Hermosillo, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 08/18/15

Personal Experiences from Hermosillo, Mexico

Hermosillo, Mexico 08/18/15

Background:

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

No. We've lived in Costa Rica and Sao Paulo.

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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?

Northern California. If you choose to fly you can do so via a 45-minute flight to Phoenix, AZ. We drive to Tucson, AZ from Hermosillo in 4 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

US Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Good housing. Big houses, some with nice yards. All houses are in closed communities, all with pools and play structures for the kids. My commute time is a whopping 12 minutes! Definitely a highlight of post.

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

Groceries are definitely cheaper than in the US. Strangely enough, the supply is quite limited, as all most of the best items go straight to the US. We find ourselves buying a lot of produce at Costco (go figure). We buy only fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat here. Everything else we import via Amazon or Tucson trips.

Since our arrival, there have been more and more natural foods/organic products popping up that we try to support. You can buy organic beets, carrots, cilantro, etc., and organic eggs. But there are no organic dairy products here.

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

We're close to Tucson, so we just buy what we need there.

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

Regular crappy American fast food and restaurants. There are about 5-10 pretty good restaurants that we frequent. They are pretty reasonably priced --- under USD50 for a couple with a drink.

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

Lots. We have to spray regularly because of cockroaches, mosquitoes, and serious black widow problems during the summer.

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Daily Life:

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

APO.

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

Very available. Most people pay about $25/day.

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

Yes, with reasonable costs and a range of facilities.

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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?

At major restaurants and supermarkets we use credit cards. We use ATMs inside the Consulate, at Costco, or the bank.

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

Some.

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

It would be okay. This isn't a walking city, so that's less of an issue.

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Transportation:

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

No. And they are not really available. The only place you can even find a taxi is at the airport.

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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?

We have a RAV4, which is fine. There can be lots of pot holes, so most people drive vehicles with high clearance. This is not really needed, though.

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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?

Kind of. We probably have the highest speed internet, and it's normally sufficient to watch Netflix. We pay about USD30/mo.

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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?

All direct hires receive them. I think you can get a cheap sim card or a cheap pay-as-you-go phone.

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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 volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I'm sure you could find some.

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

It's your normal consulate/not-embassy dress code. Women wear dresses, and guys wear slacks and ties (slacks can include chinos).

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. We sit smack dab in the middle of the Sinaloa Cartel's area. I'm pretty sure many of our neighbors are narcos. We occasionally get stopped on the freeway because of shootouts between the narcos and cops. Although I feel these issues are increasing, I also feel quite safe here. Everyone knows what's going on and tries to lay low. But the cartels are professionals, and in our part of Mexico there aren't a lot of people accidentally implicated in shootouts.

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2. 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?

I'd assume it's not great, because it's dry and hot. That being said, we've had few problems except with eyes and noses that are probably tired of being in constant air-conditioned buildings.

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Friggin' hot. Last year Hermosillo had one day when it was the hottest place on earth. It's over 100 degrees anywhere from 8-10 months a year. It's barely chilly in the "winter" and it's quite lovely for several months. Last year's summer seemed to be a lot worse, and I felt my kids were never able to leave the house because it was so hot.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are no international schools here. We have folks with elementary-aged kids, but they need to be comfortable in Spanish (or willing to learn, which they will do in one year).

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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?

Most of us send our kids to a local Montessori school, which I believe is probably one of the most expensive preschools in Hermosillo. For four hours we currently pay about $5,000 pesos - the exchange rate has tilted heavily in our favor, but it's ranged from 300-400 USD/mo. Nannies are generally used, and most of get between $1,500-$2,000 pesos per week - roughly USD150/week.

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

Baseball is huge here, so I'd imagine you could find that.

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Expat Life:

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

Small. We're the only gig in town. I've never met another expat in Hermosillo, although my husband has finally found 3 Brazilians, which is a lot in this town! Most people are fine with Hermosillo and try to appreciate the positives. As I mentioned, a lot of people seem to be disillusioned with overseas life because of the constant reminders of the U.S.

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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?

Restaurants, beaches, and the movies.

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

I think it's best for families with small kids. There isn't a lot to do here, and that's generally okay for families with with kids. Even with kids, we tend to get bored, as there's not a lot more to do than visit the beach (1:15 by car), go to lunch/dinner (about 10 restaurants), and go the movies. There's a nice country club that a lot of folks use, and people seem quite happy with this as it's a nice slice of green in Hermosillo.

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

Okay. Sonora is still quite conservative, so LGBT issues aren't really out in the open.

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

Not obviously.

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

Nice housing. Easy living. Easy access to the U.S., which is both a positive and an interesting negative in terms of people getting to see on a regular basis what they're missing in terms of parks and supermarkets. Easy access to the Sea of Cortez, which is lovely and warm!

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

Go to a beach --- there are two within about an hour's drive from Hermosillo. They are not overly developed, but both are very swimmable. And that's about it, outside of travel to Tucson. We all find ourselves traveling to Tucson with more frequency than we would have expected for grocery shopping, museum visits, and park trips!

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

Nada. If you travel to other parts of Mexico you can find a lot of stuff.

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

The local people are kind, and this is the first post at which I've actually made friends with local staff. Hermosillo is a lot like Southern Arizona, which is both a positive and a negative. It's a relatively middle-class city, and people are quite comfortable with Americans.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes. Although some people tend to go to restaurants a lot as a social outlet, I think it'd be hard not to save money here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, because it suited us during this phase in our lives. We arrived with 8-month-old twins and wanted to be close to the US for health reasons - that's been great.

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

Jackets and closed-toe shoes!

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