Answers for your Moving Concerns

by Judy King 8. April 2010 23:17

Are these questions similar to your concerns as you think about living at Lake Chapala ?

  • What do I have to do to bring my dogs to Mexico?
  • What do I do about my mail?
  • Can I just have my car shipped down to Mexico while I fly in?
  • Is it safe to have drinks with ice?
  • Where can I buy equipal furniture?
  • What are my options for health insurance in Mexico?
  • Where can I find real Mexican food?
  • If you have to drink purified water, how do you manage to safely have a shower or wash the dishes?
  • What kinds of creepy crawlies do you have here?
  • Is it safe to shop in the weekly tianguis (outdoor market)?
  • Where should I go and what should I see while I’m in Mexico?
  • Financially does it make more sense to drive down here or buy a car here?
  • What are the options for TV; can I get the channels I want to watch?

  Each week since January 2002, we’ve fielded questions like these and a whole lot more during the Mexico Insights Newcomers Seminar sessions. The small groups of foreigners meet with us every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the restaurant of La Nueva Posada in Ajijic.

DCP_0004 We’re blowing our own horn today

The truth is that we tell it like it is in these information-packed three-hour sessions.

  • We sharing vital information folks need to make an educated decision about moving to Lakeside
  • We help folks find the information they need to get here less stressful
  • We explain enough to help lower the overwhelm levels for those who have just arrived.

Here’s an interesting fact

Occasionally Lakeside residents who’ve lived here for several years come to sit in one of our sessions to see what we’re presenting and how we’re doing. They’re often shocked to realize that we offer information and answers to questions and problems that they couldn’t address.

Each Session is Adjusted for the Participants

We fine tune each session to match the participants, allowing those at the meeting to choose from a list of potential topics so we can cut right to their most pressing concerns. ; nearly always we spend a great deal of the session talking about the most common concerns of folks thinking of living at Lake Chapala – part time or full time including:

  • DSC00208 Cost of Living
  • Cultural Differences
  • Money and Banking
  • Food and Drink
  • Immigration
  • Crossing the Border
  • Lakeside Climate
  • Moving your Stuff
  • Bringing your Animals
  • Cars, Driving and Insurance
  • Health Care and Insurance
  • Public Transportation
  • Renting Homes
  • Purchasing Property
  • Safety
  • Events, Holidays and Activities
  • Getting Acquainted
  • Pitfalls, Tips, and Problems

Yes, We Do Charge for the Seminar

There’s a minimal fee to attend this session -- $40 US for a couple, $25 US for a single – and that includes your coffee, a 40-page handout book, and our personalized service as your email mentor as you prepare for your move and get settled. We also invite participants to return as alumni to sit in on one more session – without charge.

kit-tamalekit-carne 

And here’s the Mexico Insights guarantee:

If we don’t answer at least three questions you didn’t know you should ask, we’ll refund your money! You can’t do much better than that!

Guess what? No one has asked for their money back, and many mention that  we’ve answered more than those three magic questions they didn’t know to ask – in the first 30 minutes. 

You Don’t Have to Reserve a Spot…But…

It’s fun for us to know when you are coming, so send us an email: info@mexico-insights.com and we’ll add you to  the list for that week. Then we’ll be looking forward to seeing you in the restaurant area of La Nueva Posada in Ajijic for your informational, fun seminar.


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Where Are the Mexican Maps?

by Judy King 7. April 2010 19:41

  Many folks find it easier to get to know an area once they've grounded themselves with a map. Maps of Mexico aren’t easy to find; you’ll never find maps of most small to medium towns (the Lake Chapala area is an exception, thanks to Canadian cartographer, geographer and long-time Lakeside resident Tony Burton.)

Tony Burton’s maps of the north shore of Lake Chapala are available in a number of areas at Lakeside, including many real estate offices, and in local book stores and book outlets, such as La Nueva Posada. 

Guadalajara-cathedralDon’t miss his comprehensive new book written with Lakeside Geographer Rick Rhoda, Geo-Mexico: The Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico. (We’ll have more details about this wonderful source in a blog, soon!)

