It is early in my 5 month Mexico ‘leg’ of my world trip.
Well, I can’t really say ‘found’ because over 20,000 expats got here before me and already call Ajijic ‘home’.
As I say in my Ajijic Information post, Ajijic boasts the largest expat community in Mexico.
In Ajijic, Spanish is almost a second language … English is widely spoken … everywhere.
Ajijic is a quiet place. You won’t get many backpackers bothering to come here. This is not a ‘party’ town.
Ajijic feels like you are in one great big westernised Retirement Village.
And, in the heart of that Retirement Village you will find the Lake Chapala Society (LCS) where retirees meet and there are plenty of activities to get involved in.
Visit their office and ask to sign up. It costs MXP525 each per year plus a one-off MXP100 new member administration fee.
STANDARD TOURIST VISA:
Most ‘westerners’ should get a free 180 day Tourist Visa on entry into Mexico.
If you plan to stay for up to 180 days, all is hunky dory.
If you want to stay longer, you will have a problem: you cannot renew this Visa whilst in Mexico … you MUST leave the country and come back in again.
Ajijic is in central Mexico and not near a border … the cheapest Visa Run for 2 people is likely to cost at least US$700.
TEMPORARY RESIDENT VISA:
If you are planning on living or staying in Mexico for more than 6 months (and less than 4 years), I suggest that you get a Temporary Resident Visa before you come.
The current price for a 1 year Temporary Resident Visa is MXP3,596. But, it will save you the cost of a Visa Run.
If you obtain it for less than 4 years, it is only renewable for a total of 4 years. These Temporary Visas can have work permissions and can allow for multiple entry and exit from Mexico.
To get one, you need to meet Financial Requirements which can differ depending on your country of origin / citizenship.
In general, they are looking for retirement income of roughly US$1,500 / month or a US$25,000 balance in your bank account(s). GRANDPAckers should meet this financial requirement.
Contact your local Mexican Consulate for the details, application form, and process.
WHEN TO GO:
You can come to Ajijic any time of year.
The Chapala Lake basin has a year-round average temperature of about 72 °F (22 °C).
The rainy season begins in June and lasts until October with an average rainfall of approximately 34 inches (860 mm). Even during the rainy season, precipitation generally occurs during the evening or at night.
December and January are the coolest months and May is the hottest (just before the onset of the rainy season).
Overall, there is very little temperature variation year round: daytime highs in January are around 75 °F (24 °C); daytime highs in May are around 80 °F (27 °C) to 90 °F (32 °C).
November to May is Peak Season with 1,000s of ‘snow birds’ escaping their northern hemisphere winter and benefiting from the driest weather.
You can read my post about getting from Tlaquepaque to Ajijic for more detail.
- Get to Guadalajara
- Get to the right Bus Terminal
- Catch a 1 hour bus
Guadalajara is Mexico’s 2nd City … there should be plenty of options if you want to fly into Guadalajara directly.
WHERE TO LIVE:
The Ajijic Central Plaza is not really a focal point.
As a consequence, you can live anywhere in Ajijic that you like.
However, you may find that the LCS is a focal point for you. If you are that type of couple and love to get involved, then you will want to be within walking distance and, therefore, in or around the Old Town.
YOUR FIRST WEEK:
I suggest that you get online to TRIPADVISOR and book a Vacation Rental for the first week.
Hotel sites like AGODA.COM don’t have many options for under MXP700 / night … and, you don’t want to arrive without something pre-booked.
You may find very few options if you turn up on a weekend or in Peak Season.
Leave it too late, and you may find yourself paying MXP900+ / night (your daily budget) just on accommodation.
LONG TERM RENTAL:
You can find long term rentals on sites like Access Lake Chapala. There are more, so get online and search for them.
Both of the, above, options tend to be expats renting to expats … and you pay more ‘premium’ prices.
Put the word out to some locals and let them do some of the leg work for you. You are more likely to get a better price.
I met one expat from the USA who was married to a Mexican, they rented a 3 Bedroom house in the Old Town for only MXP4,000 / month … but it was below GRANDPAcking Standard and a bit of a ‘Do It Up Yourself’ type rental.
TAKE YOUR TIME:
I strongly suggest that you Take Your Time.
Extend you short-term hotel room or Vacation Rental if you need to.
There is nothing wrong with living in a decent hotel room for 1 month so that you can find the right Long Term Rental for the next 5.
Read my post on Ajijic – GRANDPAcking Costs for more detail about the cost of a short-term stay … this is what you can expect your costs to be until you find your long-term solution.
You should be able to find a short-term Double Room with aircon, Cable TV (with English sports and movie channels), and hot water shower in a reasonable hotel for less than MXP500 / night. These hotels are NOT on the internet.
You should find that all Utilities, Internet, and Cable TV are included in your rental price.
Electricity is usually extra but you only need to budget MXP100 / month. The climate is so temperate that you shouldn’t need to use your aircon … just use a fan, it will more than halve your electric bill.
You should be able to get a local cleaner in each week for MXP40 / hour if you want one.
RENT OR BUY:
I have found no reason to suggest that it was ‘unwise’ to purchase property in Mexico.
in Ajijic you will find several 900sqft property options that meet GRANDPAcking Standard.
A 900sqft 2 bedroom Condo can be purchased for US$100,000-150,000.
You should be able to walk everywhere.
My Vacation Rental host drives a Mexico registered 2003 3L Honda Accord that he bought in Mexico for US$5,000.
He can legally drive in Mexico on his USA Driving License. His Fully Comprehensive insurance is US$450 / year.
IS AJIJIC A GRANDPACKING RETIREMENT LOCATION? YES.
Is Ajijic somewhere to stay for several months as you alternate between home or another Retirement Location(s)? YES.
Read my other post about Ajijic for more general information.
WHAT WOULD YOUR RETIREMENT BUDGET BE?
THE GRANDPAcking ACID TEST: Can a retired couple with no assets live easily, comfortably, and happily here with their only source of income being a standard NZ Married Couple’s State Pension? YES.
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