Oaxaca (Mexico) for Digital Nomads: The Ultimate Guide

Oaxaca, officially known as Oaxaca de Juárez, is a vibrant city bursting with color, mouthwatering cuisine, rich cultural traditions, and friendly locals. It's no wonder this charming Mexican city draws digital nomads from across the globe who come to soak up Oaxaca's high quality of life, affordable cost of living, fast and reliable internet, and communal workspaces.

As the capital of the like-named state, Oaxaca strikes the perfect balance between lively cosmopolitan energy and relaxed small-town charm. It makes an outstanding home base for digital nomads seeking to mix work and play, whether your days are filled with online meetings, exploring ancient ruins, or sampling local delicacies.

This guide is your key to unlocking the ultimate Oaxaca experience as a digital nomad. We'll point you towards comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations, fast and stable internet connections, and cozy cafés ideal for mixing work with socializing. With this local insider knowledge in your pocket, your time living and working remotely in Oaxaca is certain to be an unforgettable adventure. So let's get started!

Where is Oaxaca Located?

Oaxaca (pronounced "wah-HA-kah") is situated in the heart of the southern Mexican state of the same name, located about 310 miles (500 kilometers) away from Mexico City. The city sits at an elevation of approximately 5,100 feet (1,550 meters) above sea level, surrounded by the magnificent Sierra Norte mountains.

The Pros and Cons of Living in Oaxaca as a Digital Nomad

Vintage car parked in front of a murales in Oaxaca
Vintage cars and murals in Oaxaca (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

Finding the ideal place to settle down as a digital nomad can be tricky. You have to consider various factors and trade-offs. But is there such a thing as a perfect place? Like any destination, Oaxaca has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at them so you can see if it suits your nomadic needs.

Why You'll Love Oaxaca

Oaxaca has so much to offer digital nomads seeking an authentic Mexican experience. From pleasant weather and stunning landscapes to a vibrant culture and arts scene, you'll find plenty to love about this charming city:

1. Mild Weather All Year Round

No need to worry about scorching coastal heat! Oaxaca has a subtropical climate that keeps it cozy throughout the year. Temperatures usually range from the 70s to the 80s Fahrenheit (or from 20 to 25 Celsius) during the day, with cooler nights that are great for snuggling. March, April and May are the hottest months, but the high altitude prevents it from getting too unbearable.

2. Rich Arts and Culture

Oaxaca is renowned for its vibrant arts and culture scene, with strong indigenous influences that permeate everyday life. The streets come alive with music, color and tradition for the frequent local festivities – whether it's the elaborate Day of the Dead altars or the famously cheerful and rainbow-colored weddings. There's always a glass of smoky mezcal to celebrate with!

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Did you know? Mezcal has ancient roots tracing back to Aztec times. Its name derives from Mayatl, one of their revered deities. She took the form of an agave woman, the raw material used to produce mezcal. Mythology states Mayatl nourished her people from 40,000 breasts overflowing with the distinctive distillate. Sipping locally crafted mezcal is a divine experience offering a window into Oaxaca's rich indigenous past.

3. Stunning Landscapes

When you need a break from your laptop, there's plenty of outdoor adventure just outside the city. Explore amazing archaeological sites like Monte Albán, learn about Zapotec culture in remote mountain villages, or swim in the natural pools at Hierve El Agua.

4. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Grown in the nearby Sierra Norte Mountains, Oaxacan coffee is praised for its quality throughout Mexico. Besides visiting an authentic hacienda plantation, you'll find many charming cafes with local flair – many of them are ideal coworking spaces with reliable wifi, too!

5. Affordable Living

Saving money is easy thanks to Oaxaca's low cost of living compared to most Mexican destinations. With lower rents and delicious local food, you can make your digital nomad dollars go further. Of course, your lifestyle still affects your expenses, but there are options for every budget.

The Potential Downsides of Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a great place to experience authentic Mexican culture, but it also has some challenges that you should be aware of:

1. No Beaches Nearby

If you're a beach lover, living inland might not be your cup of tea...especially when you want to cool off from the heat! Oaxaca is about 186 miles (or 300 km) away from the coast, but the winding, dusty roads make it a long and tiring trip.

2. Earthquake Risk

Oaxaca is located in one of the most seismically active states in Mexico, so it does get some occasional tremors. Most of them are harmless, but it's something to keep in mind if you're worried about natural disasters. The locals are well-equipped to deal with any emergencies. But don't let the risk scare you away!

