Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 06/11/18
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?
I have lived in several other countries in South America.
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?
Colorado, there is one direct flight into Denver, however, the majority of the flights connect through Houston or Dallas. The trip is typically around seven hours.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Depends where in the city you live. We live in Polanco. Our apartment is small compared to many in the mission. It is new, which is nice, but it also comes with set backs; mainly size. Commute to the embassy is about 20 minutes in the morning and between 20-60 minutes in the evening.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Nearly everything is available, though sometimes at a high cost. Sometimes imported items are less expensive than those in the States.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Uber eats, Rappi, and Corner shop are all delivery services. Food is one of the best things about Mexico City.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We use the embassy mail services. Mail is shipped through Brownsville, TX, and typically takes one week to arrive.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
The availability of house hold help is abundant here. Many hire housekeepers and/or nannies. The cost can range from the equivalent of US$17-26 per day. Drivers aren't as common with the embassy population, but can be hired for around US$6 per hour.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Many are available. The cost depends on the type of gym, but would average around US$60-$100 per month.
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?
Credit cards are widely accepted and typically are safe to use. ATMs are widely available as well, though I'd only recommend using them in secured areas.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
I believe there is an English language Catholic service, a Baptist church, an Evangelical church, and a LDS church. I'm not sure of other religions.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I'd say knowing some Spanish is essential to enjoying your time in Mexico. From what I have seen, some locals speak English, but the majority do not. Classes are available for free at the embassy and many hire local tutors for between US$15-$25 per hour.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, the sidewalks can be in ill repair and minimal handicap access to buildings.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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 heard many people who live in Polanco say they wouldn't bring a car. However, I use my car a lot. I use it for buying groceries, going to school, trips around and out of the city. We have a sedan and I wish we had a small SUV instead as the low clearance of the sedan is an issue at times.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, it is available. Our service frequently goes out multiple times a day. Ours was already installed in our apartment when we arrived.
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?
Many vets are available and I have heard some even do house calls. No quarantine is required upon entry into the country.
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?
Low salary scales are terrible, unless you are employed by a big company and paid in USD. The local salary range is so bad it's almost seems as though it's better not to work.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business attire at the embassy. Mexicans typically dress up all of the time.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Typically big city crime: petty theft, pick pocketing, etc. The area has the potential to be high crime, though we haven't experienced it much.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Food borne illnesses!
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?
I'd day moderate to bad depending on the time of year. It does not seem as bad as India or China. We use filters throughout our apartment and still notice the impact however, not to a large degree.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Many people have environmental allergies here.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
The best climate that I've ever experienced! I love the weather here. It's typically in the 70s during the day, all year long. The rainy season is no joke, but it typically only rains in the afternoon or evening but can cause some major flooding. It does get chilly at nights or early am in the winter, but it typically is only for about a month at most.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are many international schools, but none seem perfect. Many families are happy at their school while others do not seem to be. It seems as though bullying is a big problem, especially in the middle and high schools. From my experience, the schools are the worst part about living in Mexico City.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Essentially none. I would not bid on Mexico City if you have a special-needs child.
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?
Many preschools are available, and they cost between US$300-$500 per month. Finding a preschool that is not like actual school, meaning the kids spend the day doing "sit work" is hard. If you want your preschooler to play more versus doing school work, then you must do a lot research and possibly visit many preschools.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Swimming, dance, gymnastics, and karate classes are available.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
The expat community is very large and morale is high. The embassy is so big and spread out that there is essentially zero embassy "community" feel. We have not felt this to be a very friendly family place within our work community.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes, it's a great city for singles, couples, and families.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes, I have not witnessed anything that would lead me to say it's not.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Food, beaches, and culture!
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, I love it!
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Expectation to go anywhere quickly.
3. But don't forget your: