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Oaxaca de Juárez — or Oaxaca City — is prime to become a digital nomad hotspot. The city itself has an amazing feeling to it, and when you first walk into the historic center of town you understand why. Once you start exploring, you’ll be swept away in the streets filled with colorful handmade clothing and other wares from local artisans. There is a melting pot of culture here in Oaxaca and one that shouldn’t be missed if visiting Mexico. Oaxaca City is quickly becoming a digital nomad hub – I’m definitely not the first to come here and I won’t be the last. The truth is, digital nomads have been making Oaxaca City their home for years now.
So, why should you choose Oaxaca as your base? Check out our Digital Nomad’s Guide to Oaxaca City, Mexico to understand its charm.
Where is Oaxaca, Mexico?
Oaxaca de Juárez is located deep in Southern Mexico in the heart of Oaxaca State. This is one of my favorite things about Oaxaca City. It isn’t super touristy like some of the beach towns — like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cancun — but it’s also possible to do weekend trips to places like Huatulco or San Jose del Pacifico. The perfect mix of history, culture, and location.
How to pronounce Oaxaca
Easily mispronounced, the correct way to pronounce Oaxaca is wah-HAH-kah. The name Oaxaca is derived from the Aztec word Huaxyacac which refers to the guaje tree found in the area.
When is the best time to visit Oaxaca?
This really depends on what you prefer. January to February is considered the high season in Oaxaca City. If you love a buzz of activity and people, then this will be the best time to start your trip. Personally, I love the quiet season months. The best months for me are from around April to May and again from September to October. These are the spring and fall months that bring moderate temperatures and fewer tourists.
Getting to Oaxaca City
There are a few ways to get to Oaxaca. From the US, you could get a direct flight from several major cities, including Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago. If you’re already in Mexico, there are several cities from where you can get a flight to Oaxaca. These include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Tijuana, and Monterrey. To get from Mexico City to Oaxaca International Airport (OAX), try a flight search engine like Skyscanner. Skyscanner is my favorite way to book flights so be sure to check it out.
For the budget-conscious, you could also take a bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca. I wouldn’t do this, to be honest, It’s a long ride and probably not the most enjoyable. However, if you’re doing a road trip down and you want to see a few places, the drive could give you some flexibility to stop at some other areas on the way.
Best places to stay in Oaxaca
Oaxaca has some truly amazing accommodation options for nomads! One of the best places to stay in Oaxaca City, which I personally recommend, is Hermosa Central Room. As the name explains, location is key. Centrally located, you can walk pretty much everywhere. When considering where to stay in Oaxaca city Mexico, I felt safe and comfortable in the La Casca neighborhood. And, of course, fast, stable internet was a priority.
Make sure you’re located close to — but not necessarily in — the Zócalo of Oaxaca City. That way you’re near the best things to do in Oaxaca, but you can still get some peace and quiet to focus on work. The further out you go from the city center, the cheaper the prices will be. If you don’t mind walking a bit you can find prices at less than $10 USD per night.
Finding nomad-friendly apartments
Oaxaca has a lot to offer, from traditional haciendas remodeled into luxury hotels to Airbnbs with modern appeal. You can find truly unforgettable places to stay in Oaxaca.
Nomads looking to settle in Oaxaca might opt for long-term co-living or a private studio. It all depends on your needs. There are also some short-term nomad houses being set up, why not start your own in one of the many deluxe colonial houses up for grabs.
Over the past 20 years, the nomad/ex-pat community has steadily grown in Oaxaca. That has advantages socially, but disadvantages in terms of the rental market. You will find that in certain areas the rent is higher. Remember though, when renting long-term there is always room for negotiation.
If you’d like to find roommates in Oaxaca, it’s always a great idea to join some of the Facebook communities such as:
- Oaxaca Housing Rent/Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group description: This is the place to post listings seeking either housing or occupants in Oaxaca City and the surrounding state.
- Our Oaxacan Home (previously Foreigners in Oaxaca) Facebook group description: This group is for people from far and wide who wish to make Oaxaca their home (for however short or long a time that may be).
- Oaxaca For Rent/Sale and short-stay rental Facebook group description: In this group, you can find apartments, houses, for rent, sale, and temporary stays for rent in the city of Oaxaca and nearby towns.
Book your accommodation
I love booking through Airbnb. Especially when I want to have my own space and focus on work. You can find some real gems.
While I don’t think Hostelworld options will be a long-term solution, it can be a great starting point. You’re likely to meet some like-minded people and set your trip off to a good start.
You can really find great specials here on luxury hotels. Sometimes after traveling for a while I like to spoil myself by grabbing specials on high-end hotels.
A few benefits of using Booking.com:
- no credit card required
- massive specials.
The pay-on-arrival option is my go-to when I’m not sure of my exact plans.
What to do
There are several things to do in Oaxaca City. I would start by just walking around the city and getting a bit lost. You will not be disappointed!
This is one of the best cities in Mexico to explore on foot. It’s safe and you’ll find new and exciting discoveries around every corner.
