Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico 04/10/19

Background:

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

Yes, this is our first overseas assignment.

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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. It is about a 5-6 hour direct flight from Mexico City into the major airports in the area. We have had no issues traveling back and forth to our home city or to most places in the US for that matter.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived here for 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?

Our home is HUGE. More space than what we need for our family of four (with two small children), but it is nice to have the extra space. We live in what most people call the "suburbs" in an area called Santa Fe, which is about a 45min to 1hour commute to and from the embassy depending on traffic. The homes are called condos, but to me are comparable in size to single family homes or large town homes. We live in a 4 bedroom 3.5 bathroom home, it has its own personal backyard/patio area. There are two playgrounds, a common area, gym, and indoor pool on the grounds of complex. We are close to shopping malls, groceries, activities for children, etc.

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

CHEAP! I honestly feel like we spend a lot less money here on groceries versus in the states. Costco, Walmart, and SAMS Club are here and are to me less expensive than in the states. There are also many many markets where you can purchase fresh fruit, produce, and meat.

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

Nothing really, we can find just about anything however to me brands taste different from what they do in the US (i.e. mayonnaise, Doritos, and some other items). I am very picky about brands and the taste of things so we order a lot of our condiments and other food items from Amazon Prime Pantry, Walmart and Target.

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

Lots! You can find many different types of food here, and there are a number of chain restaurants that you would find in the US (i.e. Cheesecake Factory, PF Changs, Johnny Rocket, Fridays, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Panda Express, California Pizza Kitchen, Vapiano, and so many more). Ubereats, and Rappi are popular for food delivery and you can also order groceries on apps like Cornershop as well as Rappi. You can find a wide variety of food to include Italian, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, and just about anything else you might be looking for.

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

We see ants and spiders often, and most recently we have had issues with scorpions. You can request for the Embassy to come and exterminate, we also occasionally have our gardener to exterminate when he does the yard.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the dip pouch which comes through Brownsville. You can typically receive mail within a week, and deliveries are 3x per week.

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

Household help is pretty decently priced, and pretty much everyone has some sort of household help. It is easy to find live-in and live-out help. We found it harder to find someone who actually wanted to travel so Santa Fe'. We briefly had a nanny, but decided our kids would be much more productive in daycare and after school programs around other children. I have noticed a pattern of workers being overpaid and expect all employers to pay them what a previous employer may have been paying them. We also had a part time cleaner for two days a week and paid her $800 pesos a week, which equated to about $40US per week. Be prepared to negotiate and don't feel like you are obligated to hire the first person you interviews as there is always someone looking for work.

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

They are readily available, however I am not sure about price. I heard some can be more expensive than others. My husband uses the gym at the embassy and likes it, we also have a gym in our complex.

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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 accepted just about everywhere, and ATMs are all over. We generally use the ATM in the embassy unless we really need cash, and in that case we use the ATM inside of a bank branch.

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

They are definitely available, however I am not sure details.

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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?

I think you need to definitely know basic Spanish. I have gotten by but definitely wished I had tried to learn more. I also rely on Google translate if I really need to communicate something and don't feel confident that I will get my point across with the little Spanish that I do know. I also find that many people know English, but will not speak to you in English, or have to really see you struggling to communicate before they reveal that they speak English.

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Transportation:

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

There is a train system, but I have never used it. We are only allowed to take I believe one brand of Taxi and Bus. Uber seems to be a highly popular mode of transportation among expatriates and locals.

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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?

A car that can be easily repaired. The roads here are horrible as far as speed bumps and potholes. I would also say bring a car you wouldn't mind getting dinged up. Parking spaces and lanes in the road are very narrow, and many locals do not obey traffic laws. We brought a mid size SUV and it has been damaged three times since moving here (luckily repair work here is pretty cheap). For our particular model car, it is hard to get parts because they only have the Mexican version of the part. We generally order the part ourselves and take it with us, or the dealership makes the order and the parts take a few days to arrive.

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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?

It is available and some companies are better than others for many reasons. We have telmex who is very reliable, we have also heard that Izzy is reliable. Whatever you do please do not get TotalPlay. Some people have luck with them, but I have heard of more people who do not. I also heard that it is a nightmare trying to cancel your contact with them when it is time to depart. It took us about 3weeks to get installations when we first arrived, and that was with TotalPlay. After initial install, they had to come out a few more times because the services was not working properly. After about a year we switched to Telmex because total play had way too many outages, which would result in days sometimes weeks of no service, and their repair response time was super slow.

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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?

We brought and unlocked Iphone and bought sim cards on a Mexico AT&T plan for me. My husband uses his work cell phone. Many people use their US numbers and phone carriers as well.

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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?

Not sure as we do not have pets, but we have not heard any complaints about the lack there of from people that we know that have pets. Services for animals seem to be available and good here.

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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?

There are lot of opportunities within the Embassy. You can also request approval to work on the local economy, to have a home- based business, etc.)

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I hear that there are a lot of them.

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

Business casual, formal dress is usually required only for special events.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty crime, but the same types of petty crimes that we would experience in our home country.

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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?

Medical care is very good here in my opinion. We have not had many incidents where we needed to be hospitalized, but the few times that we did we felt that the hospital, doctors, and care where comparable to the US.

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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?

Dry dirty air in some areas, and cleaner air in other areas. I def feel like my family have gotten sick much more than being here and I definitely contribute it to the air quality.

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

You will definitely need to keep medication with you on hand if you have environmental allergies. People with food allergies I think would be OK, especially if you know enough Spanish to communicate those allergies when eating out.

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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)?

To my knowledge, none.

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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?

The weather is decent all year around. We have a rain season where it rains mostly at night for a few months at a time. We have some days where its sunny and hot, but cooler at night and then some days whee its a little cooler all day.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are a ton of schools to chose from, you just have to be prepared to do your research outside of what is provided to you, if you are looking for something specific. Our son attends Westhill and we couldn't be happier with the decision to place him there. Embassy children attend Westhill, ASF, Greengates, and many attend Mexican schools/preschools and even some Montessori Programs. I also found out later in our assignment while needing accommodations for my children that there are many daycare options and after school programs.

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

I am not sure as our son has not needed these accommodations.

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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?

Preschool and daycare are widely available, and to me much affordable than in the US. Our youngest son attends a small daycare/preschool near the embassy for about USD $320 for the entire month, for 9 hours a day 5 days a week.

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

To my knowledge they are readily available, however our son was enrolled through his school.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community seems to be large here. As far as morale, people form their cliques and that is who they spend their time with during their time as post (which is not necessarily a bad thing). I feel like the community could be more close knit but being as though there are so many opportunities for extracurricular activities and travel here, you really can do your own thing. The CLO does a good job of having events to try and bring people together.

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

ALL people.

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

There seems to be acceptance of the LGBT community, never heard of any negatives.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I believe so, we however have not except for our co-workers and parents from our son's school.

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

Not that we have experienced. We are African-American and get a lot of stares when we go out,but I don't think that it is being done maliciously or out of prejudices.

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

We have visited local beach towns, we have formed a few great friendships, the school that our son attends is great and he is flourishing in the Spanish language. Lastly we have simply enjoyed being immersed in a different culture. And the food! I can not forget the food.

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

Although we have not been to these places we always here people rave about San Miguel De Allende, Oaxaca, Huatulco, and many other places. There are also many things to do locally and there is always a festival of some sort, and a street market happening on the weekend.

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

A ton of handcrafts, artwork, antiques and other items. You can also find many stores in malls that you would find in the US.

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

close proximity to activities, restaurants,etc, and the ability to walk or take a short Uber ride to nearly everywhere.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How bad the traffic can be, and how it can impact your daily life.

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

Yes.

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

Winter clothing.

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Mexico City, Mexico 04/09/19

Background:

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

This is our fifth expat experience. We have also lived in Eastern Europe and South America.

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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?

It is about a three hour flight to Houston. It is so easy to travel back and forth to the U.S. The flight times are reasonable and the flights are short and easy.

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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?

We live in Polanco and we have a big apartment with a terrace. We are steps from some of the best restaurants in the world. Lincoln Park is great for kids and adults. There is a huge and beautiful playground that is very modern with the soft mats under the play structures. There is even a climbing wall. There is also an aviary and a place for bike riding and roller skating. We are also a couple of blocks away from a skateboarding park. This is definitely heaven for kids and adults. Polancito is full of cafe's, shops, and world class restaurants. We have several excellent malls, a Costco, Sam's Club, and many other shopping options. Best of all you can walk everywhere (or Uber or use a scooter or bike service).

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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 so much cheaper than in the U.S. plus we can get delicious fruits and vegetables. There are a bunch of CSAs that will drop off baskets of fruits and vegetables at your house for very little cost. There is a store that is a lot like Whole Foods (but not at Whole Foods prices) plus stores that remind me of Target or Walmart. Shopping is easy. If you prefer to not shop you can use Cornershop or Rappi and just have everything delivered for a dollar or two.

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

You can find everything here.

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

You can get everything delivered. There is Uber Eats plus many U.S. chain restaurants. However, the food here is excellent and there are so many options.

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

No. We are high up so even the mosquitoes are slow and heavy and there are very few.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the embassy mail system which comes through Texas and takes about a week.

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

I would say that a housekeeper costs about $25 a day. Many people do employ housekeepers and/or nannies. There are also online services for emergency or occasional help.

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

There are lots of yoga studios, gyms, and other specialty options (like Jiu Jitsu). They are a bit less than U.S. prices, I think.

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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. We use credit cards and ATMs.

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

There are many different options.

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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?

Some people speak English but most people don't. Having some Spanish will make a huge difference. There is an excellent language school through UNAM in Polanco (CEPE) that offers intensive courses. You can also find tutors or informal classes.

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

There are some ramps on the streets and sidewalks but in varying states of repair. There would be challenges but it isn't as bad as a lot of countries.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. There is an extensive (but crowded) metro system. Uber is everywhere. Buses are safe downtown. It is all very affordable.

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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?

It is great to have a car for weekend trips or if you are living in the suburbs.

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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 excellent and about $50 a month. It can be installed within a couple of days. I have never had it go out in two years.

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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?

You can do either.

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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?

The veterinarian and kennel services are wonderful. You can also get an affordable dog walker.

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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?

There are a lot of jobs in the embassy. There is not a bilateral work agreement.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many volunteer opportunities.

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

No shorts. Business attire at work and conservative dress the rest of the time. It is never really hot so people don't wear shorts.

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Health & Safety:

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

Earthquakes.

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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?

The medical care is excellent.

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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?

We have been here for two years and only experienced a couple of "bad air" days. There are days in the moderate range but it hasn't affected us at all. I do keep an eye on it and I have been pleasantly surprised. The air is good during the rainy season.

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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?

It is always pleasant. The weather during the day is usually in the 70 to 80 range. At night it is usually in the 40s or 50s. It got into the 30s once and the American School closed for the day (it was in the 30s in the middle of the night but still warmed up to 70 during the day). The summer is the rainy season so it rains in the afternoon and cleans the air and the streets. The weather is one of the best things about Mexico City.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are many different schools. Definitely look into all of your options. ASF is the big American school but you can also look at Westhill, Greengates, Humanitree, Colegio de Ciudad Mexico, and many others.

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

Yes, you can find soccer, gymnastics, Tai Kwon Do, swimming, and horse riding. There are a lot of options.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. I would say morale is high. The embassy isn't that close because it is so big. People tend to find their crowd and stick with it. There is so much to see and do and so many expats here that you don't have to rely on the embassy for anything.

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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?

Lots of book clubs, international groups, school events, and local events. This is a huge city with tons of concerts, shows, festivals, running races, and opportunities to explore. It has something for everyone.

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

All.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Yes, it is easy to make friends with locals. There seems to be some prejudice against indigenous groups.

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

Yes, especially Polanco. People are very open and accepting. I see lots of couples openly displaying affection and it is nothing to remark on.

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

There are so many trips and experiences. Bring the Lonely Planet and see it all!

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

Yes, check out all of the local markets (San Angel, Ciudadela, etc.).

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

Close to home, life is really easy, the weather is beautiful, the people are nice, the food is incredible, there are so many travel opportunities...I could go on and on.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I never had to leave.

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

Winter gear!

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3. But don't forget your:

Hat and sunscreen (at altitude, the sun is intense).

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Mexico City, Mexico 06/11/18

Background:

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.

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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?

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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Daily Life:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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Transportation:

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

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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?

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.

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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. Our service frequently goes out multiple times a day. Ours was already installed in our apartment when we arrived.

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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?

Many vets are available and I have heard some even do house calls. No quarantine is required upon entry into the country.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Food borne illnesses!

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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?

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.

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

Many people have environmental allergies here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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

Swimming, dance, gymnastics, and karate classes are available.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Food, beaches, and culture!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, I love it!

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

Expectation to go anywhere quickly.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience!

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Mexico City, Mexico 05/05/17

Background:

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

I have lived in Western Europe.

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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?

Texas: an easy direct flight from Mexico City to practically every large town in Texas.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

U.S. government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is rough here. There are apartments in Polanco, each with its own challenges; or houses in the outlying communities, with traffic that can add hours to your evening commute. The apartments in Polanco are in great locations, but most do not have natural light, bathtubs, or spare bedrooms. Polanco is an easy place to live though, which makes up for a lot of the other stuff.

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

You can find almost everything in Mexico City, and for the most part it is less expensive here than in the U.S.

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

Around Thanksgiving, people talked about not being able to find French's fried onions or canned pumpkin, but on a regular basis, there isn't much that you can't find locally.

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

Whatever you want, it's here--from Papa Johns and PF Changs to a guy on a bike riding down your street selling tamales. The food here is phenomenal.

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Daily Life:

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

The U.S. mission has a mailing address in Texas.

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

Full-time live-in help costs $20-$27/day plus a huge severance package at the end. The nannies I have seen are phenomenal. Children here appear to be very well cared-for. Some nannies cook and clean too. Some people hire drivers. There are a lot of good people here, and they generally count on expatriate populations to treat them fairly. Please don't forget that obligation.

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

In addition to gyms, Polanco offers a yoga or Pilates studio on almost every block. People take spin classes. People have workout groups in the park. Whatever you want to do, you can find here.

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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?

Hmmmn. I use credit cards everywhere, but I'm going to start being more careful. At the restaurants around the Embassy, there have been reports of credit card skimming.

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

You should try to learn Spanish. While some people speak English, the majority do not.

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

Yes: sidewalks are very uneven and people regularly block the ramps by parking their cars in the way.

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Transportation:

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

Never take a taxi off the street! The bus and the metro are okay, but people have been pickpocketed. I mostly walk or use Uber. Uber is extremely inexpensive here.

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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?

If you live in Polanco, you probably don't need a car. An Uber into the Reforma area (where the Embassy is) costs about $ 3/day; the bus is dirt cheap. Traffic is awful, so if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't bring a car at all.

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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?

Internet sometimes takes a while for people to figure out, as some companies are more reliable than others. I had better internet in Europe but worse internet in Falls Church, VA.

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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?

A lot of people keep their local number. Make sure you get What's App on your phone: you can't survive here without it.

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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?

People seem happy with kennel and vet options. Mexico has a huge dog-walking industry, so you'll regularly see professional dog-walkers out and about with up to 10 dogs at a time.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Business attire at the Embassy. Most Mexican women wear heels everywhere, even to preschool drop-off. In Polanco, even the dogs wear haute couture.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, definitely. Pay attention in your security briefing, and never, ever take a taxi unless you are 100% sure it's reputable. Pickpocketing is common. More serious crimes can and do occur even in Polanco.

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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?

The altitude affects some people. Food-borne illnesses are real and they almost certainly will happen to you.

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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?

A lot of people complain about the air quality, but it's nowhere near as bad as China, India, or even parts of eastern Europe. I don't even notice it.

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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?

Overall, the climate is great. There is a rainy season during the summer, but it is never oppressively hot or cold here.

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Schools & Children:

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

And herein lies the rub.



If you have children, especially teens or "tweens," please do your homework before bidding on Mexico City. Some of the regularly-occurring bullying that takes place at the schools is egregious, in my opinion. Some of the schools won't even consider your application unless you fly to Mexico and test in person the year before. Don't assume that a parent's job (even at the Embassy) can get a child into your school of choice, and don't assume that the bullying that happens in the schools here is the kind of bullying that happens everywhere. It is worse, as far as I have seen, and some of the schools do not seem to be interested in curbing it.



Also, be prepared for the parties: at every age, they're intense.

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

Neither ASF nor Greengates has a good reputation for special-needs kids.

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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?

Preschools in Polanco are widely available, and there are several that people seem to absolutely love. Early childhood education is high quality here.

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

Yes--there are lots of opportunities to play almost anything.

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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 is high. There is a lot to do here and a lot of people to meet. It may take a while, especially since I would not describe the expat community as particularly close-knit, but I haven't met anyone who hasn't found some kind of outlet for their interests here.

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

This is a great city for singles, couples, and families with young children. It can be a great fit for families with teens and tweens--and sometimes it's a disaster.

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

This is a great city for the LGBT community. There is no stigma that I have noticed.

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

Machismo is a thing. While men are extremely polite to women here, there is a dark side to the special treatment.

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

The food is amazing.

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

There are so many interesting and fun things to do here. You won't lack opportunities.

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

There are many opportunities to shop here and many wonderful Mexican products to buy.

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

This is an exciting, cosmopolitan place: you will never lack for fun things to do.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Bubble bath: hardly any of the apartments have bathtubs.

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Mexico City, Mexico 09/20/16

Background:

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

No, we've lived in Eastern Europe, India, and Southeast Asia.

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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, D.C. by default. There are direct flights on United to Dulles. The U.S. Embassy's contract carrier is Delta which involves a change in Atlanta, but arrives at Reagan National, which may be more convenient for travelers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

14 months, we will stay for approximately two more years.

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

Working at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is a bit of a mixed bag. There is housing in Santa Fe, an area quite far from the center of the city. Much of the housing is in Polanco, a well-heeled neighborhood closer in to the U.S. Embassy. There is housing in several other communities between Santa Fe and Polanco. We live in Polanco, as do most of the people we know, and are happy here. Polanco housing is almost all apartments, some fabulous, some...not. Ours is fine, but like other apartments has a lack of natural light. It's easy to get to the U.S. Embassy from Polanco via public transportation (bus), but you'd need to drive from the other housing locations.

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

Overall we spend much less on groceries here than in Washington, but we are happy with Mexican brands and what we can get on the local economy. There are upscale grocery stores, like City Market, which carry imported goods at predictably high prices. Walmart is here, as is Costco and Sams Club. We generally walk to Superama, a small supermarket which is also owned by Walmart, and drive to Costco about once a month to stock up on certain items. There are specialty fresh markets like Mercado de San Juan which carries gourmet ingredients (think fresh exotic mushrooms), and other more "regular" fresh markets where we buy honey. If you want it, most of the time you can find it here. We supplement a bit through Amazon for a few special items.

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

Nothing, really. Saline solution is expensive and difficult to get through the diplomatic pouch (liquid restrictions).

