Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 06/05/14
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?
I have lived around the world.
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?
Houston-- 10 hours by car or 2 hours by plane.
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?
Excellent housing in small compounds, most within walking distance.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Mexican stores are fine. I shop in ELP. In Juarez there is Costco, Walmart, Office Depot etc. And of course in ELP too.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I ship my dog food in and do a good bit of Amazon shopping.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Fast food in ELP. Few really good restaurants in Juarez or ELP. But there is one pizza restaurant I go to here and a Vietnamese place in ELP. We have a few Starbucks here in Juarez and a Denny's next to the Consulate (I have never been).
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Consulate has mail service to ELP.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
I have my housekeeper 1.5 days per week for US$60 per week and a dogwalker 5 hours per week for US$42 per week.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, gyms and some classes after work at the Consulate. A tennis court also.
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?
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Everything in ELP, even a Tibetan Buddhist center.....who knew?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Not much if you want to be a lump on a log. Most people understand English
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Not if they had a car, they would likely be ok.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
I have taken a few taxis.
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?
I love my Subaru Outback. The roads are hard on cars.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
It's slower than they say. I quit using my VPN cause it slowed me down to a crawl....
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
AT&T viva Mexico plan plus Skype.
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 and excellent.
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 volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Professional at work.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes. American shouldn't engage in risky behavior in Mexico. No guns, no drunken carousing except at home. The same level of random and opportunistic violence as elsewhere. That's for Americans-- Mexicans are at far greater risk.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
No. There's a decent hospital on the corner. I go to ELP for most stuff.
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?
Very good, little pollution. Dusty seasons a few days per year when it's really dusty.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Sunny every day. Cool in winter, it freezes a few days per year. Really hot in the summer.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
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?
3. 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?
U.S. consulate only -- 85 direct hires. Morale is what you make it, here.
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?
Eating out and at friends' houses. Coook-outs. I think singles and young couples drink a good bit. Iron Chef competition. The CLO organizes a few things.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Great weather and easy access to U.S.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
It's not that kind of post. It's like Detroit but they speak Spanish and it's sunny. It's very suburban. Easy.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Tacos? Talavera pottery.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Easy access to El Paso so it's "FS light." Some access to Mexico but by plane only from this post. Great weather, sunny every day. Nice housing and great LES.
10. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Nothing--- its predictable and easy.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I think I will do Mexico again for my last tour, so yes.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Expectation that it's Old Mexico. It's not. Appetite for ethnic food.
4. But don't forget your:
Dogs, kids, and sunscreen.
5. Do you have any other comments?
It has been pleasant and easy but kind of bland. The Consulate is nice. We had good management during my time here.