Living without fear in Mexico – Are all the stories true?

February 6, 2022

Yesterday, my daughter and I got on a morning bus to go from Guanajuato, Mexico to Mexico City, a five hours twenty minute journey by bus. It’s a long journey, but thankfully, Mexico has some high quality and comfortable busses.

Due to our way of life (moving every 1 to 3 months), we’ve had to get creative with our daughter having braces. We opted to initiate care with an orthodontist in Mexico City, and travel back from where ever we may be. Hence, our journey yesterday.

As I was preparing for them, the thought crossed my mind how comfortable this all felt to us. It did not feel unsafe and did not give me feelings of uneasiness. We’ve done it numerous times, and knew there wasn’t an extreme reason to fear this experience.

It’s quite remarkable to realize what is possible to become one’s new normal.

Safety is a big concern for those looking to move to Mexico

I, like many, was susceptible to the fear stories about how unsafe places like Mexico (supposedly) are. Questions about safety are probably the most frequent questions I see when people are considering moving themselves and/or their family to Mexico.

When people ask a question about how safe Mexico is in a Facebook group, it’s unfortunate to see how many people respond with snarkiness to the genuine concerns. How is one to know the reality of a place they have never been to? If all they are hearing are the headlines and the governmental warnings, then, of course, they are going to be concerned. At least those asking the questions are challenging what they’re being told.

All this is not to say that there is no violence in Mexico. Of course, there is. I hear cartels exist here. I hear there have been violent episodes involving the cartels. I hear stories of people having money extorted from them or their cell phones stolen.

I believe a lot of people respond with snark to those questions because it’s perceived that those narratives being perpetuated are grossly exaggerated. Those narratives are not the experiences of many that live here. There may be acts of violence happening, but it’s not influencing the majority’s experiences of daily life.

We create stories in our heads about the dangers of a place

Before we left the United States for our move abroad, my mind was busy going over potential scenarios and how we’d stay safe as a family in Costa Rica (we lived in Costa Rica for two years before moving to Mexico).

I had heard horror stories about in-home robberies, which also took some expats’ lives.

Having no experience in that country, my imagination ran wild. If my resolve to move there hadn’t been what it was, my fear and imagination would have likely stopped me.

Upon moving there, we asked a lot of questions to help us feel safe, and the fear from the stories diminished. Living there and experiencing what it is actually like, versus the absolutely worse case scenarios from a handful of occurrences, those imagined horror scenarios lost their power.

I look back on the sleeplessness that I experienced over my concerns, and I can understand why so many have these ideas of the supposed danger.

As we prepared to move to Mexico, I began to see the strong beliefs that many have about what it’s like here. No judgments, but many of the people warning me had very little experience with Mexico. It was the picture that was painted for them about what life is like here. I understand how that happens.

The stories told about the danger in Mexico haven’t matched my experience

One of the common responses that I see from when people express concerns about the violence is that unless you’re involved with the cartels or drugs, you’re likely to be okay.

Now, there are people that have on occasion been caught in the “cross fire”, but that is not the norm. Although, when it happens, we hear about it, which causes alarm.

I have heard stories of people having run-ins with corrupt police or unfavorable taxi drivers.

I imagine these things do happen. Fortunately and knock on wood, I haven’t had to be on the receiving end of one of these encounters.

There are a few things that I believe keep me safe:

  1. I often have children with me, and for the most part, I have noticed a sense of protection and care aimed towards families
  2. I’m not often out after dark – the kids have bedtime, and I like to sleep.
  3. I feel I have a good amount “common sense”, as it’s recommended to use in big cities and places where opportunism happens.
  4. I’ve come to learn that I possess a presence of “not to be messed with”. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I have not felt targeted or that I’m seen as someone that is “vulnerable”.

All this is not to say that I may not have an unfortunate encounter one day (I pray that I do not), but so far, so good.

As my trust in myself and belief that I’m supported grew, my fear decreased

My moving abroad journey has coincided with rapid spiritual and personal growth. Learning to trust has been a huge part of that growth. What I’ve noticed is that as I’ve trusted more, my fear has gone down considerably.

If one does not trust one’s abilities or that we are supported in this world and life, fear is a natural byproduct. We are susceptible to stories and narratives about fear when we don’t believe that we are capable and resilient to face what circumstances of life come our way.

This journey put me in situations to challenge my doubts and increase my trust “muscle”. I’ve had enough experiences where I trusted that circumstances would work out, where I would have previously doubted, and all worked out beyond what I had believed was possible.

In my opinion, the antidote to the fear we experience is to face it and to see what happens. Take a risk on a so-called risky life, and see what transpires. Does it turn out like the fear story told you it would? You will grow your trust “muscles”, and open yourself up to so much more possibilities in life.

How to face the fear of venturing to someplace new

  • Ask others that have gone before you As I mentioned above, the story being told by the government officials in the US oftentimes don’t match the lived experience of many expats that have made homes in Mexico. It’s easy to believe that you’re likely to be killed if you live in Mexico. However, thousands are living in Mexico and going about their lives with nothing more than adequate levels of awareness and common sense.
  • Go to a place and experience it for yourself Decide to see for yourself what it’s really like. After having done your homework, find places that others have travelled to and have felt safe in. Take a short trip, and see if your experience matches the picture you may have painted in your head after hearing all the fear stories.
  • Examine your fears and use them as an opportunity to grow We can use the fears that arise as an opportunity to grow and expand by getting curious. Why do you think we take the worst possible stories and assume they apply to a whole country? Do you think there are other areas of your life where you’ve allowed fear stories to incorrectly perceive a situation? How can you go beyond your fears in other areas of your life?
  • Cultivate trust I imagine there are multiple ways one could cultivate trust, but what I’ve found to work for me is through taking each time to go within and cultivating a relationship with myself. I sit each day while intentionally breathing, which has allowed me to trust my intuition in a much deeper way. It is a commitment, and it’s the most valuable skill, in my opinion, that we can cultivate to live a life not being run and dominated by fear.

Questions for you to consider

  • What’s your first assumption when you hear about a place about how safe it is?
  • How are your fears stopping you from experiencing something new?
  • What is possible if you go beyond the limitations of fear

If when you ponder these questions, you realize that you are holding yourself back and limiting yourself in life, ask yourself if you wish to continue living this way.

What beliefs about why “you can’t” come up when you consider going a new way?

Those beliefs have been keeping you contained and limited.

Despite those beliefs, if you feel there is something for you beyond what you’ve been limited to, ask yourself if it’s time to move into the more expanded version of yourself.

Whether you want support moving abroad or “simply” actualizing your dreams in real life, I’d love to be a guide for you in moving beyond.

You can get a single breakthrough session here, in which we’ll explore where you are and where you want to be, and we’ll create a “next step” bridge to support you moving in that direction.

Hi! I'm Amanda.

I write about my journeys through living abroad and the healing and growth opportunities through these experiences.

If you're looking to make a move abroad, I can support and guide you to make that happen.