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

If you want to eat it, it's here. Excellent Mexican (of course), Lebanese, an interesting sort of Chinese food, barbecue, steak houses, excellent pizza, upscale burger places, Indian, and Korean. There is a great restaurant delivery service, SinDelantal ("without apron") that will deliver from a huge selection of restaurants either for free or for a very small fee. Lots of places for good breakfasts out.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the diplomatic pouch, but have had to send documents to the United States via FedEx and there has never been a problem. If you drop off your package by noon, it delivers in the United States the next day.

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

We have a part-time housekeeper who is wonderful. The average rate for household help seems to be around $20 a day depending on how long they work and what you have them do. There is a great deal of availability. We found ours from a colleague departing post. Many people have help five days a week, and people with small children have nannys. A few people we know have live-in help, and there are maids quarters in many apartments. Almost everyone I know, Mexican or expat, has some sort of household help.

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

There are gyms, and they are expensive. There are crossfit facilities and a wide selection of yoga and pilates studios. Yoga and pilates tend to be cheaper than in the United States.

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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?

We use a credit card for the supermarket and restaurants. We always have cash on hand for taquerias, fresh markets, etc. We do use ATMs, and tend to stick with Banamex (which has a partnership with Citi Bank). Just be careful, just like anywhere.

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

There is a Roman Catholic church that offers an English-language mass on Sundays. I'm assuming the LDS Temple has services in English, and I'd imagine there are other denominations with English services as well but I can't speak from personal experience.

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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?

You need a lot of Spanish. For such a sophisticated city, there is surprisingly little English. The more Spanish you have, the more enjoyable your time here will be. Mexicans are very friendly and love to chat, so you'll have more satisfying experiences if you speak Spanish.

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

Many! Sidewalks are in poor repair. Most buildings are not wheelchair accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable--absolutely. Safe? Well, that depends. Buses within Mexico City seem to be ok, depending on where you're going. The Metro system is extensive, but best avoided at rush hour (we use it on the weekends quite a bit, however) as the crushes of people are just incredible and unnerving. Taxis should not be hailed on the street, but taxis from "sitios", or taxi stands, are considered safe and they are not expensive. Uber is here and is wildly popular. I use Uber more than taxis, as it's even cheaper and frankly more convenient.

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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?

We have a small SUV that we hardly ever use. We only drive to a big box supermarket like Costco once a month or so to load up on heavy stuff like cat litter. Bring something with clearance as the streets get flooded during the rainy season. Bring something big enough that in a fender bender you won't be at risk. Most big stores have parking lots, so we really never park on the street, but if you will be looking for street parking, something slightly smaller might be more convenient.

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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, our internet is fast (not quite as fast as we pay for, but close) and reliable. It took about a week to have it installed. We have a package bundled with cable tv, which I think we'll eventually cancel because we never watch regular tv, we just stream. Even with a VPN our internet is fast enough to stream anything we want. Good internet is definitely a perk.

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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?

If you're at the US Embassy you'll get an official phone, and many people have a personal phone as well. The Embassy uses Telcel. Many people use Telcel's pay as you go plan for personal phones, but AT&T is becoming increasingly popular as well. Data is cheap and relatively fast on smartphones. You can use Whatsapp, FaceBook and some other social media sites for free, not charged against your data quotient.

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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?

No quarantine necessary, but there are regulations on paperwork, vaccinations, etc., just like most places. I believe there are good vets, we have not had to use one yet.

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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?

Some spouses teach at the international schools, but most seem to get jobs at the U.S. Embassy. To work on the local economy you'd have to have fluent Spanish, and I believe the salaries would be low. A few spouses I know telecommute, a good option here because the internet is reliable and fast.

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

Mexicans dress up more than Americans. Dress code at work is business attire, more casual in public places. I've never seen anyone in shorts, at least in Mexico City.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes! Lots. With that said, if you're aware of your surroundings, take simple precautions (if you have an alarm system in your home, use it), and follow your instincts you'll be fine. Leave your diamonds at home. Don't walk after dark with headphones on. Don't flash large amounts of cash. Pretty basic stuff. Be careful crossing streets! Cars to not cede right of way to pedestrians, which can take some getting used to.

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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?

Zika is a concern, although Mexico City's altitude makes mosquitoes scarce. The altitude is a real thing, and takes some getting used to. Drink a lot of water your first few weeks here. Other than that, medical care is available and excellent. I have an excellent dentist, and many expat women choose to have babies here rather than returning to their home country.

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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?

This has been a tough year for air quality, apparently it was the worst it's been in years and years in the Spring. Many people feel it. It's really not good for small children. If you or your family have sensitivities/asthma, think twice about coming here as the air quality can be dangerously poor. It hasn't reached Delhi or Beijing levels, but Mexico City is in a bowl-shaped valley, so the bad air tends to get trapped. The air improves dramatically once it starts raining in the summer, but those spring months are tough.

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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?

The weather is extremely temperate in Mexico City, and it gets surprisingly chilly at night in the winter (we slept on flannel sheets for a few months). Housing does not have airconditioning or heating. Overall the temperatures range from low 60's to low 80's Fahrenheit year round, with some hotter times in the spring, and colder times in winter. The rain starts in May and ends in October, but it rarely lasts all day, usually it rains for a few hours in the late afternoon/evening (just in time to snarl traffic for the evening commute).

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Schools & Children:

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

There is a wide variety of international schools. I don't have personal experience, but I know some teenagers have a tough time here in some of the schools, leading to some being homeschooled or attending school back in the U.S. But I know other teenagers who have thrived here, so it seems to be very much on a family-by-family basis.

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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?

Preschools are available, but many people have nannies. Or a combination of both. No personal experience.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large, overall very good. This is a great city with a lot going on.

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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?

There are many Meetup groups for expats or people interested in certain topics, which is a good way to meet people. The U.S. Embassy is huge and compared to other posts, has less of a tight-knit community, but I think that's because it's less necessary here in a city with so much to offer.

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

It's good for everyone, with the caveat about the potentially poor air quality and small children.

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

Gay marriage is legal in Mexico City. That said, there is a move to make gay marriage legal across the country, and there is a lot of push back from the general Mexican public against this. But I don't think anyone in Mexico City would have a problem.

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

Macho culture is still apparent in Mexico, which leads to gender issues. As a female expat I haven't felt the gender inequality, especially compared to other countries in which I've lived, but I think it's there for much of the greater population.

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

There is wonderful travel in Mexico. The beaches in the Yucatan are of course wonderful, but colonial cities such as Puebla are not to be missed. Chiapas is a fascinating place to visit, as is Oaxaca (currently suffering some difficulties). Traveling in the region is also easy and interesting. Guatemala is a quick trip, as is Costa Rica. There are lots of getaways reachable by car or fancy, comfortable bus from Mexico City. Interjet and Volaris, two low-cost carriers, fly to all the tourist destinations. I've enjoyed experiencing the vast regional differences in different parts of Mexico.

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

Too many to list. The art scene here is great, so is the music scene. Day of the Dead festivities are not to be missed. There are a number of small mezcal bars with a dizzying selection of artesinal mezcal. There are restaurants without number. Chapultepec Park is huge, bigger than Central Park, and great for wandering. Movie theaters show mostly blockbuster American movies with Spanish subtitles, but even the "VIP" theaters are cheap by American standards. Cineteca Nacional, a government-subsidized venue, shows independent and foreign films. Visiting the art market in San Angel on Saturdays is great fun. Football games are fun. We like to wander around the neighborhoods of La Condesa and La Roma, very hip neighborhoods. Spending time in Coyocan, where the Frieda Kahlo museum is located, is really special. Plaza Garbibaldi, which a little sketchy, can be a good place to get a drink and listen to the wandering mariachis looking for their next gig (but be careful). I like wandering the pedestrian streets in the Centro Historico. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an experience.

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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! When we have visitors we usually take them to Ciudadela, a handicrafts market in the center of Mexico City with items from all throughout the country. Every place you go in Mexico will have a special sort of craft. As I mentioned before, the art market in San Angel is an excellent place to buy art, and makes for fun browsing.

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

Access to world-class museums, art, music. A sophisticated and incredibly warm population. Incredible restaurants of every sort and at every price range. Low cost of living. Easy regional travel.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I expected to like it here, and I do. I might have been more prepared for how chilly the winters are.

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

Absolutely.

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

Snow boots and heavy winter coats.

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4. But don't forget your:

Flannel sheets, jackets for a variety of temperatures, good umbrella, rain boots, Spanish dictionary, good walking shoes. Despite the poor sidewalks, this is a good walking city.

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

The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle by Francisco Goldman

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The New York Times named Mexico City as the number one travel destination for 2016, for good reason.

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Mexico City, Mexico 06/03/16

Background:

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

The second one. Previously, I had a chance to live in the US - Berkeley and Arlington/Washington DC for about 8 months.

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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?

Belgrade, Serbia. There is a long connecting flight from Belgrade, via Frankfurt, to Washington DC. Then there is a direct flight from DC to Mexico City. I remember Lufthansa having a much more comfortable flight than United.

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3. How long have you lived here?

15 months.

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

Being an Eligible Family Member (EFM). And curiosity, of course.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Okay. We live in Polanco, on Musset street. The apartment seems to be one of the "smaller" ones, but it has sufficient space for two. Polanco has the advantage of offering living accommodations that are the closest to the embassy and city center.



There are many pricey restaurants, boutiques, and supermarkets. It is, after all, a zone with many international companies, foreigners and rich people. You will find very nice parks, dog walkers, and hotels. The Orthodox Jewish community is also based here. There are a couple of private art galleries and, I think, two Catholic churches.

Street names are pretty European and North American. Many city neighborhoods are identified by names of streets or rivers or cities, or famous musicians. It takes me 20 minutes to walk to Chapultepec park and about 50 minutes to get to the embassy. One metro station and a couple of bus lines are operating nearby. Here you will find a gym and a pool in your building (expect occasional daily socialization in the pool area). Polanco doesn't seem to have a sense of community, though, as e.g. Roma and Condesa have (still with an international flavor).

Apart from boutiques, shops, and supermarkets, there's mostly just residential housing. Don't walk your dogs on Masaryk street. You won't encounter any trash cans, but you might get uncomfortable (like me) seeing many armed security guards in front of fancy boutiques. Inside your building, expect to see housemaids from early morning until the late afternoon. It won't be empty all day).



The only real issue I can mention here regarding accommodations in Musset is that there are a couple of buildings being torn down or re-built, which contributes to occasional noise (just like airplanes), which seems to be the case with the whole area. Internal walls are not sound proof. I was surprised that many embassy people are not very considerate of their neighbors: using a treadmill in an apartment at 4:30 a.m. (and waking up the whole block), making loud noises while exercising in front of the gym at 6 a.m., letting dogs bark, etc. Because the entrance guards are not responsible for internal issues, you need to talk directly to your neighbors, and then things will be fine. It's not hell, it just needs some adjustments. ;)

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

Good. Supermarkets are present nearby (Superama, OXXO, Chedraoui, etc). There is one street/open market (these are called "tianguis") open just on Saturdays at the eastern end of Lincoln park ("Polanquito"). For more diverse non-supermarket shopping, I'd suggest going to city's big markets, like Jamaica, Medellin, San Juan, Sonora/Merced, and Central de Abastos.

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

Polanco - just like Roma and Condesa - has a lot of international restaurants which can sometimes be pricey. My recommendation is to check Dawat (for Indian food), which also has home delivery. Near the embassy you will find Daikoku (Japanese) and Mikasa (an Asian market and restaurant) in Roma. Most of the restaurants in Polanco are on Masaryk street or near Lincoln park.

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Daily Life:

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

It takes a long time to send even postcards by regular mail. And sometimes mail gets lost. I encountered a couple of branch post offices which didn't sell envelopes, so I did everything at the central post office (near Bellas Artes) which has everything.

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

A small gym is available in the building, and a couple more in the area.

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

That depends on your work and your degree of socialization; I would say it's needed and useful. Most of the maids and security guards don't speak English. Neither do the people working at market stands and shops. Upon arriving here, I expected more people to speak English. But why should they? The burden is on us. But many young and people do speak English. Sometimes people will be shy using it, though, because they do not know it well enough to be comfortable with it.

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

Sometimes, although many places are well equipped. It all depends on the area you want to visit. Many streets have issues like things poking out or unexpected holes. Look carefully where you're walking.

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Transportation:

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

Metro is cool, cheap (5 pesos per ride), and fast. Just try to be avoid using it during rush hours. (Check out a metro article in CLO's Aztec calendar which I wrote). Unlike the metro, local buses (except for the metro bus) sometimes don't have a clearly visible route that you can track, so you need to experiment a bit. Now they charge 5.50 pesos, and there's one from Sevilla metro (near the embassy) to Polanco (Ejercito Nacional) which takes about 20 minutes. Watch out for pickpockets when using any public transportation, and be street smart.

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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?

I'm glad not to be driving in this city. Drivers are aggressive, specially the taxis. I almost got run over three times. You need to take care crossing the streets. Traffic jams are regular, as are "no driving" days (depending on your registration plates). Cars are contributing to much of the pollution in this city. But with the metro and buses you are pretty well covered.

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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?

It took us several weeks to get the Internet installed. After canceling with the provider, the guy came the next day after and installed everything. We took "Izzy" and the service is okay, with occasional short bugs. Ask which providers are used in your building. In general, the customer service is bad. So be patient.

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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?

I took Telcel's "Amigo" pre-paid kit, and it works fine. I'm getting extra credit for recharging it every time if it's at least 100 pesos.

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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?

Nearby is a newly opened dog hotel (NUUGI). There are pet stores (+kota), and many people have pets. I don't know the procedures regarding taking animals to Mexico. Note: there are no fenced parks.

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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?

If you're an US citizen, the embassy has some positions. There is a high demand for native English teachers. I was pet-sitting in the neighborhood.
Check websites: https://www.occ.com.mx and http://www.bumeran.com.mx.

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

In Mexico the social classes are very visible. You will find many very well-dressed people in Polanco. In general, people dress in a diverse ways the only exceptions I've noticed are:


- sandals are rare (due to dirty streets?)


- short pants are hardly ever seen, except if you're jogging, and


- it is not advisable for women to have very open shirts or mini skirts (unless they want a lot of visible attention).

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Health & Safety:

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

If you go to markets, dress down. Flashy laptops, phones and wrist watches can be targets for robbers (especially in public transportation). If anyone stops you and shows a weapon, just give them what they want. Use Uber and not local taxis. I have had no security problems. Just be street smart.

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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?

The air is very polluted, so you might feel it in your throat. Occasionally I feel very tired due to the pollution. Keep in mind that fact that the city is in a valley without much wind. Expect "Montezuma's revenge," which depends on your personal hygiene as well as the hygiene of restaurants you visit. Do not drink tap water or make ice cubes with it. I experienced two stomach problems which lasted about 5 days each. Just buy Loxcell anti-bacteria tablets in a pharmacy. Most of the foreigners have been through it.

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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?

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

People with asthma will probably be bothered by the air pollution.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Rain season (April - October), aka summer: mostly warm (rarely hot), with expected showers almost every day in afternoon and evening.


Dry season (November - March), aka winter: mostly dryer (almost no rain) and colder. Temperatures range between 5 and 30 Celsius.

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Expat Life:

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

Big, just like the embassy. Musset has a pool that can be used for parties. There are many things to do. The CLO staff have many interesting activities and are very helpful.

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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?

There are a couple of "let's learn Spanish" groups on MeetUp. Zona Rosa, Roma, and Condesa have a lot of places to socialize (bars, restaurants, night clubs, karaoke, galleries, etc.).

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

Yup. I have seen many same-sex couples holding hands in the center (although, locals have told me that it's not the same in many suburban zones). There are many clubs in the Zona Rosa.

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

I haven't seen any. But skin color is something that you'll be aware of. Although Mexico is a self-proclaimed "mestizo" nation (mixed races), you'll notice that "color" sometimes means "class" (compare indigenous people begging for money and light-skin foreigners called "gringos").

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

- Food. Any local food (quesadillas, sopa azteca, tlacoyos, gorditas, huaraches, nogales, mole...). Great street stands (if they are using bottled water and many people eat there - do it! there are a few near the Polanco metro station).


- Markets - great fruits and vegetables (cheaper than in the US). And drinks - try atole and horchata!


- People are polite and nice (although seemingly unconsciously occupying all of the public spaces). Just say "con permiso" and a way will open to you.


- Many museums and art galleries, history.


- The pyramids at Teotihuacan.

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

- View of the city from the Spanish cultural center (behind the main square Zacalo), or visit the bell towers of the main cathedral (40 pesos).
- Markets during Dia de los Muertos.
- UNAM's ecological park plus MUAC museum.
- National Anthropology Museum.


- People watching at Monumento de la Revolucion.


- Bakeries (Pasteleria Buenos Aires and Pasteleria Suiza).


- Check the whole Chapultepec park (lakes, museums, zoo...).


- if you're into Mexican muralism, you'll find the most important pieces here.


- Plaza Santa Catarina at Coyoacan.


- Xochimilco (ask CLO for recommendations so as not to get overcharged).

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

Oh, yes! Check Plaza Sullivan, Coyoacan (a small park in front of the market), the flea market at Parque Pushkin, Teotihuacan shops, Tianguis el Chopo (for music - vinyls, CDs, clothing, badges)...

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

Mexico City has a lot to offer. Lots of things to see and do.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. But don't forget your:

- heaters (we had a small radiator in the flat, which wasn't enough - the majority of places do not have air conditioning or central heating)


- air purifier


- Spanish

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

Movies:
- Hecho en Mexico (musical documentary)
- Amor en primera visa

Music:


- check Spotify's account in Mexico


- Vive Latino compilations and music festival



Guides:


-Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide

TimeOut's MX website

- this travel blog

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Mexico City, Mexico 05/25/16

Background:

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

No, this is my fifth overseas experience in the Foreign Service. All told, I've lived in Costa Rica, Germany, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Colombia, and Italy.

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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, just a few hours direct flight. One of the pleasures of serving in Mexico!

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3. How long have you lived here?

Ten months.

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

Diplomatic transfer.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We are in Polanco, very reasonable commute time 15-20 minutes to the Embassy. Housing awful mold-filled apartment, worst I have had in 18 years in the FS and I am including my junior officer tours. We are about to move to our third apartment. If you have small children, decide whether you are OK keeping them in a small, yucky apartment much of the time due to pollution. If I had one do-over in my life, it would be not to bid Mexico City with small children.

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

See above; almost all is available but at a price. Fresh vegetables and fruit are shockingly poor quality but CSA-type arrangements are available at a price (see the Facebook page called Mexico City Moms).

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

Patio furniture (expensive here). Goldfish, Triscuits and spices.

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

Oh, the food is great. I've never been sicker in my life, but the Embassy has a same-day analysis machine that will tell you what you have. Everything from street tacos to Pujol. The fresh produce in markets is lacking, however. If you care about cooking well at home, you can do it, but it will cost you. Feeding my family healthily has been shockingly expensive this tour.

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

I haven't noticed any. The altitude alleviates most of those issues.

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Daily Life:

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

Brownsville address, no complaints other than why doesn't the Embassy have a functional click-and-ship machine yet?

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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 affordable, and I think we got lucky but she's fantastic.

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

In Polanco, you've got lots of gym options. I enjoy Evolution Pilates and 02 Yoga on Alexander Dumas.

