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wmhwilson


Feb 25, 2005, 12:06 PM

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Owning A Car

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We are considering retirement in SMA and other areas. We wonder if anyone knows numbers on how many expats (or foreigners) own cars as opposed to taking the bus.
Also what would the numbers be on owning a car,i.e., insurance and other expenses for a VW or same sort?
Thanks
Bill and Jackie
Bill and Jackie Wilson
Wallingford,PA



Carol Schmidt


Feb 25, 2005, 1:16 PM

Post #2 of 18 (1177 views)

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Re: [wmhwilson] Owning A Car

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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.

Carol Schmidt


wmhwilson


Feb 25, 2005, 1:41 PM

Post #3 of 18 (1171 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Owning A Car

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Thanks for your prompt reply.
I knew that traffic would be a problem and from what I have read the buses in Mexico are good to excellent.
So, when we retire I'd like to be able to see some of the country as wells and some of Central America. I went to college with Gio Belli and would like to Managua.
We will be visit SMA in September for 10 days -- a vacation and scouting trip.
While my wife has a few years ago to her retirement, it's her idea to retire here and I'm keen on it too, but like many have said on this site come here and see. My wife is from West Virginia and she thinks she would like the area. I became a young newspaper reporter working Bucks County and enjoyed New Hope which is also an artists' and writer' colony.
I have two interests that I'd like to know about. Do you know of any expats who are ham radio operators. I am one and it would be nice to know about.
The other is now that I am retired I am an officer in my volunteer fire company. I wonder what sort of service there is in town. Los bombardos,I think.
Thanks for this site and your attention.
Bill
Bill and Jackie Wilson
Wallingford,PA


jennifer rose

Feb 25, 2005, 2:02 PM

Post #4 of 18 (1166 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Owning A Car

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"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."

A visa applies only to a sentient being, not to a car. FM-2 holders retain the privilege of temporarily importing a motor vehicle for the duration of the FM-2; that privilege only terminates upon the FM-2 holder graduating to inmigrado status.




Rolly


Feb 25, 2005, 2:08 PM

Post #5 of 18 (1165 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Owning A Car

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Hi Carol,

While I don't live anywhere near SMA, I sure do agree with your Mayor's idea of banning private vehicles down town. In my town the situation in El Centro has become impossible. I think we should ban cars in the area. Yesterday, after having a minor finder bender while trying to get to the market in El Centro, I decided to do my part -- I will no longer drive into the area. I can live my life quite well without ever driving there again, and I intend to do so.

I suspect the situation is the same in most mid-size Mexican cities. To hell with a car in town.

Rolly Pirate


NEOhio

Feb 25, 2005, 3:23 PM

Post #6 of 18 (1159 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Owning A Car

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So what about scooters, sure the stones are rough and uneven, but they are like that allover the world and a whole LOT of the world scooters around their towns.

What say you all?


Carol Schmidt


Feb 25, 2005, 3:46 PM

Post #7 of 18 (1157 views)

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Re: [wmhwilson] Owning A Car

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Somebody once mentioned on some list that he was a ham operator in SMA, so you could probably find somebody. There have been Mexconnect threads on fires in Mexico, not as frequent because of the heavy cement construction, but yes, there are fires, and yes, there is a fire department. The new fire trucks get blessed down at the Jardin on the day in which all city vehicles are blessed. If you wanted to continue to volunteer I bet you could find a way. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in just about everything here.

September is the heaviest tourist month of all--forewarned. The night of Sept. 15 is El Grito, the call for independence, dating back to 1810, and the next day is the official Independence Day. The Running of the Bulls is also on a weekend that month, followed the next weekend by the major festival of St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of SMA. Locals tend to leave town for the duration, and we hide out inside. Don't judge the town by September! But you'll have fun. Read my upcoming March and April Mexconnect columns on the events.

Carol Schmidt


D.G.

Feb 25, 2005, 7:13 PM

Post #8 of 18 (1140 views)

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Re: [NEOhio] Owning A Car

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Carol may not have said it, but there is another problem with so much traffic congestion--air pollution. Those narrow streets become canyons of haze on a typical day. And that haze is not good for the people, nor their buildings.

