Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 04/21/16
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 have lived in Europe and Asia.
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?
Drove to Juarez from DC. We went slow -- 5 nights so that we could make some stops.
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?
3 bedroom houses with little yards. Most walk-able to consulate. Some a 15-20-minute drive.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Produce in Juarez is good and cheaper than in El Paso. Most other items are cheaper in El Paso.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
dont worry you can always go to Target in El Paso
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
All kinds of American chains. Lots of quick taco and burrito joints, very different style than typical Tex/Mex.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
cockroaches. Little scorpions (not poisonous). And some have seen black widows (very poisonous).
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
USPS through the consulate
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
US$4-6 per hour.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
yes. small one at consulate. gyms all over town with a range of prices.
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. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
the more the better, but you can get by with zero. Many locals know at least a tiny bit of English.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
No sidewalks. This is not a walkable city in any way.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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?
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?
Some U.S. carriers have good policies for use in both Mexico and U.S. Most people don't bother with a local carrier.
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?
i don't think so. I believe dog food is one of the items you are not supposed to bring from the U.S. to Mexico, which frustrated some pet owners...
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?
El Paso is right there!
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?
tie, no jacket.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes. It is better than it used to be, but there is still high crime. I never felt targeted or threatened, but I was constantly reminded that it remains a dangerous city. Murders took place during my years there at just about everywhere I would go in the city (Wal-mart, Home Depot, grocery store, outside a gated community where consulate folks live, the mall, the movie theater, etc etc). These were typically gangs and assassinations. But there is always the fear of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
good dentists and the private hospital is nice.
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?
Dry and dusty. Dust storms in the Spring.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
dust seems to aggravate seasonal allergies.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Oh it's a desert. Most of the time sunny and hot, but can get cold and windy quickly during winter. Rare snowfalls. When it does rain, it often gushes and floods the streets.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
I did not have a child in school. Some kids go to a private school in Juarez, others go to school in El Paso.
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?
I am not familiar with schools. But nannies are easy to find. We had a fantastic English-speaking nanny for our 1 year old who charged about US$6/hour.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
morale was very high while I was there. Most people wanted to be there.
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?
House parties, restaurants.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for all. A lot of families at consulate. Mexicans love kids, and you can bring them anywhere. It is safe enough now that singles do go out in Juarez (in the safer parts of town).
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Unsure. I think locals are a bit conservative but I have never heard any major complaints from gay friends.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not that I experienced...
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Great consulate community. Some will say Juarez doesn't count as living abroad, but I disagree. Juarez and El Paso, while closely linked, are very different places. You can enjoy the unique aspects of Mexican culture while having the convenience of U.S. amenities just across the border.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Explore the restaurant scene. Very good, affordable food. If you like the outdoors and don't mind driving, there are endless camping/hiking options. Although the desert landscape can get a bit repetitive after a while.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
mata ortiz pottery.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Great food. Very friendly people. Proximity to U.S. (El Paso) makes life easy.
10. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Probably not. While we did have a good experience, we feel like we saw what there was to see. Overall the city has a run-down feel, and the ongoing violence darkened our perspective a bit. While we were there, the consulate had a great community with great morale. Without that, we probably would have been counting the days.
2. But don't forget your:
3. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
"The Fight to Save Juarez" by Ricardo Ainsle. Goes into detail about the peak years of violence with a focus on the police and local authorities.