Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 08/12/13
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?
No. I did internships in Quito and Freetown, studied in Accra, and live in Yaounde.
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?
Chicago- trip about three hours to El Paso, TX, and then drive across the border.
3. How long have you lived here?
Two years, from 2010-2012.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Foreign Service Officer.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Very nice, spacious homes, all in gated communities for the most part.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Same as in Texas, or less expensive.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
None- you can buy everything in El Paso, Walmart, and FSOs are able to access the Fort Bliss commissary as well.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
McDonald's, Burger King, etc.- good, affordable Mexican food as well- places like Cristostomo. The burrito was born in Juarez.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Usual bugs to any western U.S. home
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Regular mail is good.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Harder to find for young children, but affordable.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, a few nice gyms in town.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes- in El Paso. Unknown in Juarez.
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Some, but you can get by if you want.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
I would not take them.
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?
During rainstorms flooding is bad- four wheel drive is good.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
No- great coverage- I was able to stay on my U.S. network in most of the city.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Good quality, many vets and kennels available locally.
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Same as Western U.S.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Random violence, most cartel related.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
No, good healthcare options in Juarez and a 15 minute drive (with no traffic or line to cross at the POE) to 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?
Beautiful and sunny. Usually warm to hot, although we did experience snow once during the winter.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
No daycare that I know of, but domestic help is affordable.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
OK- it depends on who you hang with.
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?
Same as anywhere in the U.S.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes- great for families- Mexicans are very family-oriented. There are play areas in almost all of the shopping malls in both Juarez and El Paso, lots of kid-friendly events and restaurants, and the best childcare facilities I have seen in churches anywhere in the world.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Just like any U.S. city, I believe.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not that I observed.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Ease of access to everything you are used to. Affordability of domestic help.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Visit Chihuahua City, go to El Paso.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Little Juarez trinkets- nice local artwork as well.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Proximity to the U.S., relatively affordable, lots of shopping opportunities, beautiful weather (sunny 360 days of the year).
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Ideas that Juarez is not a good place to serve- the local staff are the best I have worked with, the weather is amazing most of the year, the housing is big and beautiful, and it is easy to get to El Paso with a Sentri pass...we have the great benefit of being able to access Fort Bliss as well and obtain some MWR privileges.
3. But don't forget your: