El Paso, Texas, is a sunshine-baked city rich with Latino influence. Famous for its striking desert landscapes and Tex-Mex cuisine, this border city in America’s deep South is much-loved by the local community and international visitors alike. But is El Paso safe?
Simply put, the answer is yes – El Paso is a highly safe place to live and visit. In 2020, it was ranked as the 5th safest large city in the US owing to its low rates of violent and property crimes, as well as low risk of severe weather. But no destination is without its dangers. In 2019, the city was the scene of one of the deadliest mass shootings in US history, when a gunman opened fire in an attack that killed 22 people. Fortunately, however, terrible crimes are an extremely rare occurrence in El Paso.
From public transport safety, to whether you can drink the tap water, join us as we break down everything you need to know about staying safe in El Paso.
Is El Paso safe right now?
Media reports surrounding tensions at the US-Mexico border sometimes lead people to wrongly assume that El Paso isn’t a safe place to be, but the reality is very different. El Paso is actually one of the safest cities in the US. El Paso has the 3rd lowest violent crime rate and 2nd lowest property crime rate for a city with over 500k people in the United States. This is in part due to a large military presence, strong border security, and engaged citizens and communities.
According to Numbeo, El Paso has a low level of crime, at 32.89. This pales in comparison to the crime rates of other Texas cities. Houston, for example, has a high rate of crime, at 73.82, while San Antonio has a moderate crime rate of 57.7. This makes El Paso one of the safest cities not only in Texas but in the entirety of the US.
Is El Paso safe for tourists?
El Paso is a remarkably safe place to visit as a tourist. The city’s proximity to Juarez, Mexico, which previously held the grim title of ‘Murder Capital of the World’, has prompted a huge security presence in the city. In fact, El Paso has more law enforcement agencies per capita than anywhere else in the US. This really keeps a cap on the amount of crime that takes place here. Rates of violent crime are low, scoring just 34.32 on Numbeo; rates of robbery and mugging are even lower, at 25.00.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that absolutely no crime takes place in El Paso. Wherever you are in the world, it’s important to exercise vigilance. El Paso is no different. Basic common sense applies here. Tourists should make an effort not to attract the attention of potential criminals by keeping valuables concealed, sticking to busy, brightly lit areas after dark, and keeping an awareness of one’s surroundings. The city doesn’t have a great deal of ‘sketchy areas,’ but some advise steering clear two areas – “The Devil’s Triangle” and Socorro – both of which have higher rates of drug-related crime and petty robbery.
Is it safe to live in El Paso?
El Paso is one of the safest places to live in the USA. Residents here enjoy year-round sunshine and a good standard of living. The threat of property crime is generally low. According to Numbeo, worries of home robbery are low, at 28.02, while the threat of having your car stolen is also low at 29.24. Other property crimes, such as vandalism and theft are slightly higher at 38.56, but this is still considered a low score.
While the entirety of the city is generally very safe, the safest neighborhoods include Album Park, Cielo Vista, Rim Area, and East Side. If you’re particularly safety conscious, it might be worth considering opting to live in these areas.
Is El Paso safe at night?
El Paso is safe at night. Numbeo finds that there’s a high level of safety after dark, with a high score of 63.14 when it comes to walking alone at night. But this isn’t to say that you should take risks in El Paso that you wouldn’t in other cities. It’s still not advised to walk in unlit and secluded areas at night.
Avoiding alleyways and taking a taxi, rather than walking by yourself is still an important precaution to take – particularly if you’re by yourself. If you like to go out and party, keeping an awareness of your surroundings, not getting overly drunk, and ensuring your friends get home safe if they’re leaving by themselves are all as important here as they might be in other cities.
Is it safe to walk alone in El Paso?
It is generally safe to walk alone in El Paso, even after dark. According to Numbeo, it’s very safe to walk alone during the daytime, with a score of 86.25. This number drops to 63.14 at night-time, but this is still considered a high safety score. Of course, your safety when walking alone does depend on the area of the city that you find yourself in.
It’s generally advised to avoid the ‘Devil’s Triangle’ and Socorro neighborhoods – particularly after dark – due to reports of drug-related crimes in these areas. As we’ve mentioned before, avoiding dark and secluded areas at night will help you keep safe. However, in general, you should have no trouble walking by yourself in El Paso. Locals attest to the safe nature of the city, with many remarking that you’re highly unlikely to come into any trouble even in the ‘sketchy’ areas of town.
Is public transport safe in El Paso?
Yes, public transport is safe in El Paso. The authorities recently adopted a new transit plan to connect the city more efficiently and to encourage ridership in safe, eco-responsible ways. A downtown shuttle, called the Circulator, is now available for free. It’s also easy and safe to get around on the city’s bus system, which is run by a company called Sun Metro.
Unfortunately, the majority of El Paso’s bus system shuts down at night, but taxis and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are usually readily available. When taking private taxis, be sure to check that the car you are entering is an official, registered taxi. Similarly, when you take an Uber or Lyft, wait for the car in a busy, well-lit area, confirm that the driver’s face and license plate match what comes up on your phone, sit in the back seat, and stay in touch with a friend or loved one about your ride—Uber has added a 911 button and the ability to geo-share your ride’s progress.
Is it safe to drink tap water in El Paso?
It is safe to drink tap water in El Paso. The local Environmental Protection Agency regulates water quality and sets standards for public water systems.
Top 7 El Paso safety tips
El Paso is consistently ranked as one of the safest large cities in America. Every day, visitors enjoy this culturally vibrant city without coming to any harm. But it’s always important to use a bit of common sense and take some fairly obvious precautions. Here’s a list of seven useful tips to make sure you have a safe and worry-free trip to El Paso.
- If you’re unfamiliar with El Paso, make an effort to research the layout of the city and the neighborhood you’re staying in before you arrive. Speak to trusted locals, such as the staff at the hotel you are staying at, to get a better understanding of the areas to avoid. It’s a good idea to steer clear of the “Devil’s Triangle” and Socorro neighborhoods.
- Keep your valuables secure at all times. Don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy jewelry (even if it’s not expensive jewelry), using smartphones, tablets, or expensive-looking cameras in plain view of others, or carrying large amounts of cash. Be conscious of the way you carry your possessions, too. For example, don’t walk around with your smartphone in your back pocket, or use a bag without a secure zip.
- Avoid unlit areas at night. Taking secluded alleyways and poorly-lit roads might help you get somewhere quicker, but they also provide perfect cover for thiefs and muggers. It’s likely that nothing will happen, but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?
- Never head out without sunscreen and water. The sun shines 307 days a year in El Paso, meaning that it can be unbearably hot during the summer months. Sun-induced illnesses, such as sun stroke, are among the biggest safety threats you’ll encounter here so always arm yourself in defence!
- If you’re driving, make sure that your gas tank is full at night-time. This will save you having to fill up your tank in an unfamiliar or sketchy area of town after dark.
- Trust your instincts. If something feels amiss or unsafe, don’t go along with it – get yourself out of the situation. Similarly, if someone claims to be an authority figure, ask them to confirm their identity through official documentation before going anywhere with them or handing anything over to them.
- Take extra care around alcohol. Try not to drink to excess, and don’t accept drinks from people that you don’t know. If you choose to accept a drink from someone you’ve just met, try to go with the person to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself.
If you’re planning on heading south and hopping the US-Mexico border, you may want to check out our safety guide to Juarez.