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How safe is Mexicali … and Mexico? Part 2

Northwestern Mexico

Northwestern Mexico

Some time ago, I wrote a post, “How safe is Mexicali … and Mexico?”  The post was prompted by a comment sent in by one of our readers, who was wondering if he would be safe in Mexico.

That’s a very fair question. My short answer at the time was “yes.”

Since then, I have had a number of direct emails to my inbox, asking, “Is Mexico safe?”

(A lot of folks write me direct.)

The latest such email was sent to me by a lady on 8/28/2009.

Hello MaryAnn:

I came across your website today for the first time and it motivated me to drop you a little e-mail.  I found your lives interesting. I gathered that you are still discovering things in your local area.  I was impressed with the winery you discovered.  It seems like you’ve really adapted well to the lifestyle in Mexico.  I think it’s wonderful.  I’ve visited Mexico several times and really have enjoyed the hospitality and the simplicity of life there.

Is there any kind of fear on your part in regard to traveling throughout Mexico by car.  From all that i read, it seems a bit scary to drive there.  If you e-mail me, perhaps you could elaborate a bit about the general atmosphere as far as driving, auto insurance, what to do in case of an accident, etc etc.

Thanks for your story and great information.

(I withheld the lady’s very pretty name.)

My short answer on “Is Mexico safe” is still “yes.”

Jim and I have made some good Mexican friends in Mexicali. They tell us that we are safe in Mexico, because we are recognizable as Americans. It seems that crimes in Mexico against Americans have more severe consequences than crimes against Mexicans in Mexico.

While this may not seem just, our experience validates this safety for Americans.

When Americans do get into trouble in Mexico, they are usually Americans of Mexican origin. This is also unfair, but I guess they look more like Mexicans, and probably even speak Spanish very well, so folks mistake them for Mexicans.

Sure there is crime in Mexico, just like there is crime in the U.S., or anywhere.

I read that the U.S. sends $62 billion to Mexico for illegal drugs – that works out to close to $200 for every man, woman and child in the  U. S. Just recently, I read that Mexico admits it has a problem with Mexican’s consuming illegal narcotics – at an estimate expense of $430 million per  year. That works out to about four bucks per Mexican. The fact that Americans take 50 times more illegal drugs than Mexicans might show that America is not too safe.

It was just in the news that 16 Mexican drug cartel members were arrested – in Imperial, California.

I don’t want to sound anti-American here – Jim and I are very much American, and we hold our American values dearly.

Having said all that, everybody has to have some common sense for their own safety. Here’s what Jim and I think.

Baja California's Guadalupe Valley

Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley

We wouldn’t go to Tijuana, or Rosarito Beach. Ensenada is just fine, and you can get there without going through Tijuana or Rosarito Beach, by entering Mexico at Tecate. From there, you take the beautiful road through the Guadalupe Valley wine country, which I wrote about in another post.

From what we hear, but don’t know for sure, we wouldn’t want to spend time in Culiacán, or Ciudad Juarez.

We don’t drive a fancy car – just a truck with American plates, and we don’t buy dope or go to night clubs (things that can get you in with the wrong people).

Be sure your vehicle is insured. Traffic accidents are considered a criminal offense in Mexico. Without insurance to post your bond, you could wind up in jail. About Mexican drivers Jim just said, “Tell’em the only time I saw safe polite drivers was in Switzerland.”

Jim was stationed in Germany then.  The only time Jim was any kind of a “jet setter” was when he was in the military.

We have now lived in Mexicali, Mexico for close to two wonderful years. We have never seen any crime being committed, or any arrests.

Use your common sense, and Mexico is as safe as the U.S. – maybe even safer.

Jim read this and says to tell you, “What MaryAnn says is OK –  just like it always is.”

(Jim’s such a great guy – I’m lucky to have him!)

34 comments to How safe is Mexicali … and Mexico? Part 2

  • David:
    One person could live very well in Mexicali on $1200 a month social security; two or more, no. Jim found a beautiful 3 bedroom two-floor house, with a garage, automatic garage door, the works. Two external air-conditioners – one for the first floor, another for the second. The cost? $300 a month and in a very nice area. Gas and food are much cheaper in Mexicali. You could do it.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • David

    MaryAnn, could you live in Mexicali on $1200 a month? (social security)?
    Thanks

  • Mike: Congratulations on your BBQ – send me some info so we can spread the word. Not many Americans in Mexicali (yet), and no real place for them to get together. Maybe your place can fit the bill.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Mike Nagle

    Hey how many American like in Mexicali and is their any place they get together? I just opened a BBQ in New Mexicali. we smoke the meat for 10-12 hours. and I would like to meet more Americans I have lived here for a year and not seen many. thanks

  • Karen:
    You shouldn’t have a problem so long as you stick with your other folks, and keep your daughter with you.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

    PS: Thanks for reading my blog!

