Overseas Transfer - Safe Enough These Days?

Updated on July 17, 2014
A.G. asks from Houston, TX
29 answers

If your family was transferred for work to Mexico or overseas, would you feel safe? Yes or no, depending on what?

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So What Happened?

I find it humorous that some people think they are experts on what it might be like living in Mexico or near Mexico, and let us know it from their computers in a state that borders Canada.

I made my question general because there are many parts to any global transfer equation - contingent US, non-contingent US, in a compound or off a compound, military or non-military, with a corporation or as an independent, with family or without family.

I wanted to leave it open for your individual family's situation.

Visiting overseas, even long term, is very different from living overseas. I have experienced both so I know what the game is and what cards to play when it comes to safety. As for me, I would feel completely safe should my husband be transferred to Africa or the Middle East and anywhere in Asia, only because of the availability of private security companies and military bases close by. Mexico is a different story. The rampant corruption of their government, and the apathy of our own government to draw any lines in the sand is enough for me to stay away from there.

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answers from Washington DC on

I refuse to go to Mexico for anything.

I lived overseas from 92-95 (elementary age) on a military base and it was safe enough, but times are different now I think. And even at that young age, I loved every opportunity we had to come "home" - wherever that was in the states at the time.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I don't think I would move to Mexico. I know there are areas that are safe but it I wouldn't want to chance it. I lived in Brazil for three years in the 70s. Most wonderful experience of my life. I honestly believe every American should live overseas. You get a much better perspective on America.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My brother's family lives in Haiti. It is "safe" as long as they stay in certain parts of the city/country. They live in a house that has a wall around it and guards at the gate. The kids ride in an armored vehicle to school. They can't just walk around the neighborhood or go to the park. They also don't go to the bank because armed robbery is very common. They have dealt with mosquito borne illnesses.

A friend of mine has family living in Germany. I don't think it is too much different then living in the US as far as safety.

I have a co-worker who has family in Mexico. They have told her not to come to Mexico to even visit.

The State Department web site would give you the most recent info on safety around the world.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

It would depend on the location but if it were Mexico.. No way. I won't travel there.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'd jump on the chance to live overseas just about anywhere!
that being said, there are parts of the world i'm not really hankering to visit, and would actually turn down the extreme ones- much of the middle east, and some parts of mexico and south america.
i think safety is over-rated. i'm really one of the folks who believe we have long sacrificed our freedom for the frail illusion of safety. but i would not want to live in a country where immanent danger was looming every minute of every day. and i rate the danger from other humans far higher than danger from, say, snakes or spiders. australia is crazy scary in some ways, but i'd try it in a heartbeat. not so much saudi arabia, iraq or big swatches of mexico.

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answers from New York on

I would have some concerns about Mexico, but it depends on the area. Some states, especially areas bordering the US, are unsafe. Others are perfectly safe. It would depend on the region, the nature of the work, a number of things. It could be a wonderful opportunity. Parts of Mexico are stunningly, amazingly beautiful, and there's a real culture of welcoming, graciousness, and hospitality.

That really applies to most parts of the world. There are a few countries (maybe Somalia, South Sudan) where I'd regard the entire country as unsafe. And there are a few where I'd be comfortable moving anywhere in the country. But usually it'd depend on the region and the nature of the work.

It can also change on a dime. I have family members in Israel. A month or so ago, I would've felt safe visiting them. Today, not so much.

I also just have to respond to B's statement. Spain and Portugal are dangerous? Because ... they speak the same languages as in Latin America? And these are dangerous languages? WHAT? And don't even get me started on "any state that borders on Mexico." Or the fact that ALL of Asia and Africa are off limits to you. I'm sorry, but ... well ... I'd better stop there.

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answers from Norfolk on

Mexico, Central America, South America, Spain, Portugal, Africa, Middle East, Asia - no.
Heck I wouldn't want to move to any state that borders on Mexico - it's to the point where Mexico has almost annexed them back again unofficially.
Most of Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand - yes.
I know what I like in the way of culture, language and climate.

No, it's not just language.
Knowing what I like and don't like isn't a crime.
I took Spanish in high school but I just don't care for it.
There's nothing wrong with having a preference and not liking what YOU like Mira.
If you like places that I don't like - good for you! - more power to you!
You and I are neither right nor wrong - merely different - and that's fine.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I won't even go on a vacation to Mexico right now. There is no way I would live there. Too bad too because parts of it a gorgeous and I would have loved to have taken my girls but not with the current issues.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

Nope. I know this will sound like rhetoric but after the whole Berdahl (sp?) thing I want to know there isn't a price on all of our heads.

Of course we can't live our lives in fear.

