Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
Things I wish I had brought:
* Sachets of sauce mix - Thai and Indian food are virtually non-existent here and I really miss being able to rustle a meal up in 20 minutes. Other food items such as cookies, chocolate and Bisto gravy, which you can't get here. If you can't get something in Monterrey (which is a rare occurrence in itself) you should be able to find it in Laredo or McAllen just across the Texan border.
* Warm clothes for in winter. It gets quite cold here in December and January, particularly indoors, where tiled open-plan houses are not designed to stay warm.
* Not something I personally missed, but something to bear in mind - you should have all relevant paperwork (marriage certificate, degree certificate, children's school certificates) validated by a solicitor and your local Mexican embassy before leaving your home country. It will speed up Visa/School applications no end once you're here
Things I wish I had left at home:
* Electrical equipment - personal computer and DVD player. We have had to have special 220W outlets installed so we can use them. This obviously wouldn't be a problem if you're coming from the US or Canada, etc
* Medicines - they are much cheaper in Mexico and you will find the same or equivalent products as in your home country
* Again, not relevant to me, but people driving over the border from the States should remember that guns are illegal in Mexico and still penalties will be enforced if you are caught trying to cross the border with one.
What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
First and foremost, consider using a relocation support company. Monterrey is a vast city and bureaucracy and a lack of sources of public information mean that starting out in Mexico can be tricky, even if you know Spanish.
Other than that, be patient and practical and try not to let the experience be any more stressful than it needs to be. There are ex-pat groups (Newcomers Group, ASOMO, Mexpat) in Monterrey who meet regularly and can help you feel more at home in Monterrey.
For further information on relocation services in Monterrey, see: www.integra-mty.com
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
We live in a 3 bedroom house on a new development. The style of the house is pretty typical - modern, reasonably spacious, but with a small back yard - as is the street - a gated community with green areas and a communal pool.
However, we don't live in a 'typical' ex-pat area. Most foreigners choose to live in San Pedro Garza Garcia, the most expensive neighbourhood in the whole country. There is a large American community here, not least because many ex-pats have their housing paid for by the company they transferred here with. San Pedro was not really an option for us as we wanted a house not an apartment (and a house in this area costs roughly the same as its equivalent in the UK or LA) and as we both speak Spanish, we didn't feel the need to settle in an ex-pat community.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
We needed an area that was convenient to my husband's job. The plant he works at is outside the city in an area that is not very nice, so we had to strike a balance between amenities and convenience.
We bought our property so we also wanted to find an area where we thought that prices may rise over the next few years. We ended up choosing a property in an undeveloped area on the outskirts of the city. It was particularly appealing as we knew the surrounding areas were earmarked for development. We also have the convenience of having the green areas of the countryside on our doorstep, with the convenience of the city just 5 minutes drive away.
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Lower. However, some parts of Monterrey are seriously expensive. If we consider the 'nicer' (safe, clean, reasonably located) neighbourhoods, average prices range from MXN $7,000-MXN $16,000 per month rental on a 2 bedroom apartment and MXN $10,000-MXN $27,000 per month on a 3-bed house.
Purchase prices for these same areas range from MXN $950,000-MXN $2,200,000 for a 2-bed apartment and MXN $2,000,000-MXN$5,000,000 for a 3-bed house.
The above prices are averages for these areas. There are plenty properties available above and below these prices in decent areas of the city.