Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 03/14/14

Personal Experiences from Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico 03/14/14

Background:

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

No, I've lived in Asia and South America.

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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?

From Washington, D.C. , with one stop in Dallas/TX, is almost 8 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We've been here for 20 months now; 4 months shy of our post end.

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

I am a tag along wife of an U.S. Embassy employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

High rise apartments with excellent security service, huge houses, duplexes. The embassy leases several apartments in Polanco and nearby are and they are equally nice. The only problem is none have heating so it really gets too cold during winter and warm in the summer. The buildings are not insulated at all, you can hear the neighbors flushing their toilets!

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

It is a little bit high here in Polanco where most expats live but if you send your maid to the local market, it is cheaper. There is also Walmart, Sam's and Costco.

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

None. Everything is available here.

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

They have all American franchises here, comparable to U.S. prices. There are some local restaurants and they are very reasonably priced as well.

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

I did not notice any.

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Daily Life:

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

Through diplomatic pouch but the local post is also reliable.

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

It is cheap. A day maid will cost you anywhere from 300MXp to 400MXP.

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

Yes, every gym in the U.S. is here but I don't know how much since I use the gym in my apartment. For yoga fans, the Indian Cultural Center offers' classes for 100mxp per month.

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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?

There are problems here also so I don't use my credit card except in the big box stores.

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

They have several here. One popular church with expats is Capitol Ciry Church near the American School.

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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?

There are plenty of English speaking people here, however, most of the domestic service providers don't speak English so make sure you have some basics.

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

Oh yes! In some areas they plant trees in the miiddle of the sidewalk, even able bodied person can't pass without squeezing into it. Most sidewalks are uneven, sometime there is a hole or something sticking out - usually a piece of iron metal. If there is a wheelchair ramp, it is either high, tiny or broken.

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Transportation:

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

We can only take pre-approved taxis and they are very cheap. The metro is always packed and it take guts to ride. The buses are also ok.

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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?

I've seen all types of vehicle around here, so I would say depending upon the size of your family. And get a local driver because the traffic here is way too crazy!

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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, it is. Price and speed are about the same as the U.S.

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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 phones are cheap but you can also buy expensive ones. It depends on your preference.

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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?

I don't know, we don't have pets but I see many vets offices around.

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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?

I am not sure but I know some schools are looking for English teachers.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty. The different expat organizations usually support one or two.

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

Most men wear suit and tie and the women are in office attire. It is just like in the U.S. although women love to wear high heels.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Mexico City is a high risk area just like any other big cities in the world. You always have to be aware of your surroundings and avoid places that the security officer told you not to go to. Petty thieves are abound so don't wear your diamond ring around. Stay low profile.

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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?

Don't eat salad and cut fruit. Don't drink the water unless purified.

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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?

It is comparable to any big city. I think the bad time is during the months of March until early July when there is no rain. The pollen and the smog are high but not as bad like in some cities in Asia.

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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?

It is sort of forever springtime with some rains in July until December.

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Schools & Children:

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

We don't have school age children but my friends are happy with both schools. The American School and Greengates are where diplomats and expats typically send their kids.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

Yes, I saw several around but have no experience with them. The U.S. Embassy has a list of accredited preschools in the city.

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

Yes, my friends' children are active in all sports so I pretty sure they do.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge and upbeat.

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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?

Bars/clubs, concerts and theaters.

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

I think so.

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

Yes, there is an area here called Zona Rosa where gay bars are abound.

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

No experience.

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

Being able to climb the pyramids of Mexico.

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

So many too mention. There are plenty of free museums, archaeological sites and the pyramids.

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

Plenty, e.g., Oaxacan rugs.

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

Travel to the beautiful beach resorts of Mexico and very close to the U.S. Mexico City has so many things to offer; arts, music, history, archaeology and museums. The neighboring cities are equally wonderful and interesting. And yes, you can save money but I found it expensive to shop at the mall here. However, local produce are cheap .

The Mexicans are friendly people. It is not difficult to make friends here. Women are always elegant, they even walk around in high heels.

The weather is very mild winter and summer. It rains a lot from July to November.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes as long as you will not shop along Presidente Mazaryk.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That apartments are not heated.

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

Yes, definitely. Mexico City is such a lovely place and a good place for history buffs.

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

Your parka and the perception that Mexico City is very dangerous.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and willingness to learn a new language.

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