Back when I lived in a Mexican city called Pachuca, I remember taking the combi to get to a Soriana for some grocery shopping with a girlfriend named Brenda at the time.
While it’s been a while, I think the trip from my apartment to Walmart via combi was about 30 minutes more or less.
Once we got there, I bought the usual that I always do when I go to the supermarket:
- Some chicken
- Some beef
- Lots of pepperoni and/or sausage
- Cream and cheese
- A shit ton of black tea
- Maybe some tortillas
Nope, looks about right.
Maybe, if I’m feeling like it, I’ll throw some grapes in there but I only buy seedless grapes and they don’t always have seedless grapes unfortunately.
At any rate, I got my backpack that would be full of stuff.
And I’ll likely have to carry a few separate bags also.
If I calculated it badly, maybe I’ll have to buy an extra one for like 50 cents to a dollar at the supermarket to help me carry my groceries home.
Now how are we going to do this?
Well, being honest with you, I’d usually just take the combi back home.
The combis I’d find would usually stop by Plaza Juarez or close to it as I lived right to the side of this spot called Plaza Juarez in Pachuca.
So it’d typically then be me stepping into this combi with several bags of groceries and a backpack that is full.
At times, I’d see other people get on the combi who seemed to be in the same situation as me with carrying a ton of stuff.
However, on this particular day, Brenda said to me “why don’t we just take a taxi? We got a lot of stuff.”
Now, as I wrote in other articles like this one here, I typically don’t like talking taxis in Latin America.
Too many examples I’ve had in life of them trying to fuck me over and I hate how unclear their business is going to be.
Instead, I strongly prefer Uber because, as you know, it’s simple. Here’s a set price. No gringo pricing involved. Minimal bullshit. Pay and enter.
However, from what I remember, I don’t remember there being Uber in Pachuca.
I’m not saying there isn’t but I remember trying to use the app in Pachuca a few times and never being able to do it.
So, as we exit the Soriana, she recommends that we just get a Taxi.
And, in the moment, it sounded like a good idea. With all the shit we had, why not?
To my surprise anyhow, the taxi ride was only 40 pesos or roughly 2 bucks.
I thought the dude was going to hit me with like 10 or 15 bucks as I’d expect in Mexico City.
Since then, I graduated from being a poor American in to a lavish American who splurges on high end services like taxis in Mexico.
And, truth be told, I probably did look like a poor American in those combi rides carrying half the supermarket with me in various bags and a big backpack.
But I did fit right in!
As I said, there were no shortage of other people carrying everything and the house onto these little combi vehicles.
But, for those who don’t know, that’s a sign that the person in question might possibly be poor.
As I said, it’s a pain in the ass to carry so much shit onto public transportation and the taxi ride really was just 2 bucks.
Now, while using public transportation itself isn’t necessarily a sign of someone being poor, I’d argue carrying a huge amount of stuff onto it is a potential sign.
Like today when I walked into Metro Coyoacan and saw this dude trying to carry some huge object bigger than him past the metro cop.
She wouldn’t let him carry it onto the train because of how big it was.
Assumingly the dude couldn’t find some other form of transportation to take it home.
Perhaps it’d be a hit on his budget that he doesn’t want to bite?
So, outside of carrying an obscene amount of things onto public transportation, what other signs are out there that might indicate someone is from a poorer class in Latin America?
Keep in mind anyway that I’m just an outsider to Latin America. I’m not Latin American myself and this is all just from an outsider perspective from things I’ve noticed over the years.
And this list likely isn’t comprehensive as every Latin American country is different with its own habits commonly seen among poorer and richer folks.
But let’s get to it with some examples outside of public transportation that I’ve noticed as an outsider.
And, just to emphasize, these are only examples that I think are potential signs of someone being poor. I'm not saying there's much evidence to back this up outside of my own observations as a foreigner or what others have noticed.
Finally, given how long this article is, here's a Table of Contents to help those skip around the article if they wish.
So let's dive right in.
Lots of Coca Cola
At least in Mexico, one detail that I’ve noticed among poorer folks is a lot of drinking of coca cola.
It’s an argument you hear some make regarding why there is so much obesity in Mexico like you can see here.
Like fat people in the US going for fast food all the time.
While I’m not sure how much coca cola poor people drink vs. rich people, I can say that i’ve seen the occasional dude who looked poor buying a bunch of coca cola at your occasional OXXO from time to time.
Perhaps there’s some merit to the idea so I’ll just throw it out there.
When I live in a nicer area like Roma Norte for example, I don’t hear any random Mexican yelling out “OYE OYE!!!! ME ESCUCHAS!!! VEN!!! QUE HACES, PENDEJO?!?! YA HASTA LA PINCHE MADRE!!!!”
In contrast, I live for the time being in an area called Pedregal de Santo Domingo in Mexico City.
And I got a neighbor living next door who always has a bunch of noise to make every morning or afternoon.
It’s one of my minor complaints about where I live because they can be some loud motherfuckers from time to time.
When a Mexican like this does yell, there are 2 things to watch out for:
- Lots of unnecessary yelling for every little thing.
- They stretch out their words into infinity “OYEEEEEEEE, VEEEEEEEEEEN, QUE HACEEEEEEES WEEEEEEEEY”
There was something else to that I was going to mention but I forgot.
At any rate, if you’re in an area where you hear that more often, you might be in a poorer area (probably are).
It’s hard to describe how it sounds like exactly but I’ll leave it at that. There is a clear difference between where I live and say Roma Norte when it comes to this topic.
Names & Color
There are poor white Mexicans and rich brown Mexicans.
Same thing for other Latin countries.
