US citizens are settling in Mexico at rates not seen since comparable data became available in 2010, with permits to reside temporarily in the country soaring 85% from the year before the pandemic.
While US authorities struggle to contain record migrant encounters at the border with Mexico, its southern neighbor granted 8,412 permits to Americans through September, compared to 4,550 in the first three quarters of 2019, according to a Mexican government migration report.
That number may be just a fraction of the influx of US expats as Mexico has said for years that the true figure of Americans moving to its shores is undercounted. More Americans also received permanent residence this year, with the number rising 48% from 2019 to 5,418.
What started off as a pandemic escape for Americans seeking affordable destinations with few Covid-19 restrictions seems to have staying power. The increased presence of Americans, many of them remote workers, has implications for everything from the tourism industry to real-estate prices.
Unlike Mexicans in the US, Americans can work in the Latin American nation for as many as six consecutive months under their tourist visas provided they are paid abroad. And while technically it isn’t allowed, many choose to go back to the US briefly and reenter Mexico to renew their six-month period in the country and keep working.
Overall, 10 million American tourists arrived in Mexico by air through September, an increase of almost 24% from the same period in 2019, according to the CICOTUR research center at Anahuac University. International tourists overall spent $17.7 billion in Mexico through August of this year, 13% more than in the same period in 2019, according to the tourism ministry.
Many of these travelers stay for weeks or months at a time to work remotely, but there are no official numbers on how many because they’re a “population that tends to be too mobile to be counted,” said Ariel Ruiz Soto, a policy analyst at the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.