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How safe is Mexicali … and Mexico? Part 3

Most Mexicali police are in trucks

Most Mexicali police are in trucks

I get many e-mails asking me “Is Mexicali safe,” “I want to live in Mexicali, but is it safe?” My answer is YES.

Mexicali is just like any other big city in the US, where there crime does exist. Mexicali is the capital of Baja California, and it was founded in 1903. It has a population of 1 million, and is growing.

Mexicali is also an industrial city. If folks want old churches and cobble stones, Mexicali is not for them. However, for us, Mexicali works, and we cross over to the US-border town of Calexico as often as we need. We can go to San Diego, or Yuma, whenever we want. There is a good wait of 1 to 2 hours to get across the border into the US. If you qualify, you can get a special “Sentri” pass from the U.S. Border Patrol which will lower the border-crossing time to 15 minutes—or less.

When folks are planning to live in another city in another country, wherever that is, people have to understand that they are guests in that country.

So here, in Mexicali, think of being a guest; try to learn the language and the culture.

Living here is just like living in any part of the US. Find the good neighborhoods to live in, watch and learn what your neighbors are doing. On weekends the music can go on pretty much all night. During weekdays you have to turn off the blasting speakers after midnight.

Jim and I have always advised folks to have nothing to do with drugs. You don’t want to have anything to do with drugs here in Mexicali. That is a given. Get caught with Oxycontin in Mexico, and the penalty is three years in prison. Opiates that are widely used in the U.S. like Vicodin and Oxycontin are not for sale in Mexico.

These guys are gone

These guys are gone – kinda

Drive carefully, Mexico follows the Napoleonic law of “guilty until proven innocent,” so be on the defensive whey you drive, and if you have a problem with another driver, settle it amongst yourselves, as the last thing you want is to bring the police into anything—that could complicate matters and you could easily wind up in jail.

Lock your vehicles up. Don’t carry purses when you decide to go into a crowded area. This is all just common sense stuff.  Life can be uncomplicated when you want it to!

Obviously, there are many unspoken rules.

Don’t go to the nightclubs, and expect to get ‘a free pass.’  By that I mean, ‘Don’t go looking for trouble.’  For older folks like us, Mexicali works out fine.

All that I have mentioned is applicable to any big city in the US.

About 4000 Americans out of every 100,000 are victims of some kind of crime each year. In Mexico it is about 38% of that only about 1500 per 100,000.

Fourteen out of 100,000 Mexicans are victims of rape each year compared to 33 per 100,000 in the U.S.

About 120 Mexicans per 100,000 are victims of theft each year, while in U.S. it is 20 times that or 2400 per 100,000.

The overall murder rate for all of Mexico is higher than that of the U.S. However, that can differ, depending where you are. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mexicali has a homicide rate comparable to that of Wichita, Kansas.

In our opinion, Mexicali is the safest border town in Mexico and a lot safer than some places in the good old USA—but you might stay away from the Sierra Madre mountains and Durango. The guy who wrote God’s Middle Finger merely made it out alive.

71 comments to How safe is Mexicali … and Mexico? Part 3

  • Tria

    Tips on dentist in San Felipe would be helpful also. Thanks!

  • Tria

    I need walking directions on crossing the Calexico border and getting to the ABC Bus Terminal(going to San Felipe).
    Ive done this before but its been awhile and Im trying to give directions to a friend. Any tips or advice,including distance or safety concerns would be very helpful. Any info on taking a taxi on the Mexico side to the depot would also help. Thanks so much!

  • admin

    Dean:
    Thanks for the kind words re our website!
    The best place to find a place to live is on mexicali.olx.com.mx/. We found a $300 3 bedroom house with a garage door there for a friend in a day. Your vehicles may attract attention, so you should have a garage door. We had an Escalade for a while with no problem, and there are plenty of expensive cars here, but still… Mexicali police are much better than in Tijuana and Rosarito, where we had some bad experiences – but none here. If you want to leave one of your vehicles in the states, we use a storage outfit in nearby El Centro – call 760-353-8340 (Stax Storage).Location is important both for convenience and safety in Mexicali. The best part is about a mile east of the border crossing and as near as possible to the border fence. Hipico is a good zone. Get a land-line phone from Telnor and 10mbps Internet comes with it for a little over 500 pesos a month.
    God bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Dean

