Mark Rochon and Lisa Beeman Rochon

Please join us in welcoming two of Lakeside’s newest residents: Mark Rochon and Lisa Beeman Rochon. Please say “hi” when you see them around town. Here’s Mark’s and Lisa’s story…

Where did you move from?

We moved from Martinez, California, which is in the east San Francisco Bay area. Martinez is a historic little town with several claims to fame. It’s where the martini was invented, the birthplace of Joe DiMaggio, and has the home of John Muir.

Where did you move to?

San Antonio Tlayacapan, which is between Ajijic and Chapala.

What work did you do in Martinez?

Lisa: I was an elementary school teacher. I taught 1st grade in a mostly lower-income, English Learner community.

Mark: I worked as a manager in computer information technology, mostly in retail systems, where, among other things, my degree in accounting came in handy.

What was it about the Lake Chapala area that caused you to want to move here?

Both: We had been coming to Mexico for years, sometimes many times in a year. We like to plan, so our 10-year plan was to move to Puerto Vallarta. Then, a few years ago, we were in Puerto Vallarta and started to notice things. For example, it was January, and it was still quite warm. This prompted us to reconsider the climate we would be comfortable in. Also, Puerto Vallarta was touristy, and it was fairly expensive. It’s a lot different when you consider living in a place as opposed to being a tourist.

So, we started researching the Lake Chapala area. That summer we came to visit for the first time. We stayed in Ajijic at Nueva Posada. We used Facebook a lot, first to connect with people online and then, to meet them in person, in real life, right here at Lakeside. Lots of people were willing to meet with us. It was great. We were charmed enough to take our 10-year plan down to five years. We’ve been back to visit several times since and loved it more every time.

Mark: In January of 2018, I got “downsized,” which altered our thinking a bit. I decided I was retired, not unemployed. It was time to take out the spreadsheets again and plan our retirement. The five-year plan became the year-and-a-half plan.

What are your plans here over the next few years?

Mark: My plan is to see what I become when I don’t have to go to work.
Lisa: We don’t really have plans, but we do have lots of ideas. We’re relatively young to retire, so hopefully we have a lot of time to find out who we are when we don’t have to work. We don’t plan to “reinvent ourselves”, so much as enjoy a second young-adulthood.

What are you most looking forward to doing at your new home here at Lake Chapala?

Lisa: Traveling and discovering more of Mexico, not as a tourist but as a resident here. It is much less expensive to travel when you start within the country. Also, we want to do what we couldn’t before, due to my teaching schedule– travel at times when everyone else isn’t.

What do you wish you knew “then” that you know “now”?

Mark: Not much, because we did so much research ahead of time. We are in awe, though, that all our plans worked.

Lisa: If we had to pick one thing that we’re glad that we did NOT know, it would be that our house would sell for much less than we had planned. If we had known that, we might not have had the courage to make the move, and that would have been a mistake. We’re so happy we did it and we’re here!

What are you most passionate about?

Mark: Having new experiences.

Lisa: I’m passionate about teaching. It’s not just a job; it’s a calling. I’m not done working with children… I’m just done getting paid for it.

What advice do you have for anyone moving here?

Lisa: Do your research.

Mark: We did extensive research on Facebook and any other place we could find. Then, my advice is to come down and visit, but not just one area, all different areas.

Lisa: Understand that you are moving to MEXICO, with all that that statement means. Don’t just move here because it is cheap. We love Mexico; the people, the food, the music, the joie de vivre. But understand that you are moving to another country—things aren’t going to be like they were North of the Border.

Mark: Come for the adventure. Work to speak the language. Duolingo is good for that. Right now, I can get by, but I’m working on getting better.

What was your biggest misconception about Mexico?
Both: We had very few misconceptions, because we did our research and travelled in Mexico a lot before we moved.

Lisa: An example of a misconception that many people might have is that it is dangerous here, that if you go one block past the tourist areas, it’s a terrible place. The truth is that one block past the tourist areas, or two blocks, or more, are just ordinary people, living their lives.

What hobbies and other activities do you plan to do here?

Mark: I plan to do more music. I play the guitar and the mandolin. I’d like to do all the things I’ve dabbled in in the past but didn’t have the time to do more of; to re-kindle many of my interests. For example, I love to read and to do art—drawing and painting. Also, I do card tricks. I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where I was on the Mother Moose television show once a week. My younger brother thought I was a star.

Lisa: I’d like to take ceramic classes. I’d also like to read, garden, cook, paint, and take welding classes. I guess I have some wide interests.

What’s the first thing you did after you put away your household goods?

Lisa: We still haven’t put everything away! My mom will be visiting soon, and we do plan on exploring the Guadalajara area more.

What was the most stressful part about moving to San Antonio?

Both: Driving here with six cats.

Lisa: Driving here with the cats was a little terrible, but now, it’s done. That’s how it’s worked for us– we had a plan, we knew it wouldn’t be great, but now, it’s over.

The hardest part was saying our goodbyes, including selling our house with all its memories. It was very emotional. We had great lives and a great house. But if we stayed in Northern California, we would have had to work until we died, so we changed our plan. We have no regrets, but it was not easy.

Mark: There are so many details: like banking, phones, moving the cats, etc. I had 137 to-do items on four lists. But it all worked out.

Both: It was also stressful that we had not sold our house when we left, but it’s finally closed now.