Still what I’m going to say is a bit obvious so I won’t go too much into it but there is a correlation between how pale someone looks and their socioeconomic background generally.
On top of that, last names can give someone away regarding their class.
If someone has a more indigenous name, that’s a bad sign.
Though, when it comes to names, you also have folks, like I wrote about here, who come from poorer backgrounds and either their parents gave them non-Spanish European sounding names or they changed their names themselves.
Sometimes that can be a sign of someone being from a poorer class like if their name is “Anderson” or their last name is “Raleigh” while not having any foreign parent.
Of course, for those with foreign parents, it could be a sign that they come from a family of better socioeconomic status.
But, in my experience, it’s much more commonly the former than the latter.
More Trash than Normal
You'll notice trash everywhere in Latin America.
People generally seem to litter more down here than what I was used to before I began living here.
Having said that, areas that are poorer tend to have more trash laying around on the streets.
Just the other day, I went to a nearby park and there was just trash everywhere around the bench.
They normally have cleaning people around for that park but I guess not that day.
In nicer neighborhoods anyhow, you'll generally notice more signs discouraging littering and more locals who are concerned about it.
Even if most aren't and even if you'll still see trash, it won't be AS messy as what you'd see in poorer areas nor will you see as many piles of trash laying around.
Trips to the US & Europe
This is an odd one to talk about because I first started traveling around South America before ever getting to know Mexico.
In Mexico, having a relative or visiting the US isn’t really necessarily a sign that the family or individual is rich.
As we know, plenty of Mexicans have family members in the US (legal and illegal).
However, in almost the rest of Latin America, I’d say it’s a sign of “better means” so to speak.
The family who takes their vacations to Miami or NYC.
Or, for outside the US, maybe Toronto, Paris, etc.
For Mexicans, I’d say the standard is higher where the trip would have to be to Europe to show that they have more money. For them, at least when compared to South Americans, it’s not always the case.
This is another one where it depends on the country.
In certain countries like Mexico (due to immigrant history) and richer countries like Argentina or Chile, I wouldn’t say that knowing English to a significant degree is a sign of being comfortable.
And, when it comes to Mexico specifically (and I'd imagine it's similar to Puerto Rico), you got more people per capita who have been to the US looking for work and not necessarily taking a vacation to Miami or something.
Poorer folks who might, at least in the case of a country like Mexico or perhaps Guatemala or Honduras, get deported back home but learned English anyhow.
Regardless, generally speaking across Latin America, one thing I have noticed is that those with near fluency in English tend to come from better backgrounds (though, as I said, this is less applicable in a place like Mexico).
Still, going back to generalizations, if you meet a Latin American whose English is so close to that of native level, they likely went to a private school growing up at a very early age or have a foreign parent.
For example, as I wrote here, there was an Argentine chick named Tami that I met several times whose English was so good (without an accent) that you could’ve dropped her into the middle of Iowa and she’d pass for an Iowan.
Her dad was a very successful doctor.
I’ll leave it at that.
“Why is the Uncle There?”
This is again more relevant for Mexicans (and maybe certain other nationalities like Guatemalans or Hondurans perhaps).
But, in my experience, you might sometimes find yourself in a situation where you are meeting a new chick in Mexico and she mentions that she has family in the US.
If you inquire more about that, some have this very weird vibe of “why are you asking?” or a “hmmm hush hush, I don’t know. They just live there.”
Now, to be fair, maybe you’d say “well, they are insecure of the gringo idea that all Mexicans are illegal up there.”
But, in my experience dealing with Mexicans in Mexico, that’s not really a concern they ever express or is noticeable.
But I’ll give light to that consideration.
Either way, just in my opinion alone, but it often comes across as a “yes, my uncle is illegal up there and I don’t want to talk about it.”
Like some Mexican chick I met a year ago named Ana who had a family member working in construction in the US.
We had been seeing each other for a tiny bit and gotten to know each other briefly.
Asked her more about her family in the US out of curiosity.
The “hush hush” vibes were there.
She didn’t like answering about it.
She wasn’t rude about it but it felt like a sensitive topic for her.
And, when I think of a few other Mexicans like that, they also (like her) tend to come from more modest backgrounds.
So, just in my experience, if you find a Mexican who is “hush hush” about “the uncle up north,” it might be a sign that she comes from more modest means.
Not Very Green
There are some cities in Latin America that take greater pride in being more "green" in the sense of having a lot more trees.
The Paraguayan capital of Asuncion is one that comes to mine.
Mexico City also has numerous parks all over the city with some areas having more parks than others.
Still, despite all that, one thing I've noticed is that areas where poorer people live tend to not be as green.
Not as many trees or parks.
If I think about my time in Mexico City for example, that is very evident when I compare an area like Pedregal de Santo Domingo to Roma Norte.
Or if I think of other cities I've been to like Cochabamba in Bolivia.
When I lived there, I was staying in a nicer neighborhood of the city but a local NGO that I worked with was located in a shit area of the city up in the hills that didn't have much green.
Reminds me of this meme anyway that I saw not too long ago.
Another common sign is the work done in their homes obviously.
Does the shower not close properly for example?
A shower that shocks you?
Maybe the toilet is lacking a toilet seat?
Or can the toilet flush toilet paper? While that’s not a sign that they are poor, that is a sign that they are probably better off than normal if it can fluish (minus certain countries like Argentina where it’s more common to flush the toilet with toilet paper in my experience).
So on and so on.
It’s my experience anyway that poorer households tend to, for obvious reasons, have cheaper jobs done on things like toilets and whatever else in their homes.
What Type of Security System Do You Got?
As I wrote here, Latin Americans can sometimes get creative with their home security system.