    Hi Maryann, first I want to say thanks for the website it has helped give me some peace of mind. Here is my quandary, I am looking forward to moving my family down to Mexicali temporarily 5 to 6 months. I am in my mid 20s my wife is early 20s and we have toddler. My spanish is so so I can understand it much better then I can communicate it. I have been scouring the internet for rental properties whether they be home or apartments and have had little luck. The properties I do find seem to be outdated as well. I wanted to know if you could recommend any sites or realtors who could help me in my search. I am looking for a good area with inn $375-450 range, but would be willing to pay $500 if need be.Also a 1 bedroom would be fine as we don’t expect visitors just a nice place. I also have a few concerns about the vehicle I drive though not extravagant I was wondering if it would be better off leaving it across the border because of unwanted attention. One car is a Jaguar X type and the other is a Cadillac Cts. I have heard the many stories about people being pulled over by police and having to pay $20 or whatever just because. To be honest I haven’t heard any of these stories coming from Mexicali but places like TJ and Rosarito. I am not too concerned about much else as me and my wife are very much home bodies here in the states so entertainment and night life are not a necessity. Give us some fast internet and we can make do just fine. Thanks

  • Alan

    I have enjoyed reading everyones comments. I have lived in Mexicali but recently have moved to San Luis Potosi. I am getting ready to sell my house there as I have not been using it much this past year except to park my car when flying south. I will miss my neighbors and great neighborhood where I always felt very safe walking around at all hours. Alan

  • admin

    Gina:
    We recommend that folks go through Dr. Arturo Rosas. He is on our medical page, or send us a message.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Gina

    I have been looking into getting my tubal ligation reversed. I found a place called Quirurgico Valley Hospital. I am just afraid of getting an operation done in Mexico. Do you know how good the surgeons are and if it would be safe?

  • Stephen

    Colonia indepencia is a pretty decent area its houses are average but the people are friendly and Mexicali has to be one of the safest places i’ve been to i feel safer walking there than here in the US

  • Plenty are going back to Mexico – it’s cheaper, no large national debt, housing and medical are affordable and gas at the pump costs about $2.70.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Midwest J

    I absolutely LOVE the 5th paragraph above. Learn the language???? Are you serious? HA! We have millions of illegals here now that don’t have a desire to learn english. They just want to suck off the US teet. I have been to plenty of mexican border towns. The only way Americans will ever not think of you as a third world country is when you pick up your trash, paint your house, police your people, and quit coming here and telling us how good it is in Mexico! If it’s so good, please, go BACK!!!!!

  • Sandra:
    It is hot in Mexicali, just about the same as Phoenix. We have three split aircon units for our four bedroom, two bathroom house, with a large open-area living room and kitchen area. Our last month’s electricity bill came to 1,290 pesos which is about US$99. Our water bill runs under $10 a month. Telephone plus 10Mbps Internet all from the same company runs about $40 per month.The super Wal-Mart in Mexicali costs less than the one in Calexico, without all the hormones and anti-biotics in the meat. Gas is about $2.70 a gallon for regular.
    Looks like you live near Sacramento, CA. The cost of living in Sacramento (United States) is 95% more expensive than in Mexicali (Mexico). Check it out!
    Tough to beat Mexico on price.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • SANDRA

    HI PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW HOT IT GETS IN THE SUMMER
    SOMEONE TOLD ME THAT IT GETS VERY HOT AND THE
    COOLING IS EXPENSIVE, THEY TOLD ME THAT YOU COULD NOT EVEN
    GO OUTSIDE DURING THE DAY ITS THIS TRUE OR NOT THEY TOLD ME
    THAT IT IS ABOUT 120 FARH IN THE DAY AND YOU HAVE TO RUN AC
    DAY AND NIGHT AND IT GETS VERY EXPENSIVE. THANKS

  • Rafael:
    In my opinion, Mexicali is safe. They have schools here and, if you have papers, in Calexico.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • rafael a maza

    HI I WANT TO RETIRED AND GO LIVED IN MEXICALI MY WIFFE IS FROM ACAPULCO AND WE HAVE A SON 8 BUT WE ARE WONDERING IF IT IS SAFE FOR OUR KID AND WE DONT ABOUT THE SCHOOLS AND WE WANT TO FIND A PLASE TO LIVED NOT TO EXPENSIVE THANKS A AND GOD BLESS.

