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Mexico
Old 07-23-2007, 10:01 PM   #1
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Mexico

Who here has lived in Mexico?

I am thinking of visiting San Miguel and the Lake Chapala area in a few months and would like to get some personal insight about the area from someone on this board.

I plan to fly to Guadalajara and rent a car and drive to Lake Chapala visit for a few days and then visit San Miguel for a few days to check out the area as a possible retirement location. This is just a trip to see the area
meet a few folks get a feel for the life style; yadda yadda

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Old 07-23-2007, 10:35 PM   #2
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I don't know about driving there. How about taxis?
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Old 07-24-2007, 03:01 AM   #3
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There are a couple of Lake Chapala internet forums you should research (just google them). Lots of detailed information is available by searching these forums.

Personally, I would not drive down there (at least at first). There are buses everywhere, and they are way nicer (and cheaper) than buses in the USA -- they put Greyhound to shame. Every city and town of any size has a bus station. When you arrive at the bus station in your destination, you just take a taxi into town for a couple of dollars.

To travel independently in Mexico, you will need to speak at least barebones Spanish. And the more you speak, the better. Very few people that you come into contact with outside of, say, a resort area or a high end hotel, speak any English at all.

There are actually lots of livable cities in Central Mexico that could be suitable for retirement. (Morelia, Guanajuato, Queretaro, etc.) It all depends no what you are looking for . . . I spent about three weeks down there last year and loved it. I visited San Miguel and Guadalajara, among other places, but did not have a chance to visit the Lake Chapala area.

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Old 07-24-2007, 06:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
I don't know about driving there. How about taxis?
Nah, only if I were to stay in one place would I get a taxi. I have driven in Mexico before a little hairy now and then, no more so than driving in LA, Boston or NYC and I have driven in all of them too.

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Old 07-24-2007, 06:33 AM   #5
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There are a couple of Lake Chapala internet forums you should research (just google them). Lots of detailed information is available by searching these forums.

Personally, I would not drive down there (at least at first). There are buses everywhere, and they are way nicer (and cheaper) than buses in the USA -- they put Greyhound to shame. Every city and town of any size has a bus station. When you arrive at the bus station in your destination, you just take a taxi into town for a couple of dollars.

To travel independently in Mexico, you will need to speak at least barebones Spanish. And the more you speak, the better. Very few people that you come into contact with outside of, say, a resort area or a high end hotel, speak any English at all.

There are actually lots of livable cities in Central Mexico that could be suitable for retirement. (Morelia, Guanajuato, Queretaro, etc.) It all depends no what you are looking for . . . I spent about three weeks down there last year and loved it. I visited San Miguel and Guadalajara, among other places, but did not have a chance to visit the Lake Chapala area.

Kramer
Well that is my Spanish bare bones, I worked in Nogales AZ for 16 yrs and learned a little Spanish. I drove from Tucson to Alamos and back no problem. I have to agree about the buses, they are nice some have tv screens like the airlines and play movies. Hey Greyhound ya listening :confused:
At first I rejected the idea of taking the bus now I am warming up to the idea it would an adventure

I have read some of the boards and I wonder about some of it, is it hype:confused:
I loved Alamos real laid back small but active expatriate community. Alamos would take some getting used to as there is no city close and services are at best basic. Although some famous people have owned homes there. It does get cold and wet in the winter. Alamos is where the Sonoran Desert changes to semi tropical central Highlands. I have been there in the winter and was glad to have a fire in the fireplace and an extra blanket, in the summer it gets hot not nearly as hot as Tucson.

So what was your impression of San Miguel?

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Old 07-24-2007, 06:38 AM   #6
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There are actually lots of livable cities in Central Mexico that could be suitable for retirement. (Morelia, Guanajuato, Queretaro, etc.) It all depends no what you are looking for . . . I spent about three weeks down there last year and loved it. I visited San Miguel and Guadalajara, among other places, but did not have a chance to visit the Lake Chapala area.

How did you get there ? Did you fly in and what airport did you use?
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:52 AM   #7
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Billy and I lived in Chapala, Mexico off and on for 10 years. Billy was just there for a month last October.

Take a look at our Chapala Travel Page: Retire Early Lifestyle for some current and first hand information.

We loved living there. Weather was close to perfect. We were quite involved in the tennis community and also the local community.

Housing costs have gone up, but rentals, especially in non-Gringo neighborhoods are still reasonable.

We never had a car nor felt the need for one while living there. Public transport was easy and cheap.

Hope this info helps.

Be well,
Akaisha
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:02 AM   #8
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Hi Kitty,

Who will be minding the farm while you're gone?
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
How did you get there ? Did you fly in and what airport did you use?
I flew roundtrip from San Jose to Guadalajara (~$450). I was in Spanish school in Morelia (three and one half hour drive). So when I arrived in Guadalajara, I took a taxi to the bus station. Then I took an executive class bus non-stop to Morelia (seats recline to horizontal position, snacks provided, etc.). I think the bus was about $27. The same route first class was probably about $19. This is to give you a general idea of travel costs -- I think this was about 200 miles or so. If you are visiting the lake area, you would definitely want to use Guadalajara airport. To fly into SMDA, I think Leon or Queretaro would be the airport. But I would use Guadalajara as a hub for your travels.


