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Living south of the border: ‘We have always loved Mexico

By on September 28, 2020 in Travel with 2 Comments
The beautiful malecon in Ajijic is where many events happen, including family gatherings and live music.

By Bill and Dana Kappler 

Friends and family said, “Why Mexico? Aren’t you afraid of crime and the food?” 

Well, we have always enjoyed the food and the Mexican people are the friendliest, warmest people anywhere.

There is crime here like everywhere and we read about it but do not see it. Our area is safe. We are living in the town of Ajijic, on Lake Chapala, Mexico.

We have enjoyed many vacation trips to Mexico. We visited many beach towns along the Pacific coast from Tijuana to Zihuatanejo. We have travelled all over Baja and the larger cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara. 

Zihua is a favorite place for us. Bill first visited there in 1972 before the International airport and Ixtapa. La Ropa beach then had no hotels. Fishing (Bill’s) was great and still is. 

If Bill had not worked until he was 82 we might have moved to Mexico years ago.

The Kapplers pose with a special guest warrior dressed in the ancient local Indian style. On a lake island, they fought off the Spanish for many months.

When we did retire and started considering places to live, we said why not Mexico. 

Costs in the greater Wenatchee area were rising and there was so much unrest in the States. We explored cities, towns and villages. We did not consider Zihua due to the summers being too hot and humid. 

The Lake Chapala (largest lake in Mexico) area kept coming up. It is said that National Geographic named it the second best weather in the world. International Living named it the best place in the world to retire. 

We did a lot of research on line and we visited and explored the area for one week and returned a year later April 2018 to rent a furnished home. 

During normal healthy times, we are only three to five hours away from most U.S. airports. We are only one hour driving time away from Guadalajara and the airport. 

Before COVID 19, we had 175 restaurants. Now, maybe 100. All are very COVID restricted — only 50 percent occupancy, masks and temperature checks. 

Most people here are being very careful and self-isolating for the time. We have been very lucky here. We do not know of one case of COVID 19 personally. Large cities have suffered but very little in our area even though the age here is high.

We are impressed with the doctors, nurses, hospitals and dentists along with the quality of care and prices are much lower. Insurance is private and very expensive. Medicare does not work here. It is a big issue for retirees here.

Ajijic has many homes and businesses painted with beautiful murals, such as this one.

Mexico celebrates everything and we love that about this beautiful country but it brings noise, firecrackers, etc… One must accept that it is a cultural thing and go with it or live outside the busy towns.

We are fortunate to have a variety of international fine restaurants of all countries. Prices are about half of U.S. Many expats (people living outside their native country) never cook at home. There are many expats here from the U.S., Canada and Europe. 

I like to say, “people here take care of dogs, cats and each other.” We have never lived in a place where this is so prevalent. We have two rescue dogs along with wonderful Mexican and expat friends.

There are many charities supporting the orphanages, food drives, animal care, and the like. The expats are most generous in their giving and taking care of many projects. It is a wonderful thing to witness and be a part of this generosity.

The economy is suffering in a very bad way. Mexico has no welfare so everyone must do something to earn any wage. People will sell a piece of homemade pie on the street. Sometimes the only thing left to do is beg. It is certainly a worldwide issue.

We have a Mexican bank account here and deposit a check once a month from our U.S. account. Cash is pesos and the exchange rate changes daily. Credit cards are fairly new here and most small businesses prefer to deal in cash. I would say it really is a cash society. 

Financing is not available and houses sell for cash. Gringo prices are going up rapidly and the bargains are harder to find. Many here are looking to move somewhere less expensive. 

Amazon, Sam’s Club, Costco, Bed and Bath Beyond, Home Depot are available online or one hour away in Guadalajara. English TV networks are available for approximately $50 U.S. a month.

We have been here for two-and-a-half years now and only intend to rent and not buy. Lovely two to three bedroom homes with nice yards rent from $900 to $1,400 a month. Many places are available for much less depending on size.

A huge consideration for us was leaving family and friends. We have returned to the Wenatchee area once and to Denver for a grandson’s wedding. Our son from Ohio has visited once. Our Wenatchee son and his family had purchased airfare to visit this past April but then COVID hit and plans were cancelled.

We had planned a two-week trip to Wenatchee to celebrate Bill’s 85th birthday in early September but we also had to cancel. We were terribly disappointed but we are all in the same boat and must ride this out as best we can.

This was a huge leap of faith for us to take and we are so happy we did it. We look at this as our “Last Hurrah” in the latter part of our lives. 

We are very happy, healthy, grateful and content. We are living the good life in Mexico.

The Kapplers owned a seafood export Company for 42 years, exporting Alaska/Canada caught and frozen seafoods to Japan, Scandinavia and Western Europe. This led to over 25 sales trips to each country. Dana joined the company after retiring as a paralegal in Seattle. They moved the business to Leavenworth in 2001 for five years and then to Wenatchee for 12. Their son, Peter, and family live in East Wenatchee.

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  1. Cheryl Russell says:

    Dana and Bill have been my very good friends for 50ish years. We have lived very near each other, and then a fair distance apart. Like others, though, I was quite surprised to hear of their intent to move to Mexico. I had heard the same questionable reports about Mexico as others had. I am so happy that they have experienced the positive and have found the Good Life in Ajijic. It seems they are having a lovely, laid back retirement.

  2. John says:

    If you want to live in Mexico surrounded by Americans and Canadians in a place where English is the first language this place is for you.

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