I was beyond excited to move to Oaxaca earlier this year, but one thing was troubling me. Exactly how would I go about finding an apartment? I was so worried about being holed up in a hostel for weeks that I covered all bases and was able to find my dream studio apartment in just three days. You have a number of options for finding an apartment when you reach Oaxaca, and I recommend trying them all out because you never really know where your dream flat could appear from.
Walk around the city
When you walk around Oaxaca, keep your eyes peeled for signs on the front of houses that are advertising flats or rooms to rent. You can actually see a lot of signs around the city like this, and they won’t all have spare apartments at the time, but it is definitely worth giving them a call. Of course, this means that you need to be able to speak Spanish. This was a stumbling block for me because my Spanish is sketchy at best. For this reason, I chose to form a well crafted message and text the person, and I managed to set up a couple of flat viewings in this way. And when you do walk around the city, be sure to venture into some neighbourhoods outside of the centre. Xochimilco and Reforma are two neighbourhoods just north of the city with apartments usually available.
Long term AirBnB stay
There are a number of properties listed on AirBnB in Oaxaca and the surrounding areas. If you are looking for a base for a month or more, this could work out well for you because AirBnB properties often give significantly reduced rates for stays of over one month. Having said this, AirBnB caters to tourists and not to locals, so you will probably get an even better price by looking where the locals look.
There are a couple of Facebook Groups I found that are dedicated to posting listings about spare rooms, and flats to rent and buy. People who are looking for a place to live are also welcome to post a message, detailing exactly what they are looking for. Again, people aren’t going to understand you if you post a message in English, so make sure that you can craft a message in Spanish, even if it’s just by using a rudimentary tool such as Google Translate. Check out these groups: Renta y Venta de Casas y Terrenos En Oaxaca, and Casas y/o Departamentos En Renta o Venta Oaxaca. After posting in these groups, I had locals bending over backwards trying to find me something suitable. Oaxaquenos are a friendly bunch.
This is a huge listings site in Mexico that is comparable to Craigslist, and they have new apartments listed in Oaxaca pretty much every day. In the ‘Categorias’ field, you need to select ‘Cuartos en renta’. You then need to select that you are looking in Oaxaca – but by selecting Oaxaca you are selecting the whole state. So you then need to select a municipality, which will be ‘Oaxaca de Juarez’ if you are looking in Oaxaca City. You can then contact the person who has posted the listing via either email or phone.
There is one Couchsurfing group that is dedicated to room rentals and flat sharing in Oaxaca. It doesn’t have a huge number of members, but when I posted a message about my need for a flat, I still got a couple of responses. Worth checking out.
Oaxaca Lending Library
Quite unbelievably, Oaxaca has a really impressive English library. Not only is this library a great hub for book lovers, but it’s also a fantastic place for expat information. The library is mostly frequented by the American retirees who choose to spend their Golden years in beautiful Oaxaca, and there is a noticeboard where you might just find an advertisement for a spare room or free apartment. You can also pin a note to the board yourself, letting everyone know that you are searching for a flat. And this is one place where you don’t have to worry about poor Spanish – almost everything written on the board is in English. You can find the Oaxaca Lending Library at Pino Suarez #519.
Craigslist doesn’t really have the popularity in Mexico that it does in other parts of the world. But there are still quite a few apartment listings on the Oaxaca Craigslist site that are worth a browse. Because Craigslist is not something that Mexicans are really aware of, this means that the listings here are targeted towards expats and tourists. This can be good and bad. The good is that the listing will probably be in English and you are likely to find furnished apartments – the bad is that you might be charged an expat price instead of a local price. And indeed, you will actually find a lot of ‘vacation rentals’ here as opposed to monthly rentals that a local would be interested in.
So how did I find my Oaxaca apartment?
In the end, I actually found my studio flat on Craigslist. My apartment was listed a fair way down and I just contacted the seller on the off chance that it might still be available. It wasn’t. But as luck turned out she actually owned a few properties in the area that were available. In a matter of days I found the cutest studio apartment, fully furnished, with a roof that I can sunbathe on, and a killer view of Oaxaca – and all for 3000 pesos a month (that’s £140 or $230)
This is the flat…
And this is the view…
Good luck with your Oaxaca apartment hunt!