Life is unpredictable. I planned to visit the state of Oaxaca for 10 days, but once I landed in Oaxaca de Juárez, I instantly fell in love with the city and never left! I ended up living in Oaxaca for 9 decent months and I loved every single day there!
This is a very common story among international and national visitors in Oaxaca. I have heard it so many times now! But you’ll be wondering, what does Oaxaca offer as a tourist destination and why even consider living in Oaxaca?
Table of Contents
- Why moving to Oaxaca?
- My experience living in Oaxaca as a Digital Nomad
- Oaxaca cost of living
- Coworking in Oaxaca – Is wifi good in Oaxaca?
- Best Neighborhoods in Oaxaca – Where to live
- Food in Oaxaca – Where to buy food like a local
- Transportation in Oaxaca – How to move around
- Expats in Oaxaca – Where to meet the expat community
- Oaxaca Nightlife and Mezcalerías
- Medical Care in Oaxaca
- Sports and Fitness in Oaxaca
- Spanish Classes in Oaxaca
- Technology gear and repairs
- Things to do in Oaxaca
- Best time to go to Oaxaca
- Is Oaxaca Safe?
- Living in Oaxaca Pros and Cons – Reality Check
Why moving to Oaxaca?
I honestly never had it so clear in my life before! I have lived in other cities in Mexico such as Playa del Carmen (Quintana Roo) and San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas). And I have temporarily lived in other cool European hubs in the past. Some of my previous bases are Edinburgh, Berlin, Florence, and Chámbery (France). However, believe me when I say that Oaxaca has been the best base of them all!
Oaxaca de Juárez is a culture and tradition paradise. This state holds the largest number of indigenous communities in the country. Can you imagine the cultural mix here? It is absolutely fascinating! Oaxaca is foodie heaven too. Mexicans and foreigners come here to taste some of the best food and mezcal in the whole of Mexico. Oaxaca is also an explosion of colors – probably top 5 of the most colorful cities in Mexico!
The city is very much alive! There are always events happening in town, new mezcal bars opening, new art galleries popping – there are parties and celebrations all around! This is probably one of the reasons why Oaxaca is a synonym for COMMUNITY. I have never seen a more settled and stable expat community before. I hear Bali could be another good example, but I can’t tell this in first-person since I haven’t been there yet!
Yes, I am comparing Oaxaca de Juárez with Bali. The only downside is that the city is not near the coast, but you’ll be happy to know that the state of Oaxaca has some of the most beautiful and surf-friendly beaches in Mexico!
Me hanging out in Jalatlaco borough, Oaxaca de Juárez
My experience living in Oaxaca as a Digital Nomad
Since my very first week, I felt welcomed in Oaxaca. Oaxacans are super friendly. Spanish is the main language and not many locals will speak English, but there is a young community of Mexicans and foreigners living in town, so there is always a way around with anything you could ever need.
Life is very affordable! Living in Oaxaca is cheaper than living in the Mexican Caribbean main cities or in Mexico City. It is also cheaper than living in the main European capital cities or pretty much everywhere in the United States – I’ll talk about budgets in a minute!
It took me a bit to find a decent home in Oaxaca that would meet my low budget and location requirements, but after two weeks, I found a 1-Bedroom studio in Centro owned by a Mexican family. The place was a bit old and rusty, but it was perfect for what I needed it for, so no complaints.
Meeting other fellow expats is very easy and work spots with decent wifi are all around town, so as a digital nomad you’ll have no problems adapting to this new Oaxacan life!
THE ULTIMATE OAXACA DIGITAL NOMAD GUIDE
If you’re considering moving to Oaxaca and want to check if this city is the perfect fit for you, you are in the right place!
In this article, I have collected all the essential information you need for your possible move to Oaxaca and a list of the resources that will be handy during your stay. This blog includes an estimation of the cost of living, a list of places to co-work, where to live and how to find an apartment, where to buy food, how to find other expats, and much more.
Colorful street in Oaxaca Centro
Oaxaca cost of living
Before you continue reading, I bet you will probably want to read about this first.
In my opinion, Oaxaca de Juárez is quite an affordable city. I was paying around 250 USD a month for rent and spent an average of 50 USD a month on food during the months I cooked the most. However, I was living on a tight budget, so I would say that the average cost of living might be a bit higher (also depending on your location). Either way, you can live for very little, especially if you stick to buying food in local markets and rent your house to locals instead of using tourist accommodation online platforms.
I paid for everything in Mexican pesos and mostly in cash. Paying with a debit/credit card is not allowed in a ton of places, so it is always good to have some cash in your wallet. Oaxaca has international banks and many of them are near the main square (Zocalo), so if you live in Centro you might still need to walk between 5 to 10 minutes to the ATM (which is nothing!).
