I would like to know if one can send and receive text messages on the iPad without having to bother those who are texting you to join IMs etc.
If you own an iPhone, you can send and receive SMS from your iPhone contact number using the iPad. This can be made to work by enabling Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone.
It can be enabled by going to Settings apps → Messages → Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone and turning on the switch which appears against your iPad device in the list. You need to be signed in with the same Apple ID on both the iPhone and the iPad for this to work.
For setup instructions, you can go through the Apple Support article How to forward SMS/MMS texts on your iPhone.