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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?

I've had no issues, use the ATM at the Embassy and on Masaryk in Polanco.

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

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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?

I arrived already speaking Spanish, and I imagine it would be difficult not knowing the basics.

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

Yes, sidewalks are a nightmare, even in Polanco, for parents pushing a stroller or for someone in a wheelchair. That said, probably still better than much of the world.

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Transportation:

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

I always use Uber rather than taxis and love the service. Have not taken public transport but know several people who've been robbed on it. Very uncomfortable for women, in particular.

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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?

Nothing flashy but most cars/SUVs are OK.

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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?

Our internet is AWFUL and SLOW. Not worth whatever we pay for it.

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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?

I use T-Mobile and have retained my 202 phone number. Some folks get scared by the US digits, though, and won't call you.

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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?

No. We have a good vet who makes house calls, but our poor dog hates Polanco; no good parks and super dirty.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

At the Embassy, pretty formal with some relaxed standards for heat. Mexicans are dressy: don't wear cutoffs and T-shirts, be respectful.

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Health & Safety:

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

Sure, you should exercise caution and not wear jewelry. Don't bring a flashy car.

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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?

Oh my word are there. Pollution is awful, and people get sicker here than anywhere else in Latin America. If I had it to do over again, I would not have brought our small children here. Hospital Espanol in Polanco is pretty good. The Embassy health unit is not the best: it has some good staff but is overwhelmed.

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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?

It's awful, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's so bad that you're not supposed to take your kids outdoors on many days, and there are many families with small children at post who are going stir crazy.

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

Bring meds, find an allergist. Food allergies: just exercise the same caution you would anywhere.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Drier January - May, then rainy June - December. I have been sicker here during the dry season than I have ever been in my life. I feel guilty most of the time for subjecting my children to the pollution.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our sons are very happy in the American School Foundation (ASF). We've been lucky though: parents of older children complain - bitterly and sometimes tearfully - of problems with bullying.

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

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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?

Yes, lots of affordable options in Polanco - Cadi Kids, Kinder Lighthouse, Aprendo Jugando, Mi Montessori, etc.

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

Yes, various locations in Polanco such as Club Mundet and Cadi Kids and after school programs at 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?

Huge. Join Mexico City Moms and the CLO Facebook page. Also the Newcomers group seems to have a lot of fun. Morale varies: this is a doozy of a city. We have lots of great new friends who have made this awful transition easier.

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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?

Go out, have people over, lots to do.

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

Singles and couples, absolutely. Lots to do, great restaurants and nightlife. Families - absolutely not, and I am kicking myself for not figuring that out before we bid it.

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

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

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

Some of the world-class restaurants in the CDMX (Ciudad de Mexico). Our wonderful nanny.

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

I'm afraid I don't have anything to add here.

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

All kinds of handicrafts (most of which are not to my taste) and gourmet dinners out.

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

Great food, lots to do and see--though we have small children which makes it much more difficult. Very affordable childcare. Many might say the weather but given the awful pollution (worst in 15 years) and the fact that the thermostat in our non-air conditioned apartment bedroom registers 86 degrees as we are trying to go to sleep, the weather is not a selling point for me.

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10. Can you save money?

Honestly, no. I had thought we would, but this is an expensive city.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The poor quality of embassy housing, and how very polluted the city is.

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

No. If I had a do-over in life, I would not have brought my small children here. I feel terribly guilty.

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

Expectations regarding comfortable housing.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, flexibility, and willingness to speak Spanish.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Y Tu Mama Tambien
Amores Perros

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

It is interesting that these are all male authors. Women travelers or mothers are much less likely to be enthusiastic about CDMX.

Mexico City: An opinionated guide for the curious traveler, by Jim Johnston
First Stop in the New World, by David Lima
Down and Delirious in Mexico City, by Daniel Hernandez
The Interior Circuit, by Francisco Goldman

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Mexico City Foreign Service tours just went from two years to three. I will be curious to see if that is rescinded a few years from now.

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Mexico City, Mexico 05/17/16

Background:

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

Kedougou, Senegal, London, England, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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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 and Massachusetts. Direct flights are possible to both places. Takes about 5 -6 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years: 2014-2016.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments, Polanco and Bosques de Las Lomas or Santa Fe mostly. Depending on where you work, commuting times can be very long. Traffic here is like nothing I've ever experienced before. We tend to walk or take public transportation most of the time reserving driving for weekends when it is more calm.

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

Costco and Superama and City Market have almost everything you need. Groceries are comparable if not more expensive than they are in the US. You can get fruits and vegetables delivered from the verdularias and fruterias. Superama (owned by Walmart) has an app that allows you to select groceries on-line and have them delivered to your house. City Market will also deliver.

If you cannot use scented laundry detergent, you may want to pack or order some. Detergents and cleaners tend to be heavily scented.

In general, you really need to carefully read food labels. Sugar is added to a lot of things that usually don't have sugar. For example "natural" yogurt sometimes has sugar added, so if you want plain, without sugar, check the label. Vegetable oils are often a combination of several oils including soybean oil. Organic foods are available, but again read the label, sometimes non-organic items are placed in the organic section. There are some organic farm shares and a store called vila del pato which sells grassfed, cold-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk.

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

If I could do it again, I would ship my sofa and get it re-upholstered here. Consumer items are widely available.

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

None that I've experienced 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?

Through the Embassy which has a shipping station. I have also received things at my home address by UPS without problems but our bills are always late in arriving and our phone is constantly being turned off.

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

400 pesos a day, easily available. Most people work a 6-7 hour day if they commute since commutes can be as long as 2 hours. Sometimes you can find someone who will work longer, but usually it is the live-in housekeeper who works longer hours.

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

Very expensive. I found the best value is a boot camp that meets daily at a local park. It includes child care. Otherwise a gym membership without child care is US$100 or more per month. Child care is usually not available or costs extra.

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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?

Be careful and always count your money at the machine. Make sure that no one follows you into the ATM. Be sure to use the machines at the bank not the convenience store. American Express is usually accepted and Visa and Mastercard alwats are. Have the merchant or waiter swipe the card in front of you using the hand-held reader.

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

Some are.

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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?

I think you need to learn Spanish.

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

Unfortunately, yes. They have updated sidewalks in some areas so that there are ramps to street level but usually its even a challenge to get up the curbs with a stroller. Neither the metro nor bus has universal wheelchair access.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Uber is a great option as is the bus system and metro.

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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?

One thing you can get here is excellent service for a low price. We have a Honda and the Honda dealership is literally around the corner. It is very easy to get the car fixed and the service is often faster, better and cheaper than the US. Driving here is not pleasant but once out of the city, its better. You can drive to so many amazing places. I don't think an SUV is necessary in terms of terrain. Although the lanes on the roads tend to be narrow, there are a ton of SUVs and minivans.

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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, cost is 800 pesos a month with cable service. Service is okay.

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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?

I recommend bringing your own unlocked phone and getting the AT&T plan here which can call to US, Canada and Mexico as well as be used in US, Canada and Mexico. Unlimited minutes and some data for about $10 a month.

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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. There are some jobs at the embassy, but I would't call them decent. I think the best bet is to telework or start your own business. The salaries for local hires here are VERY LOW. Try to get hired internationally prior to arriving.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, there are definitely opportunities to volunteer.

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

Fairly casual. Although people dress up for work.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, there are security problems here in Mexico. There are kidnappings, robberies, and murders. Driving is very dangerous.

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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?

There are hygiene issues. Zika is a problem in the lowlands.

You have to be discerning about medical care. It is reasonable, and there are some excellent quality health care providers here, but not always high quality.

There is a great deal of emphasis on appearances in general and in medical care, I think that might translate into the idea that giving more medicine is better because it seems like you're getting more for your money. There are high C-section rates, low breastfeeding rates, lots of aesthetic surgery, high rates of antibiotic prescription and not a lot of regulation. There is a paternalistic attitude in general that the doctor "knows best" and people often don't question. So you'll want to ask a lot of questions as you look for the right health care provider for you.

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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?

Air quality is sometimes very bad. As a result there have been many days when it was recommended to spend less than 15 minutes outdoors. The kids are sometimes cooped up all day at school and at home as a result. Due to serious pollution and ozone concerns, there is an "hoy no circula" (today no driving) policy. On at least one day a week, and one Saturday a month certain cars do not circulate. We had the misfortune of being assigned Fridays which means we cannot leave town for the weekend on Fridays anymore.

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

That seasonal allergies may get worse here due to the altitude, dryness and pollution, but it probably depends on what you're allergic to.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Beautiful, perfect, weather almost every day. 70s Fahrenheit usually with blue skies. There is a rainy season but rains are usually in the afternoon and evening.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several international schools but they are in high demand and it is not easy to get places in the schools.

Here are some of the International Schools: Colegio de la Cuidad de Mexico, Lycee Frances, Escuela de Las Lomas Altas, The American School Foundation, The Westhill Institute, The German School, Greengates School.

Here are some thoughts on the two schools that our children attended:

The American School is not really an international school, as international students make up a only small part of the student body. The school values appearances. From the outside, the facilities appear impressive, but in our experience, there is a toxic social environment. Bullying starts very early and the administration does not address this adequately. Our child had an inexperienced teacher. We removed our child after one year, but wish we had done so sooner. The school is physically closer to Polanco than Greengates but the commute is longer. You can get to the school by metro which is nice because the roads are often affected by protests.

Greengates is a British school. It is a nurturing learning and social environment with rigorous academics and a true focus on learning. There is a wonderful sense of community. The students come from a variety of countries and cultures and the school celebrates its diversity. The school is located in Naucalpan, in the Estado de Mexico, 8 miles from Polanco, though its relatively quick to get there on the segundo piso of the periferico (ring road). You just need a "lliave" or "televia" pass which can be recharged with money at many places including 7/11. If you are told that there is no space for your child at Greengates, keep following up, don't take no for an answer. Bus stops are grouped, which shortens the commute and builds a sense of community among students and parents.

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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?

Our pre-schooler attended Yaxcheel Montessori which I recommend avoiding. Our child was physically hurt here regularly by students in her class. The director's solution was to deny that this was happening (even though it was caught on a video posted on the school's website) and to pressure us to send to our daughter to school 5 days a week instead of 3. The school has more green space than the others I have seen, but is very disorganized and has a lot of turnover with the teachers.

In general, costs are about US$200-600 per month depending on the school. Most places will insist on 5 days a week of preschool. If you want part-time care, usually you pay for 5 days and send the child less. Many schools have before- and after-care options.

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

There are, but I find it easier to have them do these activities at the school than elsewhere due to traffic.

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Expat Life:

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

Large community. Not particularly tight. Most people seem to love it here and want to stay as long as possible. Its hard to break in to the Mexican social scene, especially when expatriates are everywhere.

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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?

Listen to music, enjoy an outdoor cafe or restaurant, ride your bike on Reforma when its closed to car traffic on Sundays, travel outside of the city.

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

I think this would be a great post for singles and couples. It is not the ideal place for families. The pollution, dangerous driving, feeling like you're taking your life in your hands trying to cross the street, shoving car seats into a taxi when your car can't circulate, battling the intense traffic, all these things start to wear on you after a while.

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

I believe that the city has a long tradition of being a place where gay and lesbian people are welcome and safe.

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

I think there are issues. Sexism is an issue. Women ARE paid less here. Job descriptions will include criteria about age and appearance. Sports are not as widely encouraged for girls.

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

The travel opportunities are wonderful. Taking our family to pyramids in nearly every place we go has been incredible. The food is out-of-this world. Interesting things to do and see all of the time. We have driven to all coasts. Driving is permitted in many areas, and is a nice way to see the country.

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

Templo Mayor, murals at the Palacio Nacional, the Condessa and Roma neighborhoods as well as San Angel and Coyoacan.

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

Beautiful art: ceramics, textiles, paintings...and amazing travel opportunities.

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

Interesting culture, amazing weather almost every single day of the year, incredible travel opportunities.

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10. Can you save money?

I think so.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Mainly the truth about the schools, since there are real issues with the American School.

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

I have very mixed feelings. I always say that this would have been so different prior to kids. I think that the negative experiences with the schools kind of changed everything for me, and that I never felt as comfortable here knowing what my kids had experienced.

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

Camping gear.

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4. But don't forget your:

Ultralight down jacket, slippers, and electric fans. There is no heating or air-conditioning here, which is great, but it can get a little chilly at night in the winter and a little hot in the summer.

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

Circuito Interior by Francisco Goldman.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It is a very fascinating place.

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Mexico City, Mexico 05/17/16

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, a few hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We live in a spacious apartment in Polanco. Driving commute is 10-30 minutes, depending on traffic, most of the time in the 15-20 minute range. Walking is about an hour and safe, as is biking. Polanco seems to be the choice if you want to not use a car as much. There are a lot of parks around so kids do have a place to go, but the housing further out of town seems to have more play areas connected to housing.

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

Very easy. Superama, Chedraui, Sams, Costco, City Market. Most items are less expensive than in the U.S.

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

Nothing. You can get it all on Amazon. I've gotten used to making my own salad dressings and pickles, neither is a huge thing here, but that's mostly Google and ordering pickling spices.

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

If you're looking for US fast food, you will have no problem, except for Taco Bell. Across the street from the Embassy you'll find Wendy's, Burger King, Quizno's, Carl Jr's, Krispy Kreme, McDonalds, Dominos, Subway ... plus tons of local restaurants. The U.S. chains cost about the same as they do in the U.S. Restaurants in general are less expensive, unless you're eating in a high rent district, then it's more like regular U.S. prices. But there are some very fancy places as well. You won't go hungry here.

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

We have seen silverfish in the bathroom, but diatomaceous earth keeps them at bay. Mosquitoes in the spring, that's about it.

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Daily Life:

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

Mail to and from the embassy in Mexico City is so easy. You'll only lose a couple of days when sending or receiving.

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

The domestic help isn't as easy to find as I thought it would be, but we found someone we really like. She is full time, live out, for about $400/month.

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

There is a gym at the embassy but it's pretty small. Given that we're building a new embassy, I don't see them putting too much into this one. I'd read that gyms were super expensive but my husband was able to get a Groupon deal for a big gym nearby that was pretty reasonable, I think around $60/month.

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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?

There is an ATM at the Embassy. There are banks everywhere. Check your bank and see if it has a partner in Mexico to avoid transaction fees. Otherwise, the only advice is be aware. We've had no issues. Most brick and mortar places take credit cards, but check first (some restaurants do not). The only time we've consistently had trouble using our credit cards is with online purchases, like paying for our internet.

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

Depends on where you are. In Polanco, some of the restaurants have menus in English. Always assume in an Uber/taxi or restaurant that someone nearby speaks English, but don't expect it. In other words, watch what you say, don't be offensive, but don't expect people to speak English either.

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

It probably depends very much on where you live and work. Many sidewalks are old and uneven, but the next block is perfect. Some sidewalks have wheelchair ramps, some don't. Apartments seem to all have elevators.

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Transportation:

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

U.S. employees are directed to use taxi stands, and we are also allowed to use trains and buses. Uber is inexpensive and secure.

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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?

You'll see all kinds of cars here.

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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. We pay about $100/month for 200 mbps (I don't think it's that fast - it never is as fast as the company says).

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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?

We have pay as you go with TelCel on a dual band, the One Plus. It works fine and is less expensive than a plan, but it does keep our data use down.

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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?

Depends on your skills. There are schools and universities for teachers, I do not know what else is available.

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

Business dress at work. Children and tourists wear shorts in public. Jeans are common for men and woman in public. Lots of high heels on women, everyone seems to be more dressed up in Mexico City than in the U.S.

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Health & Safety:

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

Mexico City is considered a critical threat post according to the US Department of State. Crime in the news is a daily highlight. We have yet to experience anything negative at all, but keep in mind you are in a huge city.

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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?

Expatriate medical care is great. If you have to go to the hospital, you will have to pay upfront. If you're taken to a free hospital, it won't be nearly as nice.

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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?

Winter and spring are rough, especially this year after some driving restrictions were apparently lifted. The government is looking to address that. Nobody in my immediate family has chronic respiratory issues so we've been OK, but it's still challenging sometimes - red eyes, coughing, fatigue.

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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?

The climate is very nice, except that in the spring - February to May or so maybe? - it's a little hot. It isn't that hot outside but our apartment doesn't have air conditioning so it gets pretty toasty inside. We arrived during rainy season and the afternoon rain really makes a huge difference. Winter is wonderful.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our son goes to the American School. It's clique-y, even in third grade, and US kids are in the minority, but after a period of adjustment he appears to have found his group.

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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?

Do not know. We have a full time maid who picks our son up at the bus stop on the days when he has after school activities.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge, but I don't know how close it is because it's also a huge city, and it's so easy that the expatriate community doesn't really need to rally together.

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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?

Restaurants, bars, museums, hiking, shopping, dance clubs, house parties, everything.

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

It's good for everyone.

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

I think so, but I do not know.

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

There is a a Catholic, patriarchal history, but generally speaking the people here are friendly and treat others well. I am a white woman who does not broadcast religious beliefs, so I may not be seeing a very broad spectrum of behavior.

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

Learning more about the history of Mexico. Being part of a huge city, but insulated in a relatively quiet area.

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

There are museums everywhere; you can pick a beach to the south, west or north and get there and back for well under $200; there are art fairs and markets every weekend; Teotihuacan is only an hour away ... there's almost too much to do.

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

Pottery, tin work, art.

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

It's very "easy" in terms of feeling like you can get most things you want from the US. It is inexpensive to travel within the country and there is so much history here.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Ideas about Mexico's weather and food. Mexico City is temperate and moderate in temperature, and if the only Mexican food you've had was in the U.S., it won't be what you think.

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3. But don't forget your:

Umbrella and wellies. And fans.

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Mexico City, Mexico 10/09/14

Background:

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

No. 2nd overseas tour. First was to India.

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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?

Pennsylvania. It's usually two 2.5 hour flights through Houston, DFW, or Atlanta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years.

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

U.S. Foreign Service.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is very nice generally-speaking, but a mixed bag depending on commute time. Polanco (the "Beverly Hills" of DF, 10-40 minute commute depending on traffic) is apartments-only, but the upside is a short commute and a fantastic walkable neighborhood with a lot of charming sidewalk cafes, a park with a great playground, etc. The further out you get, the more space you get (townhomes, etc) but the commute time can be horrendous. 1+hours). We love our apartment in Polanco, and even though we a family of 4 cramped into a 1300 square-foot 2-bedroom place, I would definitely choose it over being further out in the suburbs. I don't think my husband (the FSO) would see his kids at all during the week if he were in Santa Fe or Interlomas. Lomas de Chapultapec is the next neighborhood from Polanco so the commute is just a little longer. The neighborhood in Lomas is beautiful and has everything you need but you would do more driving than walking. In Polanco, you could manage without a car.

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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 everything is available that you would want but a little more expensive in the grocery stores. If you buy produce at the outdoor markets you get a better price. We have Costco and Walmart, which have made my life infinitely easier.

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

The only thing I can't find is free-and-clear detergent. Occasionally it has been available at the Commissary. Also, I wish I could ship good quality deli meat. That's the only disappointing food item here I can think of. You can get plain turkey or ham but forget your Boar's Head cajun turkey breast!

