Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 06/02/13
Personal Experiences from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
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?
We just drove down here from Washington, DC.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing is very nice: 3-4 bedroom houses with lots of security features in gated communities. Most people live within several minutes' drive of the consulate; some even can walk or bike easily.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Most people grocery shop in El Paso, and there are the usual chain restaurants and a couple of boutique health-food stores.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
No need - you can get everything you need in El Paso
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Many popular US food chains are present in Juarez, and there are some excellent local restaurants in Juarez as well
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
If you get regular pest control, things are fine. We have found a scorpion or two here and there.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We live separately, so we send our mail to our US home. But most people at the consulate ship their mail to the consulate address.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Readily available and affordable.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, there is a popular country club in Juarez that has a pool, gym, and golf course. Facilities for working out on the El Paso side are abundant as well.
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?
They are fine and readily available.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
I'm not sure what is availabe in Juarez, but El Paso seems to have everything available.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Yes - we have Direct TV in Juarez for about the same cost as it woud be in the US.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Many people in Juarez speak English, but knowing some basic Spanish for day-do-day communications (e.g., ordering at restaurants or communicating with household help) is very helpful.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I don't believe so.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No - people drive themselves.
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?
There are some potholes in Juarez, and many people drive an SUV. But a sturdy sedan would be sufficient.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes - my spouse and I video-chat over the internet during the week when we are apart. Time Warner Is available in El Paso.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Verizon has better reception than AT&T if you maintain a US service.
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?
No. It is easy to cross the border, even on a daily basis with pets. All you need are the rabies records.
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
Any family members I know who work either have an EFM position at the consulate or work in El Paso.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Shirt and tie for work; public is casual.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Obviously, Ciudad Juarez has significant security concerns because of the drug wars and gang violence, but the violence seems to be trending down. Most consulate employees regularly enjoy socializing with local staff and local restaurants, clubs, bars, movie theaters, golf courses, etc. There is the occasional random act of violence, but there are neighborhoods and places you know to avoid.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
There is a good hospital right next to the consulate, and several hospitals in El Paso
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?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Very hot summers - but it's a "dry heat", and there is plenty of air conditioning. Winters are easy and mild. Its a mountain-desert climate.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
I believe school-aged children go to school in El Paso at this point in time.
2. 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?
Household help is available and affordable.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
The consulate in Juarez is large, but there is not a presence of other countries' consulates.
2. Morale among expats:
Most people seem very satisfied.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Best for singles and couples, also easy for families with small children. Families with school-aged children may chose to split their family to El Paso for the educational opportunities there.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Other than having to put up with some "machismo", women are well respected and well treated.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
We have made great friends at the consulate and in El Paso. Easy weekend trips to some of the popular Mexican vacation destinations (i.e. Cancun, Tulum, etc.). Great hiking opportunities in El Paso. Skiing is available just 3 hours north of El Paso. The cost of living is VERY cheap.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Hiking and mountain biking are very popular here, skiing in New Mexico, all of the regular things you can find in the US. There are some great restaurants in El Paso and Juarez, plus movies, etc.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Great Mexican crafts, pottery, sculptures, and art.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
You essentially have all of the comforts of the US, as El Paso, Texas, is just minutes away -- an easy commute over the border.
Because of the immediate proximity to the US, it is a potentially good post for spouse careers and employment opportunities, or schooling opportunities for families of school-aged children -- if you are willing to live apart during the week. The culture of the "Borderland" is a unique blend of American Southwest and Mexican.
11. Can you save money?
Yes, the cost of living in Juarez and El Paso is very cheap.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes. This is not a post that is going to feel terribly "foreign", and you won't get the same cultural experience you would if being immersed in, say, Peru, but it has been much safer than we thought it would be -- and excellent for our family circumstances (spousal employment opportunities being a priority).
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your: