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Chapala Living Guide is based on our first hand eperience of living in Chapala, Mexico

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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Chapala, Mexico

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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The north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico is one of the premier retirement destinations for North Americans.

We have been living here off and on since 1993, and there have been many changes to what used to be a sleepy town of 40,000. For the most part, those changes have been good ones. 

Take a look!

Being able to retire early to a town like Chapala is a dream come true for many people.

Chapala lake, a major draw

Chapala lake, a major draw

The lake is up to its previous high levels, the beaches are clean, and the pleasure boats make a tranquil photo. The town continues to grow and in general, become more upscale. There is even a yacht club, even though most of the boats you see on Lake Chapala are small fishing boats, rather than large Viking yachts. In recent years Mexico has become a popular sailing destination for yachts and superyachts.

As Chapala becomes more modern, some prefer the old, sleepy ways and have moved to towns across the lake. These towns are a little more affordable and a lot more authentically Mexican, without the noticeable Gringo influence.

The pier is to the left

The pier is to the left

 In the dry years, the end of the pier was in about 3 feet of water. Although shallow, Lake Chapala is 48 miles long and 22 miles wide. You can see the southern side of the lake here easily. The wrought iron arch reads: Chapala, Little Corner of Love. This is the center of the malecon with a beautiful fountain and iron benches to the left out of the photo.

Restaurants are at both ends of the malecon.

Looking back at Chapala beach from the pier

Looking back at Chapala beach from the pier

Fishing boats are a mainstay of the scenery here at Lake Chapala.

You can hire a lancha to take you to Ajijic, or for a Sunset Cruise if you'd like.

It wasn't that long ago that an International Jazz Festival was held on the beach for several evenings.

On weekends, the place rocks with lots of tourists, traveling minstrels, balloons, bubbles and more. There is a modern skate board area just to the left of the photo which is very active with the young showing off their skate boarding skills. 

Fountain tribute to the fishermen of Lake Chapala

Fishermen tribute

Back on shore,  this is the fountain at the entrance of the malecon which is in the center of the walkways that lead in both directions. Fishing has been a livelihood for residents of Chapala for decades. These statues are a tribute to the fishermen pulling in their daily catch with their nets.





Colorful boats on the lake

Many festively painted boats line up at this tiny pier. The lirio, a type of water hyacinth donated to the people of Chapala decades ago, has been cut back to manageable levels and no longer consumes the surface area of the lake.

It is something to be continuously managed.

Nice even walkways with lush tropical plants

Sidewalks and and sitting areas with trees and lights have been put into place by previous Presidentes of the city. This is the other end of the malecon which reaches all the way to the 'old' Post Office building almost a kilometer down the walkway.

Restaurants and hotels run the full length of this side of the peaceful passageway.

In the mornings, people run the full length of the malecon, or walk it with their dogs. Sometimes you will see a person on a unicycle practicing his balanced riding.

The Adventurer's Guide to Chapala Living, 2nd Edition - Order here!

The Beer Garden anchors one corner

The Beer Garden with a Lakeside view. A great place to sip a beer and listen to music.

The main street and the Cathedral is to the right of this photo.

A fuller view of the beach area

A fuller view of the beach area

Dropping back from onto the pier, another view of the beach area. This gives you a better look at the Beer Garden on the right side of the photo.

Swimming pool at a restored mansion hotel

Swimming pool at a restored mansion hotel

Several mansions along the malecon have been restored to their original magnificence and turned into boutique hotels.

One can pay to use the swimming pool here or grab a meal or enjoy happy hour.

What a beautiful view!

Google map of Christiania Park

Google map of Christiania Park

From this Google Earth photo you can see the whole of Cristiania Park in Chapala, walking distance from the malecon. The original 4 tennis courts are in the middle left of the picture. The two tennis courts that Billy built are at the center upper right. At the apex of the trees in the center of the photo you can also see the 2 sand volley ball courts that Billy had built as well. The large land mass in the center is the futbol field, and of course, the swimming pools are to the right.

The Chapala Living Guide 2nd Edition

This aerial view of the park shows about 30% of its total land area. It's a very popular family destination on weekends for fairs, music, food and fun. Many people choose here to do their daily morning walks since it is such a beautiful, tranquil environment. The park is used on a daily basis from people all over the area.

