Are you looking to learn about the safest places to live in Mexico? You’re in luck! I’m an expat from Canada who lives in Mexico, and you can bet I have a lot to say about this topic!
Mexico is an incredibly popular country for expats, digital nomads and remote workers to relocate to, for many reasons. It’s full of stunning sandy beaches, historical ruins, delicious food, beautiful natural landscapes and quaint towns. The people are friendly, the costs of living vary from “reasonable” to “very affordable”, and in many cities, the health services are fantastic. What’s not to love?
However, Mexico also has a bad rep, and sometimes falls under the stigma of “it’s dangerous”. Many visitors can have concerns about the general safety of the country, usually due to hearing stories of violent organized crime and drug cartels. However, often these occurrences are drug and gang-related targeted crimes with players involved in the drug trade. Oftentimes, these stories are given a lot of exposure on the news in Canada and the USA, even though violent crimes involving tourists are just a tiny fraction of visitors’ experiences in Mexico overall.
My husband and I live in Mexico part-time (about 6 or 7 months out of the year) and are temporary residents of Mexico. This is still one of the most common questions we are asked by friends, family and my Instagram followers – “Is it safe to live in Mexico?”
There are many, many parts of Mexico that are not only completely safe to visit and to live in, but are potentially even safer than some major US cities! Plenty of cities and towns in Mexico are full of friendly people and have incredibly beautiful surroundings. If you’re a digital nomad or are hoping to find a job working online and move abroad, Mexico is a fantastic choice.
From the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende to the bohemian surf town of Sayulita, there are plenty of options for those looking for a safe place to call home. Continue reading this blog to learn about the safest cities in Mexico to live in, with low crime rates and plenty of excellent infrastructure for expats!
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The Safest Places to Live in Mexico:
Mérida, Yucatan: The Safest City in Mexico
The Yucatan city of Merida is widely acknowledged as the #1 safest city in Mexico. It’s so safe, in fact, that your biggest safety concern in Mérida will probably be getting around in the busy traffic!
A 2019 article in CEOWorld Magazine declared Merida the safest city in all of Mexico, and the second-safest city on the Americas Continent! A Forbes magazine article also claimed that Merida is as safe as Europe. Yet another magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, named Merida the #3 best city in the world in 2020!
Merida no doubt has made a name for itself as a safe city, and I can indeed confirm that the experience on the ground in Merida as an expat is the same as is raved about in the magazines! I found it to be a safe, friendly city, full of kind locals and so much to see and do infused with plenty of Mexican culture, from the art galleries to the local street vendors.
Merida is the Yucatan capital and is appreciated for its stunning colonial architecture, excellent food scene and close proximity to cultural archaeological sites, including the world-famous Chichen Itza. It’s also located only a short drive from the gorgeous beaches of Progreso, so though it isn’t technically a “coastal” city, you’re only about a half hour drive away from beautiful beaches. It’s an affordable and clean city to live in, with a fantastic infrastructure for digital nomads and expats.
Expat Life in Merida:
Expat life is excellent in Merida! This walkable city with the lowest crime rate is also extremely walkable, so you don’t necessarily need a car. This can save you lots of money in the long run, especially if you choose to live downtown/city centre. There are plenty of cafes if you choose to work with a fancy coffee in hand. However, this isn’t necessary, as most AirBNBs and rental accommodations have great Internet, as the infrastructure is overall excellent in Merida.
Merida might not be for you if you don’t like tropical weather! It gets HOT in Merida, especially from May to September. Daytime temperatures often hover around 35°C (95°F), with intense humidity that makes it feel even hotter! There will be little reprieve from the heat in the nighttime, too, as temperatures will drop only a few degrees to about 30.5°C (87°F ).
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Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo
This popular and much-loved coastal city is located in Mexico’s beautiful Mayan Riviera, about 45 minutes south of the vacation hotspot of Cancun. Playa Del Carmen has soft, sandy white beaches and sparkling turquoise water, making this both a popular tourist destination, as well as a haven for expats and remote workers.
