Being a Playa del Carmen digital nomad has always been a dream of ours ever since we started this lifestyle.
The sunshine, the beach, and Mexican food?! What’s not to love about Playa del Carmen?! It seemed like a haven for digital nomads, remote workers and online entrepreneurs!
When the opportunity came about to finally become Playa del Carmen digital nomads – we bought our tickets, booked our apartment and set off for the Caribbean horizon.
Spoiler Alert: We loved it so much – we extended our stay to 3 months (the longest we’ve stayed in 1 city!).
We hope this guide gives you a realistic idea of what it’s like to be a Playa del Carmen digital nomad. We made sure to include everything from the cost of living, where to stay, coworking spaces and whether there was a solid digital nomad community.
Let’s get this started. Vamos!
Why Playa del Carmen Could Be The Next Digital Nomad Hotspot?
You’ve got the digital nomad trifecta cities – Chiang Mai, Bali and Medellin. But what about Playa del Carmen? While we were in Southeast Asia as digital nomads, we always heard about how great and under-rated Playa del Carmen was. We knew it could be a great place for digital nomads because of the sunshine, the seemingly low cost of living and most importantly – wifi seemed to be at top speeds.
With coworking spaces popping up around town – we knew Playa del Carmen could become the next digital nomad hotspot. Especially since Chris the Freelancer went and spent a month there! And off we went to become Playa del Carmen digital nomads for a month (or so we thought) and see what all the hype is about.
We believe Playa del Carmen will continue to rise to the top of the list of digital nomad destinations for a lot of the reasons you’ll read below.
3 Months As A Playa del Carmen Digital Nomad Was Pure Bliss
We initially thought we would spend one month in Playa del Carmen then move around Mexico. We are definitely slow travelers which means we spend 1-3 months in a place to help us build a routine, get settled and *actually* get some work done.
We ended up being Playa del Carmen digital nomads for 3 months and we don’t regret it a single bit! We enjoyed eating tacos (almost) every single day, sipping on margaritas by the beach and getting to know fellow Playa del Carmen digital nomads.
To be honest: it’s easy to get stuck and comfortable in Playa del Carmen. You’ll see why by the end of this blog!
Visa Situation for Mexico
Mexico’s visa situation is quite unique. You get 180 days (6 months) visa on arrival!* This is such an attractive option for those that like to slow travel.
*Immigration officers in Mexico ultimately decide the number of days they’ll give you. It’s not guaranteed you’ll get 180 days (I’ve heard some get 90 days), every person we met in Playa seemed to have gotten 180 days. They will write the number of days you get on your FMM card.
How To Get To Playa del Carmen From Cancun Airport
The closest airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancun International Airport and it’s about a 1-hour drive away. Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is fairly straightforward.
Here are 2 of the best travel options:
- ADO Bus – Taking the bus will be the cheapest option. You might wait a little longer than compared to getting a private transfer but it’s the most cost-effective option. The ADO bus costs $216 pesos ($10.62 USD).
- Private Transfer – We chose this option. As it was our first time in Mexico, we wanted a smooth connection all the way through. We booked online in advance, found the guy right outside the terminal and hopped into the car. Fast, easy, and reliable! The company we went with is eTransfers and it cost us a total of $45 USD.
How to Get a SIM Card in Playa del Carmen?
Thankfully, there are plenty of options in Mexico for data/sim cards. Getting a sim card in Playa del Carmen was easy. We went to a stall beneath the MEGA Soriana grocery store and the lady helped us out.
There are three sim card options for Playa del Carmen digital nomads:
- AT&T Unidos
I asked my Mexican friend, Abraham, and he said that Telcel was the best for reception around Mexico so we went for Telcel.
Data works a little differently – you don’t just get unlimited everything. Let me explain – you’ll buy a 30-day package and you will get unlimited social media plus 3 GB of data for hot-spotting.
Check out our detailed guide on buying a sim card Playa del Carmen.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Playa del Carmen for Digital Nomads?
The best time to visit Playa del Carmen, in our opinion, is during the shoulder months (April, May, September, October). For a Playa del Carmen digital nomad who prefers fewer crowds of tourists and lower rental prices – this could be the right time for you to visit too.
This turns out to be a more important question than we thought because it directly impacts how your stay goes.
- The prices change drastically depending on the time you visit i.e. prices can either double or triple.
