Friday, October 11, 2019

Changes In The CFE Billing - Mexico Electricity

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I wanted to share new information I received from the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) which is the provider for power in Mexico.  It is a nationalized company and is going through some very interesting political changes.  Those I won't discuss here but you can refer to our illustrious new president and his Comision Reguladora de Energia (CRE).  When the new commission was formed under the new president, he actually elected persons who have no experience or education regarding energy.  During the hearings to elect a new board, one of the questions was directed to a seat of the pants senator, "What is a cell?"   "Well, a cell is a cellphone".  The question referred to solar cells and photovoltaic cells.  Okay, enough of that.

This information could possibly change depending on the area you live in.  Usage will depend on the ambient temperature that is taken from a tower in your area and tariffs will change based on those areas as well as usage.  Refer to the list of cities and tariffs outlined in the CFE webpage (www.cfe.gob.mx).

Here is my recent bill.  I have color-coded each box to make it easier to read.  In my area outside of Monterrey, we have a mayor that fought for a lower rate considering we are rural.  We are now in B2.  That said, we are now allotted 900 KWHs per bimestre or bimestral which is a two-month billing period.  In Mexico, there are a few, very few, areas that are billed monthly although that is not common.  

The first box upper left in black designates the tariff rate by category; basic, intermediate1, intermediate 2, and then excedente.  Excedente is the tariff level for those KWHs that exceed my 900 KWH allotment.  

The next box in dark red, shows the usage by category and the total usage.  In this case, I had 300 basica, 300 intermedio 1, 300 intermedio 2, and 26 KWHs over my limit and those are charged at a higher rate.



The yellow box shows the price per KWH by category.  In U.S. dollars or cents these are the rates in my area.

Basico                3.8 cents per KWH
Intermedio 1     4.4 cents per KWH
Intermedio 2     5.7 cents per KWH
Excendente        15 cents per KWH

The green box shows the price for usage, sales tax, the total for the billing period, the previous unpaid balance minus the paid balance and the total.  

Sales tax of 16% is the only tax charged on the electric bill and some of that can be deductible if you pay taxes in Mexico.  Check with your accountant.

This was our hottest summer on record and we were home most of the summer.  We used our air conditioning in the bedroom, pool filter, water well pump, and all our electricity for a total of $53 U.S. for two months or $26.65 per month U.S.

Major change is as follows.  You are allowed to exceed your limit (ours is 900 KWHs per billing cycle).  Here is how it works.  

You take the total usage of your last six billings (12 months) and add them up and divide by 6.  If that number exceeds 1700 you are then forced into the commercial rate, DAC, for a period of six months.  I believe that the price is 20 cents U.S. per KWH. 

Here was mine:  926 + 812 + 654 + 494 + 490 + 542 = 3918 / 6 = 653

So we are well under the 1700 KWH limit for the 12 months or 6 billing cycles.  We could use more but we would pay the excendente rate.  

So I hope this is helpful for those living in Mexico.  Maybe people that come for the winter and wonder why electric is considered a taboo or scary ordeal most of it has to do with not just usage but the two-month billing.  I hope in the future that the CFE opts for a monthly cycle.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Buying A New Home In Mexico

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Yesterday we began an organized search for our future home.  We have been visiting different areas of the city and looking at condominiums as well as townhouses.  We chose three areas and three different price levels.   We ended up with the highest on the list and I'll explain why.  

The first neighborhood is filled with 300 homes all in the middle-upper range or about $75.000 U.S.  They are really the construction I would want.  Yards are small but the house in the picture is the one we looked at and it has an extension at an additional cost.  The yard would be nice.  The finishings are incredible.  All marble countertops in the kitchen, baths, laundry and bar area, primer and two coats of paint on the inside, complete and modern bath fixtures (low-style toilets, and bowl sinks in all three baths.  But, the big but, it is only a few blocks away from the northwest side of the periferico to Saltillo.   Although it is closer to medical facilities it is a similar drive from our current home to downtown Monterrey but with much more traffic.



The second was much larger at 105 square meters, but there are 600 homes in this community and all side by side.  Much roomier, nicer amenities but not much space between houses.  The one we liked has more yard space, was a corner lot, but next to it was the gated neighborhood perimeter street that ends the neighborhood.  Next to it was a sketchy neighborhood with loud music.  No thanks.



We moved up the hill and closer to the mountainside known as Cumbres.  We have found the type of neighborhood we want, the size of the house, and the community.  The tendency in Mexico is gated communities with lots of houses crammed into it, a community pool and clubhouse.  The first sells for $43,000.  The second starts at $77,000 and the third at $99,000.  