Playa del Carmen is a relatively safe place to live or visit in Mexico, suitable for families and solo travelers with its large percentage of expats and English-speaking tourists. Despite some incidences of drug-related violence in 2022 that happened in nearby areas that made the news, the state of Quintana Roo has minimal violent crimes that are directed at its tourists and expats. However, it’s integral to take safety precautions while in Playa del Carmen, which include not walking around alone at night and staying away from recreational drugs, as much of the violence that occurs is drug-related.
We personally lived in Playa Del Carmen for about 6 months and never had an issue, though we avoided clubs and were almost always home before it was dark. However, we did hear of police “shaking down” (stealing cash from) tourists who were out walking the streets drunk after the club.
Expat Life in Playa Del Carmen:
Playa is indeed an amazing place for expats to live! The best feature about it (besides the obvious fact that it is beachside) is that it is 100% walkable! You absolutely do not need a car when living in or visiting Playa. You can walk right to the beach from many Playa Del Carmen accommodations (many of which have rooftop pools with awesome views!) There are so many different AirBNBs and vacation rentals available in Playa. Grocery stores are everywhere, and there’s even a Walmart right in centro! There are plenty of amazing cafes to work at with excellent coffee, and really good food with a large variety of types of cuisine.
There is indeed a busy and touristy stretch to Playa, known as 5th Ave, but you can easily avoid it if you’re not looking for crowds and noise and plenty of vendors calling you to their stalls. Souvenirs, food and drinks are often very overpriced on this popular walking street, so head a few blocks over in any direction to find what you’re looking for at a better price!
Playa, like many other popular towns in Mexico, can have a dark side if you’re out at night and hanging around the clubs. To keep as safe as possible, I recommend not walking around alone after dark (especially if you’ve been drinking) and steering clear of the clubs and nightlife. Otherwise, this is a wonderful and fairly safe Mexican town to live in or visit for extended periods of time!
San Miguel de Allende
Often considered one of the safest cities in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is a stunning colonial city located in the central highlands of the country. With a population of just over 140,000, this smaller city is big on safety, and it has become a popular destination for foreigners looking to retire or start a new life in Mexico.
San Miguel de Allende is known for its rich cultural heritage, with plenty of historic buildings and monuments to explore. It also offers a vibrant modern art scene, which makes it one of the most dynamic cities in Mexico. San Miguel de Allende offers an abundance of activities and attractions for visitors and residents alike. Whether you prefer exploring the town’s many galleries, attending one of its lively festivals, or simply soaking up the sun on one of its beautiful beaches, there are plenty of ways to enjoy life in this charming Mexican town.
Expat Life in San Miguel De Allende:
If you’re looking for a safe and welcoming place to live in Mexico as an expat, then look no further than San Miguel de Allende. With its rich culture, delicious cuisine, warm climate, and abundance of activities and attractions – it has something for everyone, and is safe and inviting.
In addition to a low crime rate, San Miguel de Allende is also home to a large community of expats, meaning there’s always someone around to help out if you need it. The city is extremely safe – both during the day and at night – making it an ideal place to live or visit. The local police force is well-equipped and very active in curbing crime, so you can feel secure knowing that your safety is taken seriously.
The town’s location in the central highlands of Mexico means that you can expect warm weather all year round, as well as stunning mountain views. San Miguel de Allende also boasts one of the best food scenes in Mexico, offering plenty of excellent restaurants and local eateries to choose from. The city is also quite affordable, so you can easily find a place to live that fits your budget.
Puerto Vallarta has one of the lowest crime rates in Mexico, making it a very safe place for expats to live. The city is well-policed and there are very few instances of violent crime. It also has a thriving nightlife scene, so you won’t have to worry about finding something fun to do after dark.
Overall, Puerto Vallarta is a safe place for expats. With its low crime rate, plenty of neighborhoods to choose from, and all the exciting attractions it has to offer, you can be sure that your experience living in Puerto Vallarta will be a positive one. Just remember to take the necessary precautions and follow basic safety guidelines, and you’ll have no problem enjoying your time in this beautiful Mexican city.
Expat Life in Puerto Vallarta:
If you’re considering moving to PV, there are plenty of expat-friendly areas to choose from. Many expats choose to live in Old Town PV, which offers a charming atmosphere and is close to all of Puerto Vallarta’s major attractions. There’s also the well-loved Marina Vallarta, which is known for its luxury shopping and dining options. Finally, there’s El Centro, which is the bustling city center and home to many fun bars and restaurants!