If you're richer, you might afford something typical of what you'd see in the US or much more secure than what your average American back home has.
Maybe some system that alerts the police, a loud alarm or whatever else.
If you're poorer though, you have to get creative as I said.
For one, maybe you just leave the lights on during the night like where I live to give the impression that the house isn't abandoned.
And so, as I wrote here, you got Latin Americans who put sharp glass on the top of their walls for anyone who might try to climb over.
So on and so on.
Pronunciation of Words
As I wrote here, sometimes how folks pronounce words can be a sign also of their socioeconomic class.
This is more evident in how some Latin Americans pronounce the “x” differently.
Taxi and Sexo might become tatsi and setso.
Or other words get an unnecessary x thrown in like pizza becoming pixa.
On top of that, I’m inclined to believe that other ways of speaking are evident of this also but also give credit to the simple difference of accents at play.
For example, it’s well known that some parts of Latin America, like the Caribbean Coast of Colombia or the DR, tend to have folks who cut the “s” off certain words or shorten words in other ways.
Is that a sign of lower socioeconomic class or even intelligence?
I’ll be nice in saying that perhaps it’s mostly just an accent issue.
But, having said that, I will also say that Colombians or Dominicans that I met who don’t do that also tend to come from higher socioeconomic classes.
It’s not necessarily a sign that the person is of a lower socioeconomic class in my outside opinion but I do believe that those who don’t talk like that in those countries are more likely to come from a more comfortable background (not necessarily rich though).
That’s just my opinion anyway based on what I remember.
The Love for Princess Bags
Imagine you are a tough construction worker.
You got your tools and ready for a big day smashing nails and constructing shit and whatever else a construction worker does.
What should you carry your tools with though?
A tool box?
No. Fuck that shit.
How about, instead of that, you carry a little princess bag with you?
Well, according to this meme here, it’s the right idea in Brazil!
Funny enough – stuff like that does happen.
Full grown construction workers opting for the princess backpack as a cheaper way to carry their tools around.
Colorful Housing & Murals
It's been my observation that areas with colorful housing and/or lots of murals can be a sign that the area is poor and/or violent.
Take for example the colorful housing in the hills of Pachuca. I lived there and they looked nice but had a bad reputation.
Or take the dangerous area of Iztapalapa in Mexico City.
Outside of Mexico City, you also have the example of La Comuna 13 in the Colombian city of Medellin.
In Puerto Rico, you have La Perla as another example as you can read here.
"El mar, picado y violento, revienta con furia contra el barrio de La Perla. Aunque muchos dicen que es el barrio, con su fama de bravo y caliente, el que se estrella contra el mar aledaño y no al contrario.
Esta mañana, el barrio de casitas de colores que cuelga de las murallas del viejo San Juan de Puerto Rico duerme la resaca de la derrota: Miguel Cotto, uno de los más grandes boxeadores que ha dado la isla, perdió la noche anterior, por decisión unánime, frente al mexicano Saúl "Canelo" Álvarez"
"Por décadas, este barrio marginal de San Juan ha sido considerado uno de los más peligroso del Caribe."
Obviously, it's not the colorful houses or murals that make these areas dangerous and the paint work tends to be done, at least from my impression, to at least make the area more aesthetically pleasing despite the shit looking buildings and give more pride to the residents.
And, at least for Iztapalapa, I've heard part of the hope is to bring down crime.
On the flip side, you do hear about nice cities in Latin America like Valparaiso in Chile that has plenty of colorful houses.
I'm not at all familiar with that city so I'm not sure if the areas with the colorful houses is dangerous but I've heard it's not bad.
In short, while someone living in an area that has lots of murals or colorful houses is not necessarily a guarantee that they live in a dangerous neighborhood, my first impression would be that it just might be as that's been my experience.
Living on the Edge of the City
At least in Mexico City, this is a very obvious sign usually.
While you do got nicer communities on the edge of Mexico City like by Lomas de Sotelo, all the other corners are usually associated with poorer folks.
Like those who live by Indios Verdes, Pantitlan or CU area.
None of those areas (and I live in one of them now) have a good reputation.
They are all known for having more violence, crime and poverty.
In some cases, like with Santo Domingo near CU area, you got the history of this neighborhood being recently invented only some odd decades ago.
It's just something that happens in some Latin cities where lots of poor folks move to the edge of larger cities in search of work but can't afford to live deeper into the city.
So they commute quite a bit to work and live on the periphery of the city.
Living in the Hills
As I wrote here, living on higher ground in Latin America can sometimes be seen as a sign of being poorer also.
Where you got neighborhoods that are located higher up that are a bigger pain in the ass to get to.
In short, not as many people wish to live up there.
"El Alto" looking over La Paz for example.
Names of Certain Places
This is one of those things that probably is not applicable all across Latin America.
Still, there are certain names of places that, in my experience alone, usually tend to be places with a reputation for being either poorer and/or having more crime.
Specifically, anytime I have ever encountered a place (within Mexico City, Pachuca or elsewhere) that was named "Doctores" or "Raza," it was always poorer and/or supposedly had more crime.
So, if someone is living by an area named after that, it could MAYBE be a sign that they MIGHT be living in a worse area and not so rich.
Again, just to reiterate, Latin America is a huge region and, similar to the colorful houses example, this detail very likely not consistent across the region.
Just my observation only anyhow.
In Mexico City near Lindavista area one night, I remember walking near Basilica area seeing a young homeless man laying on the ground unconscious.
Assumingly he was asleep.
And a bus driver stopped in front of him waiting for traffic to go and he yelled at the dude something intelligible.
To the side of the dude anyway as a near empty bottle of Tonayan.
