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San Miguel de Allende or Lake Chapala ??

Hi all,
So what are folks thoughts on San Miguel vs Lake Chapala area?  Which is cheaper or what other significant differences between them ?

Way too many gringos. Reminds me of Miami Beach.

joaquinx :

Way too many gringos. Reminds me of Miami Beach.

Yep , got to agree Joaquinx, plus expensive and not safer. That is available in the U.S. But like you, it is my opinion, except for the more expensive, and not safer part.

People do feel more expats equal safer, but from what I have seen, and read that is not true. Both cities were affordable and more tranquil in the past.

Hi,
We are moving to SMA in August, before deciding, we made 3 trips down to visit with our cousins who own a house there and have been going there for over 25 years. We rented a casita for the month of February to get a real feel for the city. There are lots of  Gringos there, but they are still a minority, we bought a house in a mostly Mexican neighborhood with a few Gringos in the area, as well. We like the mix of local and expat, it suits us. SMA has lots to offer in the way of culture and it is a lovely city with welcoming people. The restaurants are many and there is every price point and a variety of food from many cultures, from Sushi to Thai, Italian and of course, Mexican. I never felt unsafe there and the people are incredibly tolerant of expats. No one can tell you what is best for you, you need to come for an extended stay or several stays. We made a point of going at every season of the year to sample the climate. We are used to high elevations, we currently live in Colorado above 6000 feet, so that is also a consideration. As far as Lake Chapala, I  have a close friend who moved there in January and she loves it, it is a much smaller city and has at least as many Gringos. She loves the lake and the mountains nearby, it has less to offer in activities and housing options in town, but Guadalajara is only 30 miles away with a large airport and plenty to do. I don't find the housing that much less than SMA and the majority are outside of the main town.  The  one complaint my friend has it that being a small community, everyone knows or wants to know everyone else's business, lots of gossip going on among the expats.  I hope this helps you out, but you really need to spend time in both cities to do real justice to each of them. Good Luck in your search:)

Did you read the question? She asked which location is better? You answered "too many gringos" ??

She didn't ask which was better. She asked what were the differences. There is no differences. More gringos in lakeside and more diluted in sma, but that isn't a difference.

My husband and I own a home in Queretaro and have just purchased another home in San Miguel.  Closing on it soon. We feel SMA is a quieter town . You can find trouble wherever you go. QUERETARO has gotten busy over the last 10 years. Feeling more like Mexico City! Still an ok town.

I think a few of the biggest differences between the two cities are:
1) SMA is colder at 6200' elevation. Lake Chapala is only 5100' and because it is such a large body of water, has a tremendous moderating effect on the temperatures. For example, highs and low vary by several degrees C between the lake and Guadalajara.
2) SMA is more expensive then Lake Chapala
3) SMA is a long way from the airport. I haven't driven it myself so someone here can probably correct me if I am wrong but it's like 2 1/2 hours I believe. Lake Chapala is only 1/2 hour to the Guadalajara Airport which is a major international airport.
4) Another biggie is access to major health care. We've had many friends rushed off to Guadalajara with emergency medical conditions. Guad is only 1 hour whereas SMA is more like 3 to get into Mexico City.

Thanks RMAjijic.   I think points 2 and 4 are both quite important.  3 is probably more important for my visitors.  :)

I certainly want to live somewhere that I can get a better bang for my dollar than I can in the US. And while people talk about TOO many gringos, I think for many Expats it is nice to be in an area where the cultural differences are tempered with the presence of a significant expat community. But I also want to make sure it is safe both from a Crime perspective as well as having good health care when needed.

I can't comment on crime in SMA. There is crime here in Lake Chapala but it is all petty theft type stuff.
It is very easy to live a more Mexican lifestyle in Lake Chapala if that is what you want. So many people come here and only see Ajijic and see all the gringos (particularly in the winter) and say "Oh, I don't want this", but go jut 10-15 minutes down the road in either direction and you can live among the Mexican population and rarely see a gringo (if that's what you want).
The nice thing about Ajijic is that is has so much to offer. Live theater, concerts from world class entertainers and every sport, club, and activity you can image. It" all fine and dandy to for one to say that they don't want to live among the gringos but one has to ask themselves "What will I do all day, every day?"
Finding a place to live is very different from a vacation of a few weeks or a few months.

Really good information. We're going to visit Lake Chapala this November, but everything I've seen says that Lake Chapala is where we want to be. We'll be renting and getting by on two Social Security incomes.  Hoping its going to work.