No matter where you decide to live in Puerto Vallarta, there are some basic safety tips that you should follow. Always carry a copy of your passport with you in case you’re stopped by police, and make sure to lock your door at night. It’s also a good idea to carry some pepper spray or mace with you, in case of any unwanted advances. Remember to have fun, but stay vigilant and be mindful of safety!
The city of Puerto Vallarta has a low crime rate and there are plenty of expat-friendly neighborhoods to choose from. You’ll feel right at home in no time!
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If you’re looking for a laid-back beach town with good vibes and even better security, Sayulita is the place for you. Located just 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, this charming beach town offers all the relaxation and serenity of a peaceful seaside village. This small town (population: just under 5,000) is known for its surf scene and bohemian vibe. The white sand beaches are lined with palm trees, providing plenty of shade for sunbathing or even just taking a leisurely stroll. You can spend your days enjoying activities like swimming, surfing, fishing or simply exploring the local shops and restaurants.
There is no shortage of cultural attractions to explore either – from art galleries to dolphin-watching tours, you’ll find something new and exciting every day! While petty crimes like theft do occur from time to time, Sayulita is overall a very safe place to live.
Sayulita also offers an array of cultural experiences. Visit small villages and get a glimpse into the local way of life. Visit nearby markets for some unique souvenirs or take part in cultural workshops that will teach you about Mexican cuisine, textiles, crafts and music. For those seeking an even deeper exploration, join one of the yoga retreats available throughout town – here you’ll find yourself detoxifying your body and mind while connecting with nature.
Expat Life in Sayulita:
Sayulita is an ideal destination for expats seeking a laid-back lifestyle in paradise. People come here to enjoy the warm and sunny climate, stunning beaches with amazing surf, excellent restaurants serving delicious Mexican cuisine, and friendly locals. It’s also a great place to retire or start a new business, as it has low living costs, a relaxed atmosphere, and plenty of opportunities for adventure.
Living in Sayulita as an expat can be quite rewarding. By getting to know the locals you can learn about their culture, make new friends, and pick up some handy tips on how to get around. You can also benefit from the low-cost of living in Sayulita, as it is much cheaper than many other places in Mexico. The town also offers a variety of festivals throughout the year, from art shows to music festivals.
Despite its allure, safety should be top priority when visiting. The locals are friendly and welcoming, but the presence of tourists can make it easy to become a target for criminals. Taking some safety precautions will help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable visit. Start by researching the area, including safety tips from locals. Always travel in groups at night and avoid wandering off on your own, especially after a few drinks. All in all, if safety is kept in mind, Sayulita is an incredible place to explore!
Welcome to Tulum – a truly incredible place that offers something special for everyone! With stunning beaches, fascinating cultural attractions, unique hotels and an incredibly safe environment, it’s no wonder so many expats choose this city as their home and so many vacationers choose this spot for relaxation and beach time. From exploring ancient ruins to visiting hot beach clubs, there’s always something in this breezy bohemian getaway that will capture your heart and make you feel right at home.
Tulum is known for its stunning natural beauty, from the sparkling blue waters of the Caribbean Sea to the lush jungle landscapes. There are plenty of activities in the area to explore, from exploring ancient Mayan ruins to swimming in turquoise cenotes and snorkeling in crystal-clear water. Shopping and dining options are plentiful, as well as world-class spas and wellness centers. This is the perfect place for yogis and those interested in fitness; it’s also a paradise for health and mindset lovers!
Aside from all this, what makes Tulum so attractive is its reputation for being safe for foreign visitors and expats looking for beaches, fun, and sun. With relatively low crime rates and a strong police force, Tulum is definitely an attractive option for those looking to spend time in Mexico.
However, much like Playa Del Carmen, I would advise to not be out after dark or spending time around the club scene. Though Tulum is generally safe, the crime rate has been increasing recently, with the drug trade looking to cash in on tourism booming. That can be a dangerous world to become involved in, so I recommend staying as far away from it as possible. Don’t be out after dark walking around, especially after having some drinks. I’d also recommend avoiding the clubs and nightlife as much as possible, as this is usually where any potential issues arise. And of course, always make sure you’re protected by trustworthy travel insurance, such as Safetywing Travel Insurance.
