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As locals are valued, Mexico City is becoming a “work from home” haven for American expats.

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News Tech: Sandra Ortiz finds it difficult to discuss her family’s business without breaking down in tears.

Ortiz, 55, and her four siblings had taken over Tortera Colima from their father, who had founded it in 1968 as a bakery. The siblings turned it into a restaurant, which became popular among Mexico City residents.

“They came in and told us we just had five minutes to get everything out,” Ortiz recalled of her family’s eviction in February.

The Ortiz family conducted their company from the bottom level of a four-story building on a major intersection in the increasingly attractive Roma area for 54 years.

“A lot of agony… “They hurt me a lot,” Ortiz recalled as she washed dishes with two of her sisters. They currently work at another restaurant, as workers rather than proprietors, in a far less central position than Tortera Colima.

Ortiz said that the devastating effects of Covid-19, as well as growing worldwide inflation, have exacerbated the problem, and she does not blame visitors for wanting to visit Mexico City. She is concerned, though, that as more US expats arrive to remain, more locals may be forced out. While repairs are taking place on the levels above their now-closed business, a shop across the street advertises for new occupants. “Hello Mexico City!” it says… in English.

Locals may easily see the appeal of migrating from the United States to Mexico City. “It’s beautiful, their money is worth more here, they can live in a really lovely and spacious house or apartment, create a better life,” Fernando Bustos Gorozpe remarked. “But it’s not as if there’s a desire to join and learn about the local culture here.”

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Bustos Gorozpe is a university lecturer who grew up in Mexico City. He saw that the number of American expats visiting Mexico City increased with Covid-19, because Mexico had less border restrictions than other nations. This coincides with an increase in the number of US businesses allowing their staff to work remotely. Many more choose to do so south of the border. According to the US State Department, 1.6 million US citizens reside in Mexico. However, it is unknown how many people are living and working there on tourist visas. The Mexican government does not collect such statistics either, although from January to May 2022, it reported more than 5.3 million American visitors flying through Mexican airports. This is roughly a million higher than during the same period in 2019.

Norejko, who is originally from Poland, and her husband, Eduardo Alvarez, a native of Mexico City, founded their real estate agency with foreigners in mind in 2014. According to them, 70% of their business originates from people outside of Mexico who want to reside in Mexico City. “There are many advantages to having foreigners living in Mexico City,” Norejko added, pointing to the tourist earnings provided by Americans visiting Mexico. “We require them.”

“It’s usually from Los Angeles or New York City,” she says, adding that most are hoping to escape growing living costs in the US and take advantage of a good exchange rate. Edyta Norejko, a real estate realtor, said she receives dozens of inquiries each week from Americans interested in migrating to Mexico City.

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