Finding the center of town

So, what do you do when you want to head for the center of town to find an ATM, cab, restaurant or other services? Look for the church spires! The large, old churches in most towns and cities are either in sight of the community's main plaza. Until recently (the past 80 or 100 years or so) other buildings were not allowed to be taller than the steeples of the town’s main church (the parroquia or parish church).

Online and Interactive Maps

That’s great information if you are here, but what if you want to get to know the streets in the Lakeside's villages while you are still dreaming of visiting Mexico?

These days interactive maps are just the ticket – Even Tony Burton has climbed onto that new technology and done it with the excellence with which he does everything. Click Here to find maps of Lake Chapala’s north shore villages, some of Tony’s finest work. You can even zoom in and take a closer look, find the streets you might walk from your B&B to the Plaza, and other fun excursions.

Maps of the Lake, the County, the State and the Country

getmapIf old fashioned maps are more your style, I just found a really great site, chock full of 2,000 pages of maps, some interactive, most in detailed still form. Click Here for detailed maps of every state and every major Mexican city.

When you browse down the page, select the map of Jalisco – and then click on the section that includes Lake Chapala – that’s easy to find, look for the large blue oval on the map. There, you’ll be able to view the locations of Lakeside's towns and villages, the relationship of Lake Chapala to Guadalajara, and more.

With these maps you can trace the free highways and the cuotas (toll roads) back to the border, down to the beach at Manzanillo or Puerto Vallarta or pretend you are taking a trip east to Patzcuaro in Michoacán, San Miguel de Allende in the state of Leon or travel on to Mexico City.

You'll get a good understanding of how to get to the airport and to the city of Guadalajara, where San Juan Cosalá is compared to Ajijic and Jocotepec, the distance around the lake and the location of the islands in Lake Chapala. If you’ve read about the currently very popular restaurant in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos (just over the mountain on the way to Guadalajara or perhaps you’ve heard that houses are cheap in Agua Escondido. You'll find those communities, too.

clip_image004Road Maps of Mexico
You won't find a road map in Pemex gas stations anywhere in the country, and unless you are in a border city, the only map of Mexico you'll find in the United States will be the back page of your U.S. Atlas, and trust me when I tell you that doesn't have anywhere near enough information for Mexican driving trips.

That’s one of the reasons we offer to email a set of directions from Laredo, Texas, to Lake Chapala to readers who email my online magazine, Mexico Insights Living at Lake Chapala at info@mexico-insights.com and request them. Please tell us you saw the information here!

Mexico Insights Moving to Mexico Tip:

Buying a road map for your drive to Mexico is the most important thing to do while you are in the area. The second most important thing is to attend our weekly Mexico Insights Newcomers Seminar – but more about that tomorrow.

A Guia Roji road map is the one to have. Be sure to buy one when your fly down to check out Lakeside before your first drive from the border. You’ll find these maps in several Lakeside locations including: SuperLake (the grocery store) on the highway in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Libros and Revistas, a local book, newspaper and magazine store near the parking lot entrance of Plaza Bugambilias in Ajijic.

See you tomorrow with more information about our weekly seminars!


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Seven Habits of a Happy Expat

by Judy King 29. March 2010 15:08

bernabe painting Judy’s Note: I recently stumbled onto a great website and blog – Global Coach Center. This week the post that caught my eye lists Seven Habits of a Happy Expat. The more I read the more I realized that while the author’s experience is with life in Europe, these tips are universal.

Don’t just read these ideas…print this page and keep it handy for frequent reference. Following just this handful of tips will make a huge difference in your life.

Ever wondered what makes some expatriates happy and others not so happy?  Here is my take on it: THE WINNING SEVEN™ or 7 Habits a Happy Expat.

1.  Happy expats are intensely curious. Coming to another land is always interesting.  You get to learn about the culture, you get to experience a different way of life, you get to try new foods, and maybe even new sports and new hobbies.  A whole new world opens up for you.  Being curious around this new world leads to happiness.

