Mexico City — Since remote working and the home-office model became more widespread, as well as the trend of working from virtually anywhere, there has been a boom in the arrival of digital nomads to Mexico, who are changing work habits but also having an effect on the local economy.
More than 15 million digital nomads emigrated from the US in 2021, according to data compiled by Statista, while to March 2022 the US was also the country most visited by digital nomads, with Thailand and Spain ranked second and third. The top three cities for digital nomads in 2022 were London, Bangkok and New York.
The impact of digital nomads on Mexico’s economy
Although Mexico is not among the top priority destinations for digital nomads, their arrival is already having an impact. According to the Mexico City government, in 2021 alone, remote workers left an economic footprint of 9.3 billion pesos ($523.4 million), which is 15% of what the city earned from tourism during that year.
Mexico City’s Mayor Claudia Sheimbaum stated in October 2022 that “if we had only 5% of the available market of American remote workers, we would be generating in Mexico City 1.4 billion pesos a year”, during the signing of an agreement with Airbnb aimed at attracting more digital nomads.
This alliance, which was questioned by some Mexico City residents because they feared it would worsen the problem of rising rental prices, seeks to promote new tourist attractions in areas of the city not traditionally known as being tourist hubs.
“What the government has reported is that it expects that other areas of the city such as the Central de Abastos or Xochimilco are also spaces of attraction for digital nomads, and that this will generate greater economic spillover associated with the arrival of this population,” Claudia Mariscal Rosales, city manager of Mexico City of online real estate portal Inmuebles24 told Bloomberg Línea.
Rosalba Loyde, an academic at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and an expert in housing and urban issues, said that promoting areas such as Xochimilco, in the south of the capital, can be beneficial under regulated price conditions, as it has very high percentages of home ownership and would encourage tourism in the area.
Mariscal, who is familiar with the behavior of the rental housing market in Mexico City, says that rental prices have risen in the last two years, but not only due to gentrification.
“I detect an increase in line with inflation, so there is not a fairly large or radical increase,” Mariscal said.
She said that areas such as the Condesa, Roma or Polanco neighborhoods are more attractive to digital nomads because of the lifestyle they offer, this generates a greater demand for spaces and thus an increase in rental prices in these areas.