What were you most happily surprised by about moving to the Lake Chapala area?

Both: That it worked! We’re here!! It still feels like a dream.

Also, it’s nice to be able to communicate with our family and friends in the US remotely just the same way we did when we lived in California.

Is there anything you would like to ask from the community?

Lisa: Where’s the recycling in San Antonio?

What would you say about fitting in here at Lakeside?

Mark: Living here at Lakeside is socially like just entering college or high school. The people here are so open to having new friends.

Both: When we were in California, we just had our work friends and our family, but not much else, because we didn’t have the time for it. Already, we have more friends here than we had north of the border. That’s really nice.

Allan Gonce, Craig Steven Gonce, Judy Gonce-Chilton

Please join us in welcoming three new Ajijic residents: Allan Gonce and Craig Steven Gonce, and Allan’s mother, Judy Gonce-Chilton, through a story written by Jet Metier. Jet was invited to visit with the three newcomers at their beautiful home in Ajijic. 

There, after a tour of their lovely home, Jet had a delightful time with Allan, Craig and Judy on their expansive veranda with a gorgeous view of Lake Chapala while learning more about what brought them to set up their household in this corner of Mexico and where they had discovered their forever home.

A Home That Was Meant to Be

Their trip from the US to their new home in Ajijic had not been going well. In the US, Craig had been given grief by airline personnel about how his bag was 20 pounds overweight, and now, as they were about to deboard in Guadalajara, Allan worried about Judy and how the travel and overall stress would affect her heart problems. They had their two dogs with them, both of which were slightly loopy from the mild doggie downers the vet had given them to make them at ease during their experience in the plane’s passenger section, Judy was in a wheelchair and they had a massive amount of luggage. The three humans and two canines were a long way from their colonial-style home in Franklin, Tennessee, as they were now moving to Ajijic, after considering only one home to purchase, on the second day of their initial visit, and making the decision in one day.

Judy is a Senior Olympian, who has competed in shooting events, badminton, horseshoes and table tennis. But one of the greatest accomplishments her family is most proud of is that she introduced the art of iris paper folding to the senior center in which she was a volunteer to make greeting cards. These greeting cards, cut and folded to create a three-dimensional circle, like an eye in the design, sold for $3 each and over eight years earned her group, the “Card Crusaders” $70,000 to $80,000 that were donated to the maintenance of their senior center. Their clients included the Nashville zoo, the airport and Merrill Lynch.

The first time I showed the ladies how to do it,” Judy recalls, “they stayed all day. Some of those ladies said that being involved and making these cards literally saved their lives. Otherwise, they had no place to go and they had nothing to do.”

Allan and Craig have been together 16 years and have been married since 2012. Craig took Allan’s last name so that there wouldn’t have been confusion for their son who was in grade school. Allan had a career in purchasing, working for large corporations and Craig was an implementation manger after retiring as an airline steward. Together they had a moving company and owned restaurants.

For years, Allan and Craig had been coming down to Nayarit, to the town of San Francisco, nicknamed “San Pancho,” to attend an international music festival in February. There, a group of friends and friends of friends, some of whom Craig has known since his high school days in Rockford, Illinois, would rent a big house, as Craig says, “mostly for camaraderie and relationships. Some of them were very avid about Mexico.” Allan and Craig even tried to buy a home in San Pancho, but someone else purchased it just hours before they planned to make their offer.

We were going to retire and be the Golden Girls living down in Mexico,” quipped Craig.

Later, their friend John, identified lovingly by Allan and Craig as “their ringleader,” told them that he had researched Ajijic’s glorious weather and large gay population, and recommended a visit. Thus influenced, Allan and Craig came down two days ahead of their next annual beach foray to see if it were true.

Allan and Craig checked into the Hotel Lindo Ajijic to research the area. While there, they couldn’t help but notice the sign for the open house right next door. Curious but guarded, Allan warned his husband not to get too excited because they probably could not afford it. The house had a lovely pool and gardens, rooms enough for all three of them and guests. There was a mirador with a view of the lake and what they were to learn later, a great neighborhood with very friendly and helpful neighbors. The more they saw the more they loved it and it was what they both wanted. They told their real estate agent, who had planned to show them three other houses, to cancel the other visits. They had already found the place that was right for them.

That night they sent Judy pictures and were especially excited to show her the dedicated light and airy artist studio that would be hers. They told her the price, which was less than what she expected for such a lovely house, and she said just two words: “Buy it.”

For the flight, their biggest worry was about their dogs, Bella and Beau. Traveling into Mexico would be a first for them. The trio decided that they would buy a ticket for Beau and he would have his own seat in the passenger section, serving as Judy’s comfort animal. Their plan was to have Bella ride with them onboard the plane in a carrier under the seat in front of them. Craig worked with Bella for weeks beforehand being inside the carrier and being carried by him. In order to make the dogs more comfortable, including avoiding layovers, the trio drove all the way to the airport in Atlanta, so it would only be a three-hour trip to Guadalajara. In Atlanta, the person at the Delta Pet Desk was very helpful and even directed them to the pet lounge, where the dogs could relieve themselves and if their owners had the inclination, even have a shower.

