Monday, November 12, 2012

México: Despite Good Planning, Relocating is Fraught with Personal Risks

Increasingly, a large number of North Americans in recent years have contemplated the advantages of relocating to México, where despite drug violence, offers Canadians and US citizens alike a multitude of post-retirement benefits: (1) a lower cost of living; (2) a warm climate; (3) proximity to home, where they can still see their doctors; (4) reduced housing costs; (5) access to beautiful beaches; and (6) a much slower pace.

Unfortunately, though, the many pluses of living in México can also be influenced by potential language problems, if you don't speak Spanish, as well as a much higher risk of armed robbery, home invasion, burglary, carjacking and auto theft. Tragically, many Canadians and Americans alike have been seriously injured or killed while living in México, as a result of these threats.

Very often, areas that some expats overlook concern residential and vehicular security.

Another pressing reality of living in México are cultural differences that can also expose expatriates to security risks they might otherwise not have considered before the fact. 

One mistake that many expats make is assuming that living conditions are very similar regardless of whether you living in México for a month or two during the winter as compared to living there nearly full-time. 

Clearly, the risks increase dramatically if you are a full-time resident, particularly if you don't live in a gated, well-secured community and drive a vehicle with US or Canadian plates.

If you live in México only for a month or two, you may not be aware of what type of experience you may encounter if you live in México full-time and become a victim of a property or violent crime. Or have to reckon with police corruption, which from my experience is among the highest in the world.

COMMENT: Although living in México can be fulfilling and meet an expat's expectations, things can often go very, very wrong without detailed comprehensive security planning. 

Such was the case this past Tuesday (November 6), when the body of Ron Mackintosh, 64, hailing from British Columbia, was found near Manzanillo. Preliminary examination of Mr. Mackintosh's body suggests that he died from a very violent death, considering his body was found tied to a tree.  

Mr. Mackintosh had relocated to San Patricio Melaque, México [Jalisco] in 2010 from BC. He was reported missing by his girlfriend on October 22, after he dropped off a friend in the company of his dog.

On November 6, a friend of Mackintosh's posted an item online that Mexican police had arrested three suspects in connection with Mr. Mackintosh's murder, and are searching for another. The friend intimated that the Canadian was killed for his Jeep, which bore BC plates. His Jeep and dog are still missing. 

It should be noted that on January 3, of this year, BC native Robin Wood, 67, was also shot and killed in Melaque, when he resisted an armed robbery at the home of a friend.

As most of our regular readers know all too well, a significant number of my roughly 1,400 postings concern fatalities where the victims RESISTED armed robbery.

There are many countries around the world where becoming an expatriate is relatively seamless, particularly as it relates to security threats. México is NOT one of these countries.

Having worked extensively in México over the years, I would never discourage anyone from relocating to México, but would strongly recommend the following:

(a) Thoroughly read the US State Department and Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade websites as they pertain to travel and living in México;

(b) Seek counsel from your nearest embassy or consulate BEFORE you actually relocate to México;

(c) Attend a formalized security awareness training program geared to living in México. NOTE: I actually provide such training.

(d) Do not use a vehicle with US or Canadian plates;

(e) Consult with an experienced international security consultant before purchasing a vehicle for use in México;

(f) Choose where you are going to live in México VERY cautiously and thoroughly with emphasis on a well-secured, gated community;

(g) Purchase US or Canadian-based medical treatment or evacuation coverage before relocating; and

(h) Research very carefully expats who have been injured or killed in violent acts of crime in México and learn what not to do in such events.