San Pedro Sula, Honduras Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from San Pedro Sula, Honduras

San Pedro Sula, Honduras 11/22/09

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?

Home base of Milwaukee, took at least 6 hours with layovers in Atlanta, Houston, or Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years, left in 2009.

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

Educator.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartment complexes, houses abound in the city. Many are in gated compounds.

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

Groceries are cheaper than in the US if you are buying local goods. Products imported from the States are slightly higher priced then they are in the States.

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

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

Many American restaurants are there, priced reasonably the same as in the U.s. (Pizza Hut, Chicago Uno Grill, TGI Friday's, Tony Romas, Applebee's, McDonald's, Subway, Cousins, KFC, Quiznos, Dominos.

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

Termites and cockroaches in the city.

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Daily Life:

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

There is a courier service (TransExpress) that you can subscribe to and use a P.O. box in Miami.

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

Very easy and very affordable. Many people are looking for work in this area. Not always reliable, however.

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

Yes, there are quite a few gyms in the city.

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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?

Very easy to use.

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

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

TV is possible -- they get ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX stations through the CableSula company.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Minimal for daily life. But to become friends with locals, you need to speak Spanish.

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

Many, many difficulties.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are generally safe, and there are some bus companies that are safe (Hedman Alas).

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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?

An expensive make/model would not be recommended, due to carjacking.

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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 available, around $50-$70 a month.

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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?

It is very easy to find pay-as-you-go phones with cards available everywhere.

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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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, there are a few available.

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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?

No.

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

For men, slacks and covered toe shoes. For women it is more lax.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy.

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

Lots of petty crime. Also, has a high rate of kidnapping wealthy Hondurans.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Health care is not up to par with American standards. There are two hospitals with decent care.

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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?

Hot and sticky from February to October. High 80 and 90's every day with lots of sunshine. Then from October to January, it's the rainy season, with cooler weather of 60's and 70's and lots of rain.

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Schools & Children:

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

Taught at the Escuela Internacional Sampedrana. Decent school, has a lot of technology. High teacher turnover.

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

Not a lot of accommodations for special needs kids. They don't exist.

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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?

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

Sports programs through the schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Not very large -- limited to teachers at EIS and the Albert Einstein school.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There is a very large club scene.

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

Couples without children would be the best.

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

It really isn't acceptable.

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

It is a Catholic country, and male driven machismo culture.

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

The city doesn't really offer anything, but within three hours you can be in Mayan ruins, or on a ferry going to a Caribbean island.

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

Woodworking, hand carved trunks.

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9. Can you save money?

Depends on your job -- working at EIS, not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not right now, with the political issues surrounding the former president's exile. If the country can solve their issues peacefully, and if the crime rate would go down, yes.

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

High heels, designer clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Cotton sheets, cotton underwear, patience (things can take awhile to get done).

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


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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Check out this blog: http://lagringasblogicito.blogspot.com. This woman has lived in Honduras for a long time (not in San Pedro Sula however), and she has some interesting stories.

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