  • Karen P

    MaryAnn,

    While looking for info on Mexicali I came across your site. I appreciate your willingness to answer questions for those of us unfamiliar with the area. Our 14 yr. old daughter is interested in coming to Mexicali in April when Azusa Pacific sponsors a large mission outreach in Mexicali. Some of the group here will be flying into San Diego while the rest will be driving from the mid-west. One thing I’m wondering that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere is the safety of travel when one is within hours of Mexicali.

    The group will be staying in a large “tent city” with 24 hours security (I believe on the south side of Mexicali). They will go out to orphanages & churches during the day to do programs for kids, etc. Should we have any concerns about their travel within the city?

    Any information you can share would be very helpful.
    Thank you.

  • Laura:
    Don’t drive when it’s dark and don’t stop to help anyone and you should be OK. There may be some construction on the road to watch out for, as well.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Laura

    Hi MaryAnn,

    I am going to be traveling through Mexicali in about a week and was wondering if you could help calm my fears. I will be going further south, down through San Felipe, to Punta Bufeo and am worried about driving down there. Do you think it will be safe? Has there been much (or any) violence around that area that you know of? Any advice or comments you have would be welcome.

    Thanks,
    Laura

  • mario hernandez

    im glad that you as american blog of mexicali in a respectful way and thats delightful to hear that you promote my birth city to other americans that mexicali is safe to visit or reside there. and there is onne thing that i like about mexicali, is the city and state with more economic growth regardless of the economy now days. myself dont like mexicali capital that much i was born there but i usually go to an ejido (village) estacion delta people in ejidos are also courteous and respectul yeah there is a lot of poverty , bt somehow since people now everyone among each others we protect one another. i built a home american style out there . so im excited to head back there next year

  • Sounds possible. A lot of Mexicali children go to school in Calexico.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • mario hernandez

    hello maryann im fromm mexicali bt i reside in az. im moving back to mexicali next year for business purposes and i have this question my kids were born in the us and i would like them to still attend a us school in calexico. i already called calexico mission schools bt there tuition are way to high (350)a a student so in a brief question can i enroll my kids in a public school using a friend”s calexico address ? will there be any problem?? i”d appreciate if you can answer this question for me thanks mario

  • Julie

    Looking to travel to mexicali at the end of September. Any new concerns recently. Looks like it is a safer place than many cities in the US.

  • Thanks Mike – we agree!
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Mike

    I spend a fair amount of time in Mexicali. I’m an American who looks white (and speaks only a tiny amount of spanish), and I’m married to a mexican girl from Mexicali. I have felt safe at almost all times when I have gone. I have been going to Mexicali for the last few years. I haven’t noticed any changes as far as how secure I feel there. I don’t go to bars or take part in any illegal activities. I do go to malls, grocery stores, restaurants, bowling, theaters, etc. I would say that yes, Mexicali is safe. Just as everyone always should (no matter where you are), be smart, polite, and don’t do anything stupid and you should be fine.

  • Robert:
    Mexicali is very safe – we have never ever had any problems, here. To answer your question there is no public transportation from Calexico to Mexicali. Still, it would be easy for you to visit. You can park on the US side and walk across to Mexicali. On the Mexicali side, there are buses and taxis to take you wherever you want. There are even stores and restaurants just as you come into Mexicali.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • robert

    How safe is Mexicali today (2011), as this site appears to be 2 years old. I’m a 65 yea rold man who walks with a cane. I’d like to do a little shopping and have lunch. Is there any public transit from Calexico to Mexicali?
    Thanks

  • Jamie:
    Congratulations on your move to Mexicali! Looks like you have found a nice place at the right price. You should have no trouble taking any of your pets back to the US – so far as we know, the Border Patrol is very lax (a good thing) in this area. We recently saw someone crossing the border into the US with a dog – the Border Patrol guy didn’t even look at the dog. When we asked him about it he said that as long as the dog looked OK, that was all that was needed. Thank you for the kind words about my blog.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Jamie

    Hello MaryAnn!
    I love visiting your site and reading all your things. My husband just relocated to Mexicali….Colonia Hildago area in September. Anytime we have any questions about anything, I usually check for an answer on your site before looking anywhere else! I just wanted to let Christine know that its ok to bring your dogs into Mexicali, but make sure you have ALL of their vaccinations up to date. If she ever wants to bring her dogs back into the states she will need proof of their vaccines. My husband has both of our dogs in Mexicali with him and I called the Mexicali Border Patrol office to make sure my dogs could come back tot he US. My husband and I knew nothing about Mexicali and had about a week to find something and we lucked out and found a cute little house for 2000 pesos (about $160 USD) a month just by driving around and also by looking at the classifieds on the Mexicali newspaper websites

  • hector

    I have this nice house for rent.

    350 USD per month.

    CHeck it and you’ll love it.

