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Safest Cities in Mexico for 2024

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If you’re planning a trip to Mexico but finding concerns about safety are making you hesitate, then it’s essential to understand that not all areas are equal in terms of risk in this large and diverse country.

At Nomad Capitalist, we understand that safety is a top priority for our clients. As our readers know, we love Mexico and regularly encourage investors and travellers to try out this wonderful nation.

So, if you’ve never visited, we want to help you plan your next trip with confidence. By researching and taking necessary safety precautions, you can enjoy a safe and memorable trip to Mexico each year, like millions of other tourists and expats – or even relocate there. Mexico offers excitement and adventure, from vibrant beach towns to bustling cities.

But there’s a lot to consider and research and that’s where we come in. Nomad Capitalist has helped over 1,500 clients move to multiple tax-friendly jurisdictions from Central America to Western Europe and further afield. Apply to become a client today and our team will assess your personal and corporate vision and portfolio to determine the best solutions to help you retain and grow wealth, pay fewer taxes legally and acquire greater individual freedom. 

What Parts of Mexico Are Safe?

First, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Yes, some parts of Mexico are unsafe and it’s essential to be aware of them. 

For example, the US Department of State has issued travel advisories for certain states and regions in Mexico due to rates of crime and violence.

However, many Mexican states are safe for tourists and expats. These areas are low in petty crime and popular with visitors. 

They have a strong police presence and rely heavily on tourism to boost the economy.

Some of the safest areas of Mexico for tourists and expats include:

  • The Yucatan Peninsula: Includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Merida, which are known for their beautiful white sand beaches, ancient Mayan ruins and lively Mexican culture. While these areas can be packed with tourists, they are considered safe if you stick to vacation hot spots and take standard precautions.
  • The Pacific Coast: Includes Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco and Ensenada. You’ll find stunning coastlines, friendly locals and delicious seafood here.
  • Baja California Sur: Includes Los Cabos, La Paz and Todos Santos. It is renowned for its laid-back vibe, desert landscapes and whale-watching opportunities.
  • Mexico’s Central Highlands and Colonial Cities: Includes San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara and Oaxaca City, which are rich in history, stunning architecture and impressive cultural scenes.

While these areas are generally safe for tourists, taking necessary precautions and remaining vigilant about your surroundings is still essential, as should be the case when visiting any city in any country. 

Are Mexican All-inclusive Resorts Safer than Regular Hotels?

Many travellers opt to stay at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, as they offer a convenient and safe way to enjoy a beach vacation.

A hotel or resort’s safety ultimately depends on various factors, such as location, security measures and overall crime rates in the surrounding area. 

It’s worth noting that while all-inclusive resorts offer many perks, it’s still important to take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

If you opt for an all-inclusive resort, conduct thorough research and read reviews of other travellers beforehand.

5 Safety Tips for Travelling to Mexico

No matter where you stay in Mexico, keeping these safety precautions in mind to protect yourself and your belongings is essential:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings: Always pay attention to what’s happening around you and be alert for any kind of potential danger.
  2. Know exactly where you are: Some areas of Mexico are more dangerous than others. So, before you travel, research which areas you should avoid. Steer clear of border towns and states with high levels of organised crime, such as Guerrero, Michoacan and Tamaulipas.
  3. Don’t flaunt your wealth: Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or carrying large amounts of cash, as this can make you a target for theft.
  4. Use common sense: Trust your instincts, and don’t take unnecessary risks. If something seems unsafe or sketchy, it probably is.
  5. Keep your documents and valuables secure: Keep your passport, money and other valuables in a secure location, such as a hotel safe.

The Safest Border Crossings in Mexico

Choosing the safest border crossing is vital if you drive from the United States to Mexico. Feedback from experienced travellers indicates that the below crossing points are some of your best options:

  • Nogales, Arizona: Relatively safe and well-patrolled by border officials.
  • El Paso, Texas: This crossing is considered one of the safest and most efficient.
  • Laredo, Texas: One of the busiest borders in the country but also one of the safest due to its heavy police presence.
  • Otay Mesa Crossing: A popular route for many travellers driving from Los Angeles or San Diego.

The Safest Cities in Mexico for 2024

Some of the safest cities in Mexico are known for their low crime rates, welcoming spirit and unique attractions.

