Mexico Essentials, Mexico Safety

6 Reasons Why Mexico is Safer than You Think

Colonial Mexico

Fully revised and updated for 2018

We occasionally receive questions from people asking about the current situation regarding safety and security in Mexico.  To provide some perspective, listed here are six reasons which demonstrate how Mexico’s drug-related issues, which remain a body of work to address, do not make Mexico wholly unsafe.

Visitor numbers set a record in 2016, and broke that record again in 2017: The Bank of Mexico is responsible for collating and publishing foreign visitor statistics. The latest figures reveal that over 39 million foreign tourists arrived in Mexico in 2017, up by over 4 million visitors on the year before, and continuing the rising trend over the last several years. Mexico has established itself as one of the world’s top-ten most-visited nations in the world.  Despite some of the negative news-flow, and especially that around the drug-related violence, people keep coming to Mexico.  Statistics from foreign consulate records consistently show that the overwhelming majority of visits to Mexico pass trouble-free.

Mexico is one of the world’s most important economies. Years of sound economic governance, a welcoming economy with policies that encourage free trade and partnership (Mexico has tariff-free trade agreements with 46 countries around the world), coupled with shrewd investment, and relatively low debt (public and private) have created an attractive environment for investors and foreign companies. Mexico is taking an active and positive approach to the NAFTA re-negotiations, and its leadership has expressed over and again that it is in the mutual interest of all three countries involved to cultivate an agile trading framework across the North American continent. Mexico is today one of the world’s few ‘trillion-dollar’ economies, and mature nations are keen to work with Mexico.

No foreign resident exodus. In decades now long-past, when Mexico’s economy was less open and less stable, foreign residents would often flee home in the event of a peso crisis.  Today, even with the drug-related flare-ups, no such exodus is taking place and, furthermore, we are seeing interest in relocation to Mexico rising substantially.  Mexico’s government is expecting its expat communities to grow over the coming decade, and offers choices in facilitation of this, as welcoming foreign residents—who bring their energy and capital to Mexico—creates significant mutual benefits.  If Mexico is a wholly dangerous place to be, why are existing foreign residents staying put and inquiries for relocation to Mexico growing strongly?

The violence is mostly confined to drug-gangs. The research data show that the surge of homicides in Mexico over the last decade has come about through drug-gang members killing other drug-gang members. Tourists, business visitors, and foreign residents are not being targeted by the drug-gangs, and statistics from foreign consulates show that the overwhelming majority of visits to Mexico pass by trouble-free.

Mexico matters. Mexico is a good neighbor to the U.S. and is also one of the world’s most important nations—poised to play important roles in world affairs during this 21st century.  Mexico and the U.S. share a broad range of common economic, social, and security interests, and despite some unhelpful alarmist rhetoric on Social Media, behind the scenes both nations continue to work closely together on issues concerning trade and security in efforts to bring prosperity and well-being to the continent.

Mexico’s underlying story is strong and getting stronger. Notwithstanding the drug-related issues, the country’s macro-economics are in good shape; Mexico has substantial oil and gas reserves as well as considerable mineral and precious metal wealth; it’s also enacting structural reforms across key industrial sectors with the intention to transition the country’s economy away from being heavily dependent on oil and manufacturing into a multi-faceted, diverse and sustainable economic environment; foreign visitors keep coming back despite the negative news-flow; Mexico’s free trade agreements are bridges which cultivate understanding, trade and prosperity between the signatories of these accords.

Every day, tourists arrive in Mexico to rest themselves and enjoy its rich culture and heritage; business visitors arrive to trade, cultivate friendships and agree business deals that create new wealth; and foreign residents living here are going about their lives normally, contributing positively in the Mexican communities they love calling home.  These activities don’t make headlines, but they are indeed the real-life experiences of people visiting and living safely in Mexico.

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  1. Fern says

    We have visited Mexico several times before. Have never felt unsafe. Very nice and friendly people. We are staying ing the Yucatan for 3 mo. This winter and can’t wait to go. We are retired and my husband is disabled but it is not a problem when we go down there from Canada.

