Living in AjijicIyna Bort Caruso
Along the coastline of Mexico’s Lake Chapala, the town of Ajijic is referred to by locals simply as Lakeside, hinting at its stature among the collection of towns that edge the country’s largest natural lake.
Ajijic (pronounced ah-hee-HEEK) is situated between the northern shoreline and the Sierra Madre Mountains, 5,000 feet above sea level. Due to its elevation, Ajijic enjoys mild, dry temperatures year-round. Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, is just 35 miles away and the international airport is even closer.
Popular Ajijic is the centerpiece of Lake Chapala. North Americans started coming here in the 1950s. Today full-time and seasonal homeowners from the United States and Canada make up as much as 25 percent of the population in high season. Many are active retirees. In fact, the area supports one of the largest communities of American retirees outside of the U.S. The Lake Chapala Society, founded in 1955, is the cultural and social hub for English speakers. But it is more than just great weather that draws people. Ajijic is safe, accessible and a launching pad for golf, tennis, boating and horseback riding.
Ajijic attracts a particularly creative crowd. The number of working artists is reflected in the town’s many galleries and art shows. The dining scene is eclectic and the central plaza has a regular schedule of concerts and celebrations. Despite the large ex-pat community and widespread use of English, Ajijic still retains its authentic Mexican identity.
For wealthy Guadalajarans, second homes in Ajijic make for popular weekend getaways. Traditional homes are often brightly painted with central patios, fountains and lush gardens. Boveda ceilings, self-supporting brick vaulted ceilings, are based on a highly specialized construction technique and are a much-loved architectural feature. Homes within walking distance of the plaza are always in demand. The area, however, boasts many prestigious communities with spectacular mountain and lake views.