Jump to content
Chapala.com Webboard

Living without a Car


DT22
 Share

Recommended Posts

GA356, I'm with you. I like having a car here.

I had an old car down here for the last 2 and a half years. In GDL I used it lightly. Here in Ajijic, I used it lightly. But when I needed to use it to ease my work routine (client in Chula Vista Norte or El Parque for example) I was glad to be able to use it. Then the laws changed about legally being able to drive the USA plated vehicles on a RES TEMP work visa. My car was in no shape to drive back to the border, but a good puttputt for around here. I took the risk and sold it on a Carta Responsiva and will never be able to remove the TIP. Now if I was anything but a worker bee living from hand to mouth, I would have made different choices about my car. I would have driven it back, and then bought a mexican oldie.

For the last two weeks I've been without a car now. And it is a pain in the rump. For those jobs I used to buzz to in a car, now I am dinking around with hours of time in transport, It's not even worth it.

I need to return to the border for family matters, but the car thing was really the deal breaker. While I put up with the ever changing English teacher gigs, always grabbing for jobs, visa problems, and this and that, the car thing soured me.

I will always love Mexico. But when I decide to live abraod again, I will be looking for another country.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i never drove a car in my life. never depend on anyone to drive me places. i have arranged to have food delived as much as possible. can get a meat place to do this? guess i would have to buy many kilos. my maid does some shopping. also if im in a cab, we sometimes stop for a few minutes. i never pass the store w/OUT going inside for fruit/vegs. frozen fruit helps, frozen fish. way back in high school i heard phrases like "my license" "gas station" "permit", later the word "repairs". turned me off. recently i heard that people pump their own gas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've lived here without a car for months at a time and with one. If you choose the car-free route, you need to choose your village carefully. Chapala centro is fine, but if you're a newcomer Ajijic is the epicenter for expat activities and you'll be busing in constantly. The bus system at Lakeside is lousy (by Mexican standards), with beat-up buses full to overflowing and fares that may not seem like much to gringos but are scandalously high for locals since they are unsubsidized. Figure 7-9 pesos for a short hop anywhere, and bear in mind that buses run only from about 8:30 a.m. to shortly after dusk. Taxis must be called - they don't roam the streets here like they do in San Miguel or any other city - and start at 50 pesos for the shortest hops. In short, the bus service is poor and taxis are expensive and must be called in advance, so if you can't walk - easily- to what you do everyday and where you shop you will be limited.

Realistically, IMHO, this means live in Chapala centro if your life and friends are there, otherwise Ajijic between La Floresta and the eastern edge of Villa Nova, if you don't plan on owning a car. For us, owning a used late-model Mexican car with less than $5000 invested, we have insurance at around $300 a year and fill up the tank about once every 6 weeks. Beats the heck out of no car, the lousy bus service or taxis, but as others have said, it's a very personal choice. We would prefer to be car-free, but that means living in a city, not a village.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've lived here without a car for months at a time and with one. If you choose the car-free route, you need to choose your village carefully. Chapala centro is fine, but if you're a newcomer Ajijic is the epicenter for expat activities and you'll be busing in constantly. The bus system at Lakeside is lousy (by Mexican standards), with beat-up buses full to overflowing and fares that may not seem like much to gringos but are scandalously high for locals since they are unsubsidized. Figure 7-9 pesos for a short hop anywhere, and bear in mind that buses run only from about 8:30 a.m. to shortly after dusk. Taxis must be called - they don't roam the streets here like they do in San Miguel or any other city - and start at 50 pesos for the shortest hops. In short, the bus service is poor and taxis are expensive and must be called in advance, so if you can't walk - easily- to what you do everyday and where you shop you will be limited.

Realistically, IMHO, this means live in Chapala centro if your life and friends are there, otherwise Ajijic between La Floresta and the eastern edge of Villa Nova, if you don't plan on owning a car. For us, owning a used late-model Mexican car with less than $5000 invested, we have insurance at around $300 a year and fill up the tank about once every 6 weeks. Beats the heck out of no car, the lousy bus service or taxis, but as others have said, it's a very personal choice. We would prefer to be car-free, but that means living in a city, not a village.