  2. Travis B. says

    I’ve been telling my family and friends in the states these things for years. I am a soon to be Expat. My wife (who is Mexican) and I are building a house in Puebla, Puebla. I feel safer in Puebla than I do in the states. The weather is like a perfect spring day everyday and the scenery is magnificent. The people are super friendly. I Love Mexico!

  3. Michael Cady says

    Mexico looks like a safe haven to me. I live 3/4 mile from the Austin bomber!!! I retired, put house on market. Colonial Highlands here I come!

  4. Tina Ernspiker says

    Nice article. Thank you for putting it together and sharing it with us 🙂

  5. Mike FosterFoster says

    I like SanFelife.I have never felt unsafe there,met some great polite people in the Campo that we stay at “Campo Martine”

  6. Jeffrey A says

    I have subscribed to Mexperience for some time now and always found the articles informative and timely. This is the first time I have had the privilege to read all these great posts on the safety of Mexico. While my wife and I have travelled to Mexico often, we almost always stayed at resorts (Riviera Maya). More recently, we started renting an apartment for 2 – 4 weeks at a time. Now, I have reached out to Mexperience for help connecting us with a RE agent for long term rental and, I hope, ultimately, purchase. With all the posts from folks all across Mexico, I am surprised to see none from the Yucatan and my favorite place on the planet – Playa del Carmen. Can anyone speak to the their experiences (safey or other) there and other places along the Riviera Maya?

    I have studied Spanish now for almost two years – it started as my retirement hobby and has become a passion. Learning of the language, the culture and the people are the keys to understanding Mexico. And it also brings an inherent respect for this great people. I think Rich S puts it best, “Mexican is a blend of at least 5 languages with every pueblo having it’s own dialect.”
    The language is as rich and diverse as the countries culture.”
    Of course, learning the jerga, modismos and local language flavor is the most fun!

    Jeffrey (mis agimos me llaman Javi)

    • Paul says

      Jeffery – My wife and I have been to Playa del Carmen three times. It is also on the top of my list of places to be. We love to stroll down Calle Quinta Ave and enjoy the sights, sound, and wonderful aroma. We have always felt very safe.

      My wife is from Peru and we are very spiritual. We love the Capilla de Nta Señora del Carmen chapel and would go to mass everyday at Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen. I find the Mexican people are very spiritual also. The churches are pack with very friendly people. I also see that the local people are proud of their home. The area theme parks Xplor/Xcaret/Xel Ha are very careful not to harm the environment. I would love to move to the area permanently.

    • Paddy Mulrooney says

      Hello Jeffrey, my name is Pat
      Like yourselves, my wife and I have for many years traveled throughout Mexico, and like yourselves we decided to extend our time there.
      Six years ago we began staying 4 weeks on Cozumel, four years ago we found our little piece of heaven in the Yucatan. We now stay six weeks, and soon the entire winter. We took a chance on a rental home near a small village called Telchac Puerto, about 4 hours from the Cancun airport. Merida, the capital of the Yucatan, also offers more flight options every year, in fact from Toronto WestJet now offers direct flights to Merida every Tuesday.
      Good Luck!

  7. Barbara says

    I’ve been living or working in Mexico as a single woman since 1974 – off and on. Last 16 years in San Miguel de Allende. I write a blog called Babsblog which answers many questions about subjects those contemplating retirement ask…….
    I travel by car, alone, all over this grand country. I’ve NEVER once felt unsafe or had an unpleasant encounter! It’s a magnificent country with the kindest, most thoughtful, caring people I’ve ever known.

    • Kate says

      My husband and I are seriously considering a trip to your area to stay an rent a house there for at least 2 months. I would muck appreciate any information about you area can share.

