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Mexico at Thailand Prices
Old 08-06-2016, 04:50 PM   #1
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Mexico at Thailand Prices

We're currently spending a few months up at Mexico's largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala in the State of Jalisco (only about 45 minutes from Guadalajara). We lived here full time for about three years and are currently Tucson-based, so this area with its perfect year-round climate (it's at 5000 feet: temps are typically mid-70's-low 80's during the day and around 50 at night) is a great escape from Arizona heat. It's the rainy season here - meaning heavy rain for an hour or two most nights and usually clear, sunny says.

Most tourists think of Mexico as a winter-only escape and of course think "beach," but here and in Central America too the vast majority of the population lives in the highlands where the temperatures are pleasant year-round.

We used to average around 11 pesos to the dollar during our years here, but for much of this year the exchange rate has been 18 pesos plus (today's rate is 18.77). This makes the already more-than-reasonable prices here truly amazing; if you've been contemplating a visit or extended stay down here, there's never been a better time.

Lake Chapala is the largest American and Canadian expat haven in the world, so in addition to plenty of Mexico food there are lots of gringo-oriented eateries and amenities. To give you a sense of prices, here are some recent ones from our day-to-day existence here (peso amounts converted to U.S. dollars at 18.4 to the dollar):

Roasted half chicken with rice, just-made tortillas and salsa: 2.98

Mini watermelon, large papaya, large pineapple, 5 limes, 3 large mangoes: 4.80
Steak dinner for two with rosemary roast potatoes, steamed vegetables and a bottle of Chilean cabernet $23 (including generous tip)

Street tacos for two for lunch (tacos de barbacoa - long-stewed beef, with lots of veggies): 54 cents per taco/$2.71 total.

Dental cleaning (U.S. trained, English speaking dentist) $13-24 (many expats come to the area just for dental work and can add on a couple of week's R & R plus airfare and still come our ahead vs. U.S. prices for major work like crowns or root canals).

Travel within Mexico is equally attractively priced. There are super deluxe buses here that don't have any U.S. equivalent (think first class seating on an airplane, but with more room) and also a fiercely competitive discount airline market almost entirely made up of airlines that can't be booked on travel agglomerator websites (Google Vivaaerobus, Aerolineas TAR, Volaris and Interjet). As an example, from Guadalajara airport less than 30 minutes from Chapala, one can fly roundtrip to Oaxaca for $130-150, or roundtrip to Mexico City for just over $100.

There are a bunch of factors fueling these amazing exchange rates, including low oil prices, Brexit and overall weakness in Europe. Who knows how long it will last, but it's an amazing opportunity for travelers and we also see many snowbirds who've been coming down for years looking at buying properties and vehicles at what could be once-in-a-lifetime prices.
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Old 08-06-2016, 05:10 PM   #2
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Really good to hear from someone actually there.

Do you speak Spanish ? , Can I get by with English or am I really needing Spanish ?
When I went to Cuba (long time ago) I found nearly nobody outside the resort spoke English, so conversations became hand signals and mime

What about hotels, if I wanted to take a trip to there (and honestly I hear bad stories of Mexico, so I want to go directly there from US by plane).
What would be the route to go there from US by Plane, would I fly into Mexico city and then on a local flight or am I stuck on a bus that could run into a roadblock ?
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:00 PM   #3
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Basic phrasebook Spanish goes a long way, though these days there are apps and web sites that will take you quite far and are a lot of fun (check out Duolingo).

You can easily fly directly into Guadalajara from many American cities. Check out Volaris online too as they are often cheaper than U.S. carriers. From there it's an easy ~40 minute taxi ride to the lake.

Lots of lovely B & Bs to stay at. La Estrellita in Ajijic is excellent, or search for Pequeño Hotel Chapala on VRBO/Homeaway.

http://www.chapala.com/wwwboard/webboard.html is the more active of two local web boards.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:21 PM   #4
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Nice write up, I will definitely consider going.
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Old 08-07-2016, 05:59 AM   #5
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What about the social scene. I an an active very 'hip' 55 single male. Any local ladies around 40 yr and up?
Thanks

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Old 08-07-2016, 06:05 AM   #6
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Other than the few rentals on VRBO are there any other websites to find monthly rentals?
We considered spending a month there this summer but family obligations got in the way. Perhaps next summer?
If we do we will drive over.
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Old 08-07-2016, 11:53 AM   #7
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Wow, thanks for sharing, that sounds like a great place to visit.

Tell us more if you have the chance.

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Old 08-07-2016, 12:00 PM   #8
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Looks like there is an RV park in the area. $250 per month with electric/wifi/pool/hot tub. Seems like a reasonable cost to experience the area. What are rents like in your area?
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:33 PM   #9
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I'll try to answer a few of these questions.

There are lots of rental agencies here! If you Google Access Lake Chapala, Roma Rentals, Ajijic Rentals and Management you'll get an idea, but many of the best deals are found on local web boards and physical bulletin boards. Rents for fully-furnished places geared towards gringos (and often owned by them) range from around $400 a month for a one bedroom to $2000 for a 2-3 bedroom place with gardens, perhaps a lake view and lots of other amenities that you'd find in a $1M plus place on the West Coast. These are short term rates - we paid between $500-700 when living here year-round. That's expensive for Mexico, but given that utilities are less than $100 total and food a third to a fourth of U.S. prices it's still low cost living.

With respect to social life, while we see more and more early retirees here as well as families with kids who have the kind of internet-based work they can take anywhere, the majority of expats you'll see here are retirees in the traditional 65+ age range. Of course if you work on your Spanish there are plenty of Mexican of all ages and a very lively social and dating scene in Guadalajara.

It's a great area to visit anytime.
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Old 08-07-2016, 06:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevink View Post
We're currently spending a few months up at Mexico's largest freshwater lake
I always enjoy reports like this, especially when they have an economic bent.
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Old 08-08-2016, 01:02 AM   #11
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Thank you for the dating info.

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Old 08-09-2016, 10:03 AM   #12
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Another couple of summer destinations are San Miguel de Allende which has an expat community and nearby Guanajuato which is Spanish. Both worth seeing.
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:45 PM   #13
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Currently learning Spanish, and planning to visit next year. Thanks for posting this.
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Old 08-11-2016, 05:38 AM   #14
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Thanks. We have spent the last three winters in Thailand and SE Asia. Time for a change this coming winter. Mexico is high on our list.i. We want to try two or three different locations in Mexico.
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:55 AM   #15
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One thing to note is that this summer is not typical. Friends from PV are freezing in Patzquaro because of all the rain in the highlands this year. And there is more in the forecast.
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Old 08-11-2016, 09:42 AM   #16
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One thing to note is that this summer is not typical. Friends from PV are freezing in Patzquaro because of all the rain in the highlands this year. And there is more in the forecast.
I'd appreciate it if you'd get all the extra rain wrung out of the system this year. We have a lot of plans for next fall
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