Mexicans complain that U.S. expats are driving up rental prices for locals and turning taquerias into coffee shops, bars and pilates studios

Jul 29, 2022 | 20 comments

Mexico City residents are incensed over an influx of American English-speaking residents gentrifying the area.

By Andrew Mark Miller

An influx of Californians and other Americans has made its way to Mexico City, angering some locals who say they are gentrifying the area, according to a report.

The Los Angeles Times report on Wednesday outlined how some Mexican locals are “fed up” with the growing number of Americans moving to and visiting the country, which has contributed to a rise in rent and a shift from Spanish to English in some places.

“New to the city? Working remotely?” fliers popping up around Mexico City reportedly said. “You’re a f—ing plague and the locals f—ing hate you. Leave.”

Many of the U.S. expats moving to Mexico refuse to learn Spanish, locals say.

The article outlines how Americans have brought a scent of “new-wave” imperialism as taquerias and corner stores have slowly transformed into coffee shops, bars and pilates studios.

English is also reportedly becoming more prevalent as more Americans are moving to and visiting Mexico City to take advantage of lower rent and the ability to stay in Mexico for six months without a visa.

“We’re the only brown people,” Fernando Bustos Gorozpe, a 38-year-old writer and university professor, told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re the only people speaking Spanish except the waiters.”

Bustos later posted a video on TikTok saying that the influx of Americans “stinks of modern colonialism” and nearly 2,000 people responded in agreement.

“Mexico is classist and racist,” Bustos added. “People with white skin are given preference. Now, if a local wants to go to a restaurant or a club, they don’t just have to compete with rich, white Mexicans but with foreigners too.”

The article also pointed to a social media post online where a young American said, “Do yourself a favor and remote work in Mexico City – is truly magical.”

The tweet received many negative responses.

Mexicans complain that U.S. transplants are insisting on U.S.-style food.

“Please don’t,” one of the replies said. “This city is becoming more and more expensive every day in part because of people like you, and you don’t even realize or care about it.”

While the Los Angeles Times report insisted that the “vast majority” of Mexico City locals are “unwaveringly kind” to visitors, there remains a “friction beneath the surface” of what gentrification means to the area.

“There’s a distinction between people who want to learn about the place they are in and those who just like it because it’s cheap,” said 31-year-old Hugo Van der Merwe, a man who grew up in Florida and Namibia who has been working remotely in Mexico City. “I’ve met a number of people who don’t really care that they’re in Mexico, they just care that it’s cheap.”

Mexicans in other areas of the country, including San Miguel de Allende, Merida and the Lake Chapala district — longtime hotspots for North American transplants — are also lodging an increasing number of complaints about the expats.

The State Department reports that there are 1.6 million Americans living in Mexico, many of them coming during the coronavirus pandemic when Mexico eased restrictions sooner than many places in the United States, but it remains unknown how many of those Americans are in Mexico City.

The Los Angeles Times says that in the first four months of this year, 1.2 million foreign visitors arrived at Mexico City’s airport.

“We’re just seeing Americans flooding in,” said Alexandra Demou, who runs the relocation company Welcome Home Mexico. “It’s people who maybe have their own business, or maybe they’re thinking of starting some consulting or freelance work. They don’t even know how long they’re going to stay. They’re completely picking up their entire lives and just moving down here.”

Demou added that she receives 50 calls a week from people thinking about moving to Mexico City.

Lauren Rodwell, who moved to Mexico City from San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, says she is sensitive to the gentrification issue but doesn’t feel guilty as a black woman.

“I kind of feel like, as a person of color from America, I’m so economically disadvantaged that wherever I go and experience some advantage or equity, I take it,” Rodwell said, adding that “being black in America” is exhausting and “it’s nice to take a break from it.”

The Los Angeles Times reported a similar situation in Portugal earlier this year in a story titled “Welcome to Portugal, the new expat haven. Californians, please go home.”

In the article, the outlet reported that the number of Americans living in Portugal has risen by 45% in the past year and many residents have been frustrated by rising housing costs associated with that.
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Credit: Fox News

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