  8. Jackie Wright says

    I have been visiting Mexico for over 50 years. When I was child my family enjoyed vacations in San Miguel de Allende; as a teenager I spent a year of high school in Mexico City; I have visted Cuernavaca, Valle de Bravo, Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita and Ajijic, Lake Chapala and travelled to Cuba via Cancun. One of the most beautiful cities I have visited is Guanajuato. Now many years later and after two trips and lots of online investgating, my significant other and I are retiring to Ajijic, Lake Chapala, about 20 minutes from Guadalajara. We selected this area because of the fabulous climate and especially the low humidity (compared to Houston, TX), the beauty of the mountains, easy proximity to US via direct flight and the fact that there are Americans, Canadians and Europeans that have lived there now for many years. In all my years of exploring Mexico, I have never experienced any crime, ever. The Mexican people are very family oriented, friendly and helpful. I can’t wait to be a part of the Lake Chapala community…..

    • Heinz-Peter Crain says

      Great – you made an excelent joice with Ajijic.
      I came to Mexico City 42 years ago from Austria for 2 years !
      Now in Ajijic Puerta Arroyo.

    • vanessa says

      Hi Jackie
      We are planning a visit to lake Chapala for the first time in about 6 weeks. It will be an exploratory trip with the vision of retiring there. Currently in California.
      We plan to arrive the day of the balloon festival.

  9. John K says

    I have been a snow bird in Manzanillo, Colima for the last 7 years. I own a condo on the Pacific. I have never been happier. My wife and I are planning to retire at the end of this year. Mexico is wonderful.

  10. Jan Cestari says

    I had visited Mx several times prior to moving here to Patzcuaro, Michoacan 15 months ago. I have never felt safer anywhere else that I have ever lived….4 states in US, Spain, Ecuador, Carribean. I do not have a car by choice as public transport is inexpensive and terrific. I live in a neighborhood where I am pretty much the “token gringo” and have never felt the slighest bit of discomfort even though I stand out like a sore thumb. Without a car I do a lot of walking around even at night.
    I have been “chased” a couple of times…to give me my change that I absent mindedly forgot to take. I also dropped my wallet in a cab that had over $ 600 US, debit cards, ID’s etc (I never would have all that on me but that day I was taking care of numerous things) the wallet was returned 4 hours later all intact and the cab driver never even asked for the fare to get it back to me.
    I have visited and spent time in quite a few other cities and towns here, again using local transport and look forward to visiting many more. For the most part people are warm, friendly, honest, hard working, family oriented and welcoming.
    The wrong place at the wrong time could be anywhere in the world….common sense and a bit of caution should be used wherever you travel. If your hesitating to visit because of all the overhyped negative news you hear….your missing out on a great experience. If your in the drug trade, sex business or other criminal activity than maybe that news applies to you but for the rest of us I don’t think so.
    I have national health insurance which fortunately I have not had to use yet so can’t really tell you how good it is but I can say the monthly cost is 0….you pay a small fee when you use it.
    Come visit !

  11. Steve says

    I’ve lived in Mexico’s DF, this time, for 2+ years and it’s a wonderful place. I’ve lived in Mexico during the 70’s, 80’s 90’s and now back beginning in 2015. Safety common sense is a part of me, whether in Chicago, where I’ve lived and had my car stolen, or whether in a 22 MM city, and that’s no back-handled compliment to Mexico, it’s just common sense.

  12. Mele says

    I am traveling in Mexico now and feel completely safe. While in Mexico City a friend lost her wallet and passport and it was returned to her the next day. Here in Guanajuato I wander the streets at night and I am surrounded by happy families.

  13. Susan says

    We have been hosting groups of adult professionals to Querétaro for Spanish language immersion for at least 5 years. We are asked this question often, with a special worry these days about how the Mexicans are reacting to our politics. First, we’ve never had anything but a rewarding, transformational experience as our students get face-to-face with the culture. On one occasion, one of our attendees left her computer in the taxi and thought it was lost forever. However, the taxista (who live out of town) drove all the way back to the offices to make sure that computer was returned to her. We’ve had many such instances. And today, Americans studying at Olé Center for Language and Culture say that the people they talk to are mostly curious…. never threatening. We love the culture and the people….. and they continue to be wonderful role models of loving families who enjoy life and their own history and we think that right now especially, it’s important to share that culture and build that bridge.

