Living on the south shore of Lake Chapala

Living on the south shore has most amenities of the city, with twice the size at about half the cost of the crowded north shore. Rental for a typical three bedroom lakefront or lakeview home is in the $500 a month range, while small, Mexican-style houses are way cheaper. Most homes on the south shore are rented directly by the owner. A person willing to take the bus (every 30 minutes), or the weekend water taxi from San Luis Soyatlan to the Ajijic pier (150 pesos round trip) or who has their own car, could live well, even on a very small pension.

Private homes for sale are likewise about half as much as north. Many homes are for sale, but very few are on local real estate listings. Most are sold directly by the owner, so you must go and scope out the areas you want to live. Take an iPhone or camera and snap photos of for sale signs with phone numbers, as well as pics of the properties and neighborhoods. It is best to have a Mexican agent or attorney represent you to avoid paying the “American price” for a property.

For those who want peace as well as the security of neighbors, there are a number of subdivisions or fraccionamientos (“fracs”) sprinkled along the south shore. Many of these are weekend homes for wealthy Guadalajarans.

Starting just south of Jocotepec is the charming older subdivision of Roca Azul. Founded in 1968, Roca Azul has an RV park with camping, large cold swimming pool and a thermal lap pool. The clubhouse has wireless Internet service, a bilingual library and a game room.

El Manto is a small, pretty, modern gated townhouse subdivision a few kilometers west of San Luis Soyatlán in a peaceful and private quiet lakeside setting. It has a swimming pool, beach volleyball court, 24/7 gated security, and high-speed wireless Internet. The houses are colorful and attractive. No website, you just need to take a look.

Arbolada del Lago is an ambitious new development across from the Pemex at the western edge of San Luis Soyatlán. There are two modern-style model homes, but no customer homes have been built yet. An inviting infinity pool sparkles along the lakeshore with beach chairs and loungers. There are noisy “Vampiro” street vendors with a constant line of customers, so it could be noisy on weekends.

Puerto Corona is an inexpensive, peaceful and quiet cobblestone 1960’s ranch house Mexican style subdivision on the lake 1.5 miles from the east side of San Luis Soyatlán. This means you must venture through the town with its unique, narrow, “one-way at a time” main street. Puerto Corona has several dozen homes, with many more lots open for building. Some water may be unmetered or in dispute, depending on location, and some homes are said to be inhabited by “squatters.” A bonus is Telmex and high speed DSL Internet, and a grocery right outside their gates. No website.

Utilities on the south side vary widely. In San Cristóbal, electricity and utilities can go out regularly. In San Luis Soyatlan, electricity and water service are rarely interrupted. San Luis Soyatlán has a new, state of the art water treatment plant with good water. Telmex is not available in all places; however, the new nationwide 4G/3G IUSACELL (located in San Antonio Tlayacapán at the Centro Laguna Mall) offers wireless Internet that is hard to distinguish from Telmex DSL Internet service. Satellite television is of course available nearly everywhere. You should always rent for a year in any location in which you are interested.


Originally published in the Ojo del Lago,