- It’s not always sunshine and rainbows in paradise! You have hurricane and sargassum season.
Make sure you take note of this before finalizing all your plans to become a Playa del Carmen digital nomad.
Best Months To Visit Playa del Carmen
The best months to visit Playa del Carmen are April, May, September and October.
While we had to deal with a few rainy days, we would prefer it!
Worst Months To Visit Playa del Carmen
The worst months to visit Playa del Carmen are December, January, February.
Talk about tourist central and you are usually paying 2x – 3x more for your apartment. While this is the best time weather-wise – you will pay for it.
Where To Stay in Playa del Carmen?
If you’re going to stay for only, we recommend getting a place in the center of town. This allows you to be 5-15 minutes from the beach, cafes, and restaurants.
However, if you’re looking to become a resident Playa del Carmen of 2-3+ months then you can look further out from the Centro area. There’s a bike rental app called BiciPlaya and it’s $25 for the year for unlimited rides. A good option if you decide to live further out.
These are the most popular neighborhoods amongst Playa del Carmen digital nomads:
- Zazil Ha
- CTM area
Word of warning: Stay at least 2-3 blocks away from 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) because it’s usually noisy all hours of the night and you’ll barely get any sleep!
What’s the best way to get a place while living in Playa del Carmen?
– Facebook Groups: Lots of digital nomads find places through FB groups and/or while they are walking around the town. You can book a place for 2-5 nights and focus on securing an apartment by contacting real estate agents, calling the signs on apartments and asking friends. This takes time but you will probably end up paying a reasonable price. Here’s the best ones to join:
- Rentals & Sales in Central Playa del Carmen – https://www.facebook.com/groups/centralpdc/
- Playa del Carmen Insiders Guide – https://www.facebook.com/groups/PlayadelCarmenInsidersGuide/
- Digital Nomads Playa Del Carmen Cancun Tulum – https://www.facebook.com/groups/digitalnomadplayatulumcancun
– Airbnb: The easiest and most expensive option is Airbnb. Again, if you’re only going to be here a month – it might be worth splashing a little more on your apartment to save you the hassle. We chose this option for our first month then negotiated with our host (off Airbnb) to stay for the next 2 months and this worked out best!
Our Playa del Carmen Digital Nomad Apartment
I have to preface this and say we got very lucky with our rental apartment.
While we were in Alaska, I was scouring Airbnb for the perfect apartment for us. Our budget was between $500-$700 USD for 1 month. There were surprisingly plenty of accommodation options within our budget and…
…We found our dream Airbnb Playa del Carmen apartment!
There were a lot of reasons we loved this place:
1. Location. Location. Location. We were in the heart of Centro but far enough away from 5th Avenida and still a 7-minute walk to the beach!
2. One bedroom place. It’s a big deal y’all. We are used to staying in small studio rental apartments! We actually had a real living room with a couch and a TV. Luxury!!!
3. Within our budget. We paid $684.41 USD for an entire month including all facilities, electricity, and wifi.
4. Building Facilities. Our Playa del Carmen digital nomad apartment building had a rooftop pool (sunsets were amazing up here), a billiard room, a home theater, and a meeting room. Yes – seriously all of that included in the price! Note: look for places with a building that has great facilities – this is a thing in Playa del Carmen.
FYI: Things have changed since we stayed (2020), prices have soared tremendously in Playa del Carmen. Think double or triple what we paid – no joke! So accommodation options are more limited now and you’ll have to plan ahead.
What’s the Wifi Speed in Playa del Carmen for digital nomads?
The wifi speed in Playa del Carmen was the best we had in Latin America. We went to San Cristobal de las Casas, Lake Atitlan, and Antigua Guatemala – it was still the best in PDC.
Our favorite digital nomad cafe to work from, Midogo Cafe, had speeds of 200+ Mbps. A rare and unique occurrence we later realized!
Our apartment wifi speed wasn’t the fastest at only about 10-15 Mbps but we were still able to stream Netflix and Matt could still play his Nintendo Switch.
Overall, the wifi speed in Playa del Carmen ranges from 10 Mbps to 200 Mbps. I know a big range but it’s pretty much a mixed bag depending on where you go. Check with your Airbnb host before booking so you don’t end up with super slow wifi (because you can get lower than 10 Mbps if you’re not careful).