Quote:
So what was your impression of San Miguel?
I took a day trip to San Miguel from Guanajuato -- I think I took a second class bus there for around $6 each way, but I don't remember exactly, it might have been around 90 minutes each way. It is a nice quaint town of, say, 50K people. There is a nice town center with well preserved churches and classic architecture. San Miguel was really the only place in Central Mexico where I saw lots of gringos. I think the town is something like 10% gringos. The restaurants near the center were definitely expensive (for Mexico) but quite nice. There is some English spoken here. Personally, this place is not really my style since I would like a bigger town and something a little cheaper. SMDA does not have easy access to a big city like Chapala. It is a little bit like a museum, in that everything is left preserved with lots of chotchke stores aimed at gringos and so there is less regular Mexican life there (to me, this is the main drawback). A furnished one bedroom apartment within a few blocks of the center probably goes for around $500/month. The nice thing about the place would be that there is a decent size expatriate community. Personally, I am not touchy/feely, artsy, or politically liberal, so I am not sure how well someone like myself would fit in in SMDA where these separate categories seem to flock.

You could probably arrange a meet-up with some expats by using a SMDA internet forum.

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Old 07-24-2007, 04:02 PM   #10
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Quick question:

What is with all of the driving warnings? Is it that unsafe or what?
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:01 PM   #11
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My daughter and her husband lived in Guadalajara for 4 years. I visited them about 5 times. I traveled around a bit from there, including two trips to Manzanillo (marvelous!). Fortunately, I speak fluent Spanish (but I'm still working on my vocabulary list). If I were to retire in Mexico, I'd consider Manzanillo--even though I don't know a heck of a lot about it now. It's on the coast, with a beautiful bay, and enjoys turism of the slow and quiet variety. The scuba diving is heavenly. The cost of living would be low. The downside: few Americans there. Another downside: you really would have to learn Spanish. The upside: you'd really have to learn Spanish.
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Old 07-24-2007, 06:31 PM   #12
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I'd plug the book "Choose Mexico for Retirement" as a good intro to the country. You can live as Americanized as you weesh (oops) (Guadalajara) or can add a bit more Mexican instead.
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:40 PM   #13
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Thanks Kramer that is the sort of info I was looking for, first hand accounts now I am getting a better picture
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Thanks for the info
Old 07-24-2007, 08:48 PM   #14
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Thanks for the info

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy View Post
Billy and I lived in Chapala, Mexico off and on for 10 years. Billy was just there for a month last October.

Take a look at our Chapala Travel Page: Retire Early Lifestyle for some current and first hand information.

We loved living there. Weather was close to perfect. We were quite involved in the tennis community and also the local community.

Housing costs have gone up, but rentals, especially in non-Gringo neighborhoods are still reasonable.

We never had a car nor felt the need for one while living there. Public transport was easy and cheap.

Hope this info helps.

Be well,
Akaisha
Author, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement
Thank's for the info there is a ton of information there it will take a while to work through it all. Some good stuff for sure.

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Mexian driving
Old 07-24-2007, 09:32 PM   #15
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Mexian driving

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Quick question:

What is with all of the driving warnings? Is it that unsafe or what?
Driving in Mexico is ...... well different.... some of the ways of driving there are to our gringo minds a bit strange to say the least. To signal it is ok to
pass them Mexican drivers will turn on their left turn signal this is confusing to Gringos they think the driver is going to turn left. At night some truck drivers don't turn on their lights. Why? Some say it runs their batteries down others say they can see better at night without head lights. If a vehicle stops in the road there usually aren't any signs or signal or flares nothing Nada. Also when trucks stop on the road they often put rocks behind the tires to keep the truck from rolling when they leave no one picks up the rocks. Cattle wander all over the place as well as drunks, burros, bicyclists who ever what ever. Driving at night is risky business, it is strongly advised to get off the highway before dark. All manner of contraptions share the road and some roads are in need of serious repair. There are also TOPPES (sp), these are huge speed bumps not to be taken
fast or you may leave a few auto parts on the road.

I guess that gives you an idea of the challenges for drivers in Mexico. I don't drive at night.

