The colonial city of Cuernavaca has long been standing since 1200 AD, back when the Spanish occupied the city. Following its colonization, the city continued to become a gateway and holiday destination for rich Spaniards and locals residing in the capital. Today, the city is a favorite destination of both local and foreign visitors, the perfect escape from the busy life in Mexico City. But, not everything in Cuernavaca is perfect beyond the surface. Thanks to the city’s good climate and warm people, volunteer programs in Cuernavaca provide volunteers with a welcoming, inspiring international experience.
Costs & Affordability
The cost of living in Cuernavaca is quite low, yet the lifestyle is still modern, and the hustle and bustle of city life is nowhere to be found. As the city has gradually become a more popular destination for tourists, luxury resorts and posh restaurants are popping up more and more. However, if you are on a budget it is still possible to volunteer in Cuernavaca on a minimal budget; just go where the locals go. There are cheap local markets and simple restaurants around every corner, so your daily expenses will depend entirely on your personal choices.
Typically, volunteer programs in Cuernavaca include airport transfer, accommodation, orientation, and 24 hour staff assistance. Volunteers can usually choose to live independently or with a host family. For those who chose to live independently while volunteering in Cuernavaca, it is best to live in a shared apartment to cut down on housing costs. Apartments range from $250 to $500 for apartments with one to three bedrooms. To put other daily costs into perspective, consider that a one liter bottle of water costs under $1 in Cuernavaca.
Getting around Cuernavaca is also affordable, and efficient. There are public buses that cover short distance travel within the city center, and for longer routes there are also buses that take passengers to neighboring cities as well as throughout the country. Traveling within the city is relatively easy once you get to know the bus routes and bus number. Alternatively, taking a taxi is also possible and more convenient, but more pricey too.
Accommodation & Visas
Generally, living arrangements are provided for volunteers in Cuernavaca by their host organizations. Depending on the options offered by the volunteer program in Cuernavaca, volunteers may be able to live with a local family or in a shared apartment with other international volunteers.
Each year, volunteers from different countries come to volunteer in Cuernavaca in many different sectors, so the visa process is quite easy. When foreign volunteers arrive in Mexico (at a border or international airport), all they have to do is fill out a visitor’s permit, also known as the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM), which is valid for 180 days (or 6 months). For those who plan to volunteer in Cuernavaca for more than six months they will need to exit and enter the country and then apply for a Residente Temporal Visa, which is valid for a one year stay in Mexico.
Benefits & Challenges
Cuernavaca’s mountain location, lovely climate all year round, convenience, and old colonial city feel makes it a very attractive place to volunteer abroad in Mexico. The only major challenge that first time visitors face is the language barrier, if their Spanish language skills are limited, since it is the national language of Mexico. It can be especially difficult to communicate with locals in smaller cities, such as Cuernavaca, without basic Spanish skill, since English language skills are much less common in these areas and locals typically have less exposure to foreign visitors.
The international vibe in Cuernavaca is constantly growing. Modern amenities and Western style restaurants and accommodation are becoming more and more common. Not to mention the city hosts a number of festivals each year and volunteers will surely enjoy participating in the celebrations.