I for one would hate to see more motor scooters than we now have. Their engines typically pollute more than conventional automobiles. Plus, if you have to ride one in the rain,or over wet cobblestones, I figure you are looking for a way to ruin your whole day (and a lot more too

I think Rolly had it just right. Let's all take a pledge to our part in making this city better. Don't drive.


Brian

Feb 25, 2005, 7:43 PM

Post #9 of 18 (1134 views)

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Re: [D.G.] Owning A Car

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The two-stroke motos are certainly polluters but are being phased out. I find a motorscooter indispensible for getting from one end of town to the other. I made the mistake of first buying a honda with 12 inch wheels and experienced a lot of scary moments especially when the cobblestones were wet and potholes developed. I sold it at a slight loss and got a kymco with 16 inch wheels and it is ideal. I think the biggest problem using a moto in San Miguel is the fact that car drivers frequently don't see me and even pedestrians are sometimes oblivious and step right out into the street causing me to swerve around them. If used with extreme caution, motos are a perfect transportation tool for around town. For exercise, I prefer going to the gym....its less hazardous than walking around here :-)

saludos
Brian


wmhwilson


Feb 26, 2005, 6:31 AM

Post #10 of 18 (1111 views)

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Re: [NEOhio] Owning A Car

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Scooters are an option. (not sure how save for older folks) I have thought of ditching the SUV once I stop answering fire calls and serving as an officer. We have often walked to the Swarthmore (PA) train train station and taken the train to Philadelphia. Philadelphia has bus only lanes and Chestnut Street was pedestrian for awhile. Some cities like Trenton, NJ and Wilmington,DE have created pedestrian only areas.
I think this would be fine for SMA with parking outside the centro.
I hope our last car is green.
One of our problems is that we are still fairly young and live in a major metro area and have not yet been weaned from the auto.
Since SMA is designated as a historic city (I serve on my town's historic commision and would like to see this happen here...but) it must be done.
I'd like to see some commentary of the bus situation.
I understand there is great service. How is service should one want to go to other countries in Central America?
Much thanks to all for the open discussion.
Bill and Jackie
Bill and Jackie Wilson
Wallingford,PA


Miguel Palomares


Feb 26, 2005, 7:07 AM

Post #11 of 18 (1109 views)

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Re: [wmhwilson] Owning A Car

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I moved to Mexico five years ago with the intention of relying on public transportation. And, indeed, that can be done. Public transportation here is plentiful and cheap. But it frequently is also very uncomfortable. There are exceptions but often you will be jammed up, elbow to elbow, knee to knee, with other folks.

This may seem "colorful" at first, but trust me on this, it gets mighty old, mighty fast. I lasted eight months. The freedom and comfort a car provides simply cannot be duplicated with public transportation.

YouŽll want a car. No doubt about it.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/

(This post was edited by palomares on Feb 26, 2005, 8:19 AM)


Miguel Palomares


Feb 26, 2005, 7:12 AM

Post #12 of 18 (1105 views)

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Re: [wmhwilson] Owning A Car

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PS to my first response. DonŽt bring your car down here. Sell it, and buy a new one after you arrive. Often they are cheaper than new cars in the U.S. You can buy, for instance, a two-door, hatchback Chevy Pop, a spacious model that doesnŽt exist in the U.S., but is quite dandy, for about $7,500. The un-airconditioned version gets about 50mpg. YouŽll have a new car, and you wonŽt have to hassle with Mexican bureaucracy due to bringing your gringo car.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/

(This post was edited by palomares on Feb 26, 2005, 7:31 AM)


Miguel Palomares


Feb 26, 2005, 7:15 AM

Post #13 of 18 (1104 views)

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Re: [NEOhio] Owning A Car

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Regarding motorbikes, I think anyone who drives in Mexican traffic without being surrounded by steel is flirting with disaster. Mexican drivers generally donŽt accept the right of others to share the highways and byways.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/

(This post was edited by palomares on Feb 26, 2005, 7:33 AM)


Carol Schmidt


Feb 26, 2005, 11:25 AM

Post #14 of 18 (1072 views)

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Re: Bus service to other Central American countries

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Frequent daily bus service from SMA to Mexico City, and from there, everything is possible. Even in driving, often you have to drive over to Mexico City and drive through it, all roads leading to DF and all that, and pick up the road you want from there.

