Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 04/27/21
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?
Albania, Liberia, and Russia.
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?
DC. CDMX is an easy 3-6 hour flight depending on connections.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
Housing is divided into a couple different sections of town. We’re in Polanco- the closest section to the embassy. All apartments in this part of town. We have a really lovely 4 bedroom. Probably the nicest housing we’ve ever been assigned. Windows, wood (sort of) floors, open kitchen.
We are about as close to the US embassy as you can get. 50 minute walk, 20 minute bike, 10 minute drive without traffic, up to an hour with traffic, and about 30-40 minutes on average.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
There’s just about every thing here that you can get in the US minus Trader Joe’s hot chocolate O’s...
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
The O’s, obviously. But really, not much of anything.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Rappi, Cornershop, you name it. There are 10 good restaurants within a 10 minute walk.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We’ve got pouch. Two weeks or so.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
I think most people pay $30 a day or so for live out housekeeping. Not sure for live in, but several families have that option for nannies, etc.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Lots, but fairly expensive for the most part. Pools are pretty hard to come by.
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?
Yep to both in my experience, with the caveat that RSO suggests caution.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I speak about a 2/2 level of Spanish and I’ve found it VERY helpful if not totally necessary. Classes abound.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Less so than at many posts, but it’s not super easy. The streets are generally crowded with random tables, etc. in the middle of sidewalks. Possible, I would think, but occasionally frustrating.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Uber yes, and some taxied from official stands. Busses can be fine but crowded depending on the time of day.
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’ve got a CRV. Roads are generally quite good, but there are some serious potholes here and there. Might just depend on how alert of a driver you are. You see everything on the road and there are dealerships for just about everything.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yep. A week, maybe?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We’ve gone with pay as you go telcel and been happy. US aAT&T numbers work too.
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?
No quarantine, GREAT vets. People love dogs here.
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?
Most folks work remotely or at the embassy.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Tons. Pick your area of focus. Arts? ESL? Dogs? It’s here.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Professional at work and fairly American bug city for the rest. But not many short shorts and the like on women shy of runners.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Random crime, like any big city. The country has a number of restricted areas, but RSO is good about publicizing what they are.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care in our experience has been wonderful, and we’ve had a couple run ins with it for us and our kids. Air pollution is the only chronic thing, I think.
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?
Fine in the rainy season (June-October), soso in the winter and fairly yuck in the spring.
4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Not that I know of. Although it’s a really big, spread-out post. I’ve actually found it harder to connect with folks than at our other posts (even before COVID...) Could be a little lonely.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Lovely. Dry all year, upper 60s in winter and mid-80s March-May. Cooler in the summer with the rain.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
We were at a small local school when we started, Lomas Altas, and experienced some pretty intense physical bullying for my twins (6 at the time). We moved to the big British Greengates and LOVE it. Fantastic all around, with the exception of the 30-40 minute bus ride which seems to be the standard for international schools.
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?
Not sure, but I know there are schools for young kids. Mixed experiences, I think.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yep. Through schools and private.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Big and mixed. Covid is a bit of a challenge everywhere, though. So may not be the best representation...
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?
The Community Liaison Office (CLO) is the best here I’ve ever seen. There are a number of women’s clubs as well. There’s always tons to do.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think there’s probably something here for everyone.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Fairly easy. I’m not sure to the second half. There’s not a ton of diversity here, but I’ve never encountered outright prejudice, either.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Not sure, but I’ve heard generally positive things.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Gender equality is not the best. I think you can see it in workplace settings occasionally and definitely at local schools. (Moms groups, never parent groups... gender-based bullying). Not the worst, but not great.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
So many. Lovely hiking, fantastic day trips, great food.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
The book “Mexico City, an opinionated guide for the curious traveler “ is a good place to start.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Lots, depending on the region. Millions of markets.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Good weather, minus pollution, good health care, friendly people, fun excursions, great food.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How spread out it was. Really took some getting used to the sheer size. And that the embassy community is fairly diffuse.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yup. But I think 3.5 years will be enough.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
I think you can get just about everything.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Basic Google search should come up with a ton.