As remote work in the age of COVID-19 is forecast to stay for many Americans, more and more professionals are choosing new places to live. Lately, more Americans have been choosing to live in Mexico, including Mexico City.
It has become a top destination for young professionals working remotely, CBS News correspondent Enrique Acevedo reports.
“Now we have younger Americans that can work remotely looking for a better quality of life … and they’re coming now to Mexico City,” said Alexandra Demou, founder of a relocation and real estate company called Welcome Home Mexico.
“They love the climate,” she said. “They love the people, the culture, the food, the beauty.”
“Yes, of course, safety can be an issue. … And when I say quality of life, I mean of course, we can’t avoid the fact that your dollar goes a long way in Mexico,” she added.
According to data from the U.S. Department of State, there are over 1.6 million U.S. citizens living in Mexico, but that number only includes people who have applied for legal residency, which some remote workers do not do.
Mexico City’s tourism agency said more than 1.9 million foreigners arrived at the capital city’s international airport during just the first half of this year. They spent almost $2 billion in hotel stays there.
Global head of hosting for Airbnb, Catherine Powell, said the company has seen “incredible growth” in long-term stays, which are trips that are 28 days or longer. One in five of the nights booked in Mexico, she said, are for long-term trips.
However, Powell did note that “Mexico has always been an important destination for U.S. travelers.”
John Hyatt, who works to help U.S. and Canadian firms that are currently manufacturing in China relocate to Mexico, said he thinks technology has made living in the capital city “much easier.”
“We talk about things like rideshare apps, you know, we have all of that,” he said.
The influx of American expats is transforming some of Mexico City’s most traditional neighborhoods, like the quiet and walkable neighborhood in Colonia Roma, where rent has soared, there’s bumper-to-bumper traffic and old-world charm is fading.
“Our cultures are kind of merging in many ways,” Hyatt said. “Mexico is becoming more Americanized, and the United States, Americans are taking a lot more interest in the Mexican culture and cuisine.”
Hyatt said the pandemic “accelerated” some of the changes that Mexico City was already seeing, saying that “it was going to happen anyway.”
“It just threw some gas on the flames,” he said.
And while some locals welcome the new arrivals, tensions are growing over what some call gentrification.
Demou, whose company works to help expats become acclimated in Mexico, said she thinks there are positive and negative aspects to the changes.
“I think that they drive economy,” she said. “I think people will get paid higher salaries,” she said.
Demou mentioned that her business has been booming since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and that it is showing no signs of slowing down.