2.  Happy expats accept others as they come, they don’t judge, and they don’t try to change people to their liking. No matter how much things may bother them and no matter how much they may disagree, a judgmental attitude never gets anyone anywhere.  Accepting that things run the way they do is the key to happiness.

markets1-oven 3.  Happy expats look at everything as an amazing learning experience. Someone once said that “life is always offering us new beginnings, it’s up to us whether to take them or not.”  I don’t remember who said it but it’s an empowering way to look at what’s available to us at every moment of every day.  And especially to those of us who get this incredible opportunity to not only travel but also live in different places.

4.  Happy expats find opportunities wherever they are and they don’t lament those they’ve left behind.  Life of an expatriate consists of one move after another.  Sometimes we know when that move is coming and sometimes we don’t (in these days of “the crisis” many of us will move suddenly).  Opportunities that were open to us in one place may not be available in another.  But remember “life is always offering us new beginnings…” There will be new opportunities, so do you want to spend the time lamenting about what you left behind or do you want to spend the time listening and looking out for what’s opening up for you?

5.  Happy expats know that feeling sad at times is part of the game. A happy expat doesn’t mean a giddy-at-all-times expat.  A happy expat means also an expat who knows that being sad at times is part of the expatriate experience.  Being sad about leaving friends behind; being sad about leaving your family far away; being sad about quitting a job or changing a career … this list can go on and on.  The difference between a happy expat and an expat that’s not happy is that for the former the sadness is something that’s natural and something that doesn’t take over your life and makes a victim out of you.

dancers with adult small 6.  Happy expats share. Sharing means so many different things.  It may mean sharing with your friends and family when you are sad – going through the stressful times alone is no fun.  It may mean sharing with a coach – a right client-coach partnership will undoubtedly make your expatriate experience richer.  It may also mean  sharing your experience with others, helping those like you find the best facets of their expatriate journeys.

7.  Happy expats stay clear of criticism, sulking, and stonewalling.  It is so very easy to blame someone else in your misfortunes.  It’s easy to say that everything around you is horrible; it’s easy to sulk in your misery when you’ve convinced yourself that it’s not up to you; and it’s easy to put a barrier between you and the place you live in.  Yet there is no way you are going to be happy where you live, if you consistently engage in criticism, sulking, and stonewalling.  Staying clear of those attitudes will help you be happier.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center. at www.globalcoachcenter.com


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Do You Like It Here?

by Judy King 12. March 2010 17:01

decorated-street It happens all the time. Yesterday I was washing my hands in a restaurant ladies' room here at Lake Chapala. When a woman came out of the stall, she said to me, "Where are you from?"

When I explained that I was born and raised in Iowa, then lived seven years in California, and that I've been living here in Ajijic over 19 years, she opened her eyes, wide, and asked my least favorite question.

"Do you like it here?"

I know folks who visit to check out the area for retirement are anxious to discover how the rest of us live, if we have adjusted and how we feel about our decision. I suppose they have real concerns about liking to live here.  I didn’t have any concerns, I knew right away that I wanted to live here. In fact, when I went back home after my first visit, and started preparing to  move, I was homesick…for Mexico.

We don’t have to live here.

Still, they surely realize that none of us were transferred here for our jobs, we weren't born here, we aren’t living here out of habit or because our ancestors founded the town. Most of us don't have extended family here that needs us to care for them; we came by choice and we remain by choice.

Mexico isn’t for everyone

As a matter of fact, Mexico is not for everyone and not everyone likes it well enough to stay for three, five, or ten years. There are some foreigners who move back North of the border every year.

I know what the tourists mean by that question, but I still sometimes have to bite back a variety of snippy and sarcastic responses to the question, "Oh you've been here 19 years, …do you like it?

Thankfully I’m usually well rested and my days go exceptionally well. I’m almost always in a good mood, so I can answer, “Yep, I like it here. This is now my home.”