At the Guadalajara airport, it was late at night and they were the last passengers to get to customs because they had taken so long to get all their luggage collected, the dogs set up, and push Judy in the wheelchair, etc. They thought they made quite a spectacle. Their last step was to press the button that, if it indicated red, would mean a protracted and thorough search of their luggage and other belongings. If it flashed green, they would be free to go immediately. The trio had a very strong feeling the customs personnel were rooting for them as much as they were to get the green button.

They pressed the button. The light showed green. Everyone rejoiced, including, they believed, the customs officials, but in secret.

According to the group, “We had been talking about this move since February of this year. We said that after everything was unpacked, all the headache, the drama, all the trepidation, the good and the bad was behind us, we would crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate that we had arrived.”

And they did; from the little liquor store down the street.

Their only regrets are that they should have brought more. Judy wishes that her paintings had come with her. And all of them wish they had brought more clothes and blankets for the cool weather they were not expecting.

It has been three weeks since they have been enjoying their stylish modern Mexican home. The previous owner had renovated it and the trio were the beneficiaries of her skill and care. There are lots of levels and rooms with different dedications, all beautifully done. The doors to Judy’s artist studio with the commodious fridge are flung open. The rental car sits in their beautifully tiled garage. Even Bella and Beau have a small room for their doggie accoutrements. Allan’s loom is in place in the bedroom and so is the painting of their former home, a colonial with a white picket fence. Lined up in their “three-butt kitchen (according to Allan, a kitchen that is large enough to accommodate three people)”, Allan has his cookbooks, from he is committed to apply himself to expand and hone his culinary skills. The dogs lounge around the terrace, in the patio next to the two-bedroom casita and take walks with Craig around the neighborhood.

Craig has vowed to learn the Spanish language, make new friends, teach the dogs to swim and take care of his family. They all look forward to joining the neighborhood for their regular get-togethers at each other’s homes. They still marvel they have been able to dine alfresco all the time and there are so many restaurants from which to choose. Craig has a plan to organize the homeowners on the street to have their electric wires dug underground. He does wish that everyone would leash their dogs and clean up after them.

They had tripped up twice during their move. Once was that they hadn’t had their papers stamped correctly when entering Mexico to start their new lives, so they had to find and lawyer to make the corrections. They had gone through all the trouble of getting their permanente papers and had not noticed that the officials had mistakenly given them a tourist stamp.

The other was a mishap that could have been much more serious. After they had agreed to purchase the house, they had to come back to Ajijic and pay for it. But on the trip down, they had discovered that Judy had left her carry-on luggage in the car in Tennessee and in it were various subscription drugs and cosmetics, all of which she was afraid she would not be able to replace immediately in Ajijic.

In my carry-on bag, I had my medication, all my jewelry, all my makeup,” said Judy.

I had no lipstick, no nothing. The Walmart in Tennessee is extensive, but at the Walmart here at Lakeside, it’s different. Here, you go into this little space and you choose from whatever limited selection they have, and then you have to pay for it in that section before you can leave to go the rest of the store.”

But more important than the limited selection of make-up, they worried about replacing Judy’s blood pressure medication, which could be serious. Judy, however, took a fatalistic attitude. ‘If I live, I live. If I die, I die,” she said.

Their ingenious solution was to contact their back-alley neighbor in Tennessee, who went into their house and took pictures of Judy’s larger set of medication in her home. They showed the pictures of the medication to the person at the local Ajijic farmacia, who said the Spanish equivalent of, “Yeah, we got that.”

It was so wonderful to get those prescriptions,” Judy said. “It was God- driven. If that would not have happened, I would not have known that I could have gotten my prescriptions here. Everything that we did went according to what I prayed upon. When we first talked about moving here, I prayed, ‘Should we do this Lord? If we should, just open the door. Let it happen. If it is not, just shut that door and lock it.’

Every obstacle we had we overcame easily. We worried about the permanente. We worried about the move. Getting the mover. Just everything. Every door just opened. Then when I forgot my prescriptions. I thought, ‘Well, I live or die.’ But when we got here, what a burden it lifted that I could easily get them. God opened another door.


Patrick O’Heffernan

We ask many of the people we move to Lakeside to introduce themselves to the community. Here’s an entertaining and useful account with lots of good insights and advice about the move and living here written by one of your newest neighbors, Patrick O’Heffernan.

Patrick O’Heffernan 75

Lynn Gutstadt 64

Chula the dog 10

Moved from Los Angeles at the beginning of July into a house in Ajijic we had owned for 2 years.

Picked Ajijic on advice of a friend, visited it, loved it.

Live in town, just above the Careterra. I have an office/studio on Constitucion 1 block for the LCC.

Both of us are still working; I write music reviews, articles for a local newspaper, and broadcast a radio show; Lynn consults to US TV networks.


Moving to another country is never easy. I learned that when I did a bare bones move to Singapore in the 80’s. Even working with that county’s super-efficient bureaucracy, a very few belongings, and a job editing a major magazine, there were glitches and things that did not work. Moving to Mexico with a truck full of belongings and a dog was even more daunting. However, as we had owned the house in Ajijic for two years, visited often, and had many friends there, it was not scary – just logistics, logistics, logistics. Here is the much abridged story of logistics, logistics, logistics.

I approached it as I would any major project: what are the key steps that have to be completed before I could move on, what steps could be done in parallel, and who could I bring on to help make it happen. I laid out a timeline and a work program. The major steps were a Temporal visa, downsizing, packing, preparing to get a car and a dog across the border, and contracting to move our possessions.

