Our New House in Mexico

Last week we arrived safely in Lake Chapala. (Our internet was just connected today though, so that’s why you’ve had to wait a bit for this post.)

Anyway, after a LONG month on the road, Mark, Scout and I are all relieved to be here. We enjoyed sights like the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and the Utah Natural History Museum, but after roadtripping more than 20,000 km last year, I think we’re all burnt out on long drives.

We spent our first week at a rustic eco-hotel (read: no internet and dogs running around) outside of town. With the INVALUABLE help of local friends (who blog at Family Travel Bucket List), we quickly found and rented an expansive, artsy house down by the lake.

We’re paying $650 a month, a pittance compared to Vancouver rents. Technically the place is a 2-bed/2-bath, but it seems bigger than that. It’s got tons of space—much more than we’re used to—including terraces, a rooftop mirador, a lovely outdoor dining area, and a big kitchen that makes my heart go pitter patter.

Come, take a look.

This is our street,


and this is our home. Welcome!


We eat most of our meals here. Behind the table is a huge grill, and behind that, a fountain. It’s lovely.


I love the landscaping…lots of succulents & color.


The backyard


Meeting the neighbors: Archie, Equis. Equis, Archie.


Let’s head upstairs.


One of the 2nd-floor terraces


This fellow protects the other 2nd -floor terrace.


I love all the artwork around the place.


And finally, up to the mirador!


Um, taking a break from all that Spanish study?


Mirador view of Lake Chapala


OK, now let’s head inside. That blue door is the front entrance; to the right is the kitchen.


My kitchen! That’s a 6-burner gas stove, a joy for a long-suffering kitchenista who’s slogged her guts out on electric ranges for 8 of the past 9 years.


LOVE these cabinets!


Scout’s room


I made a work/homeschooling space here in this alcove opposite Scout’s room. (Mark works upstairs in the enclosed porch.)


Mark and I have the upstairs area to ourselves. At least we did, until the owner told Scout about the ground-floor “scorpion problem.”

And that’s our house. Thanks for visiting!

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Martha October 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm



2 Renee October 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

You got that right, sista!


3 Martha October 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I need to come visit! How long are you staying?
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4 Mark October 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm

We should be here for at least 6 months. We’ll know more in March. Martha, you would love the artwork and architecture of this house. When can you come down?


5 elaine October 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm

wow is right! omg I wanna come visit!!


6 Mark October 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Elaine, come on down! You’re welcome any time. This furnished house we leased is really cool. I love all the artwork, sculpture, and eclectic details. Watching sunsets from the merador is a treat. And it’s so quiet and peaceful.


7 Clelie October 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Yes, Wow wow wow. Well done, you all. It looks fantastic. And how nice to see the pic of Archie and Equis! The artwork is great, and some of the furniture is spectacular. That’s so nice!
What’s Mark working at? Does he need a proofreader/copy editor on any of his projects?


8 Renee October 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Thanks, Clelie. We’re doing eBook publishing for now. If we need a hired gun you’ll be the first we call.


9 wanderingwombles October 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Ok I am totally in love with your home!!

Did it come fully furnished like that? What an amazing and gorgeous place.
Thank you so much for sharing.


10 Renee October 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

Yes, it came completely furnished! 🙂


11 wanderingwombles October 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Right then. it is settled. Hubby and I can forgo Europe!
Mexico it is…. now , how big is your couch? lol 😉


12 Renee October 11, 2012 at 10:05 am

No couch but plenty of hammock space… 🙂


13 The Ippels October 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

Ok, we’re moving in…


14 Renee October 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm



15 Tom Medsger October 9, 2012 at 9:12 am

Hi, Mark and family,

Thanks for these pix. As I wrote earlier, I have been to Ajijic and Lake Chapala and found it lovely.

Would you come visit me if I move to Querétaro, Mexico? I just got back from two weeks in Portugal, teaching high school English with Global Volunteers. I’ve been to Querétaro six times with them.

Take care. Keep the news coming! I’m happy for you.

Tom Medsger


16 Renee October 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Tom, yes! We’d love to come visit? Do you know when you’ll be in Querétaro?


17 Tom Medsger October 13, 2012 at 9:16 am

Mark and Renee,
Good morning! I hope to be in Querétaro from Feb. 9–23, 2013, again with Global Volunteers. The team of volunteers (we teach English at one of the local universities) usually stays at the Hotel Hidalgo in the Centro Historico, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, and I’m assuming that’s where we’ll be this time. I say “hope” because I have not sent GV my application and money yet, but I plan on doing that this coming week. I’ll keep you up to date. Love your house and that kitchen table (?). Adios for now. –Tom Medsger


18 Renee October 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Keep us updated. We’ll do what it takes to connect. 🙂


19 Tom Medsger October 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Hi, Mark and Renee,

I will definitely keep you updated about my Feb 9–23, 2013 Querétaro trip with Global Volunteers. I just sent them my application and down payment today.

Our “free” weekend, when we won’t be teaching (although that could change), would be Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16–17, 2013, a good time for you to come over? I’ll let you know more as the date approaches. Meanwhile, enjoy Mexico.

Best wishes. I can’t wait to see you.
Tom Medsger

20 Mark October 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Hi, Tom! Querétaro is not far. About a 4 hour drive and certainly worth exploring. It would be fun to visit you there. We’re loving Chapala.


21 Amy @worldschoolAdventures October 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm

What a funky house, I love it! Glad you guys are finally settled and enjoying some peace and quiet!
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22 Renee October 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Cheers! It’s a great place, but we’re out of the main expat area, which I’m glad of.