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

Tons of wonderful restaurants (Mexican, Italian, sushi/Asian, American/Continental, French, Greek, Indian and more) and lots of small dives with delicious tacos and mexican specialties. McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Krispy Creme, Dairy Queen, Subway, Quiznos, Panda Express, Sbarro).

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

No problem.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy folks get their mail routed through Brownsville, TX. It's fantastic because there aren't as many size/contents limitations and it comes FAST. Mail is brought in on M, W, F, and usually gets to the Embassy the day after it arrives in Brownsville. I use Amazon Prime's free two-day shipping and often things show up 3 days after I placed the order.

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

Widely available and most everyone has some help. Full-time maid/nanny is around 300-400 pesos a day (less than US$30).

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

There are many gyms but I hear they are pretty expensive.

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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?

We try to get cash from the Embassy bank but I always use my credit card at the grocery store and Costco and occasionally at restaurants (they usually bring the swiper table-side). It's generally understood that it's best to get cash at the Embassy, though.

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

Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, etc; we love Union Evangelical Church (non-denominational Christian).

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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?

Some. I arrived with almost nothing and have picked up a LOT without classes; you do need to know some Spanish because hardly anyone speaks English. The Embassy has classes available for free to employees and EFMs.

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

A little. The city seems to be trying to be wheelchair friendly but I've noticed pushing a stroller around that you'll often have a sidewalk ramp on one side of the street only to be met by a very large curb at the other side.

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Transportation:

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

Only use Sitio taxis and don't ever hail one off the street. They are pretty affordable. Buses are cheap and safe and I have heard good things about the metro here but have never needed to use it.

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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?

Nothing too big as parking can be difficult. Nothing too nice as minor accidents are common. The traffic and driving here is crazy and although Mexicans are very polite to your face, they are ruthless behind the wheel! We heard that a Honda CRV is the perfect vehicle to bring and that's what we bought. It really has been perfect.

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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. Around 700 pesos a month (about 50 bucks) and plenty fast.

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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?

Easy to get a pay-as you go plan here with data. You can recharge your minutes at most supermarkets. I spend about 500 (less than 40 bucks) every 6-8 weeks for talk and data.

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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?

No quarantine, and yes, there are excellent vets who will come to your home at a much lower cost than a U.S. vet would charge. Very easy to get pets in and out of the country. There are kennels but we haven't used them. Most are on the outskirts of the city where there is more open land and dogs run around outside during the day.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of Embassy-sponsored ones and many more, I'm sure.

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

More dressy than in the U.S. Mexicans are generally very put-together looking! No one goes out in their sweats.

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Health & Safety:

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

We were really worried about that before coming to Mexico. Everyone said "aren't you worried you'll get kidnapped?" I have been so pleasantly surprised that I generally feel pretty safe--just like in any big U.S. city, you need to be aware, but as long as you keep a low profile you should be fine. The reports I've heard about muggings, etc in the neighborhood always seem to be for people's watches, jewelry, phones, etc. Mexicans "dress up" more than we do in the U.S. so I make a point to not look too fancy when I go out (no jewelry) and have had no issues. Most women leave their diamond rings at home (me included) and just wear a simple wedding band. I feel safe enough to walk 20 minutes to take my kids to the playground and I go grocery shopping by car after dark. There are some locations in Mexico that we are not allowed to travel to but we have been able to go everywhere we have wanted and then some.

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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?

You can't drink the water, obviously, but other than that, no real problems. We get ice in our drinks and lettuce at restaurants and each of us has only been mildly sick one time in almost 2 years. The altitude takes a week or so to adjust--drink tons of water your first week here. Medical care and hospitals are quite good. Great OBs and pediatricians. Many women stay here to have babies. My husband had foot surgery here and we were pleased. We have a great health unit at the Embassy as well.

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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?

I have heard people complain about the pollution but frankly I just don't see it. The air seems no more polluted than in the average U.S. city. Pollen allergies, yes, but pollution has not been an issue for our family.

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

We have noticed our seasonal allergies just like we do in the U.S. but I think my dust/mold allergies in particular have been much better here due to the lack of humidity.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Perfect almost year-round. Most of the year it stays in the low to mid 70's F. Rainy season is July-September but it's not like it rains all day. There's usually a big rain for about an hour or so in the late afternoon, sometimes in the evening and night, but mornings are usually dry and partly sunny. The weather in DF is one of my favorite things about the place.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

There are tons everywhere. Mexicans seem to send their kids to "school" starting from infancy. I think the overall quality is good and many are bilingual, however, one thing to note is that it can be hard to find part-time options. Most preschools want you to send your kid every day. Some will let you send your kid part-time but you still pay the full-time rate. There are a few exceptions but not many. I don't have first-hand experience but I have heard the average price is about US$500 a month. We chose to keep our 1 and 3 year olds home but a good friend who used to teach at aU.S. preschool did a lot of research and said her favorite preschools in Polanco are Kinder Lighthouse and Mi Montessori--if that is helpful to anyone.

Alternatively, many families hire a nanny for their children as it is more affordable.

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

Yes, but I don't know details.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge and pretty good I would say. I have heard that morale can be lower for people with a long commute to work.

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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?

Lots of bars, restaurants, group-trips to take, marine parties, barbecues. The embassy community is huge and not centralized, so you may have to reach out to find your people, but as long as you try, your social life will thrive.

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

Yes for ALL. Lots of singles/couples here and I have to say, living in Polanco, I am jealous of them because they can fully take advantage of the amazing restaurants, bars, and cafes in Polanquito, etc. sans children. There's a ton to do with kids (parks, trips, beaches, museums), and with the fantastic weather, you can spend lots of time outdoors. This may be random, but with small children, I have really appreciated how clean commercial facilities are kept. I have never seen cleaner fast-food restaurants and public bathrooms in my life. High chairs for kids in restaurants are always spotless! There is currently a thriving weekly embassy playgroup in Polanco on Tuesday mornings for stay-at-home parents with small children.

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

Yes, I think.

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

None that I perceive.

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

Trips to beautiful beaches, museums, pyramids, mountains, pueblas. Eating out! Coming from India, it was incredibly nice to be down the road from mega supermarkets with everything I need in one place. We have Costco. You will not get bored here. Lots to see and do. It's a beautiful, charming country in general, and the people are great.

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

Desierto De Los Leones (wonderful hiking in the mountains), visit various archeological sites (Mayan pyramids--one of them has a restaurant built into a cave beside it) 1-2 hours away, Acapulco resorts are a 4-5 hour drive, plane trip to Cancun/Riviera Maya area (beaches are amazing), Papalote Children's Museum, Chapultapec Park (bigger than Central Park), Lucha Libre wrestling, visiting food/art markets in colonias like San Angel and Coyoacan. On Sundays they shut down the main drag for miles through the city for biking, jogging, etc. There is plenty to see and do.

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

The weather is FANTASTIC. It's a very clean (in the nice neighborhoods at least), cosmopolitan city. There are great travel destinations by car and plane in Mexico, the food is great, and it is a very "easy" place to live in general. We have really enjoyed the beaches and mountains in particular. Household help is affordable.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, but you will want to spend it on weekend getaways all over Mexico and eating out at all the great restaurants.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

We were not excited to come here but LOVE IT. I will be sad to leave. It's beautiful and interesting and a pretty easy place to live. It's much safer than the average American perceives.

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

ABSOLUTELY.

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

Winter coats, huge SUV, expectations that you will feel unsafe all the time.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience/vigilance when driving, appetite.

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Mexico City, Mexico 08/14/14

Background:

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

NO - LIved in Berlin & Shanghai.

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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?

Miami is a quick 3 hours non-stop flight. There are many, many daily flights from Mexico City to Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years - 1 more to go.

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

USG - Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments near the Embassy are really nice and only 3 miles away. That said, those 3 miles will take you an average of 45 minutes; 1.5 hours in bad traffic and rain.

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

If you buy fruits and veggies at various stands, it's cheaper but it you buy them at the grocery store then it's about the same as in the U.S.

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

You can find everything here but there's no CVS or Walgreens. So items of that nature, I would ship.

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

Just about everything is here but it'll be more expensive than in the U.S. Burger King doesn't serve breakfast and opens at 1pm.

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

No insect problems.

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Daily Life:

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

The Embassy is really luck in this department. We have an address in Brownsville, TX where all of our mail is delivered to and is trucked in. If a package was delivered to Brownsville on Monday then expect it on Wednesday - it's that fast!

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

Domestic help is cheap and in some cases really reliable. I think my maid is great & I pay her 500 pesos a week as part-time (2x a week). Some get both a maid and a nanny.

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

Plenty of gyms available but they're really pricey!

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

All of them.

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

You really need Spanish to be able to get around. Hardly anyone speaks English so having at least the basics will go a long way.

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

Extremely difficult - sidewalks are barely walkable for those who don't have any physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

I haven't taken the metro or bus - the thought of being packed like a sardine with these people makes me ill. Taxis are affordable and relatively safe (as long as you don't look out the window or expect them to follow any form of "traffic" rule). RSO makes us take only 'sitio' cabs - those you have to get a stand or call to have them pick you up.

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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?

Bring an old, dented SUV!!! The roads are AWFUL - potholes everywhere, no stop signs, no obeying any type of "traffic rules." Mexicans don't need to take a test to drive (this explains so much!!). Police corruption is rampant. I'm not sure who is worse - taxi drivers or bus drivers. I've had a cabbie hit my car, take part of the front bumper with him and keep on going.

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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! Cost depends on the provider and plan you choose. "Total play" is popular and one of their more pricer plans is about US$100.

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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?

Any unlocked phone will do. I have a pay-as-you-go plan with MovieStar and it's about 300 pesos a month for calls, text & data. I rarely run out of minutes or data during that month.

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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?

No. GREAT vet & boarders!!

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty - the Embassy has a charities committee that's constantly looking for volunteers.

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

Expats men & women dress in business attire (suits, dresses, etc). That said, I've seen Mexican women wear clothing that one would wear if they worked on a pole at an office setting. Seriously!! Why would you wear 6 inch heels if you can't walk in them?! It does make walking around the city very amusing watching the women trip & fall on the sidewalks because they don't have the sense to wear a shorter heel.

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Health & Safety:

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

Robbery at gun point happens frequently and not just in rough neighborhoods or at ATMs. RSO is constantly reminding us of not to wear flashy jewelry (even though the Mexicans do so but then they also have an armed bodygard too) and to not use public ATMs. Not too long ago, an employee was walking down a heavily traffic'd street, on a Sunday in the early afternoon and had a gun pulled out on him for his watch. Also not too long ago, an employee's spouse was hit in the face when she didn't give her purse. DEA agents - beware...the cartels will come after you; several agents had to relocate from one apartment to another.

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2. 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 don't know the fuss regarding air pollution. It's not that bad! It's like any big city in the U.S.

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Perfect spring & autums; rainy during the summer and cool (not cold) during the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

No experience with schools but I hear good things about them.

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

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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?

Lots of options available - I see schools everywhere but no personal experience.

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

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Expat Life:

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

It seems to be good for everyone.

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

Yup, good for them too.

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

I haven't experienced any but I've heard of friends who have experienced racial issues.

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

Beautiful beaches.

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

Favorite city by far - San Miguel de Allende.

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

Weather - it's pretty much perfect year round.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How ridiculously rude the Mexican drivers are.

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

NO!!!

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

Winter clothes unless you want to blend in with the locals and wear a puffy coat when it's 50F outside.

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Mexico City, Mexico 04/28/14

Background:

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

Sort of. I've lived short-term in Guatemala. My husband has spent many years abroad.

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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?! What is that?? Direct flights to many U.S. cities and also connections to anywhere via Houston, Atlanta, or Dallas.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We were there for 2 years, March 2012-March 2014.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Traffic is a big deal in Mexico. Like, a big super-annoying deal. Do your research on housing to find a good place for you. There are places that are GREAT for walking/riding bikes everywhere. There are other places where that will not really be an option. Our biggest concern was commute time, and my husband rode his bike every day, meaning traffic was not something he had to battle with. I, however, sometimes spent nearly an hour to drive 1.4 miles... it can be a beast.

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

If you "shop Mexican" you'll pay less (meaning: buying products/ingredients that many Mexicans use). If you "buy U.S." you'll pay for it. I think a can of Gillette shaving cream was US$12, which is US$1 in the U.S. That said, you can find almost anything you want here if you're willing to pay!

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

Chocolate chips and brown sugar!

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

Fast food: you name it. Decent: thousands. Outstanding: hundreds. On the whole you'll pay U.S. prices but if you are willing to eat off taco trucks, you'll pay a tiny bit for outstanding Mexican food!

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

None that I saw. I think in 2 years I saw 2 mosquitos. Very dry and at high altitude.

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Daily Life:

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

Definitely available.

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

Pretty expensive. I think all the gyms I looked at were US$100+ per month. Oh, and they open LATE by U.S. standards! 6:30 am or later!

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We definitely used cash a lot more here. There were many ATMs in our neighborhood but I was cautious when using them. Because we didn't have a Mexican bank account, we had to pay utilities and school in cash.

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

To survive, very little. But to really get to know people, a good amount.

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

Depends on the location. I can't speak to it totally but where we lived, there were lots of accommodations for wheelchairs (curb cuts, mini-elevators for use on those half-staircases, etc.) That said, if an elevator is out, someone is probably out of luck.

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Transportation:

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

See comment above re: taxis. Trains are 40 cents per use. Buses, 30 cents. I used both.

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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?

Probably whatever you want. Bigger cars (large SUVs) are everywhere here but they seem to be mostly status symbols. We didn't have one and didn't really need it. I appreciated having a 15-year-old car because I never worried about damaging it!

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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. US$75 per month (more or less)?

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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?

I used Telcel and it was great. Never had a problem.

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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?

Yes, but you have to have a work visa or many companies/businesses won't hire you. Or you can work for yourself!

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes - and we had many reminders of that from the U.S. government. That said, I didn't feel unsafe in Mexico City once I knew the hang of things. Robbery is a real threat. I did not wear a wedding ring or carry valuables. Many people had iPhones; I carried mine everywhere. There were several armed robberies sort of near our home while we were there. The only people harmed were those who resisted and wouldn't turn over their possessions. But as with many big cities, you learn how to get around, what is normal/abnormal, how to stay safe.

"Libre" taxis (those you flag down on the street, as opposed to those you call or find at a dedicated "sitio" taxi stand, are said to have a high(er) incidence of robbery. I never took one because they are prohibited for USG employees so I can't speak to that. All in all, there are concerns about safety but I never saw/experienced them in my day-to-day life.

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2. 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?

Unhealthy. Or, very unhealthy. Though anyone from China would say we are weaklings. Mexico City is at 7,500 feet altitude; that already affects some people. The pollution has improved much in the last 10 years but it is still an issue. My lungs (cough) are still okay but I definitely notice clean, sea-level air!

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

75-80F and sunny, year round. In summer (rainy season) it is usually sunny in the morning and clouds blow over to give a big rainstorm for an hour in the afternoon. Then, back to clear. It's actually a nice time of year because the air is so clean! March-June can get pretty warm (I guess more like 85F) but it is a dry heat and never felt bad.

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Schools & Children:

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

Tons. We only have experience with the French school preschool, which we loved.

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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?

Many, many, many. In our neighborhood (Polanco) they are seriously every 3 blocks. Some good, some not, but probably no terrible ones. Cost is approximately US$400 per month? More or less. Most schools seem to be 5 days per week, 4-5 hours per day, though I did find a Montessori that would do fewer days if I wanted. Some have lengthy wait lists. Oh, and all have an inscription fee, which is hefty (US$1,000?) so be prepared for that...

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. And those I knew were happy, happy, happy.

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

I think: Yes. We were a family with two young kids and LOVED it. I knew lots of singles or couples without kids who also loved it. Tons to do for kids, tons to do as nightlife, tons to do on all accounts.

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

Highlights: I think I said them all. But: food, people, friends. Trips around the area.

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

There really are too many to name. Driving outside of the city to experience more of the colonial small town feeling was a particular highlight.

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

Pottery, art, textiles, sculpture, etc. etc. etc.

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

Mexico City is amazing. Perfect weather (75-80F and sunny year-round, NO humidity), TONS to do: cultural sites, sporting events, and sports you can participate in, parks, lots of other expats from all over, tons of interesting/brilliant/friendly locals to hang out with, good public transit system, great bike share program. Lots of different options for where to live. Tons of places to visit within driving distance (smaller cities/beaches away from city). Oh, and the food?! Yeah.

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7. Can you save money?

Kinda? You have to be thoughtful, same as in the U.S.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. Definitely. Loved it.

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

Winter gear (unless, like many here, you wear your down coat and wool hat when it is 50F degrees).

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3. But don't forget your:

6-inch heels (if you're a woman).

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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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Mexico City, Mexico 03/14/14

Background:

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

No, I've lived in Asia and South America.

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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?

From Washington, D.C. , with one stop in Dallas/TX, is almost 8 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We've been here for 20 months now; 4 months shy of our post end.

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

I am a tag along wife of an U.S. Embassy employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

High rise apartments with excellent security service, huge houses, duplexes. The embassy leases several apartments in Polanco and nearby are and they are equally nice. The only problem is none have heating so it really gets too cold during winter and warm in the summer. The buildings are not insulated at all, you can hear the neighbors flushing their toilets!

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

It is a little bit high here in Polanco where most expats live but if you send your maid to the local market, it is cheaper. There is also Walmart, Sam's and Costco.

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

None. Everything is available here.

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

They have all American franchises here, comparable to U.S. prices. There are some local restaurants and they are very reasonably priced as well.

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

I did not notice any.

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Daily Life:

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

Through diplomatic pouch but the local post is also reliable.

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

It is cheap. A day maid will cost you anywhere from 300MXp to 400MXP.

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

Yes, every gym in the U.S. is here but I don't know how much since I use the gym in my apartment. For yoga fans, the Indian Cultural Center offers' classes for 100mxp per month.

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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?

There are problems here also so I don't use my credit card except in the big box stores.

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

They have several here. One popular church with expats is Capitol Ciry Church near the American School.

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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?

There are plenty of English speaking people here, however, most of the domestic service providers don't speak English so make sure you have some basics.

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

Oh yes! In some areas they plant trees in the miiddle of the sidewalk, even able bodied person can't pass without squeezing into it. Most sidewalks are uneven, sometime there is a hole or something sticking out - usually a piece of iron metal. If there is a wheelchair ramp, it is either high, tiny or broken.

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Transportation:

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

We can only take pre-approved taxis and they are very cheap. The metro is always packed and it take guts to ride. The buses are also ok.

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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?

I've seen all types of vehicle around here, so I would say depending upon the size of your family. And get a local driver because the traffic here is way too crazy!

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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. Price and speed are about the same as the U.S.

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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?

Telcel phones are cheap but you can also buy expensive ones. It depends on your preference.

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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?

I don't know, we don't have pets but I see many vets offices around.

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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?

I am not sure but I know some schools are looking for English teachers.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty. The different expat organizations usually support one or two.

