Guadalajara Guadalajara is a bustling metropolis of six million that somehow manages to retain the colonial charm of its 460-year-old heritage. The historic downtown area with its 17th century cathedral, sweeping plazas and bubbling fountains coexists comfortably with the glass and steel structures that denote Guadalajara's role as an important center of commerce and business today. Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city. The metropolitan area includes the following municipalities (counties) Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, Zapopan, Tlajomulco de Zuñiga and El Salto.

Traditional Festivals Founded only 50 years after Columbus' discovery of the New World, its history and culture may be learned about at the different museums located in the city. Traditions are many in Guadalajara and new residents soon learn that tequila, charros and mariachis, well-known symbols of Mexico, all originated in this region.

Guadalajara is located in the the Valley of Atemajac which means "place where the water divides" in Nahualt - an Indian language of the region. The altitude is 5200 feet(1,567 meters) above sea level and the climate is recognized as one of the best in the world. Average daily temperatures are usually in the low to mid-70's and are generally accompanied by low humidity and clear blue skies. Evening temperatures are cool, even in the warmest months, often dropping 20 degrees or more, from the daytime highs. Precipitation is rare except during the annual "rainy season", which occurs from June through September, during which time the daily showers fall in late afternoon and evening.

This magnificent weather offers the opportunity for year round enjoyment of golf, tennis, swimming, horseback riding and other sports at the numerous clubs in the metropolitan area.

There are many cultural opportunities in Guadalajara. The Degollado Theater hosts a variety of Philharmonic, ballet and opera performances as well as those of the Folkloric Ballet, a local traditional dance troupe. Art exhibits of all types are also abundant. Film buffs will find that American movies are shown in English and tend to be in the theaters only a month or so after they have been released in the States.

There are several modern medical facilities located in the city and many English speaking (and often American-trained) physicians.
The opportunity to enjoy the lifestyle that this city has to offer is one that should not be missed. Guadalajara casts a kind of magic on its residents and it is a rare expatriate family that doesn't feel a longing to have stayed "just a bit longer" when their assignment draws to a close.

MAKING THE TRANSITION Mexico, for all its Costco's, Wal-Marts and fast food chains, is still a foreign country. A total change in physical and cultural environment often creates a predictable psychological phenomenon known as "culture shock". The new arrival can feel a sense of alienation and being out-of-synch with their surroundings. Knowing that this is perfectly normal helps to alleviate the feeling that "something is wrong with me" and the knowledge that each day the feeling will lessen, can be a comfort. Many find that the best way to cope is to "get involved". Begin playing a sport, join a club, take a class, volunteer at school, go to community events, etc. Explore and enjoy your new world !

Golf Club FINDING A PLACE TO LIVE As relocation specialists in Guadalajara for ten years, the consultants of The Relocation Connection have worked with families and individuals from all over the world with many different tastes and needs. The following factors should be taken into consideration when making a decision about where to live: Locations of both school and work place because of the heavy traffic at peak hours, security, type of housing ( apartment, walled residence or more open gated community), other expats in the neighborhood. By living in a gated community, as opposed to behind walls, you and your children will probably get to know some of your Mexican neighbors and have an opportunity to practice Spanish and learn local customs. Many expats also enjoy socializing with each other and living in the same neighborhood makes that easier.

While looking for a house it's important to remember that housing is not the same all over the world. Mexican houses have spaces and amenities that you may find very different from what you are used to---for example, a maid's room, a kitchen separate from the family living area, an open covered "terraza" which serves as an outdoor living room because of the very mild weather. Construction methods are also different in Mexico-brick with stucco finish rather than wooden frame is just one example. Air conditioning is quite rare and central heating is unheard of. While there are many different types of houses in Guadalajara, the typical rental property is not the Colonial style that you may see portrayed in magazine articles on Mexico. By keeping an open mind most expat families are able to find comfortable and pleasant homes in which to live.

Schools It is very helpful to have expert advice prior to signing a rental contract in Mexico because the clauses, terms and customs are quite different than in the U.S. or Canada. Some examples: All rental contracts require a "fiador" or co-signer. Diplomatic clauses are essential for expat corporate renters. Most landlords are not willing to provide an official rent receipt. The knowledge and experience of The Relocation Connection helps clients to negotiate contract terms and facilitate the contract process.

The following are some of the most secure and desirable neighborhoods in the city at this time and the majority of the corporate expats live in these areas.

COLINAS DE SAN JAVIER / LOMAS DEL VALLE - These adjacent, exclusive secure residential areas are centrally located within the city, approximately 15-minutes from the American School and shopping. There are private homes as well as "cotos" in which a cluster of homes share a common entrance, pool and garden area. The average rental price is about $2,500 U.S. dollars and up for a three bedroom home.

CLUB DE GOLF SANTA ANITA - This residential community with controlled access is built around an 18-hole golf course and is very popular corporate expatriates. Located on a major artery in the southwestern suburban area of the city, Santa Anita is a 35- minute drive from the American School. A Wal-Mart shopping center is 5 minutes away and a wide variety of shopping exists within a 15-minute drive. The average rental price for a three bedroom home in Sta. Anita runs about $2,000 U.S. dollars and up.

CIUDAD BUGAMBILIAS - Located on the same highway as Santa Anita, Bugambilias is a 35-minute drive from the American School. There is a small mall within the subdivision and a sports club is located atop a mountain in the panoramic section of the development. Many expats, who want to live in the south of the city but have a slightly lower rental budget choose Bugambilias as their new neighborhood. The average three bedroom rental starts at about $1,200.

There are many bilingual educational options for foreign students in Guadalajara from pre-school through University. Some of these are: AMERICAN SCHOOL FOUNDATION, TEC DE MONTERREY, THOMAS JEFFERSON, LINCOLN SCHOOL, COLEGIO ALEMAN, COLEGIO FRANCO MEXICANO.

Malls - Plaza Galerias SHOPPING Shopping in Guadalajara has changed greatly in recent years. While the traditional markets still flourish and are fascinating to shop in, newly arrived expatriate residents will be happy to find that "megastores" (Costco, Wal-Mart, and Sam's Club) abound in their new city. These stores sell everything from clothing, sports equipment and cosmetics to fruits and vegetables, meats, deli products, freshly baked bread and hot tortillas. Many U. S. products are available, though prices may be a bit higher. As they become more familiar with the unique foods of Mexico, new residents will probably find themselves shopping, at times, in the more typical Mexican way...going to the stalls in the market, the butcher, the bakery, etc. During the initial adjustment period however, running into the Wal-Mart Superstore to do the weekly shopping can be very comforting. There are several large malls such as Plaza Galerias, La Gran Plaza, Plaza del Sol, Centro Magno, Plaza Pabellon, Plaza Patria and other smaller malls. Galeria del Calzado is a mall that is exclusive to shoe stores!

Malls - Plaza Galerias The proximity of Guadalajara to the craft producing towns of Tlaquepaque and Tonala makes shopping for "artesania" (handicrafts) an absorbing hobby for many foreign residents of the city. Some of the ceramic techniques are centuries old and are often still carried out in the traditional way in family workshops. In addition, textiles, paper maché, brass, tin and wooden articles are only a few of the many high quality craft items that can be found at very attractive prices in these towns.

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