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Considering trying out living in Oaxaca as a digital nomad? I’ve been a digital nomad in Mexico for the last three years and recently got to spend some time living in Oaxaca City.
As the food and cultural capital of Mexico, living in Oaxaca is a treat for all your senses.
While many people come to Mexico to live by the beach, Oaxaca City offers an entirely different experience.
Oaxaca is a charming colonial city located in the southern part of Mexico, known for its rich culture, beautiful architecture, and incredible food.
The city is becoming more popular with digital nomads year after year due to these factors, plus its affordable cost of living, great weather, and growing nomad scene.
In this guide, I’ll be sharing my best tips on living as a digital nomad in Oaxaca, including where to stay, work, and play.
My personal experience as a Oaxaca digital nomad
When I first arrived in Oaxaca City, I wasn’t even sure if I liked it. The colorful streets and architecture were beautiful, but I felt a little underwhelmed. I was worried that I would be bored and that I had made a mistake coming here. Boy, was I wrong!
Day by day, the city grew on me a little more, and by the end of my time here, I felt like I had barely scratched the surface of what it had to offer.
I realized that you have to work a bit to find the best parts of Oaxaca. While some places in Mexico are loud on the surface, Oaxaca isn’t quite like that. It can appear quiet at times, and you often have to look behind closed doors (literally), befriend the locals (who are more than happy to show you around), and be curious.
This is just my experience – many people I know come to Oaxaca and fall in love at first sight. But if you feel like I did when you arrive, give it a chance, and you’ll grow to fall in love with Oaxaca too.
Pros and cons of living in Oaxaca Mexico
It’s no secret that Oaxaca is the food capital of Mexico.
And yes, it lives up to the hype. The best part about eating in Oaxaca City is that it doesn’t have to break your budget.
While there are plenty of fine dining experiences available, some of the best food is actually found on the street stalls.
BEST OAXACA FOOD TOUR
Food is a big part of the culture in Oaxaca, and there’s no better way to learn about it than eating your way through the city with a local guide.
On this unique Oaxaca food tour, you will be engaging with local food vendors while learning about and tasting their multi-generational recipes.
Affordable cost of living
The cost of living in Oaxaca City is relatively low compared to other major cities in Canada, the United States, and some other parts of Mexico. My friends there pay about half of what I do living in Puerto Vallarta!
But as Oaxaca becomes more popular, the prices continue to rise – many people told me it’s already become much more expensive than what was just a few years ago.
Even still, it is one of the more affordable places to live in Mexico with an established digital nomad scene.
You can easily find delicious and incredible food (the markets are amazing), and the city is quite walkable, which keeps your transportation costs low.
It’s beautiful (and walkable)
One of the great things about Oaxaca City is its beautiful architecture and walkability. The city is known for its colorful buildings and charming colonial streets, making exploring on foot a pleasure.
Walking around the city, you’ll encounter beautiful churches, art galleries, museums, and other cultural landmarks.
This not only adds to the overall ambiance of the city but also makes it easy to get around without relying on a car or public transportation.
Oaxaca has a rich cultural heritage and is home to many festivals and celebrations throughout the year, which provide a great opportunity to explore Mexican culture and meet locals.
During the weekends, you can often see calendas (a unique parade to Oaxaca) on the streets for people getting married, which are so much fun to join in on.
Oaxaca is best known for its Day of the Dead celebration, which happens every November 1st and 2nd. I’m planning to go this year and cannot wait to experience it.
There are more holidays in Oaxaca than in any other part of Mexico. They LOVE to celebrate and show off their culture – which makes visiting so much fun.
Oaxaca is where mezcal is made, which is reason alone to love it! Much like the city, I didn’t have an appreciation for mezcal when I arrived – but that quickly changed.
Mezcal is a type of alcohol made from agave plants. It’s similar to Tequila, but I much prefer it. Not only can you visit mezcal distilleries just outside the city to learn how it’s produced, but drinking mezcal is a big part of the culture here.
You will see locals and ex-pats alike sipping it at the bars – and many people hand it out on the streets during calendas!
Oaxaca Expat Community
Oaxaca City has a vibrant ex-pat and digital nomad community, making it easy to connect with like-minded people. But it’s not just the expat scene that makes this place special – the locals are also incredibly kind and welcoming.