Excellent post. Am flying down after many trips by car. Need to force myself to walk for health reasons. Fortunately for me southeast Chapala is my preferred location(halfway between the park and the plaza). Infrequent trips by bus and taxi are okay with me as long as you avoid the rush hour times for school children. Walking also forces me to interact more with the locals and less with expats(nothing personal).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just be real carefull if you take a long distance bus, look under the seat, look in the overhead compartment, move to another

seat if you see any bulky packages near your seating area. Dont carry any luggage that has t go under the bus. These

days you can be jailed and shaken down for thousands of dollars if the wrong thing happens to be under your seat...............

Of course the driver and or whoever put in there get by just fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just be real carefull if you take a long distance bus, look under the seat, look in the overhead compartment, move to another

seat if you see any bulky packages near your seating area. Dont carry any luggage that has t go under the bus. These

days you can be jailed and shaken down for thousands of dollars if the wrong thing happens to be under your seat...............

Of course the driver and or whoever put in there get by just fine.

Maybe for crossing the US/Mexican border, but not on the local buses running up and down the carretera!

Back home, I had my own car and I loved it. For many years I lived in a rural area with no public transport. A car was an absolute necessity. Here, the environment and my lifestyle are different. My husband drives but I don't, and I find that I can get around very well on foot and with local buses. If I was here on my own, I would not have a car. Whether the bus service is good or not depends on what you're accustomed to where you came from. I find the local bus service is just fine and the long-distance bus service is totally awesome. We know several Canadian snowbird couples who fly down and live carless, and they manage quite well without leaning heavily on us for rides.

We took a weekend trip to Guanajuato with friends and opted for the bus because we didn't want the hassle of driving and parking in Guanajuato. Yes, you can sightsee without a car, and you don't have to depend on guided tours if you are a more independent traveller.

But it really does depend on where you live. We saw some lovely homes in Chapala Haciendas, but settled in San Antonio for the local village atmosphere and the convenience of being a 5 min walk from all our daily needs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've lived here without a car for months at a time and with one. If you choose the car-free route, you need to choose your village carefully. Chapala centro is fine, but if you're a newcomer Ajijic is the epicenter for expat activities and you'll be busing in constantly. The bus system at Lakeside is lousy (by Mexican standards), with beat-up buses full to overflowing and fares that may not seem like much to gringos but are scandalously high for locals since they are unsubsidized. Figure 7-9 pesos for a short hop anywhere, and bear in mind that buses run only from about 8:30 a.m. to shortly after dusk. Taxis must be called - they don't roam the streets here like they do in San Miguel or any other city - and start at 50 pesos for the shortest hops. In short, the bus service is poor and taxis are expensive and must be called in advance, so if you can't walk - easily- to what you do everyday and where you shop you will be limited.

Realistically, IMHO, this means live in Chapala centro if your life and friends are there, otherwise Ajijic between La Floresta and the eastern edge of Villa Nova, if you don't plan on owning a car. For us, owning a used late-model Mexican car with less than $5000 invested, we have insurance at around $300 a year and fill up the tank about once every 6 weeks. Beats the heck out of no car, the lousy bus service or taxis, but as others have said, it's a very personal choice. We would prefer to be car-free, but that means living in a city, not a village.

I'm not sure where you got your information from, but:

Buses run until between 9pm and 10pm. They start running around 6am-7am. (I know this because they are often loud and go right past my windows.) The small local buses run every 20 minutes, and the bigger every 30 minutes (these are rough estimates, but the general rule of thumb amongst the locals). There are taxi stands at the plazas in Ajijic and Chapala, and another taxi stand at the Central bus station in Chapala. The taxis are there from about 7am until about 7-9pm. From Plaza to Plaza it is about $45 pesos, less within the towns themselves. More for going from one Plaza to the outskirts of another town. (for example, Chapala plaza to Ajijic Plaza is $45pesos. Chapala to West Ajijic is $70pesos). The Directo First Class bus to Guadalajara is only $50pesos. While the taxis don't crawl around town (honestly, the towns are both fairly small for taxis to just be roaming around aimlessly) you can find them at the plazas, and there are quite a few willing to give out their numbers and arrange rides from your home. If you like a taxi driver, ask for their number and if you can call for rides.

