Moving to Mexico’s Beautiful Lake Chapala Region: The Neighborhoods

by Michael Rosenblum, Absolut Fenix Realty, Ajijic, Mexico

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Lake Chapala SunsetTLACHICHILCO AREA

Six miles to the east of Chapala, at the widest, deepest part of the lake, you willfind a little area not at all like the rest of lakeside. The area is unique in its history in that the inhabitants never surrendered to Spanish invaders.

It is unique in character,too. Lots are large and unwalled, each with its own gorgeous view of the lake and mountains.Homes here are relatively new, as development began here only a few years ago.

The area is reputed to have the finest drinking water Lakeside. Another big plus for the community is the irrigation water from the nearby dam, the only one Lakeside.

The popular Chapala Golf and Country Club is only five minutes away. For those whom enjoy peace and tranquility, large gardens and spectacular beauty, the mostly undiscovered, wide-open spaces of Tlachichilco are worth a look.

CHAPALA

Chapala was the first Lakeside village to be placed on Spanish maps in the early 1500s. In Chapala is the largest American Legion Post outside of the States, with its own clubhouse, restaurant and activities.

Many expats have business or banking activities in Chapala and you will see them meeting for conversation with friends in one of the several coffee shops and sidewalk cafes.

Near the church and the former Braniff (of aviation fame) estate is the pier and malecon, the Mexican version of a boardwalk. Here you’ll find vendors of souvenirs, food, clothing, boat tours and more.

Just outside of Chapala, off the highway to Guadalajara, are the bedroom communities of Las Brisas de Chapala and Chapala Haciendas. On the highway to the east of Chapala, is Vista Del Lago, which surrounds the nine-hole Chapala Golf Course.

CHULA VISTA

Five minutes west of Chapala is the established subdivision of Chula Vista, where some 260 homes step their way up the side of the mountain to capitalize on the spectacular 180 degree views of Lake Chapala and the mountains. The Chula Vista Country club features tennis courts, clubhouse and an executive nine-hole course with great lake views. As is typical of much of the area, flowering trees, shrubs and plants of all descriptions abound throughout the area.

PUESTA DEL SOL

Puesta del Sol is a small, very private, colorful, flower-lined, cul-de-sac of charming, nicer brick homes just west of Chula Vista and north of the village of SanAntonio Tlayacapan.

SAN ANTONIO TLAYACAPAN

Along the main road, midway between Chapala and Ajijic is the village of San Antonio Tlayacapan. This village has remained largely unchanged. Behind the walls are lovely homes with modern appliances, pools, beautiful gardens, and happy expats.

You will learn not to judge any home from the curb.

Off the highway in San Antonio you will find Mail Boxes, Etc., a pharmacy, a hardware store, Paz liquor store, Super Lake with many imported food products to satisfy those cravings, Tony’s meat market, and Tony’s Restaurant. Just east of these establishments is the Absolut Fenix Office. Across the highway is the Lakeside Little Theatre, Mexico’s oldest English-language theatre, which recently celebrated it 40th year Lakeside.

LA FLORESTA

La Floresta is an older, charming neighborhood. Here, the trees, on the highway running through La Floresta, meet overhead to form a leafy canopy. Homes here range from small to large, from modern Santa Fe to old Mexican. Wander through to see the gardens and homes.

Note that the large spaces between the wide streets and the homes are common areas. La Floresta, which means “Where the flowers are” in Spanish, is the location of the local 465-seat auditorium where classical musical performances, folkloric dance groups, plays and choral groups may be seen and enjoyed on a regular basis.

La Floresta is within easy walking distance of San Antonio Tlayacapan, to the east, and Ajijic, to the west.

AJIJIC

The Village of Ajijic is the center of most of the activities of the expat community. This once sleepy fishing village had a long and noble Indian history, and then it was discovered by the rest of world.

Writers such as DH Lawrence came and were inspired, as were musicians, actors and dancers. Some stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Charles Bronson, came here to get away from the hectic pace north of the border.

The community is a haven for many writers and artists, inspired by their beautiful surroundings.The village church is dedicated to San Andres the patron saint of Ajijic.

Both it and the little chapel were built in the 1500s and are located on the central plaza. San Andres Church, rebuilt in 1749, is referred to as the “new” church.