Many locals invited me out after meeting me just once, and even into their homes. It was the locals here that really made me fall in love with Oaxaca – possibly the nicest I’ve met in all of Mexico!
Overall, Oaxaca City is generally considered a safe place for travelers and digital nomads, with a low crime rate and a strong sense of community.
Still, taking certain precautions is important, such as avoiding walking alone at night and being mindful of your belongings in busy areas. Protests and blockades are also common in the city, so it’s best to avoid them and walk in the other direction if you come across one.
Despite this, Oaxaca City remains one of the safest places to live in Mexico.
Cons of living in Oaxaca
Oaxaca City’s infrastructure is not as developed as other major cities in Mexico. This can lead to issues with internet connectivity, transportation, and other essential services.
I felt frustrated with the transportation options here, as Uber does not work. The app DiDi does work, but when I was living in Reforma, cars were rarely available to pick me up. In Centro, it’s much easier to get taxis/DiDi, and most places are walkable.
It’s also common that there are protests/blockades, which can make getting around frustrating as the roads may be blocked. If you see one while out, it is best to walk in the other direction.
Oaxaca is growing rapidly, which puts it at a high risk of growing without solid infrastructure. There are already water shortage issues, so be sure to conserve water while you’re there, shop and support local, and be a responsible and respectful traveler.
Not near the beach
Another potential downside to living in Oaxaca City as a digital nomad is that it is not located near the beach. While Oaxaca has other beautiful natural landscapes, such as mountains, valleys, and forests, it does not offer the same lifestyle as other Mexican beach cities.
However, popular beach towns like Puerto Escondido are down the coast from Oaxaca City, and they are building a new highway that will make them faster to reach.
Oaxaca City is not known for its nightlife, especially compared to other party cities in Mexico.
That said, there are definitely places to go out at night in Oaxaca – I was out dancing until 4 am a couple of times on my trip!
Just don’t expect big clubs – it’s a far stretch from Cancun or Tulum. Many people love Oaxaca for exactly this reason.
While some locals speak English, Spanish is the primary language in Oaxaca City. This can be a challenge if you do not speak Spanish, as it limits your ability to communicate and connect with locals.
However, it’s also an excellent opportunity to learn Spanish, with many schools in the city. I took classes at Oaxaca International Spanish language school while I was there, and it helped me improve.
Coliving in Oaxaca City
If you’re new to the digital nomad lifestyle, one of the easiest ways to find community and network with other digital nomads is by staying in a coliving space.
And when it comes to coliving options in Oaxaca City, Co404 is the best option. It is a stylish coliving space in the heart of Oaxaca City, just a few blocks from the main square.
From the moment you walk in, you will feel welcomed into the community. They provide a welcome letter, and a friendly volunteer will show you around and take a photo to share on the WhatsApp group to introduce you. I met so many people within the first hour of being there!
This is the place to be if you want to be in the center of the action and connect with other digital nomads.
Co404 offers private rooms, shared dorms, and a gorgeous coworking space full of natural light and plants. It has high-speed internet, shared desks, and private phone booths. And if you need more privacy, there are also desks inside the private rooms.
The communal open-space kitchen and living area creates a wonderful social atmosphere. The kitchen has plenty of space for multiple people to cook at once, and there is also a separate TV room for movie nights.
The best part about Co404 is probably the rooftop, where you can look out onto the city and join yoga classes on the weekdays, which are included in your stay. It’s such a beautiful way to start your day.
One of my favorite parts about staying at Co404 is the amazing volunteers who put on daily activities. Every day, there was something to do, from evening bike rides to family dinners to excursions to nearby places such as Hierve del Agua on the weekends.
This makes it easy to make friends and more affordable to see the best sights around Oaxaca, as you can share transportation costs.
I’ve stayed in several colivings around the world, and my experience at Co404 has been by far the best. They also have a location in San Cristobal if you plan to go there after!
Co404 is one the most popular places to stay in Oaxaca for digital nomads – so book ahead if you want to stay here!
Best neighborhoods to live in Oaxaca
Oaxaca City has several neighborhoods that are popular among digital nomads.