If you think you might ever be tempted to ask someone if they like living here, please print this page and carry it in your pocket or purse. Then instead of asking the question, you can read the responses the long-time residents would like to give in exchange to the question, “Do you like it here?”

pink-houseThe Silly and Snitty Answers

  • Actually, I hate it here, but because I believe I am a bad person, I’m punishing myself. When I’ve punished enough, I'll go somewhere nice.
  • No, I don't like it, but I'm saving my money and when I have $100 US I'll buy a bus ticket to Texas.
  • Oh, didn't you know? They don't let us go back. Once you cross the border you are here to stay, like it or not.
  • I'm being held hostage.
  • I'm doing a special project. I'm recording silly questions. Thanks for your contribution; now I've met my quota, I can leave.

Thankfully most of you aren’t the type to ask those questions, right?


The Real Answer -- How do I really feel?
Just in case you are still wondering...I love living here in Mexico, and I'm staying right where I am. This is my home and I really do feel at home. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would be willing to leave – unless something terrible happened and one of my kids needed me to be with them.

As a matter of fact, you couldn't get me out of here with a crowbar.

Dust on My Heart – I’m here to stay!

In one of her books, Neill James, the travel writer who came to Ajijic in the 1940s to recover from an accident and died here 50 years later said, "Once the dust of Mexico settles on your heart, you can never go home again."
That dust has been on my heart since 1990 and I'm here to stay! 


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Moving your Stuff to Lake Chapala

by Judy King 29. January 2010 22:24

 april house-diana 045 Folks moving to Lake Chapala worry more about how much of the "stuff" to bring to Mexico as they do the decision to move here and leave their friends and family behind.

If It Fits in the Car

If you plan to just bring what will fit in your car, you can obtain a visitor's document (the FM-T) at the Mexican border crossing and then get your long-term immigration visa (FM-3) during the 180 days you are allowed to remain in the country on that temporary document.

Mexican law allows each person to import (duty free) your clothes, used personal items and $50 US in new merchandise when you drive into the country.

Each person may also bring a number of duty free items including:

  • 1 camera
  • 1 computer—laptop or desk top
  • Books and magazines
  • Medicines for personal use
  • 20 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco
  • 3 liters of wine, beer or liquor
  • 1 pair binoculars
  • 1TV, under 12 inches
  • 1 portable radio/recorder
  • 1 DVD player
  • 20 CDs, DVDs or cassette tapes
  • 1 musical instrument
  • Camping gear and tent and one set of fishing gear
  • 5 toys
  • 1 pair of skis
  • 1 pair of tennis racquets
  • 1 surfboard or sailboard

If You Bring That Mattress, You'll Need a Moving Company

april house-diana 043 If you decide to bring even one item that doesn’t fit in the car, you'll need a moving company. You’ll also need to obtain an FM-3 (long-term immigration status) and a Menaje de Casa (the permit that allows you to bring your goods into Mexico duty free). Both of these documents can be obtained at the Mexican Consulate's office nearest your home.

Watch the timing—you have to be in the country with your FM-3 within 180 days of the issue date. You only have 90 days after issue of the Menaje de Case to get the load into the country.

Those famous north of the border moving companies are great if you are going from one state to another or need crates of your stuff taken to the seacoasts and the ship that’ll take your stuff to Europe.

I'm convinced you need a moving specialist to handle those pesky details when it comes to driving a load of your stuff across the Mexican border. We consistently hear great reports about Strom-White Moving. Doug and Teresa White give every shipment a lot of extra attention.

Read the Rules and Regulations, and Questions and Answers sections at the Strom-White Moving website. You'll find a wealth of other information at the site.

Whether you fly into the Guadalajara airport with a toothbrush and a change of underwear, drive a car full of your treasures across the border or fill a 48-foot trailer with your furniture, be sure you know and obey the rules…it’s the best way to go.

More Mexico Insights Moving Tips:

For detailed information about moving your stuff and all facets of moving to Mexico, attend a Mexico Insights Newcomers Seminar.

If we don’t answer three questions you didn’t know to ask, we’ll refund your fee in full!

Seminars are held at 10 a.m. every Thursday at La Nueva Posada in Ajijic.  The fee, $25 US for singles and $40 US per couple, includes a comprehensive handout book and refreshments

For more information email us:  info@mexico-insights.com


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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