Lake Chapala is a snowbird’s paradise that is home to a large and welcoming expat community. And that’s not all. In my opinion, Lake Chapala has the best-value real estate you’ll find in any of this country’s expat hubs. Sitting at an altitude of 5,000 feet in west-central Mexico, Lake Chapala (the country’s largest freshwater lake) boasts one of the best climates in the world.
As a retired expat and current resident of Mexico, I frequently get asked if Mexico is a safe place to live? Media outlets in the States are fond of highlighting occurrences of cartel-related violence near the U.S. border, leading many to conclude that all of Mexico is a scary, unsafe place. Further, the U.S. Department of State does a great job of issuing real-time warnings to travelers regarding upticks in violence in various Mexican locations.
After 35 years in soggy Seattle, Pat and Russ Huber were ready for a drier, warmer climate. They thought that Santa Barbara, California, close to friends and family and with much improved weather, would be their solution. They sold all their stuff, putting only a few things in storage, loaded their car, and headed south, looking forward to their new lives. But after about a year in California, Pat encountered a major medical issue.
It’s not hard to see what drew Valorie to this village of 12,000 people. Puerto Morelos lies about 30 miles south of Cancun and claims several miles of spectacular natural beachfront. Temperatures most days hover in the 80s F. The water is warm and clear, its colors ranging from dark blue to varying shades of turquoise. The sand is light and fine as sugar, and the tropical waters host all manner of colorful fish, lazy sea turtles, and even migrating whale sharks.
Cancún’s huge, maze-like outdoor mega-mart, Mercado 23 is where locals go to find the best deals. Here you’ll find dozens of food vendors and fish mongers, a large aromatic spice shop, butchers’ markets filled with cages of squawking chickens, sweet-smelling bakeries, and a dizzying array of specialty shops. Unfortunately, as entertaining and culturally enriching as it is, most visitors to Cancún never find their way to Mercado 23.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya is the Grand Prize Winner for most popular vacation destination on the Caribbean. The same motivations that cause more than five million vacationers from across the globe to flock to this area annually, are also attracting a growing expat population eager to turn their best beach vacation into a full-time retirement lifestyle.
We got as far as the town square in the small village of San Vicente on Ecuador’s northern coast when our car ran out of gas. I pulled to the side of the rutted, muddy road among a huge crush of writhing, smiling people as sultry Latin rhythms shook the windows of the car.
“You know Mr. Murray, you are in the gayest hotel in the gayest city in Mexico.” That was the greeting I got from the hotel clerk in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s at times like these I realize how being part of International Living can take you to the most interesting and unusual places! And that’s how I ended up in Puerto Vallarta…I was here on an exploratory trip to find out what this well-known vacation destination, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, offered as a retirement location.
Cozumel is a perfect blend of laidback island life with tons of activities to enjoy. Here you can have as relaxed or active a retirement as you want. You can park yourself on a perfect stretch of white-sand beach for the day, listening to the waves as you read the latest best-seller, or don a snorkel to explore the world’s second-largest reef system, just offshore. Clear waters make it easy to see (and photograph) sea turtles, rays, and colorful clown fish. You can even make arrangements to swim with giant whale sharks.
“You may have heard this before but it’s really true in my case,” says Nicky Simonyi. “I came down here on vacation and never left. That was 35 years ago.”The 55-year-old Canadian is sipping a cool drink, just a few steps from the warm, Caribbean surf. You could easily toss a seashell into the turquoise water from where she sits.