Ironically, the most vexing step was getting the Temporal visa from the Mexican Consulate. The LA Consulate is so disorganized that it took months just to get an appointment, even though I had a contact with a Deputy Counsel General. Acting on the advice of our legal advisor in Ajijic, we gave up on LA and applied through Las Vegas and got it one day.

Downsizing was a constant process. What did we want to keep, to sell, to store and come back for later? We wanted to hold our cost down by limiting ourselves to 600 cubic feet (we almost made it) by selling most of what we had. Since we were moving into a fully furnished house in Ajijic we did not need most of our furniture (my daughter appreciated some of it). I wish we had brought the file cabinets, stereo and a couple of other things, but for the most part, we hit it right.

We selected Best Mexico Movers on the basis of recommendations on various Ajijic websites. It was the right move. Chuck reduced our logistics to the point where the actual move was the easiest part of relocating to Mexico. He helped us lineup packers, the truck, prepare the dreaded manaje documents, and advise us on the best way to drive from the LA to Ajijic (through Nogales). We might have been able to do it without Chuck, but we might still be in LA doing it if we had tried.

We took 6 days to drive with our dog in pretty well-packed SUV, filled with stuff Chuck advised us not to pack in the truck. We had arranged for hotels along the way that took dogs. We had all the papers needed to get the car in and get the dog in. We had been studying Spanish in LA (the second largest Spanish-speaking city in the world, after CDMX, so it was familiar to our ear, if not our brains). The dreaded border crossing was a snap…. actually enjoyable. Aside from getting lost temporarily looking for the immigration station at Kilometer 51 (it’s between kilometers 240 and 250 – don’t ask) we had no problem. The Customs lady petted the dog, complimented our Spanish, told us in Spanish how to find immigration, and waved us through. The Mexicans at the car registration window were very helpful. It was a breeze and we met some nice people.

Living in Ajijic.

There Is a reason Mexico is listed in many travel sites as the most welcoming country in the world. It is, and I have been to, lived in or worked in 50 of them. Mexicans are naturally polite and naturally helpful. But, if you are thinking of moving to Ajijic or anywhere in Mexico besides the Americanized coastal resorts like Cabo because magazines and websites tell you it is Miami Beach on the cheap, it’s not. It’s Mexico, and Mexico is noisy, dirty, illogical, and frustrating. It is also welcoming, friendly, helpful, musical, warm, colorful and joyful. And it is cheap by US standards. But it is Mexico and you have to adjust to it, not the other way around. You need to learn and understand the people of Mexico – their history, their customs, their language (yes, really- learn at least enough Spanish to show you care), their priorities – number 1 of which is la familia. I once complemented the woman who runs the agency that manages my home on her success, and her response was “I am very happy because my business now supports 6 families”. That was her measure of success, not profit, but families.

Because ex-pats have been in Ajijic for 60 years, there are many established organizations, intermarriages, business partnerships, joint celebrations, so it is easy to learn about and become comfortable in your new home. And the local Mexicans will treat you with respect and friendliness if you do the same. But remember, everything is built on relationships and it is a small town, so everyone knows everyone else and things happen through relationships built over time, (and as a gringo, best to avoid local Mexican politics).

So, when you are stuck behind the garbage truck on a narrow, cobblestone downtown street which is waiting for gas truck to unload cylinders into a business, don’t honk, yell, or get frustrated. There will come a time when you will be stopping in the middle of a narrow street to load something in your car and others will wait for you.

Also, you are always a representative of the ex-pat community. Get involved; volunteer, go to the 101 Ajijic celebrations a year, get a selfie with the Queen of Ajijic, wear your own rebozo (shawl) to the Desfile (parade) of Rebozos and talk with the woman who model them as the parade around the Plaza, donate to the Potranquitas (3 -7 year old girls who ride stick ponies in complex drill team maneuvers), tell the Ajijic Delegado you appreciate him personally filling potholes on the Carretera when the Federales won’t do it (and then you can ask him to replace the burned out light bulbs in the stoplights at the the intersection at Calle Revolución). You will be welcomed, loved and happy.

We have acclimated pretty well. I am writing for the local Spanish language newspaper, helping them get an English edition off the ground. My wife is in rehearsals now for her role in the Little Lakeside Theater’s first production, and we have Spanish classes twice a week. I have learned that the traffic rules are often “guidelines”, that driving to Guadalajara is no big deal, even at night, and that there is a ton of good music n Ajijic. And that it rains. A lot. And not just at night like the real estate people tell you. But it is ok. It means you can kick back with a beer and a book instead of doing chores outside.

Frank Arellano and Stan Stump

Please help us welcome Frank Arellano (on our left) and Stan Stump (on our right) as two of Lakeside Chapala’s newest residents. Here’s a bit more we can learn about Frank and Stan…

Where did you move from?

Palm Springs, California

Where did you move to?

Frank: Paradise. We’re renting now in Riberas while waiting for our home to be built in west Ajijic.

What work did you do in Palm Springs?

Frank: Real Estate Broker.

Stan: New home sales.

What was it about the Lake Chapala area that caused you to want to move here?