Tennis player getting a low shot

Tennis player getting a low shot

The six tennis courts in the Cristiania Park are in constant use. They are well-maintained and are considered to be the best in the area.

For sporty expats, these courts are a major draw and a good place to meet other expats and Mexican locals.

If you come to Chapala, you must make a visit to Cristiania Park. It's a wonderful place to make friendships and meet people from the other towns around Chapala.

The old train station

The old train station

Not far from the tennis courts is the old train station.

In the "olden days" there used to be a train station here connecting Guadalajara to Chapala. This train helped bring tourists into Chapala and fish and produce back to Guadalajara.

Construction started in 1917 and the station was completed in 1920. However, there was a huge flood in Chapala in 1925, bankrupting the company in charge of the station. The building was abandoned.

In  2008, restoration of the building was completed, bringing the original train station back to life as a Cultural Center 

Chapala Plaza

Another favorite place to gather is the Plaza. Every Mexican town has one and it usually consists of a gazebo, a market area and a church.

When we lived here in the 90s, few people had telephones. If you wanted to know any local news, or when the next fiesta or parade was happening, you'd go to the Plaza and find out. This is where the 'taco telegraph' was a buzzin'!

On weekends there are bands and dancing, sometimes free food and tequila!

Another view of Chapala Plaza

Here's another view of the Plaza. People meet up here, sit in the sun or shade depending on the weather, and have a meal or an ice cream.

It is central to everything, really.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Yes, today one can even get Eggs Benedict at local restaurants. Our favorite is at AL Kafe, next to the church on the main street.

Today, this meal runs about 95Pesos or about $5USD.





Fresh bolios and other styles of bread

Fresh bolios and other styles of bread

Delicious, home made bread and pastries sold daily at the Plaza.

You can also purchase freshly roasted whole chicken from several of the vendors on either side of these bread baskets. Fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, juice shops, restaurants, a couple of farmacias and several butcher shops are also located here.

These days fine pastries are also obtainable at several new bakeries in town. Specialty cakes, pies, fresh jam-filled cookies and other delicacies are now commonplace.

Chapala Cathedral

Chapala Church

This is the City of Chapala's Church dedicated to San Francisco. It is a stately building and is said to house relics of some of the first Franciscan monks in the area. Notice that the two steeples are of different sizes. We were told that one had fallen down, but we don't know why - and when it was rebuilt - it wasn't made the same size as the matching steeple. We don't know why about that either!

On Sundays, the Church is packed with devout parishioners.

Weddings, First Communions, Baptisms and more are celebrated events here.

This church is just a stone's throw from the lake. It has a beautiful view.

The Old Nido Hotel

The Old Nido Hotel

This is the current government building that houses the city offices. It used to be the 'Old Nido Hotel' which served the guests and residents of the area since the beginning of the 1900's. In fact, we have stayed at the Nido Hotel ourselves and so have our relatives and friends in years past. There's a lovely courtyard in the center with the rooms all facing in to view it. Once a swimming pool was in the back, but the city has since filled it in.

El Nido used to  be the only hotel in town. These days there are many hotels in Chapala to choose from including the boutique renovated mansions and other hotels dotting the area.

Corner building is now a museum

Corner building is now a museum

This yellow and white building has been renovated and was the office building for the city in prior times. This used to be the one-and-only stoplight in Chapala - the cross street where the Carreterra meets the center of town. Now, there are several!

Modern, clean bues provide transport to the area for P9 a trip, about $0.50 US cents.

You can hire a taxi to take you to some of the other towns around the lake like San Antonio or Ajijic for $3-$4USD.

Fountain in the center of town, Chapala, Mexico

Fountain in the center of town

Just down from the church (which is on the right in this photo. You can see one of the steeples) is this fountain.

There is a stop light to the left of the fountain, coffee shops and restaurants behind it, and across the street are banks, bakeries, an OXXO and several restaurants.

Chapala is becoming more modern and we see the changes happening right before our eyes. Little by little, piece by piece the "old history" is disappearing, being replaced by a stylish, more contemporary mode of living.


For more photos and stories on Mexico, CLICK HERE

VIDEOS, VIDEOS, VIDEOS! See Mexico for yourself! Beaches, Bars, Babes, Great Food, Live Music.

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on


Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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