Cost of Living for Playa del Carmen Digital Nomads
Have we convinced you yet to become a Playa del Carmen digital nomad?
Well, we understand that you might be asking yourself “What’s the cost of living Playa del Carmen?”
Just like we would wonder so we calculated every single dollar we spent while being Playa del Carmen digital nomads and it was surprisingly lower than expected!
Here’s a breakdown of everything we spent in Playa del Carmen:
- Accommodation: $684
- Utilities: –
- Coworking: –
- Groceries: $356
- Dining Out: $403
- Coffee: $144
- Drinking-Water: $18
- Transport: $48
- Phone Plan: $22
- Activities & Entertainment: $194
- Gym Membership: –
Our total cost of living for 1 month in Playa del Carmen is $1, 869 USD.
If you want a more detailed breakdown, check out our cost of living Playa del Carmen post.
Is There A Digital Nomad Community in Playa del Carmen?
There is a huge expat community in Playa del Carmen but is there a digital nomad one?
We’ve heard there was a good community but being there for 2-3 weeks, we didn’t really meet anyone. It was kinda weird but we also didn’t really put ourselves out there.
We went to a popular Tuesday night activity, Trivia Night. While it was fun, we didn’t really meet like-minded digital nomads that were on the road like us (there were more expats staying for at least 1-2 years).
However, I was in one of the digital nomad/expat WhatsApp groups and saw a text about a coworking meetup. So we leaped at the chance and made some pretty awesome friends there like Christina, Dave and Markus. From there, we created a pretty solid friend group!
So is there a Playa del Carmen digital nomad community? YES! Just be open, put yourself out there and work hard to get connected.
These are the best Facebook groups for Playa del Carmen digital nomads to join:
- Digital Nomad Crew Playa del Carmen & Tulum: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dncplayadelcarmen/
- Digital Nomads Playa Del Carmen Cancun Tulum: https://www.facebook.com/groups/digitalnomadplayatulumcancun/
Digital Nomad Tip: Join the groups BEFORE you land so you can hit the ground running with events, meetups and eventually friends!
3 Best Playa del Carmen Digital Nomad Coworking Spaces
You are spoilt for choice with coworking spaces as a Playa del Carmen digital nomad! New ones are popping up every year but we’ve rounded our top 3 here:
You might say NEST Coworking is the OG Playa del Carmen coworking space – it is also the largest space. They have comfortable chairs, a solid digital nomad community and fast wifi.
We would choose NEST coworking because the community is more our ‘vibe’ and they have created a great space to get some deep/focused work done!
Open 24/7; Monthly membership costs $180 USD; Wifi speeds of 60+ Mbps.
BUNKER Playa del Carmen Coworking is another great option for you. It opened around 2020 when we were there.
This coworking space wasn’t for us just because I love working with lots of natural light and unfortunately Bunker didn’t have much of it. They do boast of having the fastest wifi speeds of all spaces around 200 Mbps – so there’s that!
Open 24/7; Monthly membership costs $165 USD; Wifi speeds of 200+ Mbps.
Selina Playa del Carmen is a popular choice for backpackers. The brand is hostel/coworking space all across Latin America with a few branches opening in Europe.
It’s a good option if you still want comfortable desk and chairs. However, we found the crowd isn’t quite what we were looking for. It can get quite loud because you have many people coming in and out because it is both a hostel and a coworking space. You might just have to try it for yourself!
Open 24/7; Monthly membership costs $165 USD; Wifi speeds of 25-50 Mbps.
Can’t decide which is for you? Check out our Playa del Carmen coworking post for a more detailed guide.
5 Cafes for Playa del Carmen Digital Nomads to Work From
We do our fair share of cafe hopping as digital nomads. I especially love to work from home in the mornings and work from cafes in the afternoon.
But what makes a cafe great for digital nomads?
For us it comes down to these 5 things:
- Decent wifi speed
- Plethora of plugs
- Friendliness towards DNs
- Good seating and good coffee (duh)
- Digital nomad community
Here are the 5 best cafes Playa del Carmen for digital nomads to relax, work well and hopefully make some friends:
Our ultimate favorite (and a total hidden gem) is Midogo Cafe Playa del Carmen. Matthew was walking around 10 Avenue, saw this little cafe and decided to pop inside. While it didn’t seem like much of a cafe at first, we quickly realized it was the best coffee in PDC and the chairs were comfortable to sit for at least 2-3 hours at a time.