Frank: That it is close to the States but had a different culture. The people are warm and inviting; locals and expats alike. Stan and I had come down before we decided to move in order to experience firsthand what it would be like to live here. On our first trip, we had dinner at Yves. It was getting dark, so we asked Yves how we could get a cab to our hotel, which was about 15 minutes away. Instead of calling a cab, he personally drove us back to our hotel, all the while introducing us to the area and giving us a bit of the area’s culture and history. It was amazing.

The same thing happened when we met Mike Eager [who owns the Nueva Posada hotel and restaurant] and Mark Eager [who owns Eager & Associates Realty]. Both were so warm and open and eager to make us feel at home, while telling us stories about the area. The Lake Chapala Society was also a big plus.

Back in 2017 I came across an article in the Huffington Post about Lake Chapala, reporting how affordable it was, how temperate the weather was, etc. Within 24 hours I purchased airlines tickets and a few weeks later, we were on the plane with our wire haired Dachshund Tucker, who was a puppy at the time. [Sophie and Tucker are now expecting, right here at Lakeside.]

We were visiting at the Lake Chapala Society when a man of German descent took an interest in our Dachshund, Tucker. When he left to say goodbye, I said goodbye to him in German and threw in a few other German words. This caused him to spin around, become even more effusive and helpful than before, and to tell us all about how great it was to live here.

We came down about three months later with a group of about 10 people from the States and stayed at the Nueva Posada. Everyone loved it. But our friends are upset that we’ve left to live here. On the good side, they’ll come to visit and some of them are exploring moving here.

Lake Chapala has a “safety net” because, before we came, others were here first and established a community that could ease our way with very little difficulty.

We can have the best of all worlds here. For example, the fraccionamiento where our home is being built is very orderly. The community is painted white with a Moroccan flair and an involved HOA (sort of like in the US), but then, when you walk out the gate, you’re immersed in the exuberant vibrancy of our Mexican village.

Stan: We really appreciate the economics of living here, the climate, and that English is so widely spoken. Frank and I are learning Spanish as fast as we can, taking two classes a week.

What are your plans here over the next few years?

Frank: I may do some real estate, set up and operate a blog or expand our US-based travel agency to do trips here and into Central and South America.

Stan: I just want to enjoy retirement.

What are you most looking forward to doing at your new home here at Lakeside?

Frank: New adventures, new friendships, building interpersonal connections, and to start a food club where we would have pot lucks featuring a different country or region’s food every month.

We’ve been to Guadalajara lots of times and love it. We’ve gone several times with other recent arrivals who’ve been moved here by Best Mexico Movers, Bill Schroeder and Bob Bruce. It’s coincidental that we all lived in Palm Springs, but we didn’t know each other there. Here, we get together often. It’s a lot of fun.

Stan: Not having to pay a mortgage.

What do you wish you knew “then” that you know “now”?

Frank: How easy life is here. If we knew that, we would have moved here earlier.

Stan: That the reputation that Mexico has as being dangerous and crime infested is not true.

What are you most passionate about?

Frank: Cooking, learning new things, traveling, meeting people, relaxation, and experiencing the local culture, with all its flavors and colors. It’s just so much more vibrant here. I’ve come to realize that here at Lakeside, “Noise is life” which is an intimate part of that vibrancy.

Stan: I want to be immersed in the local culture and environment; to become Mexican.

What advice do you have for anyone moving here?

Frank: Make sure that moving here is really what you want. Know yourself and what is most important to you. After that, if moving here is right for you, believe in yourself. Believe you can do it.

What was your biggest misconception about Mexico?

Frank and Stan: We knew a good amount about Mexican culture from living in Southern California. What we didn’t know is how diverse and in flux Mexico is. The country is a juxtaposition. Mexico has a foot in all Three Worlds, it is a combination of the Third, Second, and First World, but right next to each other. We drove down here from SoCal and on the way you can see little stands selling food on the side of the road, which is very Third World. Then, you may visit the bathrooms in the gas station that sort of work but could use some maintenance; sort of Second World. All the while this is going on, cars are passing the toll stations using electronic sensors, which is First World.

As another example and to illustrate how all this co-mingles, just the other day, we saw a bunch of technicians stringing fiber optic cable for Internet, but they were doing it in the most manual way possible. That’s the dichotomy. The opposites are fun. There’s a combination here, which adds to the interest, liveliness, and just the overall experience of living here.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you at Lakeside?

Frank: Just trying to interpret what the Mexicans are saying and them interpreting what I’m saying. I’ve used Google Translate, pantomime, and everything else. I’m having a blast. We were in a shop the other day and I kept on pestering the shop keeper for the names of items in Spanish and then I tried to repeat and use those words in a sentence. She was stunned. She actually thanked me for trying to learn her language. And the end result is, I’ve made a new personal connection.

What hobbies and other activities do you plan to do here?

Frank: I may start a blog and I will definitely start the cooking group. I also plan to grow our own herbs. Stan and I visited Abastos [the huge wholesale / retail food market in Guadalajara] recently and found it to be a treat for the senses. It was overwhelming. We loved it. And then we drove on to City Market, which was totally over the top. It was totally upscale. Again, Second World, First World.

What’s the first thing you did after you put away your household goods?

We went to our storage unit and dug out our tea pot and warmer. It was like a treasure hunt, I was determined to find them because we brought 10 pounds of loose tea with us. So, now every morning, we brew a full pot of tea. This ritual makes it feel more like home in our rental home while we wait for our new home to be completed.