So what's the difference?  Gated communities imply that the homeowners have to form their own neighborhood association to determine maintenance and upkeep costs.  Those will always continue to rise.  Also, making sure people pay the monthly fees and follow the rules.   Let's get real for a second, piss off a Mexican and you will live in hell for a long time to come.  Here, it's pretty much live and let live.  So as we toured the first neighborhood where a majority of the houses were sold, the homes were one-car garage space.  Already there were taco trucks and trailers on the street (owners do that for a living outside the neighborhood but park their units at their house).  Because the houses only have space for one car the street is full of cars.  

What we liked was a not so new concept where the developer purchases a stretch of land and builds 20 houses with one street, ten on each side.  This one is 170 square meters and is a two-story with a third-floor terrace.   Excellent quality and there are no maintenance fees, pools or parks to maintain.  Only twenty neighbors and the only upkeep is the front automatic gate and its opener.  

We started early in the morning and we finished just around 4 p.m. in time to visit relatives in the area.  After, we went downtown to a folkloric dance performance which we really enjoyed. It was outdoors in front of the history museum with the cityscape behind the stage.  The weather is slowly improving and as the sun went down there was a nice breeze.  My kind of show, it lasted only an hour.

Just need to put some sod down on the area they dug through.  One less thing on my worry list.

At home, we shored up a post under one corner of the house.  I thought it would be a big project and worried about what they would find under the house.  Everything was fine but the post really need more support.  They broke the sidewalk and dug down.  We found matching tile.  They closed it up and it looks great.



Next came the roof.  During that severe hurricane we had, we got a small but worrisome leak coming down the post of the living room ceiling fan.  We knew it was time although we did a patch job three years ago.  The tile came off, scraped the roof, patched areas with cement and then cleaning.  After, a sealer was applied, fibrous cloth material and then the rubberized roof.  We have had some rains and everything is good.  The tile installer comes next week and begins the job of putting the tile back on. 


While I was up there inspecting the work, I took some shots of the yard both front and back.


One last thing was to finish up my projects on the trailer.  Pesky water leak.  Not sure if I mentioned it, but after a year of tracking it down it was found.  It was a 1.5 inch of trim under the refrigerator vent that wasn't sealed.  The plastic vent that fits into the roof was not sealed from the factory on one end.  I had never thought to take the cover off although I had felt around it with my hands and it seemed to be good.  11 years, drop after drop.

I reinsulated, put in a piece of "some kind of board" from Home Depot, closed it up and put on the trim.   The most difficult part will be putting the epoxy (if I can find it) to eliminate the small delamination on the front.  I wanted to put in down through the area I was working in but the front cap is glued to the metal framing and the tube would not pass.  


For the bathroom, I purchased some trim that comes in a roll.  It's called Cover Your Crack Insta Trim.  We ordered it online from the manufacturer.  It's not cheap but it's easy, fast and looks, I think, pretty professional.  

Our trailer is not a Tiffin motorhome and is actually on the low-end of the totem pole.  But it works and we attempt to keep it in shape.  It has taken us all over North America and lets hope some more.  However, there are some cheap things in it.  One, in the picture below, there was no trim of any kind.  Just a clear seam of caulk that no matter what we did, it got dirty over time. 


You can see the trim here around the kitchen area.  It looks much better than that dirty seam it had for all those years.  

Here's the living room cabinet with the trim.  Much better.  

One more thing to do (well there's an ever-ongoing list) is to replace the fan switch in the bathroom.  The electrician will be coming next week.  It took forever to find it and I ordered it from E Trailer.  They are a bit higher than Amazon but I just couldn't locate it anywhere else.  So it was 8 bucks plus a 5 dollar import fee with shipping.

It looks like we will be heading to the Emerald Coast this November and then over to San Miguel de Allende.  Contessa sent us a lead for house sitting there so let's see what happens.

If you're still here reading, thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Lots Going On - I Haven't Disappeared

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I have a blog post written.  I've worked on it for two weeks but it's all boring stuff. 

The house has a new roof in progress. 

We shored up a corner of the house damaged by years of water and poor drainage.

I've done considerable work on the rv preparing for our November rendezvous, a two-month trip and there still isn't a decision on where to go.

We have been looking at houses in Monterrey, more on that later.

Enjoying the fact that I don't go to work anymore but afraid to be caught in the trap of doing home maintenance and not traveling.

I will attempt to post again tomorrow. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Rving In Mexico This Winter? Consider A Side Trip Via Air

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The trips we have made this year for both work and pleasure have proven how inexpensive it is to fly in Mexico.  As I have said before, we have three major discount airlines; Interjet, Volaris, and Vivaaerobus with another lesser-known option TAR a regional carrier.

This morning as I was reading Facebook,  and I came across a post from a major travel bus website similar to those used for airlines such as Kayak, Trivago, and Expedia, to name a few.  They had an offer, Monterrey - Puebla, one way for 1606.50 pesos.   The trip is 14 hours non-stop.  My jaw dropped thinking "that's a long trip and a bit expensive".

