Are foreigners hurting or helping Mexico City’s economy?

There has been a lot of publicity lately about the influx of foreigners living in Mexico City and the impact it has been making. Some of the articles praise the affordability and smart choice to move somewhere exciting and warm, but many publications have noted the negative impacts as well.

Mexico City, commonly referred to as CDMX, El DF, or simply as Mexico, is North America’s largest metropolitan city. Population counts are difficult, but the 2023 estimate is over 22 million residents.

Last year, Bloomberg listed Mexico City as an emerging expat hotspot for its popularity with foreigners moving there in large numbers. In the Expat insider 2022 report by InterNations, Mexico City ranked number three globally in the best places for expats to live.

On the books, only about 12,000 expats are living in Mexico City, but that number is likely undercounted as U.S. citizens and Canadians can come and go for six months at a time with ease. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is commonly referred to as AMLO, has often welcomed the influx of expats when asked about the topic. He has been quoted as saying Mexico City is safer than most big cities in the world, despite the headlines of violence in other parts of Mexico.

Expats have helped boost economies in areas that had struggled some in recent years. But not everyone is happy about the large presence of foreigners.

Many locals say the price of a dinner, beer, and daily necessities has risen because of foreign money. Many apartments have evicted long term residents to turn their units into AirBnB’s, angering locals and raising rent prices.

Asking locals their opinions are usually mixed. It is not uncommon to see derogatory phrases spray painted on walls about expats. But it is also not uncommon to hear a happy small business owner pleased with the increase in Uber Eats orders coming in that weren’t there before.

Recently I was shocked to be in a bar and only hear English being spoken. I was also shocked with the price of drinks. For expats in the city there are several areas that feel a bit like home, but much of Mexico City is still foreigner free as it is a sprawling metropolis.

Many remote workers are having to return to the office in recent months, making it seem like the expat explosion of CDMX may be peaking. It is a love-hate relationship at the moment in the city, and I think the jury is still out on if the foreign cash is outweighing the damage with inflation it may be causing.


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