A reader writes: We were thinking of renting a house outside of Oaxaca this April. Heard some rumors that it may not safe? Also does one need your own transportation? Are there enough buses around and frequent enough to be taken places? Thanks. –D Churpa answers:
For as long as I can remember, Oaxaca has been a politically charged state, with more strikes and demonstrations than most other parts of Mexico. However, this agitation doesn’t tend to be aimed at visiting gringos. The 2013 Mexico Peace Index (conducted by the Institute of Economics and Peace) notes that Oaxaca is now one of the most peaceful states in Mexico. In fact, along with Yucatan and Chiapas, Oaxaca has the most improved levels of peace in the past decade. To create this index, analysts looked at homicide rates, violent crime, incarceration, police funding, efficiency of the justice system, and organized crime. According to this data, Oaxaca now rates as one of the top six most peaceful states in Mexico. Oaxaca is not the only state that’s getting safer: the surveys found that in the past two years Mexico has seen a 7.4 percent “increase in peace.” That said, exercise caution. Talk with locals or local gringos to get a feel for which neighborhoods and villages are safe and friendly.
I have not personally traveled to Oaxaca this year, but my husband and I were there for about a month last winter and I didn’t feel threatened at any point. We even did some camping on remote beaches and accidentally engaged in some ill-advised night driving. Our friends Billy and Kaki just sent us positive dispatches from their recent trip; they didn’t report any problems. For more info on Oaxaca, check out our most recent Oaxaca adventures or visit the website Oaxaca Calendar for upcoming events. You can also read my Oaxaca recommendations at Viator.com. As to your question about public transportation. Oaxaca has a fairly extensive system of buses and colectivos, or group taxis. Colectivos will also take you to surrounding villages. I think you could get around Oaxaca fine without a car, though you may want to consider getting one, depending on where you live. Hope this helps. Do we have any readers in Oaxaca who can give us an update on the current situation? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section.