Apartment in Playa del Carmen

How To Find An Apartment In Playa del Carmen

Derek "How To" Travel Guides, Mexico 113 Comments

Apartment in Playa del Carmen

As I mentioned in a post about Playa del Carmen a few weeks ago, travelers I’ve met here in this coastal Mexican town typically seem to pass through a remarkably similar set of stages.

They get off the bus.
They stand in shock at seeing so many tourists.
They immediately hate the place.
They book a room and plan to leave the next day.
They walk around.
They start to like the place.
They go to the beach.
They now love the place.
They eat at a restaurant away from the tourist zone.
They now want to move here for a while.
They ask me for apartment recommendations.

That’s the power of Playa del Carmen.

But since I’ve already written about that, this post is an answer to that final stage. It is an answer to the question, “How do I find an apartment in Playa del Carmen?

ONLINE vs ON THE GROUND

This is the biggest dilemma. Should you try and secure an apartment in Playa del Carmen before you arrive or should you wait until you get here before you begin your search?

I’ve always felt that the best method of finding an apartment is to show up and do your research on the ground. Not only does this ensure that you know exactly what you’re renting, but you’ll also have infinitely more options to choose from.

Also, consider this. If you were to search right now for an apartment in Playa del Carmen, you’d probably go to Google and type in “Apartments for rent in Playa del Carmen”.

Well, let me ask you… Would it make sense for someone in Japan to search Japanese-language websites in order to try and find an apartment to rent in the USA? Not really.

So, if you’re interested in finding an apartment in Playa del Carmen, searching online in English won’t get you very far. You’ll find plenty of websites full of apartments for rent, but these websites will all be geared towards foreigners who don’t realize that searching in English for apartments in a Spanish-speaking country is not the best of ideas (for anyone looking to save money).

Local apartment owners are not going to advertise their apartments on the internet in English, unless they are trying to attract vacationers who don’t mind paying exorbitant weekly rates. As an example, I have a friend who rented an apartment for one month from an English-language website before actually arriving in Playa del Carmen. He paid $3200 USD for his place, which was located in a building where apartments are typically rented to locals for $900 USD per month.

Had this person showed up in town and contacted local apartment owners directly, he would have easily saved over $2200 USD.

That’s obviously a great deal of money to be saved, which is whey I always recommend traveling to Playa del Carmen first, spending a day or two wandering the streets and calling the phone numbers on every For Rent (Se Renta) sign you pass. There are literally hundreds of excellent apartments available in this town and most of them are not advertised online, especially not in English.

For Rent Sign - Playa del Carmen

ENGLISH vs SPANISH

A common, and quite reasonable, question that I am often asked is, “Can I get a good deal if I don’t speak Spanish?”

The answer is yes. Contacting local apartment owners instead of owners and real estate agencies focused on the tourist market will always get you a better deal, even if the extent of your Spanish is “Hola, agua, cerveza”.

Of course, speaking Spanish can land you an even better deal, but usually only if you’re completely fluent or able to convince a local that you’re from Mexico, which is not easy to do. The problem is, as soon as an apartment owner discovers that you’re a foreigner, and regardless of your Spanish-speaking abilities, the rent automatically increases to a level that is more than what locals would pay.

On the other hand, if you can communicate in Spanish, then you have an advantage in terms of being able to search websites such as VivaStreet.com, which lists, in Spanish, dozens and dozens of apartments for rent that are being marketed to locals, not only in Playa del Carmen, but all over Mexico.

THE BEST NEGOTIATION METHOD

Once you find some apartments that you’re interested in, the absolute best method for securing the lowest rent possible is to have a local Mexican inquire about the rent and negotiate on your behalf, while you hide in the bushes (or around the corner).

This is actually the method I used when I returned to Playa del Carmen a couple of months ago. I typically waited in the car, and sometimes in the bushes, while Liz, who is Mexican, negotiated with apartment owners. In the end, we managed to land a 2-bedroom apartment for $800 USD per month that normally is rented to foreigners for $800 USD per week. I only showed my face after the owner gave Liz the ‘local discount’.

Of course, I’m aware that most people looking to live in Mexico for a while probably don’t have a local Mexican friend ready to start negotiating for them, but I’m actually in the process of creating a solution to that very problem. At the end of this post I’ll reveal some of the details.

Apartment in Playa del Carmen

A HANDFUL OF FINAL TIPS

If you’re searching for an apartment while in Playa del Carmen and you find one that you like, it pays to ask other tenants of the same apartment building how much they pay per month. While this might seem like an uncomfortable question to ask a complete stranger, it is actually quite common here in Mexico and people will usually be more than willing to give out that information. Knowing what others are paying for similar apartments obviously helps you determine whether the rent you were quoted is what it should be or if it’s too high.

