Playa Del Carmen Mexico Cost of Living

I first came to Playa Del Carmen Mexico almost 30 years ago in about 1992. One of my travel-loving buddies from the USA told me about their neighbor who had a house in the Playacar neighborhood of Playa Del Carmen. We booked their 3 bedroom house for a week and flew down there.

I totally fell in love with Playa Del Carmen on that first visit. Back then it felt like a small village with a mostly European-Mexican flair. Life centered mostly around the white sand beaches and turquoise blue-green water.

Back then, we would dance barefoot in the sand to live music all night long. There were no indoor night clubs with $50 USD cover charges or in-door VIP sections with $250 bottle service. We were dancing under the stars in the moonlight.

Europeans sunbathed topless on the beach and nobody had a heart attack or was gawking at them.

After the American movie, “Against All Odds” was filmed in and around this area, things slowly began to change. This part of Mexico slowly became part of the American experience. Loud music under the stars had to go in-doors so people could sleep at night and sunbathing breasts had to be hidden from American children.

The world started to flock to this part of Mexico. Condos started springing up all over town and Playa del Carmen grew from a village into a small city by 2006. Then it grew from a small city into a mid-sized city by 2016. Indeed, Playa del Carmen is still one of the fastest growing towns in Mexico.

I was lucky enough to visit this part of Mexico many times before it became what I feel is overbuilt today. Now it is not unusual to pay $20 USD for an entree in some of the more expensive restaurants or $2500 a month for a condo 3 blocks from the beach in high season.

It is not as overbuilt as nearby Cancun, but it no longer has that feeling of a sexy European influenced Mexican village it once had. Now it feels like a real estate developer’s dream as you hear a dizzying array of new condos shooting up to the sky all around you.

But the truth is, it was such a charming place in the world up until about 2010 that it was able to slowly lose that charm for almost a decade now and still today remains more charming than many other parts of the world.

But is no longer the place for me. There are nearby places that I prefer to Playa Del carmen now. It no longer feels like that Mexican village I fell in love with. Now it feels like a mix between Miami Beach, Cancun, and Las Vegas.

There are many other well known charming places near Playa Del Carmen such as Tulum, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Puerto Morales, but I have written separate reports on each of those. Look for those reports at

These nearby places have many of the charms that once made Playa Del Carmen one of my favorites. But they have not suffered through the same level of beach erosion, overpricing, or overcrowding or gentrification like you see in Playa Del Carmen.

The short story for me is that Playa Del Carmen is no longer a place I would like to retire. It has become too crowded, too touristy, too expensive, and not as fun as it once was even though it costs two to three times as much as it once did.

But it might be a place you still decide to go for a few weeks or months. For example, we decided to go there for Christmas for the last 6 weeks 2020. I have reminisced about Playa Del Carmen over the years, so I wanted to try it one more time before giving up completely.

But I can safely say now that I will no longer stay in Playa Del Carmen when I return to this area of Mexico. Next time I come to this area of Mexico, I will stay in Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, Isla Mujeres, or Tulum. I will be posting updated reports on those preferred destinations so subscribe so you know when they are posted.

Playa Del Carmen Mexico Cost of Living

Cheap Rents:

Here is an example Airbnb apartment for about $450 USD per month in the summer (not including Airbnb fees and Taxes). But the truth is, we don’t book for a month on Airbnb anymore.

Notice also that this apartment was discounted $1000 for a 30-day rental. That is probably for two reasons. Landlords give discounts for rental periods of 30 or more days, and because the above Airbnb quote is for 30 days starting June 15, 2021–that is the offseason. If you tried to rent this same place in high-season, you would not get this $1000 discount even with a month stay–you could even be charged more.

We avoid the extra fees by following a simple procedure I cover in this report: How I find Perfect Apartments Traveling the World. Basically, I rent a place for 2 to 4 days so I have a place to go when I arrive in town and then I walk the neighborhoods looking for rental signs and make a deal directly with the landlord with cash. I pay one month’s rent in cash directly to the landlord after I verify that the AC works and the Internet works. Cash often eliminates some of the other fees.

If you want to rent in the low season and stay until high season, I recommend getting a condo west of 30 Avenida Norte. They are more likely to be willing to give you a year-round price rather than try to kick you out for the higher rents they can get from December through February.

