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Many of us who are more impulsive bought almost as soon as we arrived. Generally homes are paid in cash — no mortgage payments — which is another form of freedom! Then you only have to pay the utilities and ongoing maintenance which I have outlined below. It is always wise to link up with a good real estate agent who has lived in the area for many years and can help you not only find the ideal home for you but one who can help you with many intricacies of Lakeside living that only comes with experience and time.


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Others choose to rent for a while and familiarize themselves with the area and prices. It is good to learn who are respected rental agents in the area. Most seasoned real estate agents can help with this as well. Some folks pay for content insurance if they consider their contents to be valuable and worth insuring.

What is the difference between the two?

Whew what a welcome relief! And for those on a pension or limited income it is manna from heaven. A fireplace or portable propane heater might be nice in the cooler time of year — mid-November to mid-February — just to take the night chill out of the air and fans are nice to have in the warmest time of year — April through mid-June. Keep in mind this heat is dry heat so it is never unpleasant, even at the hottest time of year.

Most of us hang out clothes on a line because things dry within a couple of hours in the sunshine! Depends on the plan you take but the amazing thing is that your premiums do not increase if you make claims! Much cheaper than north of the border regardless of what kind of plan you opt for. Mechanics and Body Workers charge a fraction of what you pay up north. Owning a car here is a pleasure because it is so affordable. You are always connected with loved ones!

Health care is a concern to many of us seniors and rightfully so. Mexico has first class specialists and top of the line hospitals — especially in the larger centres like Guadalajara, a quick 45 minute drive from Lakeside. At Lake Chapala we have options. Recently IMSS has tightened up regarding pre-existing conditions and have turned down many elderly applicants. Within this system there often is a wait for various procedures. The good news is that in the more recent past there have been increasingly more options in terms of individual and group private insurance plans, the latter being more lax in terms of accepting older clientele.

There are various insurance representatives who can explain the various options in detail. When paying privately, there is no waiting period. When it is not an emergency or a catastrophic situation, you can simply pay as you go. The great thing with pay as you go and private insurance is that there is no wait — you are seen immediately which can be crucial when it comes to life and death situations.

What I found to be an incredible difference between doctors north of the border and here in Mexico is the quality of the service — they even make house calls! Most Mexican doctors actually spend time listening to their patients, and treat them with utmost respect and kindness. When one is ill and vulnerable, a good bedside manner makes a huge difference. During my very first few months in Mexico while still on travel insurance, I had to have emergency back surgery.

Not only was the surgery successful but the care was second to none, mainly the undivided attention of the attending surgeon. The rule of thumb is that you do have to pay the surgeon and hospital before you are discharged. There was another time when I had an emergency situation on the highway between Lakeside and Guadalajara and I was rushed to what is known as The Green Cross Hospital only for emergencies and after I was treated I offered the staff money and they refused to accept it. And I had fabulous care so I never really feel that one would be left destitute, regardless of how much or how little one has.

Living at Lake Chapala

First class care at a fraction of US costs is routine for the Lakeside resident. When I was thinking of moving to a warmer climate and then decided to visit the Lake Chapala area of Mexico, I was astounded by the number of juice bars where you could buy freshly squeezed orange and carrot juice combined with just about anything including any kind of greens imaginable — and at a fraction of the cost of northern prices.

I had thought at the time that maybe that is why there were so many elderly Mexicans walking the streets — gotta be those juice bars! There are even therapies that you can receive here that are not permitted in Canada or the United States. Mexico is very progressive when it comes to alternative approaches to healthcare. Dental care in Mexico is a fraction of what it costs in Canada and the United States yet the quality of care is identical as long as you shop around and ask friends for referrals. Lakeside is a relatively small area and everyone knows who is good and who is not so good.

Dental tourism is on the rise!

The Lake Chapala Society - Home

You could have a fabulous, inexpensive vacation at Lake Chapala while you do your dental work! Mexico is known for being a mecca of cosmetic surgery but amazingly enough, our own Lake Chapala is becoming a hub in itself! In Canada a face lift can be prohibitive because each area of the face is calculated. For instance, upper and lower face are considered two separate areas, the neck is separate as are upper and lower eyelids. Cosmetic surgery tourism has become popular over the past few years. Many people come because it is affordable and some have had personal referrals from friends who have had great experiences here.

We also have first class dermatologists who work with medical skin conditions but also do incredible cosmetic skin treatments at a fraction of what it costs north of the border. How wonderful to be able to turn back the clock and at the same time enjoy the perfect weather and take in the sights of an authentic Mexican village! The media is filled with news about violence in Mexico. One thing happens here to a foreigner and the entire world knows about it.


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  • 1. Expat Life in Lake Chapala?

Violence abounds in Canadian and American cities and it is not reported to the rest of the world. I know that a few of my acquaintances in Canada think we are shooting one another in the streets and would never come to Mexico!

It must be remembered that Mexico is a huge country with thirty one states and it is statistically much safer than the United States. To put it into perspective, US citizens were killed in Mexico last year out of the nearly 8 million tourists — of which 1 million live in Mexico full time — and remembering that almost all of these were involved in illicit activities. This is the same number of murders that occurred in Orlando the same year. Would you not visit Disney world because of the murders in that state?

Working Mexicans also use low wattage bulbs throughout the house and turn out lights when they leave a room. They light up the fireplace for heat and some of them use candles. Nice touch. Soft fire or candlelight and a family gathering in front of the TV, rather like the days of old when families gathered together in front of a fireplace and told stories. Perhaps outdoor lighting should be reserved for when company is expected.

Propane gas is used for cooking and for hot water. It takes them about five minutes to fill your tank. Still others include a Vonage line or other service to the US so that family, friends and business connections north of the border can contact them at no charge beyond the call to the Vonage local number. This is effective for those who reside in Mexico for their retirement or whose businesses require keeping touch even on vacation.

Lake Chapala, Mexico

Cable or satellite TV service is standard in Mexico and quite good. Sky TV is a Mexican satellite service that provides some channels in English — there are about a million expatriate Americans and Canadians living in Mexico so we are well provided for. Maid service and gardeners are often included as part of the cost of a rental, although not always.

Do not stint on them or you may risk 1 losing a good service person with experience at the job or 2 an unhappy and perhaps unreliable employee. Gas for your car, food, entertainment, clothing, medicines…these are all personal, and only you know what your budget permits. However, they are all more affordable out of pocket in Mexico than north of the border. Read our article on House and Garden Maintenance Costs.

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Something we have not talked about is medical. The hospitals in Guadalajara are very good, accustomed to US insurance forms, and the service is above average. Pharmacies an be found on every other corner. You can find pretty much any medication you can in the US and Canada at more than half the cost.

Anything more is a luxurious lifestyle or one with travel. Download our example spreadsheet Budget we have put together. One is based on renting and the other if you own a home here.

We have left blank fields for you to fill in if you have any additional expenses that are not contemplated in the sheet. A rough example of a 2 person Cost Chart based on a monthly period if renting:. Read our article on how you can receive your Pension or SS checks. In short, you can live a better lifestyle in Mexico for less money, especially once you know your way around the differences.

Vive Mexico!