23 Travel with Bender (Erin) October 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm

It looks so lovely, I cant wit to see it in person! Perhaps I will love Mexico after all. 🙂
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24 Renee October 16, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Erin, the Coronas are chilling, so get on over here!


25 Lana Hope October 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

wow, totally awesome!!!!
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26 Stevie November 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

What a gorgeous house, especially the kitchen and the view!!! Great colorful touches…I especially love the stained glass door and the tile work on the kitchen table. Enjoy!!

Our friends Ken and Kris winter at Lake Chapala. They drive down from California every year and camp at the balneario around the Lake that has thermal pools and a tennis court….I can’t remember the name of the campground, dammit. Oh well, I’ll send you their email address through a FB private message. They’ve been staying at Lake Chapala for around 10 years so they have the place dialed! They’ll be a great couple for you guys to know.
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27 Renee November 10, 2012 at 11:20 am

Thanks! Got your message and will contact them today.


28 Travel with Bender (Erin) December 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm

scorpion problem???!!!


29 Renee December 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Lol, apparently but we haven’t seen any yet.


30 Crystal April 24, 2013 at 10:40 pm

May I butt in? I just want to say I LOVED the pictures and am so grateful someone posted a genuine, thoughtful blog about living on Lake Chapala. Most of the other posts are from someone trying to sell something so it’s refreshing to see just an honest assessment of what it’s like there. I am a young single retiree (I’m 52) and am looking to move to the area. I don’t want to be in the most touristy areas either, so your abode caught my eye. Is it safe there? Do you have a problem with theft? I just want to feel that I’m safe and that my belongings are safe. Thanking you in advance if you have a chance to respond!


31 Renee April 25, 2013 at 8:48 am

Hi, Crystal. Glad you found me. Yes, we feel completely safe here. Also our house is attached to a guarded hotel property, which doesn’t hurt. We have had no thefts or problems. The houses here in Riberas are owned by both gringos and Mexicans, though the neighborhood feels a bit deserted because e lot of the gringo houses are empty and everyone else is behind walls. If you don’t want to be in a gringo neighborhood, you might want to look in Chapala. I wish we’d done that, so I could have practiced Spanish more frequently.

I hope this helps. If you’ve got any more questions, fire away!:-)


32 Crystal April 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Thanks for your response. So, do the gringos usually live behind walls? Lol. Are they perhaps more of a target for theft so they do that?


33 Renee April 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Nearly all properties are behind walls, both Mexican and gringo.


34 Jane July 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Signed up for your blog. We are a family of six (two boys, parents,& us grandparents). We are retired as our son-in-law will be by the time we are ready to go. Boys then will be about 11 & 14. Their parents are used to home schooling and are now attending a “total immersion ” school in Spanish here i. Denver, Colorado USA. They are VERY committed to this and will. E planning on it and visiting there a few times in the next 4-5 years when he will be retired (second marriage & first children for both). We have all. Been living together for 6 1/2 years. Any thoughts about whether $5,000 US dollars would make it work? Sorry this is so long. Would love to hear from you.



35 Kelly October 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Wow! love the artsy home you got. We live in WA right now. We just finished two years of working in VZ and traveling around South America. Want to drive south for the winter and spend some “non challenging” time in a place like Lake Chapala. We are planning to drive down end of Nov. and find a furnished home for about 4 months or so. Do you think it will be hard to find something for that short of time and without any friends or contacts like you had? I know it’s the busy snowbird time of year. We are also open to house/pet sitting. Do you think that is a possibility?


36 Renee October 17, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Hi, Kelly. Thanks for stopping by. November is when all the snowbirds get down here, so rental choices are probably more limited, but I’m sure you’d find something. There are several rental agencies here…I’d contact them. People also post vacancies at the local supermarkets, but of course you’d need to physically be here to arrange something. I can recommend a little inexpensive hotel if you want to come here and then organize the rental.

Housesitting might be harder since it’s the popular time of year to be here. Why don’t you sigh up with one of the housesitting sites (like TrustedHousestiters.com) and post what you are looking for. Maybe you’ll get lucky. 🙂

We haven’t made it it to SA yet…if you get down here, look me up so we can swap travel stories.


37 Kelly October 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Thanks Renee for your advice. We will probably go through an agency once we get down there. An inexpensive hotel to base out of when we arrive would be great. We love your website/blog and look forward to meeting you and your family this winter for some travel sharing!


38 Renee October 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Good plan on all counts. Let us know when you arrive. 🙂


39 Jason January 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Wow, very nice. Your place is quite inspirational. Enjoy.


40 perry March 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I’m going to Lake Chapala for an extended stay and wondered you had recommendations for finding a smaller version of your house. I am only one person,but so far what I’ve seen in your neighborhood and a few others, lack the charm for smaller spaces. Is there someone or some method you can recommend? I’m looking at a temporary ( 30 day place on San Luis.
Also, I want to do without a car.Is there a better neighborhood to choose and how are taxis there? Love your photos. What a beautiful house you found!


41 Renee March 12, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Hi, Perry. Thanks for commenting. Well, it’s pretty easy to get around by bus, but if you really want to walk everywhere Ajijic village is very charming and convenient. There are rental agencies, which you can find by googling “house for rent ajijic” or similar. Or, if you have a short-term rental lined up, you’ll find listings posted at the local Walmart and Superlake grocery stores. I often saw casitas listed, which are perfect for one person.

We found that particular house because it had a for-rent sign in the window.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have other questions. Good luck!


42 Renee October 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Same here! We’ll reminisce about the Canon publishing days… 🙂


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