Take a Cooking Class
I love cooking; especially new exciting cuisines. My favorite class by far was with Que Rico es Oaxaca. Alfonso, his mom, grandmother, and a few cocineras tradicionales — traditional cookers — make sure you get a truly authentic experience.
Visit Templo Santo Domingo de Guzman
History is huge on my to do list, and walking into this church you’re hit by the awe of living history. From the finely carved baroque facade to the delicate paintings that take you on a journey – this one is not to be missed.
A hiking tour in Pueblos Mancomunados
If you’re into hiking and exploring more remote areas, this is the place for you. I definitely recommend exploring (preferably with a guide) Pueblos Mancomunados. Hiking between the villages, you will be greeted by the friendliest people and the most stunning views! Unfortunately, many of the villages were closed while I was there due to covid but it was still worth the trip.
Visit Monte Alban
Walking through an ancient Zapotec city that dates back to 500 BC? Yes, please! Easily one of the most significant archeological sites in the Oaxaca Valley, this has to be at the top of your things to do in Oaxaca, Mexico list.
Sunday Tlacolula Market
Who doesn’t love an amazing market? Probably one of the most immersive experiences you’ll have. This market is one of the oldest continuous markets in Oaxaca and possibly even across Mesoamerica. Expect ancient crafts, mountains of food, and the best souvenirs in town.
Take a pottery class
Barro negro — black clay — pottery is unique to Oaxaca, dating back possibly as far as 500 BCE. It is still made by local indigenous peoples through largely traditional means. While many potters offer private classes, teaching you about how the clay is derived, mixed, and eventually turned into pots, plates, masks, and even shot glasses with penis handles — for bachelorette parties…? — none of these makers seem to have a web presence and they are located outside of the main city, so they’re a bit harder to track down. Keep a lookout for event boards in coffee shops, restaurants, souvenir shops, and other tourist places, as you’ll inevitably find a poster advertising such a service.
Oaxaca monthly budget
Oaxaca is an extremely affordable city for digital nomads and expats alike, so it’s no surprise that many have decided to stay here permanently. Accommodation is half the price of what you’d pay in places like Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta. Even on the luxury side of life, you’re likely to pay far less than in other places. Your rental range can be anywhere from $150 to $800 per month. This depends mainly on the neighborhood you choose to live in, the size of your accommodation, the added amenities, and the inclusions.
That being said, it’s possible to live alone here comfortably for around $1000 per month (all-inclusive). You could also budget travel for around $600 if you’re down for staying in hostels. Either way, Oaxaca won’t break the bank.
Where to work
Choosing a coworking space is all about finding like-minded people — to create a work atmosphere— as well as finding fast, stable wifi. You have two sound options for co-working spaces to start off, and you can explore from there.
Convivio Oaxaca is a truly creative coworking space in Oaxaca. This established work and play environment will become your sanctuary whilst in the area. This coworking space probably has the fastest wifi in the area. As a bonus, you’ll get to connect with a stable community of digital nomads — offline!
The vibe is excellent — from live music events on weekends to an onsite restaurant serving fusion foods that stimulate the brain and serves cocktails to set the mood after a long day in your paradise office.
If you plan on staying a while, be sure to ask for membership discounts. In addition, everyone from online teachers to agency managers will appreciate the skype booth and skype room.
Price range: $10 a day to $200 per month for an unlimited membership
Internet Speed: 290 MB download / 195 MB upload
Freebies: Coffee, tea, mezcal
Spaces: Co-working, Skype booth, Skype room
Work Coffee Inc.
I love all the available options at Work Coffee. You can host your entire team there if you all want to work remotely for a month. Or, if you’re travelling solo, they have really affordable day and month passes to the coworking space.
The vibe is awesome because a lot of locals also use it, so you get to meet new people from all over.
Price range: Coworking day passes are $7, and monthly passes are $60. $50 per hour for boardroom facilities, $175 pm for a private office, or $250 pm for a private group office
Internet Speed: 50-100 MB depending on the package you buy
Freebies: Coffee, tea, water
Spaces: Co-working, board room, training facilities, reception
Internet in Oaxaca
Oaxaca has slowly gained popularity among DN’s because of the growing stability in the wifi. Fiber has been available since 2017 and most of the kinks have been sorted. While it may be more difficult to have fiber at your home, all the coworking spaces are at fiber speeds.
So, if you plan your day properly and do most of your data-hungry processes at places like Convivio where speeds are 200+ MB/s, you’ll be fine.
You can also get backup data by buying a SIM card. TelCel has the best coverage in the area. There is always some sort of a data special on, so just make sure you get the right fit for your needs.
Mexican visa for digital nomads
Luckily for most, you probably won’t need a Visa to get into Mexico. If you have a passport from Canada, Japan, the United States of America, the United Kingdom or any Schengen country – you’re good to go.
However, if you’d like to stay longer than the standard 180 days (6-months) with your free FMM tourist visa, you might want to consider the Mexico digital nomad visa. One of the reasons Mexico is quickly becoming a digital nomad favorite.
You can apply for the Mexico Digital Nomad Visa, called “no lucrativo”, if you are an entrepreneur, digital nomad, or basically anyone who can prove that they can financially support themselves while living in Mexico.