Coworking in Oaxaca – Is wifi good in Oaxaca?
Oaxaca is nowadays one of the top places for digital nomads in Mexico. Wifi in the City is decent for videocalls and co-working spaces might be the best work spot for when uploading videos or you simply need more data. I used to work at home where I had really good internet (50 Mbps) or in coffee shops, where the regular speed goes around 15 – 40 Mbps (depending on the place).
FYI – This is sadly not the same near the coast. Unfortunately, neither a good internet connection nor stable and strong wifi can be found in the main coastal towns of Puerto Escondido and Mazunte. So if you’re considering moving to the coast, I would consider double-checking what are your options before deciding to make the move there!
Coworking Spaces in Oaxaca
As crazy as it sounds, even though there are several co-working options in Oaxaca, I always preferred to be working in cafes by myself. I guess I am a weirdo, but I always needed a lot of focus and this is what worked best for me! However, I can definitely recommend a couple of places that I know offer a good coworking service in town:
- Convivio. Rated as the best place to co-work since 2017, this spot won’t disappoint. It is a co-working spot during the day and a fun bar/restaurant at night. This was my go-to when I wanted to connect with more digital nomads!
- Centrico Cowork Centro and Centrico Cowork Jalatlaco. The second-best option. Whether you live in Centro or in Jalatlaco borough, these are two great spots.
- Selina Oaxaca. Probably the best next option. It is well located in Centro. This could be a great option too.
There are a couple more options, but I personally didn’t find them as good as the ones mentioned above.
Cafes in Oaxaca for Digital Nomads
There are many coffee shops in Oaxaca and I honestly loved working in several of these. Although I would love to recommend so many places, I am going to stick to those that have good wifi. Here are the best cafes to work from in Oaxaca:
- Cafebré (Centro). Perfect location. Decent wifi. Good coffee. Good desserts.
- Bar Jardín – Casa de Barro (Centro). Good wifi. Cheap coffee. Great ambiance.
- Muss Café (Centro). Decent wifi. Good coffee. Good food. Small venue.
- Marito and Moglie (Centro). Good wifi. Good coffee. Great food.
- Café Juviaga (Centro). My little secret spot. Good wifi. Good coffee. A bit pricy but unbeatable location and work ambiance.
- AM Siempre (Xochimilco). Good wifi. Good coffee. Spacious venue.
Cafebré Coffee Shop, Oaxaca de Juárez
Best Neighborhoods in Oaxaca – Where to live
If you’re moving to Oaxaca, for less than 3 months I would totally recommend living in Centro, but if prices are not fitting your budget or if you’re moving to Oaxaca long term, considering the surrounding neighborhoods is a great idea. Here are the best alternatives:
- Living in Jalatlaco Oaxaca
This is to my eyes the best option out of Centro. Is pretty near and the neighborhood is absolutely fantastic. Is basically a small version of Oaxaca Centro. Colorful, with several coffee shops and also coworking options. Jalatlaco is already becoming trendy for expats.
Graffiti at Jalatlaco borough, Oaxaca de Juárez
Colorful corner at Jalatlaco borough, Oaxaca de Juárez
- Living in Reforma Oaxaca
This is probably the largest borough. You still might want to live near Centro, so sticking to the southern side of Reforma is definitely the best idea! Moreover, this area is full of international brands, cool coffee shops, and all sorts of food options. Is probably the lesser Oaxacan neighborhood, but you’ll have the feel of living in a bigger city and still have local businesses in Centro very near.
- Living in Xochimilco Oaxaca
This might be the smallest area but if you are close to Centro will make it the perfect location. Xochimilco is full of street art and although it might not have as many coffee shops or restaurants as the other two options, the ones in this area are absolutely worth visiting. I personally loved coming here!
Finding an apartment in Oaxaca
Facebook groups are the best way to find an apartment in Oaxaca. Finding a good rent might be a bit of a challenge since the best apartments usually fly, but everything is possible! You can check options in Airbnb or booking.com, but for longer stays, you might want to consider a couple of the most active Facebook groups Oaxaca Housing/Rent/Buy/Sell/Trade and Oaxaca Housing are the most active ones.
Food in Oaxaca – Where to buy food like a local
Food in Oaxaca is the best (I am biased)! You can easily live out of cheap and absolutely tasty street food! Tlayudas, tortas, memelas, street burgers, café de olla, tacos, tejate, quesadillas, etc each meal can cost you up to $ 2 or $ 3 USD and they’re quite filling.
