Connecting With Expat Communities
Oaxaca has an active and vibrant full- and part-time expat population that can provide valuable insight and information. To access expat communities:
1. Join the Expats Oaxaca Facebook page where you can ask questions and gain valuable inside information from other expats living in Oaxaca—and, of course, talk to us at TCI.
2. Check out the Oaxaca Lending Library (English speaking), online before your arrival, or onsite after you arrive.
The Lending Library offers weekly Intro to Oaxaca programs, yoga classes, intercambios to practice your Spanish, bridge groups, rental housing information, lectures, day and weekend tours. They also offer “Hoofing in Oaxaca,” which are weekly hikes to surrounding areas and a complete schedule of events.
3. Take a Spanish class at one of several Spanish schools. I enjoyed Oaxaca Spanish Magic. It was centrally located, allowed for flexible scheduling, and they grouped students according to proficiency levels. Plus, you’ll meet many part-time expats.
4. Join a yoga class, cooking class, art class, music group, meditation group, bridge or chess club, or whatever you are interested in.
What’s Happening in Oaxaca?
There is a lot happening in Oaxaca. A few of the most common sources for current events include:
Looking for Accommodation
Whether you want to lock in your accommodations before you arrive or rent something short-term while you check out the many barrios and housing options after you arrive, you can begin your search here:
There also are numerous rental agents to assist you. Ask for recommendations on the Oaxaca Expats Facebook page.
Banks and ATMs
There are numerous bank ATMs located throughout Oaxaca including Bancomer, Caja Popular, Banorte, Santander and Scotiabank. The most cost-effective way to access cash from a home-based bank is with a debit card, however, you will be charged a fee per withdrawal (anywhere from MXP 3000 -5000). I recommend the Schwab Investor checking account/card as Schwab reimburses for all international withdrawal fees and there are no transaction fees. Problem solved. Oaxaca is a cash economy. You can often negotiate a better price for accommodations when staying long-term if you pay in cash.
How to Get Around
Oaxaca is a walkable city. You don’t need a car to visit or live here. Local buses are prevalent, cabs are everywhere and reasonably priced, collectivos (large passenger vans) can transport you to surrounding pueblos and through the mountains to the coast and long-distance bus travel is easily accessible. A free tourist map of the city can be picked up at the tourist kiosk across from the Santo Domingo church.
Where the Parks Are
El Central Oaxaca and the various barrios offer many parks to sit and relax, read, eat street food or people watch. The following are a few of the local parks (parques) to explore and enjoy:
1. Zocolo, or town square, is one of the most popular and busiest places. Lined with restaurants, vendors, and musicians, a great place to people watch.
2. Alameda de Leon is one of the oldest parks in the city. This plaza is located across from the Cathedral and just northwest of the Zocolo.
3. Cerro Fortin overlooks the city and has several kilometers of walking trails. Take the stairs (escaleras) for a good bout of exercise to reach the auditorium.
4. Labastida Park is a small park located along the main walkway from Santa Domingo to the Zocolo. Artists frequently display their crafts and music here.
5. Conzatti Park (formerly a private garden) is my favorite. This small and intimate park offers a beautiful and peaceful space on the north side of the city.
6. Paseo Juárez, El Llano Park is one of the oldest parks in the city and is dedicated to Oaxaca-born President Benito Juarez.
You will find that most areas of Oaxaca are safe to wander about solo or with friends during the day and many areas are quite safe after dark. You can easily catch a cab if you are uncomfortable being out at night. Always take precautions, however, the bad sidewalks, cobbled roads, and topes seem to present the most danger. So do watch your step. Oh—and toilet paper is non-negotiable. Do not put it in the toilet.
Interested in Oaxaca as a destination? If you have any questions, please write them in the comments below.
by: Gwen Hyatt