3. Language Barrier

Even though more and more people speak English here, Spanish is still the main language. Not knowing any Spanish can make things difficult at first. But use it as an opportunity to learn this amazing language! You can make friends with other nomads or locals while acquiring a very useful skill.

How to Get to Oaxaca

Santo Domingo Church in Oaxaca City
Santo Domingo Church in Oaxaca City (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

Oaxaca’s small airport has mostly domestic flights, with a handful of direct ones from the United States. So for many digital nomads, the simplest way to reach Oaxaca is flying or bussing in from other Mexican destinations.

By Air

You can take a quick, one-hour direct flight from Mexico City. If you're coming from places like Cancun or Tulum instead, there are direct flights available that take around 2 hours.

By Bus

If you enjoy a good road trip, traveling by bus can be a fun way to experience local culture. For comfort and convenience, the ADO bus line is the best option, but it's more expensive. You can book tickets online from southern destinations like Chiapas. However, if coming from Puerto Escondido specifically, your best bet is to take one of the many private van services. These "collectivos" cost around $18 USD per ticket, take 6-7 hours in total, and are faster than the 10-hour ADO bus ride.

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We found that buying bus tickets online from the actual providers it's a bit tricky (i.e. sites not in English, buddy systems and slow websites) and in person at the bus station there are often long queues. We started then using the website Busbud to buy tickets online and we had a great experience with it. It's in English, easy to use and gets the job done (although they charge you a tiny fee for it) so worth checking out if you want a hassle-free experience in buying your bus tickets in Mexico.

How to Get Around Oaxaca

Jalatlaco neighbourhood in Oaxaca (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)
Jalatlaco neighborhood in Oaxaca (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

The city has many options for transportation...except driving yourself. Traffic in the downtown area can be a nightmare! If you want to explore the outskirts, renting a car for day trips is your best option.

For getting around town, rideshare apps like DiDi (the local Uber) or regular taxis are the most convenient – but make sure you have cash for the latter! There are also several bus routes and many central neighborhoods are very walkable.

Whatever you choose, bring offline maps or a good sense of direction – things can get confusing once you leave the main squares! But don't let navigation scare you too much. Getting a bit lost sometimes is part of the fun of Oaxaca's lively streets. Just go with the flow!

Best Accommodation Options in Oaxaca

Square in Oaxaca City

Where you stay depends a lot on how long you plan to be here. For a short week or two, I'd suggest staying in the lively city center so you can walk everywhere. Planning to stay longer? You can find cheaper options in the nearby neighborhoods.

Apartments and Airbnbs

Airbnbs are plentiful in Oaxaca, with apartments and private rooms at reasonable rates compared to Europe or the US. Check Facebook for Oaxaca rental groups too.

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Renting an apartment with a kitchen is always the ideal choice, in my personal opinion. I could not survive for months eating only tacos and mole!

Colivings

If going solo in your own apartment sounds isolating, coliving spaces allow you to room with like-minded digital nomads. Top spots like Co404, Aldea Tuya, Outsite and Selina offer lightning-fast internet, organized socials, and all the essential amenities. Yes, it's pricier than DIY options, but for many, cultivating a community is worth the investment.

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Pro tip: Don't delay booking your coliving! All the best spots go quickly, especially during high seasons!

Best Areas to Stay in Oaxaca

Colorful murals in Oaxaca
Colorful murals in Oaxaca (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

Oaxaca has different barrios (neighborhoods), each with its own vibe. Here's a quick overview of the best spots to choose as your home base.

Historic Downtown

Right in the middle of the action, the cobblestoned historic center of Oaxaca is full of tourist attractions and nightlife. Convenient? Absolutely. Quiet? Not so much. If you love constant excitement or partying, downtown is for you. For remote work havens...keep reading.

Xochimilco

A short walk from downtown, Xochimilco offers relaxed local living. Mornings smell of fresh bread from the family-run bakeries while evenings have a growing variety of bars and affordable eateries.

La Noria

South of the city center, this residential area caters to regular Oaxacan life rather than tourists. Spend afternoons learning Spanish at the local market before joining families for traditional food at the low-key restaurants around.

Jalatlaco

This is by far my favorite neighborhood and one of the oldest in Oaxaca. In this artsy part of town, creativity and culture are everywhere. Stroll along narrow streets decorated with colorful murals before popping into the many small galleries and craft shops. Then recharge with mezcal at a funky-cool cantina. With so much visual inspiration, you might do your best work here.

