While people from distant lands have been putting down roots in Lake Chapala area for more than a century, the influx of new foreign settlers appears to be growing by leaps and bounds, with no end in sight.
No one has a better grasp on the subject than David Truly, an expert on foreign migration who has studied the dynamics of lakeside’s expat population for two decades.
“Welcome to the new boom,” he declared in addressing the Lake Chapala Garden Club last month. His talk delved into evolving trends he has documented since 1997, when he conducted the first survey of foreign retirees here as a geography professor at the Central Connecticut State University. Since then he has continued research at other academic institutions while splitting periods of residence here and in the United States.
He has tracked local history from the time of the intrepid world travelers who became the earliest foreign settlers, between the 1880s and the 1940s. A solidified expatriate community emerged after World War II with the arrival of military veterans and their families.
Subsequent periods of boom and bust occurred between 1960 and 1990. Newcomers were attracted by 30-odd books that promoted living cheap in Mexico. Many were eventually driven away by rising inflation, precipitous devaluation of the peso and the temporary nationalization of banks during the economic crisis that struck the country in the early 1980s.