The traditional, shady plaza is the center of local fiestas and is always busy with venders and families. Sunday evenings the young people still walk in the traditional “paseo,” the boys one way, girls the opposite.

Although taken up for repairs on many occasions, the cobble stone streets date back to colonial times with the cobblestones being used again and again.

Near the lake, on 16 de Septiembre at #16-A, is the Lake Chapala Society, with almost 4,000 members. The society is located on the former estate of Neill James, a famous travel writer and long-time resident. Stop in and visit their lending library, video rental club, and ask about the many other activities and services.

Many fine restaurants, hotels and B&Bs are located in the village. A clean, inexpensive room may run $40 US per night. You will enjoy browsing the numerous designer boutiques, shops, art studios, and galleries.

Lakefront walkways and parks are a wonderful early-morning setting for welcoming another beautiful day.

LAS SALVIAS, VILLA NOVA & RANCHO DEL ORO

On the north side of the highway, west of Ajijic, are the charming and popular neighborhoods of Las Salvias, Villa Nova, and Rancho Del Oro. Some of the most beautiful and grandest homes Lakeside lie within these areas.

Marked by stone entrance arches, Villa Nova is an original Hacienda site. On the grounds of the recently remodeled and restored Hacienda are magnificent bay leaf trees. Rancho Del Oro is to the west of Villa Nova and shares the same potable water system. Gold and silver were once mined in these hills. Be advised that the mineral rights belong to Mexico, so prospecting will probably not be worth your effort.

Rancho Del Oro has been one of the fastest growing neighborhoods as development push westward.

SAN JUAN COSALA & THE RAQUET CLUB

Driving west from Ajijic, you will pass the neighborhoods of La Huerta, La Canacinta, La Cristina, Los Charales and Las Palmas before arriving at the village of San Juan Cosala.

This village is one of the better places to look for a bargain. Here are found renowned spas which are a popular mid-week getaway for local residents who enjoy the relaxing and medicinal qualities of the hot mineral waters.

Tapatios from Guadalajara fill up the pools on the weekends. Above the village is the Raquet Club, which features upscale homes with panoramic views. Homeowners enjoy a pool, jacuzzi, sauna, six tennis courts and the clubhouse.

JOCOTEPEC

Continuing westward, you pass through the neighborhoods of El Limon, Jaltepec, El Chante, and Las Fuentes until, at the westernmost end of Lake Chapala, you find the town of Jocotepec. Founded in 1529, Jocotepec is a typical Mexican town, best known for the quality serapes woven there.

It features an active street market on Thursday mornings. Jocotepec is home to about 1,000 expats and many Mexicans who once worked in the States and have returned to their homes and families.

Around the end of the lake is the subdivision of Roca Azul, home to many weekend Tapatios (folks from Guadalajara) and expats. Here you will find a trailer park.

TO GUADALAJARA or AROUND LAKE CHAPALA

West of Jocotepec, you can travel north to Guadalajara or continue south and on around the lake to see unspoiled quiet farm land, quaint villages, and wide open spaces with wonderful views of the north shore of the lake. Take a day-trip, up into the mountains on the south side of the lake, to alpine villages where pine forests grow. Remember to bring a warm sweater.

Or if you prefer a few days of rest and fun at the beaches of Manzanillo and Barra de Navidad, they are only four hours to the west via a beautiful toll highway.

Michael Rosenblum, Gay Ajijic RealtorMichael Rosenblum has a long history of selling real estate, previous licenses held were in Texas and Florida. Michael bought his first home in Ajijic in 2002.  The Absolut Fenix Real Estate team is “absolutely…the best,” when buying or selling homes, land, or commercial property in the Ajijic-Chapala area of Mexico. In this thriving Lake Chapala retirement community, we, at Absolut Fenix, take pride in our role as leaders in establishing and maintaining the local multiple listing service, enabling buyers to more easily find that special property… from a village condo to acreage.

Fenix is the Spanish translation of phoenix, the legendary bird dramatically reborn from the ashes of its previous existence. Thus, the Absolut Fenix logo symbolizes our promise to you of better things to come, especially something as positive as relocating to the beautiful, idyllic Lakeside area. We work with hundreds of expatriates every year, helping them to learn about Lake Chapala and to make solid decisions about relocating or retiring here. Our many referrals and return clients offer the most valuable testimony to our expertise, success and integrity.

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