Planning a Move to Mexico?

November 5, 2022

A blog reader wrote me recently asking a couple of questions as he considers Mexico as a place to retire. I asked him if he’d mind if I turned his questions into a blog post as others might also be interested.

Noise – We don’t mind the street noise (vendors, gas trucks, etc.), but we don’t do well with random fireworks, all-night parties, and dogs who bark nonstop. Some blogs and posts I’ve read say those kinds of noise are daily regardless of where you live and that you simply learn to sleep with headphones on or have other ways to cope. What is your experience of dogs/fireworks/all-night parties as a problem?

This is an issue that comes up over and over. First off, everyone has a different level of comfort with different noises.

For example, in our backyard we often hear muted ranchera music from our neighbors or the sound of a saw or pounding as albañils work on building something nearby. Would that bother you? If it would, I would say that there is nowhere in Mexico that would work for you.

The gas trucks, fruit and vegetable vendors, garbage trucks, knife sharpeners, etc. that rove around town are also endemic and in my opinion are what makes Mexico so vibrant. The fireworks (cohetes) are also something that (unless you are way far away from the main square) will be a part of your environment. All of the above are more prevalent in small towns than in the city.

Noise from parties can happen anywhere. Everyone has occasional parties, but in México they can go on until the wee hours of the morning and can be much louder, too. Neighbors in Mazatlán had parties now and then that even started at 5 or 6 am when the banda group they hired finished their night club engagement. You need to be able to roll with these things, either roll over and go back to sleep or go outside and listen with the rest of your neighbors!

Noise from close by night clubs or events spaces can be tiresome if they regularly blast music until late at night. This is where doing your homework before you rent or buy can be a smart idea. We have an events space near us and while it can be loud at times they usually finish by 11 pm.

I will also say that noise the Lakeside area is very different than in a city. These are small towns and so much more life happens in the street. It’s just the way it is.

When trying to decide about whether to live in a gated community – you will need to decide that based on your noise sensitivity. But for me, I like to be a part of a community, warts and all. Also keep in mind that even if you moved into a quiet place something could change. Barking dogs come and go – we try to stay chill about it and know that in a few weeks it will likely stop. (That really has been our experience!) That said, I do have a few strategies for dealing with noise – nothing earth shaking but helpful.

First, get a couple of loud box fans. Play with them to help block out whatever noise offends. We can sleep through barking dogs and thumping base with one (or two, sometimes) fans going. Neither Paul or I find it easy to sleep with headphones or earplugs but this works for us. Occasionally if I am having a hard time I put on chanting or ambient music and listening for a while will help me drift off. Friends of ours have mini-split air conditioners that help mask outside noises. You just have to experiment.


The cartel situation. I understand the reality that if you’re not in the game, you’re less likely to be a victim. We also live in a city with a high murder and crime rate and have always lived in urban neighborhoods, so we’re used to a certain amount of disorder. We have friends in Lakeside who say they feel safe. But it’s also alarming that the cartels seem to be getting more violent and more powerful. Gated communities are not our style (although to be fair, we’ve never stayed in one in Mexico), so I don’t know if Mexico would work for us if we had to live in one to feel safe. Does the cartel situation affect or worry you?

I would say that the cartel situation really doesn’t have much impact on our lives. That doesn’t mean it isn’t out there, it just really doesn’t affect us. Occasionally when things get spicy somewhere it has had an impact on where we would choose to travel, but that’s about it.

Of course, we always stay alert – if we were to see a group of vehicles with dark tinted windows go by I would go the other way. But that hardly ever happens. The cartel violence we’ve been aware of has to do with businesses not paying their “protection” (or extortion) fees, or kidnapping people just to fill their ranks.

You will see evidence of security around, too. For example, at the apartment we are renting right now in Guadalajara there are several men standing around chatting outside. They have been smiling and friendly to us and we believe they are full time drivers/security for businessmen or residents nearby. There is at least one fast looking car with blacked out windows close by.

Having lived in México for 15 years now, we have seen some cartel violence. In Mazatlán there have been a few car chase/shootouts that happened, and only one I can remember where a tourist was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. You probably remember that El Chapo was finally successfully apprehended in Mazatlan! Here at Lakeside there have been some kidnapped people rescued and some shootings here and there but not very frequently.

I feel way more comfortable with my personal security here than I think I would back in the US. I like to tell about the time before we moved to México we were walking along late at night and up ahead we saw a group of young men gathered outside a beer store. Our anxiety level went up (as it would in the US) but as we passed by the greetings of “buenas noches” put us at ease. This happens frequently, too.

But with regard to your personal sense of safety – of course each of us needs to make these kind of decisions based on our own sensitivity to risk. I will say this is one of the reasons people recommend renting before you buy.

I hope that this answers your questions! Thanks for asking!

Edit: If you are interested, you should check out this article about the 85% increase in Americans moving to México over 2019.

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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Muchas gracias. I always enjoy reading your perspectives and experiences living in México. (and your spectacular photos 📸 ❤️ 👍🏻 Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks for answering my questions, Nancy! I appreciate your thoughtful answers — they’re much more nuanced and detailed than what I have been able to find online so far. This is very helpful.

      I’m so interested to see what we experience when we’re able to visit again. We experienced nothing bothersome at all in our week in Chapala staying just a couple blocks from the malecon, so either we got lucky or we’re already used to that level of noise. We’ll find out at some point. 😉 Thanks again!

    1. Nancy, your comments are “right on”. In 22 years here in Mexico, I have never seen a “cartel group” in all of my travels driving alone.
      Never. Interesting how people in the USA worry about that.

      And, noise! I seldom ever hear it and when I do, like at 7:30AM, I just smile and wonder what “Saint’s day” it is……….

      I just moved to a place that is much noisier then where I was for the last four years. I’m adjusting, slowly, to a “howling dog” who is left alone on the roof above me. Hopefully I will get to the point where I seldom here him. Bless his heart!

      1. Hi Barbara, I had been wondering how you had settled in to your new place. Sounds like a little bit of an adjustment. Thanks for commenting!

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