I guess he had a good night.
For those who don't know, Tonayan is a very cheap alcohol that costs like a dollar and a half for a liter.
Some say it makes you go blind.
I wrote an article on it here.
Am I blind?
Only to Love.
In all seriousness, it didn't make me blind but some say it can do that.
It doesn't have the best reputation but it's for those who want cheap shit.
Similar to how those who want cheap vodka go for Oso Negro for example like I used to.
Now I'm moving up in the world and going for Smirnoff.
At any rate, I'd say it's another potential sign.
Obviously common in other parts of the world also.
They Support the Hawkeyes
If you see someone down here wearing a sweatshirt or whatever piece of clothing that supports some random football team in the US, they MIGHT be poor.
This isn't always the case as you do got folks, especially in a country like Mexico, who have been to the US or have family there.
But you do got Latin American countries where you don't have as many locals on a per capita basis who have connections to the US.
Therefore, why would a random dude support the Hawkeyes in Nicaragua?
For example, as I wrote here, I remember seeing a homeless dude in Nicaragua wear clothing support the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Did he actually support the Hawkeyes or was that piece of clothing donated for poor people in Latin America like himself?
So, if I see someone wear a cheap piece of clothing that has support for something relatively obscure to a typical Latin American like the Hawkeyes, I'd consider that as a sign that they might be poor and had that donated.
And I emphasize the words "relatively obscure to a typical Latin American."
You got plenty across the region who wear clothing supporting rock bands like The Rolling Stones for example.
Obviously, The Rolling Stones is less obscure and has more of a real fan base than The Hawkeyes in Latin America.
So take that into consideration also.
Another obvious one that it doesn't need much explanation.
But when you see certain types of people -- Venezuelans in Colombia or Haitians in Mexico -- you tend to think they must be poor.
Not hating on them of course.
I'm sure you got plenty of rich Venezuelans or Haitians.
But where I live for example, if you see a black person then you think it must be a Haitian.
In my last few years in Mexico, I've seen a lot more black people than before and most (if not all) are one of the following: touristy black Americans, Haitians and Jamaicans.
One of those groups is richer than the other two.
In the same way that if a Costa Rican were to notice a Nicaraguan in Costa Rica or if a Peruvian notices a Venezuelan, either one might think that the other person is poorer.
As I said, not all are poorer but it comes with the idea. Many are and you get normalized to seeing poorer folks from those countries hanging around certain areas.
Another obvious one that doesn't need explanation and can be seen elsewhere.
There's this one chick who sells gorditas and quesadillas down the street of where I live in Santo Domingo of Mexico City.
She's a cute woman with more "indigenous ancestry" of Oaxaca.
And she also works 6 days a week from 11 AM to 11 PM every one of those days just standing around making food for anyone stopping by.
She's a nice woman too!
Around my age.
Not a super model but has a cute petite look to her.
Makes you want to, as the White Man, say to her "mi amor. No trabajes tanto. Te voy a ayudar."
Then she comes to live with you, no longer having to suffer from 12 hour working days and who will take care of your happy family while you give her "hijos blancos."
Wait. What was I talking about?
Anyway, back to the topic!
So, right, just like in the US or anywhere really, working long hour days might be a sign of poorer socioeconomic conditions.
In Autonomous Regions
If you REALLY want to talk about poor people in Latin America, look no further than those living in indigenous "autonomous regions."
My first trip ever to Latin America involved going to one as you can read here.
Folks who have very limited working opportunities in their community, very basic and shit public services to having none at all, cooking on wood for food, no roads or very shit roads anyhow, one room houses with the room being a living room, dining room, bedroom and kitchen all in one, doing subsistence farming, etc.
Oh, and as you can see here, maybe having nearby paramilitary groups displace your ass and/or kill your family and friends.
Belief in the Savior
This is another thing I've noticed.
Those who are poorer seem to, at least from my impression, be more susceptible to believing in the bullshit of some populist President like Chavez or Maduro.
Someone blaming all of the country's problems on "certain enemies" and promising everything under the sun to fix their problems.
Why do they do this?
While it's complicated and hard to summarize in 30 words (as I don't want to write an article within an article), some of my thoughts have been that:
1. Some have envy of those richer and want a President to fuck those richer over.
2. Poor education.
3. Who doesn't want government help when you are poor?
4. With class resentment against the richer who can often be guilty of being classist and snobby to the poor, who wouldn't want to punch back at them (and not just because of envy)?
Anyway, I'll leave it at that so we don't go too deep into that topic.
They Can't Afford Proper Parking
I'd say this MIGHT be another sign of someone being possibly poor.
As I wrote here, you got folks who place random objects on the side of the road as a way to "reserve" a parking space for them.
If you are caught trying to remove the object and especially park your car there, you might get confronted and/or have your car keyed.
In my experience, not EVERYONE who has an informal parking space is poor as I've seen this in numerous neighborhoods that were more "normal" or "middle class" or at least "lower middle class" looking.
But, in general, I have noticed a relationship between how poor an area is and how many "informal" parking spaces there are.
Having said that, if you can afford to have your own garage to park your car in, that's a good sign that you MIGHT not be too poor and, if you do have an informal parking space, I'd consider that as nothing more than a POTENTIAL sign that you might be poor or aren't living THAT comfortably.
Informal Job: "Se Vende, Se Vende Chocolate. 5 Pesooooos."
Next, you have those who work informally hustling and doing whatever to get by.
Like those in the metro selling chocolate, cheap headphones and whatever else as you can read about here.
Obviously, working an informal job isn't the strongest sign that someone has wealth.