Hotels around the world have begun to heavily lobby politicians to enforce taxes on Airbnb landlords. This means you are going to have to rent whatever you can for a few days and then walk around the neighborhoods you like and deal directly with landlords to get the lower rates we pay.

Cheap Food:

The high-end restaurants in Playa Del Carmen average around 220 pesos ($11 USD) for an entree, but a local family-owned restaurant starts around 80 Pesos ($4 USD) for an entree. You will also see taco truck food cart vendors around the Walmart with starting at about 50 Pesos ($2.50 USD). These prices do not include drinks or alcohol. We usually carry around a bottle of water.

Local Transportation:

With regard to local transportation, we walked everywhere and only took a taxi from the Walmart home when we had too many groceries to carry. That taxi costs us about 50 Pesos ($2.50 USD). We didn’t see any large public open-air local Mexican markets in Playa but you will see a few fruit and vegetable markets around town. We normally take collectivos to nearby cities but we didn’t feel comfortable doing that this time because we were in Playa Del Carmen during the Coronavirus.

We also normally take the Ado bus from the Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen for about $15 USD per person. But we didn’t want to take the risk of sharing a bus during the Pandemic because the tourists were not wearing masks. But Qiang found a private driver that was willing to pick us up at the airport for about half the price of what taxis were charging. She also drove us to nearby cities Tulum and Puerto Morelos for much cheaper than taxis were quoting. For example, a taxi to Puerto Morales was quoted at 600 Pesos and the driver Venice drove us there for 300 Pesos each way. Just text Venice at +52 9842355400. Venice may not be able to do airport pick-ups anymore depending on rule changes.

Thus, a bare-bones cost of living estimate that includes only rent, 2 meals a day, and (Taxis as) local transportation is shown in the below table.

Estimated Cost of Living Table (Playa Del Carmen, Mexico)






Airbnb (month)










Hostel (Dorm)





High-End Restaurant





Neighborhood Restaurant





Food Cart





Subway (none)





Bus (Collectivo)





Taxi (No Grab or Uber)






Per Month





Per Day




Here is a free report explaining, “How The Cost of Living Table Works.”

The above table of the estimated cost of living is for one month, for one person, as a temporary visitor. It only includes rent, 2 meals per day, and local transportation. For a full understanding of what it would cost you to live here, visit Numbeo for Playa Del Carmen and add anything you spend money on in your home country that is not mentioned in the table.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on lifestyle and the time since this post.

Please book using our links to recommended flights, tours, or accommodations. You will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission. Your kindness will encourage us to keep making these travel guides and videos.

Best Area to Stay in Playa Del Carmen

If you are coming to Playa Del Carmen for just a few weeks, you will want to get as close to your favorite beach as possible. Pick your favorite beach on my beach tour video, and then find the most affordable place you love near that beach. For example, my favorite beach is presently the beach in front of Playacar (the first beach on the beach video). Luckily, there is a bunch of great family-owned cheap food places in a neighborhood near that beach (like this one). There is also a great dentist over there that did a great job on Qiang’s teeth.

But if you are staying for months, you will want to be a little further away from the beach where you can get a better price. I would shoot for this area circled in red.

This area is framed by 30 Avenida Norte on the east side and highway 307 on the west side. It is framed by Calle 44th Norte on the north and Ave Benito Juarez on the south.

Cheapest Flights to Playa Del Carmen

We almost always get our cheapest flights on Skyscanner. They have a web crawler that is constantly looking for the cheapest prices all over the world. As usual, we found the cheapest flight on Skyscanner. We landed at the airport in Cancun. You should also check flights to nearby Cozumel since it is just a ferry ride away from Cozumel. But make sure to book your first night at a hotel in Cozumel unless you are sure to get the ferry (Ferry 1, Ferry 2) over to Playa Del carmen in time.

Playa Del Carmen Livability Factors

Here are some of the factors I think about when I consider each place for retirement potential. After I discuss each factor I will assign an overall desirability score to Playa Del Carmen.

Walkability: High. If you lived in Playa Del Carmen you could walk everywhere. The only time we took local transportation was when we had too many groceries to carry home from Walmart. We literally walked everywhere else except when we went to Tulum and Puerto Morelos. Then we hired a private driver Venice and she gave us a great deal, about half of what taxis charge: +52 9842355400.

