Guadalajara, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 08/27/18
Personal Experiences from Guadalajara, Mexico
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, Almaty, Dushanbe, Accra, and Moscow.
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?
Salt Lake City, Utah. 3.5 hours direct flight.
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?
Most families live in townhouses in gated communities (cotos) with varying amenities. Our coto has a pool, playground, gym, basketball court, and raquetball courts as well as a party room. The kids can ride bikes around the neighborhood pretty safely. It is a 20-30 minute drive to the consulate and a 20 minute ride to most of the schools. The houses are nice and modern. We actually have closets (one of the few times in our experience overseas). We rarely have maintenance issues. There are sound issues, though. Mexicans know how to party and they don't shut the LOUD music off until late late at night.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Overall about what you would pay in the US. Shopping and markets are obviously cheaper. Shopping at Costco is a lot more expensive. The regular stores seem to be fine and have everything you would need. However, I have not been able to find dill pickles.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
OxyClean and dill pickles.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Everything is here. The food here is sooooo good. They have fast food, taco trucks, fancy experimental stuff. It is all good.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lots of cockroaches and ants, but, not more than you would expect from a tropical climate.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
A full-time nanny is approximately US$400 per month. There is also part-time available as well.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Tons of gyms and reasonable 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?
You can do without learning Spanish, but it makes life so much easier if you at least try to learn as much as you can.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Bus travel is not recommended, but UBER is here and that is cheap and easy.
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?
Any car will do.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
I have no complaints. Enough to stream. Plenty of options.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I use T-mobile. It's fine and cheap. I pay about $30 for 4 GB of data and unlimited calls.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Lots of volunteer opportunities. Working with Women Helping Women or with Junior League is a great way to get involved.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
There are some risks of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting involved in Narco violence, but, in general I feel safe. If you use common sense and aren't out at crazy hours, it is fine.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is great.
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?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
There is only one month when you need to wear a jacket. It gets hot, but we have enjoyed it.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are three main international schools: the Institute of Thomas Jefferson, the American School, and the Canadian School. My kids go to the Canadian school. We have been really happy with it. It seems really well run; the administrators are top-notch. The teachers are caring, but tend to be young. They have a great team of experienced teachers who do teacher training and mentoring. They have a great extracurricular program with a lot of different options.
They only offer up through 7th grade this year, but, each year they expand. The biggest challenge for any of the schools here is for expat kids to integrate. My kids are the only or 1 of 2 or 3 in there class that are not local Mexicans. It is great for language acquisition. My kids are basically bilingual now. It can be hard in the social department. My kids have been fine. We have been proactive to make friends outside of school and so they still seem to be happy. In all the schools be prepared for major parent involvement.
I have heard from several friends whose kids attend the American school that integration and bullying might be more of a concern.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
ITJ is great with accommodation, I have heard. The Canadian School has pull out sessions to help kids with academic and social issues. Beyond that, I am not sure.
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?
Plenty of options. They range from US$175 to $300 per month.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Lots of options.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
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?
The options really are too diverse to list. The consulate has a good community, but there are also tons of options to socialize outside of the consulate.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
YES, For any type of person.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The different beaches for weekend trips have been amazing. Lots of things to explore.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
YES YES YES.
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
It is so convenient and easy living here.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Bring earplugs for the loud neighbors.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?