Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 02/04/23
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?
Too many to list. Many cities over the last 20+ years.
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?
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
In my opinion, housing is terrible and the worst I have seen in my career. However, I understand there are few complaints because most are new officers and don't know what a typical post housing is like.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can get pretty much everything you need here. You can also cross the border to El Paso pretty much anytime. Most make trips over the weekend.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Of course, tacos are popular here.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
In my opinion, housing is terrible. Some (~20%) have really nice and large houses. Most seem to have cramped two story townhouse style homes with awkward layouts. Windows are not sealed, so there is always dust in the house. When the wind blows, you can actually see dust storms on the streets.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We use a local private mail box paid for by the consulate as well as a PO Box.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household is not as cheap, because many locals can get work visas and work in El Paso during the day. The average rate for domestic help is $10 USD per hour.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
I'm told that the consulate has both an indoor and outdoor gym, although I have not seen it. There are private gyms in the city 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?
Yes, pretty much. They will bring the reader to you, so don't let your credit card out of your sight.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
This is mainly a Catholic area.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Spanish is highly recommended here. It would be hard to live here if you did not know the language.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Streets are not ADA compliant, so I imagine it would be difficult for those with disabilities.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
All of the above are off limits due to safety and crime concerns. Uber is ok and pretty cheap, but finding one might be a a challenge. You may have to wait 30 minutes or more, and they sometime will cancel on you. In other areas, Uber may not be available.
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 would bring an older SUV. This is truck territory. There are plenty of speed bumps and pot holes on the streets.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
It's pre installed. Internet is fast and prices are comparable to the US.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Most US mobile phones have international plans.
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 think so. I see plenty of pets.
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?
There are jobs available within the Consulate. There are jobs in the city as well, but you need to know the language and I imagine the pay won't be very good.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Most dress business casual, although some wear suits everyday.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes. This was the most dangerous city on the planet 8 years ago. Baghdad and Kabul have surpassed us now, but it's still dangerous. Plenty of gangs and narcos.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
I think medical care is pretty good, but dust and allergies are a real problem.
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?
Aside from the problems with dust, the air quality seems ok.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
No for food allergies, but dust is a real problem here. Dust and dirt.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
This is not a pretty city. Mainly an industrial, gritty, working class city.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Very hot and dry during the summers, freezing cold during the winters. Sometimes snows during the winters.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are international schools here, but the majority opt to send their kids to schools in El Paso.
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?
Yes. Not terrible, but not cheap. A little under $10K per child.
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?
Many dual citizens. Most go to El Paso on the weekends.
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?
People tend to find their own groups.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I would say no. Not good for anyone, unless you need the money for hardship differential or are forced to come here.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Mainly against the indigenous.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Still a very Catholic city, so I think not.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
This is Mexico, so yes. A machismo society.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Leaving the area on vacation, or the weekends in El Paso.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Possibly the city of Chihuahua, but it's a 4 hour drive south each way.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Don't do it unless you have to.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Nice car, fancy watches or any jewelry.
4. But don't forget your:
Sense of humor and Sentri pass.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?