I looked at a 10 day weather forecast this morning and probability of rain for now and next 10 days is 80%. Also humidity is near 80%. Temp's in the 70's. I don't like humidity but can tolerate. Hopefully its less during the non-rainy season.

Anyone know about bugs? Mosquitos? Fly's? Roaches? Other little critters? in the area. Also my wife probably is going to have problems walking on cobblestones. Not planning to have a car. Can we use a golf cart?

Lots of questions, but getting excited about making a new life.

wgr1943

I assume you mean that you want to live in the town of Chapala?
It's nice there but busier than Ajijic even. Good that you don't have a car. There are some gringos living there but much less so than Ajijic.
It gets very busy on the weekends and during festivals there as it is THE place to go for Guadalajarans. Chaplala is the government seat of the area and draws the biggest festivals which can last for many days or even a couple weeks. And there are lots of festivals in Mexico.

It's the rainy season now. July and August in particular gets most of the rain. Right now at 2 pm it is 27 C and 54% humidity inside the house with all the doors and windows open. I put the thermometer outside for a while but it didn't change any. We had a rain shower this morning (a bit unusual to have it in the morning instead of overnight) so the humidity is up a bit. The last couple days if felt warmer and we had more sun. Here is a link to a more accurate weather station on the lake in between Ajijic and Chapala. Best not to look at the Guadalajara weather because it's not accurate for here.
Once the rainy season ends it's just sun and more sun. Humidity will drop and be around 40-50% most days and much, much less (down to 20%) in April and May when temps soar up to 92 degrees F. (my favorite time of the year but most people find it too hot)

http://chapalaweather.net/

There certainly are mosquitoes and flies here during the rainy season. They mostly disappear by November.  Roaches are around but varies by area. My place doesn't seem to have any yet in certain areas I see quite a few.

This is the place to ask questions. Lots of knowledge on this board. You can PM me with any questions you have as well.

rmAjijic... I hear what you're saying about being near an area with a bunch of Expats, and I think it is a good idea. Really all it does is give you even more options about what you can possibly do.

I would like to live among the Mexicans but with access to the areas with more Gringos, In looking at properties, I know I wouldn't want to live in a gated community, I'd rather be able to buy maybe a double lot so I can have a larger garden or maybe even chickens. SO I do picture I would probably be at least a couple of small towns away from Ajijic or Chapala itself. And we would probably want to build a house more in style with Mexican construction.

Thanks rmajijic.  We're meeting tomorrow with a guy who was in Chapala 15 years ago. He's also planning a trip there in November. He's the first person I've been able to talk with face to face that has first hand experience. Probably a lot has changed in 15 years, but he keeps in touch on the internet.

We got a recommendation (possibly here) to stay at La Nueva Poseda when we're there in November. Have you any comments? Otherwise I'm going to make motel and plane reservations after our meeting. It would be great to meet you when we're there. We'll keep in touch.

wgr1943

You'd be surprised how quickly it gets rural. Double lot out in the country is no problem and is literally 5- 10 minutes driving from Ajijic. There are lots of options here.

rmajijic :

I can't comment on crime in SMA. There is crime here in Lake Chapala but it is all petty theft type stuff.
It" all fine and dandy to for one to say that they don't want to live among the gringos but one has to ask themselves "What will I do all day, every day?"
Finding a place to live is very different from a vacation of a few weeks or a few months.

I couldn't let this one go majijic. "what are you going to do all day" really ? You can't have Mexican friends to do things with ? it requires gringos ?
I think you might want to preface every glowing report with a disclosure of your girlfriend being a real estate agent there.  It presents a more balanced picture. As for crime to be completely honest along with "petty theft" there was the murder of a Canadian couple before you moved there, Chapala is not Disneyland, but like Disneyland it is more expensive than many other places in Mexico. Saying only what is great about a place is selling.

