Merida, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 01/12/22

Personal Experiences from Merida, Mexico

Merida, Mexico 01/12/22


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

No, I've also lived in Europe and Middle East.

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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?

New York, can fly direct from Cancun (3 hour drive from here) or stop in Texas or Florida from Merida (total trip takes about 6 hours). More than one daily flight.

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3. What years did you live here?


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4. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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

Diplomatic Mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Post is very small so everyone gets similar housing, and you get whatever is available when you arrive. Housing is in a few suburban-ish neighborhoods north of the center. They're a 15-30 minute drive to the consulate downtown (which is moving soon). They are 3-4 bedroom stand alone houses, modern and bright, with mostly small backyards and small pools. The houses are fairly new, but all have some maintenance issues, especially leaks.

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

Cheaper than big city U.S. prices, but not by a lot. You can get anything, including Costo and fancy whole-foods like supermarkets. Cleaning products are heavily scented and some are less good quality.

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

We ship a few snack foods we really like, and paper towels.

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

There's lots of Mexican places (Yucatecan, not tex-mex) and steakhouses. There's also Italian and pizza that is good. There's one new Indian restaurant and one Thai place. Towards the beaches, there's very good casual seafood. There's also all the American chains, including Friday's, PF Chang's, and fast food. You can order from most restaurants through Rappi and Ubereats.

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

Not unusual for the climate, but there are roaches, ants, and occasional scary spiders or scorpions. There are also lots of geckos.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO, don't know about local post services.

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

Live in or live out. People with children have full time nannies/housekeepers, and those without children have full or part time housekeepers. Full time help is 1500-2500 pesos per week on the local market. We pay our nanny/housekeeper 4200 for 50 hours a week. Prices are about 70 pesos per hour, and Mexican overtime law is 200%.

We also have a pool service (120 pesos) weekly, and a gardener (350 pesos every other week).

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

Due to Covid, I don't know.

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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?

Yes, we use credit cards everywhere. ATMs are common and safe to use.

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

I don't know due to COVID, but I think that if any it would be Catholic only. There are lots of Catholic churches in Spanish. I haven't seen any other religions represented in any language.

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

Most local people speak Spanish and maybe Mayan, and they do not speak a lot of English. You will need some Spanish to talk to anyone, but people are very patient if your Spanish is not that good (they will put it in their phones to translate for example).

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

I think much less than at most posts. Most things are driving rather than walking, and the parking lots are good with wide spaces and disabled parking spots. Sidewalks on paseo de montejo are wide and well-maintained, though side streets are very narrow, though they have curb cutouts (sometimes very steep ones). Locals are kind and patient and allow and assist with things like drop offs near buildings or access to tourist sites.

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

Yes, but I don't take them because of COVID. Ubers are very cheap and plentiful, though they prefer cash.

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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?

Anything is fine, but there are very high speed bumps as you drive around, so clearance or driving very very slowly are helpful. There are dealers for most types of cars here, so you can get service for any U.S. car. Car theft and carjacking are nonexistent.

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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, though when it goes out (a couple times a year during storms) it can take a couple of weeks to fix. Some people have two internet companies for this reason. You may be able to continue the service of the person before you rather than wait the multiple weeks to get it installed.

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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?

We use local AT&T, it's about $30 a month for 10 GB and calls to the U.S. and Mexico. It had to be paid for the entire two years up front, so that took a LOT of cash saving up to get.

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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?

Yes to vets, lots of Meridians have dogs. No quarantine and no issues.

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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?

Consulate or telecommuting. There are some local jobs available (like teaching), but the pay would be very low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There's an expat who runs a volunteering network.

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

Pretty much anything goes; it's hot, so people dress for that. At work, it's business casual. Formal dress is never required.

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Health & Safety:

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

No, it's an EXTREMELY safe city and area.

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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?

Medical care for expats is top notch. I can't think of anyone who had to evacuate for anything, though of course some might choose to for cultural comfort or for something really unusual.

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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?

Very good, air seems cleaner than most big U.S. cities.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

I think you would need to be very specific at the restaurant if it's a serious allergy, but upscale places would be able to accommodate most things.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?


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

It's very hot for most of the year. It rains regularly for about half the year and is generally very humid. It never drops below the 60s, even in the middle of the night on the coldest day.

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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 is no American school, so most people with school age children don't come here, but there are a number of private Spanish options that look great for elementary.

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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?

Yes, but we haven't used them because of COVID. They look really wonderful and there are many options. They are often a half-day though, so people usually have nannies too. They are inexpensive, but I don't know exactly how much.

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

Absent COVID, yes. There are swimming lessons available at your house.

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Expat Life:

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

Very, very small. Morale is good, but the post is truly tiny so you have to get along with everyone.

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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?

Beach clubs, going to ruins, restaurants, out for drinks.

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

Yes for couples and families. Good for singles who don't mind a quiet consulate community social life. There's plenty to do locally for all. This is a tourist mecca for a reason.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Because of COVID, it's hard to say, but I think the answer is yes if your Spanish is good enough. I can't think of any prejudices that would make anyone uncomfortable; it's a multicultural place, and there are a lot of tourists here.

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

Yes. I know multiple LGBT people at post now or previously, and all have had a good experience. Yucatecans are extremely pleasant and polite people, and while they are religious, there doesn't seem to be any problem with LGBT prejudice that I can see. I don't know what the dating scene is like though (the people I know were coupled).

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

I don't think so. I have not observed any of the street sexism that can make some regional posts uncomfortable for women. Most people are Catholic, but very tolerant of other religions and possibly curious.

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

Cenotes, ruins, beaches. Very good food. This is a place where a ton of guidebook top experiences are within an hour or two drive. Almost everything is outdoors, so it's a great COVID post.

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

My favorite weekend trip is Valladolid, Ek Balam, and the Palomitas/Agua Dolce cenote.

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

There is embroidery and textiles, including hammocks. There's also some lovely wooden furniture.

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

It's a small city with a compact colonial era core, great food, culture (dance, music, art) and a ton of swimming at beaches and cenotes very nearby. It's a beautiful place full of easygoing, kind people. It's cheap compared to the U.S.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Post is SO small.

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

100% yes. This place is a real gem.

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

Coats, sweaters, and boots.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and bathing suit.

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

For people with kids, Mexico Cassie's Yucatan guidebook.

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