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From the last irregularly built settlements on the slopes of the hills, to the elegant and landscaped avenues of Polanco, Mexico City and its surrounding municipalities have a population equivalent to that of all of Greece and Portugal together, but to an extent similar to that of the Community of Madrid. In this chaotic, overpopulated, and immensely contrasting asphalt jungle, thousands of digital nomads outsiders have found their particular oasis in Rome and Countesstwo bohemian, central and safe neighbourhoods, from which they can work remotely, saving on the high costs of living in their countries of origin.

the american Becca Sherman he spent a season teleworking from Mexico City and shared his experience on social networks; I never suspected the stir that the publication would generate: a bucolic photograph of a lit patio full of plants, accompanied by the message “Do yourself a favor and work remotely in Mexico City: it’s truly magical.” Thousands of outraged users accused foreigners, like Sherman, of speeding up the process of gentrification of some neighborhoods, as the neighborhoods are popularly known, opening a very lively debate in the capital: their arrival, benefits or harms to the community in which they settle?

As is the case in neighborhoods such as Malasaa, in Madrid, or El Raval, in Barcelona, ​​the answer varies depending on who is asked. In Mexico City, this transformation is being experienced with special intensity in the Roma-Condesa urban corridor. It is a well-connected area and located just a few minutes from the financial district and the immense Chapultepec Forest, full of cafes, bookstores, art galleries, boutique shops, art deco buildings, leafy tropical parks, restaurants and nightclubs. fashion in which, more and more frequently, people are heard speaking English.

These bohemian neighborhoods have become a perfect bubble for many young foreignersMostly Americans and Canadians. Jeremy Sutton It is one of them. Tired of seeing how the cost of living in the US “had doubled in the last six years, with hardly any changes in salary”, he decided to make the leap to the southern neighbor without stopping working for the same company. The city had captivated him since he first arrived as a tourist. “The food and the architecture is amazing,” he explains, “but what I like the most is the people: you always feel welcome, here inclusion is the center of everything, unlike the US which is more exclusive”.

Sutton splits her time between the Mexican capital and Austin, but plans to buy a house to settle on a more permanent basis. “It may not be the culture I was born into, but it’s the one closest to my heart,” she confesses. The number of US residents in Mexico has increased doubled in the last 10 years, up to over a million and a half. The Aztec country is also its main tourist destination, with more than 10 million visitors in 2021. It is difficult to really estimate how many telework from the capital, since many take advantage of the six months of validity offered by the tourist visa to enter and freely leave the country.

Permanent residency applications doubled during the pandemic. The government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador It was one of the least restrictive measures imposed on the nomadic tribe: Covid-19 tests were not required to enter the country and the mask was never mandatory, which attracted millions of visitors. What Erica young American with Mexican roots who decided to leave Texas two years ago “dissatisfied with how things are going in my country in terms of politics and Covid management,” he says.

He crossed the border in the opposite direction to that of his grandmother, originally from Oaxaca, to settle in the land of his ancestors. Acknowledge that it camejobless”, but it didn’t take him long to find it. His adaptation to his country has been easier than for other compatriots: he speaks good Spanish, is familiar with the culture, has many friends and a Mexican girlfriend. Now work remotely for a company in the health sector and plans to continue living here for at least another couple of years. “I don’t have to work face-to-face, so I can freely choose where to live,” she admits. What Eric likes most about Mexico City is “the weather, the food, the culture, the people… It’s a very welcoming and social place.”

His compatriot agrees with him Conor Armor: “It is an incredible city: the food, the people, there are many green areas […] The country has a lot to offer and the capital is in the center, so it’s easy and cheap to travel.”

Armor had a steady job in New York, but he realized that as long as he was tied to that company, he wasn’t going to have enough time to create his own project: HiddenLimur, a website specialized in Costa Rican and sustainable travel experiences. “To start building this company, the easiest thing was to lower my cost of living,” she says.

According to a study by the Global Cities Business Alliance, the average rental price in a city like San Francisco is $2,824while in the Mexican capital it is located in 385. Last year, the average salary in the US was 4,630 dollars a month, compared to 1,300 in Mexico. The Roma-Condesa corridor is one of the most expensive areas of the capital and the rent for a flat ranges between 700 and 3,000 dollars. Many of them are shared by several tenants, who pay a lower price per room.

New in town? Remote work? You’re a damn plague and the locals hate you. Leave away.

He pointed to a sign

The arrival of the digital nomads has meant a new injection of resources in the area, a circumstance celebrated by owners and merchants. Not so local residents, who have seen how prices have increased, and not just rent.

Earlier this month, some of them put up posters around the neighborhood with a xenophobic and threatening message: “New in town? Remote work? Are you a damn plague and the locals hate you. Leave away”.

The episode reopened the debate on the impact of the newcomers on the lives of the indigenous population.

“I refuse to talk about the invasion of foreigners, it is not a question of nationality, of labeling them guilty,” he explains. Mayela Delgadilloan activist for citizen rights, who distances himself from the tone of the posters but without denying that some foreigners “should be more empathetic and join the community more, they are on one side and we are on the other.”

Luis Alberto Salinasdoctor in Geography from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), clarifies to Papel that the transformation of these colonies began “several decades ago” and since then has gone through various processes, but always following the same trend: “A project of neoliberal city that intentionally displaces the low-income population for another that does consume”.

Rome has long since ceased to be the sober, residential, middle-class neighborhood portrayed by Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarn in the Oscar-winning film of the same name.

“Before there was a restaurant, now there are 35; before they were family apartments, now they are luxurious homes available in airbnb; Those who used to have a small business are now street vendors because they can’t afford to pay their rents,” laments Delgadillo.

The activist also maintains that this entire process “is part of a long-term strategy that involves governments, restaurateurs, architects, builders. It has been convenient for everyone and they do it without asking the neighbors if they want 20 more clubs in each street”.

The residents of Roma and Condesa also live with a disturbing reality: the characteristics of the subsoil make it one of the most dangerous areas of the city. susceptible to earthquakes. So much so, that it was ground zero for the 2017 earthquakes that left more than 300 dead and thousands injured throughout the country.

Flor Carrillo’s family owned one of the nine buildings that collapsed in the area and, in the midst of chaos and mourning, there were those who saw a tremendous opportunity to profit. “It was something terrible, we were scared and we didn’t really know what was going to happen. I had a war of a thousand people who wanted to buy me, they even told me that they were going to expropriate the land, that I had better sell quickly, terrible vulture offers,” he admits to Paper.

He finally accepted one of the offers and went out of business. “It was the best decision. Almost five years have passed and they are just starting to build,” says Edgard, her husband, who explains that he inherited a small house located in a neighborhood next to Rome and that “in five or six years it has been to be worth three times more”.

Dr. Salinas agrees that these trends are alreadye are reproducing in other neighboring coloniesbut he does not know “to what extent this accelerated growth in prices that generates exclusion in a large part of the population is going to be sustainable.”

For his part, Delgadillo downplays the fact that local owners have obtained better capital gains for their properties. “Of course they’re worth more, but the only way to profit from them is to put up the for sale sign and get out of the place where you really wanted to be.”

Source: www.elmundo.es

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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