Up until now one of the best strategies for a lower cost retirement was to head south of the border, Mexico way. But escalating drug violence in Mexico is causing many Americans to either stay put in the U.S. or move a bit further to a central American country like Costa Rica or Uruguay in South America.
By far the worst violence from the drug cartel battles is occurring near the U.S.-Mexican border. But almost every Mexican state has seen significant numbers of drug-related murders. The dispute is now spilling out into Arizona, Texas – and even Chicago and Atlanta. The trouble started after a crackdown by President Calderon 2 years ago. Power struggles between rival gangs are a big source of trouble. Fired police officers looking for new sources of income are another. More than 6,000 people connected to the drug trade or law enforcement were murdered in 2008 alone. As an example of how bad things are, Mexican police arrested a man this January who confessed to dissolving the bodies of 300 victims in acid.
So far there is no end in sight to the violence. It remains to be seen what the impact of this violence will be on what has been a steady stream of expatriates seeking the good life on the cheap in Mexico. Even though real estate, food, energy, a maid and gardener are all way cheaper than they are in back in the states, more people will probably decide to pass on that lifestyle in favor of their personal safety. Resort cities on the water like Mazatlan, Puerto Vallerta, or even Acupulco are affected. Places like Aijic/Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende – which have very high concentrations of U.S. citizens living there – are probably less at risk in the way of drug crime. One way expatriates living in those areas can improve their safety is to fly directly to their destinations, thereby avoiding road travel and the extremely dangerous areas near the border crossings.
The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel Advisory for Mexico. It states that the areas near the U.S. border are the most dangerous. Travelers should avoid border areas, never drive at night, avoid places of prostitution or drug dealing, stay away from certain towns, and avoid specific roads. Consult the travel advisory for more details.
Guide to Mexican Retirement
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