Well, I don't think I deserved that kind of attack. I am just trying help people in their decision making process.
Is Ajijic for everyone? Of course not. Do you need gringos to have friends? Of course not. But most people (especially if you don't speak Spanish) cannot make that kind of cultural transition.
Is there crime in Ajijc? Of course there is. I am not trying to sugar coat things but trying to keep perspective as to how much crime there is compared to elsewhere. As for a Canadian couple being murdered, I think you could say that about any city in the world. Is there muggings and murders every week, every month, every year in Lake Chapala????
Of course not.  Keep some perspective.
Is it cheaper to live in other areas in Mexico?  Of course it is. Would you want to live in those areas?  Maybe, maybe not.  Is Lake Chapala cheaper than SMA?  Yes, I believe it is.  That is what the topic question was about.  What is the difference between SMA and Lake Chapala.
I am sure SMA has lots going for it too. If people prefer it there, then great.
All I am doing is helping supply information so people can make their own informed decisions. Some will come here, some will go elsewhere.

rmajijic :

Well, I don't think I deserved that kind of attack. I am just trying help people in their decision making process.
Is Ajijic for everyone? Of course not. Do you need gringos to have friends? Of course not. But most people (especially if you don't speak Spanish) cannot make that kind of cultural transition.
Is there crime in Ajijc? Of course there is. I am not trying to sugar coat things but trying to keep perspective as to how much crime there is compared to elsewhere. As for a Canadian couple being murdered, I think you could say that about any city in the world. Is there muggings and murders every week, every month, every year in Lake Chapala????
Of course not.  Keep some perspective.
Is it cheaper to live in other areas in Mexico?  Of course it is. Would you want to live in those areas?  Maybe, maybe not.  Is Lake Chapala cheaper than SMA?  Yes, I believe it is.  That is what the topic question was about.  What is the difference between SMA and Lake Chapala.
I am sure SMA has lots going for it too. If people prefer it there, then great.
All I am doing is helping supply information so people can make their own informed decisions. Some will come here, some will go elsewhere.

I am not in fact attacking, but trying to get you to reflect in a more balanced way. Your postings are often very much like sales presentations, not unbiased at all.  If you included your girlfriends business address, or your business address you would be asked to move to the business directory . There are "not muggings and murders every week, every month, every year" in many parts of Mexico. So Chapala is not an exception in that regard, "is it cheaper to live in other areas in Mexico?  Of course it is. Would you want to live in those areas?  Maybe, maybe not" is an attitude about something you don't know about, but clearly feel that those that move into mostly Mexican neighborhoods, or look into other towns, have been foolish.

To fairly make that decision people need facts while showing respect for the people whose country is Mexico. I think the 'one or two can go live with the Mexicans if they want' , and 'you can decide what to do with the rest of your day while the Mexicans do all the work at your house', attitude is not showing that respect. We need to remember that this is not our country. We came to this country as guests we should act like guests.

I'm glad you are so happy with Chapala, but please be fair to others, and the natives. Some of them have likely been displaced from their homes, and the town they grew up in because the gringos like it so much. It happened in many parts of the U.S. and SMA and Chapala are probably examples of it happening here.

Whatever 'travellight'. I am not going to debate you on this forum. You don't know me and I don't know you.  I'm  just here to help people with their questions since I live here already. If you have pertinent information as to the question "SMA or Lake Chapala?" I am sure we all want to hear it.

Great idea, tell them honestly about what your experiences have been where you live, that's all we ask :cool: .

Denissira:
Having just spent two months in San Miguel as well as as time in Ajijic....I can speak to a couple of things posted in error here. Both places are wonderful in their own right for very different reasons. It all depends on what best suits your lifestyle and preferences. That said...San Miguel is just an hour drive from Querétaro, a city with excellent high quality medical care and an easy to navigate international airport. It's a pleasure to fly in & out of there. Its also a wonderful, manageable city with lots to do. Plus...San Miguel  also a 90 minute drive to León ...where there's another international airport. I've flown out of both several times.

Those are the facts. But what's best for you is a very personal choice. The two places have a very different vibe -- and usually, people are firmly in one side of the fence or the other. :)  Best of luck in your journey...Barb

Thanks Promobabe,
Let me put you on the spot a little bit more. In your view (and I understand it is just your view) which kind of people might prefer SMA over AJijic or the other way around?  Thanks for any insights!

Good post Promobabe. Thanks for setting me straight on distances and times to healthcare and airports.

Great post promobabe, useful information about actual life there.

