Home in Oaxaca

Retirement and Vacation Homes


DID YOU KNOW?: Travel and Leisure magazine has repeatedly named the city of Oaxaca one of the World's Best Cities in all of Latin America (including Mexico, Central America and South America). It has been in the number 1 or number 2 spot for several years.

Mexico is the number ONE tourist destination for Americans and the second most popular destination for Canadians (the United States is first).

Americans and Canadians retiring in Mexico tend to congregate in five areas: San Miguel de Allende, Mazatlan, Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Lake Chapala. There are over 50,000 ex-pats living on the shores of Lake Chapala.

Oaxaca, located on a 5,000-foot-high plateau, is not as yet the most popular destination for North Americans (although it is quite popular with Europeans). But its climate, cuisine, handicrafts, architecture, history, its relaxed pace, and friendly people will soon entice many North American retirees.

Oaxaca is the only one of the popular tourist destinations that has not yet been seriously affected by globalization. In other words, it is less expensive than any of the other four retirement areas in Mexico. Indeed, it is one of the least expensive places to live in all of Mexico.


The history of Oaxaca traces its roots as far back as seven thousand years, when the land was occupied by as many as 18 diverse ethnic groups. Three of the most dominant groups were the Mixtecs, the Mixe and the Zapotecs. The Mixtecs occupied the areas surrounding Sierra Madre and as far as Tutupec, while the Zapotecs moved to the central valleys in the Sierra Norte. The Mixe remained in the upper highlands.

When the Aztecs came, they settled in the areas around Cerro del Fortin including the area where the Church of Carmen presently stands. They named this central valley Huaxyacac, in reference to the huaje trees that filled the lush landscape.

The Spanish forces, which arrived in the year 1521 and settled in a place known as Segura de la Frontera, found Huaxyacac difficult to pronounce so they renamed it Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka). The settlement was officially named a royal city in the year 1532 and further renamed to Atequera de Guaxaca by the King Carlos V of Spain. It was Alonso Garcia Bravo who did the first mapping of the city. The first mayor, Don Juan Pelaez de Berrio, distributed land to the first 120 families of the Spanish forces and its allies among the indigenous people.

Oaxaca gained prominence in the colonial era due to its ideal location as gateway to Central and South America, as well as its rich, verdant landscape, intricate textiles and rumored gold mines. The Oaxacans are a proud and mighty people and stepped to the forefront during the Mexican War of Independence. Oaxaca was declared a free state in 1823, one year before the nation of Mexico was consolidated in 1824.

Today, the State of Oaxaca holds a population of about 4 million, while the capital city of the same name holds about half a million residents.

Thinking about Retiring in Mexico?

There are a lot of reasons why you should consider retiring in Mexico and especially Oaxaca:
1. It is economical (the cost of living is between a half and a third of what it is in Canada or the U.S).
2. It is a lot like home in that you can shop in American style stores (like Sam's Club), see first run American movies in modern cineplex theaters, and so on.
3. The weather is constant (hot to warm during the day; warm to cool in the evening) with no cold winters to deal with as it rarely goes as low as 10C or 50F.
4. Medical care for ex-pats is first rate with many of the doctors having been trained in the USA. We could go on and on...

Information About Retiring in Mexico

1. Depending on the retiree's plans for staying in Mexico, there are different visa procedures. For someone looking to stay in Mexico for a short period, a tourist visa (FM-T) is easy to obtain. It is valid for up to six months but does not grant work status.

2. Rentista is a non-working visa available only to retirees aged 51 or older. Applications for rentista status must be accompanied by a letter from a bank, social security agency, or financial institution, certifying that the applicant receives a certain minimum monthly income.

3. Foreigners who have lived in the country for five years are eligible to become permanent residents and acquire most of the rights and obligations of a Mexican national. The change to permanent resident status is not automatic and is subject to the guidelines of Mexico's Immigration and Naturalization Service.

4. Owning or renting a home in Mexico is relatively easy. Foreigners can buy directly in any area that is not near the coast or the border. If the property is within 60 miles of the border or 30 miles of the coast, non-Mexicans are required to purchase through a fideicomiso (beneficial trust).

5. Medical benefits stop at the border, so it is advised that Canadian and American retirees in Mexico buy health insurance. In general, the quality of healthcare in Mexico is very good. Hospitals, both private and public, are usually easily accessible and well equipped.

6. Retirees also have the option of signing up for the medical IMSS plan (Mexican Social Security). It costs approximately $200 a year and covers medical, dental, and vision care.

7. Another healthcare alternative is to buy a private insurance policy in Mexico that covers major medical expenses.

8. Generally speaking, there is no need to have a car in Mexico; public transportation is affordable and reliable.

For more information, contact the Mexican Tourism Board at visitmexico.com or Mexico Online.
In Canada, call 800-44-MEXICO.
In the U.S., call 212-821-0314, fax: 212-821-0367

Canadians should consult Canadians Retiring Abroad

We Make Retiring in Mexico EASY!