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Old 07-24-2007, 09:59 PM   #16
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Driving in Mexico is ...... well different.... some of the ways of driving there are to our gringo minds a bit strange to say the least. To signal it is ok to
pass them Mexican drivers will turn on their left turn signal this is confusing to Gringos they think the driver is going to turn left. At night some truck drivers don't turn on their lights. Why? Some say it runs their batteries down others say they can see better at night without head lights. If a vehicle stops in the road there usually aren't any signs or signal or flares nothing Nada. Also when trucks stop on the road they often put rocks behind the tires to keep the truck from rolling when they leave no one picks up the rocks. Cattle wander all over the place as well as drunks, burros, bicyclists who ever what ever. Driving at night is risky business, it is strongly advised to get off the highway before dark. All manner of contraptions share the road and some roads are in need of serious repair. There are also TOPPES (sp), these are huge speed bumps not to be taken
fast or you may leave a few auto parts on the road.

I guess that gives you an idea of the challenges for drivers in Mexico. I don't drive at night.

Kitty
So it's just like driving in LA
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Old 07-24-2007, 10:40 PM   #17
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What is with all of the driving warnings? Is it that unsafe or what?
It's safe. You just have to excercise more caution as you learn their way of driving, passing, signaling. After a few hours, everything falls into place.

Driving at night is a lot more challenging because the white/yellow lines are not as visible, or don't exist at all. Most challenging are the topes (speed bumps). Once you see them, it's usually too late.
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:34 AM   #18
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What is with all of the driving warnings? Is it that unsafe or what?
I don't know how others feel about this, but B and I lived in Chapala off and on for 10 years. During that time, the gringos' #1 problem stemmed from owning a car. However, most (95%?) of them owned cars anyway because they wanted their freedom to come and go, and didn't want to take public transport.

To sum it up, cars took attention. You had to license them, insure them and park them. Due to the cobblestone roads, the insides of the cars were all shook up so windows wouldn't roll up or down the way they were supposed to, the radio would sometimes get a station, and anything with a screw became unscrewed. Outside mirrors were often stolen, and paint on the cars were scratched.

If they left to go back to Canada and wanted to leave a car at their Mexican home, it was left vulnerable to theft so they would have to pay for long term parking at a friend's place who were there full time. Gringos were often stopped in order to pay a bribe to the police so they wouldn't get hassled later on. - Very common.

Generally speaking many people bought a new or almost new car to start their retirement lives down there, and it aged the car double time.

Hey, we didn't own one, felt no need for one, so this is only what we saw and heard. I think, even with all the hassles and $$, if you were to ask most of the Gringos there if they would live without a car, they would say no.

I'm sure it's fairly safe to drive in Mexico... although if you are in an accident.... whew boy!

Hope this helps.

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Driving in LA
Old 07-25-2007, 08:38 AM   #19
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Driving in LA

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So it's just like driving in LA
I think driving in LA is as bad as Mexico with the road rage drivers with guns the huge amount of traffic trying to go as fast as they can, Police car chases and other stuff. The danger is there in both places.

I was driving in Tucson one night and when I came to a red light and stopped two young males next to me gave me the "LOOK" and showed me
a semi-auto pistol waving it at me. There was no where for me to go, couldn't go forward car in front, couldn't go backward car in back, so I did
the only thing I could I pulled out my 1911 45. and waved it at them !
The took off across traffic and got out of there. If I have the means I will defend myself, they just picked on the wrong old lady that night.

In driving in Mexico the biggest adventure I had was being stopped with a
lot of other traffic because of a protest by some Indians on the highway. Traffic was backed for miles and it was raining. I just waited eventually the
traffic was let past their barriers, no big deal.

One thing you don't want to do is bring a gun into Mexico or ammunition you might not see the light of day for a long long time

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Old 07-26-2007, 04:03 AM   #20
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One thing you don't want to do is bring a gun into Mexico or ammunition you might not see the light of day for a long long time .
True. It's a little more severe there in Mexico.

I mentioned earlier where we said we preferred not to drive because having an accident in Mexico can be a really negative fiasco.

In Chapala, the 'rule' in the Gringo community, was that if one is in an auto accident, one should leave the scene immediately. I have always had a hard time with that 'rule' due to my innate sense of being responsible, but this point is illustrated in the following story:

A woman well known in the Gringo community was coming home at dusk one evening and a young boy ran out into the street from between parked cars. She hit him, and the young boy suffered a severe head injury. Being the kindhearted woman she was, she stayed at the scene and waited for the police, the ambulance and the family to arrive.

Her car was impounded, and she was summarily thrown in jail. Now to be thrown in jail in Mexico.... the priests come once a day to feed prisoners. There is no sanitary items given, no blankets, and there was a hole in the floor for her to uh.. well you know. There is no due process, no phone call to a friend or to a lawyer.

After a day or two, and Ms. Gringo didn't arrive at her normal appointments the Gringo community put it together what had happened, and gathered together food, supplies, toiletries, and so on, plus someone who could help her to 'negotiate' her way out of jail.

She ended up paying $$ to get out of jail, and paying something to the family to cover the hospital bills and the therapy the boy would need. I don't know if she got her car back...That was really the least of her worries...

She felt terrible, it was truly an accident, and so there ya are. Things are just not set up the same way as they are in the States. This is one reason we like to take public transport.

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