Spanish is Their Second Language
Similar to the indigenous theme mentioned a few times before, another sign is when Spanish isn't their native language but they were born in Latin America.
That usually means, at least in my experience, that they are Haitian or were born in a rural indigenous community.
Also, like in the case of Mexico or maybe a few other countries like Guatemala, it could also mean that the dude was an illegal immigrant in the US who got deported.
While most illegal immigrants speak Spanish, you do got those who are illegal in the US and either don't speak Spanish at all (brought over at a young age) or they have some weird Spanglish way of speaking where they seemingly don't speak Spanish perfectly.
Not saying that the dude above is an illegal immigrant but his English/Spanish way of speaking is what I was referring to.
Though, as I wrote here, speaking Spanglish is not necessarily the strongest sign of someone's socioeconomic status but, in some cases, it could be in my opinion.
Either way, outside of some indigenous people and Haitians, this is another group that you might find that is relatively poorer and doesn't speak Spanish perfectly.
Finally, this factor isn't very true if we are speaking about locals in a few select Latin American countries like Brazil or Belize obviously.
Let's say you are taking a shower or sleeping and then you SUDDENLY hear gunshots out of nowhere.
Funny enough, that happened to me one time as I wrote about here.
If that happens, you might be living in a crappier area.
They Studied at Harvard University
They, in fact, did NOT study at Harvard University.
However, I have noticed a particular trend among SOME poorer Latin Americans who claim on their Facebook pages that they studied at Harvard University.
They never actually try to convince you that they studied there. It's never a point of conversation and, if you ask them in real life if they have gone to college, they'll usually say no or mention some random place I've never heard of.
Definitely not Harvard.
So, in short, I never notice them trying to pretend that they went to Harvard.
Only that, if I add a Latin American on Facebook and I see his page says that he went to Harvard, I'd see that as a sign that they might be poor.
Not saying that any non-poor Latin Americans do those or that most do this either.
Most poor Latin Americans don't do this.
It's only a trend though that I've noticed seemingly only poorer Latin Americans do on Facebook.
Here's an example of a random dude that I met at a gym and exchanged numbers.
Facebook recommended to me that I add him (I haven't yet) perhaps because I have him in my Whatsapp.
He's a cool dude. Lives in a poor part of town. Definitely did not go to Harvard.
"Soy una Princesa y las Princesas No Trabajamos"
Speaking of Facebook, this is another thing I notice among poorer (and, in a way, richer) Latin American women.
The first time I noticed it is when I was fucking this Bolivian chick named Lizeth years ago as you can read about her here.
Where her Facebook had the words "soy una princesa y las princesas no trabajamos" in the bio description.
In short, you'll notice poorer Latin American women who live in "the barrio" or just some shit neighborhood really are more likely to have this entitled princess attitude of "a man needs to take care of me."
And, as I said before, you got richer, whiter hot Latina women from solid socioeconomic backgrounds who carry themselves the same way also.
Obviously, not all Latin American women of poor and rich background are like this.
But it's not uncommon anyway for poorer ones to "play" various men to try and get a lot of free shit and/or carry this "I'm a princess" mentality.
The funny thing though is that the poorer Latin American women who are like this are either VERY demanding or drop the entitlement attitude very quickly when meeting you.
As we'll cover next, you got those who play men on Latin Cupid sites asking for hundreds of dollars.
In fact, one chick I was fucking in the Dominican Republic was threatening me with violence over the phone when she realized I wasn't going to give her cash as you can read here.
But, in my experience, a lot of the poorer Latin American women who are like this are usually never asking for hundreds unless you are an 50 year old sugar daddy type.
If you are her age and she likes you enough, I find that they almost always drop the "princess" mentality and be cool just fucking without demanding anything.
If not though (and especially if you are an old foreigner), expect her to be demanding shit.
Especially if she is Dominican.
Who seem to have one of the strongest "princess" mentalities I have ever seen in Latin America.
Farruko - Chapi Chapi ft. Messiah [Official Music Video]
Regardless though of if she drops the "princess" mentality for you or not (or comes back a week later threatening violence if you don't send cash), let's go back to the main point.
If I see a Latin American woman who puts something in her social media about "being a princess" and she isn't a stereotypical white Latina that looks like she has family money, I'm going to assume she is poor as shit.
The Big Tits Asking for Cash on Cupid
This is more for you love birds out there looking for a nice woman in Latin America
Initially, I was going to type up something like "women on Latin Cupid sites are poor" because, in my experience, almost all of them are.
Almost every single woman I ever fucked from one of those Latin Cupid sites was poor as shit.
So, to begin, I'd ALMOST consider it a sign that she is poor if she is on there.
But I don't want to go that far because maybe that's just my experience alone?
Regardless, if you are on those Latin Cupid websites and a woman is asking for money, that's either a broke ass dude asking for money or it's legit a chick who is poor (and quite likely has 3 kids from 2 different dudes).
For those curious on these women and the dudes scamming other dudes on those websites, check out this article here that I wrote.
PS: A lot of the people scamming on those websites also tend to be from Cuba.
Tough Man Act
Next, you'll notice that -- at least for young men in poor areas -- they tend to put on a "tough man" act.
In fact, you could probably say the same thing about poorer folks in urban areas of other parts of the world.
And I emphasize "urban areas."
You don't really get this type of act like those in the Barrio Bravo of CDMX when you go to more rural areas of Chiapas for example.
Not saying everyone who is poor is dumb.
But, just in my experience, I find those living in poorer areas of places like Mexico City or Barranquilla to come across like they have lower IQs than those living in nicer areas of those same cities.
Of course, you got dumb people in richer areas and you got smart people in poorer areas.
It's just a trend that I've noticed anyhow.