Internet Connectivity in Oaxaca

Reliable wifi is essential for any nomad destination, and Oaxaca delivers. Most Airbnbs and hotels have internet access these days, but before booking for a long time, check the speeds to avoid any problems.

Besides your place, cafés and coworking spaces are good options when you need to work. Many cozy coffee shops have strong connections, while coworking spaces offer fast and stable wifi and plenty of outlets.

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Keep reading as in the next paragraph, I'll be sharing my favorite cafés and coworking spaces in town to work with your laptop. Just don't work so much that you miss all the amazing things happening outside!

If you prefer to be a bit more independent and get your own internet connection, there are plenty of options that include a portable WiFi hotspot, a prepaid SIM card and an eSIM.

Pre-Paid Local SIM Cards for Mexico

There are several options for tourists who want to use a SIM card in Mexico. The main SIM card providers are TelcelAT&T, and Movistar.

1. Telcel

Telcel is the largest and most popular network in the country, offering extensive coverage and a wide range of plans and services. You can buy a Telcel SIM card at the airport, or at an OXXO or 7 Eleven store for around 250-300 MXN (~ US$15-17 ), which will come with 3-4 GB of data. You can even buy them online on Amazon, and you can find all the plans and prices for each mobile operator below:

2. AT&T

If you are from the US, you are probably familiar with AT&T. They also offer plans for Mexico and you can buy in the local AT&T stores in Mexico or you can also buy them online on Amazon if you prefer. These are the options you have:

3. Movistar

The last option you've got in Mexico is Movistar. These are the plans offered currently:

  • Movistar SIM Card with Unlimited Calls and 1GB Data (14 days) – MX$50 (~US$3)
  • Movistar SIM Card with Unlimited Calls and 4GB Data (30 days) – MX$100 (~US$6)
  • Movistar SIM Card with Unlimited Calls and 5GB Data (30 days) – MX$200 (~US$12)
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If you decide to buy a SIM card directly in Mexico, you will need to provide your passport details and register your phone number with the authorities. This is a legal requirement for all mobile users in Mexico. You will be able do this at the store where you buy your SIM card.

eSIM Plans for Mexico

Alternatively, you can also buy an eSIM for Mexico, which is a digital SIM card that you can download to your compatible smartphone. The advantage of an eSIM is that you can buy it online before you travel and activate it when you arrive in Mexico, without having to swap your physical SIM card.

There are several eSIM providers that offer plans for Mexico, and the most reliable are Airalo and Holafly. Below you can find the data allowances for each provider and the different plans.

Airalo eSIM Plans for Mexico

Plan Data Validity Price
Chorro Fon 1 GB 7 Days US $8
Chorro Fon 2 GB 15 Days US $15
Chorro Fon 3 GB 30 Days US $21
Chorro Fon 5 GB 30 Days US $32.50
Chorro Fon 10 GB 30 Days US $49

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Holafly eSIM Plans for Mexico

Validity Data Price
5 Days Unlimited data with calls $19.00
7 Days Unlimited data with calls $27.00
10 Days Unlimited data with calls $34.00
15 Days Unlimited data with calls $47.00
20 Days Unlimited data with calls $54.00
30 Days Unlimited data with calls $64.00
60 Days Unlimited data with calls $84.00
90 Days Unlimited data with calls $99.00
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Not all phones support eSIM technology, so you need to check your device compatibility before buying one. 

Best Places to Work in Oaxaca

Co404 Coworking Space

Some digital nomads love working with other laptop nomads, while others just need a cup of coffee or cocoa to get things done. Luckily, Oaxaca has both. As promised, here are the best places to work from in Oaxaca:

Coworking Spaces

Oaxaca offers several coworking spaces, some doubling as coliving spaces for overnight stays.

Co404

Co404 is one of Oaxaca's most popular coliving spaces thanks to its cool, creative vibe and friendly community. Here you will find not only high-speed internet, a wonderful terrace and a coworking area, but also a kitchen with everything you need to prepare your meals. You can also choose between a dorm bed or a private room for overnight stays. And when you need a boost of creativity, join other nomads for group activities like yoga, craft workshops or weekend trips. And did we mention free coffee all day? Yeah.

