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Driving in San Miguel de Allende

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in San Miguel de Allende.
|-Driving in San Miguel de Allende

1. Understanding the Driving Conditions

Driving in San Miguel de Allende can be a unique experience. The city is known for its narrow, cobblestone streets, which can be challenging to navigate, especially for newcomers. Traffic can be heavy, particularly during peak hours and in the city center. It’s also important to be aware of pedestrians, as the city is very walkable and many locals prefer to get around on foot.

2. Choosing the Right Vehicle

Given the city’s narrow streets and rough road surfaces, a compact car with good ground clearance is often the best choice. SUVs are also popular among expats, as they can handle the cobblestone streets and any off-road driving you might do. However, keep in mind that larger vehicles can be more difficult to park in tight spaces.

3. Parking in San Miguel de Allende

Finding parking in San Miguel de Allende can be a challenge, especially in the city center. There are some paid parking lots available, but they can fill up quickly. Street parking is also an option, though spaces can be hard to come by. Parking fees are generally not expensive, but it’s always a good idea to have some change on hand.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Mexico with an international driver’s license for up to 30 days. After that, you will need to obtain a Mexican driver’s license. It’s also worth noting that if you’re planning to bring your own car from abroad, you’ll need to get a temporary import permit.

5. Obtaining a Mexican Driver’s License

To get a Mexican driver’s license, you’ll need to go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (known as the Secretaría de Transporte in Spanish). You’ll need to bring your passport, visa, proof of residence, and a valid driver’s license from your home country. You’ll also need to pass a written test, which is usually in Spanish, so it may be helpful to brush up on your language skills or bring a translator.

6. General Tips for Driving in San Miguel de Allende

Always drive defensively and be aware of your surroundings. Remember that local driving habits may be different from what you’re used to. For example, it’s common for drivers to not use their turn signals, and many intersections don’t have stop signs or traffic lights. It’s also a good idea to avoid driving at night, as the streets can be poorly lit and more difficult to navigate.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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