Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 03/10/22
Personal Experiences from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
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, Washington DC. Not very far.
3. What years did you live here?
2021 - 2022.
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing is typical American suburbs. Most of the houses are very nice, though amenities vary from house to house. They are located close to work, many people are able to walk to work.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Very comparable, though local produce isn't as varied or nice-looking as in the US. Also, if you really want something, you can cross the border and get it in El Paso.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Mexican and American are popular options. There are some seafood and sushi places too. It is not very traditional sushi.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Nothing out of the ordinary.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We use the PO Box and pouch. The PO Box is great, most things get here fairly quickly. We have not used the Mexican postal service.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Most people hire a cleaner to come once or twice a week. The houses are large, and cleaning them can take some time.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There's gyms in the consulate, they are affordable. The gyms are pretty small. There's other gyms in the city. They seem like they're less expensive than American gyms.
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, you can use a credit card pretty much anywhere. We mostly use ATMs at the mall.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Very few in Ciudad Juarez, however, you can cross the border into El Paso.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Some is definitely helpful. Despite proximity to the United States, English speaking is less common than you may expect. Mexicans are nice about bad Spanish though.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
If they didn't have a car, yes. Sidewalks are pretty rare, but I have seen some handicapped spots at many of the stores. If you can drive, you can get pretty much anywhere here.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No, but you can use Uber.
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?
This is a great post for pets. Veterinary services are affordable, import restrictions are very manageable, and there are many adoption options available.
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?
Many spouses live in El Paso to telework with their American company. Wages in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez are comparatively low to DC and the rest of the US.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual is mostly what I see.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
There are large parts of the city you are not allowed to go to because of high crime. There has been violence close to the consulate, however, it's usually targeted to a specific individual.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Dust and allergies. Medical care is available, especially in El Paso. Lately with COVID, many doctors have patients wait a long time.
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. There's many bad smells, from wood and coal fire in the winter, to sewage smells. There is no impact on health.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
There's very little plant life, but a lot of dust.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot, though winter does get hot.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Many parents send their kids to school in El Paso. There are a few local Mexican schools that people like.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
El Paso does everything an American school does. Otherwise, no idea.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
It's mostly just people who live at the border. Many people in Juarez have family in El Paso. Other than the US, there's one other mission here.
2. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Yes, Mexicans and Americans here share many cultural similarities. There have been issues with CBP and officers of color though.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes, better than other places I've been.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
We were able to visit many of the national parks in the Southwest. Much of Chihuahua, including the famous El Chepe train, is off-limits.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Nothing special for Juarez.
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Being closer to your family in America, being near American health care, good childcare.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
The city has a unique culture: Mexican, but very blended with America. I did not expect to see American football so popular here. The border crossing is also really hit or miss. It can take 20 minutes or 2 hours depending when you go, or what is happening.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
If I had the choice, no.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Love for public transportation.
4. But don't forget your:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Not really; I think many focus on the violence that has since calmed down. Diplomats are also not the targets of the violence either.
6. Do you have any other comments?
It's more of a "make your own fun" post than I expected, for better or worse.