    • Joe Bickett says

      Susan, been looking to buy a casa in Santiago Queretro for couple years. I have several on my hot list, but need to make the trip down there, from Kentucky, to make a decision. I worked in Celaya, Que., and Ciudad Juarez, for most of 6 years, mostly for Mabe, GE, Plexus; but have lost a lot of my espanol skills. Will need some sort of refresher courses, maybe like what you mention. I will keep your comment handy. Saludos, Joe

      • Susan Carlson says

        Joe, best of luck to you on your transition to Qro. I hope you have begun brushing up on your languge skills. And if not, consider spending time at Olé Center for Language and Culture. The instruction is very good and the staff do all they can to make your feel at home.

        • Suzanne Hong Margeson says

          Hi Susan
          Where is the location, address of Ole Center for Language and Culture in Queretaro? I am visiting for 29 days PV, Mazatlan, Chapala and Queretaro in Nov and Dec. I am preparing to move to one of these areas. I learned English as a Korean-American who lives in Atlanta, GA for 50 years. I feel it is the number one task for me to learn Spanish soon after settling down with a place to live. I am very interested in choosing Qro near the school and a church.

  14. Sandy says

    I’m sure there are safe places to visit in mexico, but I was there in 1967 on a ranch 165 miles from Chicagoan and that was ok , but in autism some bandit is came out of nowhere and threatened my Mexican husband good thing he knew how to talk his way out of trouble. They didn’t see me I was in a car and I hunkered down. I’m sure the border towns are the most dangerous today. Personally I have no desire I re to go to mexico again. The people are re s ally nice there I have to agree.

    • Judy Carter says

      Sandy, My dad was assaulted and mugged in Orlando. My purse was snatched in Hawaii. Only instances of thuggery or thievery experienced in my family and, between us, we have traveled to six continents. So, this means the US is most dangerous. (Using your logic.)

    • Wayne Saucier says

      How exactly do you feel your 50-year-old anecdote relates to the relative safety of an entire nation today?

    • SN says

      It is not 1967 any longer. Tourists and retirees are now a major part of Mexico. Even the cartels don’t want to mess with the amount of money that flows in because of the tourists and retirees.

  15. Uta says

    I strongly agree with all the posted comments. Having visited the the coastal areas and also central Mexico a few times, I can truly say, I enjoyed every single visit. I always felt safe and welcomed by wonderful mexican people. I hope I can return many more times.

  16. Lynda says

    I have visited all over Mexico for over 40 years. My sister is now retired and living in Mexico. I have been asked many times why I would travel to such a dangerous place. My response is that I live in San Francisco and do not worry about riots or murders in Chicago. Yes, crime happens but I feel very safe and absolutely love the friendly, family oriented people as well as the beautiful country and architecture. The food is good too!

  17. Rene says

    I live in Australia a very safe country but culturally very boring 2013 I went with my family
    to Mexico for nearly one month as my son girlfriend (now his wife) lived in DF she took us to all best places I never saw any danger but the opposite in one occasion going for the tequila tour in Jalisco my son took some money from an automatic bank machine 40 meters was the bus waiting just before we departure one local run behind us to return my son forgotten credit card he found inserted in the teller.
    I believe that for many years some sector of the USA world Media have been trying hard to
    undermine Mexico cultural reputation going around the globe naming Mexico the third on the scale as an unsafest country which is just jealousy.
    Awaiting to retire in Mexico

  18. Luis Miguel says

    I have been spending summers in Playa del Carmen for the past 10 years and have never had or seen any problems. Mexico is a wonderful place with wonderful people and a wonderful culture. Having grown up in Africa, lived in Europe, Asia and now the Middle East Mexico is the best. No one bothers you, no one judges you, no one cares where you are from or what you look like. I hope to retire here someday.

  19. Lee says

    I went to Central MX in the midst of the swine flu scare in 2009. “Scares”, whipped up by the media and the generally untravelled public, are no more than that, scares. In travelling Mexico, as in life itself, most of what we worry about never happens!

    I’m looking forward to going back. There is such a richness of cultural diversity, history, arts, and language there that I wish I had started decades ago to try to cram it all into one lifetime!

