Playa del Carmen has become a very popular digital nomad destination in Mexico.
But what does it cost to live in this hotspot destination?
With a fun chill vibe, great cafe and coworking scene, and a strong digital nomad network, it’s easy to make quick connections with others and enjoy the relaxed, yet vibrant life that Playa offers.
Playa del Carmen is also a very large tourist town which means it is very developed and offers a lot of great restaurants, shopping, and other activities to choose from.
Why Should Digital Nomads Go To Playa del Carmen?
Most digital nomads heading to Mexico can get a 180 days visa on arrival.
This makes it a very popular country to travel to and Playa del Carmen is a great place to start.
Landing at Cancun Airport, it will only take you about 45 minutes by Taxi or Shuttle to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. You will then find it easy to settle in with lots of great places to work, other digital nomads looking to connect, and a range of places to explore.
The whole city, in general, is geared towards tourists, so those looking for an authentic experience may be a little disappointed.
In saying that, there are some fantastic traditional local Mexican restaurants and you can take an easy day/overnight trips to go explore the nearby attractions such as:
- the beautiful cenotes
- local towns
- museums and
- historical Mayan sites
Best Time To Visit Playa del Carmen?
Playa del Carmen has different seasons.
Now when I say seasons, I am not necessarily referring to the weather.
I am referring more to how many tourists to come and visit.
As it turns out, most tourists visit when the weather is best – which makes sense.
Why does this matter? Because the cost of living in Playa del Carmen heavily varies on the time of year you choose to visit.
“High season” is when there are more tourists in Playa and “low season” refers to when there are fewer tourists.
The high season usually kicks off from the beginning of December and goes all the way through to the end of April. Then, from early May to the end of November, you are in the low season as tourism drops off significantly.
Basically it is tourists visiting from the rest of North America trying to get away from the heavy winters and catch some sun.
Low season is a good time to go because you can often get much better deals on everything. It will probably cost around 40% less for your stay during the low season in Playa del Carmen.
The best weather in Playa del Carmen is in the high season, as it is still warm and sunny but there isn’t any humidity and the heat is comfortable.
If you come during this time, you will just have to battle the tourist crowds and the prices will increase significantly.
You will also need to book longer stays much further in advance.
In our opinion…the best time to visit Playa del Carmen is during the shoulder months.
Cost of Living Playa del Carmen: How Much It REALLY Costs
Like most places around the world, the cost of living in Playa del Carmen is completely up to you.
If you plan to live in cheaper accommodation, cook your food, and live on a tighter budget – Playa del Carmen can be relatively inexpensive.
At the lowest end, you could stay in Playa for roughly $1,000 USD for a single person and $1,400 for a couple per month. This would include rent, food, groceries, transport, and some activities.
For a more comfortable living, you are looking at about $1,500 USD for a single person and around $1,900 USD for a couple per month. This would include a nicer apartment and give you the freedom to explore and enjoy all of the different food and activities around the area.
So with that said, let’s take a look at our cost of living as a couple in Playa del Carmen. We were there for 3 months so the below breakdown is our average each month.
Our Breakdown Cost of Living In Playa del Carmen, Mexico
I’ve listed the various expenses we had as digital nomads in Playa del Carmen below.
|Activities & Entertainment||$194|
|Travel Insurance (SafetyWing)||$80|
Our cost of living for one month in Playa del Carmen is: $1,949 USD
Accommodation Costs In Playa del Carmen:
We stayed at the Gallery Condos which has become quite a popular place for digital nomads to stay.
Included in our very modern 1 bedroom apartment we had a king-size bed, 2 large 4k smart TVs, full kitchen with an oven, big balcony, living room and fast internet.
The building amenities included:
- a good gym
- a yoga room
- a games room with a pool table
- movie theater and
- 2 large pools – one at the bottom with a bar and the other is a rooftop pool with plenty of space to relax.
There was also a spa center which unfortunately was shut at the time. But here they had a sauna, steam room and wellness area where you could get massage treatments for an extra cost.
A great place to stay for 3 months!
Keep in mind we got an extremely good deal as the listing was new and it was during COVID. If you look at our place on Airbnb now, you could expect to pay closer to $1,100 USD (and above) which makes sense with everything you get included.
Images courtesy of Airbnb
The most important thing for us was the location because we wan ted the ability to walk to different places.
In general, Playa del Carmen is very walkable, so you should be fine as long as you are in the Centro area.
When looking for an apartment expect to pay 10,000 – 18,000 pesos ($500 – $900 USD) for a nice place in the low season. You will probably pay more like 17,000 to 28,000 ($850 – 1,400 USD) in high season.