  • Martha Zamora

    Hello, thank you for all the info I just need to know the name of the areas close to the border that are safe so that I can start looking for something thank you

  • Chrystal:
    I assume your father is willing to move. Also, it appears that your are emailing me from Washington. If those are correct, I would say that Mexicali would be a place to consider. You might also look into places in Baja California along the coast south of Tijuana. The only problem there is that Tijuana and parts south are a bit difficult, especially Tijuana. Mexicali is much more “Americanized.” and would be simpler.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • chrystal munoz-rosales

    I am looking to move my parents there so they can be together. My father lives in sinalo and my mother is here in the states. I want them to be close enough so that I can visit often. Do you have any ideas on where to look for a rental home for them. Please help. Thanks Chrystal

  • Maria:
    Valle de Guadalupe is very safe, beautiful, and the wines are better than California.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Maria

    Hi MaryAnn,

    I’m planning on going to Valle de Guadalupe with some friends. Do you think is safe? I’m a little concern since we are driving there.

    Thanks!

  • Yessenia:
    I don’t know your family size, but a couple we know has a nice three bedroom apartment in a good part of town (Hipico) and they pay MXN1,800 per month. Looks like you could have your decent house in a decent community – in Mexicali.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Yessenia

    Im about to go back to Mexicali in a few months after 10 years, and I know I might find lots of changes…what I would like to know is on average, about how much is the cost of living in USD? If I held a job in Mexicali that pays me about MXN$5000 monthly and still get about $400 USD a month, what would the quality of life would i be living? Is it enough to pay a descent house in a descent community and still pay bills and maintain a car? Please reply. Thanks so much in advance!

  • Appreciate the help.
    Last question of the day, I heard vila fountain or something like that, is a ok area? Since the house will be empty, well if not for my 10 yr old full breed mutt. I considered moving all the way to Cabo before. But the hospital down there, let us say that 300 bucks for a influenza shot is a bit over my budget.

    Any recommendations besides the Hipico area? Thank you again for the help, ice cold lemonade is on me.

    Mr. M. Fields

  • Mr. Fields:
    I think the Argentina Hipico, is the best and safest place to be. I am sure you can find something there or one or two blocks south. I wouldn’t recommend Fracc Sonora or the Zoo.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Mr. Michael C. Fields

    Good night Mary Ann,
    I am moving to Mexicali and been having a hard time finding a decent area to rent for a few months.
    I searched the area of the north of the town, (the argentina area, called Hipicus or something like that and a Sonora fracc. they try to sell me the house), other areas just seem like dust shanty town. Is there a area in particular you’ll recommend? What area is safe for a senior? Is near the zoo ok, to be able to walk/jog around?

    Mr. M. Fields

  • The houses in Mexicali are not expensive. You can get a pretty nice one for $500 a month. There are American schools right across the border in Calexico, and your children can go there provided they are Americans or have visas. It gets very hot in the summer in Mexicali, and the cooling can be expensive. We put in new split units, and usually pay under $200 per month in the hot summer. There are Christian churches of all denominations in Mexicali.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • AJ

    Dear Mary Ann!
    I want to move to Mexicali, are houses expensive? & For my teenagers how are the schools do you have any safe towns nice towns or new towns? How about any Christians churches? Also the heat does that run very epensive in the summers?

  • We’ve gone down to San Felipe, which is a very nice place. I would strongly recommend not stopping for anybody and driving only during the day. We came back at night, and the road was under construction. We passed one car that had gone off the road and flipped. That was some time ago, and the road which was under construction should now be OK — but follow my suggestions.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Laura

    We plan on going to San Felipe after the Easter holiday this year when it’s much quieter, but would like to know if the the drive from Mexicali to San Felipe safe?

  • You are best off going through Gila Bend – it will take less time with much better roads. The drive from Mexicali to Puerto Penasco takes you through some lonely roads.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Jody

    We’re thinking of driving from the San Diego Airport to Puerto Penasco in a few weeks, and when I map the ride on Google, it routes me through Mexicali. But the State Department Travel Advisory seems route us through Gila Bend, AZ, and then down through Sonoyta Mexico. From Sonoyta, it’s only about an hour to Puerto Penasco, whereas if we travel to Puerto Penasco from Mexicali, we’ll be on the Mexican roads for a several hours. But the route through Sonoyta adds about 100 miles.

    So what I’d like to know is how safe is it to drive to Puerto Penasco if we drive there through Mexicali?

    Thank you.

  • We get all our dental referrals through Dr. Diaz., an orthodontist who is very well connected in Mexicali. His contact info is:
    Dr. Diaz
    Av. Madera 998
    Mexicali, B. C.
    US Number: 760-670-4403
    You can read about him on our page Healthcare we couldn’t afford in America.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • pdxlee

    Do you know of any dental offices in Mexicali that are very good at doing implants? Thank You, PDX Lee

  • Peter, If you drive during daylight hours you should be OK. However, there is some rough terrain and your vehicle should have high clearance and preferably be a 4WD SUV. You might consider their shuttle service, which looks very reasonable – http://guadalupecanyonoasis.com/Shuttle.html,
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Peter T.

