The neighborhood in Mexico boasts colorful, colonial-style architecture.
Jalatlaco, a centuries-old romantic neighborhood in Mexico’s Oaxaca City, is a placid place defined by its ever-present past.
It’s an idyllic oasis of colorful colonial architecture and contemporary coffee bars. And of quaint cobblestone streets that lead to avant-garde restaurants.
And at Jalatlaco, relaxation rules. Civilization, for those who desire it, is a short stroll away in Centro Histórico, the heart not only of Oaxaca City, but also of Oaxaca State.
In the center of Oaxaca City, Jalatlaco is bordered by Calzada Niños Heroes on the east, Boulevard Eduardo Vasconcelos on the south and Calzada de la Republica on the north. The western border, which comes to a sharp point, is the termination of the streets forming the north and south sides.
Jalatlaco, Oaxaca Google Maps
Typically, prices start at US$180,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house, according to Dolores Pérez Islas, general director and CEO of the real estate investment company Silmexico. (Prices in Oaxaca are often quoted in U.S. dollars.)
“The average house in this price category is a fixer-upper that needs some love to regain its beauty,” she said. “Most of the properties have been under the same ownership for more than 50 years.”
Remodeled homes that have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a dining room generally sell for US$350,000 to US$500,000, she said, adding that those with more amenities and bedrooms can cost US$800,000 or more.
Homes in a great location on one of the neighborhood’s main streets in the main square command US$800,000 to US$1.5 million, she said, noting that “they have potential to be boutique hotels or Airbnbs.”
She added that such properties are “in operation, producing great capital gains,” due to low costs and potential rental incomes.
John Harvey Williams, an owner/partner of Real Estate Oaxaca, noted that because Mexico doesn’t have an MLS, the prices recorded on deeds are frequently lower than what’s actually paid.
“Real estate values in Mexico are the sum of the value of the land and construction,” he said. “Land in Jalatlaco is valued at around US$100 per square foot. Construction is valued at from zero for a tear-down to around US$75 per square foot for the finest quality construction and finishings.”
Empty lots in Jalatlaco, however, are few and far between. “I can think of only a half dozen that are empty now, and none of them are for sale,” he said.
He noted that increasingly, tear-downs are being replaced by luxury houses. “The neighborhood is gentrifying big time because of the value of the land,” he said.
The predominant style of housing is colonial, with what Ms. Pérez Islas calls “some intervention of contemporary designs.”
The mix, Mr. Williams added, is 50% colonial, 40% a mishmash of styles on the same structure that was altered through the decades, and 10% modern.
The houses are 15 to 200 years old and are single-family.
“There are no condos, and there are very limited lots in the neighborhood, so there are not new developments,” Ms. Pérez Islas said. “But there is a great opportunity to buy small houses of less than 100 square meters and convert them to lofts or studios with great ROI results.”
Listed for US$849,000, this 5,201-square-foot house has three bedrooms, two full baths, two half baths, a rooftop terrace, an interior garage and an artist’s studio.Photo by www.realestateoaxaca.com
Meanwhile, the traditional great estates are passed down generation to generation and seldom come on the market.
When they do, according to Ms. Pérez Islas, they usually sell within two months. “Even fixer-uppers get sold fast,” she said. “Lately, we have had some grand old estates that were remodeled by some international buyers who are moving back to their countries. These properties represent a great opportunity to access a stunning property in a fantastic location.”
Mr. Williams added that Jalatlaco has retained its old-world charm because the exterior architecture and color schemes of the 18 and 19-century houses are protected by the federal government’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
“In Mexico, there’s a tradition of brightly colored facades and mural paintings on the facades of buildings, and Jalatlaco is no exception,” he said. “The houses are painted in Mexican pinks, blues, reds and yellows.”
What Makes It Unique
It is the cobbled streets, picturesque houses and tranquil atmosphere that make Jalatlaco so charming, Ms. Pérez Islas said.
“It’s close to the historic center, the Centro Histórico, of Oaxaca City,” she noted. “The whole neighborhood has the atmosphere of times past and is peaceful, even though it’s a cultural hub.”
Mr. Williams agreed, adding that the tranquility comes from the fact that there are not many cars and no noisy local buses as in the adjoining Centro Histórico neighborhood. “You don’t need cars,” he said. “You can walk everywhere. Besides which, the streets are narrow, and you can’t add a garage to any building that is more than 100 years old.”
The bell tower of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca City’s Centro Histórico.Getty Images
The carefully preserved colonial architecture, Ms. Pérez Islas added, “gives a magic touch that every owner wishes to obtain. It’s surprising that there are still places like Jalatlaco, since it looks like it did 100 years ago.”
Calling Jalatlaco a piece of paradise, Ms. Pérez Islas said that “everybody coming to Oaxaca City wishes to live here, either renting or buying. But the portfolio is limited because few are willing to sell.”
Jalatlaco’s history is immortalized it in its monuments, including the Panteon General cemetery, which is right outside its borders, and the home of the 19th-century composer Macddonio Alcalá, who is noted for the waltz “Dios Nunca Muere” (“God Never Dies”).