The historic center is the heart of Oaxaca City, where most of the city’s main attractions are located. It’s a great place to live if you want to be in the center of the action and don’t mind a bit of noise.
The neighborhood is full of colonial buildings, cafes, restaurants, and markets and is an easy place to explore on foot which reduces your transportation costs. This is where Co404 is located.
That said, it’s also the most expensive place to live, and you can save a lot on accommodation costs if you go a little out of the city center.
This neighborhood is located north of the city center and is a quieter option for those who want to be away from the city center.
I spent my first few days here while housesitting (found through TrustedHousesitters) and enjoyed my time. You can still walk downtown in about 40 minutes, and many cute cafes and restaurants are around.
Xochimilco and Jalatlaco, located east and south of the city center, are two other growing neighborhoods popular with digital nomads. They offer more affordable rent and beautiful streets full of murals.
Internet and coworking spaces in Oaxaca City
I never had any issues with internet speeds during my time in Oaxaca. However, I worked from Co404 most of the time, which has high-speed fiber internet.
I also went to a few cafes to work and had no problems. That said, Oaxaca has some infrastructure issues, and although many places have good internet, not all cafes or apartments do.
If you rent an apartment via VRBO or Airbnb, get your host to send you a screenshot of the internet speeds before you commit to anything longer-term.
Here are some other coworking spaces in Oaxaca where you can buy day or monthly passes. I did not go to all these spaces, but they have all been recommended to me by other digital nomads in Oaxaca.
There are plenty of cafes in Oaxaca to work from, but please be respectful while using these. Don’t take up a table all day if the cafe is busy while buying one coffee.
Some cafes that are known to be welcoming to digital nomads are:
- Gudelia Arte-Café-Boutique (amazing chocolate)
- Cafe Brujula
- Muss Cafe
Cost of living in Oaxaca Mexico
The cost of living in Oaxaca City for a digital nomad can vary depending on your lifestyle and spending habits. However, Oaxaca City is still relatively affordable compared to other major cities in Mexico.
Here’s a breakdown of the average costs of living for a digital nomad in Oaxaca City.
Accommodation prices vary greatly depending if you live in Centro or further outside, if you’re sharing with others, and the amenities you desire.
With some searching, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood from $300 to USD 600 per month.
Listed Airbnb and VRBO prices will always be higher, so try to message the host to see if you can get a discount, search on rental Facebook group, or walk around and look for ‘se renta’ signs and call the landlord (you will need to speak Spanish for this).
Alternatively, coliving spaces like Co404 and Selina offer a more communal living arrangement with coworking included, with prices of around 800 USD/month if you stay for a month.
GET FREE ACCOMMODATION IN OAXACA
Want to stay in Oaxaca for free in exchange for watching adorable cats like this? Join TrustedHousesitters!
I stayed in a beautiful home during part of my stay in Oaxaca from a stay I found on TrustedHousesitters. In exchange for taking care of the home and cats, I got to stay there at no cost.
Food and drink
Oaxaca City is known for its delicious food, and you can easily find affordable options at markets, street food stalls, and small restaurants.
If you are on a tight budget, it’s easy to find tacos for as low as 0.50 cents or 1 USD per torta. That said, there are also many fine dining experiences in Oaxaca where you can spend up to 100 USD. I ate a few meals around the 30 USD range with a drink included.
Like anywhere, you can save a lot of money by cooking at home, and groceries are affordable here (especially if you shop at the local markets – one of the best ways to support the community).
Public transportation in Oaxaca City is relatively affordable, with buses and taxis costing around 2-3 USD per ride within the city center. Reforma to Centro was about 5 USD.
Renting a bike is also a popular option for getting around the city, and public buses can take you to nearby towns for less than a dollar.
Monthly coworking spaces in Oaxaca City can range from 100 to 200 USD per month, depending on the package you get. You can save on a coworking membership by staying at a coliving such as Co404, which has a cowork included.
Tours and entertainment
Going on many tours/day trips will add to your budget, but many are less than 50 USD and even cheaper if you DIY by public bus.
Oaxaca City has a rich cultural scene with many museums, galleries, and festivals. Many of which are free!
Overall, the cost of living in Oaxaca City for a digital nomad is relatively affordable, making it an attractive destination for those looking for a great place to live without breaking the bank.
