Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 04/09/19
Personal Experiences from Mexico City, Mexico
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.
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.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. 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?
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).
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.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
You can find everything here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There are many different options.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Many volunteer opportunities.
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.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
4. 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.
5. 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.
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!
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.).
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.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I wish I never had to leave.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
Hat and sunscreen (at altitude, the sun is intense).