Due to commonly accepted myths about Mexico City, when I tell someone I am living here, they always, ALWAYS ask me, “but isn’t it dangerous??”. The short answer, in my experience and from people I know here, is NO. The only real danger I face here daily is trying to cross a busy street (Avenida de los Insurgentes) or gaining weight from the endless, and I mean endless, food options.
I know this is not what many people think or want to believe, but Mexico City is not among the world’s top 50 cities with the highest homicide rates. But Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans and St. Louis are. Having said that, I would not recommend wearing expensive jewelry or flashing money around in certain areas of town, but that is common sense regardless of where you are. I can honestly say I would not be any more concerned about my safety here than back home in Vancouver, Canada.
Let me debunk some myths for you:
Myth: Eating Mexican food will give you the famous Montezuma’s revenge
Firstly, do not drink the water! Bottled or filtered/purified water is served everywhere, and ice here is made from purified water. Remember there is always a risk when eating abroad because our tummies may not be used to some of the “bugs” they will encounter. Here in Mexico City, food ranges from endless street fare, including of course, the feared street taco to fine dining. If you are fearful of the former there are endless dining options to rival those found in the trendy neighborhoods of New York or London (Pujol and Quintonil are both ranked among the world’s top 50 restaurants), I personally have been here for 2 years and have never gotten sick, I never drink water from the tap, but I do eat delicious street tacos and freshly squeezed juice from the carts that clutter street corners. I would say the key is to eat what you are used to, don’t ask for the extra spice (picante) if you are not used to it. If you are going to eat at a street cart, look for clean, busy carts, and make sure the person handling the money is not also handling the food! The great thing about eating in Mexico City eating is whatever type of food you are seeking is here and amazingly delicious.
Myth: You will be murdered by a street gang
Yes, there are dangerous areas of Mexico City. The good news is there is no valid reason for a tourist in Mexico City to visit these areas. Your chances of becoming a victim of homicide in Mexico City are about the same as being struck with lightning. The most common crime against tourists is petty theft (pickpockets) and robbery, sometimes during taxi rides. The odds of this happening to you can be significantly reduced by doing your best to blend in with the locals by walking with confidence and not standing out as an obvious tourist (no shorts). If you need transportation, whether it be day or night never hail a taxi from the street. Use the metro, Uber (recommended), find a sitio taxi or have a nearby hotel or restaurant call a taxi for you. Using common sense will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time in Mexico City.
Myth: Do not carry or wear anything of Value, it will be Stolen!
Yes, you can use your iPhone and carry your designer purse while wearing your Prada sunglasses. I was so fearful when I first arrived until I visited a mall and saw women in Gucci carrying Louis Vuitton bags, while shopping for more. If you are in Polanco, Condesa or Colonia Roma and exercising caution at night and using Uber instead of walking the streets to get where you are going you will have no problem wearing whatever you please.
Myth: Mexico City is Dirty, Ugly and Overcrowded
Mexico City has a population of over 22 Million and certain parts of the city are bustling and sometimes overwhelming (Centro Historico). Traffic is gridlocked and horrible during peak hours, but that is easily combated by taking transportation into consideration ahead of time. The neighborhoods I frequent the most (Colonia Roma, Condesa, Juarez/Reforma) are no more crowded than other big cities I have visited. The climate here is perfect, never too hot or too cold for strolling the different neighborhoods, which is my favorite thing to do. Friends who have visited are struck by what a beautiful city this is, with miles of shady tree lined streets and parks, including Chapultepec Park which is larger than New York’s Central Park. The architecture and history is fascinating and there is always something to do or see, making it in my opinion, one of the prettiest and liveliest places one could choose to live!
Myth: We all Drink Margaritas and live in Flip Flops
Just because I live in Mexico City does not mean I live near a beach or that its tropical! I do not sit on the deck and drink margaritas while watching the sunset, I do want to though! At an elevation of almost 7,400 feet, Mexico City is a bustling metropolis – not a beach town. Its high altitude location in a valley surrounded by mountains makes for comfortably cool weather in the morning, warm in the afternoon and cool in the evening. I do not wear flip flops, there is no sand and besides, the sidewalks are too choppy making it difficult to beat the traffic!
Now…this is important. Margaritas are for tourists only. Chilangos (as locals refer to themselves) sip tequila or mezcal with sangrita (peppery, non-alcoholic accompaniment) or orange slices on the side. They do not “shoot” tequila or mezcal shots.
We love for all our guests on our food tours in Mexico City to be informed about their visit to one of the most dynamic, interesting, and cosmopolitan cities on earth, and we try our hardest to make sure everyone has a safe, informative and of course, delicious experience with us!