I have outlined the typical “low” and “high” seasons above.
You can get much cheaper accommodation if you are not picky about where you stay for as low as $8,000 pesos ($400 USD). But these are not very common and you will have to put in some work to get it.
Accommodation might be the biggest contributor to your cost of living in Playa del Carmen. Hype, trends and a rising hotspot = expensive apartments.
Can You Negotiate the Price for Monthly Stays?
The short answer is yes!
The longer answer starts with “depending on what season you are in”.
During the high tourist seasons, you will see prices on apartments double and find that the service provided by local real estate agents drops significantly.
We even found that a lot of real estate agents won’t bother to reply because they already have more than enough clients looking to rent apartments.
If you are staying for 30 days or longer, it’s worth trying to negotiate.
If you are staying for 2 months or longer negotiate.
In high season, it will be much tougher to negotiate for the price itself, so focus on external things like having utilities included or other perks that you might like.
Apartment Utility Costs
All of the utilities including fast wifi, electricity, and water were all included in our rent so we didn’t have to pay any of these.
If you are booking your place through a local agent, try to negotiate to have all of the utilities included in your rent, if they aren’t already.
This will make your life much easier.
Electricity for a 1 bedroom air-conditioned apartment will cost roughly $1300 to $1800 pesos ($65 – $90 USD) per month, depending on your use.
Due to COVID, we opted not to take coworking which was a big decision, because if you know us, we are coworking enthusiasts.
We mainly worked from our apartment and a small cafe nearby.
There are some great coworking spaces in Playa de Carmen, with the most popular ones being Nest Coworking and Bunker Coworking.
Nest Coworking costs $180 USD for one month.
Bunker Coworking is $170 USD for one month.
We found that grocery costs varied quite a bit depending on where you went. There are quite a few large grocery stores in the Playa del Carmen Centro area including:
- MEGA Soriana
- Walmart and
- Super Aki
As we lived closest to MEGA Soriana, we often went there. We did however stop at Walmart and Super Aki to pick up some things that MEGA didn’t stock.
All in all-
Groceries in Playa and Mexico, in general, are quite cost-effective and you have a great selection to choose from.
To give you a bit more of an idea of how much groceries are in Playa, here is the price of a few popular items:
- 12 Eggs: 33 pesos ($ 1.68USD
- 1L of Milk: 27 pesos ($ 1.36USD
- Loaf of Bread: 46 pesos ($ 2.32USD)
- Apples: (43 pesos/kg ($ 2.17USD/kg)
And yes, it is true what they say avocados being available everywhere and cheap!
You can buy 1 avocado for about $0.46 cents, so definitely take advantage while you are there. We did!
Cost of Dining Out in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen has a lot of great restaurants, cafes, bars, and chill beach clubs to explore.
This was one of my favorite things about Playa.
You have a nice selection of international and local Mexican foods to choose from and all of it is within walking distance in the Centro area.
Depending on what you feel like, most restaurant meals for one person typically range from $80 pesos up to $200 pesos ($4 to $10 USD) plus tip.
If you head to a fancier restaurant you can expect to pay more like $250 to $300 pesos ($13 to $17.50 USD) per person.
Non-alcoholic drinks are about $25 pesos ($1.30 USD) and alcoholic drinks are about $80 pesos ($4 USD), of course – it depends on what you get.
Beer at restaurants and bars is typical 35 pesos per bottle (1.80 USD).
We ate out at least one meal a day out because it is relatively inexpensive and you never get tired of the food because of the variety of choices available.
Should You Tip In Playa del Carmen?
In Playa del Carmen it is common to tip when you dine in at the restaurant.
Usually, 10% to 15% is considered normal.
If you are really happy, you can tip 20%.
Warning: Before you tip, make sure you check the bill because some restaurants will already include a service charge on top of your meal (without telling you).
Coffee in Playa del Carmen
If you know us, you know that coffee is important to us.
As we have traveled throughout Central and South America, I have really enjoyed the variety of different coffee that is grown locally throughout each region.
our favorite coffee shop is Midogo Cafe on Avenida 10
Most coffee that cafes use Playa del Carmen is sourced from within Mexico which is fantastic as you can try a variety of local coffees.
We tried a lot of different cafes in Playa del Carmen that were both great to work from and served really good food.
A latte or cappuccino in Playa will typically cost about $50 pesos ($2.5 USD) with americanos being around $40 pesos ($2 USD).
This makes coffee relatively inexpensive and something we enjoyed having out each day!
