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Mexico Is NOT a 3rd World Country!

Many foreigners who have never set foot here assume that Mexico is a 3rd world country.

And you really can’t blame them…

If you follow pop culture or watch any Hollywood movie from before the early 2000s, you’d assume Mexico is nothing but dirt road pueblos and a poor economy. In fact, Hollywood has even admitted to putting a sepia filter in post-production when a movie takes place somewhere in Mexico. This is to give the audience the idea that it’s old, deserted, and distant. Like something you’d see in a western movie.

But nothing could be further from the truth!

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that Mexico isn’t the perfectly manicured country we are used to seeing north of the border. Sometimes, you’ll see a perfect mansion next to an unfinished property in a major city. Some areas in Mexico are faced with the extremes of poverty. However, to assume that Mexico is a technology-less, old, and 3rd world country is inaccurate. Mexico actually has the 15th highest GDP in the world

What Is The Definition Of 3rd World?

The term “Third World” was invented during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO or the Warsaw Pact.

It has nothing to do with economic development, mortality rates, and all the other things that people thing a third world country is. So although technically Mexico is by definition a 3rd world country, it is most certainly non of those other things.

Mexico has a thriving economy, an incredibly developed infrastructure, and low infant mortality rates compared to most of the world.

Let me explain why Mexico isn’t what most people think a 3rd world country is.

Mexico’s Modern Infrastructure

Mexico isn’t this wild west territory that you see in movies. Most cities, even the small ones, are modern with great developed infrastructure. In fact, most of Mexico is modern enough that living here won’t make you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time.

International and National Airports

For example, the airports in Mexico are modern. And this isn’t limited to only international airports. Although the more traffic an airport has in Mexico, the more likely you’ll see many amenities in it. But most airports have access to waiting areas at their gates. They have cafes, gift shops, air conditioning, and plenty of other things we’re used to seeing in more developed countries.

tuxtla gutierrez regional airport

Mexico’s Modern Hospitals

Many hospitals in Mexico have up-to-date equipment. Their operating rooms look like any other operating room in most western countries.

I’ve had surgery on both of my eyelids in Mexico, and I had a private room with a flat-screen TV, a very comfortable bed, and a nice view of a beautiful courtyard. I never felt like I was in some undeveloped country. Although I am fluent in Spanish, my doctor did speak English. She spoke plenty with my husband (who speaks zero Spanish) while they waited for me to wake up.

Some of the top hospitals in Mexico are often compared to the top hospitals in Europe when it comes to infrastructure and equipment. In fact, a lot of doctors in Mexico have done most, if not all of their studies, in the U.S. or Europe.

And if you’re thinking about getting dental work in Mexico, you can find some pretty modern dentist’s offices too! Recently, I got my teeth whitened and was very impressed with my dentist’s equipment. Considering that she charged me about 1/10th of the price I would’ve paid in Dallas. And not only did she open her clinic for me on a Saturday night, she also made sure to follow up personally the next day to make sure I didn’t have any pain!

Dentist in San Miguel de Allende

Mexico Has Modern Malls

If you walk into a mall in Mexico, you’d think you’re in any major city of the U.S. or Canada. You’ll see high-end stores like Massimo Dutti, Gucci, Coach, and the like in bigger cities. And in most city malls, you’ll find retailers like GAP, Guess, H&M, Dairy Queen, Petco, Costco, and some of the most common chains you’re used to seeing in the U.S. or Canada.

a mall in chiapas

In my opinion, some of the malls in Mexico are nicer and feel way more luxurious than anything I’ve seen in Texas. For me, it’s a treat to visit these places because not only can you shop until you drop, but they are incredibly aesthetically pleasing.

liverpool in Tuxtla Gutierrez Chiapas

Modern Entertainment In Mexico

You might be worried that moving to Mexico means you might not have access to any entertainment like you’re used to back home.

But if you’re seriously considering moving to Mexico, I want to give you some peace of mind. Some of the best and most comfortable movie theaters have ever been to are in Mexico. And what I love the most about going to a movie theater in Mexico is that it doesn’t break my bank and I get to eat popcorn, have a drink, watch a movie, and still pay a quarter of what it would cost in the U.S. And if you are retired, you get an even bigger discount on your movie tickets in Mexico.

cinepolis in Puebla

Now, Mexico is a large country. And things like museums, theaters, and concert venues might not be as common in your city, especially if you’re considering moving to a place like Ajijic or an even smaller town in Mexico. However, there is always a larger city nearby with plays, concerts, events, and exhibitions. In Mexico, you’re never too far away from a large city. Ajijic, for example, is only 30 minutes away from Guadalajara. Mexico’s 2nd largest city.

Grocery Shopping in Mexico

Grocery shopping in Mexico is no different than grocery shopping in most any developed country. Grocery stores in Mexico have produce displayed on good merchandising racks. Their vegetables and fruits are fresh. Most grocery stores have a great selection of fine foods like imported cheeses, wines, and snacks.

sams club in san cristobal de las casas

Sure, you can shop at the open air mercados that you see on T.V. and other media, but modern grocery stores are available and have plenty of fresh and varied food.

plenty of name brand dog food in mexico’s grocery stores

Mexico’s Restaurants and Nightlife

mexico isn’t only taco stands. You can find fine dining in every city

And if you’re into fine dining, Mexico has amazing restaurants in every major city. Depending on your budget, tastes, and location, Dining is one of the funnest things you can do when you’re in Mexico. Dining out in Mexico is very common, and depending on the city, restaurants are oftentimes placed near pedestrian-friendly areas to attract foot traffic or take a stroll after dinner.

a typical monday night in San cristobal de las casas

Every city in Mexico has its nightlife, and the night is when most cities come alive! One of my favorite things about Mexico is that the nightlife isn’t reserved only to young people. Walk into most bars in Mexico, and you’ll see people of all ages.

So, What Is Living in Mexico Like?

Living in Mexico is unique. On one hand, the country is filled with colonial and old history in every corner. Go to any colonial city like San Miguel de Allende, Merida, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Guanajuato, etc and you’ll see why it’s enchanting. On the other hand, these cities always have a newer part of town that tends to have all the modern conveniences you’d expect in any big city.

It truly is the best of both worlds! I encourage you to visit my land, and see for yourself that Mexico is NOT a 3rd world country.

And if you’d like to learn more about living in Mexico, I’ve written the “Ultimate Living in Mexico Guide for Expats” 2021 edition. IT’S 100% FREE

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

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