Mexico, hell no! There are places that are safe but until they get that drug cartel under control kidnappings are far too regular down there.

Per your what happened, I find it humorous that you believe that everyone's location is accurate. :)

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answers from Columbia on

Yes, if the place I'm going is one where the organization has had a longstanding presence and good relationships in the area. Yes, if the organization has safe housing, schooling and shopping for their families. I've been in the military for 13 years and have been around, overseas and stateside, with my family. I'm not all that concerned about where the military stations families because they don't send dependants to dangerous areas.

I would check out the US State Dept's website for travel alerts and warnings to determine whether the areas you're considering are safe or not. http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertsw...

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I wouldn't write off a whole country just because there are some areas of it that are unstable.
Hell, there are parts of my CITY that I avoid, but I wouldn't declare the whole country unsafe because of it.

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answers from Houston on

I would not feel comfortable because in general Mexico is experiencing a great deal of unrest at this time. Kidnappings, for instance, are on the rise. Certainly while the region you are in matters, overall the country is in turmoil and it’s important to understand what that means as far as the risk you as taking on.

A large part of my husband's family is in Mexico (spread fairly evenly around the country) and they actively discourage anyone from traveling down there. Most of the people I know who travel to Mexico do so on buses and try to wear the most native looking attire they can. All signs of money (name brands, jewelry, phones, etc.) are left back in the states. To my way of thinking if the natives are actively discouraging other natives from traveling there and when they do travel there they go to such extreme lengths to look native that's not a good sign. I also know much of my husband’s family has had issues themselves (kidnappings, robberies, carjackings, etc.) so it’s not all hype and gossip. Their stories are frightening and have left his family shaken.

The U.S. State Department gives specifics on Mexico and the information contained there would most certainly be part of my decision making process.

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answers from Rochester on

It depends on where. My son in law (who is in the military) was almost transferred to a base in a country where it was not safe for his wife (my daughter) and the children. This was not in a country where there is a war going on. He was told he could leave the family home (he would have been gone for 2 years) or if he brought them with him they would be confined to base only because it was dangerous to go off base. Fortunately he was able to change his orders and get stationed here in the USA.

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answers from Los Angeles on

FWIW, when we were researching a vaca to Mexico, SO many people mentioned Belize. Last year, Belize was listed as the #1 UNSAFE destination for Americans. In the "resort" areas of Mexico, we felt 100% safe, even in the surrounding town--safe. The Mexicans prize tourism from the USA and they WANT their towns to be daft tourist destinations. That said, our company has a plant in Mexico and the area is really bad. People have refused to travel there for business.
Saying Mexico isn't safe is like saying the USA isn't safe because there's crime in NYC.
Look at the state department website for current stats.
Living "overseas" isn't for everyone.
Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Mexico? Depends upon where in Mexico. Mexico City? Yes. Cancun or other "resort" areas? Most likely. It always helps when you know the local language. So if I were going to move to Mexico? I would get the Rosetta Stone and brush up on my Spanish or hire a Spanish Tutor to get me up to speed on language.

I've lived in Germany, Belgium and Taiwan... and felt safe. In Germany we started out in Base Housing.... in Belgium we were living on the economy. It was a great experience.

If you are moving with a company - contact your HR representative and ask to speak to people already living there. If you are the first? Do your research yourself. The move is what you make of it... if you are determined to have a horrible experience, it will be a horrible experience... if you are determined to have a great time?? You will have a blast!! You don't want to be like the woman I met in Germany - she had lived there for 4 years and NEVER ONCE left the base after she got in from Frankfurt..." there are Germans out there" - NO FREAKING KIDDING!! She missed out on so much due to her fears it was truly sad.

I moved there from Belgium and she wanted to know what it was like - when I told her we lived on the economy and I drove to Brussels to work a the Embassy? She literally SHUDDERED!! She was two hours from Pairs, France and had NEVER been... her kids experience in Germany? Was what their father took them too and even then the mom was paranoid...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It depends on the political climate in the country. I wouldn't move to Mexico because of all the violence down there now. Most of Europe and parts of Asia would probably be fine, in those cases it would be whether or not I could speak the language.

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answers from Casper on

My husband, I and my two children (now 10 & 11 years old) have lived in South Africa, mainland China and are in the process of moving to Angola. We have not lived in a compound and never felt unsafe (Angola may be a different story, not sure yet). My husband would refuse a job where we couldn't go due to safety. I would include the Middle East and parts of South America as no-gos.

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answers from Philadelphia on

It 100% depends on where. There are numerous parts of the world where I'd not only feel safe, but relish the thought of living. Other parts, you couldn't pay me enough to even *consider* moving there.

