Ajijic - Hacienda Roof View of Lake

Ajijic – Mexico – Information


AUGUST 2016:





Why not read our Mexico Retirement Reviews.


OVERVIEW:

Ajijic is a small town on Mexico’s biggest lake (Lake Chapala) about 50kms south of Guadalajara.

Ajijic is 5,046ft (1,538m) above sea level in the vast central Mexican plateau that is home to the Sierra Madre mountain range.Ajijic Location Map

Lake Chapala is a well known expat destination: mainly for expats from the USA and Canada … but they are, now, being joined by an increasing number of Europeans.

Ajijic boasts the largest expat community in Mexico: over 20,000 expats live here on a permanent basis and 1,000s more ‘snow birds’ join them each year (especially from Canada) as they escape from their winter back home.

In Ajijic, Spanish is almost a second language … English is widely spoken everywhere.

For GRANDPAckers, Ajijic is expensive (yet still affordable). Read on …Ajijic - Main Road


WHEN TO GO:

The Chapala Lake basin has a year-round average temperature of about 72 °F (22 °C).

Chapala - Promenade from Pier Chapala - Welcome SignDue to Ajijic’s relatively high elevation, it is seldom unpleasantly hot or humid.

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).Chapala - Cathedral


GETTING THERE:

I made my own way from Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara to Ajijic by standard bus. Make sure that you go to the correct Bus Station in Guadalajara!

Guadalajara - Direct Bus to Ajijic Guadalajara - Nueva Central StationThe bus was comfortable and perfectly adequate for the 1 hour journey.

They do not stow your luggage in the luggage compartment; you have to take your luggage on the bus with you.

From Guadalajara you can catch several different buses: some stop on the way (which can more than double the total journey time), some go to Chapala Town. I caught the Direct Bus to Ajijic.

The journey from Tlaquepaque to Ajijic should take less than 2 hours (door-to-door) and costs PHP100 for 2 people (plus any transport that you need at each end).Guadalajara - Direct Bus to Ajijic Seating


COMMUNICATIONS:

I still had my TELCEL Package that I purchased in Puerto Vallarta on arrival in Mexico and topped up in Tlaquepaque.

Chapala - From Pier Chapala - Main Street to Lake As I say in this previous post, I still had the back end of a “bugger’s muddle” with TELCEL until the end of August … but I had data and my internet connection was working.

In Ajijic, free internet is widely available in the restaurants and bars. Your accommodation usually includes free internet too.

This means that you won’t need the usual GRANDPAcker 2GB Mobile Phone Data Package; you should be able to get away with less data.

TELCEL only cell ‘call + text + data’ packages – most of which provide unlimited calls and texts within Mexico, USA, and Canada. I suggest that you look at their MXP150 Package. This package lasts 30 days and provides 400MB of Data.Chapala - Promenade


TRANSPORT:

By Foot:

You can easily walk around Ajijic on foot. Just wear decent shoes to help ‘buffer’ the harshness of the uneven cobblestones.Ajijic - Typical Old Town Street

Trike / Tuk Tuk:

You don’t find things like Trikes or TukTuks in Mexico, so those ‘supercheap’ options are not available to you.

Local Bus:

Local buses have their fixed price displayed in their front window.

Local buses don’t usually have a route of more than 10kms long.

The fixed price is typically MXP6 or MXP7 per ride.

Scooter:

I saw no Scooter Rental options in Ajijic, so I cannot provide indicative costs. However, I am not sure that I would recommend that GRANDPAckers rent a scooter anyway.

It is worth noting that my USA Hacienda Host (see below) drives legally in Mexico on a US Driving License.

This suggests that many people from many different countries can, probably, do the same without needing either an (a) International or (b) Mexican driving license. But, check yourselves first.

Taxi:

Taxis are reasonable cheap in Mexico if you know what the Rule Of Thumb should be. Alas, tourists get over-charged frequently.

So far, I have found the UBER Taxis to be a safer and cheaper option than using the Taxis on the street.

