is it safe to travel to Playa del Carmen?

Many years ago when I left Canada, one thing that made the move easier was the high crime rate in my Canadian city. Although I lived in the suburbs, I worked and played in the city center, something that was becoming more and more uncomfortable (and dangerous) for single women such as myself.

I left Canada for Cancun and eventually Playa del Carmen. Mexico has been my home for the past decade and I can say without any hesitation that these parts are safe to live and travel. When I lived in Cancun, I lived centrally to accommodate my car-less lifestyle. There, I often saw questionable people acting suspicious, but no more or less than I witnessed in my Canadian city on any given weekend.

Playa del Carmen, at the time, was much less populated than it is now, and therefore, much quieter in terms of bad news. Now that the city has grown by more than 100,000 since I moved here, it makes the news on a near-daily basis.

That does not mean, though, that the city is not safe. Like any place you live, there are good and bad areas, neighborhoods known for their violence or poverty, along with good and bad people. I would say statistically, just as many bad people live in good areas as bad people live in bad areas. There are a lot of wealthy suit-and-tie folks who, at their core, are true criminals (drug trafficking, money laundering, ponzi schemes, white collar crimes).

Personally, I would feel just as discontented learning I was living beside a wealthy, educated suit-and-tie drug dealer as learning I was living beside a poor, uneducated drug dealer. Criminals are criminals and the fact is, they live everywhere.

People in Cancun and Playa del Carmen (for example since that is where I live) are not randomly killed “just because”. There have been instances where an innocent bystander has been hit, likely no more or less often than in any city in Canada or the United States, but it does not happen very often.

Shootings around here are targeted, usually for revenge or unpaid debt, but not because the city is lawless or out of control. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that is not correct information.

When “news” is broadcast of “another shooting in Mexico”, Canadian, U.S. and British media (in particular) refer to Mexico as though it were a single city and not an entire country with a population in excess of 127 million people. This grabs headlines and puts fear into anyone thinking of going to Mexico as well as those who have never even been to the country.

More than 64 percent of American visitors to Mexico, to Cancun and Riviera Maya for example, are repeat visitors. The reason, because they experienced a fun, safe and fulfilling holiday, and so they return again and again. According to Business Insider, more than 1.5 million Americans live in Mexico, making it home to more U.S. expats than any other country in the world.

As for me, I’ve lived here more than a decade as a single woman. I’ve lived in both Cancun and Playa del Carmen and never, in all my years here, have I ever had a problem. I’ve never been raped, robbed, assaulted, run over or shot.

It shouldn’t be rocket science to understand that if you don’t run with the bulls, you won’t get the horn.