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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are all kinds of good information about importing cars, getting a license, and driving in Mexico here.

But how many of you actually live without a car?

For three years I had an apartment on Ave. Vicente Guerrero in Juarez, and I know I could have lived there without a car and many weekends came and went without me even getting mine out of the garage. There were little stores for fresh produce and meat within a couple of blocks, and getting to S-Mart was a breeze. Just hop on the next bus and get off five minutes later. The buses, in fact, were a great, cheap way to get to know the city.

I'm thinking right now that it would be nice to start without a car at all, and go from there.

Is this actually a practical idea in your opinion? I realize the answer will vary depending upon location. So I'll narrow it down to people who live in cities of over 500,000. In a small town, obviously, you would need one.
 

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Well, ElPaso, you threw me off with that last rule about limiting your inquiry to people who live in towns of 500,000 souls. The question of whether or not one needs a car revolves around community layout, walkability and availability of inexpensive and convenient public transportation more than population in my judgment. We live in two smaller cities. Chapala (in the delegacion of Ajijic), Jalisco, population of the municipality of Chapala probably around 60,000 and San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, population probably around 130,000. While quite a few people live without cars in Ajijic, we would find that uncomfortable but, nevertheless possible if inconvenient. On the other hand, in San Cristóbal, where we live adjacent to many small grocers and the enormous indigenous market as well as within a short walk to the city´s historic center, we never even use our car except when we go on extended road trips. Because taxis in San Cristóbal are inexpensive with no meters and fares limited by local regulation anywhere in the city, we don´t even drive to the fairly distant supermarkets but take taxis even for shopping there.

Readers contemplating where to move in Mexico without a car, need to think about the above issues rather than the size of the city. One of the nice things about both Chapala and especially San Cristóbal is that all of the services one may need are located within reasonable reach by walking over relatively flat terrain or by inespensive public transportation. As one ages living on a pension, that factor becomes more and more important.

If I had to continue without a car, I would pick San Cristóbal over Ajijic anyday. Think these matters over when choosing a place down here to live since we all age and all risk physical debilitation in future conditions so there might come that day when we really need a cold beer and can´t get one without begging nurse Cratchette so check out the neighborhood before buying or renting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, ElPaso, you threw me off with that last rule about limiting your inquiry to people who live in towns of 500,000 souls. The question of whether or not one needs a car revolves around community layout, walkability and availability of inexpensive and convenient public transportation more than population in my judgment. We live in two smaller cities. Chapala (in the delegacion of Ajijic), Jalisco, population of the municipality of Chapala probably around 60,000 and San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, population probably around 130,000. While quite a few people live without cars in Ajijic, we would find that uncomfortable but, nevertheless possible if inconvenient. On the other hand, in San Cristóbal, where we live adjacent to many small grocers and the enormous indigenous market as well as within a short walk to the city´s historic center, we never even use our car except when we go on extended road trips. Because taxis in San Cristóbal are inexpensive with no meters and fares limited by local regulation anywhere in the city, we don´t even drive to the fairly distant supermarkets but take taxis even for shopping there.

Readers contemplating where to move in Mexico without a car, need to think about the above issues rather than the size of the city. One of the nice things about both Chapala and especially San Cristóbal is that all of the services one may need are located within reasonable reach by walking over relatively flat terrain or by inespensive public transportation. As one ages living on a pension, that factor becomes more and more important.
You're right about the 500,000 thing. Smaller cities have buses and local stores, too. That was a mistake on my part. Comments from anyone are welcome.

Sounds like San Cristobal is a good place for carless living. Regarding living on a pension, it's only been 10 months for me, and I'm amazed at how difficult it is. I need to get to Mexico soon but finding a buyer for my property is going to be problematic. But it will get done...
 

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I've lived in Mexico City for over 6 years without a car. Public transportation, at least in the center of the city where I live, in plentiful and cheap, and the occasional taxi I take is also inexpensive. Most days I get everywhere I need to go on foot because my neighborhood has most of the stores and restaurants I patronize just around the corner or a few-minutes walk away. Of course, I should confess that I haven't owned a car (or even had a driver's license) since 1970 and have always sought out places to live where a car wasn't needed, both in the US and abroad.
 

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[QUOTE=ElPaso2012;2050745]You're right about the 500,000 thing. Smaller cities have buses and local stores, too. That was a mistake on my part. Comments from anyone are welcome.

Sounds like San Cristobal is a good place for carless living. Regarding living on a pension, it's only been 10 months for me, and I'm amazed at how difficult it is. I need to get to Mexico soon but finding a buyer for my property is going to be problematic. But it will get done...[/QUOTE]


Since, hopefully, many readers of this form are still in the stage of choosing factors that would make any community desirable or undesirable as a place to retire, it is only fair that I point out that, despite the positives I cited about San Cristóbal in terms of living without a car, the city sits at 7,000 feet in the Chiapas Highlands with a highly variable climate subject to constant change. It can be quite chilly down there at any time of the year with sometimes incessant overcast often accompanied by copious intermittent rainfall often becoming inundations which can turn streets into dangerous torrents which is why it´s so green. Also, many sidewalks are very old and narrow and sloping, slippery and hazardous and if you slip on the wet and difficult sidewalks and really hurt yourself; remember that, in Southern Mexico, you are on your own and you have no regress to the city because the sidewalk is 300 years old and not properly maintained.

As my very reputable health insurance company agent said to me; if you reside on Lake Chapala near Guadalajara with its great medical care facilities that´s great. On the other hand, if you really want to live in the boonies in the middle of nowhere in Chiapas with their lousy and primitive medical care. we´ll still cover you if you collect those facturas but only if you live long enough to submit a claim.
 