What was the most stressful part about moving to Lakeside?

Frank: The unknowns. In the end, I advise others to just let your anxieties go. You [Best Mexico Movers] were a great help with that. If I had a question you would either have the answer or direct me to someone who could assist. I remember calling you once we crossed over the border wondering where the heck was Checkpoint 21 and you said not to worry you’ll come across it and we did. Go with the flow; everything will be fine, would be my best advice.

What were you most happily surprised by about moving to Lakeside?

Frank and Stan in unison: the affordability. We recently had an amazing meal with another couple, complete with appetizers, full entrées, dessert, wine, even after diner drinks, and with tax [always included] and a big tip, the whole thing came to 2,000 pesos [about USD $100] for all four of us. We had a wonderful evening for a fraction of what it would have cost in Palm Springs.

On top of that, everything is a new adventure for us now. We are having a great time and we would not trade our life here for anything.


David Hudnall and Roy Haynes

Roy and David

Back in the very first part of April, we at Best Mexico Movers had the pleasure of moving two gentle, kind, interesting and talented people to the Lake Chapala area: David Hudnall and Roy Haynes. (That’s Roy on our left and David on our right.)

We also enjoyed the honor of being invited to what was essentially their housewarming party last Friday, along with what seemed like 100 or so of their new, local friends.

If you enjoy what I’ll call “Palm Springs mid-century modern” (sorry, Roy and David, if I got it wrong), with masterful accents of everything from African masks, very artfully displayed bottles, fearless use of color that works great, and overall inspired and talented decorating, see if you can wrangle yourself an invitation to their home. What they’ve done in the just three months since their home was full of boxes is nothing short of amazing. You’ll love it.

Roy and David

Here are Roy’s answers to our questionnaire introducing him to the community he provided on behalf of himself and his husband, David.

Your name: Roy Haynes

Your husband’s name: David Hudnall

Where did you move from? Greenville, South Carolina, US

Where did you move to? We brought a house in Riberas del Pilar

What work did you do in South Carolina?

I held many roles during my 25+ years tenure working for Belk Department Stores Inc, such as visual manager, regional visual manager, model store visual coordinator, etc. During my retail career, I was used to moving things and opening stores. But moving to Mexico was an experience a little different than I was used to. My background helped with the packing process.

What was it about the Lake Chapala area that caused you to want to move here?

My husband, a retired dentist, wanted to retire to a foreign country with a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life than the US. We felt like everything in the US was centered around working harder to make more money. In many foreign countries, the priorities of the native people are on the family and we liked that idea. We were both retiring early; me at age 55 and him at age 58. We had to lower our cost of living to allow us to live many more years in retirement. We started our search in Ecuador in the fall 2017. However, there was no place in Ecuador really spoke to us as a place to live. Visit yes, live no.

Mexico was next on our list of countries and after some brief exploration, we discovered the Lake Chapala area and were sold. We knew we didn’t want to live in the humid, coastal areas of the country. The Colonial Highlands of Central Mexico were our target. We started with 3 criteria in our search:

1) lower cost of living;
2) close to an international airport; and,
3) a cultural and theatrical community.

The Chapala/Ajijic area had all three and just felt like home; especially after meeting so many nice and helpful people along the way. We were brave and lucky. We bought our dream house, while it was still under construction, after visiting the area for 1 week. We managed the construction from the US and visited twice before the house was finished 5 months after buying it.

What are your plans here over the next few years?

Much travel, meeting people, making good friends, enjoying everyday life, learning about the Mexican culture, and learning the Spanish language.

What are you most looking forward to doing at your new home here in Riberas de Pilar?

Relaxation. Not needing to get up early every morning to go to a job that I no longer want to be associated with.

What do you wish you knew “then” that you know “now”?

There are certain things (mainly foods, cosmetic, and decor items) that you can’t get here that are readily available in the US. But you learn to adapt. All the paperwork…so much paperwork to do anything in Mexico such as opening a bank account, buying a car, getting medical insurance, etc.

What advice do you have for anyone moving here?

Do your homework. Research the area. Make a lot of friends. Ask everyone you meet plenty of questions and adapt their response to fit your own unique situation. There is usually something in the response that you will use at some point. There are NO DUMB questions.

We have had many traveling nomads tell us to sell everything in the US and buy what we need when we get here. That may work for some people but not us. The best thing we did was to come to the area while our house was still under construction and really shop and explore what is locally available. Think of what you will need in your new space. If you can’t find the specific things you want to set up a comfortable home for yourself locally, bring it from the US. Even WalMart and Home Depot here don’t have the merchandise that we were accustomed to at their US stores. You will regret not bringing the things that make your life easier.

What was your biggest misconception about Mexico?

That is unsafe to live here. This was a common comment when we told people we were moving to Mexico. In reality, there are unsafe areas in every country, state, city across the globe. Mexico is no different. Use common sense. Avoid going into areas that are clearly a bad neighbor and you will be ok.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you?

We somehow became the test couple for moving abroad within our circle of friends and acquaintances. So many people had negative things to say about why we were moving out of the country to retire early. It was mostly fear-based comments to the unknown.

Most people don’t take charge of their own lives and consider other alternatives that can actually change the course of their own destiny. Why settle for how the company you have worked for for 20 years treats you just to get the health insurance? As our moving process went on and became a reality, some of those same people have realized they can never afford to retire in the US and have checked into moving abroad themselves.