And, while Mexico is a pretty open and welcome country, don’t break the rules. Trust me, you’ll want to go back one day – so don’t go over your Visa.
What to Eat
The best thing about this city is the food! Oaxaca is famous for its Mole, which is one of my favorite things in Mexico. Mole Negro is the most famous – the black mole. A thick, rich sauce that is a combination of ground chilis, nuts, chocolate, and other surprising ingredients. But that’s not the only type of mole you’ll find here — so explore to your taste buds delight!
Another must-try is the crazy variety of street food. There are 7 that I highly recommend:
Memelas, also known as tlayudas, tlayudas oaxaqueñas, or tehuacates in Oaxaca, are hard corn tortillas covered with beans and different toppings.
The most basic tlayuda or memela is the one with memelita which is a small piece of tortilla fried in lard and covered with refried bean paste. Other common toppings for this kind of memela are quesillo — a melting cheese from Oaxaca — avocado, red salsa, pickled onion and cabbage salad to name a few.
Tetelas are also made with tortillas, but instead of frying them in lard or pork fat, they are placed on the grill —comal— and there they are covered with beans and different toppings.
The most common tetelas are the ones with beans, chorizo sausage, and panela cheese. But you can find many more varieties depending on where you eat your tetela.
The basic ingredients for a tetela is a tortilla, refried beans, quesillo Oaxaca, avocado slices, cabbage salad, red salsa, and pickled onion to name a few topping options.
Oaxaca’s specialty are the empanadas. They are made with masa — corn based dough — and filled with a variety of ingredients.
The most traditional empanada in Oaxaca is based on mole — a family of sauces specific to Mexico. I loved the chicken empanada with spicy mole.
But there are many more varieties of empanadas like those with mixed vegetables, cheese, beans, or even fruit filling.
Don’t miss the Chapulines de Oaxaca. Many people ask me what are Chapulines and why they taste so good. Well, it is because these grasshoppers live in the cornfield eating only corn leaves, that’s why their flavor is so strong.
Chapulines can be prepared in many ways. Fried with salt or chile pepper is my favorite. But, you also get Chapulines coated with chichilo sauce — like a mole. It’s delicious served as an appetizer on top of a traditional Mexican cactus leave salad ensalada de nopales. You might think I am nuts but these grasshoppers are really good! I accidentally ordered my first plate of chapulines with my broken Spanish and didn’t even notice until I had eaten half of them. So, give them a try, you won’t regret it.
Tamales Oaxaqueños are made with masa or dough, filled with typical ingredients from the Oaxaca region. Some ingredients that I loved included red mole, chicken in chile coloradito — colorful sauce — squash flowers, cheese, and nuts.
There is also a version that has a banana leaf as its wrapper. I loved the red mole tamales. In this region, they often use corn dough and some people prepare the sauce with chocolate, which is different from other regions.
Tejate is a very popular drink in Mexico, and one you’ll find everywhere. This is especially true during the cold season. It is known locally as a drink that gives energy to people who live at higher altitudes. There are not many people outside Oaxaca that know how to prepare a good tejate. So, this is the perfect place to drink your fill.
The most traditional tejate is made with cacao beans and maize. Oaxaca has several variations of this ancient beverage. Oaxacans usually drink this beverage after meals or in the early morning before breakfast.
Tejate is also used by shamans as an ingredient to prepare different kinds of elixirs for cleansing your body and soul.
There are several ways to get around Oaxaca City. Taxis are probably the most common way to get from place to place. However, if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, it’s best to walk or bike around the city. There is actually a drive to promote more eco-friendly transportation options. One of the vegetarian restaurants in town, Mundo Ceiba, offers bicycle rentals to promote clean exploration.
If you’re planning on staying a while, perhaps rent a car in Oaxaca City. The traffic is generally better than in Mexico City and it will allow you to explore the neighboring areas. When it came to getting to Monte Alban and other local areas my friends and I found a reliable cab driver, snagged his WhatsApp number, and just texted him whenever we needed to go anywhere. You should never be paying more than 40-50 pesos to get around town so make sure you’re not getting overcharged.
Just like anywhere else in the world, you need to be aware of your surroundings – especially at night. I heard rumors of people being pickpocketed or mugged but never saw anything sketchy myself. That being said, Oaxaca is a particularly safe place to live in Mexico. It is one of the more tourist-friendly parts of the country and the only state without an international travel advisory warning against it.
There are many solo women and LGBTQ travelers who visit without any issues. Even so, accidents do happen. Road safety etc should be something you consider wherever you go. The best is to always have good travel insurance when abroad.
Oaxaca City is one of the places in Mexico where you can get a real feel for how Mexicans live on a daily basis. The culture here in Oaxaca is very friendly, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone who looks interesting to talk to. This will almost always lead to an invite for coffee or a drink. The people are kind and they want you to come back again!
So if you have been thinking about living and working in Mexico as a digital nomad, then Oaxaca City should be an option you explore.
If you are planning to come here for a workcation, check out our videos or bookmark this Digital Nomad’s Guide to Oaxaca City so you can view it later.
Welcome to Mexico!
Written for Lost & Lore by Trevor Carlson