February 8, 2023

The high cost of living in the U.S. is bringing remote jobs to Mexico

43Two months ago, Chad Balcom, a 35-year-old graphic designer from Brooklyn, New York, decided to pack his bags and leave the city. He moved to Mexico City, where he was able to continue working remotely in an environment with “different energy”, many social and cultural spaces, great weather and, most importantly, low living costs.

Sitting in a cafe in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico’s capital, Balcum told Xinhua News Agency that living in New York has become too expensive, driving many residents out.

Migration between Mexico and the United States has a long history, characterized by the annual northward movement of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans in search of a better life. As the pandemic has made remote work more widespread, young Americans are free to live anywhere, many of them choosing Mexico, leading to strong reverse migration.

According to Mexican government statistics, from January to September 2022, Americans were issued 8,412 temporary residence cards (TRDs), a 23% increase from the 6,838 issued during the same period last year.

However, the actual number of Americans temporarily residing in Mexico may be higher because many do not apply for TRT because they can legally stay on tourist visas valid for up to six months. Once it expires, they can simply return to the US and re-enter Mexico on a new tourist visa.

Edyta Norejko, CEO of real estate company ForHouse, told Xinhua that as the numbers show, there has been a boom in foreigners, especially Americans, coming to Mexico in recent years. “We have two types of foreigners coming to Mexico: young people between the ages of 20 and 40, many of whom are digital nomads, and retirees, for whom saving money is important.”

Most Americans “want to rent properties with at least two bedrooms and outdoor spaces such as a balcony or terrace, with monthly rents ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 pesos (between US$1,000 and US$2,000),” he said. Although high for many Mexicans, these prices pale in comparison to U.S. rents, ranging from $5,000 to $6,000 per month in larger cities.

Balcum believes rental prices in Mexico won’t rise, though he admits an influx of foreigners with strong currencies could do that. Indeed, some Mexico City residents have already taken to social media to complain that the influx of digital nomads and subsequent gentrifications are pushing them out of trendy neighborhoods.