The poorer the area, the dumber that the average person will come across as.
Having said that, I do find people in poorer areas to be more enjoyable because they tend to not be as classist, arrogant or insistent on "practicing English."
This is not necessarily a sign that someone is poor.
But, in my experience, the Latin Americans who come across as the most insecure about comparisons between their region and more developed countries like the US tend to be richer Latin Americans or poorer Latin Americans.
The richer Latin Americans who mostly hang out with other gringos, join gringo expat groups, constantly want to "practice English," have taken nice trips abroad, etc.
These types tend to be either self-hating and piss all over Latin America or they tend to get insecure at foreigners saying anything critical about the region and use the chance to act snobby and condescending to said foreigner.
OR it might likely be a poorer Latin American who isn't going to be snobby or condescending but has a habit of easily interpreting statements you make as critiques of their country.
You could say something that is absolutely NOT critical whatsoever and they STILL take it up the ass.
For example, I remember talking with this one Mexican lady about the term "te helado."
She was insistent that NOBODY uses that term (which is objectively false but also a sign of how Latin Americans from different regions use different terms and might be unaware of how others speak).
Anyway, I disagreed with her politely and said "I've heard it used."
Which I have.
And she squints her eyes, seemingly quite irritated and, if I could paraphrase, said something like "well, maybe they don't say that term in my small, poor town" and then walked away.
What the fuck?
Similarly, I remember checking out an apartment in Mexico City and wanted to check for bed bugs.
Simply asked the dude "can I check the bed?"
"Sure, sure, but why?" he asked.
And I tried to be polite about it and didn't imply that he had bed bugs. Just wanted to check because I had a bad experience before in another part of Mexico City.
To which he replies -- seemingly half-offended -- that "well, they got bed bugs in America too."
Sure they do!
And, if I was looking for an apartment in America, I'd be checking for bed bugs also!
After you have bed bugs once, you never feel like moving into a new place without checking first ever again.
Anyway, I didn't say nor imply that only Mexico has bed bugs.
To anyone with an IQ above 50, it should be obvious why I would want to check regardless of my past experience or not.
It's just a simple check.
So, to wrap it up, we all have insecurities and even those in the middle class have them also.
But, if I come across a Latin American who is REALLY insecure about his country beyond what is normal, I'd consider that a sign that he MIGHT be either a more comfortable Latin American or a poor one.
Because, as I said, it's been my experience ONLY that those in either of those socioeconomic groups tend to take their insecurities up the ass much more than anyone else.
The Love for Reggaeton
As I wrote here, it's not uncommon for people to think that only "nacos" or "fresas" like reggaeton in Mexico.
Meaning either a low-class, unsophisicated person of usually poorer socioeconomic background (naco) or those of higher socioeconomic background (fresa).
Is it true?
Do only poorer or richer folks like reggaeton?
Honestly, I think it's bullshit to say that in part because I have seen plenty of people of all socioeconomic backgrounds enjoy reggaeton.
I feel it's a thing for some folks -- maybe those more in the middle class perhaps -- who feel a greater need to look down on reggaeton to show that "they aren't like that" when those in the poorer or richer classes don't always feel a need to put on a show to demonstrate how "they are above reggaeton."
That's just my opinion anyway.
To summarize, while I think plenty of people of any socioeconomic background like reggaeton, I think someone who is more openly into reggaeton can be a sign of being either poorer or richer.
And, as I wrote here, those in poorer classes tend to be more open about liking older reggaeton music that can sometimes be "more direct" sexually with its language (outside of a few hits that more people openly enjoy like Gasolina or Baila Morena).
I generally find poorer Latin Americans to take religion more seriously than other groups.
Which can be a bit funny to hear because their behavior with casual sex and listening to music about casual sex (reggaeton) isn't the most religious type of music one could hope for.
Reminds me of this random meme I saw recently on Twitter a few days ago.
Also, there's a funny video that came out of Mexico City not too long ago where this religious foreigner came to Tepito (a poorer area of the city) to preach against Santa Muerte and gets run out of town.
Having a Lot of Kids
This is an obvious one that you see anywhere else in the world.
Poor people having more kids than they can afford.
Doesn't need much explanation but here's an interesting video of some woman in the Spanish speaking world who has 10 kids.
Marrying a Foreigner for Cash
Back home, you got plenty of folks who think that every Latin American woman who marries a gringo is just some poor chick looking for a green card out of poverty.
Honestly, I think it's bullshit. Even though you got those who are like that, most Latin Americans aren't.
Still, if you are living in a poorer situation, you might find it to not be the worst idea in the world (especially if you are a single mother).
But you also have poorer Latin Americans marrying OTHER Latin Americans or foreigners from other regions for cash so that those from other countries can get longer term access to their country.
It's a topic I wrote about here.
One such example would be poorer Cubans giving cash to Mexicans for marriage into the country.
Or, as you can see here or in the video below, Chinese folks (who are not necessarily poor) givng cash to Costa Ricans in need of cash for marriage.
In short, if you are trying to "marry" your way into a richer country or are accepting cash for a stranger to marry you to have a green card into your Latin country, you might be poor.
Putting Your Kids to Work
As I wrote here, you got parents who put their kids to work or they rent our kids (or babies) to use as tools to get sympathy points and more money from people willing to help out in the street.
In short, if you're using your kids to somehow beg for money in the street or sell small items like chocolate, you probably aren't living in Polanco.
On that note also, seeing old people who should be retired begging also is equally sad.
Replacing the Shampoo with Water
A few days ago, I went to the bathroom to take a piss and saw a neighbor using the bathroom with the door open.
He was filling this shampoo bottle with a little bit of water.