    MaryAnn:

    What do you know about the safety of the desert crossing from Mexicali to Guadalupe Canyon? The State Dept warning on travel in Mexicali says to stick to the main roads, and this is definitely NOT a main road!

    Peter T. in Durango

  • I think Mexicali is quite safe. But some parts are better as in all towns – the closer to the US border, the better, unless you can afford a gated community.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Ames

    Please advise how safe or dangerous is Mexicali, we have 3 little ones and my husband wants to go back home after 20 years. But I am scare. Please reply

  • The easiest way is to drive to the Mexicali airport. There is parking, you won’t be searched, and the flights within Mexico are much cheaper than flying to Mexico from the US.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Next March I am considering going from Yuma to the Mexicali airport to fly to Cancun, and return. Is it safe for a sincle older woman to go alone – and if so, what transportation to use safety and moderate in cost to go from Calexico to the Mexicali airport?

  • I am not sure what documents you might need, but I would think the registration would be enough. There are no formalities in coming into Mexico so long a it is in Baja California or the Free Zone. You will see plenty of places in Mexicali where they nationalize cars – although, I trust you know that there is no need to do that, as many if not most of the cars here have California plates. If you want to meet us, I am sorry, but, for security reasons, we do not meet anyone through the blog – sorry.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Amy

    HI!
    I am giving a car that i bought in the US to my mexican friend. I will be driving the car across the border for him. I want to make sure i have all necessary documents for permanent car importation. Do you know who I contact? and also once i am across the border, Where would be a good place for us to meet? I am worried because I am a woman alone driving and do not want to have problems trying to find him.
    Any advice you can give will be so appreciated!
    Amy

  • Sonia:
    When we came to Mexicali in early 2009, there were virtually no rentals here. Now it is full of them. We found our first house through http://mexicali.olx.com.mx/. It was in the northern part of Mexicali, very close to the border – which is the best and safest place we know. When you go to OLX, you will see a slider on the upper left hand of the screen, otherwise you may be getting rentals as far away as Tijuana. I still think this is the best site.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Sonia

    Maryann,
    Due to some personal issues I will be moving to Mexicali in about 3-5mths. Do you know any websites on rental properties in Mexicali? Do they even have rental homes there? I couldn’t find an official website on Mexicali either..if you know one let me know please! Thanks:)

  • Sorry, I don’t have an exact answer, but I see on the Internet that Tijuana charges $12 per day. Mexicali might be less.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Yessika

    MaryAnn, how much is the per day fee at the Mexicali airport? How safe is it to leave a your vehicle there for 10days?
    **First time traveling from Mexicali. We live in AZ so we will be driving to Mexicali and flying from the airport there.
    Thanks!

  • Thanks for reading my blog. Safety in Mexicali depends on where in Mexicali you live. We never go to the southern part of the town, never even down to Independencia. The main danger is from the drivers in that part of town. We do not count bad drivers as making Mexicali unsafe in general. Rents are one third of what they would be in Calexico, and we have not had any major incidents of violence near us. Jim has been chased by Mexicans only once – and that was in Houston, Texas, and once by whites – in San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles).
    God Bless.
    MaryAnn

  • AJ

    I am from Mexicali.

    All I can say is that you are painting the town a little bit to safe, which is not. I do have to agree with you that it is one of (if not the) safest border towns in Mexico and the cost of living is so much better and lower than Calexico or El Centro.

  • Thanks! You might try Maymes, which is on 642 Republica de Argentina, tel. +52-696-5967. They are open from 7:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday, and from 7:00am to 2:00pm on Saturdays, closed on Sunday.
    Once you cross the border from Calexico, stay to the right and you will be on Madero. Go East on Madero (it will change to Rep de Argentina) for about 2 miles.
    Maymes is in a large redish building on the south side of the street. Here is a link http://goo.gl/maps/FoEM. You might try calling them first.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Rob A.

    Hi MaryAnn!

    I have a quick question for you if I may…..I just passed a kidney stone and am wondering if there is anywhere I could go in Mexicali to have it analyzed, i.e. determine what it is made of and how I can change my diet to hopefully avoid this in the future….I don’t have insurance here you see and I am in Phoenix which is not too far away…..Thanks BTW for having this blog and for posting positive things about Mexico! Rob A.

  • Greg

    Thanks for this info. People hear ‘border town’ and they get the wrong idea.

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