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

Most men wear suit and tie and the women are in office attire. It is just like in the U.S. although women love to wear high heels.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Mexico City is a high risk area just like any other big cities in the world. You always have to be aware of your surroundings and avoid places that the security officer told you not to go to. Petty thieves are abound so don't wear your diamond ring around. Stay low profile.

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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?

Don't eat salad and cut fruit. Don't drink the water unless purified.

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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?

It is comparable to any big city. I think the bad time is during the months of March until early July when there is no rain. The pollen and the smog are high but not as bad like in some cities in Asia.

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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?

It is sort of forever springtime with some rains in July until December.

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Schools & Children:

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

We don't have school age children but my friends are happy with both schools. The American School and Greengates are where diplomats and expats typically send their kids.

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

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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?

Yes, I saw several around but have no experience with them. The U.S. Embassy has a list of accredited preschools in the city.

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

Yes, my friends' children are active in all sports so I pretty sure they do.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge and upbeat.

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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?

Bars/clubs, concerts and theaters.

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

I think so.

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

Yes, there is an area here called Zona Rosa where gay bars are abound.

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

No experience.

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

Being able to climb the pyramids of Mexico.

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

So many too mention. There are plenty of free museums, archaeological sites and the pyramids.

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

Plenty, e.g., Oaxacan rugs.

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

Travel to the beautiful beach resorts of Mexico and very close to the U.S. Mexico City has so many things to offer; arts, music, history, archaeology and museums. The neighboring cities are equally wonderful and interesting. And yes, you can save money but I found it expensive to shop at the mall here. However, local produce are cheap .

The Mexicans are friendly people. It is not difficult to make friends here. Women are always elegant, they even walk around in high heels.

The weather is very mild winter and summer. It rains a lot from July to November.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes as long as you will not shop along Presidente Mazaryk.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That apartments are not heated.

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

Yes, definitely. Mexico City is such a lovely place and a good place for history buffs.

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

Your parka and the perception that Mexico City is very dangerous.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and willingness to learn a new language.

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Mexico City, Mexico 12/01/13

Background:

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

Lived in Cairo, Egypt and Durban, South Africa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two year tour - I left the summer of 2013.

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

Diplomat working for U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

U.S. Embassy people:

Polanco is where you want to be, or close to it. The commute times are a real bummer for everyone who lives in Santa Fe or other outskirt neighborhood. Yes, the houses are big and the neighbors are friendly and the schools are probably better and you only get two bedrooms in Polanco - but if you don't need all that, fight for Polanco. It's worth it to be closer to the action, especially if you like eating out.

Also, there are direct bus lines (big buses, not combis) from various thoroughfares to get to the U.S. Embassy. About 50 cents a trip. Took me 30 minutes, door to door. Cabs are about US$6, takes 5 minutes. You can drive/park, carpool, get a spot at the Embassy.

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

More expensive, generally, than in the U.S. with the exception of two things:
Produce
Anything you buy that is of terrible quality, i.e. toilet paper, pasta, gadgets, whatever.

We were wasteful, but I must say we saved a ton by doing two things (if you're working at the embassy):
1. We used Amazon excessively to ship to our U.S. address, and then received the packages a day or two later. Very quick with Amazon Prime.
2. We shopped at Costco for any items we could buy in bulk.

Otherwise, I am a cook and a bit of a snob, so I shopped at the Whole Foods-almost equivalent, City Market. Superama is owned by WalMart and generally has a good selection as well.

You can get extremely cheap and decent Spanish wine (US$3), though they import all kinds. Mexican wine - if priced above US$10 - is also very good (under US$10 means it hasn't quite matured yet).

Everyone loved going to the local outdoor markets called "tianguis" but keep in mind this is the same food that they sell in grocery stores. These folks just sell outdoors (they are generally not farmers). But the experience is fun, and they can occasionally have a seasonal selection you won't find elsewhere. The Polanco Saturday Market in Lincoln Park is legendary.

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

Everything can be shipped via Amazon, if you have that luxury. If not, I'd bring everything I needed - including a refrigerator, etc. - as many apartments come completely unfurnished and without even basic appliances, so you will need to supply these things.

The other sound advice I received before arrival was that you can find absolutely anything you want in Mexico, but you should buy your clothes and electronics in the U.S. The prices are higher and the quality is worse.

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

You have the ubiquitous taco truck on every single corner. That's not an exaggeration. Cost range - cheap. But you'll get sick if you're not careful, and even when you are. Look behind the cook - does it look clean? It probably is. But the water is the problem, not the level of cleanliness, so unless they are cleaning everything with straight bleach, you can always get sick from eating out. Even/especially in restaurants.

Some of the best restaurants in the world are in Mexico too: Biko and Pujol are consistently rated in the Top 50 in the World by San Pellegrino and Restaurant's Magazine. But others too could make this list: Dulce Patria, Quintonil, Contramar, Maximo Bistrot locale, but tons are always opening and the food scene is huge.

Vegetarians: don't plan on being vegetarian long! I started eating fish before I arrived, and I don't know how I would have done it otherwise. I ordered a plain cheese quesadilla on my first day and it came filled with pork - the pork was the understood base for a "quesa"dilla, and the cheese was an extra!

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

Again, because of the elevation, few problems. We had some mosquitos as we were close to a big park.

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Daily Life:

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

U.S. embassy has a variety of mail options. It's not terribly cheap, but it's easy enough. You don't receive mail in your mailbox in Mexico - that's not a thing here. Netflix for some reason takes ages to get here and back, but Amazon was extremely fast. I'd often feel that the box arrived before I even placed the order!

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

Generally trustworthy, widely available, and extremely affordable. We had a great experience and paid about US$20/day.

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

Exorbitant. I don't know who can afford to pay for these things. US$2000 non-refundable initiation fees and US$150/month. I was priced out, so I can't offer any suggestions. Eat responsibly and run in the park.

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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?

ATM's: If you have a Bank of America account, you can withdraw from any Santander without penalty.
Credit Cards: We used Capital One Venture because there is no foreign transaction fee and you earn crazy points.

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

You can get by without Spanish, but if you will be staying for a while, you need Spanish. I was surprised at how little English is spoken/understood. No cabbies spoke English to my knowledge. Museums, restaurants, no one - and if you plan on traveling anywhere outside of Cancun or Cabo, you'll need it, unless you're staying with expats or in a B&B owned by a foreigner.

So, at the least, come with the basics.

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

Depends. The streets are broken, but there are wheelchair ramps everywhere. Most business seem to be accommodating.

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Transportation:

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

U.S. embassy folks don't hail taxis on the street. We use "Sitio" taxis, which are labelled and can be called. They are generally more expensive, but we're talking about a couple dollars to ensure you're not getting express kidnapped. So we used them and felt safe.

Trains, no. Unless you mean the Tequila Train near Tequila, Jalisco - a must-do!
Buses, sure - there are even luxury buses you can take where the seats recline, TVs, etc. Several bus station options. But frankly, I'd rather fly or drive myself, so we only did the bus option once and that was enough.

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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?

We brought a Mazda3 - loved the car; did not love the car on the roads. Potholes are EVERYWHERE. Speed bumps/TOPES are EVERYWHERE. Accidents occur less frequently than you'd think given how no one has a driver's license (they are not required) and how badly everyone drives. Braking suddenly is a way of life. The traffic is terrible and omnipresent. All this to say: an SUV. I know, it's not enviro-friendly. I know! They are gas guzzlers - I didn't bring one and still wouldn't. But if you are seriously considering driving regularly, you have to have one. Otherwise bring a car you hate because you're going to treat it like you hate it. And all the other drivers will too.

Gas is basically the same as in the U.S., but the state-owned gas monopoly Pemex is not always consistent. They will generally have bathrooms (if you stop at one outside town), but will not necessarily take credit cards or have little groceries for you to get food. They are almost everywhere, though, and generally secure.

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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?

Yep - variety of carriers. We paid about US$80 a month but had very fast service (Axtel). Getting set up is a nightmare for everyone, so plan on getting frustrated.

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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?

Unlock yours before you get here, then plan on getting robbed if you go with a cell phone plan. I didn't get a data plan, which was fine, and just recharged my SIM card at the local 7-11s when I ran out. 100 pesos (US$8) would last me a month, and even came with 1GB of data, so I could check maps if I were traveling. Cheaper this way, I think, though I always ran out of minutes when I was on the road - so that was the trade-off.

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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?

There are lots of vets, and they often provide kenneling services. Exotic pets and vets are available, but you will have to do a fair amount of research/phone calls to find out who. The internet is not great for discovering service providers in general.

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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. There are 22 million people in this town and everyone's looking for work, and willing to earn less than you.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not sure, but this is a good question. I'm not sure this industry is well developed. There is a Red Cross, but I'm not sure what work they do. I know of folks who did events with their religious communities. I'm not sure about Habitat or the more developed places - these aren't hugely popular from what I understand. But there are lots of animal conservation places which let you volunteer - turtles, rainforests, mangrove swamps, whale sharks - that sort of thing.

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

U.S. Embassy - mostly formal. Most men and women wear suits.
In public, leans towards trendy in fashiony neighborhoods, and more formal in nicer restaurants.

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Health & Safety:

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

The embassy security team never ceases to remind you that this is still a high-threat country where crime is a serious concern. I think that's true, though I have to admit I never once felt unsafe, not even at late hours. No one even looked at me the wrong way. Now granted I did not go to dangerous areas (embassy folks are not allowed), but the restaurant/neighborhood areas (Polanco, Santa Fe, Condesa, Roma, Zona Rosa, San Angel, Coyoacan) are all pretty reliably safe, and my friends all said the same.

That being said, there are plenty of places downtown which would not qualify under the 'safe' category, and one must always be paying attention lest you wander aimlessly into a sketchier neighborhood. Everyone should follow basic street and city-safety practices. If you leave your luggage unattended, someone will probably steal it. If you look lost, someone will probably take advantage of you.

Also, U.S. embassy employees are not currently allowed to visit 2 hours west of Mexico City (the state of Michoacan) and anything north of the state of Guanajuato - but this really did not hinder our travels any. We still didn't have time to see everything on our bucket list.

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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?

Are there ever not? The quality of care is good, and many women give birth in local hospitals without any complaints. If you are in a motor cycle accident in Chiapas, say, and don't have health or travel insurance or someone to pay to get you home, you might be in trouble.

Be prepared for bad water. This can show up in any number of ways - washing, brushing teeth, ice, dirty taco stands, clean taco stands. It's a way of life, and unavoidable. The water that leaves the filtration plants is clean, but old sewage pipes run along the same corridors as the water pipes and are corroded, leaking the sewage into the entire water system. (This is what I've heard at least.) We bleached all our fruit/veg. We boiled water for 5 minutes past boiling point (because of altitude). We bought "garafones" of water - giant 20L bottles which are great and last about a week.

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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?

You almost forget the air is bad until you fly back through the city and see the thick blanket of smog choking the entire landscape (and it's flat and wide - Mexicans build outwards, not upwards). So it can be kind of gross. Those with allergies may be relieved by the lack of pollen, but still suffer from all the pollution. It's not easy. The summer rainy season brings nice relief for a few months, but January and February churn out red-day after red-day.

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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?

Aside from the pollution, the climate is perfect. For Fahrenheit-minded folks, the temps rarely dip below 50 at night and rarely reach above 80. Most days are in the 70s and nights in the 60s. Jackets are fine. I never once wore a coat and can remember only one day when I regretted that. Even when it's rainy, it's still dry. Because of the elevation, there is never any humidity. You don't really sweat. It's incredibly strange if you are coming from a humid environment, but very welcome all the same. Loved the weather.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. What you make of it. You can ignore everyone if you like and no one will notice. Seriously. You can be gone every weekend, or at home, or living the life of a star - and you can incorporate everyone you know or no one at all. Totally will be your decision. It's nice to have the option to escape and to also sometimes be included, frankly. This is not a place where you rely heavily on your coworkers for entertainment, unless you want that (and they do too).

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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?

Restaurants. Bars. Clubs. Performances. Musical concerts. It's a big city and not sleepy.

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

All of the above!
What is there to say: you will make of this experience what you want. If you like eating fancy, it's for you. If you like eating cheap, it's for you. If you like staying at home, then maybe you should consider Africa as they get mansions and we don't, but if you want to stay home every night, well the housing is pretty decent too. Lots of tourism (see above), lots of entertainment, easy to meet people, and Mexicans are very friendly. You'll get lots of phone numbers if you go out late, though you'll never hear from anyone and your plans will probably fall through (or you will get texts every five minutes - the culture is a bit funny that way).

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

Excellent. DF and Quintana Roo are two states in Mexico that recognize and perform gay marriage. I was here as part of a gay couple, and the city is very open. You'll see straight and gay alike making out on every corner (people can't do it at home), and most people don't care. They have a good-sized Pride parade. There are at least a dozen well-known dance clubs that steer gay, tons of bars in Zona Rosa catering to gays, and a mixture of both that cater to your various queer types (bears, les, white, dark, etc.). Money goes a long way in this town, so if you look wealthy (read: foreigner), you'll bypass everyone else waiting in line - so be prepared to say 'excuse me' and look humbly grateful.

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

I'd say yes, but I don't know that foreigners experience these problems (I will not speak for everyone). Race is an issue if you're Mexican, in that rich people tend to be whiter (and often Spanish-looking) and poorer are darker (and more indigenous-looking) - which goes back hundreds of years, and only now are those things starting to change. Gender can be a problem too, though again - foreigners generally don't experience it I don't think as there are plenty of women in positions of power in Mexico.

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

The travel opportunities are incredible:

For one-day visitors, downtown affords an accessible opportunity to see ancient, colonial, and modern Mexico. Start with the Xocalo and then go to any of the great restaurants in the Condesa/Roma area.

For several days, there are a number of day-trips within the city (takes a while to get around a city this big, naturally) - Xochimilco water canals, the pyramids, Basilica de Guadalupe, a number of magic towns, Cuernavaca or Puebla (if they want to see a smaller big town), Chapultepec park, Coyoacan, museums, clubs, etc.

For those who live here, your options are limitless, really. The country established a program called "pueblos magicos" that pumps a bit of money into towns all over the country in order to promote tourism. Some have done a better job than others, but many are worth the time and there are a good two dozen within a day's drive of Mexico City, each requiring just an hour or two to arrive and you can spend 30 minutes to a full day there - stay until you leave, really. Some you'll find are less impressive, but most have either an interesting local cuisine, neat architecture, a nice museum, pre-colonial ruins, interesting dress or wares to buy. For weekend trips, there are lots of options - each of the big cities within driving/flying distance deserve a longer look - Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Puebla, Oaxaca, Merida, Morelia (though I never made it), Queretaro - among many others. Cancun and the Maya Riviera region are always great to meet the less-adventurous. The beaches there are among the best in the world, and the all-inclusive places are fabulous during slower season. If you're looking to get out of the city-life, we had an excellent week touring Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, stayed in swank resorts in Cabo, saw indigenous life throughout Chiapas, and did great road adventures through Veracruz, Hidalgo, Jalisco, and broader swaths of El Bajio.

Seriously, if travel is your thing, Mexico has some hidden gems. Sure, take your guidebook, but there's plenty of unexplored areas which really make you feel intrepid. Nothing left in Europe like that.

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

For Pueblos Magicos, my favorites were the hike up Tepoztlan, the museum at Tepozotlan (don't mix those two up!), the falls at Huasca de Ocampo, the views of Bernal, the hikes through the Sierras, the fabulous churrigeresque churches surrounding Popocatepetl, the Arcos del Sitio in the State of Mexico, absolutely everything in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, and the ruins at Malinalco, Cantona, and Tula. All are day or weekend trips.

In the city, riding on a boat in Xochimilco with friends and a bunch of beers/food is a total relaxfest. The Frida/Diego/Trotsky circuit is loads of interesting fun - and don't miss Diego's pyramid museum Anahuacalli. You can take architecture tours of some of the local legends' designs. I loved lucha libre wrestling matches - hilarious stuff. Excellent history/art/anthropology museums, if that's your ticket. Ruins everywhere, though Teotihuacan pyramids are the best/biggest.

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

Limitless. Mexican handicrafts make for some of the coolest (and tackiest) gifts/ornaments/decoration you can find. There are lots of Christmas things, as well as paraphernalia related to lucha libre (wrestlers), ceramics, silver, pottery, stick figures called alebrijes, ornate boxes, masks, crosses, tiles, and all sorts of knick-knacks you can bring home with you as gifts.

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

Mexico City is a real treat because it affords a good amount of luxury, comforts, travel opportunities, culture, big city amenities and entertainment, and off-the-beaten path opportunities for visitors. The weather is spectacular. The people are incredibly friendly. As a tourist or a resident, you can spend as much or as little as you want on food, entertainment, etc. There is never a lack of things to do, as even the most adventurous never tick everything off their bucket list. If you like Mexican food, you're in luck! (Though here, they just call it "food.")

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10. Can you save money?

Absolutely. I traveled every weekend and still managed to accumulate enough savings for a down payment on a house - no joke.

The trick: cook your own food. If you eat out, you'll be spending US$30 a meal. It's pricey at nice places. And if you like clubbing, plan on dropping US$100-$150 in an evening, each.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

1. Service is horrendous. Over the phone, in person, etc. - you will constantly be frustrated if trying to resolve an issue. Think setting up internet, opening a bank account, trying to get a credit card to work when you know it's not your fault, getting something fixed, airline problems -- anything that would require a little bit of customer attention or help is missing from this culture - EVEN THOUGH maybe 10% of people work in the "customer service industry." It sure doesn't feel like it. That being said, Mexicans are generally nice - they just don't budge when it comes to accommodating clients.

2. The roads are terrible. See the above section on driving.

3. Airfare is expensive. Don't move here thinking you can get cheap tickets home or to other parts of the country. I went home once in two years. My friends/family spent less on their total vacations to Cancun than I did when we would meet there.

4. Altitude can be a problem for some. I had stomach issues the whole time I was there, but general fatigue wears off after a few weeks. Also, living at altitude is seriously a lifestyle commitment I didn't plan on making. You have to boil water for 5 minutes past boiling point to make sure it's actually sterile. Baking is completely different at altitude. Pasta takes 20 minutes to cook. It's an adjustment if you like cooking.

5. True vegetarianism/veganism is almost impossible, unless you cook for yourself. Expect no one to understand the concept outside of big cities, and even in big cities you are certain to find bits of meat find their way onto your plate or tortilla. There are some veg restaurants, though, and if you keep looking, you'll find some great options (try tlacoyos filled with fava beans (haba) and smothered in cactus leaves (nopales) and salsa - scrumptious).

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

Absolutely. Mexico City is so completely under the radar right now because of the violence in the north. Take advantage of it while you still can!

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3. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Amores Perros
and Y Tu Mama Tambien (English subtitled)
are both exceptional and were filmed here.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

Wouldn't trade in this experience for anything.

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Mexico City, Mexico 07/04/13

Background:

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

No, this is my third expat experience.

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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. 4.30 hours to Mexico City. Direct flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The US Embassy offers apartments and houses. Most apartments are located in Polanco. They tend to be nice, although some of them are not exactly new. Houses in Santa Fe are very nice, but they are far from the embassy. The embassy used to rent some housing in the trendy Condesa neighborhood but not anymore. Housing is good overall but is not furnished (except a for some cases). Polanco is our favorite place, since we like to walk with the kids -- although Las Lomas is nice, too, because of the yards and the size of the houses.