Mérida

Mérida, the Yucatan capital, stands out as one of the safest cities in Mexico and Latin America, earning recognition from CEO World magazine as the second safest city on the continent after Quebec in Canada. 

With its low crime rates and vibrant cultural heritage, Mérida has recently become a popular tourist destination.

As the capital and largest city of the Yucatan state, Mérida is known for its stunning colonial architecture, incredible food and proximity to important archaeological sites. Visitors and expats can safely explore the historic city centre (recognised for its lively music and arts scene) while admiring iconic landmarks like the Palacio del Gobierno and the Cathedral of San Ildefonso.

Although Mérida is generally safe, taking standard precautions is essential, as pickpocketing can occasionally occur. However, notwithstanding the threat of some light-fingered locals, the most inconvenient feature of Mérida is the heavy traffic.

Its strategic location also makes Mérida an excellent base for day trips to popular tourist destinations nearby, such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, a renowned beach town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, continues to grow and flourish as its economy expands and the cost of living remains incredibly affordable.

As a result, it’s estimated that about 186,000 expats are either part- or full-time residents of Playa del Carmen.

Still, although the state of Quintana Roo experiences minimal violent crime directed at tourists, it’s essential to take safety precautions in Playa del Carmen, particularly in light of incidents of drug-related violence in nearby Tulum. Visitors should avoid walking alone at night and steer clear of unnecessary attention. 

With its stunning white sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife and proximity to the ancient archaeological site of Chichén Itzá, Playa del Carmen attracts countless holidaymakers. 

The estimated cost of rent ranges from US$700 to US$3,000 per month, depending on individual preferences.

Tulum

Safest Cities in Mexico 2023 Tulum
Mexico has a deep connection to its past.

Tulum is another well-known tourist destination on Mexico’s Caribbean coast that travellers consider safe. 

Tulum offers an abundance of beaches with crystal-clear waters and a relaxed atmosphere. The town has a fascinating history, as evidenced by the ancient Mayan ruins gazing out over the sea.

The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) considers Tulum relatively safe for visitors but advises maintaining vigilance while in the area. It’s also wise to avoid walking around at night since the city has seen an uptick in gang-related violence. Fortunately, these instances of crime don’t tend to be specifically targeted towards tourists, but it’s wise to avoid any unwanted attention or shady areas late at night.

While there are some concerns, such as drug trade activity, water quality and natural disasters, these issues can be managed with proper precautions.

Puerto Vallarta

Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is a stunning city renowned for its art galleries, beach life and cultural landmarks, like the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

Nestled between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta presents the perfect opportunity to enjoy both the beaches and the mountains. 

With excellent infrastructure, internet connectivity, various daily activities and reasonable travel links, this lively city is ideal for expats seeking a dynamic environment with a retiree-friendly atmosphere.

A welcoming destination for families, same-sex couples and people of all ages, the crime rates here are low. With minimal involvement in cartel conflicts, the city offers a safe and vibrant atmosphere.

Although petty crimes such as bag snatching, pickpocketing or theft may occur, taking proper precautions should suffice, allowing you to concentrate on the friendliness of the locals and exquisite cuisine shaped by the abundance of fresh seafood. 

You can expect to live comfortably in charming Puerto Vallarta for approximately US$500 for something simple in town or US$3,500 per month for a seaside spot.

Cancun

Cancun, the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, is renowned for its stunning, expansive beaches, luxurious world-class resorts and vibrant entertainment scene. 

In addition to its many attractions, Cancun has become one of the safest cities in Mexico, thanks to recent substantial investments in security measures. 

These efforts include the installation of numerous surveillance cameras throughout the city and increasing police patrols, ensuring that visitors can enjoy a safe and relaxed experience.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is a stunning colonial-era city in central Mexico, known for its beautiful architecture, vibrant cultural festivals and friendly locals. 

The city is celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic and beautifully preserved centre.

Although crime rates in San Miguel de Allende are relatively low, it’s still important to exercise caution at night and be mindful of your belongings on public transport. 

The city’s safety and charm have made it a popular destination for expats, with around 17,000 currently living there. The average cost of living is around US$1,500 per month, and renting an apartment ranges from US$900 to US$2,000 per month.

This makes San Miguel de Allende approximately 60% less expensive than New York, contributing to its appeal as a more affordable and safe destination for visitors and expats alike.