I live in Centro Chapala, and when I was a newbie here I did not find myself constantly busing into Ajijic to the "epicenter of expat activities". In fact, I have maybe been into the village of Ajijic a dozen times in the almost three years I have been here. I guess if you moved here wanting it to be like NOB, then you'd be running into Ajijic, but the majority of the expats I know here don't do that. If you really have a need for some expat company, there is the American Legion in Chapala (which has a fantastically cheap happy hour).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I lived in Sydney Australia I never felt the need for a car. The fact that you can raise your hand for a cab anywhere ot anytime did not impact my freedom. It also did not impact the convenience and time saving. Locals often use cabs even tho they have a car given the convenience often avoiding parking and driving hassles. I managed here without a car for about 6 months. It's not an experience I want to repeat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am supprised by the number of walkers.....However how many in the over 70year old walk, and how many in the over80's?

In many stituations, driving as you get older is better than walking due to the cobbles and wonky legs

I have seen some that are in their 70s and 80s that should *not* be driving due to poor vision and poor reflexes (reaction time). There are some reluctant to give up driving that should have already, they become a danger to themselves and to others. (please note that I am NOT saying that all people in their 70s and 80s should not drive, I am saying there are a few around this area that should not be.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) wrong! it is NOT 45 pesos from ajijic to chapala. more like 70 pesos (as of last year, best price). 2) wrong again, there are no busses past 9pm, that is the last bus. 3) a cab stand in the plaza is useless if you are not walking past the plaza. you need to call them from where ever you are. yes it is easier to call the driver directo. most good drivers are busy, good luck. 3) it was much easier to walk places like 15 or more years ago, but thats over. 4) a "first class bus" is rare, there may be a few new clean directo busses to guad. sometimes there is blasting music from the drivers loud speaker. no thanks. the small busses may have dirty mops, filthy upolstery, clothes need to be washed right away. they are noisy, sometimes packed. again its the luck of the draw, some are newer w/plastic seats. i hop on them to save steps, as walking is not good for me. let me also add that the steps on these busses can be as high as 3 feet. how many elderly people can climb that? are you going to carry serveral lbs of groceries on the bus? 5) my mexican friends who do not have cars, walk & take bus. they are not happy w/this. each to his own. 6) agree some people should not drive. they may need to hire a driver to use their car to take them shopping etc. or sell car, have a regular appt w/a taxi you like.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are most definitely buses past 9pm. I take one from West Ajijic to Chapala around 9:30pm. There are Directo buses coming back from Guadalajara that pass by my place in Chapala going to Ajijic and Jocotepec at 10pm, sometimes as late as 10:30pm. Like I said, they go right past my windows. I've rode them.

As for the taxi prices, that is what I have paid for going from plaza to plaza. Like I stated, it is 70 when you are not going from one plaza to another. At least that is what *I* have paid. Maybe they are just being nice to me.

In Chapala in the last few years it has gotten easier to walk places, because they redid the sidewalks along Madero. 90% of the Directo buses to Guadalajara are buses that used to be Primera Plus buses. They are clean, and comfortable. As for the music, that is part of the culture here. I have never been on one where the driver is playing the music too loudly, it's usually a passenger playing music from their cellphone without headphones - and that happens NOB, too. And on the smaller buses? There is no way that the steps can be "as high as 3 feet"! No one would be able to step up that high. Yes, there is often about an 18" step up to the first step. And I'm sure if you asked nicely, the driver or another passenger would help you. They helped me when I had a walking cast on my ankle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

they may have extended the bus hours for the directos. small ones, i think stop @ 8:30pm or so. as for 45 pesos taxi, plaza to plaza: it did happen one or two times. that was when i hailed the cab on the street, he happened to be going back to chapala from ajijic, so he did me a favor. IF you call a cab, or just see one around, the price is 70pesos normally. as for music, there ARE drivers who blast. for me its not acceptable, it is a quality of of life issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am always shocked when this subject comes up. Because I am reminded how many of you by choice do not have a car lakeside. I bought a new car in 2000 in Texas and drove it to Ajijic. It's been 13 years now and has 32,000 miles on it. I guess I'm spoiled. I can't imagine not having a car, especially when I drive 37 miles (59K) to Costco and load up. Or when I drive a dog or cat to the vet some 5 miles away, or when I have to drive to pick up a 50 Lb bag of fertilizer or a large bag of dog food, or pool supplies, etc etc.