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

About the same as in the U.S.

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

You can get everything here. Maybe some more Ikea furniture.

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

No fast food for me, thanks -- except tacos and street food. Restaurants: you name it. Excellent mexican, spanish, japanese, argentinean/uruguayan food. Wide range of prices.

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

No, at least in our apartment. Houses have the typical yard fauna, nothing special.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. Very fast.

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

Ample availability at good prices.

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

The embassy has a small but decent gym. Membership costs at the public sports centers or country clubs are prohibitive.

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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?

Be careful of your surroundings, but cards are widely accepted.

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

Many, all denominations are here.

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

A basic cable TV and internet package costs around $40 per month. For more money you can get better TV and fiber optic internet.

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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?

It's important to speak some Spanish.

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

Polanco is okay, there are ramps, etc in the streets. The rest of the city an be difficult for physically-disabled people, although mexicans are very polite and always eager to help anytime. Mexico City is improving its infrastructure for the disabled, but it still has a long way to go.

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Transportation:

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

Green buses are ok and safe. Taxis too (but only the "sitio" taxis -- don't use the rest). For national travel that requires flying, use Interjet.

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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?

I would bring a regular car. The typical SUV is ok. Nothing much bigger, though, since parking spots tend to be small. All brands are found in the DF. You will see super-fancy cars all the time here.

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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?

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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?

No preferences. Ample offerrings.

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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?

No.

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

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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?

Yep. All the big companies are here. Salaries could be an issue, although it depends on the job. In general, it's better to be hired as an expat than a local. There are some embassy jobs for those with Spanish.

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

Mexicans tend to dress more formally than Americans. The use of shorts and sneakers is a bad even for tourists (except at the beach). Of course they never will tell you that is not ok, but...

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Health & Safety:

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

El DF surprised us for being more safe that we had heard. You can walk in Polanco (where a lot of diplomats live) or other areas (Condesa, Downtown, Coyoacan) without a problem. Downtown Mexico City is fairly empty at night, so it is best enjoyed during the day. As always, it's good to be cautious and to not look too much like a foreigner (shorts, etc).

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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?

The altitude can be an issue for some people. Pollution is another. Colds and flu last forever. Food poisoning is unavoidable but nothing dangerous. El DF ranks high with world-class doctors, and the health unit at the embassy is pretty good.

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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?

I would say that it is pretty decent for such big city. There are days and there are days, but it's OK overall. Colds tend to last longer than normal.

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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?

Summers are mild with sunny mornings and rainy afternoons. Winters are moderately cold and sunny.

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Schools & Children:

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

No experience. Do your research -- every family seems to have a different preference.

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

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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?

There are many excellent and inexpensive options. Full-time nannies are available, also at reasonable prices.

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

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge and growing.

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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?

Restaurants, movies, parties, etc.

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3. Morale among expats:

Generally high.

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

It's a good city for all. For singles because of its unbeatable offer of restaurants, fancy movie theaters, cultural offerings... And for families, you can't beat the parks (especially Chapultepec) and the friendly Mexican culture towards children and families.

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

Yes. The gay comunity is pretty large here. Gay marriage is legal in Mexico DF.

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

Mexicans tend to be very tolerant in general, although (as anywhere) people have their own opinions about foreigners such as americans, spaniards, chinese. But they usually keep to themselves. Nothing very serious. Mexicans are very class conscious (and most of the upper class is European- looking).

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

The chance to explore its unique culture. It is the mixture of the diverse indigenous cultures and the Spanish heritage that makes this country unique. Puebla, Queretaro, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende are also unforgettable places.

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

Walk the city! Visit the impressive museums. Admire the colonial architecture of Coyoacan and the centro historico, enjoy the street food, and take advantage of the Auditorio Nacional -- a world-class concert hall.

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

Everything! Carpets, pottery, etc.

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

Everything! El DF is full of very interesting places to visit and countless museums, such as the Arqueologico, Franz Mayer, MAP, Colegio de San Idelfonso, etc. The Old Town (Zocalo and surroundings) is fascinating. Condesa, El Angel, Coyoacan are beautiful -- and safe, with a lot of historical places to visit and a vibrant street life. Close to Mexico City are the colonial towns of Puebla, Tepoztlan and its impressive Museum of Colonial art, Teotihuacan and its massive pyramids, Cuernavaca, El Desierto de los Leones natural park... El DF can be kind of pricey, depending your preferences, but there are also many good and cheap places to eat at and purchase crafts. DF has fancy supermarkets such as Superama, Costco, Mega and Citymarket. The weather is perfect here, always mild. However, the pollution can be bad.

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11. Can you save money?

Maybe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. I would return to Mexico anytime.

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

idea of living in an unsophisticated city.

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3. But don't forget your:

good manners. Mexicans always say "hello" and "goodbye" when entering/leaving work, meeting on the street, etc. Don't be rude and pass by someone you know without a salutation.

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

- First Stop in the New World, David Lida.
- La Region Mas Transparente/the Most Transparent Region, Carlos Fuentes.
- The True History of The Conquest of New Spain, Bernal Diaz Del Castillo.
- Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya.
- Pedro Paramo, Juan Rulfo.
- Breve Historia de Mexico and Historia de Mexico, Colegio de Mexico (Spanish)
- The Man Who Loved Dogs: A Novel, Leonardo Padura. (better in Spanish)
- The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico, Octavio Paz.
- The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolano.
- Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan, Carlos Cstaneda.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

- The Exterminating Angel, Nazarin, Los Olvidados (aka The Young And The Damned) by Luis Bunuel.
- Place without limits, Mentiras Piadosas, El castillo de la pureza by Arturo Ripstein.
- El Corazon De La Noche, Jaime Humberto Hermosillo.
- Amores Perros, Emilio Echeverria.
- Los de abajo, Eric del Castillo.
- El Santo contra las momias de Guanajuato, Federico Curiel.
- Alla en el Rancho Grande.
- El Infierno and La Ley de Herodes, Damian Alcazar.

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Mexico City, Mexico 01/18/13

Background:

1. 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?

Maryland in the U.S. A direct flight takes about five hours from Mexico City to Dulles.

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

(The contributor works for the U.S. Government and has been living in Mexico City for 18 months, a second expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments in the Polanco area and houses or apartments in the Bosques area. Where we live has the equivalent of row-houses or town homes.

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

Local fruits and vegetables are really inexpensive and of great quality. We love to shop at the local open markets for seasonal fruits and vegetables. Costco, Walmart and Sam's Club are just about everywhere in Mexico.

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

You really can get everything you need here. The American brands cost a little bit more (like about 25% higher than what they cost in US). Asian ingredients are not easy to get, and when you see them in the super markets the prices are very high.

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

Everything and anything you can possibly think of under the sun is here in Mexico. The cost for US-chain fast food is comparable to the prices in US. Of course, the local food is much cheaper. You can get a set meal for lunch for about $5.

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

We had a very mild ant problem and occasional bouts with tiny scorpions, but nothing else.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the embassy's postal service.

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

I went through 4 different housekeepers. Good help is hard to find.

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

Yes, Golds Gym and many other local gyms are available. The embassy also has a gym.

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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?

We use effectivo (cash) for almost everything. Large supermarkets and businesses take credit cards. ATMs are available on every street corner.

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

You do need to be able to communicate in the local language if you want to do some real shopping. The cashiers and store keepers do not speak English, except in the heavy tourist areas. For daily living, you need the local language to get around.

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

I don't know about English newspapers, but the TV has many English-speaking service providers and programs. We have Dish Network. The prices are comparable to those in the States.

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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?

You do need to be able to communicate in the local language if you want to do some real shopping. The cashiers and store keepers do not speak English, except in the heavy tourist areas. For daily living, you need the local language to get around.

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

They do try to make it easy for the physicaly-challenged population.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are frequent, and there are good taxi services. Very affordable!

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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?

We have an SUV, which is wonderful for here because of thre enormous number of speed bumps. The roads are good. Highways are great. The US Government has issued specific routes that the embassy USDH cannot travel on, but it has not been bad or inconvenient for us for the time that we have lived here.

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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?

Our high-speed internet is packaged with the TV--Dish Network.

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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?

There are many service providers and packages to choose from. You can pretty much get everything you need here!

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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?

Eligible Family Members can work for the embassy.

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

Normal dress code in the embassy for both men and women.

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Health & Safety:

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

I have never felt any threat against me or my family. We've heard horror stories, but for the most part if you use your good sense and tale precautions, there are no serious threats.

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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?

The embassy has a well-staffed Health Unit. The staff is very knowledgeable. And there are good hospitals in nearby areas.

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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?

Air pollution is bad here. We lived in the Santa Fe area, which is about another 1000 ft higher than Mexico City (approx. 7000 ft.). The air quality is better here where we lived, due to the area's much newer development. It is also like US living.

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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?

We love the weather here. It's mild and dry. The rain season is during the summer, from late May to late September. The humidifiers run 24/7 in our household, and I still want to scratch all the time due to dryness.

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Schools & Children:

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

My kids go to ASF (American School Foundation). We are okay with their academic program for both elementry and middle schools. However, the school's bullying problem has not improved. I believe that the bullying situation is not just the local Mexican kids versus the American kids, but also some American kids agsinst other American kids. What we experienced was more of the verbal bullying, rather than the physical bullying. But it all serves the same and hurts the same.

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

Yes, plenty for kids. American School Foundation offers many after-school sports programs, as do the other schools. Also, there are programs, such as Karate classes, offered by private companies.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a good-sized expat community in Mexico City.

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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?

You will not find a dull moment in Mexico City.

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3. Morale among expats:

Generally good. Although many sometimes find the traffic and the way people drive here in Mexico to be frustrating.

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

Yes, you can find all kinds activities for both adults and kids: sports, arts, music, etc.

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

Yes, there is a pretty big gay and lesbian community. I have heard of (and seen) the Gay and Lesbian Parade that takes place once a year.

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

You can find all kinds of religious services here in Mexico City. The majority of the local population here is Catholic.

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

We loved to travel, and we loved to drive to all of our destinations. You don't get to see the different towns and cities if you fly over them. Also, the food is amazing here! We all LOVE Mexican food.

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

Thirty miles outside of Mexico City is the most-visited archeological site "Teotihucan". Also, within the city and near-by area, you will find great places to visit, such as Templo Mayor, Plaza de las Tres Culturas, Chapultepec Park, Calixtlahuaca, Tula, Cantona, Tepanapa, Yohualichán, Cacaxtla and many more.

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

Pottery, carpets, furniture.

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

Mexico, the country as a whole, has a lot to offer. If you like history, you'll really have a party here exploring all of the archeological sites. We really loved driving to many different places/states to see them all.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, most definitely.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. Definitely!

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Mexico City, Mexico 01/16/13

Background:

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

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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?

Toronto, a 5-hour direct flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor is a diplomat with the Canadian Embassy who has been living in Mexico City for three years, a first experience as a diplomat.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Polanco, Lomas, and Reforma where most expats live are close to work, 5-10 minute drive or about double to walk.

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

No issues with availability, Costco/Walmart and many major chains exist here. Cost is generally a bit cheaper than an average Canadian/American city. There are many weekend markets with produce, but they are often more expensive than the supermarket and sell the same product.

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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?

All North American chains, generally cheaper than in Canada/US.

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

There are some mosquitoes, but not many problems with them.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Readily available and cheap, usually about 300 pesos a day for a nanny or housekeeper.

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

Yes, but they can be expensive. There are many options.

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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?

ATMs are everywhere, just be careful as card cloning is rampant here.

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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?

Cablevision has a Digital package that includes about 40 HD channels, many of which have English option. About C$50-60 dollars a month.

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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?

The more Spanish the better, English is only spoken by the upper middle class and above. Most restaurants have English menus available if needed.

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

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap and safe, though you should use a Sitio or Elite cab when available. The subway costs 25 cents and is ok, but very packed with people.

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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?

North American makes are best as the parts are more readily available. Any car will do, but expect it to get a few little dings.

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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, Cablevision and others have high speed internet services for similar prices to those in Canada/US.

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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?

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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?

No.

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

Good vets can be found without much problem and are cheap.

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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?

View All Answers


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

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Health & Safety:

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

Mexico is a very poor country for the most part, so keep an eye on your wallet. Violent crime is minimal, mostly petty theft to worry about.

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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?

The private hospitals offer great service. Doctors are US/Mexican trained. Dentists are often US educated. You will, without a doubt, have stomach problems here at some point.

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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?

Moderate to unhealthy in the winter months. The elevation combined with pollution is difficult for many visitors.

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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?

20-30c year 'round. In the winter months it cools down in the evening and morning, and occasionally will be as low as 0c in the morning, but almost everyday warms up in the later morning through the afternoon.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Large, though pretty spread out. If you search out events, you can find them easily.

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2. Morale among expats:

High.

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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?

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

Good for all, though I think the single scene is a bit tougher if you don't speak Spanish. Families and couples enjoy it.

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

Yes, same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City, and there are often PRIDE events.

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

Not that I have seen.

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

Visits to pyramids, small towns, Mariachi bands on the streets of Mexico City, great food, and great local friends. Mexicans are generally a very welcoming people.

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

Good shopping, lots of movie theaters...etc. Everything you have in Canada/US you can find in Mexico City.

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

hand-made wooden furniture, local tequilas/mezcals, lucha masks, and so on

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

Life in Mexico City (and Mexico in general) is pretty cheap, and there are lots of beautiful little towns to visit in addition to the more touristy beaches. Mexico City has nearly perfect weather year 'round.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

yes

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

everything, its all available here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Cipro (for when the Mexican food/water does a number on you).

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Man On Fire
(you will recognize alot of the locations, but don't get paranoid about kidnappings, they are rare)

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

First Stop in the New World

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Mexico City, Mexico 05/22/12

Background:

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

No: Arlington, VA, Dakar, Senegal.

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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?

US. Five hours with United. Nine hours (2 legs+ lay over) with American Airlines, the mandatory route for Mexico to DC on State Department orders.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years (2010 to 2012).

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

Government's orders - end of tour.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Polanco has mostly apartments, but we gladly sacrificed to have a short commute (20 minutes in the morning and 15 in the afternoon). If demonstrations were planned we came back by foot (40 to 50 minutes depending on pace). Some colleagues were traumatized about the commute from Sante Fe.

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

Very available: local markets, great supermarkets, and of course Costco & Sam's club ... Much cheaper than the US for all but good cheese.

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

Spices: they have little choice -- but many new Chili peppers.

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

All major US fast food except Wendy. The food is so good here (like in Paris but cheaper) you don't want to get fast food unless it is delicious tacos on the street. The sample gourmet menu in the top 10 restaurants is priced around $80/person (service is 10-15%), so you can have very good meals for half this price.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Lots of choice.

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

Altitude is too high to have any bug - perfect.

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Daily Life:

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

Via the embassy.

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

Normally 250 pesos a day (a day is NOT 8 hours for a Mexican maid, at best 7 hours including lunch) - so about $22/day. In Polanco/Santa Fe, Americans tend to pay more, but Mexican households in the same areas pay less. Then you add Aguinaldo (Xmas bonus, 2 to 4 weeks depending on agreement), 7 paid holidays and severance pay of 3 months -- due after only 3 months at your service, so choose wisely and fast.

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

Many, but some are very expensive (Mundet) and none are cheap.

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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?

No problems at all. Very easy. There are 24/7 stores everywhere called Oxxo that have do ATMs as well.

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

Yes.

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

Yes. Very affordable.

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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?

I spoke Spanish before, improved during, and it is better to know the language, especially in the provinces. Most people speak English in the capital.

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

Sidewalks are very tricky, full of bumps & holes.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are 4 to 5 pesos (divide by 12 for US$), Polanco to the US Embassy is about 60-70 pesos on a safe 'sitio' taxi. Non-sitios (forbidden by the US Embassy) are half this price.

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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?

We were told not to bring a black SUV (after we had shipped our car) because the 'narcos' use the same. We never had a problem with our large Nissan. We took big because if you wish to visit the country you need high clearance. The garage was next door.

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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. Less than $40 a month for 2MB.

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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?

Many people have iPhone or Blackberry. We used Telcel.

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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?

No.

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

Yes. Carolina Faz Basurto was a great vet - CLO has her numbers.

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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?

Yes, at local wages (low) and with a good level of Spanish. At the Embassy, wages are slightly higher, but many jobs have high expectations in Spanish (4/4 often required for good jobs), a few are available with no language requirements.

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

People overdress compared to the US. At the Embassy it depends on the service you work for. Some people wore flip flops!

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Health & Safety:

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

As any other big city, but not as bad as the press writes. We took buses and the metro in full security.

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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?

High altitude can be bad for some. It never affected me. Sometimes people would get really sick for 1 day (big migraine), and then be good again the next day.

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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?

Not as polluted as people say.

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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?

Wonderful. Mostly in the high 70s. The winters are chilly in the morning, but by 2pm, it's above 60. Raining sometimes, but not the standard pattern that they tell you in guidebooks (rainy season is supposed to be June to October, we barely saw rain in 2010). One day in March 2012 we were in tee-shirts all day and it hailed so strongly around 5pm that we had enough hail to make a snowman. Fun!

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Schools & Children:

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

Whether the school calls itself US, UK, or French, they are ALL very Mexican: a large majority of Mexican students (sometimes only 1 or 2 American student per class), drinking at an early age. It is probably better at the primary level.

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

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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?

Most people would use an in-house nanny.

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

At school and outside yes, lots.

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Expat Life:

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

1 million or more!

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2. Morale among expats:

It depends if they are retirees or people on a 2-year tour. Usually people like/love it, but there are a few grumpy ones (I have not quite figure out why!).

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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?

Great.

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

It is a great city for all.

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

It is a great city for all.

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

I have not noticed any.

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

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

Too many to list. Mexico encompasses the culture of the equivalent of Southern Europe + Aztec/Mayas + wonderful beaches + mountains/volcanoes to climb. Mexico City had many wonderful museums, architecture, lucha libre, many opportunities for 2-day weekends around the city.

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

Pineda Covalin (Mexican designer) silk items - better than Hermes for originality. Local artisans' products. Furniture. Pottery. Too many to list.

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

Weather, fantastic culture, delicious food, all at a fraction of the cost in the US. No saving money if you extensively visit the country like we did.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes - if you don't travel extensively in nice hotels and don't eat in top restaurants often.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Food - you can get anything here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience in traffic and aggressive driving skills!

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Presunto Culpable : Official Edition
, Infierno
,
, Amores Perros
.

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

First Stop in the New World
by David LIDA. Exceptional book for anyone who will live here.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Most tourists rush to the beach or the pyramids. They are missing a fantastic city which offers everything.

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Mexico City, Mexico 04/25/11

Background:

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

eighth

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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?

Easy four-hour direct flight from Washington Dulles

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3. How long have you lived here?

2009 - 2010

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

government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Half of embassy housing is in apartments in an area less than an hour's walk from the embassy. The other half is of various types out in the suburbs, under an hour's drive in ideal traffic. If one attempts the commute during rush hour[s], that tends to become two hours or so. As a result, those who can do so prefer to work a 7am-4pm day.

