Monterrey, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 09/24/18

Personal Experiences from Monterrey, Mexico

Monterrey, Mexico 09/24/18

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

Washington, DC. About seven hours, connection through Dallas or Atlanta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. 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?

Beautiful houses of good size. New apartment building with a lot of amenities and nearby shops just opened up.

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

Pretty much get anything you’d get in the States. Clothing quality is a little poor; you may pay more for quality stuff than you’d do in the States. Amazon delivery is quick.

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

Nothing.

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

Ubereats, cornershop, lots of different restaurants and American chains.

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

It’s Latin America. There will be some bugs, no worse than other places. At least there’s no scorpions or anything just gross roaches and basic spiders, etc

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. Yes.

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

Part-time, full-time, and live-in. Cleaners and child minders. Harder to find educated nannies. Price around US$20 per day ($400 pesos) for 8 hours of work.

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

Lots of gyms. CrossFit, curves, boxing, yoga, and sports city. Can be pricey (New York/DC prices). Outdoor machines free in the park. Gyms in Monterey cheaper than suburbs.

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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 credit cards are used but in restaurants it’s best to ask for the “terminal” and have them run the card in front of you. ATMs are safe. And some US banks have agreements with local ones so fees are less.

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

Catholic and Protestant churches have some English language services. Don’t know about other religions.

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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?

Spanish language classes are very expensive ($30 usd or more an hour). Lots of people speak English because they spend time in the States or went to
Bilingual schools .

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

No.

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Transportation:

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

NO, but uber is safe, cheap and frequently used.

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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?

Luxury cars are extremely common here so nothing will stand out. I’d get a car with good shocks and ground clearance because of speed bumps and potholes.

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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. Takes about three weeks.

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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?

Kept home country plan. WhatsApp is popular here.

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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?

Seems to be a lot of vets with nice looking buildings. Don’t know the rest.

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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?

Lots of American companies here, teaching jobs. Some people telework.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

One can find them through local churches.

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

Suits or guayaberas for men. Business for women. In public spaces men tend to be more dressed up than you’d see in the States and women wear heels.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Some travel restrictions. Petty crime is low but drug related crime exists though doesn’t really effect American community

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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?

Amazing hospitals. People from around the world come to Zambrano hospital for treatment. Air quality can be poor.

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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?

Bad. Worse when they drill into the mountain and during the summer.

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

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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)?

Dehydration. Pregnant women get rated for Zika. A couple of people got dengue.

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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?

Hot, rainy season in the fall, gets down to 50 in winter and has snowed last two years.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lots of options to choose from. Most go to ASFM or San Roberto and are happy. However they are many more options. Trilingual schools, Catholic schools, etc.

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

ASFM has started to make some accommodations, but most schools here don't seem great for kids with special needs.

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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?

San Roberto and ASFM have preschools. but they are expensive. They are Montessori options and lots of other options that are much cheaper. Day care can be expensive for bilingual options- nannies are often cheaper. Most schools have after school care options.

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

Yes! Music, sports, whatever you want. Lots of options. It’s an affluent community so if you’re willing to pay, it exists.

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Expat Life:

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

Morale could be better. Breaking into the local community can be tough. And those who can’t drive to the border find it restrictive. It’s one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America so lots of people find it costly.

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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?

Internations, international women’s group. Clubs, bars, etc. There’s lots of things to do.

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

Singles, yes, because there are lots of restaurants and bars. Couples, yes. It is very family-friendly.

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

There some machismo but mostly tolerant. Lots of LGBT bloggers and activities.

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

Some machismo and they don’t treat indigenous people very well.

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

Mexico City is great.

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

Barrio Antiguo .

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

Yes, if you’re willing to travel to a Pueblo mágico 40 minutes to one hour away.

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

It’s very American. Pretty much all the comforts of home. Very easy post in which to live.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How rich and expensive it is. Even 16 year olds get Beemers here.

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

No. I thought it’d be a city with Mexican charm, but it’s really a business center suburban American suburb

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

Consumables list. You can get everything here.

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4. But don't forget your:

Wallet.

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

YouTube may have some videos. Lots of battles took place here for those interested in history

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Travel to other parts of Mexico is cheap from Monterrey. Faucet water is drinkable and you can flush toilet paper (in most buildings). Not very walkable but lots of green spaces.

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