With prices starting at less than one-tenth the cost per square foot of northern shore lake properties, the south shore side of Mexico’s Lake Chapala offers expats open vistas, quaint fishing villages and all the beauty of one of Mexico’s most popular expat destinations – but at a much lower cost. New infrastructure improvements will soon make the areas on the south shore side of the lake – which include San Luis Soyatlan, Mazamitla, and Tizapan el Alto – even more attractive. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
The Lake Chapala area, in central Mexico, has been a top expat destination for more than 50 years. But nearly all Lake Chapala’s 6,000 or more U.S. and Canadian expats live on the lake’s north shore. The south shore is almost unknown.
On the south shore you won’t find the English-speaking locals and U.S.-style amenities that make the north shore such an easy transition to Mexican life. Instead, you’ll find a largely undeveloped region of small fishing villages, open vistas, and low prices.
Land here costs a fraction of what you’ll pay on the lake’s north side. And that includes desirable lakefront. If you’re an adventurous type who likes country life and wants lots of space, Lake Chapala’s south shore may be the ticket.
And right now, improvements under way are making the south shore more accessible and more attractive than it’s ever been…
Roads are being widened and upgraded. Lakeside park spaces and malecons (boardwalks) are being built or improved in south shore villages. An international airport is already close by—from some villages, Guadalajara’s airport is only an hour away. And, of course, the model (and needed expertise) on how to build homes to suit gringo tastes is right at hand—across the lake on the north shore.
One of the first towns on the south shore is San Luis Soyatlan, a colorful, pleasant place of about 8,000 people. It has a large, well-maintained park and malecon at the lake’s edge where locals stroll and children play ball. The scene is pure, peaceful, small-town Mexico. But from here we’re only about half an hour from Ajijic, the heart of the north side’s expat community and bubbling social life.
Being this close to the north shore, San Luis is a good option for anyone willing to be a bit farther out in exchange for lower prices.
Several large lots with lake views here give an idea of prices. The smallest, just under 2 acres, is along the lakeshore highway east of San Luis Soyatlan. The price is $113,850—about $1.40 per square foot. For $250,000 you can get a 7.5-acre lot in the same area with lake and mountain views. Compare these prices with those on the north shore. There, the average price is about $15 a square foot.
East of San Luis, the alpine-style village of Mazamitla is about 30 miles due south of the lake at about 7,200 feet. The air is crisp, clear and pungent with the scent of pine. Herds of cows, mostly Holsteins, graze on the hilly slopes around town.
Mazamitla is a pueblo magico, a so-called “magic village” whose special look and feel is protected by the Mexican government. Many buildings are made of wood, and the town has a mountain feel that reminds me of the Pyrenees region of France and Spain.
One of my favorite spots in this area however, is the village Tizapan el Alto. This is a lively, bustling village of about 20,000 people. Tizapan has charm, color and snap. I can imagine that Ajijic looked like Tizapan several decades ago. My own choice would be to hunt for a property near Tizapan’s main square to be near the action.
Of course, there’s a reason thousands of U.S expats make their second homes on the north shore. Here, traditional town centers with cobblestone streets share space with modern gated communities, condo complexes and shopping malls. And it’s still accessible and very affordable. Rentals here start at $500 to $600 a month. Condos in gated communities can start in the low $100,000s, and two-story villas from about $150,000.
While I was there, for instance, I saw one centrally-located one-bedroom condo going for $79,000, and a furnished two-bedroom, two-bath condo going for just under $110,000.
And thanks to that strong expat presence, the market offers properties that meet expats’ exacting standards.
This article has been republished from International Living.