MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Catholic statue dressed in white and praying stands in a corner of a park surrounded by some of Mexico City’s trendiest cafes and restaurants. He is said to be a patron saint who resists gentrification (the gentrification of the neighborhood due to the influx of high-income people).
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 accommodations 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 by 44% during that time, according to market research firm AirDNA, which analyzes online rental listings.
Writer and content creator Marco Ayling, who lives in Mexico City, strolls through the working-class neighborhood of Condesa. The area is lined with “property for rent” signs alternating with chic cafes and vegetarian restaurants.
Eyring is from San Diego, California. “If you can earn in dollars and spend in pesos, that’s definitely very beneficial,” he said. “It effectively tripled my income.”
But housing activists and some researchers believe that in Mexico City, known for its stark disparity between rich and poor, the influx of “digital nomads” has accelerated inflation and led to several neighborhoods opening up to outsiders. transforming into a high-end “bubble”.
Rafael Guarneros, president of the Condesa neighborhood, said there was discontent among residents of upscale neighborhoods such as Condesa and Roma. Landlords 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.
In 2020, the richest 10% of households in Mexico City earned more than 13 times more income than the poorest 10%, according to the Mexican Statistics Authority. But the income gap between the United States 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 US$93 per day, up 27% from August 2019, according to AirDNA data. Although the Mexican government stopped publishing average rents in 2018, rents in Mexico City fell slightly in the year from December 2020 to December 2021, according to research by real estate site Ramdi.
However, there has been little research on average rents since remote work has increased dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One August afternoon, Juan Coronado slips into a booth at a tree-lined restaurant, opens his laptop, and gets ready to eat and get to work.
Coronado, an architect and interior designer who splits his time between Los Angeles and Mexico City, said he understands locals’ outrage.
“I’m not riding for free. I’m contributing to the local economy,” Coronado said. “For the premises, though. … Just because I work here doesn’t mean the rents are going up.”
In Mexico City, a law allows landlords to increase rents by only 10% per year. But crackdowns are rare and the short-term rental market is out of the question.
Residents pointed to not only rising rents, but also subtle changes to the neighborhood, such as foreigners becoming more welcoming than locals.
“I can’t even get a good night’s sleep,” said Condesa resident Quetzal Castro. Condesa has become a thriving nightlife hub, and friends say they’ve moved out of town.
“Digital nomads” are described as people who work remotely while on the go. These people have a different impact on the local economy than traditional travellers, says David Waxmus, a professor at McGill University in Canada 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 long-time 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 the “digital nomad” lifestyle is out of reach for most, San Diego native Eyring is an outsider. . the affection that people have for the Mexican capital is a positive point.
“It’s not just drugs and violence and poverty,” Eyring said. “There is a beautiful side to this country and everyone appreciates it.”
(Reporter Alberto Fajardo, Reporter Roberto Ramirez, Reporter Josue Gonzalez, Translated by Erclaren)