Nov 9, 2003, 12:47 PM
Post #20 of 48
I bought my car, a 1984 GMC van in which the engine had supposedly been overhauled, for $1,300. I then discovered I had to put another $1,300 into it to get it to pass Texas inspection (tune-up, new muffler, new parking brake, etc.). I wanted a van so that I could take some stuff, and my three animals, with me. If you have checked out the costs of having your stuff moved to Mexico, you'll find that it's pretty expensive.
Re: [OkieTrader] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?
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Anything that a commercial mover takes has to be unloaded at the border and put onto a Mexican truck. Even if you have a small load, the Mexican move is going to be expensive because they cannot, by Mexican law, consolidate their loads with others going in the general direction. There is also the cost of a bonding agent and, if you do not have an FM3 visa (which costs $200US), you will be assessed and will have to pay duties on everything you ship.
I managed to stuff quite a bit of crap into and on top of my van. I did get stopped four times by cops who must have suspected I was hauling contraband, but the stops were just routine and involved no hassles. (I also got the feeling they were stopping me to tell me, "Hey, look, I work for Vicente Fox now, and I am going to surprise you by not demanding a mordita! Have a good day!")
But I sailed through the Frontera with not a question, no duties to pay. (This was at the crossing at Reynosa.) I did that once again in September. On the other hand, a friend recently tried to bring a third of her stored goods across piled on a pickup. She waved her manaje de casa (check out the posts on this baby at Mexico Connect if you don't know what it is) at the border guard, and he told her to go back to McAllen and get a bonding agent to validate it; they didn't want to bother reading her list of goods.
As for buying cars down here, I expect the junker I did buy would have cost me more down here. Inexpensive used cars are getting harder to find here and are bringing better prices than in the States. Currenly, the government makes it nearly impossible to sell your car once you're here (you have to register it at the border), but I understand that regulation is going to be changed. Assuming I don't haul all of my crap back to the US, I plan on getting rid of my junker down here. If I end up having to return to the US permanently or semi-permanently, I will have to figure out another way of getting myself, my goods, and my animals (the ones the cholos have not murdered) back.
I will soon be finding out how much a Mexican mechanic charges. I know it is a LOT less than in the states for labor. Parts is another story. But I know that if, for instance, your carburetor or fuel injectors is/are acting up, rather than simply replacing them, as an American mechanic would, they will dismantle the parts and clean them up. It's time-consuming, but it still ends up being cheaper for you than buying new parts.
The general rule of thumb in Mexico is that labor is cheap, products are expensive. Oil changes, for example, are expensive because oil is nearly $4 US a quart (or whatever the metric equivalent is) in Mexico. Pemex and the government make sure the cost of petroleum products stay high.
The truth is, though, that I seldom use my van. It would be handy to be able to go over to Costco in Queretaro or Celaya once a month and stock up on stuff. You can't haul a load of bulk items back on a bus. And a car might be nice for touring the country's many sights. But I'm doing okay using the local bus system. And the interstate buses go everywhere you want to go and do it cheaper than if you were driving yourself. So, if you can find a friend with a vehicle who will take you to Costco and back, you don't really need a vehicle. Then again, if you buy a cheap car and bring it down here and find a cheap place to park it, you will have few expenses if you dont use it often. Liability insurance is much cheaper in Mexico. Aside from that, you would have only your running expenses.
As for cholos, if you have ever seen a Hollywood movie or TV show which is set in Los Angeles and features young Mexican-American gang members, you have seen depictions of cholos. They are ugly, nasty creeps who deface everything in L.A. with their spray-painted "tags." They are responsible for a great deal of property crime and for terrorizing neighborhoods. And this disease has also infected Mexican youth.
I have seen the word "Cholo" in the graffiti here in SMA and also in Celaya. I doubt that there is any town of sufficient size in Mexico that does not have its gangsters or gangster wannabes. Here, the creeps look more like inept idiots, wearing their baseball caps sideways as if in deranged imitation of someone out of an "Our Gang" comedy. But I have reason to believe they are a lot more nasty than that and have an enormous potential to become more and more vicious.
(Well, they already are pretty vicious in Mexico City, but I think that infection is creeping outward, too.)
The police in Mexico, as anyone can tell you, are pretty darned worthless at best. If the cholos want to own the streets anywhere in Mexico, they can. But I'm sure they would stop short before the Army is called out against them -- an action I would not view with alarm. In SMA, their anti-social behavior has not extended much beyond the slum where I live, a couple of blocks above the open sewer.
I have recently started pen-palling with a woman in North Texas. She is living there on SSI, drawing much less than $1,000 a month. She says she can rent a house in Olney for even less than what I am paying down here ($250 US/month). It is about two hours from Fort Worth, so I would have a much easier time getting medical attention from the VA, cutting a lot of medical expense there. On the other hand, I don't have to cover heating or cooling expenses here, and I am living in one of the prettier spots in the world, a far cry from "The Last Picture Show" ambiance of North Texas. But there is also a better chance of my making some added income up there than down here. I'm thinking about it.
I don't know what your educational background is, but if you have a Bachelor's degree in anything, you could get a job teaching English in another country. In some countries, they will even pay your way over and back, furnish you with an apartment, some income (not enough to put you in a big tax bracket, even while drawing your SS), and medical coverage. I can send you a link for that, if you would like. Mexico City has some jobs like this, but they pay a flat $10 US hourly with no benefits and no housing and no moving expenses. Plus, there are no recruiters I know of, so I don't recommend it.