It's about 170 miles to DF and there are three or four bus stations (one on the north side, etc.) , so you have to make sure you're linking with the right ones--it takes awhile by bus or taxi to get from one station to another to make a connection.

One of our friends just took a plane to Panama and then planned to hop buses wherever she felt like it in Central and South America for a couple of months.

At least one of the first-class bus lines has three wider seats across instead of four, you get your own headset for the movies or music, you're given a sandwich and drink as you board the bus, and there are TWO restrooms and a snack bar in the back!

A relative is coming down next month and is still expecting to be sharing her bus seat with a goat and a rooster, no matter how much we reassure her.

Carol Schmidt


raferguson


Feb 26, 2005, 3:07 PM

Post #15 of 18 (1061 views)

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Re: [wmhwilson] Owning A Car

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The trick to public transporation is to know when to get a cab. Cabs are cheap and easy to find in most Mexican cities. Buses are great for trips of an hour or more, especially the first class or higher buses, but local bus service is slow and not that comfortable or convenient. For example, you might take a bus to the store, but then take a taxi home with your packages. Cabs can be called, or just walk to the nearest busy corner.

It takes a while to figure out when to use which mode of transport, foot, taxi, or bus, but a flexible mixed strategy is the way to go. Having a car can be convenient, but is often a hassle in large cities or in crowded small ones like San Miguel de Allende or Guanajato.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


elcomputo

Mar 30, 2005, 2:36 PM

Post #16 of 18 (952 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Bus service to other Central American countries

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The ham radio guy you referred to may have been Mike Langford. I know he has a rig, though I'm not sure he had it set up down here. He gave up on San Miguel and moved permanently to Iowa last summer. I rode shotgun for him. I recently heard from him, and he's got his radio up and operating.

One thing you forgot to mention -- the reason you can take a bus to Gigante and take a cab back. Cabs are cheap. They recently went up to all of 20 pesos (from 15 pesos), though I pay the driver 30 pesos to drive me from Gigante to San Antonio because of the distance. When I don't have to schlep big bags of dog food, I take the bus back, and I'm out only 8 pesos for the round trip.

I wonder why Park-and-Ride has never been suggested as an option for alleviating the traffic mess? There's plenty of room, for instance, to put more parking in up at Gigante (and make it free). Yes, the shopping center at the old soccer field is going to have underground parking, but that's going to be a bottleneck in itself. Parking needs to be further out. The bus ride from Gigante to Centro is only about 10 minutes.

Of course, Park-and-Ride would be more appealing if they were to replace the 200-year-old buses, and smaller buses would do much to relieve the congestion, too. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the new buses el Presidente talked about many moons ago. One big barrier to that idea: who is going to pay for them?

I think half the congestion, though, is caused by the Coke and Pepsi trucks.



gpk

Mar 30, 2005, 3:07 PM

Post #17 of 18 (947 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Owning A Car

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Another bit of advice, if there is no meter (and outside of Mexico City I don't think I have seen metered cabs) ask the price before you get in. Drivers are not offended by this question. Most drivers are honest, but I've been hit with a gringo tax more than once. Also, no tip is expected unless bags are handled by the driver, and even then tipping is optional.


bastiat1940

Apr 27, 2005, 1:54 PM

Post #18 of 18 (845 views)

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Re: [wmhwilson] Owning A Car

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Just want to say hello to the Wilsons. We live in Paoli and are planning to retire in Mexico whenever we get our stuff sold and/or stored. The buses are quite convenient and comfortable and come more frequently than the suburban SEPTA buses. Test them by taking a bus to Guanajuato or somewhere when you are visiting. When visiting Costa Rica we met a lady who had developed a relationship with two brothers who ran a taxi compay. They trusted each other and she always called them. Perhaps Mexican taxi drivers would be amenable to an arrangement like that. I know you will like SMA. I think everyone does .
 
 
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