Mexico City - Post Report Question and Answers
What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
We live in an apartment in Polanco, and all apartments in Polanco (with a few exceptions, of course) are three-bedroom apartments. The Polanco apartments are generally lovely but can be a tight squeeze for families with more than two kids. The commute to the embassy without traffic is only about 15 minutes, but at heavier traffic times it can be around half an hour. The families who opt to live farther out in Santa Fe have larger houses with yards. - May 2020
Our home is HUGE. More space than what we need for our family of four (with two small children), but it is nice to have the extra space. We live in what most people call the "suburbs" in an area called Santa Fe, which is about a 45min to 1hour commute to and from the embassy depending on traffic. The homes are called condos, but to me are comparable in size to single family homes or large town homes. We live in a 4 bedroom 3.5 bathroom home, it has its own personal backyard/patio area. There are two playgrounds, a common area, gym, and indoor pool on the grounds of complex. We are close to shopping malls, groceries, activities for children, etc. - Apr 2019
We live in Polanco and we have a big apartment with a terrace. We are steps from some of the best restaurants in the world. Lincoln Park is great for kids and adults. There is a huge and beautiful playground that is very modern with the soft mats under the play structures. There is even a climbing wall. There is also an aviary and a place for bike riding and roller skating. We are also a couple of blocks away from a skateboarding park. This is definitely heaven for kids and adults. Polancito is full of cafe's, shops, and world class restaurants. We have several excellent malls, a Costco, Sam's Club, and many other shopping options. Best of all you can walk everywhere (or Uber or use a scooter or bike service). - Apr 2019
Depends where in the city you live. We live in Polanco. Our apartment is small compared to many in the mission. It is new, which is nice, but it also comes with set backs; mainly size. Commute to the embassy is about 20 minutes in the morning and between 20-60 minutes in the evening. - Jun 2018
Housing is rough here. There are apartments in Polanco, each with its own challenges; or houses in the outlying communities, with traffic that can add hours to your evening commute. The apartments in Polanco are in great locations, but most do not have natural light, bathtubs, or spare bedrooms. Polanco is an easy place to live though, which makes up for a lot of the other stuff. - May 2017
Housing is a bit of a mixed bag. There is housing in Santa Fe, an area quite far from the center of the city. Much of the housing is in Polanco, a well-heeled neighborhood closer in to the U.S. Embassy. There is housing in several other communities between Santa Fe and Polanco. We live in Polanco, as do most of the people we know, and are happy here. Polanco housing is almost all apartments, some fabulous, some...not. Ours is fine, but like other apartments has a lack of natural light. It's easy to get to the U.S. Embassy from Polanco via public transportation (bus), but you'd need to drive from the other housing locations. - Sep 2016
Okay. We live in Polanco, on Musset street. The apartment seems to be one of the "smaller" ones, but it has sufficient space for two. Polanco has the advantage of offering living accommodations that are the closest to the embassy and city center.
There are many pricey restaurants, boutiques, and supermarkets. It is, after all, a zone with many international companies, foreigners and rich people. You will find very nice parks, dog walkers, and hotels. The Orthodox Jewish community is also based here. There are a couple of private art galleries and, I think, two Catholic churches.
Street names are pretty European and North American. Many city neighborhoods are identified by names of streets or rivers or cities, or famous musicians. It takes me 20 minutes to walk to Chapultepec park and about 50 minutes to get to the embassy. One metro station and a couple of bus lines are operating nearby. Here you will find a gym and a pool in your building (expect occasional daily socialization in the pool area). Polanco doesn't seem to have a sense of community, though, as e.g. Roma and Condesa have (still with an international flavor).
Apart from boutiques, shops, and supermarkets, there's mostly just residential housing. Don't walk your dogs on Masaryk street. You won't encounter any trash cans, but you might get uncomfortable (like me) seeing many armed security guards in front of fancy boutiques. Inside your building, expect to see housemaids from early morning until the late afternoon. It won't be empty all day).