“The community plays a very important part in the annual Day of the Dead celebration in November,” Ms. Pérez Islas said. “The cemetery, which has very old and colonial architecture, shows off its magnificent beauty during the procession of the souls.”
Mr. Williams said that one of the neighborhood’s greatest assets is its residents. “They are charming, friendly, intelligent and open to newcomers,” he said.
From its restaurants and coffee bars to its historic architecture, Jalatlaco combines the best of the past and the present.
Social life in the neighborhood revolves around the Temple of San Matías Jalatlaco, which dates to the 17 century.
“The church’s pipe organ recently was restored,” Mr. Williams said. “Public concerts are held there. When they open the doors and windows, you can hear the music in the outdoor courtyard.”
The Temple of San Matías JalatlacoCes ces / Creative Commons
The coffee bars and restaurants in Jalatlaco are another reason to linger there.
Mr. Williams likes to stop in at the Blason café, which serves Mexican coffee, and the Xiguela Cafe, an organic restaurant, and its companion organic market Xiguela Tienda.
Ms. Pérez Islas singles out La Toscana, which serves Italian dishes in a restored 18-century building, and Meson de Jalatlaco, whose Mexican menu has vegan and vegetarian options, as spots that attract locals and tourists.
Mr. Williams noted that the neighborhood has several new luxury hotels, including the City Express Oaxaca, which he called “gorgeous.”
What residents can’t find in Jalatlaco is only blocks or minutes away in the Centro Histórico neighborhood, which is a hub of culture and activities.
In Centro Histórico, a stroll along Alcalá, a charming pedestrian corridor paved with green stones from a local quarry, leads to all major cultural points of interest.
Sites include the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, a baroque church constructed in phases between the 16 and 18 centuries, and its former convent, which is a museum called the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca.
There also are the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca, a museum that Mr. Williams said is known for its art history library; the Museo de Arte Prehispánico de México Rufino Tamayo, which houses a collection of pre-Hispanic Mexican art; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca; and the Museum of Oaxacan Painters.
Mr. Williams pointed out that a new sports center, Eugnacio CRAD, is only a five-minute walk from Jalatlaco. “It has a gym, a track, two football courts and a swimming pool,” he noted.
Benito Juarez, a large city park, borders the neighborhood.
Some 10 blocks from Jalatlaco is the MercadoBenito Juárez. “It’s an amazing, beautiful and colorful market with endless stalls of cheese, mescal, fried grasshoppers, and its famous peanuts,” Mr. Williams said. “I buy beef tenderloin there for US$3.75 per pound; it would be US$40 per pound in New York City.”
For fish, he shops at Mercado La Merced, which is one block from Jalatlaco and features one of his favorite shops, La Red.
The Liverpool department store, which sells mid- to high-end products ranging from clothing and cosmetics to furniture and electronics, is about two miles from the mercado.
There are two public schools in Jalatlaco: Escuela Secundaria Tecnica No. 1, a technical school for students in junior high; and Preparatoria No. 2 de la Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca, a high school.
“The schools take up huge land spaces,” Mr. Williams said. “So it’s very quiet after two o’clock in the afternoon on weekdays and on weekends when students are not there. It adds to the tranquility of the neighborhood.”
He added that the elementary schools, as well as the private and bilingual schools, are nearby in Centro Histórico.
When residents do want to get away, they walk to the ADO bus terminal, whose vehicles travel all over the country. “The buses are extremely luxurious,” Mr. Williams said. “Riding on them is like flying first class on a commercial plane.”
Who Lives There
In addition to old-money families who have lived in the neighborhood for generations, Jalatlaco is home to a variety of people from abroad.
“There are many expats from Canada and the United States,” Mr. Williams said. “Some people come here to work remotely, but most come to retire—either early or on time—to enjoy the neighborhood.”
Jalatlaco’s status as a multicultural hub with local and international owners makes it attractive to buyers, Ms. Pérez Islas said. “This is the reason the prices have increased dramatically during the last two decades,” she said, adding that they have risen 3% annually per square meter since the 1990s, making them almost 35% higher today. “In the past five years alone, prices have gone up dramatically, between 15% to 35%.”
Mr. Williams noted that in 2019, there has been a substantial increase in interest and sales in Jalatlaco properties. “At my firm, sales volume is up 300% over last year,” he said. “For the last five years, prices have been increasing around 3% annually, but I expect them to go up at least 10% this year due to increasing demand and scarce supply in the most desirable areas.”
Although most of his sales recently have come from buyers abroad, Mr. Williams said he expects that to change. “I’ve been selling real estate in Mexico for 35 years, and based on what’s happened in other neighborhoods, I know that once the buzz starts, wealthy Mexicans will flood in,” he said. “In fact, we just sold a property in Jalatlaco to someone from Mexico City, so it’s already starting.”
By NANCY A. RUHLING
The Mazatlan Post