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You don't need a car in most Mexican cities. Here in Xalapa, I have a small store a half a block away, a shopping center two blocks away. A bus stop one block away and it's near my doctor's office. Driving to el centro is insane. Parking will cost me 30 pesos for two hours while the bus is 8 pesos each way. However, if I want to go to a near pueblo, it will take the better part of an hour while I can drive there in 15 minutes. Going anywhere on the highway within a 15 to 30 km distance is a chore without a car. Five years ago I bought a car here and today the odometer reads 16,400 kms. I don't use it much but it has made many trips to the port of Veracruz, visits to friends in Minatitlán, and four trips to Oaxaca.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You don't need a car in most Mexican cities. Here in Xalapa, I have a small store a half a block away, a shopping center two blocks away. A bus stop one block away and it's near my doctor's office. Driving to el centro is insane. Parking will cost me 30 pesos for two hours while the bus is 8 pesos each way. However, if I want to go to a near pueblo, it will take the better part of an hour while I can drive there in 15 minutes. Going anywhere on the highway within a 15 to 30 km distance is a chore without a car. Five years ago I bought a car here and today the odometer reads 16,400 kms. I don't use it much but it has made many trips to the port of Veracruz, visits to friends in Minatitlán, and four trips to Oaxaca.
That's all good news for someone with Xalapa on his list of candidate cities...
 

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Suburban Acapulco. It is an Infonavit community called El Coloso and I have never encountered another ****** here.
That could be because Infonavit communities are supposed to be for Mexicans only. How did you manage to find a place to live in one?
 

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That could be because Infonavit communities are supposed to be for Mexicans only. How did you manage to find a place to live in one?
My situation is rather unique but there are lots of departamentos for rent in the community. It's not, however, very scenic, the buildings are very close together and very old and the neighbors can be quite loud at times. I like to play loud music too so it doesn't bother me. Right now it is particularly unpleasant because since the 15th of Sept. we haven't had water from the tap due to the big storm Manuel that battered the area. But, as my grandfather used to say, "**** happens!".
 

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My situation is rather unique but there are lots of departamentos for rent in the community. It's not, however, very scenic, the buildings are very close together and very old and the neighbors can be quite loud at times. I like to play loud music too so it doesn't bother me. Right now it is particularly unpleasant because since the 15th of Sept. we haven't had water from the tap due to the big storm Manuel that battered the area. But, as my grandfather used to say, "**** happens!".
I see, you're renting. The INFONAVIT communities are similar to public housing in the US, so it's no wonder that it's not such an idyllic place to live. But if you feel at home there, that's all that matters.
 

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Getting back to the original question, I think climate is a major factor in determining the comfort and practicality of a carless existence. I’m sure I’d have no problem spending a day going about my business on foot in the cooler locales, but walking the short five blocks to San Jose Del Cabo Soriana, and returning with just a small bag of groceries, is enough to make a second outing the same day very unappealing, even if it’s just a walk to the bus stop.
 

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Getting back to the original question, I think climate is a major factor in determining the comfort and practicality of a carless existence. I’m sure I’d have no problem spending a day going about my business on foot in the cooler locales, but walking the short five blocks to San Jose Del Cabo Soriana, and returning with just a small bag of groceries, is enough to make a second outing the same day very unappealing, even if it’s just a walk to the bus stop.
Good point. The generally perfect weather in Mexico City (not too hot, not too cold, usually dry with lots of sunshine) is yet another good reason for living here.
 

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Getting back to the original question, I think climate is a major factor in determining the comfort and practicality of a carless existence. I’m sure I’d have no problem spending a day going about my business on foot in the cooler locales, but walking the short five blocks to San Jose Del Cabo Soriana, and returning with just a small bag of groceries, is enough to make a second outing the same day very unappealing, even if it’s just a walk to the bus stop.
Boy, do I understand that buzzbar. Many years ago when we lived in Mobile which has a nice climate in the fall (which begins in late October) and the spring (which ends in late April welcoming in the ferocious summers), we used to leave our air conditioned homes in the summer, entering our air conditioned cars and driving to the air conditioned Piggly Wiggly to grocery shop nearly fainting from heat exhaustion just crossing the supermarket parking lot from the car to the store.

A few years before we moved from Northern California to Highland Mexico I was chatting to my sister who lives in exurban Mobile on the east shore of the bay in a town named Montrose. We were living in the Mayacamas Mountains between Sonoma and Napa Counties in those days and we had had a particularly hot August there and I, in passing, complained that it had been so hot there in Sonoma County that August that we had had to have turned on the air conditiioning for an entire week. Her response was, "Bob, we turn on the central air conditioning here on Mobile Bay in early April and turn it off in mid-October. Those are the only times we use the switch" I got the message.

Happiness is the Mexican Highlands at at least 5,000 feet as a goal and the U.S. in the rear view mirror.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Getting back to the original question, I think climate is a major factor in determining the comfort and practicality of a carless existence. I’m sure I’d have no problem spending a day going about my business on foot in the cooler locales, but walking the short five blocks to San Jose Del Cabo Soriana, and returning with just a small bag of groceries, is enough to make a second outing the same day very unappealing, even if it’s just a walk to the bus stop.
My own search for a destination is mainly climate driven. My first stop when I hear people on the forum talking about a place is to check out the climate chart on Wikipedia. Anything with an average high much over 90 in any month of the year is pretty much out, with a couple of exceptions on the coast purely because the availability of fresh seafood in the markets would outweigh a few weeks of warmer than usual weather.
 

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Hound dog, I swear one day I'm going to visit Mobile, Alabama.... My only hesitation is that the word pictures you paint of it in your various posts here have given me a such a vivid and intense perception of the city that I'm worried the reality won't match it......
 
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