The only real issue I can mention here regarding accommodations in Musset is that there are a couple of buildings being torn down or re-built, which contributes to occasional noise (just like airplanes), which seems to be the case with the whole area. Internal walls are not sound proof. I was surprised that many embassy people are not very considerate of their neighbors: using a treadmill in an apartment at 4:30 a.m. (and waking up the whole block), making loud noises while exercising in front of the gym at 6 a.m., letting dogs bark, etc. Because the entrance guards are not responsible for internal issues, you need to talk directly to your neighbors, and then things will be fine. It's not hell, it just needs some adjustments. ;) - Jun 2016
We are in Polanco, very reasonable commute time 15-20 minutes to the Embassy. Housing awful mold-filled apartment, worst I have had in 18 years in the FS and I am including my junior officer tours. We are about to move to our third apartment. If you have small children, decide whether you are OK keeping them in a small, yucky apartment much of the time due to pollution. If I had one do-over in my life, it would be not to bid Mexico City with small children. - May 2016
Apartments, Polanco and Bosques de Las Lomas or Santa Fe mostly. Depending on where you work, commuting times can be very long. Traffic here is like nothing I've ever experienced before. We tend to walk or take public transportation most of the time reserving driving for weekends when it is more calm. - May 2016
We live in a spacious apartment in Polanco. Driving commute is 10-30 minutes, depending on traffic, most of the time in the 15-20 minute range. Walking is about an hour and safe, as is biking. Polanco seems to be the choice if you want to not use a car as much. There are a lot of parks around so kids do have a place to go, but the housing further out of town seems to have more play areas connected to housing. - May 2016
Housing is very nice generally-speaking, but a mixed bag depending on commute time. Polanco (the "Beverly Hills" of DF, 10-40 minute commute depending on traffic) is apartments-only, but the upside is a short commute and a fantastic walkable neighborhood with a lot of charming sidewalk cafes, a park with a great playground, etc. The further out you get, the more space you get (townhomes, etc) but the commute time can be horrendous. 1+hours). We love our apartment in Polanco, and even though we a family of 4 cramped into a 1300 square-foot 2-bedroom place, I would definitely choose it over being further out in the suburbs. I don't think my husband (the FSO) would see his kids at all during the week if he were in Santa Fe or Interlomas. Lomas de Chapultapec is the next neighborhood from Polanco so the commute is just a little longer. The neighborhood in Lomas is beautiful and has everything you need but you would do more driving than walking. In Polanco, you could manage without a car. - Oct 2014
Apartments near the Embassy are really nice and only 3 miles away. That said, those 3 miles will take you an average of 45 minutes; 1.5 hours in bad traffic and rain. - Aug 2014
Traffic is a big deal in Mexico. Like, a big super-annoying deal. Do your research on housing to find a good place for you. There are places that are GREAT for walking/riding bikes everywhere. There are other places where that will not really be an option. Our biggest concern was commute time, and my husband rode his bike every day, meaning traffic was not something he had to battle with. I, however, sometimes spent nearly an hour to drive 1.4 miles... it can be a beast. - Apr 2014
High rise apartments with excellent security service, huge houses, duplexes. The embassy leases several apartments in Polanco and nearby are and they are equally nice. The only problem is none have heating so it really gets too cold during winter and warm in the summer. The buildings are not insulated at all, you can hear the neighbors flushing their toilets! - Mar 2014
U.S. Embassy people: Polanco is where you want to be, or close to it. The commute times are a real bummer for everyone who lives in Santa Fe or other outskirt neighborhood. Yes, the houses are big and the neighbors are friendly and the schools are probably better and you only get two bedrooms in Polanco - but if you don't need all that, fight for Polanco. It's worth it to be closer to the action, especially if you like eating out. Also, there are direct bus lines (big buses, not combis) from various thoroughfares to get to the U.S. Embassy. About 50 cents a trip. Took me 30 minutes, door to door. Cabs are about US$6, takes 5 minutes. You can drive/park, carpool, get a spot at the Embassy. - Dec 2013
The US Embassy offers apartments and houses. Most apartments are located in Polanco. They tend to be nice, although some of them are not exactly new. Houses in Santa Fe are very nice, but they are far from the embassy. The embassy used to rent some housing in the trendy Condesa neighborhood but not anymore. Housing is good overall but is not furnished (except a for some cases). Polanco is our favorite place, since we like to walk with the kids -- although Las Lomas is nice, too, because of the yards and the size of the houses. - Jul 2013
Apartments in the Polanco area and houses or apartments in the Bosques area. Where we live has the equivalent of row-houses or town homes. - Jan 2013
Polanco, Lomas, and Reforma where most expats live are close to work, 5-10 minute drive or about double to walk. - Jan 2013
Polanco has mostly apartments, but we gladly sacrificed to have a short commute (20 minutes in the morning and 15 in the afternoon). If demonstrations were planned we came back by foot (40 to 50 minutes depending on pace). Some colleagues were traumatized about the commute from Sante Fe. - May 2012
Half of embassy housing is in apartments in an area less than an hour's walk from the embassy. The other half is of various types out in the suburbs, under an hour's drive in ideal traffic. If one attempts the commute during rush hour[s], that tends to become two hours or so. As a result, those who can do so prefer to work a 7am-4pm day. - Apr 2011
Embassy-provided apartment in Polanco (upscale area in city). Twenty-minute commute. When traffic builds up - (and it does) - about an hour. - Apr 2010
Houses (families with Kids) are very big nice clean, has small back yard, gaurded community in Santa Fe, to the Embassy takes from 20- 30 minutes. Couples stay in Polanco very close to the US Embassy takes 10- 20 minutes .Some other houses and appartments in different areas. - Feb 2010
For U.S. Embassy employees, singles and couples without kids are at apartments not too far from the Embassy, while families tend to be in large apartments, townhomes or houses farther away. That said, I kept a regular schedule of about 8 - 5:30 and the commute wasn't too bad (30-45 minutes;, leave much later from home or work and it gets bad fast. The driving itself is its own special challenge - join a carpool if you can. - Jan 2010
Houses in the suburbs which were nice, apts in the suburbs, apts in the city. Commutes can be 15 minutes if living in the city, up to 45 minutes in the suburbs. Traffic is one of the only hard parts about living in Mexico. - Mar 2009
Most family expats live in very expensive housing which demands heavily guarded apartment buildings or housing complexs. Most commute times for a working family is typically one hour. - Nov 2008
Housing within the embassy community pales in comparison to the greater expat community, but that's not unusual overseas. Most expats are housed in the West part of the city, far from the airport in the east. The neighborhoods are nice, wealthy, with large houses and plush apartment buildings. Many rich Mexicans are in this area. - Oct 2008