Cost Drinking Water
Drinking water in Playa del Carmen can be bought from most convenience stores such as OXXO, small tiendas, and supermarkets.
We were quick to start buying the big 20L blue bottles as you don’t want to be running to the store each day and it’s a lot more economical.
You will first need to buy the 20L blue bottle which costs $100 pesos ($5 USD) at OXXO.
You can then just keep changing it over for a full one every time you need it, which will cost $37 pesos ($1.85 USD).
Cost of Transport Within Playa del Carmen
There are lots of different options for transport in and around Playa del Carmen making it a friendly place to travel within on any budget.
As I mentioned earlier, Playa del Carmen is also very walkable, so we didn’t take many taxis or shuttles unless we were heading out of the Centro area for something.
Taxis will typically cost 50-60 pesos ($2.5 – $3 USD) to travel anywhere within the Centro area.
There is also a great bicycle share app called BiciPlaya which we used a lot. You will see stations located primarily throughout Centro where you can walk up, scan the bike, and ride it for up to 30 minutes at a time.
The app is similar to companies like Ofo and Mobike.
You can choose plans for 1, 3, 7, 365 days.
The 365-day plan is the one that we had and it only costs 420 pesos ($21 USD) for unlimited use of the bicycles for the entire year.
Bikes are in good working condition and seem to be serviced regularly. The bike stations are relatively convenient although sometimes you may have to walk a bit to get yourself a bike.
If you want to hire a car, the cost will really depend on what season it is and how long you want it for.
Hiring a car in low-season, meaning when there are fewer tourists, will cost you as little as $20 USD a day including basic insurance.
In high season, you can expect to be paying around $75 USD per day and that’s if you can even find an available car.
SIM Card & Pre-Paid Data Plan Costs
We found mobile internet to be reliable and relatively inexpensive.
The 3 main phone SIM card providers in Mexico are
They are all pretty competitively priced, although Movistar is a little bit cheaper than the others.
With that said Telcel generally has better service across Mexico which is why it costs a little bit more.
We chose Telcel because we were continuing to travel across Mexico so cell reception was very important to us. Around Playa del Carmen, you will find that all of the companies will have good cell reception.
It will cost between $39-$149 pesos ($2 to $7.50 USD) to buy the SIM card in Playa del Carmen itself depending on the company you go with.
Pre-paid plans typically start at $150 pesos ($7.50 USD) for a 30-day plan and go up from there depending on how much data you need and the perks that are attached.
Activities & Entertainment Costs
Activities and entertainment in Playa del Carmen are a little bit hard to exactly how much it will cost you. It depends on what activities you want to do and again what season it is.
There is quite a lot to see around Playa del Carmen ranging from your typical tourist attractions to amazing crystal clear cenotes and of course amazing, unique historical sites.
Combined, we ended up spending an average of $194 USD each month for our activities and entertainment over the 3 months.
We did some pretty cool things included in this cost like:
- visiting some cenotes
- taking a ferry over to Cozumel
- hiring a car
- going out to Valladolid
- seeing Chichen Itza
Gym Membership Cost
We were fortunate enough to have a good gym inside of our apartment building, so we didn’t take a gym membership while in Playa del Carmen.
If you will need a gym while in Playa, you are spoilt for choice with lots of great ones located in the Centro area.
You will also find that there are many different types of gyms depending on what activities you want to do including:
- health clubs
- martial arts
- training classes
- and of course your regular gyms
The two most popular ones are Evolve Gym on 5th Ave. and The Gym which is located at the end of Av. Constituyentes.
Membership prices will vary depending on the type of gym you choose and what’s included in your membership plan.
Expect to pay somewhere between $1,000 to $1,800 pesos ($50 – $80 USD) for a 1-month membership pass at a decent gym.
If you aren’t too picky and happy to use older equipment with no AC, you can find monthly memberships for as low as $400 pesos ($20 USD).
Wrap Up: Cost Of Living Playa del Carmen for Digital Nomads
Playa del Carmen is a great location for long-term stays and has a good digital nomad community.
After spending 3 months there, we can see why it has fast become a popular digital nomad hotspot.
The cost of living in Playa del Carmen depends very much on the lifestyle you want while there, with the 2 biggest factors being the type of apartment you have and the time that you come to visit.
If you’re looking for a developed city, with a great beach vibe…
…you will enjoy Playa del Carmen regardless (even if you are on a tighter budget).
Save This Post For Later On Pinterest
We want to hear from you…
Is this the price you expected? Did you find Playa del Carmen affordable for digital nomads? What’s your experience? Comment below and let us know. We read every response!