If you need to ‘stagger home’ after a good night out and want to catch a Taxi instead 🙂 … budget about MXP10 / km using UBER.


WHERE TO STAY:

With such a large number of full time expats and such a large number of expats regularly coming for several months each year (to escape their winters back home), accommodation is in high demand and prices are high accordingly.

Ajijic’s Central Plaza is not really a ‘focal point’. As a consequence, given that Ajijic is so small, you can stay anywhere.

HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):

As I have said, Hotels in Ajijic are expensive for GRANDPAckers.

A simple future search on AGODA.COM demonstrates this nicely:Agoda Hotel options

DON’T FORGET: Sites like AGODA and BOOKING display prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You, usually, have to add 18% to the displayed price to get the final price.

I had a good walk around town to look for Hotels NOT found on the internet.

An ‘average’ Double Room (of 12-15sqm) with hot water ensuite and cable TV can be found for MXP600 / night. Expect to be able to negotiate this down to MXP500 / night for a 1 week stay.

However, I wouldn’t suggest that you just ‘turn up’ without a booking.

I suggest that you pre-book a couple of nights online in a cheap place before you arrive … then, have a walk around and negotiate a price for somewhere that you like (and can afford).


Booking.com




HOLIDAY RENTALS (Weekly Rates):

If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use TRIPADVISOR to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental.

Holiday Rentals are usually rented by the week. A simple future search on TRIPADVISOR.COM demonstrates this nicely:Tripadvisor Holiday Rental options

Holiday Rental prices are normally displayed INCLUSIVE of taxes.

Holiday Rentals, usually, offer better quality accommodation than Hotels for a lower price.

However, you may find that you are sharing the accommodation with either your Host or other people. This can prove to be good or bad depending on you and whom you end up sharing with … but, people are people all over the world, most of the time this is not a problem.




MY ACCOMMODATION:

I couldn’t find any Hotels within our GRANDPAcking price range online.

Ajijic - Hacienda Frontage Ajijic - Hacienda Dining So, I used TRIPADVISOR.COM to pre-book 1 week at a Holiday Rental.

The one that I chose is the ‘House to Share in Upper Ajijic‘, above.

I paid US$200 for 7 nights which equates to MXP525 / night. This was the cheapest place that I could find online within 1 week of arrival.Ajijic - Hacienda Roof View of Lake

MXP525 / night is 50% of our GRANDPAcking Budget and the maximum target price for a GRANDPAcking couple.

Ajijic - Hacienda Ensuite Entry Ajijic - Hacienda Room Entry If you are coming to Ajijic, I advise you to start your search for accommodation several weeks earlier.

I was pleasantly surprised by my accommodation … it was better than any Hotel option within our GRANDPAcking price range.

I shared the accommodation with my host, Michael.

He did his thing … I did my thing … and we got on fine every time that we crossed paths.

It was a pleasant and comfortable stay … as long as you are happy walking up and down a 400m cobbled street to get to / from the main road.

I can recommend Michael’s place.Ajijic - Hacienda Room


EAT:

STREET FOOD:

There are surprisingly few Street options in Ajijic … I expected more.

Ajijic - Street Dolmades MXP50Ajijic - Dolmades CartYou will find Tacos at about MXP10 each. You will need at least 2 for a meal … many people buy 3 or 4!

Down at the Central Plaza, a Street Cart sets up in the evenings. Here you can buy several different meals including Hot Dogs and Hamburgers. I tried 2 of their Quesadillas for MXP17 each.

The Tuesday Market is a pleasant place to have Lunch and meet other expats. You will find a couple of Street Stalls there.

BUDGET CAFES / RESTAURANTS:

Try one of the local cafes. You should be able to find a decent meal (like Burritos) for as little as MXP30-50.

One of my favourite places was a street van at the bottom of my road that set up in the afternoons through to late in the evening.

It sold Eastern Mediterranean dishes for slightly more than what you would pay for a Mexican meal.