Expat Life in Tulum:
Life in Tulum is truly something special. With its beautiful beaches, intriguing cultural activities and high safety standards, it’s the perfect place to call home for any expat looking to start a new life in Mexico. Whether you’re looking for an exciting adventure or a peaceful retreat, Tulum has everything you need to make your time there unforgettable. Expats who choose to make Tulum their new home will find a vibrant community, with warm and welcoming locals and other expats who live similar lifestyles.
With its stunning landscapes, lively atmosphere, growing expat community and plentiful police force, Tulum is one of the best places for expats to call home in Mexico. There is excellent infrastructure for digital nomads, from strong Internet to plentiful accommodations. Tulum is also incredibly walkable; though the beach isn’t located as close to town as it is with Playa Del Carmen, it is still just a short walk, bike ride or cab ride away, depending how close to the coast you choose to stay.
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La Paz, Mexico is located in the state of Baja California Sur in the southern tip of the country. Known as the “City of Peace,” La Paz is a safe and friendly place for expats to call home and for vacationers to get away from it all!
According to the website Numbeo, La Paz has a low crime rate of 39.29. For perspective, this is quite a bit safer than New York (crime rate of 50.35) and LA (crime rate of 55.70). With its beachside location and surrounding nature, La Paz gives off the impressional of a charming, smaller seaside city instead of a massive urban metropolis.
La Paz is a popular tourist destination due to its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets and vibrant culture. La Paz offers a variety of activities for visitors including whale watching, sport fishing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. It’s also home to several national parks and marine reserves, such as Espiritu Santo Island, Isla San Jose and El Mogote. There’s so much to see and do in La Paz!
Expat Life in La Paz:
The city of La Paz is the capital city of the sunny Mexican state of California Baja. It is a bustling hub where visitors can explore its traditional markets, restaurants, galleries and shops. And with plenty to see and do in the area—including stunning beaches, picturesque landscapes and vibrant cultural attractions — La Paz provides an ideal setting for expats looking to explore and enjoy the Mexican lifestyle.
If safety and culture top your list when considering where to live abroad, La Paz is definitely worth exploring. The majority of locals here are warm and welcoming towards foreigners, making it easy to settle in and integrate into life in La Paz. Plus, with its low crime rate and high-quality healthcare services, expats can feel confident that their safety needs will be met in La Paz. With its commitment to ensuring a secure environment for locals and visitors alike, this city offers peace of mind—so you can make the most out of your time living here.
Whether you’re interested in embracing local customs or just want to relax near pristine shorelines, La Paz is an excellent place for foreign residents who are searching for a safe environment and plenty of things to do.
Huatulco is a Mexican paradise for travelers and expats looking to experience the very best of Mexico. Spread out over 35km of coastline on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Huatulco offers its visitors and locals plenty of activities and attractions, such as stunning vast beaches, lush jungles, lively nightlife and vibrant culture.
Huatulco has a very rich history and culture, so it’s no surprise that this region is one of Mexico’s most beloved destinations: there’s truly something here that will appeal to everyone! Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or a destination that offers never-ending adventure, Huatulco has it all.
Huatulco is also known as a safe destination. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and there’s minimal crime. Generally, it’s considered a very safe place for foreign travelers and expats, where you can walk the streets without issue. While violent crime is a rare occurrence in Huatulco, petty theft can still be an issue just like in many other cities worldwide, so it’s important to always keep an eye on your belongings and use common sense.
Expat Life in Huatulco:
Living in Huatulco as an expat or digital nomad is a fantastic experience! Many people come to Huatulco looking for an alternative lifestyle and are truly amazed at the beautiful destination and all its hidden gems it has to offer. The warm climate, stunning beaches, vibrant culture, friendly locals, and abundance of outdoor activities make Huatulco an ideal location for expats looking to experience a different way of life.
With its large expat community, there’s also plenty of support available for expats in Huatulco, thanks to informal expat networks and even expat associations! So if you’ve been dreaming of living and working in paradise, Huatulco is the perfect place to make your dream a reality.
Cabo San Lucas
No list of the best Mexican cities to live in would be complete without mentioning Cabo San Lucas! Cabo San Lucas has become a popular expat destination, both for those seeking a digital nomad lifestyle and for retirees seeking a sunny climate and laid-back lifestyle.
