Top 5 Safest Places to Retire in Mexico

Many of us want to retire in style. Mexico has several iconic locations for residents and visitors that can allow you to do just that. It’s one of the go-to countries people move to for retirement due to its close distance to the United States and Canada, affordable cost of living, and warm climates, along with other natural beauties and tourist attractions.

However, some people might have trouble finding a safe place to stay due to the reputation of high crime in specific major urban areas. Some people might also worry about natural disasters that can occur.

Thankfully, several popular cities scattered across Mexico have exceptional public safety and low crime rates. Several expat communities welcome newcomers and encourage them to indulge in and embrace each city’s culture. There are many things to do in these cities, so it would be wise to consider your retirement options carefully.

If you want to retire there, you might have one question on your mind: what cities in Mexico have the least crime? We’ve compiled a list of cities we consider to be excellent contenders for the safest place to retire in Mexico. If safety is your biggest concern, our list should narrow down your options to help you avoid dangerous areas. 

#5 San Miguel de Allende

An image showing Parroquia Jardin Archangel Church in San Miguelm Mexico. It shows a large brick church, a colourful yellow building and a large garden

One of the safest cities you should consider if you want to retire in Mexico is San Miguel de Allende. There are many benefits of living in this area, such as low cost of living, temperate desert climate zones, and many recreational outlets for culture and the arts. Its population measures up to almost 60,000, many of who are expats. 

Most people consider San Miguel de Allende to be an influential cultural center. If you decide on settling down here, you might want to consider participating in their local festivals,

including Día de los Locos in June and the Feast of San Miguel Arcángel in September.

Crime Rate

San Miguel de Allende has several areas throughout the city qualified as safe. Although some secluded and isolated areas have higher crime, especially at night, most residents take precautions to avoid petty crimes, including theft, vandalism, and break-ins. 

The best measures to follow while avoiding these incidents include:

  • Paying attention to suspicious activity
  • Storing your valuables
  • Locking your homes and vehicles securely
  • Keeping an eye on your money

Fortunately, thanks to the city’s diverse population, visitors and residents hailing from the United States and Canada don’t get victimized because of their background, making it one of the country’s friendliest places. This atmosphere makes it more comfortable to walk around town and search for museums or musicians playing near local eateries at the town center.

Earthquakes

San Miguel de Allende might experience infrequent earthquake activity. Although they don’t get as many earthquakes as other areas, it’s still wise to prepare for emergencies.

Hurricanes

Due to its location away from the coast, San Miguel de Allende doesn’t typically get hurricanes. However, remnants of hurricanes might appear as rainfall. The streets might flood due to this rainfall and the lack of extensive drainage systems as it is normally a dry climate.

Brush Fires

Due to the area’s overall aridness, San Miguel de Allende can be susceptible to fires, as is much of the West Coast. Thankfully, there are measures in place to keep everyone, including property, safe. They also have an active and effective fire department to ensure fires don’t easily spread.

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#4 Puerto Vallarta 

A photo of the coastline in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, featuring several beaches, large hotels, and palm trees

One of the contenders for the safest cities in Mexico includes Puerto Vallarta. Located on the country’s west coast in the state of Jalisco, this city serves as a go-to destination for tourists and locals who want to experience its beaches, water sports, and nightlife bars, lounges, and clubs. As Mexico’s second-most visited tourist destination, there’s plenty to do. Check out the differences between Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.

One of the city’s most prominent landmarks is the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe where you can experience annual processions for the Feast of Guadalupe from December 1st to December 12th. Thousands of visitors gather to watch colorful musical festivities, incorporating Christian and Aztec aesthetics. 

The city has a tropical climate year-round, ranging between temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This destination might be ideal for you if you want to spend time away from harsh winters.

Crime Rate

Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest places in Mexico due to its low crime rates. In fact, crime has been declining for the last few years in Puerto Vallarta, making it an increasingly reputable option. It would still be wise to keep your valuables close when traversing the town and store essential items in secure safes. 

Earthquakes

Due to its location near the Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is vulnerable to occasional earthquakes. If you decide to retire here, it would be best to learn about preparing for such emergencies. 

Hurricanes

Puerto Vallarta’s location falls under the typical hurricane range for Mexico. However, it has a natural barrier, the Bay of Banderas, which protects it from direct hits from tropical storms. The bay’s size and its surrounding mountains keep hurricane season stable for all Puerto Vallarta residents. 

Severe hurricanes don’t frequently occur, only turning up every few years. Major storms typically leave damage only every few decades.

