Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 01/16/13
Personal Experiences from Mexico City, Mexico
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
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?
Toronto, a 5-hour 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.)?
(The contributor is a diplomat with the Canadian Embassy who has been living in Mexico City for three years, a first experience as a diplomat.)
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Polanco, Lomas, and Reforma where most expats live are close to work, 5-10 minute drive or about double to walk.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
No issues with availability, Costco/Walmart and many major chains exist here. Cost is generally a bit cheaper than an average Canadian/American city. There are many weekend markets with produce, but they are often more expensive than the supermarket and sell the same product.
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?
All North American chains, generally cheaper than in Canada/US.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
There are some mosquitoes, but not many problems with them.
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?
Readily available and cheap, usually about 300 pesos a day for a nanny or housekeeper.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, but they can be expensive. There are many options.
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?
ATMs are everywhere, just be careful as card cloning is rampant here.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Cablevision has a Digital package that includes about 40 HD channels, many of which have English option. About C$50-60 dollars a month.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
The more Spanish the better, English is only spoken by the upper middle class and above. Most restaurants have English menus available if needed.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are cheap and safe, though you should use a Sitio or Elite cab when available. The subway costs 25 cents and is ok, but very packed with people.
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?
North American makes are best as the parts are more readily available. Any car will do, but expect it to get a few little dings.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, Cablevision and others have high speed internet services for similar prices to those in Canada/US.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Good vets can be found without much problem and are cheap.
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Mexico is a very poor country for the most part, so keep an eye on your wallet. Violent crime is minimal, mostly petty theft to worry about.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The private hospitals offer great service. Doctors are US/Mexican trained. Dentists are often US educated. You will, without a doubt, have stomach problems here at some point.
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?
Moderate to unhealthy in the winter months. The elevation combined with pollution is difficult for many visitors.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
20-30c year 'round. In the winter months it cools down in the evening and morning, and occasionally will be as low as 0c in the morning, but almost everyday warms up in the later morning through the afternoon.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
4. 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?
Large, though pretty spread out. If you search out events, you can find them easily.
2. Morale among expats:
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?
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for all, though I think the single scene is a bit tougher if you don't speak Spanish. Families and couples enjoy it.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes, same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City, and there are often PRIDE events.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not that I have seen.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Visits to pyramids, small towns, Mariachi bands on the streets of Mexico City, great food, and great local friends. Mexicans are generally a very welcoming people.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Good shopping, lots of movie theaters...etc. Everything you have in Canada/US you can find in Mexico City.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
hand-made wooden furniture, local tequilas/mezcals, lucha masks, and so on
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Life in Mexico City (and Mexico in general) is pretty cheap, and there are lots of beautiful little towns to visit in addition to the more touristy beaches. Mexico City has nearly perfect weather year 'round.
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
everything, its all available here.
3. But don't forget your:
Cipro (for when the Mexican food/water does a number on you).
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
Man On Fire
(you will recognize alot of the locations, but don't get paranoid about kidnappings, they are rare)