Drug war violence is a distant thought to residents of Mérida, Mexico, many of them retired American expats. Mérida, the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán and the Yucatán Peninsula, is a cultural center with easy access to historical Mayan ruins. After being hit by the global recession, it seems the Mérida housing market is starting to bounce back.
Of 5.25 million Americans living abroad, 1 million are estimated to live south of the border. Some communities, such as San Miguel de Allende (a Heritage Site in central Mexico), seem virtual US suburbs. Mérida is becoming a magnet as transplants rush to buy old mansions and haciendas from the 19th century boom in henequen (a fiber used to make rope).
“I do not feel any violence here,” says Dan Karnes, a retired lawyer from New Orleans who moved here last year. He purchased an 18th-century colonial mansion, last used as a warehouse, and on a recent day was overseeing workers digging a pool foundation and laying an oval courtyard. When done, Mr. Karnes will boast an 18,300-square-foot home.
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