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Is Mexico still a safe place to retire?

Updated on January 24, 2011

Is it still paradise?

Doesn't everyone want to live here!
Doesn't everyone want to live here!

Mexico today

Unfortunately - a common sight recently
Unfortunately - a common sight recently

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!

Welcome to Juarez


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      Saul 6 years ago

      It is true, Washington DC has far grater crime rate than Mexico City

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      jim 6 years ago

      Would you like to retire in Watts LA or some parts of Chicago, New York or Philadelphia? Yes, you can retire in Arizona and wait 100 years for the value of your home to go up. We have a tendency to listen and believe the same people that for years where telling us that everything is “Grate”. Now they are telling us that Mexico is dangerous. Of course if you planning to retire in Juarez – good luck to you. But they also forgot to mention that the rest of Mexico has a far lower crime rate than US. By, by.

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      Don't believe the hype... 6 years ago

      I have lived in the state of Guanajuato for almost 3 years and I have yet to see any acts of violence. Granted regardless of where you are, the US or abroad, one must exercise common sense. Cartel crime is relegated to broader towns and tourist areas. To illustrate, common sense would dictate that you would not swim in a body of water known to be home of 20ft crocs. With that said, the FBI has composed a map detailing cartel states( Simply choose a state that is not of interest.

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      Gomet: We are too in about ten years - my husband is Mexican and I personally love the pacific coast of mexico...just hoping it quiets down by then :>

    • Gomet profile image

      Gomet 7 years ago

      No matter how bad in shape a home is a home .... when ever i retire i am going back to Mexico...

      Thanks for Posting this Hub...Loved it