Nomadlist puts the cost of living in Oaxaca City at just over 2000 USD. However, talking with other digital nomads I know who live in Oaxaca City, it is possible to live a comfortable lifestyle for between 1200 – 1500 USD per month.
Where to meet digital nomads in Oaxaca City
Oaxaca City has a vibrant ex-pat and digital nomad community, making it easy to connect with like-minded people. This guide has more information with tips on finding community as a digital nomad.
Stay at a coliving space: Co404 is a coliving space located in the heart of Oaxaca City. It has a wonderful community and volunteers with daily planned activities, making it easy to meet other people.
Coworking Spaces – see list above
There are several Facebook groups for digital nomads in Mexico, such as Mexico Digital Nomads. These groups are great places to connect with other digital nomads and ask for advice on living and working in Oaxaca City.
My friend Ian runs an amazing telegram group for Oaxaca, where he posts all the events and meetups that are going on in Oaxaca daily. You can join the group using this link (you will need to download the Telegram app). Attending these events in person is a great way to connect with locals and ex-pats. After one event, you’ll probably have a group of friends!
Spanish classes – I made a few friends taking classes at Oaxaca International Spanish School.
Everyone is so welcoming and inviting in Oaxaca that you will quickly integrate into the community!
Things to do in Oaxaca
Aside from wandering the colorful streets, exploring galleries, drinking mezcal, and eating your way through the city, Oaxaca City has several day trips worth visiting.
Visit a mezcal distillery
Mezcal is a huge part of the culture in Oaxaca, and it’s a fascinating experience to visit a local mezcal distillery and learn about how Mezcal is produced from agave plants. The fields also make for beautiful photo ops!
LEARN HOW MEZCAL IS MADE
Visiting an agave farm and learning how mezcal is made is a must while living in Oaxaca.
On this unique Oaxaca sacred mezcal experience, you will be engaging with local families and learning about mezcal in a way few others do.
Visit ancient pyramids
Monte Alban is an ancient Zapotec city and UNESCO World Heritage site, and considered one of the most magnificent of the region’s ancient ruins. You can book a half-day trip here and find more information about visiting the Monte Alban ruins here.
The Mitla pyramids, built by the Zapotec people over 1,000 years ago, are another fantastic place to visit near Oaxaca with intricate geometric designs. They can be combined with the Tule tree easily if you are driving. There are also markets nearby where you can pick up beautiful clothes for much cheaper than in town.
Hierve al Agua
Hierve el Agua is a natural wonder located with mineral springs that have formed terraced pools and petrified waterfalls. One of only two in the world!
It’s a great place to swim, relax, and enjoy the beautiful views. I did this tour, and it was excellent. We had more than enough time to hike around the area and enjoy the springs, and it also included a mezcal tasting on the way back!
Visit the Tule Tree
The Tule Tree is a massive cypress tree estimated to be around 2,000 years old. It makes the church next to it look like a tiny toy. Many people bike there from Oaxaca, which is a fun day trip!
Take a food tour
Oaxaca is world-famous for its cuisine, and one of the best ways to learn about it is on a food tour.
If you want to get a closer look at the food scene in Oaxaca City, I highly recommend joining this Oaxaca ancestral food experience.
I had the chance to be one of the first to try it out as Where Sidewalks End (the same company I got my Sak Yant in Chiang Mai) was just launching the tour while I was in Oaxaca.
We met our guide at the lively Mercado de la Merced, starting the tour with a traditional Oaxacan breakfast. From there, we walked through the city, exploring four more food stalls and restaurants.
We got to try many traditional foods throughout the day, including mais tortilla-based dishes such as tamales and tetelas, fantastic chocolate, and traditional drinks such as tejates and pulque, all while learning about how these multi-generational recipes are passed down and used today.
This tour was such a great introduction to the food scene in Oaxaca City. Our guide Christian gave us a wonderful insight into the history of food in Oaxaca, answered all our questions and provided many tips about where to eat in the city.
I advise doing this tour early in your trip as you’ll discover many places to return to. And come with an empty stomach!
Take a cooking class
Another great way to learn (and enjoy an amazing meal) is to join a cooking class. I sadly didn’t get a chance to do one while in Oaxaca, but every other country I’ve done cooking classes in has been at the top of my food experiences (I’m still dreaming of making Thai food in Chiang Mai).