Hi Denissira:
I first fell in love with SMA on my first short trip trip there last January. However, I did briefly but very seriously consider Ajijic after going there in May. Met great people and have a couple of friends who urged me to "give Ajijic a chance" by coming for a few months later this year. I almost did. But.  A second, 5 week trip to San Miguel after traveling around Central Mexico (Ajijic, Guadalajara & Querétaro)  -- I just got back 10 days ago -- convinced me that my gut instincts about SMA are right. So I've  made arrangements for a one-year rental in my favorite colonia (Guadalupe) starting in April of 2018. Why? Well for starters, I'm a city girl. And while San Miguel is certainly no vast metropolis by any means (I consider it a sort of "city-town"), it has an energy I like. There's more to do, see & explore. More places to walk (I'm a huge walker). More sights & sounds, more restaurants, galleries, art, culture. It's got a good amount of expats but still plenty of "real Mexicans." A good mix in my opinion. My friends who live in Ajijic don't care for San Miguel at all. Their view is shared by many Ajijic/Chápala expats. They see SMA as way too crowded, too expensive (though I think the recent price spike in Ajijic rentals makes the two places  pretty comparable). They feel many of the expats in SMA are pretentious. (There's some truth to that, sure, but I've met a lot of really great people). They prefer Chápala/Ajijic for the smaller town feel and the tremendous sense of community and connection among the expats. I would agree on that. It's an amazingly friendly place. Some say maybe it's too small...people get in each other's business. But I've heard that about San Miguel expats, too. Ultimately, Ajijic is just too small & too slow for this city loving gal. It's also not visually interesting enough to me. (Though many would resoundingly disagree and rightfully point out beautiful Lake Chápala and the small, colorful village of Ajijic.) While Ajijic is less than an hour from Guadalajara (which is a terrific plus) I don't want to have to travel for every day activity and excitement. Same thing in SMA--I love Querétaro and will occasionally go--but I don't want to *have* to go there to be engaged and entertained. So SMA works well for me. But I totally understand Ajijic 's appeal too. And I'm excited to visit my dear friends there.  Anyway that's where I stand now. Who knows? After I spend a full year there, I may feel differently. But that's what the Adventure is all about, right? Buena suerte in your own journey. :)  -- Barb

Any sites in both areas with rental info? I'm living on SS, so I's like to get an idea about expenses first. Thanks!!

Just do a google search for Ajijic rentals. Access Lake Chapala probably is the biggest but Roma, Ajijic Rentals and Management, and Ajijic Homes for Rent are some others. There are something like 8-10 in total. I'll have to compile a list. 
Some Realty companies have rentals such as Coldwell Banker, Ajijic Real Estate and Century 21.
Honestly though, rentals vary all over the map. You can get something for 4000 pesos or pay $2000 U.S.  It's up to you. And as always, it is best when you are here on the ground scouting for yourself.
Personally, one of the reasons I came back to Ajijic after my first visit was the variety of low income rentals vs the beach  (I really loved Barra de Navidad) but it is more expensive on the beach.
Here, at least, you get to choose. You can live cheap or pay more and get more. In fact our landlady has a renovated casita right in front of our house up for rent for 5000 pesos per month including electricity, internet, and water. That's only $275 U.S.  You only pay for gas which for a single person will be very cheap. Remember too, that rent is always somewhat negotiable. This place is only good for a single person though as it is small.

I find the website numbeo helpful regarding costs.

Thanks for the info!! Has your landlady posted the casita yet and does she have pix?   I'll check the sites that you listed.
Jake

The renovations are being completed this week so by next weekend it should be posted. I'll let you know where to look.

my wife and I are seriously thinking of moving to SMA, we live in Canada, we are mid 50's, are able to retire early. Friends used to live in SMA and loved it, one friend who recently passed away (at 101) lived in SMA for 40 years.

Any advise? Renting is preferred for us for at least a year, seems wise to me. We will have $3500 a month income. We plan to bring our vehicle with us, but maybe not sure about that??

The plus , there are a lot of gringos, the minus there are a lot of gringos. The plus the weather is mild with humidity, the minus the weather is mild with humidity. The plus there is very little violent crime, the minus there was a violent crime.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What each of us appreciate is unique to us . Really you need to scout out both places yourself. They each have a lot ( different or same ) to offer.

Explore on your own
Rents are rising in Lake Chapala.

We can home to think . I wpuld rather be bu the coast if the rents continue to rise

Never debate with ignorant or angry people.  I appreciate your posts. Thank you for the information.

What about noise? Especially close neighbors with multiple outside dogs (uncontrolled barking). That I would not be able to handle.
Thanks

dogs are a huge problem in many countries, I perswonally can not stand barking dogs, it's a total deal breaker for me

Do all neighborhoods in Lake Chapalla have barking dogs, especially the gated communities?

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