So we came back to work and with wifi speeds of 200+ Mbps – we were hooked! Eventually, our routine was to get coffee and spend our morning work session there.
Choux Choux is a super popular cafe in Playa for good reason. With the tropical vibes, yummy pastries and awesome baristas – it’s easy to see why. It reminded us of our Bali digital nomad days!
The wifi on the other hand…was a hit and miss. It seemed to have a capacity on the number of people that could be connected and so if it was at its max we just couldn’t log on to the wifi. The chairs also aren’t the most comfortable for long work sessions but if you get a seat outside – take it quickly!
Playa del Carmen Tip: The lines get very long so make sure you head there early – they open at 7 am.
We enjoyed a yummy smoothie bowl at Bajo Cafe then we walked around and saw there was a back area full of Playa del Carmen digital nomads working on their laptops. This could be the best place to make friends and meet like-minded people.
There’s no air-con throughout the cafe which could make for some sweaty work sessions but hey you’re in paradise so who cares!
Yes yes… how dare I put Starbucks on this list! But hear me out…
Reliable wifi speeds of 20+ Mbps, comfortable chairs (especially in the Quinta Avenida location) and they don’t care how long you sit there! So if all the other cafes in Playa del Carmen are taken – you can always fall back on Starbucks.
Situated on the quiet street of 25 Avenida is a cute little cafe called Basic Foodie. We sat here for the afternoon to work and I just remember the cool breeze going by and feeling so tranquil.
We got wifi speeds of 10+ Mbps and while we didn’t see many plug outlets – just come with a fully charged laptop and enjoy yourself. We recommend Basic Foodie for more chill work sessions!
Which Gym To Go To In Playa del Carmen?
Playa del Carmen has a lot of gym options for you to choose from. We chose our apartment because the building complex already had a gym included. This is something you might want to consider. If you still need a gym, here are some great options:
The Gym Playa del Carmen
Yes, that’s – it that’s the name!
The Gym offers 4 different group classes: HIIT, aquafit, body sculpt and bootcamp. Their monthly gym membership costs $1,600 pesos ($78 USD).
Evolve Fitness Playa del Carmen
A popular gym all across Quintana Roo with locations in Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
They have 2 locations within PDC itself – on Constituyentes and 5th Avenue. Evolve’s monthly membership costs $700 pesos – $950 pesos ($34-$46 USD) depending on the location you choose.
A Day In The Life of 2 Digital Nomads in Playa del Carmen
A sample of what a weekday looks like for us. This took a while to create but we always recommend spending the first few days seeing what kind of lifestyle you want in that specific location. Below was our ideal weekday lifestyle.
7:00am – Wake Up
8:00am – Head Out For Coffee & Chill
8:30am – Start Morning Work Session At A Cafe
12:00pm – Grab Lunch, Go Home and Watch TV
1:00pm – Catch Up On Spanish Homework And Head To Class
2:00pm – Spanish Class
3:00pm – Afternoon Work Session
5:30pm – Workout / Gym Time
6:00 pm – Rooftop Pool Swim
7:00 pm – Go Out for Dinner (aka Taco Time)
8:00 pm – Billiards / Hang Time
10:00 pm – Bed Time
We kept to this schedule pretty much from Monday to Friday while our weekends looked a little more different (and more exciting)!
Weekend Things To Do As Digital Nomads in Playa del Carmen
As digital nomads, we are constantly striving for a work-life balance.
Since the start of our journey in 2018, we’ve met some of the hardest-working people that continue to push and motivate us. But those same people also prioritized fun!
This was such a great thing to see because as much as work is important – we have to remember the reason we do this lifestyle. We want to be able to explore new cultures, meet new people and just have a whole lot of fun along the way.
For our weekends, we try to get out and do something, whether that’s swimming in cenotes or simply going on a taco food tour around the city. We’ve learned that in Playa del Carmen – there’s always something to do! Here are some of the things we enjoyed:
Day Trip To Tulum
Pack your bags and head to the ‘famous’ beach town of Tulum. The serene beaches, the aesthetically pleasing cafes and the vibrant community has made it a top Mexican tourist destination. Tulum is only a 1-hour car drive from Playa del Carmen and you can easily rent a car or take a colectivo to get there.
