Guadalajara, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 01/12/12

Personal Experiences from Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico 01/12/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Second experience. First experience was in Helsinki, Finland.

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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, IL. There are direct flights but most flights connect through Dallas or Houston. Direct flights are about five hours and connections can vary.

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3. How long have you lived here?

For two months.

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

US Govt.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are houses, apartments, etc. It is best to live in a gated community for security purposes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most American products are available here. Depending on the product and the store, prices can vary.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Just about everything is available at any price.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There are a variety of products especially at Wal-Mart.

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

Yes! Cockroaches.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

200 to 250 pesos per day.

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

Yes, including chains like Gold's Gym.

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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?

Make sure to use trusted sites where you can always see your credit card.

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

Yes.

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

Yes. There are English cable channels and newspapers.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

At least a basic working knowledge of Spanish.

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

Yes. There are wheelchair ramps on all city sidewalks, but the sidewalks are in horrible condition.

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Transportation:

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

Definitely affordable. City buses are privately run and are not considered very safe.

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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?

SUV. Mexico does not allow for the importation of a car older than five years.

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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. US$30 per month.

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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?

Telcel.

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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, but make sure to have all of your papers in order before bringing a pet. I carried my small dog on the plane with me and had a USDA vet sign off on medical certificate, both I believe helped me in the process once I got to Guadalajara.

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

Fairly good.

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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?

No.

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

Work is business casual to business. Public varies, but shorts are only for sports and the beach.

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Health & Safety:

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

Many. Security concerns range from pick-pocketing to narco-violence. The US Dept. of State has listed a number of travel warnings.

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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?

There is air pollution. Medical care is excellent and at a good price.

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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?

The air quality is moderate. Some days are better than others.

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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?

Winters are warm during the day and chilly at night. There is a rainy season during the summer.

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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?

Depends on the school.

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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?

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

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

Large, especially in the area of Lake Chapala.

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2. Morale among expats:

High.

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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?

The list is long.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a great city for everyone.

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

Yes.

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

Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco have the reputation for being very conservative and religious. With that said, I haven't heard about or experienced any problems.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The people here are very friendly and welcoming.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Too many to list.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Local artisian items.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather in the winter is great. It is possible to save money depending on what you do.

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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?

Maybe. Mexico is a difficult country to travel around on your own because of safety concerns.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Negative stereotypes of Mexico.

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3. But don't forget your:

Your patience and sweater or coat for chilly evenings.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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