Benefit or threat? Mexico City grapples with influx of US remote workers According to Reuters

© Reuters. People work at the Don Porfirio cafe in front of the Bellas Artes Palace in downtown Mexico City, Mexico, September 9, 2022. REUTERS / Raquel Cunha

By Alberto Fajardo, Roberto Ramirez and Josue Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – In a trendy part of Mexico City, in a park surrounded by trendy cafes and restaurants, a figure dressed in white is praying like a man with his hands folded in prayer. Catholic statue: the so-called patron saint against evolution.

Sandra Valenzuela, a Mexican activist, created the statue to rally neighbors against what she sees as a growing threat to her community and others in the capital. Mexico.

A wave of international visitors, mostly from the United States, has flocked to Mexico City’s cafes, parks and AirBnbs as they work without being forced from daily commute routes by the COVID pandemic. -19.

Nearly two million foreigners stopped at Mexico City International Airport in the first half of 2022, inching up to a record 2.5 million in the first half of 2019. Meanwhile, short-term rental demand on Mexico City as a whole increased by 44% over the same period. according to AirDNA, a market research firm that analyzes online rental listings.

Marko Ayling, a writer and content creator living in Mexico City, took a stroll through the coveted Condesa district, where “Rental” ads alternate with signs for chic cafes and tree restaurant.

“There are obviously a lot of advantages if you can earn in dollars and spend in pesos,” said Ayling, a native of San Diego, California. “You’re essentially tripling your income.”

However, housing activists and some researchers argue that the wave of digital nomads exacerbated inflation and turned neighborhoods into exclusive expat bubbles, in a single city. famous for its sharp divide between the rich and the poor.


Residents in posh neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma complain that long-time residents are being pushed out as landlords increasingly choose to rent their homes through short-term rental platforms like AirBnb, where they have can earn 25,000 Mexican pesos ($1,261) a month, Rafael said. Guarneros, president of a Condesa neighborhood association.

The gap between American and Mexican wages means that even wealthy Mexicans can pay the price, in a city that already has a wide disparity between rich and poor. According to Mexico’s statistics agency, the top 10% of households in Mexico City earn 13 times more than the bottom 10% of households in 2020.

AirDNA data shows that the average daily price for short-term rentals across Mexico City increased 27% to $93 in August 2022. The Mexican government stopped publishing average rents in 2018, but one Research by real estate website Lamudi shows Mexico City rents fell slightly from December 2020 to December 2021. However, there has been little research on the subject since the COVID-19 wave. cause remote work.

One August afternoon, Juan Coronado slipped into a thatched restaurant stall before opening his laptop to get work done during dinner.

Coronado, an architect and interior designer who lives between Los Angeles and Mexico City, said he understands locals are upset.

“I don’t live for free, I help the economy,” he said. “But for them… my presence here doesn’t help the rents go up.”

While Mexico City landlords can only increase rents by up to 10% per year by law, these rules are rarely enforced. The short-term rental market has no such restriction.


In addition to rising prices, residents say the less obvious changes make their neighborhoods feel more expats-friendly than locals.

“There’s no way people can sleep in peace,” said Quetzal Castro, a resident of Condesa.

David Wachsmuth, a McGill University professor who studies remote travel, says digital nomads – people who travel while working remotely – impact the local economy different from traditional tourists.

They are more likely to settle in residential areas, they spend at local businesses, but also create demand for services that offer little benefit to long-term residents, Wachsmuth said. Grocery stores turned into restaurants.”

While digital nomads enjoy a lifestyle out of reach for most Mexico City workers, who earn an average of 53 Mexican pesos ($2.67) per hour, Ayling from San Diego only out the love of foreigners for the capital city.

“It’s not just ignorance, violence and poverty,” Ayling said. “There are good sides to this country and they’re celebrating that too.”

(1 dollar = 19,8210 Mexican pesos)

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