The headline “Mexico’s Safest State Is Seeing a Real Estate Boom” might have been clickbait, but it’s real. It was on Bloomberg.com, the U.S. media giant that holds wealthy investors in its sway.
Yucatán’s relatively low homicide rate, more than 90% lower than the national average, mostly explains the state’s surge in property sales.
Gov. Mauricio Vila credited a strong, well-equipped local police force for his state’s safe-harbor reputation. That is fueling the real estate boom, reducing to embers the state’s long-gone reputation as a place to grab cheap property.
Yucatán has boosted its security budget by more than 60% since Vila took office in late 2018, and the murder rate has fallen by 19%. In the U.S., only New Hampshire and Maine have fewer murders per capita, said Bloomberg’s Juan Pablo Spinetto and Maya Averbuch.
Bloomberg notes that Yucatán’s geography — away from major drug smuggling routes — has spared it from gang violence. The state’s population has risen by about a fifth over the last decade, compared to 12% for the country as a whole.
It’s also led to an influx of investors, including some from the U.S. and Canada, who have turned old houses in the capital’s Centro Histórico into Airbnb rentals or high-end flips. Inmuebles24 reported real estate prices went up 14% in Mérida in the first 10 months of 2022.
Vila appeared protective of yet another image that Yucatán maintains.
“Quintana Roo is focused on beach tourism, Yucatán is focused on cultural tourism,” he said. “People go to Quintana Roo to party. We don’t want people to come to party.”
Security has helped boost the poll numbers of Vila, who ranks among the best-regarded governors of Mexico. He says he will decide by the end of 2023 whether to run for president in the June 2024 election.
Vila is from the business-friendly National Action Party, or PAN. Most polls show the successor to the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will come from the leftist ruling Morena party. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard, and Interior Minister Adán Augusto López are seen as the top candidates from within Morena. Despite their different political backgrounds, Vila has a good relationship with López Obrador, who is a frequent visitor to the state.
“If you ask me today if I’d like to be president, I’d love to,” Vila told Bloomberg, adding that he wants to finish ongoing projects, such as a 1,000-mile train line known as the Tren Maya, a portion of which cuts through Yucatán. “But I understand very well that I have a responsibility here in Yucatán.”