With a population of approximately 8.5 million people, Mexico City is an exciting place to be an expat. Here are 10 tip for living in Mexico City:
Did you know that Mexico City had a different name before 2016?
DF stands for Distrito Federal (Federal District), which was the official name of Mexico City until January 2016, when President Enrique Peña Nieto officially changed the name of Mexico's capital city from Distrito Federal to Ciudad de México. Mexico City is abbreviated as CDMX (Ciudad de México).
Is Mexico City Safe?
The US State Department advises, "Exercise increased caution due to crime. Both violent and non-violent crime is prevalent in Mexico City. Mexican government statistics indicate criminal incidents in the capital city occur at a significantly higher rate than much of the rest of Mexico. Pay particular caution to areas outside of the frequented tourist areas, although petty crime occurs frequently in tourist areas as well. Neighborhoods such as Tepito and Guerrero warrant additional vigilance, especially at night. There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.
Read our article, Is Mexico City Safe? for more about crime in Mexico City and tips for expats to avoid being the victim of crime.
International Schools in Mexico City
There are many well respected international schools and bilingual schools in Mexico City. Greengates, American School Foundation (ASF), Westhill and Lomas Altas are some of the most popular international schools amongst expat families. For a more in-depth look at international schools, read our article, International Schools in Mexico City.
Healthcare and Health Insurance for Expats in Mexico City
"Excellent health facilities are available in Mexico City and other major cities, but training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards. Mexican facilities often require payment 'up front' prior to performing a procedure, and most hospitals in Mexico do not accept U.S. health insurance," wrote the US State Department. For that reason, many expats purchase international health insurance.
Healthcare in Mexico
9 Important Tips about Healthcare for Expats in Mexico
US State Department's List of Doctors in Mexico City
List of Ambulance Services in Mexico City
Traffic in Mexico City Ranks Among the Worst in the World
"Getting around town is a REAL pain I always tack on an extra hour to whereever I am going to. Traffic here is rush-hour 24/7 - just accept it and you will be fine," said one expat. In fact, according to Tom Tom's 2018 Traffic Index, Mexico City ranks number 9 in the world for worst traffic congestion. For comparison purposes, Los Angeles ranks #24, Tokyo #25 and New York #42.
If you're moving to Mexico City, don't let the traffic stats get you down. Do your homework and live within walking distance, or a short Metro ride, away from work. If you have school-aged kids, the same goes for their school.
What is a Colonia?
A colonia is a neighborhood.
Expat Enclaves Aren't a Thing in Mexico City
When a member moving to Mexico City asked which neighborhoods most expat live in, an expat offered a helpful response that many others agreed with, "I lived in DF [Mexico City] for 26 months near the Archangel in Colonia Cuahetomec. This is behind the American embassy on Paseo Reforma. There really isn't a gringo community in DF, but the greatest sprinkling is where I lived, Roma Sur and Norte, and Condesa. When I say sprinking, I mean you are in neighborhoods that are 200 Mexicans to 1 gringo. Polanco is an exciting place but expensive. There are a lot of upscale eateries, nightclubs and discos. It's where the jet set meets the powerful and connected."
Advice for Expat Families Moving Mexico City
If you have school-aged children, you'll want to research neighborhoods near schools that they may attend since traffic is a real consideration. If they need a school with an IB programme, for example, that narrows down the possibilities.
When a family moving to Mexico City asked for opinions about communities that are safe and provide good schooling, one member replied, "Santa Fe (where we live with our 2 kids); Bosques de las Lomas is also a very nice area to live; Polanco and Condessa are nice BUT only if you like the Urban life - busy and noisy, but accessible to many restaurants and night life.; you can also find housing in central DF."
What are the Safest Neighborhoods in Mexico City?
A very informative discussion ensued on the Mexico Forum about the safest neighborhoods in Mexico City. It's a helpful read that explains why the answer to this question isn't an easy one.
Best Places to Live in Mexico City
"In Mexico City it is very important to know where you will work in order to find your home. Commuting time can be terrible if you do not consider this important issues. Apartments are the most recommended housing for expats. One reason is security, and also you can make friends easier on the social areas like swiming pools, tennis courts, etc," advised one expat.
Polanco, La Condesa, Santa Fe and Roma are a few notable neighborhoods. For a full list of expat-recommended colonias (neighborhoods), read our article, 7 Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City.