Los Cabos

Safest Cities in Mexico 2023, Los Cabos

At the southern tip of the Baja California Sur, you’ll find Los Cabos. It’s designed for resort experiences featuring stunning beaches, world-class golf courses and outdoor activities. 

With a low crime rate and well-developed tourist infrastructure, it’s easy to see why so many tourists and expats visit and live in the area. 

Los Cabos is a great place to explore the natural beauty of the Baja Peninsula, with its rugged desert landscapes and abundant wildlife.

Cozumel

Safest Cities in Mexico 2023, Cozumel

Cozumel is an island town off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Its turquoise water, abundant marine life and laid-back beach vibe make it a great place to visit. The island also boasts an impressively low crime rate and is home to some of the country’s most pristine beaches. 

Cozumel is one of Mexico’s best scuba diving and snorkelling destinations, with many coral reefs and underwater caves to explore.

Puebla

Situated just two hours from Mexico City, Puebla offers a safer, cleaner and more affordable alternative for those seeking natural beauty and easy access to various attractions. 

With its proximity to hiking trails around volcanoes, a short drive to Veracruz’s beaches and seamless day trips to Mexico City, Puebla provides a strategic location for explorers.

The city boasts an airport plus convenient bus connections to Mexico City’s main international airport, ensuring smooth onward travel to and from other destinations. 

Puebla’s low cost of living is another attractive feature; spacious apartments with private courtyards can be found at moderate prices. A one-bedroom home outside the historic district may be available for around US$600 per month, while a one-bedroom near the city centre can go for approximately US$1,000.

Puebla’s strategic location, safety and affordability make it a prime choice for those looking to experience the best of Mexico’s natural wonders, urban attractions and coastal getaways.

La Paz

Safest Cities in Mexico 2023 La Paz
Mexico has a lot of unique biodiversity.

Baja California Sur offers a delightful living or vacation experience, with its capital, La Paz, being a particularly captivating destination. This port city, located southeast of the Baja Peninsula, boasts a laid-back atmosphere and low crime rate, making it one of Mexico’s safer destinations.

La Paz has everything, from a domestic airport providing convenient and affordable connections to Mexico City to stunning nearby beaches that rank among the world’s most beautiful – not to mention the delicious local cuisine.

A single person’s estimated monthly living costs in La Paz can run around US$640 without rent, making it significantly more affordable than in cities like New York. Rent prices in La Paz are, on average, around 80% lower than in New York.

With numerous outdoor activities, beaches to explore and a daily catch of fresh seafood, La Paz is an ideal destination for nature lovers and foodies seeking a safe and enjoyable environment. The surrounding rocky desert formations and abundant sea life further enhance the city’s allure.

Huatulco

Safest Cities in Mexico 2023, Huatulco

Huatulco, once a small fishing village, now boasts a well-developed tourist industry, exciting activities and a serene seaside ambience. Its unspoiled charm, jagged shoreline and lush jungle landscapes can be safely explored and appreciated from this beach town. 

Although it is considered safer than many US cities, visitors should still be aware of some degree of organised crime between Oaxaca City and Huatulco.

While not as popular as other Mexican beach regions like Cancún, the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta or Cabo, Huatulco’s charm lies in its nine bays, 30-plus white sandy beaches and a variety of luxury resorts. 

The area’s friendly expat community and English-speaking locals make it an appealing destination for anyone considering settling down.

Living in Huatulco is affordable and comfortable, with ocean-view home prices estimated to cost between US$1,000 and US$1,500 a month, often including gardening and maid services. 

Gated properties are becoming increasingly popular and professional services like doctors, dentists and lawyers are readily available in English. A regular doctor’s appointment is estimated at just under US$30, depending on the speciality.

Campeche

Campeche, a beautiful city in its namesake state, is one of Mexico’s safest cities on the Gulf of Mexico. Though the waters may not exhibit the turquoise hues found in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, the city offers a more secure environment free from cartel violence.

The city features beaches along its edges, easily accessible by bus or a short walk if you stay at a nearby hotel. Campeche’s rich history, vibrant culture and picturesque coastal views make it an attractive destination for those seeking a safe and relaxing Mexican getaway.

With an estimated cost of living of around US$680 per month, Campeche is reputed to be one of the least expensive cities. This makes it an affordable option for those seeking a budget-friendly destination without sacrificing safety or beauty.