I would totally recommend occasionally eating in restaurants. Prices can go from 10 USD to 40USD depending on the restaurant.
However, if you like to cook at home or you want to save some money, you’re in luck because that’s what I did for the most part of my time in Oaxaca and I can recommend a few markets where you can find the best local products!
Trying 7 different types of Mole, Oaxaca de Juárez
- Mercado Sanchez Pascuas
My go-to. This is a little local market that has incredibly good Tamales, but also all the fresh veggies and fruit you need weekly. It was close to my house, so this also made it my favorite place to go buy the food I needed.
- Pan Con Madre
This is a local little shop, but you will find here the best bread in town! They have several types of pastries too and other artisanal products that will definitely be worth checking.
- Mercado de Abastos o Central de Abastos
This is the biggest market in Oaxaca Centro. All fresh products. From great meat to delicious fruit or even livestock. It has everything you will ever need, including clothes, flowers, technology accessories, old cameras and all sorts of antiques. The only con is that is a bit far out from the Main Square (Zócalo) of Oaxaca.
Mercado de Abastos, Oaxaca de Juárez
- Mercado de la Cosecha
A must if you are living in Oaxaca or even visiting for a few days. This is an Organic Market that has the best food. Affordable prices and very fresh handmade products. You can eat here if you like, but you can also come and buy your food to cook at home.
- Mercado de la Merced
Probably one of the most famous in town and it is for a good reason. This is a small version of Mercado de Abastos. Amazing food and chocolate stalls. The place is also known to have an amazing tortilla dough stall. You can buy the dough to make tortillas at home! Other than this, the usual taco, memelas, tlayudas stands, and in case you need to buy some clothes, flowers, or any technology accessory, you are in luck. You can find a little bit of everything here.
You can also buy your food and groceries and any of the supermarket chains in town. Oxxo and Pitico are all spread out in Oaxaca. There is also a Walmart, Chedraui, and a Soriana in town. Maybe not as handy if you don’t have a car, but there are many options.
Transportation in Oaxaca – How to move around
Oaxaca is a walkable city – moving around is pretty easy. This is one of the things I love about it. You don’t need a car and everything you need is pretty much all around.
Local buses are running daily and connecting all the boroughs in the city for about 0,35 USD the journey. There are also taxis in town and Colectivo taxis to get out of the city to travel to the surrounding towns.
I recommend walking unless it is dark or late at night, then a taxi or a Didi (equivalent to Uber) is the best idea. Taxis in Centro cost from $ 2,50 USD to $ 3,50 USD.
Me hanging out in the streets of Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez
Expats in Oaxaca – Where to meet the expat community
When I moved to Oaxaca I used these two Facebook groups Expats Oaxaca and Oaxaca Community (locals and expats), but I must say everything social in Oaxaca is pretty much happening on WhatsApp. Feel free to send me a private message on Instagram or ask me in the comments below for the details to join these groups.
One of the expats meetings at Huayapam Lakes, Oaxaca de Juárez
Oaxaca Nightlife and Mezcalerías
There are so many options to choose from! My top three places are:
- Convivio. To me the best bar in town – always a safe bet. And, yes it is also a Coworking spot in the morning!
- Archivo Maguey. Two different floors with different music styles.
- Txalaparta. Also two floors with different vibes. The second floor is a rooftop.
Many times, I have partied in these three places in just one night, right in the exact order I have named them here! Aloha (great cocktails), Nueva Babel (amazing Michelada and ambiance), or Zapotec (life music) are other great alternatives.
You can also go drink Mezcal in any of the typical bars in town. My favorites Mezcalerías are be Mezcalogía and Mezcalerita. A bit more pricy but great options are: Praga Coffee Bar or Mezcalería Los Amantes.
My Oaxacan family - Max, me, Ian and Ryan
Medical Care in Oaxaca
As travelers and nomads, having private insurance during our time abroad is key to avoiding any inconvenience caused by expensive hospital or health care invoices out of our home country.
There are several modern Hospitals in Oaxaca. I would recommend calling your insurance before deciding where to go, but I can recommend Hospital Reforma. I had to go to the emergency room once and I was very happy I landed there. They have the latest technology, doctors and nurses are very professional and paperwork went smoothly with my travel insurance too which is something I really appreciated.
During my stay in Oaxaca, I had to go to the gynecologist too. I found the contact of this local female doctor on Facebook. She explained everything in detail to me (no taboo). I have never felt so comfortable on a gynecologist visit in my entire life. She speaks English. You can write me an Instagram DM if you need more details to connect with this doctor.
