Updated: Apr 7
When we first moved to Merida in October of 2019, we had no intentions of owning a car in Mexico. In fact, it was so refreshing to use the Uber app and 2-3 minutes later, have a car show up to take you wherever you needed. When we moved from Centro Merida to Benito Juarez, we even purchased two bikes to ride to the nearby stores and restaurants. Uber and bikes were our initial modes of transportation for 6 months, and we were thrilled not to have to worry about driving. This is what city life is all about!
Fast forward to March of 2020, and the world changed. Ubers were now a little more of a risk given the shared nature of riding with strangers and their cars' shared cabins. There were also rules in place that limited the number of folks allowed in the Uber. So for our family, it would have been impossible for all of us to go anywhere in an Uber. Therefore, when I returned to Merida, having spent the toughest part of the quarantine back in the United States, I made it a priority to purchase a car. I started the process while still in the States by calling Pol Bolivar. Pol is one of the MexPerts on the MexitList. I reached out to him on the Friday before my return. I flew in on the following Tuesday. He brought by two cars on Wednesday for my review. I selected the SUV and had a car with insurance by Wednesday night. Talk about a great guy with great service. Pol has far exceeded any experience I've ever had buying a car. This entire experience with Pol is covered in this blog post: Making Moves in these Covid Streets.
So what has the experience been like owning a car? Well, it's been nothing short of liberating and has completely improved the experience of living in Merida. For starters, you have the convenience of coming and going as you please. This seems obvious, but it's a huge benefit that you forget when Ubering. Secondly, you can stop and discover new places that you drive by. Finally, it's made getting to the Caribbean all the more accessible. Before owning a car, a trip to Quitano Roo was a 5-hour bus ride. Now, the same trip takes 3.5 hours. I've actually driven to Cancun's airport and back to Merida on the same day twice over the last week.
Here are the top 6 things you should know about owning a car in Merida, Mexico:
There are a plethora of quality used cars that are 5 years old or newer. See the interview with a MexPert to understand why. However, be careful because there is a lot of fraud with buying a vehicle in Mexico. Watch the Mexpert video to know what to look out for.
You can park anywhere, and many drivers literally park anywhere, except for the Yellow Lines on the curb. I received a ticket in a rental car on my second trip to Merida because I made the mistake of parking by a yellow line.
Insurance for your car for the year will likely be less than you pay for 1 month in the United States.
With a car, you can get to two different bodies of water ad fairly quickly. From Merida, you can get to the Gulf of Mexico in as little as 25 minutes or the Caribbean in as little as 3.5 hours.
You can drive with your valid United States or Canadian driver's license. You do not have to have a Yucatan license initially.
Ubers are taking 10-15 minutes since the pandemic and routinely cancel routes. There is also a curfew at 11:30 where cars must be off the streets. Therefore, the closer it gets to curfew, the harder it is to find an uber.
Check out the latest video detailing the top things you need to know about driving in a car in Merida, Mexico.
One of the top questions I see asked is: ”Should you drive or bring your car into Mexico?” I would highly recommend against this for a variety of reasons. Depending on your residency status, you may have to drive the car out of the country every 6 months. If you are a permanent resident, it can be crazy expensive to import a car, and it can only be done if the car is brand new or over 8 years old and made within Mexico under the North America Trade Agreement. Temporary residents can import a car while they hold that temporary status, but if they convert to permanent after 4 years, then the above rules apply. Finally, going back to one of my earlier points, there are plenty of quality used dealer-maintained cars available in Merida, Mexico.
We sold our last car to Carmax in the States and used the money from that sale to fully pay for the car here. Owning a car definitely adds to your quality of life in a way that you may not expect.
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Until next time,