1. Is Mexico Safe?
This is without a doubt the #1 FAQ we have received over our 10 years as Permanent Residents of Mexico–is it safe? While I aim to be considerate in my responses to well-intentioned folks (not all are), the broad-based ridiculousness of the question certainly does not escape me. Is Chicago safe? Los Angeles? Dallas? New York? The list goes on, doesn’t it…
Central Highlands Traffic Jam in The Campo
My simple answer, based on personal experience of life realities in Mexico (as well as many other various parts of this big, diverse world) is the following:
- Use common sense and situational awareness everywhere you go
- Limit night driving, know where you are going, map out your travels
- Do not be flamboyant, rude, pompous, loud or inebriated in public
- Learn/speak the language and be respectful in your communications
- Learn about the culture and customs of the country you are a guest in, be a respectful observer and participant
- Be of service, volunteer, give back
- Know your neighbors and your community
I too see the alarming posts on Facebook and various media outlets and while I don’t have my head in the sand, I also limit my exposure to the news while staying as informed as prudent and necessary. Balance, Common Sense, Situational Awareness–guiding lights in a big, beautiful, complex world.
The following has been making its rounds on the internet and succinctly summarizes my position on this hot topic of safety in Mexico.
Gringo: Hi, where are you from?
Mexican: Hi, I’m from Mexico.
Gringo: Ah! The land of Chapo Guzmán, narcos, marihuana, crime and extortion.
Mexican: I’m sorry, are you a drug addict or a TV junkie?
Gringo: No!!! Why?
Mexican: Because if you were an athlete or sports fan, you would have identified Mexico with Ana Guevara, Hugo Sanchez, Julio Cesar Chavez, Canelo Alvarez, Rafael Marquez. If you were an educated person, you would have asked about the Aztec empire, the Mayan culture, the Olmecs or any other of the great Mesoamerican cultures. If you were a well-traveled person you would have talked about our majestic archaeological sites, our tourist-friendly colonial cities, our megalopolis or our exotic beaches…the astonishing biodiversity of our rainforests, mountain ranges, deserts, conifer forests. You could have identified Mexico with our great painters Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco; our composers: Agustín Lara, Consuelo Velázquez, Juan Gabriel Jose Alfredo Jimenez, our writers and poets: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Juan Rulfo, Octavio Paz, Elena Poniatowska, Jaime Sabines; our inventors or scientists: Manuel Mondragón, Guillermo González Camarena, Luis Ernesto Miramontes; our cinematographers: Ismael Rodríguez, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Emmanuel Lubezki, and even Luis Buñuel, who, being originally from Spain, chose to adopt the Mexican nationality. If you were a gourmand, you would have asked about Tamales, Cochinita Pibil, Mole, Adobo, Chilaquiles, Chiles en Nogada, Guacamole, Pan de Muerto, etc. or our traditional beverages: Tequila, Mezcal, wines and beers. However, I can see, the only thing you can relate to Mexico is the provider to American drug addicts.
I just want you to realize that México is a lot more than what ignorant people and fear-mongering media knows or chooses to propagate. There are millions of honest Mexicans, who even without knowing you, will open the door to our homes, and that if you care to visit, you will love to get to know us. Mexico is even more than I can possibly tell you!
Touché! No greater truth spoken! Perhaps I should start carrying the above exchange around on laminated index cards and hand them out with a smile when I am next asked if Mexico is safe. 😊
➡️ ➡️For the record, I am no Pollyanna and know that really horrible, devastating, tragic things happen on the daily–in Mexico and in all of the countries the world over. I will also not be crippled by fear nor live a life of only peeking through the peep hole of my front door.
2. Do You Feel Safe Raising Your Children in Mexico?
Mexico is such a family/community-centric culture that truly operates by the adage of “it takes a village to raise a child”. My child is yours and yours is mine and we all look out for each other. Building community is key.
I can tell you that here in Mexico I don’t fear my children using public restrooms nor them moving about independently in crowded areas like movie theaters, public parks, restaurants, plazas, beaches, schools. They have the freedom to roam and explore and therefore develop their own sense of autonomy and identity–again, with the precepts of common sense and situational awareness.
For more on raising kids in Mexico:
3. Is The Education Good in Mexico?
Our experiences with the now five different schools our twins have attended in the last ten years have been varied and for the most part, all excellent–of course each with its own set of pros and cons.
From a Montessori and International Surfing School in the jungle of Nayarit to a Bilingual Educative Institution in the heart of colonial San Miguel to a prestigious and academically rigorous school in Puerto Vallarta to now, wrapping up their High School years at an IB High School in the Central Highlands, our children have been challenged and supported intellectually, socially and athletically. They are bilingual/bicultural citizens of this world, developing life skills that go beyond the brick and mortar of a physical school. Raising/educating them here in Mexico has afforded our family this gift and host of essential tools.
4. Is Coastal or Central Living Better?
Having lived both on the coast and inland back and forth twice now, there are of course pros & cons to each area relative to topography, culture, weather, proximity to international airports, medical care, and day-to-day living.
While it is clearly a personal choice, it is important to do as much research as possible to see what is (and isn’t) a fit for you. There are so many options, one could very easily be happy in any number of places or even do half a year in one area and the other half in another, depending on your own personal goals and circumstances.
5. Is The Water Safe to Drink?
Unless you have a reverse osmosis system, it is best to use the 20-liter garrafones of purified water (with dispenser). We installed both the reverse osmosis and a whole house water filtration system to filter out heavy metals, chlorine, sand, dirt, pesticides and fungi (amongst other contaminants) for healthier showers, teeth brushing, laundry and the disinfecting of our produce and dishes.
6. What is The Immigration Process?
You must begin the Visa process in your country of residence at your local Mexican Consulate. I highly recommend that you partner with a reputable liaison (message me for a San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta recommendation) to assist you in the details of your own particular circumstances—i.e. do you want to apply for Temporary or Permanent Residency or even citizenship? Do you understand the procedures that need to take place at INM once you have arrived in Mexico with your pre-authorized Visa? There are many protocols that need to be followed to a T.
7. How is The Medical Care?
The best way for me to answer this all-important question is via my own family’s first-hand accounts:
Certainly in the span of 10 years we have been asked many more questions than the ones I have shared here, but these are some of the more FAQs. What about you? Do you have any questions you would like answered? Feel free to add them in the comments section below and I will do my best to respond ASAP.
To learn more about moving to Mexico:
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