Angle: Mexico City suffers from a flood of American home workers and soaring rents | Reuters

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A white-clad and praying Catholic statue stands in a corner of a park surrounded by some of Mexico City’s trendiest cafes and restaurants. It is said that he is a patron saint who resists gentrification (the gentrification of the area due to the influx of high-income people).

On September 13, a large number of visitors from all over the world are pouring into the city’s cafes, parks and private lodging facilities. Pictured are people working on their laptops at a coffee shop in Mexico City. (Reuters/Raquel Cunha)

Created by Mexican activist Sandra Valenzuela. He said he believed Mexico City was a growing threat to his community and the rest of the world, and built the statue to unite his neighbors against it.

The city’s cafes, parks, and private lodging facilities are flooded with visitors from all over the world. Most of them are Americans, remote workers who have been freed from their daily commute due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 2 million foreigners arrived at Mexico City International Airport in the first half of 2022. This is close to the 2.5 million recorded in the first half of 2019. Demand for short-term rentals in Mexico City increased 44% during this period, according to market research firm AirDNA, which analyzes online rental listings.

Writer and content creator Marco Ayling, who lives in Mexico City, walks through the popular Condesa district. The area is lined with ‘property for rent’ signs alternating with swanky cafés and vegetarian restaurants.

Eyring is from San Diego, California. “If you can earn in dollars and spend in pesos, it is certainly very advantageous,” he said. “It’s effectively tripled my income.”

But housing activists and some researchers believe that in Mexico City, which is known for its stark disparity between rich and poor, the influx of “digital nomads” has accelerated inflation and led to several districts opening up to foreigners. He points out that it is transforming into a high-end “bubble.”

Rafael Garneros, president of the Condesa neighborhood, said there was dissatisfaction among residents in upscale neighborhoods such as Condesa and Roma. Homeowners are increasingly looking to earn 25,000 Mexican pesos ($1,500) a month by renting out their properties through short-term rental brokerage sites like Airbnb, displacing long-time residents. Body.

In 2020, Mexico City’s top 10% of households earned more than 13 times more income than the bottom 10%, according to the Mexican Statistics Authority. But the income gap between the U.S. and Mexico is so large that even wealthy residents of Mexico City could find themselves unable to pay their rent.

In August 2022, the average price for a short-term rental in Mexico City was $93 a day, up 27% from August 2019, according to data from AirDNA. Although the Mexican government stopped publishing average rents in 2018, rents in Mexico City declined slightly in the year from December 2020 to December 2021, according to a study conducted by property site Ramdi. did.

However, there has been little research on average rents since remote work has increased dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One afternoon in August, Juan Coronado slips into a booth in a tree-lined restaurant, opens his laptop, and prepares to eat and get some work done.

Coronado, an architect and interior designer who splits his time between Los Angeles and Mexico City, said he understands the outrage of locals.

“I’m not riding for free. I’m contributing to the local economy,” said Coronado. “For the locals, though. The fact that I’m working here doesn’t change the fact that rents are going up.”

In Mexico City, a law allows homeowners to raise rents by only 10 percent a year. But crackdowns are rare and the short-term rental market is out of the question.

Residents have pointed out not only the rise in rents, but also the subtle changes in the area, such as foreigners becoming more welcoming than locals.

“I can’t even get a good night’s sleep,” said Quetzal Castro, a Condesa resident. Condesa has become a hub of thriving nightlife, and friends say they have left the city.

“Digital nomads” are described as people who work remotely while on the move. These people have a different impact on the local economy than traditional travelers, says David Waxmus, a professor at Canada’s McGill University who studies gentrification.

“Digital nomads” are more likely to settle in residential neighborhoods, spending money on local businesses, Waxmus said. But it also creates demand for services that longtime residents don’t find as rewarding. “For example, a grocery store turns into a restaurant.”

While workers in Mexico City earn an average hourly wage of 53 Mexican pesos ($3.50), and most cannot afford the lifestyle enjoyed by “digital nomads,” Eyring, who is from San Diego, is a foreigner. He points out that the affection people have for the Mexican capital is a bright spot.

“It’s not just drugs, violence and poverty,” Eyring said. “There is a beautiful side to this country and everyone appreciates that.”

(Reporter Alberto Fajardo, Reporter Roberto Ramirez, Reporter Josue Gonzalez, Translated by Erclaren)