Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 28.
On our road trip for Best Places in the World to Retire, we are visiting some of the most popular places for U.S. and Canadian expats to move and to retire. Recently, we visited Ajijic, Mexico (pronounced "Ah-hee-heek") and its surroundings, which, in the high season, can be home to as many as 10,000 Americans and Canadians (perhaps about 20% of the overall population).
Strictly speaking, several towns and villages comprise the overall Ajijic area, which the locals refer to collectively as "Lakeside." At an elevation of about 5,000 feet, Ajijic is located next to the largest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala, about an hour's drive south of Guadalajara and five hours east of Puerto Vallarta.
Upon first visiting the area, it's easy to see why it's so popular. Here are just some of the comments we received on our site about Ajijic from contributors:
The elevation of the Ajijic area lowers the temperature from what it would be at sea level, for example, in Puerto Vallarta, and then the large lake moderates the temperature, making it less cold in the winter and less hot in the summer.
Jerry Smith, MD, is a retired clinical professor from Texas who retired early after traveling much of Mexico on his motorcycle with his wife. "It's springtime all year long in the Ajijic area," said Smith. "The worst blizzard I've ever seen down here was in the dead of winter when one night it got down to 45 degrees. Normally in the wintertime it's about 60 at night and 75 in the day."