STORY: Nestled in a trendy part of Mexico City is a small symbol of resistance: this figure, the so-called patron saint against gentrification.
Activists and researchers warn a digital nomad influx in the capital is exacerbating inflation and transforming neighborhoods into expat bubbles
The patron saint’s creator, artist Sandra Valenzuela, sees the phenomenon as a rising threat.
“What happens is that when people do not have enough money to live in their country’s cities they end up going to cheaper countries where they can afford to live. In the end, it is a problem that moves, just as it displaces people.”
Nearly two million foreigners arrived at the Mexico City International Airport in the first half of this year... approaching the record 2.5 million in the first half of 2019.
Demand for short-term rentals has surged 44% over the same period, according to market research company AirDNA.
Marko Ayling, a writer and content creator from California, says the math of remote work makes sense.
“There's obviously a lot of advantages if you can earn in dollars and spend in pesos you're essentially tripling your income...”
In the luxe area of Condesa... some homeowners are turning to rental platforms like AirBnb.
They can earn $1,300 a month in profit, according to the neighborhood association president, in a city where most workers earn less than $3 an hour on average.
The stark divide between rich and poor is well known, but some say even rich residents are being priced out... and the local atmosphere is changing.
"When these people arrived and with all the nightlife, noise and the amount of people passing by increased. It did not feel safe anymore and they could not rest...”
Still, Ayling says there are some intangible positives to keep in mind.
“I think a lot of people are dispelling a lot of the negative preconceptions about Mexico. They are realizing that no, it's not just narcos and violence and poverty. There's beautiful sides of this country and they're celebrating that too."