What hobbies and other activities do you plan to do here?

I plan on doing some work with the local theatre, maybe some home staging and interior design projects, volunteering, traveling around the beautiful country of Mexico, and just relaxing and taking in the natural beauty.

If you had to do your move all over again, what would you change?

I would have spent more time learning Spanish prior to moving. I feel like I must play catch-up with Spanish classes here which is difficult to do while you are setting up a home and doing all of the things it takes to immigrate, buy a car, get other official documents that make you a resident of the community, etc. Spanish knowledge would have made the process easier.

What’s the first thing you did after you put away your household goods?

Started decorating and getting settled. Restocked the kitchen for cooking meals. We are spoiled in the US. You can go to one grocery store and find everything you need to cook a meal. In Mexico, you have to go to multiple markets to find basic staple ingredients. If you see something you need in one store, buy it. A similar item usually cannot be found in another store. Also, the way items are organized is very counter-intuitive to the US brain. Items that should be grouped together in our way of thinking are not located near one another in a Mexican Supermercado.

What was the most stressful part about moving to the Lake Chapala area?

Getting all the projects completed in the US like an estate sale, selling your current home, paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork before moving. Packing and deciding what to take, what to sell, hoping you are taking enough stuff and if you are taking the right stuff. I personally brought way too many clothes that I will never wear.

What were you most happily surprised by about moving to the Lake Chapala area?

That the moving process went so smoothly, thanks to Chuck and team. We shipped a large collection of glass decor and it all arrived unbroken. We arrived on a Monday and our belongings arrived 3 days later.

What should we know about you we forgot to ask?

Being two men married to one another, we haven’t had a bit of problem being accepted into the community here, both with Mexicans and immigrants.


Linda Joy Stone and Alex Holland

Linda Joy Stone and Alex Hollahd

Linda Joy Stone and Alex Holland

We continue a new feature at Best Mexico Movers wherein we introduce some of the clients we recently moved to Mexico. Please join me in welcoming Linda Joy Stone and who she describes as “her husband, espouse and best friend, Alex Holland.” 
Linda and Alex are so close that they will often sign their emails as “Lindex.”

Where did you move from?

Tucson, AZ

Where did you move to?

Ajijic, Jalisco

Linda Joy Stone and Alex Hollahd

What work did you do in Tucson?

I was a practitioner of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture x30 years, 19 years in Tucson. Started an acupuncture school with my husband, Alex, where he has been president up until our move. He is also a musician and composer of films.

What was it about Ajijic that caused you to want to move here?

We were seeking a more affordable, colorful, walkable environment with a moderate climate for our retirement years, close enough to the U.S. to visit friends and family and vice a versa and yet far enough to be a part of different culture. What called us to Ajijic specifically, as we also explored Oaxaca and Guanajuato, is the beauty of the lake and being on a body of water. Plus, we were impressed by the Lake Chapala Society—its history, pristine grounds and events—and as a social hub to help gringos assimilate to a new country. Not to mention all the great restaurants and shops that Ajijic offers!

What are your plans here over the next few years?

Alex and I intend to first gain greater strength and flexibility as we wander and explore the many colorful paths and nuances of this MC Escher-like terrain. We especially look forward in developing a like-minded community in which to explore and expand our interests in integrative health, spirituality, music, ecstatic dance, astrology, local and world geopolitics, the Spanish language, etc. I will offer selective healing sessions and Alex will pursue his music, both playing bass with other seasoned musicians as well as continue his studio work composing music for mixed media.

What are you most looking forward to doing at your new home here in Ajijic?

First finding the ideal bright and spacious home after our lease is up 10/31/19 in which to dream and write and spend most of our time at home creating. We figure the first six months here is the “Welcome-to-Mexico-boot-camp” phase where much energy is focused on learning and navigating a different culture and language.

What do you wish you knew “then” that you know “now”?

To be advised to allow a period of rest and adjustment, starting with the first month upward, to not be in a hurry to figure it all out. It could take 6 months to 2 years to explore, acclimate, find new practitioners, new friends, but mainly to be easy on yourself when things go differently than you may have expected or desired. It’s important to find humor in the “setbacks” and joy in the “little triumphs”. We are new babes in wonderland, and it takes a while for the brain and musculature to become accustomed to everything, from uneven ground to a different language and customs.

What advice do you have for anyone moving here?

Give yourself time to rest and acclimate. Try to let go of expectations and things being a certain way. This is not America or Canada! We are visitors to Mexico, a land and people far older than ours, and must respect and honor their customs and presence. People are generally very friendly, helpful and forgiving. In essence, be a friendly and helpful ambassador from your native country.

What was your biggest misconception about Mexico?

I think the biggest misconception is that Mexico is a dangerous and crime-filled place. Yes, there are areas like that in every country and I’m not making any apologies for Mexico’s long-standing system of corruption. However, the people are family-oriented, take care of their own and are very generous, friendly and fun-loving. They are not out to get you, but it’s best not to be a “flashy” gringo, and to be mindful about how you carry and wield your cash, like anywhere.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you at Ajijic?

