The Lake Chapala Society has long been a place for newcomers to meet other foreigners and start to get integrated with the local community.
Founded by a group of foreign residents as “The Chapala Society” in 1955, its first two committees were called Mosquito Control and Information Service. Today, LCS (as its commonly abbreviated) is a non-profit organization with a large number of activities, classes and outreach programs in the local community.
Since 1983, LCS has been located on Neil James’ former property, which she donated to the society 1990, four years before her death.
Almost 60 classes, groups & activities
Most activities at The Lake Chapala Society are limited to members, but the lush garden grounds are open to anyone to wander around or you can eat at the on-site restaurant, Café Corazón.
Every week on the LCS schedule you can find classes for exercise, dance, tai chi, yoga, meditation, art, and photography; board game groups, discussion hours, lectures, and more.
There are almost 60 activities in all. About 35 are exclusively for members. Activities which are open to the public are mostly related to health services and immigration.
Access to all of these activities is included in your annual membership.
Additional benefits of membership
Lake Chapala Society members can enroll in additional members-only classes, such as Prueba México, for reasonable costs. This series of classes teaches foreigners about Mexico’s cultural side, from good manners to good food.
Members get access (with a $500 peso refundable deposit) to a library with 26,000 books and a DVD/VHS library with 4,000 titles. You can imagine how valuable this part of the LCS membership used to be before the internet arrived.
The Lake Chapala Society regularly arranges private bus tours to Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara and other local destinations such as Tequila. These usually cost somewhere between $400 and $1,000 pesos. Non-members can go on these trips, but it costs about $100 pesos more.
To save you a trip to Guadalajara, the US and British consulates come once a month to take care of immigration matters such as renewing your passport.
The British Consulate comes to LCS on the last Saturday of the month. The U.S. Consulate arrives on the second Wednesday of every month at 10:30 a.m. and stays until everyone is processed. Sign up between 10-11:30 a.m. on the day of the visit. You can apply to renew your passport and pick it up from LCS, avoiding two trips to the Consulate in Guadalajara.
Non-members are welcome to use the consulate services.
Cost of membership at the Lake Chapala Society
The cost of an annual membership in 2019 is $730 pesos per individual. For persons aged 79 or older, the cost is $575. For brand new members, there is a $100 peso administration fee. (There’s no fee for renewals.)
Your membership fees give you access to all of the activities at the Lake Chapala Society. There are some additional activities, classes and trips which cost extra and is noted on the activity schedule. Some of these extra activities are exclusive to members or members receive a discount. Membership fees go to maintaining the programs at LCS and contributing to the local community through the organization’s outreach programs.
So should you become a member of the Lake Chapala Society?
Ajijic is no longer the one-stoplight town that it was just two decades ago. And the Lake Chapala Society, thanks in part to the internet, is not quite the vital institution that it once was for new residents at Lake Chapala. Today, there are dozens of places that you can meet new people (Mexicans and fellow foreigners), both offline and online. And most of the types of classes and activities that LCS offers, such as exercise, yoga, and Spanish classes, can now be found elsewhere. Foreigners living at Lake Chapala aren’t cut off from the rest of the world as they used to be.
The Lake Chapala Society might be a great fit for you if you’ve just moved to Lake Chapala and don’t have much experience outside of your home country or you want to meet other foreigners. It’s a great deal in terms of the number of activities, groups, classes and events you get access to. $730 pesos a year is a bargain for 35 activities to choose from, even if you only occasionally stop by LCS.
The Lake Chapala Society’s community outreach programs have helped thousands of people over the years and membership fees help sponsor these programs. Check out these volunteer opportunities if you’re looking for a way to make a difference in your community.
Last updated October 11, 2020