Lake Chapala, Mexico, Versus The Panamanian Highlands
“I’m interested in your comment on the Lake Chapala, Mexico, area, formerly highly touted and now strangely unmentioned on your website and others. Is there a problem with this area of Mexico, or is it that this lake region has been caught up in the negative publicity about Mexico in general?
“I’m looking for the company of other expats and great weather, as well as a place where I can make my U.S. dollars stretch further. I have been told that Chapala is a premier choice. Could you please comment?
“Also, I have purchased the publication from your recent Panama conference and am considering a non-beach location in that country, but I have heard comments about the extreme weather in the highlands and restrictive immigration.”
— M.W., United States
Given your criteria, dear reader, I’d say that Lake Chapala could be just what you’re looking for. It is perhaps the biggest established expat American enclave anywhere. The weather’s great. Yes, your dollars will go far. And, yes, it’s safe. The safety issues in Mexico are restricted to particular regions, mostly near the U.S. border. Lake Chapala is wholly unaffected.
Regarding Panama, you have three interesting highlands choices: Boquete, which is the best known and home to another big and established expat community, but it’s grown relatively expensive; El Valle, nearer to Panama City, with better weather (than either Panama City or Boquete), but very much a local Panamanian mountain-getaway destination; and Santa Fe, with perhaps the best weather of all and the most pristine setting but remote…here, you’d be a pioneer.
For the combination of expat company and spring-like weather year-round that you’re looking for, another good option would be Cuenca, Ecuador. We provide a full report on retirement to this colonial city that boasts eternally spring-like weather, as well as one of the most affordable costs of living anywhere, here.