Published On: December 4th, 2023Categories: SafetyTags: ,

Debunking 10 Myths About Safety in Mexico

Debunking 10 Myths About Safety in Mexico

Whether you’re considering a move or planning an adventurous escape, Mexico isn’t just an ordinary place to live; it’s an immersive tapestry of life you embrace with your heart. Unfortunately, the image perpetuated by the media makes many travelers and expats wary of going there. Let’s dismantle these false misconceptions about safety in Mexico:

1. Drug Cartels

Mexico Drug Cartel jpg

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The deep fears of being the victims of drug cartels are largely overblown. Like with any criminal element, cartel victims tend to be engaged in related activities involving drugs or flashy cars. Mexican neighborhoods and residential areas are perfectly safe, with kids going to school, teens hanging out, neighbors holding cookouts, and people going to work. Life is as good as anywhere in Mexico, with delightful cultural differences adding an extra layer of richness. 

2. Negative Press

best beaches in Mexico

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The media headlines often provide sensationalized accounts, exaggerating the severity of Mexico’s safety issues. For the average resident, Mexico is about as safe as any other country. Like its U.S. neighbor, Mexican residents mostly lead easy, peaceful lives. Expats report feeling completely safe, even late at night, in their Mexican neighborhoods. 

3. Film-induced Stereotypes

reasons to move to Mexico - people

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Along with the Russian mafia and the Japanese Yakuza, Mexican drug cartels form the fundamental pillars upon which the gritty crime film genre stands. Unfortunately, this cinematic portrayal in films like Sicario or shows like Ozark generalize a country that is far from being overrun by organized criminals. Mexico has a unique and colorful culture that values family and friendship. 

4. Treacherous Taxi Rides

Shutterstock dangerous cities Zacatecas Mexico jpg

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A few decades ago, taking a taxi in Mexico may have come with some risks. You’d hear hushed stories of caution about someone scammed into emptying their wallets or terrorized by shortcuts from shady neighborhoods. These days, cab services with mobile apps like Uber and formal sitios (taxi stands) provide safe and reliable transport with tracked routes and payments. Occasional scams befall visitors to tourist towns, but you can stay up to date on cons by browsing Reddit threads and Facebook groups.

5. Tourist-Targeted Petty Crime

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Mexico doesn’t have any more street crime than similarly-sized countries. The safety of your valuables as a tourist often depends upon your street smarts and common sense. For best results, dress to fit in instead of dressing outlandishly; don’t show off your expensive camera; avoid sketchy places. You’ll come out good and safe from Mexico, just like you would in cities like Chicago or London. 

6. High Crime Rates

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The general outlook is that the crime rate in Mexico is very high. However, it’s impossible to label a country as dangerous by using a single average statistic. Like all countries, Mexico has some bad and some good neighborhoods. Most areas are safe, and places that attract tourist traffic are especially heavily patrolled by the local police. Cities like Mérida actually have some of the lowest crime rates in the Americas.

Related: Mexico is safer than you think. Here’s proof.

7. Widespread Corruption

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Contrary to what’s sold by the media narrative, Mexico is not crawling with corrupt officials and cops. While corruption exists here, it is not uniformly pervasive. The Mexican government introduced a National Anti-Corruption System (NAS) in 2017, which includes laws to curb corruption and bribery. Such police reforms have given police action some welcome transparency and efficiency. Again, some scams are pervasive, and you can keep track of them in public forms, like this thread about illegal checkpoints in Tulum.

8. Unhygienic Street Food

reasons to move to Mexico - cost of living

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People visiting Mexico complain of getting food poisoning from Mexican street food, and this can be true any time you eat foods in a new country. It can even happen when you return home after a long stint abroad! Different regions have different bacteria, and your body needs time to get used to the new biome.

Some stomach upsets come from enjoying new spices but are mistakenly attributed to poor hygiene standards in Mexico. Most street vendors follow food safety measures, so you can enjoy all the goodness once your stomach gets used to the Mexican spice levels. If you’re worried, get recommendations from other expats, and use common sense when judging the cleanliness of a new food spot.

9. Unsafe Drinking Water

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Tap water in Mexico isn’t unclean but differs from your hometown’s tap water. Since tap water isn’t sterile, it can have different strains of naturally occurring microbes. Since you’re not resistant to these, you can get digestive issues. Luckily, bottled water is readily available around Mexico and will make your trip a seamless experience.

10. Unfriendly Locals

10 best cities for gay men, same-sex marriage

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Travelers returning from the land of fiestas and festivals may warn you about unfriendly locals, but it’s crucial to consider the locals’ perspective. Global stereotypes do influence the attitudes of Mexicans toward foreigners. Their caution or defensiveness may be misread as rudeness. Looking beyond the surface opinions, individual expat interactions reveal Mexicans to be warm and kind people. Some people may take a “gringo go home” attitude, similar to Americans who fear immigrant populations. Be kind and thoughtful yourself, and you’ll make friends in no time.

Mexico Is Safer Than You Think. Here’s Proof.

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Why do Americans think Mexico is so dangerous? Despite the fact that 126 million people live there mostly without incident, Americans seem to picture a violent landscape where no one is safe. Media coverage tends to focus heavily on cartel activity, even though most cartel violence affects only members.

➤ Mexico Is Safer Than You Think. Here’s Proof

Expats Share the Safest Cities in Mexico

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For those looking for a change of pace, many immigrants and retirees have been drawn to Mexico in recent years. With beautiful beaches, diverse culture, and a much lower cost of living than many other countries, it’s no wonder why so many people are choosing to move to Mexico. However, safety is an important consideration when relocating to any new area. Here’s a look at some of the safest cities in Mexico for expats.

Expats Share the Safest Cities in Mexico

Americans in Mexico Are Happier With Their Healthcare

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Whether they’re full-time expats or medical tourists, Americans are much happier with the healthcare they receive in Mexico.

Here are some of the reasons Americans would rather get care south of the border.

Americans in Mexico Are Happier With Their Healthcare

 

Zobia Shazi, Expatsi contributor
+ posts

Zobia Shazi is a freelance writer from Pakistan and travel enthusiast. With a Bachelor's degree in IT and four years of professional writing experience, she's passionate about crafting compelling content for people all over the globe. When she's not busy typing, you can find her reading books in a nice cafe or exploring new places.

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Zobia Shazi, Expatsi contributor
+ posts

Zobia Shazi is a freelance writer from Pakistan and travel enthusiast. With a Bachelor's degree in IT and four years of professional writing experience, she's passionate about crafting compelling content for people all over the globe. When she's not busy typing, you can find her reading books in a nice cafe or exploring new places.