Centrico

Looking for a quieter, more office-like setup? Centrico has two locations with charming Oaxacan decor and distraction-free work zones. Choose from day passes or monthly memberships with unlimited water, coffee, tea and, of course, high-speed wifi. Both the artsy Jalatlaco and downtown spots are close to everything.

Gubixi

Minimalists who thrive outdoors will love Gubixi's green garden coworking. Hang a hammock under the banana trees or grab a picnic table to work with the birdsong.

Cafes

Cafebre Cafe
Cafebre Cafe (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

Oaxaca is a café paradise, but not in every cafe it's possible to spend a quiet couple of hours where you can work. Here are some chill, work-friendly options I would personally recommend:

Cafebre

Perfect for staying in the afternoon, this specialty roaster knows good coffee and good vibes. Relax at cozy window seats with the changing local art and your headphones.

Café Brújula

Lively but laid back, Brújula's shady courtyard location is ideal for an afternoon session. Surrounded by books and tasty pastries, you might write your next masterpiece here.

Husband and Wife

Cute name, cute laptop-friendly cafe. Squeeze yourself between bookshelves with a slice of banana bread and unlimited drip coffee.


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Cost of Living in Oaxaca

Tropical fruit found in Oaxaca's local markets
Tropical fruit found in Oaxaca's local markets (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

Compared to flashy spots like Tulum or Playa del Carmen, Oaxaca remains relatively easy on the wallet. Of course your lifestyle factors in – new hotspots cook up tourist-focused menus at inflated prices. But bargain bliss still abounds all over.

Housing

As usual, rent is the biggest expense for most nomads. If you’re looking for the cheapest option, you can find private rooms in hostels for a low price. If you prefer more comfort and privacy, you can rent an Airbnb in the city center for around $400-500 USD per month. If you don’t mind living a bit further away, you can find cheaper deals in the $300 USD range, but you’ll have to factor in the cost of transportation.

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The good thing about Oaxaca is that it’s not a very big city, so you won’t feel isolated if you stay outside the main area. And by saving on rent, you’ll have more money to spend on the amazing food scene!

Eating Out

Speaking of food, Mexico is famous for its street food, and Oaxaca is no exception. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can easily grab some tacos or other local specialties from stalls and small shops. They’re cheap, tasty, and satisfying. If you want to treat yourself to a sit-down meal, you can find restaurants that serve traditional dishes for $5-10 USD. And yes, if you’re into brunch, you can find some hip spots that charge more, but they’re still reasonable. For groceries, you’ll get better prices and quality at the Chedraui supermarket than at the small stores downtown.


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Tradition, History and Food in Oaxaca

With its artsy spirit, drool-worthy cuisine, stunning landscapes, and proud cultural roots, Oaxaca earns its nickname as Mexico’s “cool kid.” Is there a better backdrop for digital nomading?

Indigenous Zapotec Culture

Traditional costume of a wedding dancer in Oaxaca
Traditional costume of a wedding dancer in Oaxaca (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

The state’s vibrant indigenous communities keep ancient Zapotec traditions alive and thriving through textiles, pottery, rituals, and more. Witnessing dances and costumes at a local wedding or exploring ruins like Monte Albán offer glimpses into the region’s rich history. Despite rapid growth, locals work hard to preserve their heritage.

A Foodie Paradise

Mole, the most iconic dish of Oaxaca
Mole, the most iconic dish of Oaxaca (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

As Mexico’s culinary capital, Oaxaca slays the flavor game. Fine dining melds classic ingredients like mole and chapulines (grasshoppers!) with modern twists, while the relaxed café scene dishes out global brunch vibes. Whether you seek street eats or Michelin-star style, the focus stays local and fresh. Ah, for after dinner, Mezcal tasting is a must!

So don’t miss:

The Drinkable Gold of Oaxaca

Mezcal from Oaxaca

"Para todo mal Mezcal. Para todo bien...también" (or "If things go wrong, Mezcal. If things go right...also"). That little saying sums up mezcal's importance during any stint in Oaxaca. After a tasting, don't be surprised if you're hooked on this smoky nectar. Made from the local agave plant, true mezcal production is an intricate art passed through generations. If you really wanna dive into the process, join a tour of a traditional fábrica or factory.


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What's the Best Time to Visit Oaxaca?

Mexican woman dressed up in Dia de los Muertos costume

Luckily, every month serves up reasons to visit this festive town. But some seasons cater to different interests depending on what experiences you crave.

