Safety in Medellin vs The Rest of The World

US Police Forces

US Police Forces

I had a really great long weekend in Chicago and was fortunate enough to meet up with a couple of very interesting subscribers. President Obama was even in town, and the entire city was in a heightened state of security.

Regardless of the President’s presence, though, there were 30 shootings in the city over the weekend… which is enough to make anyone scratch his head and wonder about safety.

You hear about similar crime statistics from time to time, whether in places like Chicago, Mexico, Africa, etc. People automatically assume that those places are inherently dangerous. Sometimes that’s true… but usually not.

The reality is that most crime around the world, in North America, Asia, or Latin America, generally takes place in localized areas. Even in your own home town, chances are that you know the places to avoid.

In Chicago, for instance, I was been running all over town having a great time, completely unaffected by the criminal shootings going on in other parts of the city… simply because I have situational awareness and didn’t bother venturing to the areas that I know to avoid.

It’s rarely different anywhere else. In Medellin, Colombia for example, the sprawling and wealthy el Poblado district is a beautiful, safe area that I would feel comfortable recommending to my own mother. The shanty neighborhoods built into the hillside, though, are where you want to avoid.

These are common-sense choices that any individual should make, expat or not, traveler or not. Safety, fundamentally, is an individual responsibility… too many people place their livelihood into the hands of the government, expecting safety and protection in return for their tax dollars.

Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case.

In 1981, after a series of events which led to the brutal abuse and robbery of two Washington DC women, the US Court of Appeals ruled that “a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.”

This sort of puts “to serve and protect” in a new light… so much for your tax dollars at work. This is why, fundamentally, we are all on our own in this world, whether we realize it or not. The government is not there to save us.

People always ask me about safe places vs. unsafe places, and I have a pretty good sense of the issue from having traveled so much. I don’t recommend countries that I find to be unsafe, and to be clear, I define this as having an elevated chance of criminal encounters outside of the ‘unsafe’ parts of town.

Buenos Aires is an excellent example. It’s a beautiful city, sort of, but the crime situation has really deteriorated to the point that you can easily be robbed and/or assaulted in broad daylight on the most popular tourist streets in town.

It happens every single day, and I know numerous people who have fallen victim.

I wouldn’t rule it out as a place to live, but people should have much more situational awareness in that city than in, say, Medellin.

Simon Black
Senior Editor,

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2 thoughts on “Safety in Medellin vs The Rest of The World

  1. Mr Holman’s article is excellent. I am a retired US lawyer and real estate sales and Mktg -Sales Director who has worked as such also in Europe and Iberoamerica, including Colombia, now living in Florida off a modest pension (by US standards) and planning now to move to Medellin to enjoy a more gracious life at a considerable lower cost… I also inend to search for one of the beautiful paisa ladies to be my life partner. I would like to find out about placing an advertisement addressed to the ladies in Medellin’s leading newspaper, and renting a decent, well located , not expensive apartement for two weeks, so that I can go and explore the city after my last visit in 1983…..anyone that can provide info on my expressed interests, please writ to me at,

    Thank you, ROLF.

  2. Hi Rolf,

    I don’t think placing an ad in the paper is necessarily the best approach. There are a number of different agencies that specialize in match making local women with foreigners although they can be expensive. I would suggest using a popular chat website like to get yourself started and meet a few women online first so you can have some dates lined up before you arrive with women that you are already acquainted with (albeit via email).
    For apartments, check out for the city’s best apartments in the most popular locations.

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