So it lasts a little longer!
He obviously didn’t fill the whole thing with water but just enough to make it work a little longer.
Funny enough, I used to do this also back when I lived by Cuatro Caminos.
300 Payments for the TV
Similar to other countries like the US, you got those who are too poor to buy something like a TV or a nice phone and go into debt where they got to pay like 300 payments for the latest big TV or phone that they just bought.
Lunch Served in a Dish Soap Container
In doing research online for other signs of a poor socioeconomic background that I missed, I found this funny bit here.
In the tweet you can see above and in the photo below that is from that tweet, you got a dude putting his lunch in a dish soap container.
Not rich enough for a proper place to put his food?
Hey, it works!
Did the person get remittances from abroad?
It doesn't mean necessarily they are poor but, over the years here, I'd say it's a possible sign that they might be.
As I hinted at before, having gone to a private school growing up is usually a positive sign that the background of the person wasn’t too poor.
While some private schools cost less than others, not everyone can afford them and they usually are better than the public options.
From what I’ve heard anyway from other expats older than me, it does seem like there is a big desire to keep your expat kids out of the public schools.
I’ve never heard a good thing about them.
Though, having said all of that, I do think there is a difference between schools and colleges on this matter.
In some Latin countries like Mexico or Argentina, some public universities are actually fairly decent compared to other domestic options (like UNAM in Mexico or la UBA in Buenos Aires).
So, at least from my impression, it seems that going to a private university in Latin America is not necessarily always highly desirable depending on the public university they go to but going to a private school growing up is usually seen as desirable compared to public schools growing up.
There was a funny article I read a long while ago regarding going to the bank in the US in which the author, having spent over a decade in Peru and Colombia, found the attire of the other customers to be pretty informal in the US.
You can read the article here.
Having been raised in a small town in the Midwest, I would say this is a noticeable difference to some degree between Latin America and the US.
I don’t want to make it seem though like everyone going into the bank in Mexico City is showing up like they are about to have a formal meeting with the President and you do got plenty of folks who do go in looking more “informal” to some degree.
But, compared to my time in the US, I would say that you do seem to have more folks in Latin America who take their attire more seriously for going to the bank than folks back in small town US.
And I emphasize that again -- most folks at least in Mexico City aren't "that" formal in my opinion but more formal than what I'm used to also from back home.
At least down here anyhow – and it’s not just with banks but with other institutions – if you see someone walking in with boots and more informal attire in a place where other locals would dress up a little more seriously, then that might be a sign that they are from a poorer socioeconomic class possibly.
After looking for signs of poorer socioeconomic class in other Latin countries, this is apparently one that I have seen come across.
For countries like Bolivia apparently, eating coca is supposedly a sign of poorer socioeconomic class.
That does seem odd to me though because, when I went to Bolivia, it was suggested to have coca leaves to help with the altitude.
I guess if you’re a farmer or something up in the hills, you might need it more and how many small farmers make big bank?
It's something I came across anyhow after doing some minor research on signs in other countries and asking some old friends from Bolivia.
So I'll take their word on it.
Skipping on the Combi Fee
Another obvious sign would be not paying what you owe on a combi or some other form of public transportation.
Personally, I’ve seen this happen in places like Pachuca where I more often took combis whenever you had someone get on, enjoy the ride and leave without paying.
During one moment, some skinny young man seemingly in his 20s did this outside of a Walmart stop where I was getting off to buy groceries and the driver yelled at the dude.
At first, I thought he was yelling at me as I got off at the same time but realized quickly that his anger was directed at the other dude.
Anyway, if you can’t afford a 45 cent fee to ride the combi, you might be struggling to pay rent also.
The Public Hospital
Given I’ve never been inside a hospital before in Latin America, I can’t say if this is a positive sign of someone being poorer or not.
However, from what I’ve heard over time and time again, apparently public hospitals suck dick and those with more money go for the private ones.
I learned that again as I wrote my city guide to Pachuca that you can read here and had to ask some folks I knew which hospitals they would recommend.
Nobody recommended the public options.
“If you want to die, maybe” was one thing said to me.
So, I suppose if you don’t have money to avoid dying in a public hospital, that might be a bad sign regarding your financial status.
In doing some more research and asking a few local folks I know for this article, supposedly having a motorcycle is a bad sign of your socioeconomic class.
Personally, I don’t get this one.
Why is a motorcycle bad?
As an American, we don’t associate motorcycles with poorer socioeconomic background.
Plenty of normal folks who aren’t poor have them up north!
Still, now that I think about it at least here in Mexico City, I have seen more motorcycles (cheap ones anyway) in poorer areas like Pedregal de Santo Domingo than I ever saw in Roma Norte or Condesa.
So, while I can’t stand strongly behind this idea, I’ll just throw it out there because it’s something I’ve heard said or written about by locals.
From time to time, we learn something new and maybe there’s something here that I’m not getting but it might have some validity to it. You be the judge.
An Example of Making Broke Shit Last Longer: Nail Slippers
Here’s a funny example I just saw online.
As we know, every country in the world has poorer folks who do the best they can to make things they own work for as long as possible.
Fixing them whenever needed.
As you can see in this article here, you got folks fixing broken slippers in Brazil by, from what I can understand with my piss poor Portuguese and Google translate, putting a nail into their broken slippers and using a lighter to put it all together.
So, when you got a broken slipper, I guess just put a nail into the bottom of it and use a lighter to make the nail work with it?
You can check out that article (if you speak Portuguese or wish to use Google translate).
Arroz Blanco con Huevo Frito
While I'm sure there are non-poor people who eat "arroz blanco con huevo frito," it's a type of meal that I've often heard associated with poor people.