Ensenada

Ensenada, nestled in the northern region of Baja California, offers an ideal destination for those seeking seafood, wine and outdoor activities in a safe Mexican city. 

Its proximity to Tijuana enables easy travel around the country or affordable flights to the US. At the same time, Baja California Sur is just a short road trip away to the south.

Although Ensenada is relatively more expensive than many other cities in Mexico, most expats – particularly Californians who have made it their home – find it quite affordable compared to their home countries.

Ensenada is a calm and safe city with low crime risk, allowing tourists to feel secure. In addition, the local police force enjoys a high trust level among its residents.

In this welcoming community, you can immerse yourself in art exhibits, diverse dining options and various cultural festivities.

Sayulita

Sayulita, Mexico
Mexico is perfect for surfers and people who love the beach.

Just 30 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is an idyllic destination for nature enthusiasts and surfers alike. 

With tourism being the driving force behind the local economy, the town is safe and friendly, ensuring a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

The people of Sayulita are hospitable. Good English is spoken here, making communication easy for travellers.

Regarding the cost of living, Sayulita is among the more inexpensive and accessible cities in Mexico. 

With an estimated cost of living for expats of around US$2,000, Sayulita presents an affordable and secure option for those seeking a charming Mexican getaway filled with natural beauty and vibrant surf culture.

Querétaro

Querétaro, situated in central Mexico, boasts a friendly atmosphere and is renowned for being one of the safest cities in the country. 

With many English speakers, it’s an ideal destination for expats seeking a welcoming and secure environment. As for the cost of living, Querétaro is significantly more affordable than many other cities.

With monthly expenses for a family of four estimated at around US$2,500 without rent and a single person’s monthly expenses at US$1,140, Querétaro is substantially cheaper than New York.

This charming city offers a blend of safety, cultural richness and affordability, making it an attractive option for those looking to experience the best of Mexico.

Oaxaca City

Oaxaca City, a textile gem in southern Mexico, offers a unique experience as you step back in time to explore its colourful markets, cultural treasures and historic architecture. 

This city is celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wonderfully preserved colonial-era buildings and striking landmark centre. It’s an essential destination for those interested in Mexico’s rich history and culture.

Oaxaca is not only one of the safest cities in Mexico but also boasts a plethora of nearby ruins and fascinating history to discover. The city’s authentic charm extends to its culinary scene, as it’s the birthplace of numerous Mexican dishes now in restaurants worldwide.

Although very affordable, with expats reporting monthly expenses ranging from approximately US$1,000–US$1,500, including rent, Oaxaca City can be challenging for expats to live in. The local language is crucial in navigating daily life, so speaking functional Spanish is essential.

San Cristobal de las Casas

Safest Cities in Mexico 2023 San Cristobal de las Casas
Don’t be afraid to explore all Mexico has to offer.

San Cristobal de las Casas, nestled in the southern state of Chiapas, is a safe and charming city known for its indigenous culture, cobblestone streets and stunning architecture. 

Often considered more of a large town, it has managed to maintain a secure and welcoming environment, attracting retirees, young families and just about everyone in between. This hidden gem is brimming with culture, great cafes, exceptional street food and natural beauty.

Its affordable cost of living adds to its appeal; a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre can be found for approximately US$950 a month and shopping at local markets yields astonishingly low food prices.

San Cristobal de las Casas offers a unique blend of safety, cultural immersion and affordability, making it a perfect base to explore Mexico’s natural jungle landscapes and towering mountain ranges.

San Jose del Cabo

San Jose del Cabo is another resort town on the southern end of the Baja Peninsula, boasting picturesque seashores, outdoor activities and a relaxed setting.

It’s one of Mexico’s safest beach towns and fully equipped for tourists. In short, this is an excellent destination for those who appreciate natural landscapes which blend harsh desert vistas with thriving marine ecosystems.

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido, a secure and welcoming coastal town in Oaxaca, is recognised for its surfing and easygoing locals. Here, you will find surfers and digital nomads from across the world enjoying the beach culture and slower pace of life.

Although generally considered safe for tourists, taking precautions and being aware of your surroundings when in Puerto Escondido is essential. It is usually safe to be out at night, but taking a taxi home is recommended and walking on the beaches at night should be avoided due to potential issues with the police. 