Also, if you’re only planning to stay here for 1 or 2 weeks, you’re best option is to stay at one of the small boutique hotels in the center of town that offer excellent rooms in beautiful settings for around $30 – $50 USD per night. Apartments will be outrageously expensive for such a short period of time.

On the other end of the spectrum, the longer you’re planning to stay, the better deal you’ll be able to get on an apartment. If you’re able to commit to a 3 or 6 month contract, especially if it’s during low season, which runs from May to October, you’ll be in the best position possible to really grab a great deal on a place.

Finally, there is always one other method that you should consider using when searching for an apartment, a method I wrote about last year in my post “How To Rent An Expensive Apartment For A Budget Price“.

AN EASY SOLUTION

Given the amount of emails that I receive from people interested in moving to Playa del Carmen, I recently started thinking of ways for me to help make the process easier for everyone. And I think I’ve come up with a solid idea.

I don’t want to make a formal announcement yet before the kinks are all worked out, but the general concept is to have a team of local Mexican friends available to do your apartment hunting and price negotiating for you.

They’ll inspect apartments, take videos and photos of the exterior and interior, which they’ll send to you along with a full report, and they’ll negotiate the rent for you, which ensures that the rent offered will be at the local rate. Once you’re happy with the apartment and the quoted rent, our team will close the deal and then pass along your details to the apartment owner.

This solution ensures that you end up paying local rents without having to speak Spanish and without having to wait until you arrive in Playa del Carmen to search for an apartment. I know that I would have personally loved to use such a service in many of the places I’ve lived around the world, which is why I’m confident that this idea will prove useful for many people.

For now, until I make a more official announcement, if you’re thinking about renting an apartment in Playa del Carmen for 1 month or more, I invite you to send me an email and I’ll gladly forward you some more details.


Any other tips to add? Anyone headed to Playa del Carmen in the near future?

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Comments 113

  1. Karolina

    Thanks so much for your posts on Play del Carmen. It has really inspired me and my husband to come down to the area this fall. One question.. do you know anything about affordable long-term car rental options down there? We would love to have the freedom to truly explore (and we have the dog, so public transport can be an issue), but from what I’ve read, bringing a car or trying to buy one seems like a huge hassle.

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  3. Chris B

    Hi Earl,

    Last spring I was looking for somewhere to travel and live for an extended period of time. I had no idea where and even how to get started since this was my first time doing something like this. I came across your website and found it so informational that my brother and I actually moved to Playa for the summer. We even got in contact with your friend Liz and we were able to move into an apartment right away. Now that I am back in the states all I think about is going back to Playa. I have always wanted to travel but always seemed to find some excuse on why I couldn’t go. Your article on Playa really gave me that push I needed to actually do it finally so I wanted to thank you. We truly had the most amazing time there and will actually be returning again in the months to come.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Chris – That’s awesome to hear my friend! And I’m certain that now that you’ve had that one experience, you’ll find a way to get out there again, whether to Playa or somewhere else!

  4. Mary Golden Eagle

    Derek, Earl;
    You’re doing what I’ve always wanted to do! This is such a great site and forum. And I love the way you approach the different people and places.
    I am now retired on quite a low, fixed income and have just decided it might be time to go for an extended stay in Mexico rather than plop all my money down on some room or place where I don’t want to be! Truthfully I really would love to got to Hawaii or Bali, yet it seems out of my financial reach. I am concerned because I come with a dog, a dachshund, and wonder how that will effect my apt. search?

    Also, I’m an artist and as well as paintings, I hand paint shirts in an original and colorful style, like a work of art. Do you think there would be any place or room for those selling in Playa or Tulum? I mention Tulum because I would love to go there, too. Would you give the same advice about Tulum in terms of apt. hunting?
    Thanks and for all you do and inspire,
    Golden

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Golden – Thanks for the comment and here’s the thing…Playa is far more expensive than Bali these days. In order to rent a simple 1 BR apartment near the city center, buy groceries and have some kind of social life, you’re looking at around $1200 USD per month minimum and probably more for most people. Tulum is cheaper but keep in mind that this part of Mexico, because it is so appealing to so many foreigners, is more expensive than the rest of the country. I would use the same advice though in Tulum and also try to network once down there. Just ask people at cafes, restaurants, anywhere and see if they know anyone with a room or apartment for rent. This will help you find the cheaper places that are usually not advertised on line.

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  6. Ramona

    I live in playa…went on vaca and my landlord sold my house. changed the locks and my friends moved my stuff…i have furniture, washer and fridge in storage. I have a 7 yr old, NEED WIFI for work. Can you please help me find a place. I should fly back in a week.