High Season:  Festivities and Perfect Weather

From November through April, Oaxaca enjoys sunny cloudless days perfect for exploring alongside cool, jacket-weather nights. This also coincides with Mexico's most spectacular festivities. Los Dias de los Muertos kicks off November 1st-2nd while December 23rd brings the lesser-known Night of the Radishes: a parade of vegetable sculptures carved by locals. December overall brims with religious celebrations of Christmas and New Years that Mexicans mark in meaningful style.

Summer: Cultural Events and Afternoon Rain

July and August meet the rainy season with characteristic afternoon thunderstorms. But the last two weeks of July also honor Guelaguetza, the “offering” festival vital to the Zapotec community. Expect streets flooded by traditional dances, music, and yes – gallons of mezcal for the simultaneous Mezcal Fair.

Low Season: Fewer Tourists, Lower Costs

Encompassing May-June and September-October, Oaxaca’s low season ushers in rains alongside the year’s quietest, least touristy months. Without the crowds, costs drop, letting you soak up authentic local experiences.


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9 Things to Do in Oaxaca

Anyone who visits Oaxaca cannot help but fall in love with it! Digital nomads who choose it as their temporary home will have the opportunity to discover one of the most authentic areas of Mexico.

1. Explore the Colorful Neighborhoods

Colorful square in Oaxaca City

Lace up your sneakers for the best way to uncover this city’s spirit – meandering backstreets and alleyways. Kick off in artsy Jalatlaco, featuring vibrant street art and cute boutiques. Or just get blissfully lost downtown, soaking up sights like chapels, markets, and people-watching in the zocalo (main square). Joining a free walking tour with a local guide helps you start navigating this amazing city.

2. Visit the Local Markets

Local market in Oaxaca

All that wandering works up an appetite! Score steaming street foods like tamales at Mercado Noviembre 23 for a truly local food tour. Or explore the organic Mercado de La Cosecha to enjoy healthier regional specialities.

3. Marvel at Monte Albán Ruins

Monte Albán ruins
Monte Albán ruins (Photo Credit: @unaelenaerrante)

The impressive ancient capital of the Zapotec people, these ruins capture Oaxaca’s rich history and mystery. Wandering the site’s temples, tombs and plazas with a guide sheds light on the civilization’s scientific achievements.

4. Admire the World's Widest Tree

Tule tree in Oaxaca

A short ride outside town stands the whopping Tule Tree, the most massive tree trunk by diameter worldwide. Standing under its sprawling branches emphasizes nature’s grandeur.

5. Play a Day Trip to Mitla, Hierve El Agua and Tlacolula

Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca

If you want to discover the surroundings of Oaxaca, it is ideal to rent a car or join one of the many organized tours to these three destinations: Mitla, Hierve El Agua and Tlacolula. Mitla is an archaeological site, second in importance to Monte Albán; Hierve el Agua is one of the most popular activities because it is a marvellous petrified waterfall; Tlacolula, on the other hand, is the ideal destination for the Sunday market.

6. Relax Like a Local

Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca

Mexicans perfected chilling into an art form - especially in the relaxed zocalo people-watching hub. Locals gather here to dance to live bands several nights a week. Pull up a chair, chat with new friends, and take in the small-town community vibe.

7. Sip the Smoothest Hot Chocolate

Oaxaca hot chocolate

Rich and scented with cinnamon, Oaxaca’s hot chocolate knocks all others out of the park. Dating to ancient civilizations, their chocolate-crafting skills have only improved with time. The drink here stays focused on pure cacao richness rather than sweetness.

8. Visit the Jardin Ethnobotanico

Cacti in Oaxaca City

When city noise needs silencing, the lush Jardín Etnobotánico overflows with cacti and native plants from Oaxaca’s diverse ecosystems. Guided tours in Spanish and English decode the foliage and traditional uses.

9. Check Out an artisanal Mezcal Distillery

Local mezcal distillery

What better way to taste smoky mezcal than sipping it steps from where artisans handcraft each batch? Agave roasting, mashing, fermenting, distilling...learn it all during tours at local mezcal palenques (distilleries).

Is Oaxaca Safe?

Surely this is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to Mexico. While some states might be more dangerous than others, Oaxaca is not among them. Of course, as in so many other cities, it is always best to take some precautions such as not walking in sketchy neighborhoods at night.


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Ready to Make Oaxaca Your Next Nomad Destination?

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