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Is Mexico still a safe place to retire?
Is it still paradise?
Is Mexico Still a Safe Place to Retire?
With all the recent news coverage of Mexico's attempt to rid the country of drug cartels and corruption, many Americans are wondering if Mexico is still a safe place to retire. For years, Americans have flocked to our neighbor to the south for its beautiful climate and its relatively low cost of living. Why retire in Arizona when you can buy twice the house in Puerta Vallarta for the same money? Additionally, health care in Mexico is significantly less expensive than in the United States and in the large ex-patriot communities you are frequently receiving services from a doctor or dentist who was trained here in the United States. So many of you may be asking yourself in light of what we hear in the news whether it is still safe to consider Mexico for your dream retirement location. The answer to that question may depend on when and where you plan to retire. Although my husband is Mexican, we are seriously considering other Central American countries such as Panama, Costa Rica or Belize.
As of the writing of this article, the violence in Mexico has reached an alarming rate. Juarez can't seem to get through a 24 hour period without at least one, and frequently multiple, homicides. Mexican officials have decided to pull the army out of Juarez and are considering other approaches to stem the violence. While Juarez has historically been a violent border town, it has recently become nothing short of a war zone. In fact, it has the highest homicide rate of any city that has not been declared a war zone in the world. Having said that, most Americans were not considering a retirement in Juarez, or in any other border town for that matter.
While violence and the threat of kidnappings have always been considerations for Americans in Mexico, one would be naïve to say that that risk hasn't increased in light of the situation in Mexico. Mexico's current President, Felipe Calderon, is attempting to rid the country of the drug cartels and corruption. While he is certainly making progress, it looks like it will be awhile before we know whether his efforts are going to work. Americans visiting or living in tourist areas such as Cancun, Aculpulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel were once thought to be relatively safe and isolated from the violence. Not so these days.
Given the situation as it is, this writer's advice is to wait and see. Most likely, the country will turn the corner in the near future. Which corner it turns remains to be seen. Either the President's efforts will start to show progress and eventually we will see the end of the cartels and corruption OR things will return to the way they were 10 years ago. While we would all prefer the former solution, at least if they went back to the way they were we would know what to expect. The old devil you know versus the devil you don't know. So if you are planning to retire in two years, I would stay away from Mexico. If you are looking ten years into the future then you may still be able to look forward to that casa a la mar!