    Thanks

    Ramona

  7. Irene

    Hello Earl me and two friends are moving to Playa de Carmen in around 9 months.. One of my friends used to live there and knows a lot of people. I am excited and found your information use full thank you!

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  9. Blake

    Hi Earl,

    Excellent blog. Just became a fan a few weeks back. Looking to move to Playa for 2 or 3 months Summer 2014. What kind of price ranges are you seeing right now for 2 bedrooms on the beach or just a block away? May even be interested in renting a 2bed close to 5th. Just trying to get an idea of what a “local rate” might be. I also went ahead and emailed your local friend Elizabeth. Thanks.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Blake – You’re looking at $1500+ for a 2BR apartment in the center of town right near the beach these days. Hope Liz can help you out!

  10. Marie

    I totally agree with you Earl. I’ve been coming and going from Playa del Carmen since 1995, I have lots of friends here and I never heard about such a bad rental experience in my life. Mexicans are welcoming and are quite flexible for the rental price on a longer term (3-6 months) as you previously mentionned. I am actually planning to move out of my appartment after 2 years because of a drastic increase of the price. My landlord told me that he was loosing money with me now. I am living by myself in a 2 bedrooms appartment at 6650 MX pesos per month and wants to put it at 7400. My apt is close to Chedraui centro and I liked it because I could have some friends from Canada over. Now I am looking for a nice modern studio for about 5000 pesos er month, the area doesn’t really matter. Any tips for me?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Marie – My recommendation is to look at El Coloseo as that area is changing quickly and there are still plenty of rental bargains to be had. Sure, it’s a bit farther from the center but it’s still just a block or so from the beach 🙂

  11. Richard

    Hey Earl ! Thank you soooo much for your website and it’s treasure trove of information. I’ll be moving to Playa in the next few months and this apartment advice is helping me tremendously!

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  13. Carlos

    Earl, thank you for all you contribution here it is quite indeed very informative. I am considering a 6 months stay in Playa del Carmen from May 2014 until October 2014 perhaps looking to extend it until 2015. Any inputs on affordable 1 bedroom apts in the area..
    Your assistance would be very appreciated,

    Sincerely yours,
    Carlos
    North Carolina

  14. Dan Dolan

    Earl,
    My wife and I are starting to plan for a 2 week vacation to Playa del Carmen
    March 16-30, 2014.
    After spending 2-3 days so far searching the websites and looking at the cost
    being published at the all inclusive and apt/condos I came upon your post and read with interest your comments and those of others that have commented on your article.
    Purpose of my message is to inquire about the boutique hotels in the center of town that you mentioned in your article. My price point is $700 – $1000 per week for an upscale place because I am challenged to convince my wife this is a cost effective alternative that going to an all inclusive location, while still providing
    all of the benefits of being in the community.

    Your assistance would be appreciated.
    Regards,
    Dan

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Dan – It will depend on how busy it is during those weeks. March is still the high season and it has a tendency to be a very busy month with tourists, and if that’s the case, those upscale boutique hotels are going to be just out of your budget. The prices will all depend on demand of course. But if you’re willing to go down a notch or two to a great, mid-range hotel, you’d have much better luck. Unfortunately, I no longer live in Playa del Carmen so I don’t have any up to date info on which hotels might offer the best deals.

  15. Rhod

    Earl: great blog – thank you. I’m heading to Playa del Carmen from the UK in November with my wife and adult son. Where do the expats who live in Playa hang out and what are they like? We’re planning to stay a couple of years if we can sustain it. I think we’ll get in touch with Liz nearer the time.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rhod – Expats are everywhere in Playa so you won’t have any trouble finding them. You could also go on Meetup.com or Couchsurfing.org and find groups of expats that meet for various reasons/activities around town all the time. Again, very easy to meet other expats there!

  16. Wally

    Hi there,

    Thanks heaps Earl for your useful tips! I’m heading to Mexico in December to begin my Central and South America journey, i’ll definitely look into contacting Elizabeth, for help with an apartment in Playa, closer to the date!

