Nuevo Laredo, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 02/23/16
Personal Experiences from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No; numerous other expat experiences
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?
20 minutes to the U.S.
3. How long have you lived here?
More than one year
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?
All houses are unique, nice, and fairly large. Commute time to the Consulate is less than five minutes.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Most people shop for groceries in Laredo - both due to pricing and to the security situation. Grocery prices are significantly lower than in the DC area.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
If you like barbecue and carne asada, you'll be very happy in Nuevo Laredo. If you like tacos, you'll be ecstatic.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Cockroaches. Mosquitoes. Some dengue fever.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
The Consulate has addresses in Laredo for letters and packages; they are picked up for you and brought to the Consulate.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Many Consulate members have domestic help and it is inexpensive.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
In both Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. The CG's residence has a swimming pool open to consulate personnel. There are Gold's Gyms in Laredo. There are several fitness facilities in Nuevo Laredo.
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?
The Consulate has an ATM. I would recommend using cash primarily when going to restaurants in Nuevo Laredo.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Numerous churches of various denominations in Laredo
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Very few people in Nuevo Laredo speak English. Many people in Laredo speak Spanish.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
The consulate has two buildings, each with two floors. There are no elevators. Presumably the new consulate (opening late 2017) will have elevators.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
In Nuevo Laredo you probably don't want to take public transportation. Nuevo Laredo has an airport with several flights daily to Mexico City. Laredo has an airport with several flights daily to Dallas and Houston, and several flights weekly to Las Vegas and Orlando.
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 would recommend that you avoid bringing anything that might be of value to a drug gang. I would recommend an older model car, but less than 10 years old. It should have a good suspension system. All makes and models can be serviced in Laredo.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet access is available. High-speed? Not so much. Cost? Acceptable.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Some people prefer AT&T, some prefer T-Mobile. Go for a plan that will work along the border.
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. Vets, kennels, animal shelters, and large pet stores available in Laredo.
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?
There are job opportunities in the Consulate, and in Laredo. Speaking Spanish is a plus.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Animal shelters on both sides of the border. Orphanage in Nuevo Laredo. Youth group in Nuevo Laredo.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Some men wear ties every day at the Consulate. Some men wear ties a few days a year (distinguished visitors, etc.). Women rarely wear ties. Jeans are acceptable during consular development days. You will be able to buy a cowboy hat in Laredo. And Wrangler jeans.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes. There is a drug war going on.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The Consulate will provide you with bottled water - there are reports that the tap water is not safe to drink, but it is safe for bathing and hygiene. There are few if any reports of sickness due to eating the local food. Some people prefer to use hospitals in Nuevo Laredo, some prefer Laredo. If you need particular medical specialties, you might need to go to San Antonio (2.5-3 hours away).
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?
Surprisingly humid. Interesting odors throughout the city at different times.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Some people will suffer from allergies in Nuevo Laredo
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
At times, it is mild - 40s or 50s F. 80s and 90s F not unusual at any time of the year. Triple digits to be expected from around April through October. Occasional flash floods.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Most Consulate children of school age go to a private school in Laredo, TX. The school has a fairly good reputation. Parents are apparently asked for additional fundraising support on a regular basis.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
This could be a challenging area
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?
Some parents send their children to pre-schools in Nuevo Laredo, and have indicated they are happy with these experiences.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
This could be a challenging area
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
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?
Refer to the comment above about San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Party/relax with your colleagues. Karaoke.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
As much as any other city along the U.S.-Mexico border
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
As much as any other city along the U.S.-Mexico border. Consulate members participate in an annual gay pride parade.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
No. Expect to speak Spanish virtually everywhere you go, including Laredo. A lot of people in stores and restaurants in Laredo speak primarily Spanish.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Phenomenal people. Good food.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Corpus Christi and San Antonio are great cities to visit.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Hand-made glass products. You can go to the factory and watch them being made.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Phenomenal people. 20 minutes to the U.S. Good food.
10. Can you save money?
No, because you will probably spend it all getting away.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
It gets very humid in Nuevo Laredo. The local employees are phenomenal. You cannot drive further into Mexico from Nuevo Laredo.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I am very glad to have served
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Parkas and snowmobiles.
4. But don't forget your:
Sense of humor. You will not survive if you forget your sense of humor. You must remember that your colleagues are your social outlet and your friends. Make friends with your colleagues. You must also remember to not take yourself too seriously.
5. Do you have any other comments?
Be prepared - life is dangerous in Nuevo Laredo. Not as dangerous as it was in 2012. Some suggest it will get dangerous again.