Not being able to read labels in stores and not knowing quite what you may be getting. Oh, crema is not sweet cream for coffee… it’s sour creme! Or trying to ask, even with iTranslate, for daily household items at Walmart, e.g., a vegetable steamer, coat hooks or lightbulbs. One may just get a big shrug… but we’re learning as we go!

What hobbies and other activities do you plan to do here?

I plan to continue to write my blog and maybe finish one of my many unfinished books; read, join the hiking club, establish a “Stargeezer’s Astrology” group, study Spanish, find an ecstatic/free-flow dance group, maybe learn to paint…so many possibilities!

If you had to do your move all over again, what would you change?

I would not worry and obsess so much over all the details, as “death by details” could become my epitaph! Also, I would have packed much lighter so as to avoid a storage unit for those “treasures” we may never see again!

What’s the first thing you did after you put away your household goods?

Walked to lake!

What was the most stressful part about moving to Ajijic?

Organizing the move and dealing with unexpected events that postponed our departure by two weeks. Nevertheless, all our possessions arrived safely before us with the help of friends and Chuck Bolotin and Best Mexico Movers!

What were you most happily surprised by about moving to Ajijic?

That we actually made it here and are living in Mexico! And that Alex and I are often awestruck by little synchronicities of “chance meetings” with remarkable souls, blessed places and new discoveries that reinforce our reasons for being here.

Is there anything you would like to ask from the community?

I would like to inquire of others how they feel their lives and life perspectives have changed by living here for a period of time.

What should we know about you we forgot to ask?

I am most passionate about being surrounded by beauty and living in harmony with Nature. I believe that laughter is the best medicine and I want to die laughing! We seek others who appreciate irony, paradox and the silly side of being human.



Susan Cole Bainbridge

Susan Cole Bainbridge


We just started a new feature at Best Mexico Movers wherein we introduce some of the clients we recently moved to Mexico. Please join me in welcoming Susan Cole Bainbridge to Ajijic and when you see her around town, give her a big Lakeside welcome.

Your name:

Susan Cole Bainbridge

Where did you move from?


Where did you move to?


What work did you do in Chicago?

I sold residential real estate.

What was it about Ajijic that caused you to want to move here?

Pretty much everything. The people, the culture, the climate, the food, the services, etc.

What are your plans here over the next few years?

I’d like to just to relax and enjoy it here. I purchased a house in the village with a great mirador and a view of the lake and the volcano Garcia in the distance. It’s lovely.


What are you most looking forward to doing at your new home here in Ajijic?

I’m looking forward to enjoying the serenity. In contrast, living in Chicago was stressful. After all, Chicago is a big city. This is my biggest challenge and opportunity of living in Ajijic —letting go of always being “on,” and looking to get the next thing done.

I’m also looking forward to traveling within Mexico to see more of this beautiful country.

What do you wish you knew “then” that you know “now”?

That you can’t necessarily rely on the expats here as being experts in everything. Sometimes, you get completely conflicting advice from different expats to the same question! (A good example of this is anything having to do with immigration.) My advice is to talk to as many people as you can… and then find a professional.

What hobbies and other activities do you plan to do here?

I plan to do a lot of gardening, including learning about the climate and the zones. I also plan to learn Spanish. I want to communicate with the wonderful people here and be part of the community. After all, it’s their country; not mine, so I should learn their language.

If you had to do your move all over again, what would you change?

I don’t have any regrets. Lots of great things have happened to me.

What’s the first thing you did after you put away your household goods?

I laid down on my bed and cried because my dog wasn’t here with me. Usually, when I would go to my bed, my dog would jump up.

What was the most stressful part about moving to Ajijic?

The most stressful part of moving to Ajijic was having to come without my dog. He isn’t good with loud noises like we can get here in Ajijic, including the cohetes (fireworks). Also, he needs a back yard and I can’t give that to him here.

It all did seem to work out, though. About five days before I was set to move here and still having concerns about bringing my dog, a friend and mentor of mine in Chicago who is 93 years old called and was very upset about something. It turned out that her puppy had died. At that point, it was clear to me what I was called to do—I offered my dog to my friend. Then, after she accepted, I cried for four hours. (My friend never knew.) Now, my friend is so attached to my dog that to take him away would break her heart. Fairly soon, I will adopt a dog here in Ajijic.

What were you most happily surprised by about moving to Ajijic?

The easiest part for me about moving to Ajijic was the part of the move with Best Mexico Movers Once everything got on the truck in Chicago, everything went smoothly.

Is there anything you would like to ask from the community?

Please don’t change.

Bill Schroeder and Bob Bruce

Bill Schroeder and Bob Bruce

Please join us in welcoming two of Ajijic’s newest residents: Bill Schroeder and Bob Bruce. As Best Mexico Movers, we had the honor of moving Bill and Bob from their very sunny Palm Springs-area home just this month.

Bill is to our left and Bob is in the middle. That’s Jet Metier to our right.

Bill is a retired architect and Bob was an interior designer. Bill and Bob are renting now, waiting for their house to be built. And with their backgrounds and sense of style, you just know that the house they’re building here at Lakeside is going to be a work of art.

We had the pleasure of going out to California to personally help Bill and Bob with their move and then to meet them here locally just last week for a nice lunch at Brew Pub. Bill and Bob are warm, witty, talented and funny people. Please say “hi” when you see them and join everyone else in welcoming them to our community. California’s loss is our gain.

Bienvenidos, Bill and Bob!

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