Yes, I suppose I could live without a car. But it sure would be a bitch to do for me.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

to add to the bus post: some busses do not have the extra step that comes down. i have seen people lift some very elderly mexicans up the stairs. unfortunately some of the older busses are over 2 ft high. in any event, i dont being the "bus" expert. slowly i am learning to think like a "suburban". that means buy triple of what i need when the taxi is carrying the packages. old habits die hard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As long as I feel safe enough driving I will drive my car, its great to explore Mexico by car using the off the beaten track roads, stopping very you please and explore. Would hate to depend on taxi's and public transport, prefer to do it myself. When the time comes that I cannot drive anymore I will hire a driver, I will never renounce to self sufficient transportation.

I love walking and do so depite owning a car, but only walk for pleasure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...

I have to drive down because I'm traveling with my 2 dogs and I can have the car as needed. Don't think it will be easy to find a ride with a 140 lb. Bullmastiff (and/or a Frenchie).  My concern with a car is that after the 4 year visa, it sounds like I may need to drive back to the States. Not sure that I will be able to change to Mexican plates. Anyone know about this?

  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can buy a Mexican plated car with a Temporal visa.  You can have a Temporal Visa for 4 years after which you must get a Permanente visa at which time you can no longer own a U.S. plated car here. 

Generally it is not worth the trouble and expense to import a U.S. car in order to "change" to Mexican plates.  Most people take the U.S. plated car to Texas and sell it.  Sometimes you can sell it here to someone returning to the U.S. depending on type and condition.  Obviously that saves a lot of trouble and you can do it at any time in the 4 year period.  

The advantage of not immediately buying a Mexican plated car and getting rid of the U.S. plated one is that 4 years is usually enough time to decide if you want to stay longer.  The disadvantage is the U.S. plates make you more of a target for crooked cops and thieves.

Note there is a process for renewing the TIP when you renew the Temporal.  Most people find it wise to use a facilitator to do this.  Spencer McMullen (Intercasa) posts regularly here and is a well known provider of that service.  There are others.

A lot of threads on this topic can be found by searching the Customs and immigration section.

  • Like 2
  • Sad 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, King Knish said:

I have to drive down because I'm traveling with my 2 dogs and I can have the car as needed. Don't think it will be easy to find a ride with a 140 lb. Bullmastiff (and/or a Frenchie).  My concern with a car is that after the 4 year visa, it sounds like I may need to drive back to the States. Not sure that I will be able to change to Mexican plates. Anyone know about this?

My 2 centavos.....    4 years is a very long time. MANY things can change during that period. One is probably ‘overthinking’ the situation if this is high on their to-do list at this point in the game. 

Personally I would ‘forget about’ the car license thing and concentrate on making a new life in another country. In 3 years, if you are even still in Mexico, begin to think what you want to do with regards to your Immigration status and your car. Then. Not now.

YMMV
 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are taking the bus because you don't want to have a car that is good.  Be aware that the buses are more crowded than ever because so many have chosen this route and there is nothing wrong with it.  Many say the bus company should just put on more buses.  That is probably not going to happen.  Please look around you in the morning and evening at who is waiting to get on the bus with you.  Let workers and students on before you. As a courtesy.  Also pay the full fare even though you don't have to it is a small price to pay for transportation.  

  • Thanks 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just my 2 centavos:  I would gladly pay extra for a cab.  The bus drivers are among the most dangerous and distracted drivers on Mexican roads.  Having said that, your chances of getting killed or injured in a bus accident are very small.

YMMV

  • Confused 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...