Related: Best Area to Live in Puerto Vallarta

#3 Campeche

A photograph of a street in Campeche City in Mexico, showing a row of colorful buildings and a blue sly

Campeche is another place you should consider retiring to if you want to live in a safe environment. Located in Mexico’s southeast region, it is home to almost a million residents on the Yucatan Peninsula’s west side. Most people who live or visit Campeche encounter its colorful architecture throughout the city. 

One of this region’s iconic highlights is its preserved historic fortresses, such as the Fort of San Miguel and the Fort of San José el Alto. During the 16th and 17th centuries, they used these forts to defend the city’s ports from pirate raids. It also has a wall surrounding most of the city. 

There are several preserved Mayan ruins you can explore if you decide to stay. Specifically, the Calakmul ruins cover two square kilometers and have limestone incorporated in their foundation’s construction.

Crime Rate

Many people consider Campeche one of the safest states in Mexico. The state improved its Mexico Peace Index (MPI) score by seven percent in 2018, with an overall score of 1.374, due to its actions tackling local crime!

Earthquakes

Campeche and other states located on the Yucatan Peninsula don’t have fault lines near the North American and Cocos tectonic plates, making it uncommon for earthquakes to occur in these regions. However, Campeche might experience occasional aftershocks from quakes in neighboring states. 

Hurricanes

Campeche has a defined dry and rainy season in late winter and early spring. Hurricanes sometimes occur during late summer, particularly forming near the Bay of Campeche. If a hurricane does develop, follow the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your property.

#2 Sayulita

A photo of the small surfy village of Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico, showing a large sweeping cove with several small boats and a large home

Another popular tourist spot perfect for retirement is Sayulita. Located near the Pacific coast, 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, it is another one of the safest places to retire in Mexico. Despite its size, there’s plenty to do during your peaceful retirement.

There are several beaches you can travel to and spend a few hours relaxing in the sunlight. Some popular ones include Sayulita Beach, Playa de Muertos, and Playa Las Cuevas. There are also several outlets for jungle hikes, such as Monkey Mountain.

Crime Rates

If you’re worried about safety during your retirement, Sayulita is one of the safest neighborhoods found in Mexico. This resort town has a police force that enforces a 24-hour patrol for the area against minor crimes and occasional drug possession. 

Sayulita also has other safety measures, including neighborhood watch programs and midnight curfews for nightlife facilities. The general public also welcomes tourists and new residents with open arms since they are the driving force for its local economy.

The most common crime you might run into here is petty theft or scams, so it would be best to take precautions while you’re traveling or at home. For example, you should store your valuables, lock your doors and windows when you leave your residence, and stay vigilant while walking the streets alone.

Earthquakes

Like many parts of Mexico, Sayulita is prone to earthquake activity. It might feel aftershocks of earthquakes that surrounding cities experience. Some earthquakes might cause tsunamis, so it would be wise to steer clear from ocean waves until the disasters die down.

Hurricanes

Sayulita might be prone to hurricanes during the summer months. If hurricane warnings do occur, it would be best to follow their safety protocol and prepare for the storm. Tropical thunder and lightning storms tend to occur more often than hurricanes.   

#1 Merida

A photo of the Cathedral of San Ildefonso in Merida, the capital of Yucatan Mexico. It shows a large church opposite a park with trees

Our top pick for the safest place to retire in Mexico is Merida, located in the northern region of the Yucatan Peninsula. Many people know Merida for its Mayan influence, from its architecture to its culture.

If you plan on retiring here, there’s an abundance of activities you can do. As the capital city of the state of Yucatan, it serves as a beacon for the cultural identity of the region. You can visit several museums, art galleries, markets, and colonial buildings to experience Merida’s atmosphere.

This city stands out from others in Mexico due to its topography. While several have mountainous views, Merida, along with other places on the Yucatan Peninsula, has a flat topography, located 30 feet above sea level. Many American expats find this ideal for retirement, as they don’t need to worry about navigating great heights or tropical storms.

Crime Rate

Merida has a reputation for being one of the safest places in Mexico. Its general crime rate measures to about 21%. Indeed, the population polls at feeling very safe in their homes and on the streets, with especially low rates of racially motivated crimes. 

When traveling around the city, it would be best to pay attention to your surroundings to avoid the slight chances of getting pickpocketed. Most people feel safe walking around at night, but it’s always a good idea to be cautious when out after dark just about anywhere.