Internet: High. A bunch of digital nomads hang out in Playa del Carmen so the Internet is super fast. We came here from Oaxaca Mexico where the Internet was taking 2-4 hours to upload YouTube videos and we were able to upload them here in about 20 to 40 minutes. But you should run the ATT Test router speed test when you pick a long term apartment before you hand the cash to the landlord.

Food: High. You could say that food is a problem in Playa Del Carmen because so many of the restaurants are so expensive serving high-end tourists. But as you move towards the local areas of town further west of the beach there is a multitude of more local choices affordable not only for the locals but also long stay foreigners trying to stay on a budget. So I will rate food as high but realize you will have to head west for the budget choices.

Weather: Medium. The average temperatures year-round don’t fluctuate all that much but the humidity can be very high in the rainy season. The cold season is Dec-Feb when nighttime lows average 69F/21C and daytime highs average 83F/28C. The warm season is May-Sep when nighttime lows average 77F/25C and daytime highs average 89F/32C. It is not unusual for the hottest days in the hot season to reach 100F/40C. The rainy season is June through September. The most humid months are June through October when Humidity averages 84%.

Things to Do: High. If you enjoy the beach and water sports, you should be fine. There is swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet skis, cenote swimming and diving, yoga, martial arts, gyms, and bicycling. If you are a cultural lover I would say medium or even low. Playa Del Carmen has golfing and deep-sea fishing.

Social Considerations: High. Playa Del Carmen is one of the better places to be single in Mexico because there is a large assortment of people from all over the world speaking almost all of the major languages. But many of the foreigners are here as transient vacationers so that may present some challenges if you are looking for a long term relationship. Life here is pretty much centered around the beach, water sports, and partying. You will want to learn Spanish if you decide to settle here.

Expats: Medium. If you like hanging out with ex-pats, you will find them through various Facebook pages: 1, 2, 3, 4. New ones pop-up all the time so search on Facebook for “Playa Del Carmen Expats.” Facebook is a good place to go if you have a very specific or odd question I have not answered here. The local ex-pats may know what you need. Plus, it is where you can meet ex-pats to hang out.

Real Estate: Condos in Playa start at around $125,000 (USD) but you can easily spend $200k USD. I never recommend buying until you have lived somewhere at least 3 years. Read this to better understand why I don’t recommend buying outside your home country.

Playa Del Carmen Mexico Retirement Desirability Score: Medium or Low. With the beaches slowly shrinking each year and the prices rising faster than other parts of Mexico, I would not suggest Playa Del Carmen as a great place to retire. Especially if you are planning on living on a budget of less than $2000 (USD) per month. If you like the white sand beaches and the gorgeous water in Playa I would suggest checking out Puerto Morelos instead or nearby Cozumel in the non-tourist areas. Playa Del Carmen is now only a place to visit short term but not as a good retirement destination.

Playa Del Carmen Facts and History

Playa del Carmen is on the Caribbean Sea in the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The resort areas near Playa Del Carmen include Tulum, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, and Puerto Morelos.

While you are in the area you should investigate all of these beautiful resort destinations. Each has its own character and is worth a visit if you do an exploratory visit to this part of Mexico. I have purposely left Cancun off of this list. I do not recommend even visiting Cancun. Visit to see our retire cheap reports on all five of my recommended destinations.


The area in total is referred to as the Riviera Maya.

Tourist activity centers around 5th Ave, a walking street in Playa Del Carmen just 2 blocks from and parallel with the beach. There are hundreds of designer shops, gourmet restaurants, chain clothing stores, coffee shops, bars, and gift shops. It is now a high-end tourist destination along 5th ave.

You used to be able to walk the entire beach of Playa del Carmen from top to bottom with your toes in the white sand, but beach erosion has almost completely washed away the white sand in several places so you have to walk inland on streets to complete the journey now.

Additionally, there was a time when all you would encounter on the walk was white sand, turquoise water and an occasional pelican. But now you are likely to encounter sargassum seaweed as you walk the beaches. It can be quite thick from time to time, so thick even to turn the water brown.

Playa del Carmen is still a wonderful place if you encounter her for the first time today, but if you have been enjoying Playa Del Carmen for decades, you may remember her fonder days as you wonder about.

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