  20. lianadevine says

    We have lived in the Oaxaca Trailer Park for 3 years. Many of the travellers who pass through the park are NOT North American snowbirds, i.e. Canadians and Americans, but Europeans and other “global citizens” who want to see the Real Mexico and experience more culture than the gringo enclaves and all-inclusives provide. Often their travels begin in the US, and as they set off on their trek south – with the intention of visiting North, Central and South America – they are warned about how dangerous it is in Mexico. The media, narrow-minded travellers and those ignorant of places and people outside their own county or country put ill-conceived fears into their heads, so they are subsequently pleasantly surprised when they arrive in Mexico to learn the truth firsthand: Mexico is an enchanting country filled with warm, generous people. Bad apples can be found everywhere on the planet, but they are in the minority in the majority of places, so to condemn an entire country is ridiculous.

  21. alex leza says

    I have visited mexico three or four times a year for the last five years and have never felt in danger.I have even taken my grandchildren with me and at no time did they feel unsafe.mexico is a beautiful country but the people are its greatest mexico

  22. Karen Nordin says

    I have stayed in Mexico, for study and for pleasure, four times in the past decade, and look forward eagerly to my next visit. We have never gone to resort areas, but visit towns and cities where we can really experience the language and culture. The beauty and the friendly people are magnets, drawing us back. We always visit in Mexico City as well. As in any large city (eg, New York, Chicago, L.A.), we take common sense precautions, but we have never felt unsafe. I have been attacked twice in Chicago, but never in Mexico. It is a marvelous country, our close neighbour, winning the hearts of non-Mexicans with music, art, beautiful architecture, many schools and universities, and an atmosphere that makes you want to stay forever!

  23. Gloria says

    I have lived in Mexico for eleven years. During this time, I have traveled extensively throughout Mexico, visiting both the major cities and many smaller villages.. I travel by bus, both interstate and locally. I have lived in central Mexico and in Baja. When in Baja, I walk across the border to San Diego several times a week, going through Tijuana with the commuting locals and expats.. Never once have I felt threatened or in danger. I have felt safer in ALL of Mexico than I feel in the U.S. I have been robbed, mugged and pickpocketed in the U.S., but NEVER in Mexico. I have applied for and just received permanent residency in Mexico. I get FULL medical insurance coverage (including medications and tests) for only $400U.S. per YEAR!!! You couldn’t pay me to return to live in the U.S.

    • Nelson Martinez says

      Dear Gloria
      Just moved full time to PDC ….
      I’m interested in Medical Insurannce can you please tell me about yours what’s it called where do you sign up? Any help would be appreciated

    • Rebecca Braun says

      I keep reading conflicting information about medical insurance coverage. I am planning my “great escape” from the US within the next few months and am searching for reliable information on medical coverage. I thought I’d be waiting four more years to stop working full time and beating my head against a wall to make it in the states as a single (widowed) woman. I believe I can live fairly comfortable on the monthly income I have without working and I’d like to do some volunteer work, take Spanish classes, etc., etc. Would you be willing to provide some information about your health coverage and where on the internet I can find information that is up to date and reliable? Is $400 a year for the national/public system? I thought the system was going bankrupt and is about to be done away with. Any advice/help would be most welcome. Thank you!

      • Speranza Avram says

        The system you are referring to is called IMSS and is one of two public health care systems in Mexico. The other is called Seguro Popular and is totally free to Mexican residents and citizens. Neither of these is going away anytime soon – they are the backbone of Mexico’s committment to universal coverage. There are some structural changes happening to enable these two public systems to sometimes use the facilities of Mexico’s advances private health care system. We had a friend who is on IMSS receive an MRI (at no cost) from one of the private systems here in Merida. IMSS is the system that covers Mexican workers and others, like permanent residents, can buy into the system.

      • Speranza Avram says

        And to answer your question on costs, we just renewed our IMSS for the 2nd year and the cost is $350 for each of us. During the first year, only emergencies and doctors’ visits are covered. Beginning the 2nd year, all medical services are covered, including hospitalization, medication, etc. Now, you may have to wait for services, and the equipment may not be the most modern. For those reasons, many expats supplement IMSS coverage with either private Mexican insurance or, like us, pay for a global medical policy that covers us anywhere in the world, including Mexico (but not the US/Canada, by our choice, since it adds 30% to the cost of the policy). You can find several brokers of global health coverage for expats online – we use a company called You won’t be able to buy into IMSS until you at least temporary residency status, so you will either have to self-insure, or purchase a global policy.

