I asked this question to my friend Lauren who spent a year there in 2009-2010 with her husband and three children. They rented a house in San Felipe del Agua, took Spanish lessons, and immersed themselves in the cuisine, the culture, and the very agreeable climate. “We had an amazing year in Oaxaca,” Lauren said.
She goes on to endorse the experience for others by describing Oaxaca as a family-friendly place that is safe for kids. Her take on it is that the narco-wars are not occurring remotely close to Oaxaca, and although they took the same precautions anyone should in a large city, Lauren says the family generally felt SAFER in Oaxaca than they did in their home town — a large U.S. city.
We recommend “The Family Sabbatical Handbook” by Elisa Bernick.
Lauren used it to prepare her family for their residency in Oaxaca. She says it covers perspectives from many different countries but the author and her family lived in San Miguel de Allende, so there is plenty of info specific to Mexico. Though the book is not specific to Oaxaca, much can be extrapolated, generalized, and put to good use when considering Oaxaca as a destination for your family. The Family Sabbatical Handbook describes how to go about choosing housing, type of schooling (immersion or bi-lingual), finding medical care and health insurance, traversing cultural differences, coping with homesickness, and lots of resources to help you plan and enjoy the adventure.