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Oaxaca City a favorite expatriate community where rental discrimination abounds

Summer afternoon in the majestic Santo Domingo de Guzman Church and fomer monestary in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Summer afternoon in the majestic Santo Domingo de Guzman Church and fomer monestary in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Gabriela Guzman

Colonial Oaxaca City is not only one of the safest states in Mexico but one of the most beautiful cities the country has to offer. Known for its excellent and unique indigenous cuisine, the city is lined with colonial-styled buildings and cobbled-stoned sidewalks everywhere you turn. The town’s square, its archaeological sites and its 16th century former monastery, are only a few of the attractions that expatriates can enjoy.

Because of all the beauty and tranquility that Oaxaca has to offer, many foreigners decide to make this state their home. Some people buy homes while others are happy just to rent a place there indefinitely.

Spacious two-story homes with at least 3 bedrooms and two small apartments within the property in the city centre average about $200,000 dollars in value. Property taxes are about $1000 dollars a year. If you're looking to buy a home there, rest assured that realtors and owners will at least double the price of its original value to those interested.

A fair monthly rental price in the historical center for a one bedroom apartment is about $400 USD, though there are highly unscrupulous owners who will try elevate rental rates to equate US rental prices from $800 USD and above. Prices have been creeping up yearly, specifically targeting unsuspecting foreigners.

If you're traveling with a pet, one of the most coveted rental spots is Casa Sopetran, one block north of the church of our Lady of Solitude (La Iglesia de la Virgen de la Soledad). Weekly and monthly Rental prices are fair and the hosts are friendly and very helpful.

Another spot is at Oaxaca Apartments on Crespo street. Rates are monthly, reasonable and pets are also allowed.

Foreigners looking to rent are usually not subjected to the strict requirements that Mexican citizens demand of their own nationals (i.e.; deposits, letters of recommendations and such). However, discrimination does exist.

Such is the place of Casa Leon in the Xochimilco district of the city. Located 1/2 a block from the overrated Pochote organic market, the area seems to be exclusively reserved for white tourists. The organic market is largely run by white foreigners for white foreigners. Hardly any of its original people sell there unless they're on the sidelines, marginalized like most of their indigenous street vendors, selling flowers or candies to passersby.

Casa Leon's aim is to attract European-looking renters, not olive or dark-skinned foreigners. With headlines reading "Belle chambre a louer" and "Rooms for Rent" the message is clear. Such is the experience of Hispanic tourists who sought out the advertisement on Craigslist and were denied access because of their Latino looking features.

While some foreigners think it is OK for owners to discriminate renters based on their looks and skin color, it is against the law, even in Mexico.

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