        • Old gringo says

          We were on IMSS for 8 years. This year when we went to pay our coverage and for the first time ever they asked us if we had any critical illness?(we have no illness) I asked why? They said we would not be covered for a critical illness like cancer or diabetes if we had/or got it in the future. We have had IMSS for 8 years and according to our IMSS papers we are past any restrictions on being covered if we did contract a critical illness like cancer our IMSS papers say ” no aplican restricciones” We talked to a director. What she told us is that if we got a critical illness in the future it would probably not be covered I asked what if we needed a new hip…she said probably not covered and this was the law since 1997 and they didn’t enforce it in the past. Really from what we gathered it was up to your doctor to declare your illness to be not critical to be covered…What your paying for is accident insurance. We dropped our IMSS coverage and signed up for Suguro Popular.

          • Snowball says

            Well Old Gringo, my wife and I have been paying into IMSS for the past 8 years and never used the system like so many other “Gringos”. This year I was told to return to my “home country” and get all my documents “Legalized” and then go to a Mexican consulate in my home country to have them stamp everything. After that I could return, pay my fee and maybe they would accept the documents. If they don’t accept the documents, then they keep your payment and you’re OUT! So, I dropped them and investigating Seguro Popular.

    • Carlos says

      Good information Gloria thank you!
      What is the name of the full medical coverage insurance in Mexico? Looking to retire there and I have been doing my home work.

  24. Fiona says

    I recently wrote about this topic and interviewed a number of expats, from as far afield as Mexico City to Tijuana (!). Not one felt in danger. The woman in Tijuana even said she felt more threatened riding the trolley in San Diego than she does on the public transport in Mexico.

    More people need to know about this.

  25. Frank says

    I live in Mexico for close to 5 years and have never once felt in danger. I travel throughout, have friends down, etc. and everyone marvels at how wonderful Mexico is and how distorted and biased many headlines in the USA are.

    This is a good article and worth sending to others.

  26. Thanks for sharing this. So many people just assume that ALL of Mexico is extremely dangerous, yet they never assume that ALL of the US is dangerous just because of what goes on in inner-city Detroit.

  27. David Meier says

    Very interesting. I’ll share this with my staff and customers.

    • John says

      Actually, let’s NOT share this with as many people as possible…please!
      Why do we want Mexico to be flooded with people who, until now, never even took the time to investigate for themselves but simply swallowed what the US media was feeding them?
      Those of us who decided to call Mexico home for many years, in spite of all the negative media coverage abroad, don’t need to defend our choice to those with lazy minds!

      • Rich S says

        Great idea John. It’s getting too crowded here and it’s driving the prices up.

        Been here 15+ years and the only time I ever felt myself in danger was when returning from the USSA by the thugs on the US side.
        Ever had 4 border guards pointing automatic weapons at you for a reason they wouldn’t disclose you when you very politely asked? Happened to me 7 years ago at Eagle Pass.

        There is some lash back here near Lake Chapala but the area’s been “gringoized” ie: ruined.

        As my Mexican friends have told me this area has the reputation as being the most dishonest in Mexico
        and my experience bears that out as traveling in other parts of the country there is a much nicer vibe.
        Saying that it’s still much nicer, and definitely much safer, here than the majority of the US.

        Married to a Mexican woman with 4 children who I’m trying to convince to move to Michoacan since it’s so much nicer there. It’s nice to be fluent in Mexican.
        Mexicans don’t speak Spanish.
        Mexican is a blend of at least 5 languages with every pueblo having it’s own dialect.
        The language is as rich and diverse as the countries culture.

        The biggest problem the first few years is expecting Mexico to be like the USA.
        It’s not, and for the most part that’s a wonderful thing.

  28. eddieMex says

    Great read. Thank you for sharing. I will share this with our customers on our Facebook page.

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