is set up on the side street and runs for several blocks down toward the lake where fresh fruits and vegetables and a variety of handcrafts and other articles can be purchased at reasonable prices.

Ajijic Village

Ajijic (Ah-hee-heek) is a pre-colonial village on the sunny northern shore of Lake Chapala in Western Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains. The name Ajijic has a delightful hiccuping sound and is distinguished by the fact that four of its six letters are dotted. Founded by the Nahuatl Indians in the early 1400’s under their chief, Xitomatl, Ajijic was colonized in 1652 by Fray Martin de la Coruña of Spain. Its San Andrés Church, as well as its little chapel, Virgen de Santiago, date to the 1500’s. San Andrés Church was rebuilt in 1749.

The cobblestone streets of Ajijic were originally laid during the days of Spanish rule. Street names in Ajijic can be confusing since, it seems that with few exceptions, street names change every few blocks. Not even the invasion of the "gringos" has done much to alter the tempo of Ajijic. The Mexicans who live here have managed to maintain their old customs and ways.

Artists and writers from around the world "discovered" Ajijic, lured by the ideal climate, the unspoiled quaintness of the village, and the unique blending of European culture with that of the native villagers.

The main street of town, heading south from the highway toward the lake, is Calle Colón. This street passes by the historic main plaza. On the right hand side of the street, directly facing the plaza at Colón 33, is Ajijic Plaza Suites. Extensively remodeled and under new management in 2001, these accommodations are moderately priced. The location is prime. For reservations telephone: 52 (3) 766-0383. Due to the popularity of the Ajijic Plaza Suites, advance booking is recommended.

One block past the post office Calle Colón changes to Calle Morelos, several blocks up from the lake. This is a wonderful shopping area to explore with good restaurants as well. Ajijic Real Estate is at Morelos 4, where bilingual broker Jaime Niembro heads a large staff of real estate professionals at the areas #1 real estate company. Visitors are always welcome to drop by and ask for information or take a home tour.

Just around the corner on 16 de Septiembre is a block or two of artists’ studios and shops. This area is a must to visit for those interested in authentic arts and crafts.

Ajijic is the best place to stay while exploring the area. The village has several excellent bed-and-breakfasts offering very comfortable rooms. Ajijic B.&B., located at Calle Hidalgo 22, just one half block from the historic main square is very popular in both price and location. Ajijic B.&B., in the heart of the village, offers modest rates for very generous quiet king-size bedded rooms in a beautiful garden setting. Breakfast in Restaurante La Fuente is included. Space availability and reservations telephone 52 (3) 766-0383.

At the eastern entrance of Ajijic is the investment house called Lloyds where many foreigners keep an account. The interest rate is good, it is convenient, and though not a bank, you can cash your dollar checks as long as you have an equal or larger amount deposited. Farmacia Guadalajara is located nearby on the highway and is an excellent source for medicines and drug-store-related merchandise.

Las Salvias

Las Salvias is a prestigious area of beautiful homes, panoramic lake views and spectacular tropical growth on the upper side of Ajijic along the mountains. It has a solid reputation of quality and value, and is generally a good choice for well-to-do foreigners looking for a home in Ajijic. There are traditionally few properties available here. A full-array of services are found nearby, oriented to English-speaking foreign residents and tourists.

 

Villa Nova

Villa Nova currently offers an excellent opportunity to find value-priced properties while being close to all amenities. This is an excellent rental market area with good buys available including a few small lots. This is a well established area.

Rancho del Oro

This is one of the favored areas of Ajijic, where convenience combines with exclusivity, and breathtaking views are enjoyed in privacy. This is the new area of recent growth west of Ajijic.

La Canacinta

La Canacinta is a small neighborhood located toward the west of Ajijic before San Juan Cosalá between the highway and the lake. Most homes in this community are constructed in traditional Mexican style, both large and small. La Canacinta has a nursing home on lakefront property, several small shops; there are no schools. It has cobblestone streets.

San Juan Cosalá

Ten minutes west of Ajijic is the village of San Juan Cosalá and its spa, famous for its thermal baths and spouting geyser. The Balneario Motel is situated on the lakefront. The facility with its large public mineral swimming pools, steam cave and several restaurants are popular with locals and tourists alike. On the highway are the Villas Buenaventura. View homes in San Juan Cosalá and in the Raquet Club area across the highway are on the hill.

Las Fuentes

Driving west five minutes from San Juan Cosalá, just before entering Jocotepec, brings you to the modern residential development of Las Fuentes. This area is designed for privacy and exclusive living with some of the best-built homes at lakeside, using top quality materials and accessories. Homes here are definitely USA style.

Jocotepec

Jocotepec is the village at the extreme western end of the lake. Its history traces back to 1361 when the Nahua Indians settled there. In 1520 a Spanish expedition led by a cousin of Hernan Cortés conquered the Indians, and in 1529 Jocotepec was founded. In years past, Jocotepec was a stopping place on the fifth day of the stagecoach journey from Mexico City to Guadalajara.

Jocotepec has rustic charm and is widely known for its beautifully woven sarapes, with their traditional flowered motifs as well as other local handicrafts.

 

Roca Azul

Roca Azul is a small development located around the west end of Lake Chapala near Jocotepec. It is well known for the Roca Azul Country Club where many families gather, especially on Sundays, including locals from Guadalajara.

The Club has a large pool and a kiddies splash pool, both with thermal water. It overlooks the lake with great views.

This is a general overview. If you require specific information, please e-mail us at <info@ajijic.com> with your specific inquiries.

If you are interested in visiting the real Mexico, perhaps you should consider visiting Ajijic and the Lake Chapala area of Jalisco, Mexico on a brief "discovery journey." We look forward to meeting you and look forward to helping orient you to our area.