Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 08/12/13

Personal Experiences from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico 08/12/13

Background:

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.

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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?

Chicago- trip about three hours to El Paso, TX, and then drive across the border.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years, from 2010-2012.

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

Foreign Service Officer.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Usual bugs to any western U.S. home

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Daily Life:

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

Regular mail is good.

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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.

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

Yes, a few nice gyms in town.

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

Yes- in El Paso. Unknown in Juarez.

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

Yes.

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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.

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

Not sure.

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Transportation:

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

I would not take them.

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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?

During rainstorms flooding is bad- four wheel drive is good.

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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, affordable.

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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?

No- great coverage- I was able to stay on my U.S. network in most of the city.

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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?

No.

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

Good quality, many vets and kennels available locally.

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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?

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

Same as Western U.S.

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Health & Safety:

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

Random violence, most cartel related.

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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?

No, good healthcare options in Juarez and a 15 minute drive (with no traffic or line to cross at the POE) to El Paso.

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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?

Good.

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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?

Beautiful and sunny. Usually warm to hot, although we did experience snow once during the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

No daycare that I know of, but domestic help is affordable.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

OK- it depends on who you hang with.

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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.

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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.

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

Just like any U.S. city, I believe.

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

Not that I observed.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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