If Queens were cheaper, greener, and had better tacos…

If Queens were cheaper, greener, and had better tacos…

well, it would be Mexico City.

When we first arrived, D.F. (Distrito Federal a.k.a. Mexico City) was pretty overwhelming. As soon as Liz and I arrived, we noticed the sheer size of the city. With almost 9 million people, Mexico City is even bigger than NY. You can explore, but walking will only get you so far. Freeways tear through the city along with buses and cabs of every color. As you peer at the gridlock traffic, visible from bridges and overpasses, it’s like watching all of Latin America in rush hour traffic.

Realizing this, we decided to explore our neighborhood first. As we strolled down the street, we found 2 Starbucks, a Hooters (translation: Hooters), 4 7/11s and who knows what else. At first glance, this was shaping up to be far from the “authentic” Mexican experience we had expected.

However after a few days, we stumbled through the metro system, found some lovely parks to explore, and had mind-blowing food. Then it hit me. This place is just like New York. It’s not as built up as Manhattan, nor as hip as Brooklyn, but it has the diamond-in-the-rough beauty of Queens. Hell, maybe it’s better than that.

For one, Mexico City is way cheaper than Queens. On average, rent is 60% cheaper here. Liz and I are paying less than $400 each for a fully furnished 1BR apartment with kitchen, patio, and most anything else we’d want. When we want to trek to another part of town, we can hop on the metro or even grab a cab. Since they’re 90% and 80% cheaper respectively, a cab ride is no longer a luxury item. Without traffic we can take a cab for about 30 minutes at a total fare of $5. Finally, my two guilty pleasures are easily accessible, and cheap as well. We just joined Reebok Crossfit Loreto for less than half what a Crossfit membership costs at home. And if all this math and exercise is stressing you out, you can always kick back on a beer for about $1.50 ;). Check out my post on hacking cheap beer prices here for more info.

intenso.

Not only is Mexico City cheaper, it’s also a lot greener. Sure, some streets are dirty. The air can have some smog. But overall, you’ll be shocked by the number of public parks with thriving trees and vegetation. Not only do they break up the monotony of urban architecture but they also offer some much-needed green space.

One of hundreds of parks in and around CDMX.

Tacos deserve a whole post of their own (coming soon).Those who frequent Chipotle can probably think of about 4 types of tacos. When in Mexico, you soon realize anything and everything can be a taco. The tortilla is simply a vessel for transporting all types of delicious meats and spices to your tastebuds. To list a few, we’ve already had: tacos al patsor, bistec, tinga poblano, pescado, longaniza and who knows what else. There are so many to try and they’re all delicious. you can sit down and try a few at a restaurant for around $4 …or you can pay about a dollar for the same amount at a roadside cart.

Tacos rarely last long enough to be caught on camera. You’ll have to use your imagination.

Mexico City is a megalopolis — a big, latin, wild western frontier. However after finding a few of the city’s hidden gems (cheap prices, green spaces, and deeeelicious tacos) we’re no longer in uncharted territory.

This was originally published at DC Rejects.

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