Morelia

Morelia, situated in the central region of Mexico within the state of Michoacan, is known for its year-round spring weather, stunning colonial architecture and delectable Mexican cuisine. 

It is regarded as one of the safest destinations in the country and the city offers a range of amenities, including bustling markets, quality healthcare and an airport. Morelia’s convenient location also allows for easy access to Mexico City for additional travel connections or a quick bus ride to the coast for beach excursions.

With an average cost of living estimated at US$660 per month, Morelia is considered one of Mexico’s least expensive cities. This affordability, with its safety and charm, makes it an attractive destination for those seeking a comfortable and enjoyable experience in Mexico.

Guadalajara

Guadalajara is a marvellous city with an excellent quality of life and a strong economy, offering a big-city experience with a small-town feel. 

Renowned for its cultured population, people from all over the world arrive to study and drink in the ambience – and often decide to stay. The city is warm and welcoming, with residents being exceptionally friendly to foreigners.

While Guadalajara can be considered a moderately safe destination with both safe and unsafe areas, its cultural and natural attractions make it a worthwhile place to live. The city is a food lover’s paradise, boasting diverse local and international cuisine to satisfy any palate.

The cost of living in Guadalajara averages between US$1,000–US$2,000 per month. From this Western city, you can safely enjoy day trips to the beautiful Lake Chapala or venture into the nearby mountains for hiking excursions. The city truly offers a perfect blend of urban life and access to nature’s wonders.

Mexico City

Safest Cities in Mexico 2023 Mexico City
Mexico is a safe nation.

Mexico City, the capital and one of the world’s largest and most captivating cities is celebrated for its rich history, cultural diversity and bustling street vendors. 

While the city once had a reputation for being unsafe, it underwent a significant transformation between 2009 and 2011, with violent and petty crime rates dropping considerably. 

Today, Mexico City is considered one of the safest major cities in Mexico, thanks to the government’s investment in security measures such as increased police presence and surveillance cameras in the city centre.

As a general rule, it’s best to avoid the extreme northern and southern neighbourhoods of Mexico City after dark and steer clear of Tepito and Merced, particularly at night. 

The two main downsides to living in Mexico City are the dreadful pollution and traffic congestion. However, if you can look past those issues, you’ll find yourself immersed in one of the world’s most culturally vibrant and gastronomically diverse cities.

Safest Cities in Mexico for 2024: FAQs

What city in Mexico is considered the safest with the lowest crime rate?

The city in Mexico that is considered the safest and has the lowest crime rate is Merida, located in Yucatan.

This is also one of the most affordable cities in Mexico, making it a popular destination for retirees and expats. Merida’s low crime rate makes it an excellent choice for visiting and living.

Where is the cheapest and safest place to live in Mexico?

The cheapest and safest place to live in Mexico will depend on your preferences and lifestyle. 

However, some of the most affordable and safe cities include Querétaro, Merida and Guanajuato. 

These cities offer a low cost of living, a rich culture and a relaxed atmosphere, making them excellent options for those looking to live or retire in Mexico.

What are the dangerous places to avoid travelling in Mexico?

While many safe destinations exist in Mexico, some areas are best avoided due to safety concerns.

These include border towns, which can be affected by drug cartel violence and organised crime, and certain states, such as Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima state and Tamaulipas, all have higher crime rates than other parts of the country.

The Wrap-up: Safest Cities, Areas, Beaches and States to Visit in Mexico

The Wrap up Safest Cities, Areas, Beaches and States to Visit in Mexico
Visit the safest cities in Mexico.

Overall, Mexico is wonderful – home to a significant cultural history and some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

While some areas are less secure than others, there are many safe cities, neighbourhoods, beaches and states to visit in Mexico. 

By taking standard precautions and being aware of potential dangers, travellers and expats can enjoy a safe and enjoyable trip to Mexico. Its safe cities offer a range of attractions, from beautiful beaches to colonial architecture to ancient ruins.

Visiting these safe cities and states in Mexico allows travellers to experience the best Mexican culture and hospitality has to offer while staying safe and secure.

If you are considering moving to Mexico or any other international destination, consider signing up for the Nomad Capitalist bespoke Global Citizenship Plan to get expert guidance on the best places to live, work and invest worldwide. Additionally, we provide specialist advice on legally reducing your taxes.

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