When driving through Merida, it would be best to pay attention to the road‘s condition to prevent auto accidents. However, tourist and expat areas tend to have better road conditions than other parts of the Yucatan.

Merida has an experienced law enforcement department to deal with any issues that may arise. Most of their forces station around Merida’s Centro to watch over citizens and tourists congregating in high-volume spaces, including restaurants, ATMs, and walkways.

Earthquakes

Occasionally, Merida experiences earthquakes. Although they aren’t as frequent as Mexico’s southern and western regions, Merida might feel aftershocks from other areas, depending on a quake’s strength.

Hurricanes

Merida is prone to hurricane impact received from storms entering from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, which may occur every few years. Hurricane season in Merida occurs between June and October. It stands to reason that this period coincides with the city’s rainy season, from May to October.

What are the Most Dangerous Cities in Mexico?

While in search of the safest places to retire in Mexico, you may have actually wondered just the opposite – which cities in the country are unsafe? Therefore, we’ve also rounded the top three most dangerous Mexican cities, including: 

1. Tijuana

Located near the border crossings, Tijuana is often ranked as the most dangerous city in Mexico. In 2018 alone, 2,519 homicides were reported in the town. The U.S. Department of State assessed Tijuana as a “critical-threat location” while the State’s very own Travel Advisory board advises tourists to travel there with extreme caution.   

2. Los Cabos

Unfortunately, beauty can ‘kill the beast.’ In the case of Los Cabos, two districts at the Southern tip of Baja California, this is especially true most of the time. Despite its beautiful beaches, Los Cabos still ranks as one of the most dangerous areas in Mexico, if not among the most unsafe spots in the world. In recent years, the major tourist hub has experienced a surge of violence, though tourists are largely uninvolved. Visitors to Mexico may recall that this area is where Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is from; his imprisonment means other cartels are now fighting over his former territory.

3. Acapulco

Another resort destination, Acapulco is also a relatively violent town. It has notably made several news headlines, especially for drug trafficking and political corruption. Yet, surprisingly, not all visitors are affected by Acapulco’s high crime rate.  

Whether a city is labeled dangerous or not, residents and tourists should always consult the targeted state or country government website before traveling for a vacation or relocation.

How to Stay Safe When Considering Retirement in Mexico

An image of Playa del Carmen in mexico, showing a white sandy beach, aqua blue ocean water and several boats

Before deciding on your retirement destination, there are several things you should do to ensure you’re prepared to support yourself in the safest cities. Once you plan these factors, you should have less trouble adjusting to your new life. 

Find an Affordable Residence

One thing to consider is the location of the home where you decide to reside during your retirement. Ideally, you should try to find a place on the good side of town where potential peers can accompany you if you decide to walk around the city. If you reside near a bustling tourism site, it would be wise to stay alert of your surroundings, even in cities with low crime rates.

Related: Affordable Places to Live in Mexico

Budget Your Funds Accordingly

The average cost of living in Mexico ranges between $600 to $2,000 per month. Before paying for food and transportation, make sure you know what the local averages are. It’s also a good idea to speak passable Spanish, not only to be polite but to make your own transition easier.

Secure Your Locks

Before you leave your apartment or go to bed, it would be wise to lock all your doors and windows to reduce break-in chances. If your complex has an alarm system, it would be wise to use it to your advantage. When leaving personal belongings in your vehicle, keep them as hidden as possible to prevent nearby petty thieves from snatching them.

Travel in Groups Whenever Possible

When retiring abroad, you might make new friends in the city of your choice. Although most people living in the safest cities feel safe when walking at any time of the day, some may recommend walking with others if you go to the busiest streets at night. Through the group systems, others keep you out of trouble while you do the same for them.

Conclusion

Despite what the media might tell you, there are several cities in Mexico where you can retire safely and live a luxurious lifestyle. Many of them qualify as popular tourist destinations and offer several attractions to participate in daily. Whether you want to see lush beaches or lively cultural centers set in the exotic jungle, there are many ways to enjoy retiring in Mexico. 

Although no city is 100% crime-free, the cities listed above are some of the safest in the country, making them a great choice for retirement. Of course, some of these cities might also experience natural disasters differently than others.

When narrowing down your options, it would be wise to follow local protocol to ensure your safety. Other than that, you need to consider what you’re looking for in your retirement before you pick a location. Do you want to spend your days sunning yourself on a beach? Do you enjoy historic buildings and the dry weather of the desert? Or would you rather be surrounded by lush and vibrant jungle, living in a metropolis situated within the trees?

Is there a city that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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