Remote work is booming, and some work-from-home employees have broadened their definition of home. Digital nomads are dispersing throughout the globe — and sometimes inadvertently raising rent prices.
Many digital nomads head to nations with relatively low costs of living. However, a lot of nomads have significant financial resources compared to locals.
To such nomads, higher-than-average regional rent prices might seem like bargains. If enough long-term visitors are willing to pay, landlords have little reason to keep costs low.
Gentrification — the phenomenon in which wealthier individuals move into less affluent neighborhoods — changes not just an area’s composition but also its character. Additionally, it crowds out the financially disadvantaged.
Because Mexico shares a border with the United States, it’s an attractive destination among U.S. digital nomads. In the past, most tourists stayed for, at most, a few weeks.
Now, they’re often staying for months. Their extended visits and ballooning numbers incentivize property owners to convert apartments into vacation lodgings instead of homes for native Mexicans.
Even apartments that aren’t appealing to digital nomads cost more — their shrinking numbers create scarcity.
Some economists and government officials argue that locals benefit from increased business and tax revenue. However, that’s cold comfort to Mexicans who can no longer afford the rising cost of living.
In Tulum, a perennial favorite among tourists, the average vacation rental costs $300 per day. However, high-end rentals include amenities that locals wouldn’t usually use.
U.S. citizens are by no means the only digital nomads in Mexico. There’s been a steady flow of Russians in the past several weeks.
COVID-19 lockdowns forced many people to work from home, but remote work doesn’t seem to be waning along with the pandemic. Some employees enjoy its benefits so much that they’re unwilling to return to the office.
Regardless of their effect on locals, digital nomads could become a permanent reality in some places.