Moving to Mexico City, or even visiting Mexico City, can be quite intimidating as one of the largest foreign lands in the world, but it shouldn’t be. There are more familiarities from home than you think, making you feel like you never left Kansas.
One of the world’s largest cities, Mexico City, is not as intimidating and foreign as you may think. Recently, I’ve been coming across some articles with titles such as ”Misconceptions about Mexico City” and as I read through them, I won’t lie, I too once had some of the same ideas. Dirty, dangerous, poor and crowded is what often came to mind when I told my family I was moving to Mexico’s capital, Distrito Federal (D.F.). Before moving to D.F. I was a little apprehensive as to how I would assimilate because even though I visited many times, I still had my own misconceptions. For vacations, I always would wander the “touristy” areas; Coyoacan, Xochimilco, Basilica de Guadalupe, the Zócalo, etc. and I thought my living environment would have that same authentic Mexican vibe. As I am settling in though, I am realizing there are far more familiarities from home in the USA than I could have EVER imagined!
Prior to living in D.F., I was living in the coastal city of Puerto Vallarta. They had the basic “familiarities” that most of the other populated Mexican cities have: Home Depot, Walmart, Burger King, McDonalds, Sam’s Club, and Costco ….this gave me the impression that D.F. would be the same. However, as each day passes and I learn new routes around the metropolis, I am discovering it goes far beyond those recognizable stores and that this city is truly “the best of both worlds” for me. It has the Mexican culture where I want it, and has the comfort of home when I need it.
Take food for example, I love tacos al pastor and Oaxaca cheese, but sometimes I crave a nice ‘American’ meal. There are not too many options dispersed throughout Mexico, you’ve got your BK, Pizza Hut, and KFC but nothing compared to the familiarities you can find here in the city center of D.F. So far I have discovered that there is IHOP, Hooters, The Melting Pot, Wendys, Chili’s, Applebee’s, Bennigan’s, TGI Friday, California Pizza Kitchen, P.F Chang’s, Krispy Kreme, Sbarros, Papa John.. and those are just some of my favs! Sometimes I forget I am even in Mexico. Knowing I can satisfy my nostalgic cravings or that I’ll be able to find exactly what I’m looking for and need at stores like The Body Shop, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Office Max, or Office Depot is comforting. As if building a teddy last week at Build-A-Bear wasn’t comforting enough!
Now on the days I’m feeling ‘off’ , I enjoy nothing other than some retail therapy and Mexico City shopping always has the cure. Besides the famous Mexican markets like Tepito and La Merced, there are also amazing world-class malls. I live a short 5 minutes away from one of the largest malls in Latin America, Centro Comerical Santa Fe.. This 3 level, 300+ store mall can keep you busy all day and if that’s not enough there are plenty others to visit in any direction, like Perisur or MagnoCentro for a luxurious shopping adventure. So far the most impressive I have seen is Antara in Polanco, it’s like being straight at home in the USA: Forever 21, Guess, Sephora, Aldo, Coach, Bebe, Steve Madden, Payless Shoes, and the list goes on. Before moving to Mexico, I threw away all my “loyalty shopping cards” thinking I would never have the opportunity to use them again but that was clearly a mistake!
It’s funny how walking into these places, with the exact smell, layout, and products can give you a sense of belonging and cure homesickness when you are feeling a bit lost in a new environment. Moving away from the tourist beach in Puerto Vallarta, I was scared that my family (who loves their comfort zone) would never want to visit me. Now, realizing it’s more similar to home then they could imagine, I think I can persuade them to take the trip down. Showing them not only the tourist landmarks that give Mexico City it’s cultural heart and character but also it’s modern, cosmopolitan flavor, I bet I can get them to fall in love with Mexico the same way I did. I can’t wait until I change their misconceptions about Mexico City.
Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own.
7/31 The first Express Fashions, Forever 21 and Olive Garden are opening in Paseo Interlomas. Buca de Beppo, Auntie Anne’s Preztels, Dairy Queen, Crate & Barrel are opening in Santa Fe.
10/31 Forever 21 opened in Paseo Interlomas (everything is marked up 5$ from US prices) along with the first Gap store. The first H&M Mexico also opened in Santa Fe.