Feb 25, 2005, 1:16 PM
Post #2 of 18
Please don't bring another car into SMA--says someone who admittedly has one. The town was built for burros.
Traffic congestion is one of the main problems facing SMA as it grows in popularity, and the streets are narrow and often one-way, and under construction and repair causing huge detours at any time. Parking is almost non-existent.
The Mayor wants to bar all parking and traffic other than taxis, buses, and service trucks within the eight-block central area, and he has promised parking meters with fines up to $100 US will be installed soon. You can exist quite well without a car--I'd say a slight majority of gringos in town do, though those living outside city limits are more likely to have one.
Norma would prefer we sell ours, but somehow I feel more secure with one, though we only drive it about 2,000 miles a year here, compared to 40,000 miles a year back in LA and Phoenix.
We drive to either Celaya or Queretaro once a month for Costco and other stuff available only in a big city--Office Depot, Home Depot, Sears, etc. But we have many friends who take the bus to the bus station in those towns and then take cabs to the particular stores and return the same way. There are private drivers available for such trips, and the cost of using those occasionally plus cabs and buses is far less than the costs of having a car. Gas is around $2.10 a gallon here, low compared to California recently, I know, but it usually has been higher than the States.
We could easily take a bus to Gigante or Tuesday Market or the movies and then take a cab home with our groceries, and many do. Once in a while we take visitors to Dolores Hidalgo, but a bus trip there would be easy, and we do prefer to take the first-class buses on trips to other cities in Mexico. It is easier and cheaper to take the first class bus back to the States compared to a private car.
If you can find a space in a private parking lot (recommended for safety--a friend had hers stolen off the street, and teens will key cars on the streets just like in the States) it will be around $35 a month, unless you can find a place to live which has a garage.
And then you have to deal with the garage rules--ours closes the gates somewhere between 10:30 and midnight, can't count on exactly when, and if we come back after that we have to go around to the lot attendant and have him make a block-long trip to open the gate for us.
Other threads have discussed the costs and how-tos of auto insurance in SMA and Mexico, and the details of how you get your car here on an FMT (once for six months a year if the law is followed, though often it is not) or the paperwork of an FM3 residency visa for a car. If after five years you go the FM2 route, for immigration, you can no longer have a US plated car. You have to have a 100-peso engine test and sticker on your car every six months and it is hard to remember to do that--I think it is for emissions, I'm not quite sure.
Driving anyplace in Mexico can be tricky--many drivers do not have licenses, and many licenses were obtained with no driving or written test. Norma jokes that traffic laws here are "suggested retail"--and if you do stop at the stop signs before entering a glorieta (roundabout) with no traffic around you'll be rear ended for sure. Those drivers who are uninsured will probably make a run for it--without a lawyer from your insurance company to do the haggling you'll be taken to jail no matter who is obviously at faulr until the lawyers can sort it all out.
If our car got stolen or totaled we would not replace it. I will agree with Norma on that.
Have I discouraged you enough? That said, I'd guess, purely a wild-eyed guess, that almost half of all gringos have cars here and wouldn't give them up. We're from the U.S., after all, where it is a sin to walk. Meanwhile, walking is far more healthy, for us and the city. I am so much healthier since we walk so much, even on the treacherous cobblestones.