Swim In Cenotes
Cenotes are all over the Yucatan Peninsula and it’s one of our favorite activities to do.
You can spend a whole day swimming around the cenote or jumping off some pretty high cliffs for you adrenaline junkies.
Visit Chichen Itza & ‘Pueblo Magico’ Valladolid
You have to schedule at least one weekend to visit the idyllic Chichen Itza pyramid.
We rented a car for 3 days and booked an Airbnb for 2 nights in Valladolid.
We enjoyed exploring the quaint and colonial town of Valladolid including its beautiful church (Iglesia de San Servacio) and there’s an epic cenote (Cenote Zaci) right in the middle of the town.
Weekend Trip To Merida
Another popular weekend trip is exploring the safest city in all of Mexico, Merida.
Just a 4-hour drive from Playa del Carmen, you’ll be transported to a beautiful, picturesque city that’s known for amazing cafes, colonial-style buildings and safety.
Best Places To Eat Tacos in Playa del Carmen
As an avid lover of tacos myself, I was determined to find some great places to satisfy my appetite. So from day 1 of our three-month stay in Playa, I was quick to explore the many different surrounding traditional Mexican taco restaurants.
For Birria Tacos: Birria Tacos y Consome (Birria de la 30)
Want birria tacos? This is the spot!
This is more of a hidden gem as it’s located further away from the Centro area. It is a smaller local place with tight seating but delicious authentic Mexican food. The staff are very friendly and you will need a little bit of Spanish to get you by. This place is known by locals as the best birria tacos in Playa del Carmen.
For Sirloin/Beef Tacos: Don Sirloin
Matthew’s favorite spot for tacos is Don Sirloin!
They have 3 locations spread across the Centro area. We loved the main restaurants located on Constituyentes 25 and our friend highly recommended the one on 30th Avenida. Don Sirloin is a staple in Playa del Carmen!
For Al Pastor Tacos: El Fogon
You can’t be in the Yucatan Peninsula/Quintana Roo area without trying the scrumptious al pastor tacos! El Fogon is THE spot for al pastor tacos in Playa del Carmen.
They have a huge menu with lots of different Mexican foods you can try. The seating and decor is interesting to say the least but the food speaks for itself. It gets very popular at night and going at 7pm just before the rush would be a great idea.
Check out more of the best tacos in Playa del Carmen here.
Is Playa del Carmen Safe?
We can only speak from experience and we both felt very safe during the whole 3 months we spent there as Playa del Carmen digital nomads.
There were an uncomfortable amount of police/police cars all around the town. We saw one every 20 minutes but they never bothered us or anything. Again, just make sure while you’re living in Playa del Carmen, you are aware of your surroundings and if you ever feel unsafe – it could help to send a live location to a trusted friend on WhatsApp.
Should You Become A Playa del Carmen Digital Nomad or Tulum Digital Nomad?
Ah the big debate for digital nomads: Playa del Carmen vs Tulum!
If you’re serious about getting work done, having an affordable cost of living and a solid digital nomad community – Playa del Carmen wins!
We found Tulum to be just as NomadicMatt described it in his blog titled ‘Tulum Is Utterly Terrible‘…
“Hell is a town called Tulum. Watched over by Mayan ruins and buttressed by the ocean, this is a place of pothole-filled streets, overpriced taxis, terrible traffic jams, and out-of-touch yuppies, celebrities, influencers, wannabe gurus, COVID deniers, and well-to-do folks looking to “find themselves” in overpriced retreats, hotels, and bars.”
Wifi sucks in Tulum, there’s ZERO data reception when you’re at the hotel zone and it’s ridiculously expensive!! You could save money and maybe enjoy it more if you stayed in Tulum center rather than the Hotel Zone but it’s honestly not as great as being a Playa del Carmen digital nomad.
Being A Playa del Carmen Digital Nomad Is Pretty Sweet
Playa del Carmen is rising the ranks of digital nomad hotspots…
…and for good reason. We would go back in a heartbeat!
The beautiful sunny weather, the endless amount of things to do and the friendly community have made our 3 months in PDC so memorable.
We enjoyed every minute of our time as Playa del Carmen digital nomads and it makes you grateful that you’ve taken on the digital nomads life.