Reminds me of the lyrics to this song here actually.
"Empezamos desde abajo y estamos aquí (estamos aquí)
empezamos desde abajo y estamos todo el mundo aquí, si.
Me canse de comer arroz blanco con huevo frito
y ahora desayuno revoltillo de langostinos
el dinero es el tiempo, el tiempo es el dinero
entiende, no pierdo mi tiempo en lo que no vale"
DJ Luian - Estamos Aqui ft. Arcangel Y De La Ghetto [Official Video]
Dumpster Diving for Food
When I lived by Lindavista, I remember going to a Little Ceasers every so often and seeing homeless folks dive into the dumpster for food late at night.
Obviously sign of poverty in this case so no need to elaborate there.
Hustle Ideas: Cardboard for Cash
In Latin America, you see homeless or poor folks hustle for cash in different ways.
Like those who wave dirty towels at vehicles trying to park.
Or how you got homeless folks collecting cardboard from the dumpster to sell later for cash.
Phone Issues: "No, You Call Me!"
There's a certain habit that I remember being common in Colombia & Bolivia among some women I met down there years ago.
Not sure how common they do this now but it was not entirely uncommon for a woman in those countries, especially if they were poor, to call you and hang up right away before you could answer.
Truth be told, the only women who EVER did that were those who used burner phones running on minutes, lived in shit neighborhoods and, for whatever reason, didn't have Whatsapp.
From my outsider understanding, they simply didn't want to waste minutes and wanted to send you a signal that they want to talk but want YOU to call them instead.
Nowadays, that doesn't happen and it hasn't happened to me in years.
It was only during my first initial year or two in Latin America where I noticed this behavior among only SOME poorer women who, for whatever reason, didn't have Whatsapp.
Still, if she at least her a burner phone and runs on minutes without any specific phone plan, I'd assume she's likely poor.
Just don't expect her to do the "call you, hang up, wait for your call."
Maybe a few women out there still do that (anyone who is that resistant to Whatsapp or Telegram and poor) but, like I said, I just haven't noticed this behavior in years.
Times have changed.
Another obvious sign is seeing areas with incomplete looking houses.
The houses don't have proper windows or even doors really.
Perhaps bricks with all the plaster.
Maybe sheet plaque roofs.
So on and so on.
And, even if they do have doors or proper roofs, they still might look like shit as you can see here in a photo I took (nice mural though).
In Latin America, it's not entirely uncommon to see or hear stories of poor folks "invading land" so that they have somewhere to live.
In Mexico, an obvious example would be the Zapatistas who took land in 1994.
In Brazil, you got the Landless Workers Movement who have done the same.
In Mexico City in the neighborhood where I live now in Santo Domingo, it's history started with poor people "invading" land to make some space for their families to live as I wrote here.
And, at least in the cases of Santo Domingo and the Landless Workers Movement, you got politicians looking for votes supporting these folks also.
So, when you hear about an area where people "invaded" the land, you can be sure that probably those folks were poor.
Unless we are talking about the Spaniards or the US taking California.
Saving The Free Items
This is another obvious one that you’d see in other countries outside of Latin America also.
The idea being that you got those who go to fast food places for example and save up on the free items like the extra ketchup, the free refills, etc.
For those who’ve been to Latin America, you might’ve made a confused face on that one.
I know, I know…
Most places down here don’t offer free refills like back home.
Still, when I was a little bit poorer years ago living down here, I knew where to get free refills.
Mostly in American chains like Burger King, Chilis, etc.
At least in Mexico anyway, getting a free refill for the walk home at Burger King was always nice.
And you got those who exploit other free offerings like those who fill their pockets with packets of ketchup before heading home.
Maybe a sign of someone who is a little short on change these days.
Let's end it on a positive note before we wrap this up.
This isn't a sign necessarily that someone is poor but just wanted to end on something positive.
That being that, in my experience, it's much easier to vibe well with those from "more modest" means in Latin America.
There are exceptions of course.
Like the xenophobic guy from a small town in Latin America who distrusts foreigners (especially of a different race) or the religious snob who judges anyone on religious reasons.
Still, outside of that, I just vibe the best with folks of more modest means.
A lot less arrogance, more curiosity about me, more humble, not as likely to "practice English" with me, not treating me like a token gringo friend, not usually some limp dick pussy who can't handle normal confrontation and isn't passive aggressive, etc.
All around, if I'm vibing well with someone down here, does it mean that they are of more modest means?
Is that a sign in of itself?
Eh, I won't go that far.
But those I have vibed the best with were ALMOST always of more modest means.
I'll leave it at that positive note anyway.
Anything to Add?
If there was anything I misunderstood about certain signs, drop a comment below. Would love to hear anything to clarify doubts I’ve had.
After all, I wasn’t born in Latin America and, while I do have some odd years living here, there’s obviously a lot I don’t understand still with only a few countries of Latin America being where I’ve spent most of my time.
On that note, one could claim that this article "leans towards an experience in Mexico" but I did try to do some research or think about my time in other countries to c0ntribute a little bit about some signs you'd see elsewhere in Latin America beyond Mexico.
And if you got any stories or signs that you’d like to contribute yourself to this list, drop a comment below and I’ll gladly read it.
But, between what I’ve seen and what I’ve researched online, these are some common signs that seem to be out there.
Some of which are things you’d see in other countries like the US also to be fair as habits of poorer folks do sometimes cross borders.
Though, on that note, while we have our similarities, I think poverty and inequality are more in your face down here than up there in my experience.
But that’s all I got to say.
This is the next article here to "potential signs" of a more comfortable person in Latin America.
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And thanks for reading.