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An Expat Talks about Moving to Tijuana, Mexico

Apr 14, 2016
Submitted by Readytoretire

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Tijuana Beach in Mexico Near U.S. Border

An expat in Tijuana offers information about living in Tijuana. She provides information about cost of living, visas, and housing. There is also some brief information provided about safety and the realities of being a border town.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

I lived in San Francisco, California area for 50 years, moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2009, then to Tijuana in 2012. I moved to PV with nothing but collected quite a bit of stuff while living there. We rented a moving truck and carted it all to Tijuana. I can get everything I need by crossing the border to the U.S. Take what is important to you (treasured things). If you can afford to buy new/used furniture when you arrive, leave as much as you can in the U.S. Customs is a pain.

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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

Tijuana has 1,400,000 inhabitants, has few attractions and is a dirty, ugly border town. There are few job opportunities and most jobs pay about $20 (US)/day!!! If you are an American citizen, you can cross the border (fast crossing with Sentry or Global Entry cards) and work in the U.S. We HAD to move here, (long story) or I never would have left Puerto Vallarta. This should not be a destination for families with children. It's a last resort for those down and out, trying to save a bit of money, while working in the U.S.

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

Our "house" is the downstairs of a 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 2 story house. We have 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, huge living room, dining room and kitchen with gated parking and back yard. It has been converted into 2 separate dwellings. It is in one of the better (upscale) areas of Tijuana. Yes, most expats would want close access to the border and a larger living space than most Mexican homes have.

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

When we still lived in PV, my Mexican husband contacted a real estate place that handled rentals. He flew there to see it and we moved there. Two years later we found a bigger/better place, closer to the border, on the recommendation from a buddy at his work.

Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

Oh, much lower!! We pay $400. (US)/ month for our house. In San Diego, California, the rent for such a place would be about $1500./month. You can rent a 1 bedroom apt. in TJ for as little as $80. (US)/mo. but I don't think too many Americans/Canadians would be happy with the lack of space, amenities and location. There are also lovely places here for $1000./mo. but those renters/owners are considered to be "rich" and could be a target for robbery.

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