    Thanks

    Hector

  • Christine:
    We rent a 4 bedroom home with a 3 car garage for $500 a month. We are located in Colona Hipico, which is a very good and safe area. I think we pay a little more than the average as currently there are more rentals than when we arrived. A good source, which I just discovered, for Mexicali real estate and rental prices is http://www.hotpads.com. The original screen shows only the US. Click on California, and drag down to Calexico. Below Calexico, you will see rentals or sales (you choose) in Mexicali. Most houses in Mexicali do have a yard in back, where people hang the laundry, etc.
    The rule is two pets, whether they be dogs or cats. We know someone who brought in over ten cats (in two trips). They are pretty lax about pets in Baja California – if you are going deeper into Mexico, it might be another matter. Bringing pets back to the US is a snap – we checked with the Border Patrol – they appear to let any pets into the US. Baja California is in the free zone, and very easy to enter – most of the cars in Mexicali have California plates.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Christine Guttilla

    Hello MaryAnn,
    I really appreciate your insight and information on Mexicali. I am considering relocating somewhere like this. Question: Can you give me a rough idea what the cost is of renting a modest home, maybe 2 bedroom? Do many (or any) of them have yards? And I’d likely have to do some research on this, but are there issues with bringing along your pets to live with you from the US to Mexicali (dogs specifically). Any knowledge you may have on these things would be greatly appreciated. Hope you’re having a wonderful week.

    -Chrisitne

  • Antonia

    I was born in Mexicali!! I been living in SAN JOSE CA!!for 30 yrs !!!every time I visit my city , I feel safe

  • Holly

    Hi MaryAnn. I’ve been going to Rocky Point for years, and am considering going next weekend. While I’ve never been apprehensive before, I am this year. I’m not worried about Rocky Point, but the road to Rocky Point, I8 and going through the border town. A friend was harrassed by federales in Sinota(I know I”m spelling it incorrectly, sorry), and they kept telling her that she needed to go with them, and she was refusing, and they finally left. Despite this, she is planning on going down this weekend. Is the road safe? I’ve never been a “stupid American”, I’m always polite and cautious, but here in Arizona we are hearing about fake road blocks etc… any insight you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, and I’d love to get an e-mail from you. Thanks again.

  • Well, we could always live in a tent in the U.S. like many Americans do. We just went to an ER room for an eye infection in El Centro. We weren’t there any time at all and the bill was over $1,100. Check out . Is the US any safer. Don’t believe the US media – their job is to spread fear…
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Jitterbugg

    I have to disagree with all of you. It is fine that you had a good experience living in Mexicali but I know that a major drug cartel is in the city today and taking control. It is a little too silent because they are gaining control. Please do not live there it is not worth the risk

  • Don’t know why anyone would tell you not to come to Mexicali. It is perfectly safe here, and there is plenty to do. Last night, Jim and I went to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D on a huge screen at Cinepolis in Plaza San Pedro. Mexicali is a big town with plenty to do – come on down!
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • TONY

    WE WANT TO COME UP TO MEXICALI AND VISIT AND NEVER BEEN THERE.. MY FINANCE IS MEXICAN AND MY DAUGHTER AND I AMERICAN AND WE LIVE BOTH HERE IN ROCKY POINT AND THE USA. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD TODAY NOT TO GO TO MEXICALI… HOW SAFE IS IT… WE DONT HAVE TO GO JUST WANTED TO GO TO A MOVIE OR SHOP… GIVE US GOOD ADVICE PLEASE TONY

  • Hector:
    Thanks. I agree 100% with your remarks. We have been living in Mexicali for two years, and feel completely safe. Like you, we have never seen anything bad happen in this very peaceful town. A friend of ours here, who runs a restaurant, has to cross often to Calexico to purchase supplies. For a period of time, when crossing into Calexico, the US Border Patrol made her go to the secondary inspection. Once, they handcuffed her and attached the handcuffs to the wall so high that her feet barely touched the ground. Then they searched her. This woman isn’t even five feet tall, is a university graduate, and even teaches at Cetys University.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • hector

    hi there.
    I am Mexican, I have been lived in Mexicali for 40 yr now. I am engineer.
    this is my data:

    1- I have never seen someone being killed
    2- I have never been assaulted
    3- I have never seen someone arrest someone
    4- 5 yr ago someone robed my car -insured- and I got my money back, never my car
    5- car accidents -not fatal ones- are common here

    The only bad treat I have received is from US Customer Agents when I cross to Calexico that treat you like scum. But I guess it is part of their job. But they behave like animals or stupid investigators like in TV.

    If you ever come to Mexicali drop me an email and I can take you have the best tacos you’ve ever had.

    Hector

  • admin

    Kathlene:
    You are going to love it here, and feel and be completely safe. Mexicali is a very comfortable town.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Kathlene

    MaryAnn,

    I’m happy to see this post! My fiance, Marco, and I are moving to Mexicali Sept. 26. I already have an interview scheduled in Yuma when we arrive! I’m so excited, but the safety factor has me feeling worried. It’s good to hear that I have nothing to worry about. I love reading your posts and would like to begin a blog of my own when we arrive there…

    It sure would be nice to meet you in person – maybe at the cafe you guys frequent. You have been my inspiration, believe it or not, in deciding to move to Mexico. Marco is from Mexicali, so it’s not a big change for him. I, on the other hand, am a young, white female – so you can imagine my anxiety! 🙂 I feel much better now – thank you!

  • Hi from google Google-TCW

  • Hi there,
    Thanks for article. Everytime like to read you.

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