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Ajijic, Mexico: Not Just for Retirees

Ajijic, a small town on Lake Chapala’s north shore in Jalisco state, Mexico, has a reputation for being the place in Mexico where elderly North Americans go to retire. Certainly, walking around town, you will soon notice that the population of the town is made up of two distinct groups of people: younger Mexicans, and older, white expats from the USA and Canada. Accidentally eavesdropping on conversations in English around you will be unavoidable in town, and it’ll likely be all expat shopping tips, U.S. politics, stories of grandchildren visiting, and weather back home.

It’s easy to see why so many people from the U.S. and Canada choose to retire on the shores of Lake Chapala: the weather is consistently good all year round, the cost of living low, the people are friendly, the pace of life is laid-back, and of course, those views of the lake are just spectacular. But there are plenty of other good reasons to visit Ajijic, even if you’re not planning to retire there!

Consider visiting Ajijic and the wider Lake Chapala area if you’re looking to get out of the big cities, such as Guadalajara, but don’t want the expense of going to the Pacific coastal resorts like Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco. If you’re not especially bothered about beaches, per se, but just want an escape from urban Mexico, Ajijic is a great option.

With clean air, lots of greenery, opportunities to bird-watch, and incredible sunset views over the lake, it’s an accessible, nature lover’s paradise! While it may look tempting, swimming in the lake is not prudent: there are bacteria present in the water that might be harmless on first contact, but could be awoken and cause problems for you later if you go back in. Best admire the water from the shore instead!

The town itself, while small, is a vibrant, colourful place. With a nice collection of interesting boutique shops, cute cafés, and plenty of art on the walls, just wandering around the streets between the main square and the shore of the lake is a pleasant thing to do.

If you’re feeling up to showing off some skills on a board or bike to some of the town’s younger residents, there’s a skatepark along the main malecón, right on the shore of the lake, with a small bowl and basic street plaza, both perfectly good for practicing simple moves. Nearby, there’s also a basketball court and outdoor gym next to the park, where families and friends gather to barbecue, people-watch, and gossip.

Like in much of Mexico, most cafés have WiFi, and the staff are quite happy for you to sit there for several hours working on your laptop if that’s what you need to do. Coupled with the climate and general lack of distractions other than the gorgeous landscape, this makes Ajijic a pretty good digital nomad base. In particular, Juan Café is a good place to work from, with super-friendly staff, and has some of the best hot chocolate in all of Mexico!

Have you ever been to Ajijic or Lake Chapala? If so, what’d you think? Any suggestions for things to see and do in the area? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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