Home Headlines Ajijic: Mexico’s expat paradise on the lake

Ajijic: Mexico’s expat paradise on the lake

by sanmigueltimes
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The city of San Miguel Allende sucks all the air out of the room when the conversation turns to expatriate life in Mexico. While San Miguel Allende has been garnering lots of awards for its quality of life and general wonderfulness, the tiny town of Ajijic (pronounced Aah-hee-HEEK) is developing into another expat paradise for citizens from the U.S. and Canada.

Ajijic is in the state of Jalisco on the shores of Lake Chapala, which at 417 square miles is the largest lake in Mexico. Ajijic is about a half-hour drive from Guadalajara’s international airport. This positions the town close enough to the big city benefits of Guadalajara, while still being tucked away from the urban sprawl in a unique natural setting. Imagine a huge lake with fisherman out on the water in pangas (small boats) casting for carp. At the shoreline are snowy egrets doing their own fishing. Someone in Ajijic must have made a concerted effort to protect the town’s trees since the streets are lined with huge specimens, including palm trees mixed in with pines and flowering jacarandas.

The compact town of Ajijic has narrow streets with rough cobblestones. Strolling through the town, there are hints of past hippy glory, such as a Volkswagen Beetle festooned with stuck-on flowers, or a distant sound system playing Creedence or the Stones. Many of the walls of the town are decorated with colorful murals in a range of styles, from figurative to whimsical to abstract.

A note about the cobblestone streets and in some places cobblestone sidewalks: If you plan to do any amount of walking at all, you’ll get a lot more mileage if you wear sturdy footwear and forgo the high heels.


The streets are lined with colorful houses and small boutiques and galleries. Since expats make up about 50% of the population during the winter season, visitors will find a greater variety of shops and restaurants than they would in a typical small Mexican town. For example, there’s the Simply Thai restaurant; Pasta Trenta; Ajijic Tango, featuring Argentinian steaks; and Tabarka Restaurante, serving Basque/Spanish cuisine.

Drop into Ajijic on a Wednesday to experience the weekly tianguis, or farmer’s market. There’s a variety of vendors, with some selling fresh produce, while others hawk household goods, curios and crafts. There’s also a mix of food vendors selling traditional Mexican food at rock-bottom prices. My breakfast of two excellent carne asada tacos and a soft drink cost less than $2.


While sitting on the malecon, I met a friendly Canadian walking his four dogs. When his wife was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome several years ago they were advised to find a sunnier climate. They first tried expatriate life in Panama, but found it too rainy for their liking. They heard about Ajijic and fell in love with the town immediately and made the decision to move down permanently. “We love it here,” he said. “It’s one sunny day after another. When people ask me if it’s safe I tell them, ‘I’ve been attacked by mosquitoes once or twice, but that’s about it.’”

Click here for full article on USA Today

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