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answers from Phoenix on

You couldn't pay me any amount of money to go to Mexico. My husband is Mexican and an immigration attorney and he won't set foot there based on everything he knows from family, friends and clients. Much, much too corrupt and dangerous.

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answers from Atlanta on

It depends on where, whether there are conflicts going on in the country, what kind of conflicts, which part of the country, how well established the company is in that particular society, and whether the society is generally hospitable to us. Mexico, for example, has some areas which are really dangerous while others are not. Other countries, only certain types of people are likely to have difficulties while others are perfectly safe. So it is important to get information from several different sources, particularly people who are thoughtful and have a longer experience in the place.

Anyway, it's really easy to get the impression that every place is in turmoil because that's the information we usually hear about. You don't hear much about a place where things are relatively stable, for example, and even places like Tanzania and Kenya are really very safe; they just have had a couple of higher profile incidents lately which might give Americans the impression that they are not. Anyway, good luck with the decision!

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answers from Boca Raton on

it's as safe as in the states. but if you plan on moving to a country, you should research their culture so you blend in. standing out in not a good thing always.
i would live anywhere in the world, personally. i would avoid places such as sudan, saudi, iraq, afghanistan, egypt etc if moving with my kids.
someone mentioned greece. greece is a wonderful country. i always visit greece when i travel overseas with my kids. we love it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Totally depends on where....

Personally, I wouldn't go to Mexico or Central America.

Most of Europe I would trust.

My daughter just moved home from living in Seoul, South Korea for 6 years. She was a teacher at a private school in Seoul. South Korea I would completely trust, even with the nut that is in charge of North Korea.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Your question does not work because the location and situation are not specific.

Mexico - it would depend on the area.
Europe - safe most anywhere
Asia, South America, Africa - it depends

And although I live in a state that "borders Canada," I have lived overseas and traveled overseas and internationally, so my opinion might just be worthwhile.

I feel like you are trying to push an agenda with your question. If so, just ask the question you really want to ask.

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answers from San Francisco on

It would depend upon where in Mexico, or where else overseas. Some places are really pretty safe, and some aren't. My daughters go to a girls' summer camp every year, and for the past few years, my older daughter has been roommates with a really nice girl from Mexico. I have the impression that the family is quite well-off (well, obviously, if they can send their daughter to a nice summer camp in another country), and it seems that this little girl has a life that's very similar to my daughter's - she goes to a good school (speaks perfect, unaccented English), takes ballet lessons, plays on a soccer team, has season tickets to the ballet and the symphony... It doesn't appear that she is living in fear on a daily basis. Now, I don't know what kind of security measures their home or neighborhood has, but if the situation is at all sketchy, the child is unaware of it. I have to assume some areas of Mexico are pretty safe.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Totally depends on the location. Can you be more specific?

For example:

France (any part) = yes
Iraq (any part) = no
South Africa (some parts) = yes
South Africa (other parts) = no

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answers from Amarillo on

That's kind of a hard answer for me. I spent 8 years in Germany, 4 years in Canada and 10 years in the states in various states as a military wife. When we got to Germany it was right after many bombings (early 80s) and the environment was rather uneasy. After a few years things calmed down and it was nice.

I wanted to go to Greece while were where in Germany and was advised not to as they were fighting with each other and blowing things up.

Some Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand would be great to see. Mexico I saw many years back before the cartels took over. I liked it but it was not somewhere where I would come back. When traveling and living abroad you have to have an adventurous side to live and accept the unusual that is normal to the people living there. Also learning the language is a great way to let them know you are trying to fit in and not expecting everyone else to learn English.

If you husband is in the oil and gas they have compounds that they have created for families to live on which are fenced. Each country has different requirements about clothing, furniture and money that can be brought into the country. Check with the company about what is allowed.

Enjoy your adventure.

the other S.

PS Don't invite trouble if you don't have to. Stay in areas that are for tourists and dress to fit in.

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answers from Chicago on

I would probably enjoy an opportunity to live somewhere else, but I'm just an American girl. I like living in the U.S.As far as Mexico goes, I have been there several times,most recently for my father in laws funeral and it wasn''t frightening.Really not anymore than what we hear about some of our major U.S cities. I wouldn't want to live there because the family life was so different than what we are used to and I am spoiled beyond belief with things and stuff not available in those towns.. But we weren't in a vacation area we were in a little town,then later a city. If you are thinking about making a move there simply do your homework. There are definitely some known areas where you don't want to go and there are those here, too. My mother in law went on to live in a gated community somewhat near the same region and it is simply lovely. You can make your best choices by doing your homework. And remember, you are going to that country because you will have work. Some people are coming to this country because they don't.



answers from Dallas on

I would not feel safe living in Mexico! Don't go. You'll regret it. Stay in Houston!

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