Mexico Drug War Doesn’t Stop Americans From Moving South of the Border
“It is not the climate,” says Mr. Engle, explaining why he moved to the Yucatán Peninsula. “It is the people. It is the most welcoming place.”
Americans scared off by violence in Mexico? Not here.
In towns far from the US border such as Mérida, Mexico’s drug wars seem like another world. In fact, according to a recent survey by the International Community Foundation, violence reduced the frequency or duration of trips to Mexico for only 7 percent of American retirees who live or travel frequently to Mexico.
No one knows how many foreign retirees, entrepreneurs, and families relocated to Mérida in recent years, but judging from real estate deals, new members to the English-language library, and observations by locals, it is not a few – nor is it ebbing.
‘As Safe as Seattle’
“I feel more part of a community here and safer or as safe here as I did in Seattle,” says Martha Lindley, a retired chaplain and lawyer who moved here three years ago.
Of 5.25 million Americans living abroad, 1 million are estimated to live south of the border. Some communities, such as San Miguel de Allende (a Heritage Site in central Mexico), seem virtual US suburbs. Mérida is becoming a magnet as transplants rush to buy old mansions and haciendas from the 19th century boom in henequen (a fiber used to make rope).
“I do not feel any violence here,” says Dan Karnes, a retired lawyer from New Orleans who moved here last year. He purchased an 18th-century colonial mansion, last used as a warehouse, and on a recent day was overseeing workers digging a pool foundation and laying an oval courtyard. When done, Mr. Karnes will boast an 18,300-square-foot home.