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

Mexican food is probably 20% cheaper than in Washington; US-style food & supplies maybe 20% more than Washington; Asian-style food costs 50% more.

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

That stereo and computer I sent to a landfill before leaving Washington. In Mexico, someone would fix them up and keep them running and well-used for another decade or two.

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

Good restaurants typically cost ten to twenty dollars for a normal meal. Local ones can be five to ten.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

The restaurant market seems mostly unaware of minority dietary groups.

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

Mosquitoes do exist, but due to the altitude this is not considered Dengue fever country. Scorpions are reported in natural areas and in apartments/ homes near ground level. Some roaches, same as anywhere else in the world.

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Daily Life:

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

I used the embassy logistics center in Texas. For those coming from Washington it can be useful to have that Texas address on record rather than the standard one in Virginia. The embassy commissary sells US postage with a service fee.

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

Available and affordable. But be aware of various local labor laws and expected bonuses--like one month's extra pay every Christmas and another before your departure. Some do bring a nanny from another country but I don't have the details.

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

Yes

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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?

Credit cards are widely accepted by hotels, major grocery stores/ shopping centers, and the airport taxi companies. As for cash, a Banamex bank branch in the embassy basement reduces the risk of ATM muggings for embassy personnel.

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

Yes

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

Basic cable service included in some apartment blocks tends to have several English channels.

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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?

Not much. Many Spanish words can be recognized by an English speaker anyway.

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

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Transportation:

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

Bus services seem safe enough and affordable. Independent taxis are considered a kidnap risk. Taxi-stand taxis may cost more, but are usually affordable and reliable. The subway system is excellent and affordable, but does not serve the nicer suburbs. During rush hour the subway is overcrowded; and at all times, CD-sellers walk around with deafening boom-boxes that make it impossible to hear one's own mp3 player.

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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 old car will attract less attention from the cops looking for tips. And if the car is a type not marketed in Mexico, its theft-value for spare parts will be low. A small vehicle will be easier to park and to maneuver in tight situations. Strong shocks and tires plus heightened suspension are needed for the potholes, missing manhole covers, and frequent, oddly-shaped speed bumps. A diplomatic vehicle more than ten years old cannot be sold within Mexico, but many Mexicans have relatives north of the border who will facilitate the transaction. Despite the low cost of labor, so much auto repair work is fraudulent that it is not worthwhile to get it done in Mexico. Even dealerships have a pattern of pushing needless repairs, swapping in inferior parts, breaking as much as they fix, and overcharging. To get quality parts, one generally shops online. Having said that, Toyota deserves commendation and here's why:Mr. Jose Velazquez at their Interlomas dealership has excellent English from spending much of his life in the States. He is good at diagnosing and explaining, and often did not charge me for minor repairs. Service there is on par with the best in any country.

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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?

Telmex DSL is similar in cost and performance to Verizon DSL--that is to say usable and almost up to first-world standards. For those who have the choice, DSL and landline can be bundled for about $50 total per month. However due to complexities of landlines, embassy personnel are required to keep them separate and pay about $40 for each. Telmex's 3g wireless internet for laptops is probably the best deal in the country at about $35, and the business community swears by it. Cablevision also offers somewhat faster internet, and has recently been allowed to bundle phone services as well, but they are not available in all residential areas.

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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?

Telmex and Nextel are the two options. Either one is a better deal than a land-line. Telmex tends to cost a bit more and have better coverage outside the major cities. Nextel works fine in Mexico City and has better international coverage.

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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)?

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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?

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

Long pants are the norm and suits/ties are common, more so than the rest of the country. This is because of the cooler weather, higher economic class, and higher levels of government present.

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Health & Safety:

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

Minor theft by domestic help is the norm. Occasional harassment by cops (hoping for tips) tends to happen to those with nice cars--especially if they don't have diplomatic plates. Kidnapping and mugging are to be watched out for, though I experienced neither. Gate-guarded communities are the rule for both business and diplomatic personnel.

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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?

Consumption of raw or undercooked food tends to reliably prevent constipation--so, that is never a problem in Mexico. To get "good" health care, you are advised to use the big, clean hospitals in the nicer suburbs. Those hospitals cost at least as much as in the US, but if you do have occasion to go to the emergency room, the staff will still just sit around and chat with each other until well after all paperwork and payments are completed. Best practice is to get contact info for the embassy's designated liaison doctor and know the route to his particular hospital before it is needed. It says something about the state of the medical system, that during the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak all diagnostic samples had to be sent to Washington or Ottawa for analysis. It also says something that the ambulance services raise their funds by "passing-the-hat" at busy intersections.

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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?

Not healthy, but not nearly as bad as Delhi or Beijing either. The hilly western suburbs are especially breatheable, except for just a couple days per year. Then again, sitting in idling rush-hour traffic for a couple hours each day doesn't help the lungs nor the blood pressure.

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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?

Can get below 10C/ 40F up in the hilly suburbs in January. Can get up to 35C/ 95F in March on the valley floor. Monsoonal almost-daily thunderstorms May-September; rest of year almost no 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?

Many schools are available: American, British, French, Irish, Japanese, to name a few.

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

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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?

The embassy runs one of their own.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

All over the map. Since this is a big globalized city, the expat community is not cohesive.

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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?

Museums are especially good. But really, there is some of pretty much everything in a city that big.

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Very little

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

Road trips around Central Mexico. For example: Go for a drive out of town when strawberries are in season. Support the small farmers along the freeway by buying gallon-sized hand-made wicker baskets of strawberries for a dollar or two, and bringing them back for all your friends.

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

The many daily hours of traffic gridlock tend to prevent evening activities for suburban residents. But aside from that, the possibilities are endless.

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

Kidnap ransoms, donations to underpaid cops and ambulance crews, and an amazing variety of handmade local artwork.

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

Perfect weather, big city/ first-world amenities and infrastructure, easy language, easy to visit the US

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11. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely!

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

Stamps and coins. If you put all your coins in one bag when moving out, the packers will refuse to pack it because of a law on the books saying one cannot take "coin collections" out of Mexico. But if you scatter those coins thru the pockets of your clothing, you are okay. Likewise for stamps. If they are all together in a collection, it is illegal to pack them up and take them out of the country--even if nothing has been added since you brought them into the country. But intersperse the albums among your photos/ records/ books and you are okay. Safer not to have brought them into the country in the first place.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience--both for traffic and for Byzantine bureaucracy.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Mexico City, Mexico 04/27/10

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 in US. Regular flights to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami with little difficulty.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years - August 2006 to June 2009.

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

Spouse of U.S. Embassy employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy-provided apartment in Polanco (upscale area in city). Twenty-minute commute. When traffic builds up - (and it does) - about an hour.

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

Walmart owns the local Superama markets, and there is Costco. For cultural - and much cheaper - fare, go to the farmers' markets that the locals use.

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

Comfortable walking shoes.

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

Pretty much everything in terms of fast food except Taco Bell, Wendy's and Quiznos. Most American chain restaurants are here, but they are a lot more expensive than in the States. Aside from fast food, there are some pretty terrific restaurants in Mexico City -- Argentine steak houses, authentic Mexican restaurants (not tex-mex), and you can get a great meal at a decent price.

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

Never had much of an issue ourselves, but some houses had scorpion issues.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy based APO mail. Mexican postal service is a joke from what other expats have told us. Some used Mailboxes etc, Fed Ex, UPS or DHL.

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

Cost varies - locals pay less than expats. Embassy employees are held to a ridiculous standard in terms of pay and severance pay. Be sure to check references; theft and dishonesty are issues.

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

There are several workout facilities (Gold's Gym, etc) and a couple of club-style organizations (Mundette).

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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?

It is easy to open a local account at the embassy. Banamex is owned by Citibank. Use standard ATM common sense precautions.

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

Mostly Catholic, but a couple of Protestant and Jewish services. Not too much in terms of mosques and temples, you really have to look.

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

Bootleg dish tv if you pay a fortune to set it up or are lucky to get housing where it has already been used. Cablevision is TERRIBLE to install and to suspend, but it has basic English programming for a lower cost.

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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?

A basic knowledge of Spanish is ideal, but you will find English speakers among younger people.

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

The sidewalks - where they exist - are in rough shape. Wheelchairs, crutches, even high heels can pose a problem.

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Transportation:

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

Use only registered taxis to avoid drama in your life.

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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?

Vehicles are a hassle to get into and out of the country. The embassy is great help for employees, although getting a diplomatic plate takes ages. There are license-plate-based restrictions for the daily drive. The traffic signs are mostly decorative, and the driving is aggressive.

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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?

Cablevision has a combo package, but the telephone company is much more reasonable and has better service.

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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?

Get a local no-plan cell from Telcel. All you do is buy cards as you go. And at the end of your time in Mexico, you can pass along or sell the phone to someone else. Most US phone plans now have a North America plan available, as well.

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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?

No, but all your vaccination paperwork must be in order, and you will need paperwork from a US vet upon arrival and a Mexican vet for your outbound trip.

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

Go by recomendations only, and even then be careful. The embassy used to recommend a pet service that nearly killed one dog and made a half dozen more seriously ill. Animania in Polanco is run by a very qualified English-speaking vet who truly loves animals and offers excellent kennel services.

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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?

There is a job office in the embassy (called SNAP). But unless you want to teach English to bored executives, don't bother. Use the American Chamber for leads, or work via the Internet as a freelancer.

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

Business Casual is about as casual as you should be. No shorts here!

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Health & Safety:

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

Be aware. Use common sense, as crime exists as in any big city. Use only registered (sitio) taxis; no ATM at night, etc. We heard a lot of horror stories but did not encounter any major issues.

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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?

Respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses abound. Definitely watch what you eat and drink here.

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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?

Air quality is not great, but it was worse before they instituted no-drive days (monitored via license plate numbers). Spring is tough on allergies.

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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?

The climate is temperate throughout the year. Mexicans are very sensitive to cold weather, and it is not unusual to see them bundled up in winter gear on a cool Spring morning.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

Lighthouse School is an excellent international preschool in Polanco. The embassy also provides a daycare, but I do not know enough to comment.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Large and very involved.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale is up and down in waves. You hate it or you love it. To make your stay bearable, associate with positive people.

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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?

Mexicans are very family oriented and love big family events. Count yourself lucky to be included. Otherwise, dining out with a group of friends or pub crawls are the way to go.

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

Singles and couples will do okay as long as they are adventurous. Families will find some difficulties unless they get into a social group.

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

Mexico City is becoming more and more tolerant of the gay community. Cultural taboos still exict for lesbians. There is a whole revamped red-light district filled with gay bars and specialty shops.

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

Mexico is primarily Roman Catholic, but there are evangelical groups on the rise. The society is very much tied to catholic customs and holidays.

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

There is always something to do in Mexico City. The Chiapas and Quintana Roo regions are just beautiful.

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

Museums and cultural events galore. The expat community is pretty large and active. Most Mexicans are open to foreigners, but you do encounter an obnoxious one now and again.

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

Silver, tequila - the good stuff not Cuervo!, jewelry, handcrafts, native items.

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

Rich cultural heritage makes travel in Mexico very interesting.

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11. Can you save money?

Depends on you - travel takes $$ but it is worth it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

We were there for three years and that was plenty. We don't regret it, but we would be hard pressed to go back.

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

shorts (unless you are in a gym) and your heavy winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Vonage Equipment! Comfortable walking shoes and "creature-comforts" pet treats are better and cheaper in the States. Baby items are better from the US. Toddler items are better in Mexico - go figure.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Frida; A Day Without a Mexican; Y Tu Mama Tambien; Amores Perros

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Have an open mind and an ability to laugh at foolishness.

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Mexico City, Mexico 02/18/10

Background:

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

Panama, Jakarta, Nairobi, Khartoum, Cairo, Skopje, Zagreb, Blantyre, Lilongwe.

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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?

DCA, 5 hours without connection.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been here for a year and half.

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

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses (families with Kids) are very big nice clean, has small back yard, gaurded community in Santa Fe, to the Embassy takes from 20- 30 minutes. Couples stay in Polanco very close to the US Embassy takes 10- 20 minutes .Some other houses and appartments in different areas.

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

not bad

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

None

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

Name it and you will find it.

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

None.

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Daily Life:

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

APO

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

between 500-600$ a month, but be careful how you pick.

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

of course, everywhere

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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?

Be careful.

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

No, all in Spanish.

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

very difficult.

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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?

A lot. It is very rare to find someone who speaks English here.

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

It is not prepared for them.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are safe, taxes are not unless you call the taxi companies. Then they will send a tai to pick you up, and don't forget to ask about the taxi number when you call, to be sure is the rigth taxi.

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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?

You will find all kind of cars, spare parts, and dealerships here.

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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, $80 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?

TelCel is the best. 2 more: nextel and MovieStar.

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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?

No.

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

very good

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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?

Yes, if you speak Spanish and English.

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

Normal, just like USA, but no shorts.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, you have to becarful with Taxes, you have to call the taxi companies to ride one, you ca't just flg them down in the street, avoid Zona Rosa this area full of bars and night club, but not safe, aslo pick which area you go to or avoid.

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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?

Very good health care here. And they have very good hospitals and doctors.

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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?

Very good during the rainny seaon from May-Jan, then Moderate from Feb-April.

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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?

Cold but sunny and nice from Nov-Mar, then rainny and cold again the rest of the year, sometimes you we get very nice sunny shiny days during the rainny seaon.

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Schools & Children:

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

ASF, Westhill, green gate and the French school. Asf very big a lot of rich Mexicans kids join it, ful of problems,Westhill American system very nice clean small and the teachers are very friendly, you will find alot of Expat kids in this school, they have 3 campus. Green Gate britch system as bad as the Asf(The American School). Education generally not strong in the whole country. My kids are in West Hill we are very happy.

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

They will find anything you need.

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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?

Lots of day care, $500 a month, I took my kid to one in Sanata Fe (La loma) we have great experince.

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

yes, After School activties

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Expat Life:

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

Big.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not bad, you make your bed.

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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?

Very good.

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

Of Course.

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

Of course.

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

I don't think so.

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

It is a great city, for families with kids, couple or sigles, the people are very nice, friendly and helpful, I will miss evreything here after we go back home.

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

Night clubs, beaches, Visiting musems, sight seeing ...

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

They have a lot of nice hand crafts.

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

The city full of musuems, parks, and the country rich of a lot of historicals thing to visit, beaches, saving not really, unles you know your way around, they have very good markets every Saturday, for Veggies,Fruits, meat, chickens, and everything cross your mind, ten you will save , but if you use the big supermarkets , you will end up spending more than DC.

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11. Can you save money?

yes

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes

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

Shorts.

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3. But don't forget your:

running shoes.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

walk on the clauds

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

Lonly Planet ( Mexico).

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Enjoy the city, it is very pretty, be careful.

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Mexico City, Mexico 01/29/10

Background:

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

In government, 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?

Los Angeles, USA - about 4 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years, until December 2009

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

Work at U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For U.S. Embassy employees, singles and couples without kids are at apartments not too far from the Embassy, while families tend to be in large apartments, townhomes or houses farther away. That said, I kept a regular schedule of about 8 - 5:30 and the commute wasn't too bad (30-45 minutes;, leave much later from home or work and it gets bad fast. The driving itself is its own special challenge - join a carpool if you can.

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

Depends on where you go. Go to local markets and produce is dirt cheap. Go to Superama in Santa Fe and it's a little more expensive than in the U.S.Used Costco a lot.

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

Nothing comes to mind. You can get anything you need from the U.S. pretty fast.

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

Just about everything but Taco Bell (that was a joke).Food is definitely one of the highlights of Mexico City, from taco carts to fine cuisine. Favorite places included Villa Maria in Polanco (Mexican), Bellaria in Polanco and Santa Fe (Italian), Tori Tori in Polanco and Mikasa BBQ on weekends in Condessa (Japanese) and Blossom on Palmas (Chinese).

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

We had issues with ants, and the occassional scorpion, but since Mexico City is elevated and usually dry, bugs are not a big issue.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the U.S. Embassy and its corresponding shipment center in Brownsville, TX.

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

Day maids are about 25-40 dollars a day. Live-in maids are about 400 dollars a month. Widely available, especially if you live in Polanco. Little harder to find farther out (e.g., Santa Fe, Interlomas) because it means a longer commute for the workers.

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

Embassy has a passable gym. Private gyms are somewhat expensive.

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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?

I had no problem, but be careful using one alone at night without people around.

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

Yes, but no specific experience.

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

Three main options, depending on where you live. Local satelite (Sky) or cable (Cablevision), which gives you Mexican and Western programming (heard the sports packages on Sky are cheap), or Dish satelite programming directly from the U.S. (not sure on the exact legality of this).The first two are widely avaiable, the latter you would need to ask around among expats.

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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?

More the better. Outside the wealthier areas, most Mexicans know little English.

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

Probably a lot. Sidewalks are generally in pretty bad shape from poor construction/maintenance and buckling from earthquakes. Access to buildings seems mixed.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable, yes. Never used the subway but heard it was ok. U.S. Embassy has new policy of prohibiting employees from using "libre" taxis which you pick up on street. Need to use "sitio" or raido taxis, which are a little more expensive, but it's not worth the risk.

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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?

We had mid-sized SUV and it was fine, but something smaller might have been easier. Had problem with repairs because that model year wasn't sold in Mexico, so worth checking in advance if you are buying a car before coming.

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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, we got DSL through the local provider for about 25 dollars a month. Not always reliable.

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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?

We bought a basic, pay-as-you-go phone phone. In terms of phone service, Mexico is basically a monopoly, so it's more expensive than you would expect.

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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?

No.

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

Yes. Many vets make house calls!

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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?

Spanish is generally critical, or you need to look at teaching english or working for the American school, etc.

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

Generally more formal than in the U.S.After a while I gave up the impossible task of trying to "blend" in and wore shorts on days hot days.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes - random crime, even in nice areas. The drug war doesn't seem to have affected Mexico City much.

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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?

Health care is pretty good. Pick your dentist carefully as many are very "old school."Watch the water. Some people are affected by the altitude pretty hard.

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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?

Not good, but not overwhelming. Seems to affect people differently. My daughter and I were ok, but it seemed to affect my wife more. We were in the "burbs" to the west of downtown, which seemed better.

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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?

Very predictable, and generally great. Rainy and mild temperature from May/June to Sept/Oct, but it usually just rained heavily from about 6-10pm each night which was convenient for going around town, but sometimes affected traffic. The rest of the year is very dry, cool but not freezing in the winter, then peaking in April/May before the rains start again.

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Schools & Children:

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

Mixed. We started mid year at one elementary school with our daughter, but moved after 6 weeks to another because she was having trouble adjusting, and did fine from that point on. The main choices for Embassy employees seem to be the American School, Greengates (UK system), Westhill, and Lomas Altas (pre-school through 6).There are pros and cons about each - it is worth looking into each one, what type of programs they have, etc. and try to find a good fit for your child. If it doesn't seem to be working, consider changing - many have done it.

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

No specific experience here, but the American School seems to be where most go.

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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?