The city offers gorgeous beaches and access to some of the best fishing, diving, and snorkeling in all of Mexico. With its vibrant nightlife scene, opulent luxury resorts, golf courses, shopping centers, and international restaurants, there is something for everyone.
Cabo San Lucas is generally considered to be a safe destination for tourists, although crime rates have been growing in recent years. Tourists and expats alike should make sure to take precautionary measures and use common sense when out and about and off the resort. Paying attention to your surroundings can help ward off potential petty crime. When venturing out at night, it’s best to stick with larger groups as crime, much like other cities worldwide, tends to increase after dark. It’s important to walk in areas that are well-lit and populated and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables with you. Also, make sure to have excellent travel insurance, in case the worst does happen – I highly recommend Safetywing Travel Insurance.
Expat Life in Cabo San Lucas:
The expat community in Cabo San Lucas is growing. There are expats from all over the world living here. Many expats living in Cabo San Lucas work remotely or as freelancers, taking advantage of the convenient airport and reliable internet access to stay connected with their clients worldwide. International restaurants and nightlife spots make meeting other expats simple and convenient, allowing expats in Cabo San Lucas to create a new social circle quickly.
Infrastructure for Internet and housing is great here, and expats can easily find shared housing in this expat-friendly environment while they get settled in their new home away from home. Whether you’re looking to soak up some sun on the beach or be immersed in a new culture, Cabo San Lucas is an ideal choice for a new place to live.
San Cristobal de las Casas
The charming city of San Cristobal de las Casas is located in the highlands of Chiapas. It’s home to stunning colonial-era architecture, vibrant and colorful markets, and a diverse cultural blend. There’s so much to do and see in this area, from hiking through nearby rainforests to exploring ancient ruins and strolling the cobblestone streets of the historic center. Don’t forget to sample some of the delicious local cuisine while you’re here too – the fresh ingredients and unique flavors will have you coming back for more!
Safety is a priority in San Cristobal de las Casas. The city boasts a low crime rate and safety measures are taken throughout the area by both visitors and locals alike. However, while still fairly low, the crime rates have been slowly increasing. It’s important to make sure to stay alert when exploring the city and keep an eye out for pickpockets or other potential safety risks. With that being said, you can rest assured that your safety is of utmost importance here in San Cristobal; just remember to stay vigilant and use common sense when out and about! You can learn more about safety in San Cristobal de las Casas here.
Expat Life in San Cristobal de Las Casas:
With its colorful buildings, colonial-era churches and bustling markets, it’s no surprise that San Cristobal has become an increasingly popular destination in Mexico for expats. Living in San Cristobal de las Casas as an expat can be a very rewarding experience. It is considered one of the most culturally diverse cities in Latin America, with indigenous communities living there for centuries. The city’s central plaza hosts many events and festivals throughout the year, giving expats plenty to do. Additionally, the city is home to several excellent universities, making it a great place for those looking to further their education or work in academia. With its vibrant atmosphere and welcoming locals, San Cristobal de las Casas makes an excellent home for expats.
Whether you’re looking to start a new business or just take in the scenery and culture, San Cristobal de las Casas has everything you need to make your new life enjoyable. Whether you’re an experienced traveler or just starting out in Mexico, San Cristobal is sure to make you feel right at home!
Conclusion about the Safest Places to Live in Mexico
There are plenty of safe and enjoyable places to live in Mexico if you know where to start looking! With its vibrant culture and stunning scenery, this country provides an amazing quality of life for those who choose to call it home. While there are some areas that may be more dangerous than others, the safest places in Mexico offer low crime rates and a welcoming atmosphere.
Whether you’re on the hunt for a bustling city or a laid-back beach vibe, there’s truly something for everyone in this incredible country. Mexico is a great destination for anyone looking to make a move or just enjoy some time away from home. No matter where you choose to call home in Mexico, you can be sure that you will find a safe and secure community to call your own. Just make sure to use common sense like you would in any major city, and purchase excellent travel health insurance, like Safetywing, my travel insurance provider. Read my full Safetywing Travel Insurance review here.
With such friendly locals and beautiful scenery in Mexico, you might just find that your new home in Mexico is safer and more incredible than you ever thought possible!