living in oaxaca

Living in Oaxaca

Living in Oaxaca is a great option due to its geographical and cultural characteristics, Oaxaca represents the diversity of Mexico. However, it is not just a place to go on vacation, it is also an excellent place to live.

Oaxaca de Juárez, capital of the state, is one of the cities in Mexico that has great wealth. The combination of its pre-Hispanic past with its colonial heritage comes together in its streets, which reveal an intense cultural life, mixed with craft shops, art galleries and one of the most interesting gastronomic offerings in Mexico and the world, which joint tradition and vanguard.

Learn about the expat community and cost of living in Oaxaca.

The city of Oaxaca de Juarez in Mexico has many things to enjoy if you are considering living in Oaxaca. Here is a list of the 7 best things about living in Oaxaca that can help you if you are thinking of moving here.

Culture and Traditions

There are more than 16 indigenous tribes in the state of Oaxaca. Of the 16, the largest is Zapotec. This only shows the great variety of cultural influences that make up this region. The people of Oaxaca proudly maintain their cultural traditions. It is common to see groups of folk dance, people with their indigenous clothes in the streets and native languages are maintained. It is a treasure to be able to experience the rich cultural heritage of the Oaxacans.

The incredible places around Oaxaca

The variety of cultures and food of Oaxaca has its parallel in the variety of experiences that one can make just a day trip from Oaxaca City. In less than an hour to the north, you can reach a spectacular mountain climate with tall pine trees and the feeling of having been transported to Germany. To the east, in less than 2 hours is the petrified waterfall, Hierve el Agua, Teotitlán del Valle, and El Tule, the widest tree in the world. To the south, in half an hour you can visit the woodcarvers of Arrazola that create the famous painted animals called alebrijes or the potters of San Bartolo Coyotepec that create beauties of black clay. If you want to make a longer trip, the beautiful beaches of Mazunte, Puerto Escondido and Huatulco are half a day by car.

The weather

The Oaxaca weather is unbeatable. A typical day can be sunny and have 20 degrees in the afternoon (68f), with a heavy rain at sunset. Being cool enough to wear a light sweater at night. April and May are a little hotter and the winter months cooler, but most of the year enjoys this mild climate. The air of Oaxaca is also quite dry, with the exception of the rainy season.

The Festivals

The rich cultural heritage of Oaxaca is exposed in its many holidays and festivals. Consider visiting the city in July for the celebration of the Guelaguetza of dance and music, or in November for the Day of the Dead, the experience of the Night of the Rabanos on Christmas Eve or the processions of Semana Santa in the spring. These are the main festivals of Oaxaca. However, there are other minor parties throughout the year as well. Just visit the Zócalo in centro Oaxaca on any night to experience a Mexican fiesta.


Oaxaca is the Land of the 7 Moles, but the variety of dishes available goes far beyond these incredible sauces. From the simplest food on the street to local Oaxaca markets through gourmet foods in the most expensive  Oaxaca restaurants. Fresh foods are also available at the Tianguis. Oaxaca is also known for its chocolate. Do not stop trying the different cuisines of Oaxaca.

Historic Buildings and Archaeological Sites

Oaxaca is one of the oldest cities in Mexico. In addition, it is home to Monte Albán, one of the largest archaeological sites in Mexico and home to ancient Zapotec and Mixtec villages. Located only 10 kilometers from Oaxaca.

Another remarkable thing is the elaborate interiors of its numerous churches or passing through the Archaeological Zone of Mitla. In short, Oaxaca offers a party for any fan of architecture.


Mexico is a country full of handicrafts produced locally and many of these come from the region of Oaxaca. The indigenous people have perfected their crafts through generations, to the point that their products are true works of art. Black ceramics, fantastic painted wooden animals, Chango Mezcalero, world-class wool carpets that are naturally dyed, beautifully embroidered clothes, green pottery, are just some of the offerings in this area.

The Cons of living in Oaxaca:

I had the advantage of living full-time throughout Mexico for nearly a decade before moving to Oaxaca. I have seen numerous blogs listing the ‘pros and cons’ of living in Oaxaca, and the truth is, the cons are always cultural differences. To live in Mexico is to live way outside of your comfort zone. And perhaps you live in Mexico already and are thinking of relocating to Oaxaca. Let me assure you that Oaxaca is much different than the rest of Mexico and isn’t for everyone.

Here is what you can expect everywhere in Mexico, these issues are not unique to Oaxaca.

  1. The internet is horrible. If you depend on the internet you will have some bad days. The internet service has been a monopoly for so long, owned by one of the world’s richest men, that there just isn’t the competition to encourage better service.
  2. Electricity is horrible, for the same reason that the internet is horrible. The electric is government managed and no options.
  3. Noise, noise, noise. It took me nearly a decade to learn that it is not cute or exciting to live in the city (or town). The smallest cities, including Oaxaca, are as noisy as New York City in any given day. Mexico celebrates everything and the noise is mind-numbing at times. Want to avoid the endless loud music, screaming, and firecrackers? DO NOT MOVE IN THE CENTER OF THE TOWN! I have finally learned this. Coming on vacation is one experience, living here is another layer. Just because you like to visit Mexico doesn’t mean it’s a place you could live. As a reference, my mother moved to Oaxaca and after nearly 3 years she left because the noise and nightly fireworks and fiestas at all hours of the night was too much for her, and she lived 30 minutes from the city center. She LOVED Oaxaca and made great friends, but the noise and lack of good sleep started to weigh on her health. Mexico, and more so Oaxaca, is a VERY loud place. You have been warned, Oaxaca is the loudest city in Mexico and I have lived in a lot of places.
  4. Street sales: You cannot eat at any outside cafe without being bothered to buy products from street vendors and kids. They will interrupt your meal and your conversation. It’s cute on vacation, it’s extremely annoying when it’s part of your daily life. Do not buy from the kids! It encourages the parents to keep children out of school to make money for the family over receiving an education. Education is the only way to change these poor areas of Mexico. You will be tempted, they are so cute, but just say ‘No Gracias’.
  5. Gringo prices. NOTHING is marked with a price in Mexico because foreigners pay a lot more than the Mexican nationals. Be prepared to be used and abused by retailers and service providers if you are not Mexican. However, learning Spanish will get you further in being able to haggle down, and the Mexican people will respect you a lot more if you show an effort.
  6. If healthcare is a major priority, or if you currently have health issues, Oaxaca has the worse healthcare in Mexico. It’s a common saying that if you enter the hospital in Oaxaca, you probably will only exit in a box. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico, and like any other place on earth, the poor people get worse healthcare. There just aren’t enough state funds to offer decent healthcare. It’s not a place where you want to age or live if you have health issues.

Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico, therefore it can also be challenging for some people. The healthcare and infrastructure are well below average for Mexico. The people are less educated. If you don’t speak Spanish you will feel isolated very quickly. Visiting Oaxaca and living in Oaxaca are absolutely different experiences. But if you are really ready to make massive changes in your life, and lifestyle, I can promise you that is exactly what you will get living in Oaxaca. So I have about six negative points about living in Oaxaca, but this site is jam-packed with thousands of positive reasons to live in Oaxaca. Each person is different and creating a pros and cons list can help you decide if Oaxaca is the place for you! Maybe it is… maybe it isn’t, but Mexico has a lot to offer even if you don’t settle on Oaxaca as your new home.