Many hire nannies, which are not as cheap as other developing countries, but are still doable. There are different daycares (Mi-kinder in Santa Fe seems good).We used the aftercare at the Embassy (Little Amigos) with good results.

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

Depends on the school.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge, but not always obvious. Mexico City is definitely a "Mexican" city.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed, but most are reasonably happy. Obviously a lot depends on the attitude you bring. The driving, nagging concern about crime, and general hustle bustle of a major metropolis can wear you down. That is why it's key to find ways to escape whether it be to a favorite neighborhood for the afternoon, or to a local colonial town for the weekend.

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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?

Always something going on.

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

I would say all of the above. The attitude of Mexicans in general seems pretty pro-family. Good variety of kids activities (petting room at +KOTA pet stores, petting farm near Santa Fe, Lincoln Park in Polanco, play areas in malls and fast food places).

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

Seems pretty good, but no details.

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

Among Mexicans, there seems to be a correlation between the darkness of one's skin and your economic status, but didn't hear much about expats being targeted.

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

The travel opportunities to colonial towns around Mexico City, within driving distance - Puebla, Taxco, Valle de Bravo, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Cuervavaca, Morelia, Patzcuaro, etc. The toll road system is pretty solid.

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

Walking around historic downtown, Chapultepec Park, Condessa/Parque Mexico, Polanco, San Angel, Coyoacan, pyramids, plus all the travel within 1-4 hours.

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

Great local crafts - too numerous to describe.

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

Rich culture, amazing travel, good weather, and great food.

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11. Can you save money?

I suppose, but the twin temptations of local crafts and travel did us in.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It worked for us as a first overseas assignment (especially compared to other places my colleagues went), but it wasn't easy and we were definitely ready to leave after two years. There are enough U.S. amentities to make it an easy first transition, as well as being close to the U.S. for visiting family. Mexico City and the surrounding areas have a lot to offer, and if you are in the U.S. government this is the place to be. The key is to travel, travel, travel.

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

Winter gear and civility while driving.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and your travel bug.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Amores Perros.

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

For history junkies, the Biography of Power by Krauze. The Bear and Porcupine for U.S. policy. Opening Mexico for recent political history.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I think Mexico City has a pretty bad rep in the United States as crime-ridden, dirty and chaotic. It definitely has problems, but it is very doable, and many expats have great experiences. The key is maximizing all the pros (shopping, food, travel, activities) and minimizing the cons (e.g., be smart about crime, avoid driving during rush hour, etc.).

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Mexico City, Mexico 03/10/09

Background:

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

No-Panama City; Moshi, Tanzania; and Lima, Peru.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years.

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

State Department.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

5 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses in the suburbs which were nice, apts in the suburbs, apts in the city. Commutes can be 15 minutes if living in the city, up to 45 minutes in the suburbs. Traffic is one of the only hard parts about living in Mexico.

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

Same as U.S., can find almost all that you need.

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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?

All fast food chains that are the stand-bys can be found. But don't waste your time there! Enjoy the real Mexican food and all the other great cuisine in the city. Cost is same as the U.S. at nicer restaurants, but definitely cheaper at smaller Mexican food spots.

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

Black scorpions are sometimes seen in the dry months, but they are not too common and are not fatal.

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Daily Life:

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

APO comes into Brownsville, TX and is fast.

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

Inexpensive--US$22/day.

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

Yes, but expensive.

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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?

Never get money out of an ATM as there are instances of kidnappings related to this. But using credit cards around town is fine.

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

Yes, Catholic.

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

TV shows in English through Cablevision, including CBS and BBC news. US$80 month including internet.

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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?

Very few people speak English. Makes your tour a million times more enjoyable if you can make some friendships with local Mexicans.

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

It is a tough city in that regard. Mexico City is difficult to navigate at any time, and would be even more so with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

We only took taxis that you call by phone rather than hailing cabs on the street.

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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?

Anything is fine.

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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?

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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?

View All Answers


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?

No.

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

Yes, but be careful and screen them first. Do not use Campus Canino near Cuernavaca as our dog passed away under their care during transport. They were the "best" you could find, and were negligent. You can find other options that are recommended by embassy personnel.

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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?

Yes, I worked on the local economy and there are just a few steps to go through to get your work visa, but it was fairly easy for me with the help of the SNAP coordinator at the Embassy.

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

More formal than the U.S. for the men, same for women.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate when it rains, unhealthy in the hotter, dry season.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

We left in June 2008. We drove everywhere, went everywhere, and never had problems. We felt safe. We just kept our antennae out for simple crime like pickpockets, etc., but nothing more. The wealthy Mexicans are more of a crime target than embassy personnel.

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

Good medical care--I delivered our baby at the ABC Hospital no problem.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Wonderful weather. Mostly cool, sometime cold in December/January or hot in April/May, but rains keep it cool during June, July, August.

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Schools & Children:

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

A mixed bag and you need to talk details with people on the ground at the schools if possible. Also the FLO office can link you with resources out of the State Department. Overall good quality education is available, but social circles in the high school can be challenging, as I understand it.

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

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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?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

If you embrace Mexico City, you love it. You have to open up to it, and hang out with positive people who like it, too. Some can get down about it, but we loved it.

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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?

Million things to do no matter what you are looking for.

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

For all of the above.

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

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

Overall I found that Mexico is very conscious about skin color. They have a long way to go to lose some of their prejudices in that arena, but Mexicans in general are very warm and open to meeting new people. Mainly they just have a history of indigenous groups and Europeans and all that comes with the mix of many cultures.

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

Travel to see the country as there are tons of fun, exciting places to see, and we never ran out of places to visit. Around the city there are lots of parks, museums, historical sites, the pyramids. You can take your dogs walking anywhere, sit in a cafe and have a late lunch with friends, go to sporting events, concerts, you name it. It is a world-class city in many ways. There is also lots of NGO work to be done, and anyone interested in that field can find good groups to work with either as a volunteer or employee.

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

Tons of beautiful crafts from all different regions that you visit!

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9. Can you save money?

Sort of, but if you want to travel probably not.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. I was nervous about living in such a big city, but the feel of the city is much smaller than you imagine as you carve out your community where you work, shop, play, etc. We love the Mexican friends we made there, and we have many fond memories of our time. We would definitely go back someday, and while it is not the easiest place to live, the overall experience is worth it.

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

Shorts and dependence on street signs.

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3. But don't forget your:

Driving patience and tastebuds.

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Mexico City, Mexico 11/05/08

Background:

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

No, Honduras and this is my second assignment in Mexico

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2. How long have you lived here?

From 2001 until 2004. I am on my second assignment which began in August, 2008.

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

This is my husband"s second job transfer with this city.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Northwest has direct flights from Detroit to Mexico City which is 4 hours in duration

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most family expats live in very expensive housing which demands heavily guarded apartment buildings or housing complexs. Most commute times for a working family is typically one hour.

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

You can get anything you want here for a price. For you menustating women though, bring a good supply of tampons from the States because for whatever reason tampons is a commidity in Mexico. You can find them if you look hard enough, but they are expensive.

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

Tampons, root beer, gluten-free foods, cosmetic products, Hope"s Perfect Glass window cleaner. You can get all these things here if you are willing to pay a very inflated price.

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

McDonalds, VIPs, Burger King, taco stands. The city is incredibly diverse with lots of good restaurant choices. Too many to list. Our favorite restaurant is an Indian restaurant in Santa Fe called Koohinor's.

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Daily Life:

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

Things disapper in the mail because of corruption. You do need to pay your bills online or in person. I have had many packages disappear in the mail.

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

I get constant requests for someone wanting to work. Domestic help is readily available. A day maid is between 250-300 pesos per day. A live-in maid is between 3000-6500 pesos a month depending on your requests.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Keep ATM transactions to a minimum. Thieves are rampant and unfortunately so is the distribution of counterfeit money.

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

Yes, Catholic, Christian, Hindu.

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

Yes....cheaper than the U.S. Perhaps a little one-sided, but cheaper.

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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?

You "could" survive on English only; however I would not want to live that way. It causes too much attention to be a victim of crime. Speaking Spanish does make life easier.

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

The sidewalks are difficult for wheelchairs and strollers...nearly impossible. Of course, elevators are everywhere, but common transportation is not stroller/wheelchair friendly

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

We drive on the right side of the road, but there are a lot of one-way streets in DF.

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

It depends who you are. A woman on the public transportation with get harassed or groped.

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3. 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?

You can bring your own car for a fee, usually tarrifs are high depending on which customs agent you get. Corruption is a problem. We tried to bring our motorcycles which was a problem. Better to rent motorcycles here than to bring for tarrif and insurance reasons.

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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...same as the U.S.

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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?

Nokia, LG, Motorola...all seem to be common favorites. I"ve used them all.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Koala Calling (not always reliable). After 2 assignments though, it does seem to be my favorite. Vonage can be unreliable as well perhaps because of the population as well as the altitude.

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Pets:

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

Same as you would get in the State; if not better. I love the fact that the vet comes to my house or the kennel service comes to my house.

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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?

Most foreigners are not allowed to work outside their home country. However.......there are volunteer opportunities on every corner.

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

No one wears shorts or sweats in public except to the gym even in the resort areas if you are a Mexican resident.

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Health & Safety:

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

At times, the pollution index is incredibly unhealthy. However during the rainy season which begins as early as April and can last as late as October, pollution index could be good on certain days.

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

Mexico has a lot of security concerns. Lots of kidnappings, petty thefts, carjackings. It is imperative to be aware of your surroundings at all times.

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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?

You need to disinfect all fruits and vegetables with an iodine solution. Medical care is just as good if not better than the States because most doctors in private hospitals are US trained. I have had a couple experiences with public hospitals and will tell anyone to steer clear of public hospitals.

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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?

Rainy season is as early as April to as late as October. It can be depressing at times. It is terribly cold in the mornings and late evenings, but the weather is usually sunny/warm from 10 a.m. to about 3:30 in the afternoon. You do get about 3 seaons in one day without warning sometimes.

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Schools & Children:

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

On my first assignment, my children attended Westhill. A very good school. The transition back and forth between Mexico and the United States was incredibly easy. The math program is strong, and my kids were very advanced in math when we returned to the U.S. On our second assignment in Mexico, we chose the American School for our children. Nothing is wrong with Westhill on an academic basis, but our needs had changed. We needed more after-school activities and a more dependable curriculum fortransferring back and forth between Mexico and the U.S.

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

My only experience with kids of special needs is with the American School, and ASF has a "buddy system" for special needs kids but not an official curriculum

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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?

On our first assignment, my son went to an all Spanish-speaking preschool called La Escuelita which was ran out of a woman's house. Very good school. My children also went to Westhill Preschool which is also very good. No complaints about either preschool. Most mothers are stay at home mothers with domestic help so there is not much of a demand for daycare.

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Expat Life:

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

My first assignment--the expat size has larger. My second assignment--a lot of "first time expats" with different issues than a more seasoned expat.

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2. Morale among expats:

First timers seem helpless at times. More seasoned expats seem to recognize that at least if you try to speak Spanish, people are more willing to help.

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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?

Newcomers, American Society, American Benevolent Society, lot of other cultural organizations from just about every place in the world.

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

I can only speak for families & couples, but I believe Mexico City is very family friendly. You do need to keep a low profile and not be too showy. There are tons of things to do for families like Six Flags, pyramids, castles, etc.

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

I see a lot of public affection between same sexes.

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

Women are still treated as a second class citizen. I can say that without hesitation because this is my second expatriate assignment here. It is difficult to get things accomplished when dealing with school issues; however if the "Senor" has a school issue, resolution seems to be quicker.

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

Pyramids, castles, world-reknown archeological museum, six flags, diego riveria museum, Frida museum, desert of the lions.......tons of history.

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

Museums, history, cultural, shows, plays, beach resorts, unique arts & crafts.

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9. Can you save money?

It depends! You could, but there is so much to see and do.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

This is my second time. The answer is yes even though safety and security is an issue.

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

Motorcycle, some jewelry, any pre-conceived expectations. You really need an open mind, and not have any expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of self. Know your limits. Bring a winter jacket. It does get cold. Most visitors think they don"t need a winter jacket.

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

A Painted House.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Frida, Man on Fire.

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

A Painted House.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I love Mexico City, but I also know that I have to be very careful of my surroundings to protect my family.

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Mexico City, Mexico 10/01/08

Background:

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

No, have also lived in Jakarta, Addis Ababa, Accra, and Australia.

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2. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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

Government spouse.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

I'm not sure - we drove down from Washington, DC. But I know that there is a daily direct flight from Dulles.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing within the embassy community pales in comparison to the greater expat community, but that's not unusual overseas. Most expats are housed in the West part of the city, far from the airport in the east. The neighborhoods are nice, wealthy, with large houses and plush apartment buildings. Many rich Mexicans are in this area.

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

More expensive than the US. We spend at least double what we spent weekly in the US to feed a family of 5. However, we do not shop in the mercados and we do not bargain shop. We do buy in bulk at Costco and Sam's Club to save though.

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

Nothing. Everything you would want is available here, but usually more expensive.

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

Fast food - absolutely everything except Taco Bell (for obvious reasons!), Wendy's and Quiznos. Restaurants - all the main chains from the US including Chili's and Appleby's, plus many more that are fabulous!

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Daily Life:

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

We use the pouch quite often.

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

Availability is not a problem. Cost can be pricey compared to other places overseas (but not compared to the US). You have to be careful with Mexico laws because when you leave you are obligated to a certain payout for full-time employees. We pay a day-maid about US$30 to clean our house once a week.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Don't do it. You'll have your number stolen and regret it. Use cash.

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

Yes. Just keep looking and don't rely on the times printed in the English-language newspaper (The News) or the Newcomers Guide. Be flexible, because things change weekly in Mexico.

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

Yes. The News just started up again, and it's an English-language newspaper. Small but fair. You can get US satellite TV, but if you choose to go local, the Mexican cable companies also offer some channels in English. AFN is also available here, but I'm not sure how to arrange it. Cost is about US$60-100/mo

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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?

This is definitely a must unless you have full time help that is bi-lingual (doubtful) and willing to accompany you everywhere. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You must have the language to fully appreciate this country and live comfortably. I took 10 years of Spanish, can understand it about 85% of the time, and can communicate about 40% of what I want to say. I find it terribly frustrating. If I had the time and money, I would take full-time immersion Spanish when living here. However, this is an expensive endeavor, and I have a full-time job that doesn't allow this luxury.

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

This is not the best city for a person with disabilities. They are coming around, but it will be many more years before they are even close to the welcome they receive in the U.S.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Same at the U.S.

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

You must take a taxi that you get from a taxi stand. Hailing a libre taxi is not safe, and we know more than a handful of people that have been taxi-jacked from taking a libre taxi. The Embassy also recommends against the public metro and buses. Haven't taken them personally.

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3. 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 old, beat-up clunker. We brought our old mini-van, after talking in length about replacing it. We are so very glad we didn't. Just about everyone will be in an accident while they live here. We now have scratches, dents, etc that happened when we were not in the car - we have no idea where they are from! This is Mexico - traffic and congestion.

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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. You can arrange this through the phone company, Telcel, (which we did). This is about US$50/mo. You can also get cable DSL through your TV cable company package. I'm not sure of this cost, but I think it's closer to US$130/mo.

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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?

For our kids, we bought Amigo phones at Sanbornes for about US$30. They add minutes that are good for 2 months, and can be added in US$10 increments. You can also sign up for a plan, but we've made-do with this pay-as-you-go situation. If you have a fancy U.S. phone, you can bring it here and just change the SIM card, then sign up for a contract.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We have Vonage but it stinks. We also have Skype which is much better and cheaper.

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Pets:

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

Wonderful vet care and kennels. I'd recommend Dangu Kennels if you need them. In the country but well worth the trip, and your animal won't be traumatized when she returns. They cover all sorts of animals, not just dogs and cats. We drove in with our animals, which we've heard is much easier than flying into the country with them (ditto for leaving).

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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?

Yes, and if you're connected to the Embassy there is a person dedicated to helping you get your required Mexican paperwork in order. Pay won't be great, but work is comparable to the U.S.

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

At the Embassy - shirt and tie every day. In offices - shirt and tie every day. At the school - more casual than I'm used to in the U.S. (jeans are acceptable daily).

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Health & Safety:

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

The pollution is rated as unhealthy. As runners, we can sometimes feel this in our lungs. However, we live at a higher altitude than the city and find it most times quite pleasant.

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

The drug war has gotten hotter since we arrived. Also, the incidences of virtual and true kidnappings are on the rise. They do not seem to be targeting expats, but they are also not that particular - anyone with more money than them will do.

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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?

Quality of medical care is good. You can opt to go to the US for medical care, but it's adequate here for most things, and requests to leave can be turned down (another reason to have the language). We've found the prices to be lower than the U.S. for things like dental 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?

This is the best weather we've every experienced! We are a warm-weather family, so snow does not appeal to us. We have a rainy and dry season here, approx 6 months for each. The weather is dry (not humid), pleasant, and fair most of the time. Even in the rainy season, it's rare to have a full day of rain. It will be sunny in the AM, then could up about 2PM, then rain from 4PM until 9PM, then clear up again. It really is perfect weather. Never above 90F, and never below 50F.

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Schools & Children:

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

We have three children that attend the British International School here. There are mixed reviews on this school. When we arrived, it was the lesser of all evils because the American school had a reputation of bullying. However, this year the attendance is higher at the American school and lower at the British. In our opinion, either one has its positives and negatives. If I had to do it again, I'd choose the same school for my kids. Unfortunately, it is far from the housing, and the kids spend over an hour commuting to school, and sometimes two hours coming home.

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

The American school has some special accommodations, but I don't know specifics. The British school has little to none. We had a speech therapy need that could not be met by the local community. Luckily, there was an expat American living here that was able to help us.

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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?

Plenty available, but it depends if you're particular that it's an English-speaking preschool.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large. Most expats we've met, both American and non-American, are wonderful.

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2. Morale among expats:

Embassy American community - OK to low. Non-embassy American community - relatively high. Non-American community - high.

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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 always seems to be something to do. We tend to be so busy with our children that they take priority. The main problem with Mexico is getting around. You have to really plan for traffic when you go anywhere, and this can impact your social engagements.

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

Families - yes. If you are looking for activities for your children similar to what you'd find in the U.S. (soccer, dance, swim, etc), then you've come to the right place. Be patient when looking - there doesn't seem to be a central depository for information (including the Newcomers Club, which told me outright they couldn't help me). However, there are great programs if you're patient and persistent. Singles - I'm sure you'll find something to do here. I work with many singles that are quite happy with the nightlife. Couples - ditto. There is so much to do that you could spend every weekend making short trips and not see everything.

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

Not sure.

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

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

There is no lack of things to do. You just need to have enough money to do them, as entertainment here is as much or more than what you'd pay in the U.S.

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

Any sort of art, artifact, crafty item, tequila or silver.

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9. Can you save money?

Somewhat. The cost of living is higher than the COLA given by the government. But if you eat at home and restrict travel, you can save. Everything that is kid-related we find to be more expensive than in the U.S.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely. It's a wonderful country!

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

Bicycles, unless you live in Roma.

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3. But don't forget your:

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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