This highly-rated cooking class has a solid 5-star rating with over 100 reviews. You’ll learn how to make food from across the region, including empanadas, arroz con leche, mole, and more.
Exploring the local markets
While there are markets in the city, it’s worth visiting some of the markets in the smaller towns around the city.
Every Sunday, there is a vibrant market in the small town of Tlacolula. This is a great place to experience the local culture and shop for traditional crafts, textiles, and pottery.
DISCOVER MORE THINGS TO DO IN OAXACA
Best time to visit Oaxaca
I was living in Oaxaca in March, and the climate was wonderful. It was sunny and warm every day, with no rain. The dry months from January to April are an excellent time to visit. The temperatures can be very hot and rainy during the summer, especially if you plan to travel further down the coast.
Another important consideration is cultural events. Oaxaca is known for its rich cultural heritage, and there are many festivals and celebrations throughout the year that are not to be missed. One of the most famous is Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which takes place at the beginning of November and is a colorful and vibrant celebration of life and death.
Is Oaxaca safe?
When it comes to safety, Oaxaca City is generally considered to be a safe place for travelers and digital nomads. The city has a low crime rate and a strong sense of community, which helps to create a welcoming and secure environment.
It’s known to be one of the safest places to live in Mexico, and there was never a moment where I felt unsafe, even as a solo female traveler.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind that Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico, and there is some homelessness which can lead to desperation and petty theft.
It’s important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety, such as avoiding walking alone at night and being mindful of your belongings, especially in busy areas such as markets. Pickpocketing does happen here, as it does in most cities.
Protests are also common here as Oaxacas are very vocal about politics and human rights issues, which can lead to protests or blockades. While these are generally peaceful, it is always best to try to walk in the other direction if you see one happening.
Visa for Mexico
As a Canadian or American (and many other nationalities), you can live in Mexico and work remotely on a regular tourist visa for 180 days in theory.
I say this because Mexico immigration authorities have been cracking down on the number on length of tourist visas they issue (mainly in the Cancun and Mexico City airports) in the last year or so. So you should not assume you will be given the full 180 days, although many people still do get it.
I got my temporary residence visa in Mexico since I now live here permanently. This is a good option if you plan to stay in Mexico for a long time, so you don’t have to worry about coming and going.
Healthcare in Oaxaca
As a digital nomad, you should always protect yourself with health insurance. I’ve been using SafetyWing for over two years, which covers me in over 190+ countries, and works on a subscription-based service, so I don’t have to worry about renewing it or paying a high upfront cost.
And yes, I’ve claimed with them, and they have paid out. You can read more about my experience using SafetyWing here.
Where to go after Oaxaca City?
If you’re a digital nomad in Mexico, here are some other nearby cities to consider going afterward.
This beach town is on the Pacific coast and is known for its world-class surf breaks, stunning sunsets, and parties. It’s not my favorite digital nomad destination in Mexico, but many people I know love it. It’s an overnight bus ride from Oaxaca.
This tiny coastal village is known for its beautiful beaches and hippie vibe. It’s a great place to disconnect and enjoy some time in nature.
San Cristobal de las Casas
Located in the neighboring state of Chiapas, this colonial town is known for its colorful architecture, indigenous culture, and stunning natural surroundings.
I spent some time here after staying at the Co404 there and loved my experience. You can get an overnight bus there from Oaxaca City.
Final thoughts: Is Oaxaca a good place for digital nomads?
With its rich cultural heritage, vibrant arts scene, affordable cost of living, and welcoming community, Oaxaca offers a unique and fulfilling experience for digital nomads in Mexico.
Co-living options like Co404 offer a supportive and collaborative environment that makes it easy to make friends, and internet speeds are not an issue in most places.
Beyond work, there are plenty of things to do in and around Oaxaca City, from visiting the ancient ruins at Mitla and Monte Albán to exploring the local markets and cultural festivals.
The city’s unique blend of tradition and modernity, combined with its warm and welcoming community, make it an ideal place for digital nomads in Mexico looking for a new home base. Almost everyone I met here stayed longer than planned, and I can’t wait to go back and reconnect with all my new friends!