Informing my parents and friends of my imminent move to Monterrey with wife and child the first few comments I received were how could we/I move to such a dangerous country?
My parents, are obvious experts in all things Mexican due to their 30 minutes a day glued to the TV set watching US/Mexican border security and once attempting to taste an avocado back in the sixties. I think they ventured outside of their tiny UK village once, to another tiny UK village. They still get the polaroid’s out to this day.
They believe the TV show is what’s it’s like pretty much everywhere in Mexico and the scary part, they are not the only ones believing this. It’s almost a cliché these day’s, people associating murder, kidnappings and violence with Mexico. The amazing history and culture, stunning beaches and scenery, friendly people and the food, well they often don’t get a mention thanks to people like my dear folks. God bless them.
It made me think a bit, apart from the odd Nat Geo program where you see a couple of Marine biologists splashing about with Whale sharks or rescuing the odd baby sea turtle somewhere in the Mexican Caribbean there isn’t much in Western Media that I have seen based on all the good Mexico has to offer.
Are there Murders and violence in Monterrey, you bet there is. I can’t say I wasn’t intimidated when I first came to meet my wife’s parents. I was terrified, partly because I was meeting her folks after 16 hours on a plane with no sleep and partly because of my ignorance of Mexican culture and the partial belief I would be kidnapped at the first traffic light stop.
Would I be a potential victim of violence I thought? I didn’t know then but now I have a fair idea of how to at least decreasing the odds of anything happening.
Monterrey is a beautiful city to live in, full of friendly people and a good amount of locals speak English, not the Queen´s English (who does?), but they will help you if they can. It has a vast offering of Restaurants and amenities for all ages. There are plenty of very good schools and hospitals, all private though, so be prepared to pay for quality and make sure you have paid your insurance. You get what you pay for since the schools and hospitals here are up there with some of the best in the world.
I certainly won’t be hanging out or driving around in area’s where most of the drug related violence occurs like after dark in certain area’s downtown or other area’s notorious to acts of violence. Just like I don’t hang out back home at a local village taxi rank after midnight because I know there will be some drunken fool wanting to fight.
The uber trendy San Pedro area of Monterrey is widely regarded as the safest, but that doesn´t mean other places are unsafe. I know of some expats who have never ventured downtown, I personally love the hustle and bustle of Downtown Monterrey, in the daylight hours that is. Places like San Jeronimo, Contry, Cumbres, Tec, Satelite, Valle Alto, Sierra Alta, La Rioja, Las Torres, Del Paseo Residencial and the list can go on...All of these places are safe with good neighbourhoods and gated communities. Nice houses and apartments are available there for rent and sale. All you need is a good real estate agent who knows the area and can guide you through.
I have lived in 2 of the world’s hip cities, London and Stockholm and when I read the cities local papers online there are murders, unprovoked bashings, and drug fuelled violence daily but would you class London or Stockholm dangerous? Probably not, but if you are found in the wrong part of each city at the wrong time you most often than not will encounter some form of trouble. There is not a city on this earth you are completely safe from peril, I believe no matter where you are it’s all about decreasing the odds of anything happening.
I have the luxury of being able to choose where I live in Mexico and am very privileged able to do so with my Wife and Daughter. This makes Mexico paradise on earth for me (and I’m sure for you).
The quality of life in Monterrey is great compared to other cities I´ve personally lived in. I think there is great value for money nearly all round. This is a big world and it may be for you it may not. All I am saying is that Monterrey is a safe city to live in, all you need to do is take the same precautions you would anywhere else.
I will just stick to my rules here as in anywhere else. Stay alert, educate yourself to where is safe and where you should avoid, never be complacent, speak to the locals, your partner, your partners folks and it won’t take long before the intimidation slowly disappears and is replaced by all the amazement and wonder this beautiful city and country has on offer.