If you require physiotherapy sessions or suffer from any physical injury during your time in Oaxaca, I discovered the girls of Casa Melius. These are two professional Oaxacan entrepreneurs that know what they’re doing. They offer physiotherapy sessions as well as relaxing massages. The girls are amazing and the prices are very affordable!
Regarding dentists, although I have never been to any clinic in Mexico, I hear from other expats that it is quite cheap compared to US prices and everyone seems to be very happy with the results too. This is another one to consider if you live in Oaxaca.
Finally, if you need a covid test, I would recommend Laboratorios Galindo. The clinic is in Centro and they’re very quick to send you the results.
Sports and Fitness in Oaxaca
People in Oaxaca practice team sports regularly. I know about people meeting every week to play football, basketball, and even spikeball. Yes, Spikeball! You can contact me if you want access to the WhatsApp groups once you’re in Oaxaca.
If you are a gym person, Galaad and Calypso are both great gyms with drop-in rates of around 3 USD. If you live in Xochimilco or San Felipe, Eagle Fit is a fantastic gym too with lovely staff and a great community.
And if you are one of these people who want to take their fitness with them as they travel, Mezzo Strength is an app with great workouts to keep you fit as you travel. This company is run by a young American couple based in Oaxaca. They sometimes do group workouts in person too. I met Kate and Kenny and they’re amazing people to be around with!
Me, posing in front of Oaxaca's Cathedral, Oaxaca Centro
Spanish Classes in Oaxaca
There are several language schools in Oaxaca. If you want face-to-face classes then Becari M Bravo or the Spanish Immersion School are two good options.
Otherwise, I can recommend using any of the existing online platforms to find Spanish teachers. I like usually recommend Preply, I was a student and also a teacher there, and although it is not perfect (none of them are), it helps to connect students with teachers all around the world.
Technology gear and repairs
Man, this one is to my view, a section that should be in every Digital Nomad guide! Everything is amazing when all our tech gear works well, but what happens when suddenly our phone, laptop or cameras stop working? Being desperate is an understatement, this is why you will be happy to know that there is an official iShop in Oaxaca and there are also cheaper and local options to fix your equipment. There is a shop that repairs laptops, phones, and more – hit me for more info on this if you need it!
Things to do in Oaxaca
Oaxaca is one of the most fascinating states in Mexico Mexico, this is why I have a complete article on the topic.
Check my Complete Oaxaca Guide for more information on things to do in Centro and its surroundings, where to find the best tours and how to book them, where to eat the tastiest street food, lists of restaurants, and much more.
Me, posing in front of Santo Domingo Temple, Oaxaca de Juárez
Best time to go to Oaxaca
Oaxaca is an all-year-round destination. The city is always preparing for a different festivity.
The top three celebrations in town are the Guelaguetza Festival (all of July), Día de Muertos (the last week of October and the beginning of November), and Noche de Rábanos (23rd of December).
Is Oaxaca Safe?
I have never had a bad experience living in Oaxaca, but take into account that you are still in Mexico, so the little tips and tricks to be safe in the rest of the country also apply to Oaxaca de Juárez.
Depending on the time of the year, I would recommend taking more precautions. The number of muggings can increase around the big events and festivities in the city. Día de Muertos or Guelaguetza congregate more people than usual so if you are around town during any of this, I would always recommend taking a Didi or Taxi home, especially if it’s already dark or if you’re a bit drunk is a good idea, and avoiding isolated/dark streets.
Me, hanging in the hammock, Oaxaca Centro
Living in Oaxaca Pros and Cons – Reality Check
Living in Oaxaca is comfortable as a digital nomad. Wifi is pretty decent, rent is affordable, food is cheap and tasty. The expat community is a big deal in Oaxaca. The city offers a good number of activities outdoors and there are new events happening in the city pretty much every day! It is difficult to get bored in Oaxaca!
Although there are some direct flights to/from Oaxaca Airport, most of the connections are via Mexico City at the moment, but this shouldn’t worry you much. I traveled a lot around Mexico while I lived in Oaxaca and I always found a way to get to places. If you’re coming here as a single person and are ready to date casually, it might not be the best place, options are limited and Oaxaca is just too small, but don’t let this push you back from coming to live here, you never know what life can through at you!
Overall, Oaxaca has been one of the best cities I have ever lived in while being abroad.
Plan your trip: A quick guide to book your next adventure now
This is a detailed guide that will help you plan your trip from scratch and successfully prepare everything ahead of your departure. I follow these steps to book my trips and now you can do the exact same!
Purchase your flight
Book your accommodation
Don’t forget your travel insurance
Choose your tours
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