As of today, the exchange rate is 20 pesos to the dollar. In my elementary math mind, it's easier if I simply think of it as every 100 pesos I spend is equal to approximately $5.00. The rate of exchange here has doubled in the past ten years! That means our dollar is worth twice as much now. Mexico is ON SALE, people! The cost of living here is one of the main draws for retirees who are looking to stretch their Social Security and/or retirement benefits. There are retirees who are able to live on just their monthly Social Security check. Seriously!
An average meal for two, including drinks (beer or soda) at a local Mexican restaurant only costs us about 100 pesos ($5) total, with tip. There are also many more international and upscale restaurants in town which can double or triple the cost. However, the price we pay at a more upscale restaurant here in Mexico for a 12 oz. filet mignon with salad, bread and baked potato is still only 180 pesos ($8.72), or a third of the price we'd pay stateside.
If you've been following our blog, you know we also found a bargain of
an apartment here in a Mexican neighborhood....
Pretty much anyone who gets to know me, finds that I am not a fan of hot, humid weather. At all. Our first year as early retirees in Chiang Mai, Thailand had me really weary of the daily oppressively steamy heat after only a few months there. I managed to stay indoors in the air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day, but I felt so out of sorts in that year round hot climate.
I knew, from talking with friends and from doing some research, that Lake Chapala, Mexico has the second best climate IN THE WORLD! The #1 climate is found somewhere in Africa and I'm not ready to live that far away, so Lake Chapala was our next choice for a long term stopover.
From the minute we moved here, I knew we'd made the right choice. The average temperature here year round is in the mid 70s. The winter mornings are cooler (in the 50s/60s) and the afternoons are warmer (mid 80s). We enjoy dry air, blue skies, very little rain, and light lake breezes. The sunrises and sunsets are stunning as well. I really enjoy having mountain and lake views from our apartment's mirador (upper terrace). The birds and flowers here are some of the most vibrant I've ever seen anywhere. It's a veritable kaleidoscope of color all year long!
It's rather rare to find a place where it's just so easy to meet new people. From the moment we arrived in Mexico, the warmth of the locals and expats alike was immediately evident. Everyone just seemed so...happy! We would go out for a bite at a cafe and strike up a conversation with other expats who have either just moved here or have lived here already for decades. They all agree that we made a perfect choice in Ajijic. We have had so many invitations, outings, and events to attend that we are exhausted, but in the best way. The retirees here, although many are older than us, outlast us by far most days in their energy level. We often need to apologize and tell them that we're beat and have to get to bed while they're still laughing and chatting (and dancing) the night away together. We definitely have to learn how to pace ourseslves or we'll get burned out....haha!
The local Mexicans are amazing as well. Their sense of family unity, generosity, and bright smiles that light up their entire face, are all such a blessing to behold. Older Mexican men gallantly tip their hats to me as I pass by and always give me the greeting of the day. The women and children are lovely as well. I would compare the sense of community here in Ajijic to that of the 1950s in the U.S. Everyone is out and about, children play happily in the plaza parks with no apparent supervision (and are perfectly safe), and neighbors stop to chat with each other on every street corner. This idyllic, interactive setting lends a great "vibe" to the place. Even with the obvious language barrier, we have had nothing but positive interactions with the Mexican people we've met while we are here.
Things to do:
One of the reasons we felt that it was time to leave Panajachel, Guatemala, was the lack of activities for us to choose from. It's a much smaller community; more geared for tourists who come to the lake for their weekend getaway and like to shop for Mayan handicrafts. I found a Zumba class and we had good friends who we met up with regularly, but Randy was left with not much else to do to keep himself fit and busy.
Coming to Ajijic was the perfect advice from our friends, Billy and Akaisha. They had lived in this area for four years and they felt it would be a much better fit for us as far as quality of daily life. We are happy to say they were spot on! Due to the large number of expats here (approximately 10,000 and growing!) we have a plethora of events to fill our calendar such as attending plays at the little theater, playing softball, live music/happy hours, fiestas with the locals, ladies' nights, volunteering with local orphanages, and countless other activities we have yet to discover!
2017 is looking like it will be a great year for new discoveries here in Mexico. We will keep you updated on our travels here as well as our house and pet sitting plans for the coming months. Hoping you all enjoy a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year, wherever you may be.
We have also added a new travel picture page titled Travel '17-. You can see more pictures from Lake Chapala and soon we will add pictures of our beach trip to Manzanillo.