Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 02/15/12

Personal Experiences from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico 02/15/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Third expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home is in Utah. It is a 13/14 hour drive or a nonstop flight to Las Vegas and then I drive to my destination.

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3. How long have you lived here?

5 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Consulate spouse.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The housing is good. I like the short walking commute.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Acceptable in Mexico and the US (less then D.C.) and really good if you shop at Ft. Bliss.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of restaurants to choose from on both sides.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are insects here that would like to live in your house, but thankfully, you can actually get people to spray your house & yard. They do a really great job, and all the bugs disappear.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

You are given a PO BOX address in El Paso. The mail is brought in M-F.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available. Not as inexpensive as other Latin America countries.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are, but I have heard that it can be problematic. There is an acceptable gym at the Consulate.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

In El Paso.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

I have US Satellite! It is great, easy, and I have access to everything.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It depends on how much you do in Juarez.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I don't think it is much different from any other U.S. city.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No, you can not/should not ride the buses. There is a taxi company that is okay to use.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We have a compact car and it does just fine. I would recommend a car that runs well and is not flashy.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Good. I pay $50 a month and run my computer, ROKU and Magicjack on it.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I got a US Verizon phone/phone number and it works on both sides with just my prepaid US plan.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. There is a lot going on in this city. That being said, we take precautions and are careful. Also, I think that because we are here as a family with children, it doesn't effect us as much. We wouldn't be going out to bars and clubs anyways. Also, even though I was prepared to take cover the first time we drove in here, I haven't ever felt like I was in danger while I've been out and about. Also, I really like my neighborhood, it is safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Really good, except for the occasional dust storm. I am amazed at how healthy my family (including children) have been here. If we get sick (rare) it runs it's course quickly and with little impact. I think that the clean, dry air helps.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's a desert, but with some altitude. Great winters! Look at the monthly averages at weather.com.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are 3 schools that I know of in Juarez: 1 is bilingual, 1 is bilingual Catholic, and 1 is all Spanish Montessori. There are many schools to choose from in El Paso. You can send your children to a public school of your choosing or private schools. Post will pay for any of these schooling options. The most popular private schools are: Radford, Loretto (Catholic - all girls after 5th grade) and Cathedral High (Catholic - all boys). We choose to use a school here in Juarez.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Yes, there are schools in El Paso, public and private.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes. Most choose options here in Juarez.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

If you want your kids to learn tennis, this is your post! There is a instructor who comes to the Consulate. Most of the schools have sport programs to choose from. The school that we use has: soccer, gymnastics, dance, basketball, Tae Kwan Do, etc.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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3. Morale among expats:

I think people are surprised when they get here that it is really livable and manageable. Morale seems good.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Right now there are mostly just singles and couples here. It is hard because it is not recommended to be out and about. Families are less impacted by that, but there are not a lot of families here, but it has lots of potential: good school options, easy work commutes, good shopping (you can even shop at the commissary at Ft. Bliss saving you lots of $$), America close by and easy and cheap travel to see extended family more often.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I haven't noticed.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

I haven't done much in Mexico, but there are those who do and enjoy it. I tend to just drive the couple miles to El Paso. Also, you are not able to go out of Juarez further into Mexico.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather is good. It is the easiest place I have lived with the Foreign Service. It is a foreign country with plenty of differences, but I can easily live like an American.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. The hardest part about living here for me is that there are not a lot of other families.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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