But … I couldn’t resist a meal of 6 Dolmades with Pita Bread and salad for MXP50.Ajijic - Street to Central Plaza

MID RANGE RESTAURANTS:

Expects to pay MXP70-90 for something from the ‘lower quartile’ of the menu.


DRINK:

Expect to pay MXP25 for a bottle of Coroner beer. More in an up-market restaurant.

OCAMPO 71:

Ajijic - Ocampo 71 Bar Ajijic - Ocampo 71I found one Happy Hour at Ocampo 71 on Ocampo Street.

They have a nice restobar set around a central garden.

On Wednesday nights they have a live Jazz Band that is said to be very good.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday they have a 3-for-2 Happy Hour on beers (a Coroner is MXP25). The Happy Hour also extends across some shorts.

They are said to have an ‘average quality’ menu but do good wood-fired pizzas which start at MXP89. I just had a Nachos snack for MXP45.Ajijic - Ocampo 71 Nachos MXP45


YOUR HEALTH & SAFETY:

There is no reason to feel unsafe in Ajijic. But, as always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.

Bring a torch. The back streets can get pretty dark at night.

Bring decent shoes. The cobbled streets (and footpaths) are very uneven and can be ‘hard underfoot’ if you only have flip-flops.


BEACHES:

There are none. The lake isn’t really for swimming either.

You don’t come to Ajijic for a beach lifestyle … but, if you are lucky, your accommodation might come with a pool.Ajijic - Lake Front Walkway


WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO SEE / WHAT TO DO:

Get around and meet some expats or wander down to the Lake Chapala Society (LCS) which is located 2 blocks directly south of the Church near the Ajijic lakefront.

You will find that the expat community have many things going on … enough to satisfy almost everybody. You can play Bridge every afternoon if you want to or join a Trekking group …

They also have notice boards of events, an event schedule, and a cafe where you can meet people.Ajijic - LCS Cafe

CHAPALA:

Chapala - From Pier Chapala - Main Street to Lake Chapala Town is only about 8-10kms away.

MXP7 on a local bus.

It offers a nice lakefront and alternative shopping and restaurants.Chapala - Promenade


MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:

ATMs:

There are several banks and ATMs around town.

Alas, there is no HSBC bank offering an MXP7,000 ATM withdrawal.

The ‘de facto’ ATM withdrawal limit is MXP5,000.

Local Shops:

Ajijic has a large Walmart Supermarket a 30 minute walk towards Chapala Town from the Ajijic Town centre. Or take a local bus for MXP7 each way.

In Ajijic, itself, you will find a smaller Supermarket with slightly higher ‘convenience’ prices.

  • 1kg Natural Unsweatened Yogurt: MXP35
  • 1Kg Grapes: MXP35
  • 10L Water: MXP24
  • 1Kg Toasted Muesli: MXP65
  • 1.5L Tequila: MXP100
  • 4L Orange Juice: MXP35

Tuesday Market:

  • 1 Kg Grapes: MXP25
  • Large punnet of Strawberries / Blueberries: MXP45-50

GETTING AWAY:

From Ajijic I will be heading to Guanajuato via Guadalajara.

I will tell you more about that in a future post.


CONCLUSION:

Many retirees will fall in love with Ajijic. 20,000 expats already have – and call it home.

In my opinion, living in Ajijic would be living in one great big Retirement Village.

You won’t find any backpackers here

1,000s more come for several months each year … alternating between their home country and Ajijic so that they can live in constant summer whilst retaining their right to their home country’s Retirement Pension.

The standard Mexican 180 Day Free Tourist Visa makes this easy to do.

Ajijic - Central Plaza and Church Ajijic - Central Plaza Evening Cafes The ‘constant’ and comfortable ‘springtime’ climate is the main ‘draw’.

GRANDPAckers should definitely come and have a look.

I will provide a GRANDPAcking Budget for a holiday visit in my next post.

TTFNAjijic - Central Plaza


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