Then I went to Vivaaerobus and checked for a one way for next week and the price with taxes comes to764.86 pesos.  Less than half the bus fare and only 1 hour and 35 minutes of flight time.  The airfare is calculated on only having one carryon under 10 kilos (purse or laptop included).  That's cheap.  All of the jets are Airbus A320s and less than four years old.  

Take a look:





If you're rving in Mexico for several months, why not consider a side trip for the holidays or a four-day weekend somewhere different?   Leave your rv at the rv park, paid parking at most airports in Mexico is less than 150 pesos a day or roughly $8 U.S.   You might even consider taking an Uber to the airport to make it even more trouble-free.   Once you arrive at your destination, stay in a City Express hotel.  They are a discount hotel chain that offer Junior, Plus and Suites with two or more of the brands located in the same property but with different levels of service.  We stayed at the CE Junior in Tijuana just five minutes from the airport for $40 U.S. and we took it just because we had a layover there.  Go one step better and book an AirBnb for true comfort and price.

So much to see and do in Mexico and sometimes we get accustomed to deadhead one destination for the complete winter season.

This is just a thought as we like to get out and about when we are on the road.  We never stay in one place that long anyway.  If you want more information, feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment.  

This is not a paid announcement 😀

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

El Grito 2019 - Upcoming Travel

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We decided to go to the Independence celebration here in Santiago.  We left the house around 10 p.m.   Traffic and parking was a mess but we got lucky and parked just two blocks away.  Now that more people are moving to new neighborhoods south of Monterrey our area is expanding.  We now have a new four-theater cinema and an HEB is opening just up the road.  

The plaza was packed and we were hoping to have our Mexican antojitos there for dinner.  No food booths but lots of bleachers.  It was a massive crowd of people and many were dressed in traditional clothing, Jaliense sombreros (those big mariachi hats) and Mexican flag stripes on their faces.  

Our mayor is not in the same political party as the new president so the event wasn't geared towards his election victory or any of his so-called achievements that he claims he completed this year.  Overall, it was interesting, fun to be out at night and on the way home we picked up a gringa taco to share, kind of like a large quesadilla with some grilled beef and pork on it. 



I just couldn't seem to work up a smile!

Our city government did a great job of putting on a wonderful event for everyone.

We took the SUV in for a checkup, I may have mentioned it, and it passed with flying colors.  I still have my doubts after our breakdown last year.  I found the fan switch I was looking for, we haven't used our bathroom fan in the rv for a few years.  We've done some painting and minor repairs around the house this last week and it looks like the pool, driveway, and kitchen need some remodeling and updating.  We both agree now it is time to sell the place and move to a different part of the country.  We have looked at some condos and small houses in Monterrey so that we can be close to family and friends when we want.  It looks like the northern part of the city would work well in some respects as we would be close to perifericos and ease of getting the trailer in and out of town.  So, all these things keep me busy but I'd prefer to be busy climbing a few hills and crossing a few state lines.  

Speaking of, it looks like we won't be taking off on a trip until the end of October and I still have my sights set on New Mexico and Arizona for two months.  We would like to come back in time to spend a few days in Puebla for the New Year.  Gas prices in Texas are ridiculously low.  I checked today and in McAllen fuel is $2.05 a gallon and pretty low across Texas and New Mexico.  Let's hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A 40 Year Celebration of Classmates - More Rain :(

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Saturday, a group called Los Nada (The Nothings) came together to celebrate 40 years of friendship and school memories.  I tried to put on the dog and make a good impression since I really only know one of the persons in the group.  Juan's classmates from 1979 got together here at the house.  They have that group name because they never wanted to participate in union-organized marches. Instead, they all stayed in the classroom to study.

We grilled some steaks, made a great salad and shared a couple bottles of wine over stories from their youth.  I learned a lot and also, previous stories told to me rang true and familiar.  They all rediscovered themselves via Whatsapp and Facebook and chat frequently.  Like almost all of our friends from school or from the dance group, they have all done well in life from education, work to family.  It says a lot about people who work together and have discipline in life.  Most if not all came from humble beginnings only to turn out well and now their kids and grandkids have followed suit. Believe it or not, they range in age from 62 to over 80.

So good to see all of them with a great life, a wonderful Mexican pension, traveling and enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Congratulations Los Nada!  Now you are something!

On another note, the rains are on again and aren't going to let up in the next 10 days.  We had a pretty good downpour today after having the pool cleaned.  It turned green, again!  That's life here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Swimming Pool Disappeared - Hurricane Fernand

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The rains haven't let up for more than 48 hours.  It looks like the worst is yet to come. 1 a.m. the biggest part of the storm is coming.  We have been advised to charge all devices, prepare with water and candles.   It doesn't look good.

Wish us luck!