    Thanks again! 🙂

  17. Walter Levine

    Hello all,
    I am just coming up on my 2 year anniversary of moving into my Playa apartment. I have a 1 bdrm on Av. 25 around Calle 2. Not posh, but not a dump, a bit noisy sometimes. I pay mxn4200/mo. My landlady is Mexican with US citizenship. She spends about half the year in Tampa, but has a sister that takes care of things. All has been OK up til now. For the past 3 months, the drain in the kitchen sink has been stopped up and now doesn’t clear at all. She has fixed it several times but now she refuses to fix it again. I am reduced to disconnecting the trap and putting a bucket under the sink to catch the water. I take the bucket to the bathroom and empty it several time a day. Now she says that when her husband comes in May, he will fix it.
    In New York, I wouldn’t pay the rent and I would have her tush in court explaining to a judge why she can’t fix the drain. I am not sure if I can try that here, my Spanish is not that good. I spoke to a lawyer, but did not get too much encouragement.
    Does anybody have thoughts about what my options my be, if any. Rent is due next week

  18. Rod

    @Walter & Wandering Earl. Me and my partner have been in Playa since last Nov and love it. We are going to Belize for two weeks and will be coming back to Playa for May then coming back in October for another 6-8 months after a stay in France. We are out on Calle 88 between 5-10 and really enjoy the local neighborhood, being so close to the beach, and on the cheap! Can you tell me what part of 25th? Great site, Earl. We left the rain in the PNW USA and have been vagabond for over 3 years. I’m looking forward to following your travels and excellent advice. Cheers!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rod – That’s a great neighborhood…I used to live on that same street. Are you staying in the yellow building on the corner of 88th/5th?

  19. Toby

    This has been very helpful. I’m not planning my move for about 10 years, but I’m sure your tips will still be useful. Thanks!

  20. Pingback: Hunting for Cheap Apartments in Playa del Carmen | The Expert Vagabond

  21. Walter Levine

    Hola Earl
    Your description of the stages for Playa could have come right from my playbook.
    When I retired two years ago, I thought Belize might be a nice place to live. Cancun was the cheapest way to get to Belize at the time. I landed in Cancun late afternoon and decided to stay overnight in Playa and figure out Belize in the morning. I got a hotel on 4th street a few steps up from 5th Ave. I looked around for a while, had a nice dinner, sat by the ocean for a while and stayed for three days. I finally went to Belize. Traveled all around for a week, came back to Playa and rented an apartment on 25th Ave. A local guy who worked for the hotel where I stayed helped me find the apartment and negotiated for me. I pay mxn4200 for a 1 bdrm 4 blocks from the beach. I will have been here for two years in March.
    Does that not sound a bit like the “stages” process you so accurately describe?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Walter – That sure does sound like those stages and actually I’m thinking of heading back there for a while soon as well!

  22. Wilma

    Hi Earl. we have been to Playa and love it. We tried to find housing in Playa in August of this year. We are currently looking to move there in Feb. 2013. Hoping to find a place before we go. My problem the first time we were there was finding a place that you could have pets. We are older and found that the people we were looking with were trying to sell us on 1200.00 and up for a 2 bedroom place. Also I would like to know about health care there. We are not elderly but in late 50’s and early 60’s. We do love Playa and found the locals we met were warm and welcoming. Any ideas you may have for us would be greatly appreciated. Warm regards….Wilma

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Wilma – Thanks for the comment and if you’re still interested, just send me an email through the “Contact” link above and I can provide you with the email address of a friend of mine who helps foreigners get apartments at local rates. She should be able to help you out quite well!

  23. DEBRA

    ENJOYED YOUR POSTING. WE HAVE VISITED MEXICO, (PLAYA, TULUM,AKUMAL, & COZEMEL) BUT STAYED AT RESORTS. WE WOULD LIKE TO TRY STAYING IN A CLEAN VERY NICE APARTMENT (W) COOKING FACILITIES, & OUTSIDE BARBQING. I UNDERSTAND IT COULD BE CHEAPER TO RENT FOR A MONTH IN AN APT. VERSES STAYING AT A RESORT FOR A WEEK. EVEN IF WE WOULD ONLY NEED AN APT. FOR 2 WEEKS. I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN YOUR THOUGHTS & SUGGESTIONS.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Debra – I have a good friend in Playa (she’s a local) who helps foreigners find suitable apartments at local prices. She’s helped quite a lot of people already and while she does charge a small fee for her services, you’ll definitely get the best deal possible through her and it can be much cheaper to go for an apartment over a resort.

      Her name is Elizabeth and she can be reached at: eacevest@gmail.com

  24. Mark T

    Thanks Earl. We used a friend o a friend who find apartments for foreigners. From say 4500 to 12000 a month. We get a ground floor pad on 20 th close walk to everything for 8000 all inc. but i think to be honest the best thing to do is show us and look. There is NO lack of apartments in all price ranges bi think you just need 3 days•ish to find one. And you will!! If your adventures. You can do it easy. Next time i come. Ill do it that way for sure!!!! Good luck. Oh btw. The mexicans i met here seem to be more than willing to deal with foreigners. 🙂

    Regards from Playa

  25. Stacey c

    Oh i just saw you havent been to Mexico… Definetly go for a holiday! Then do heaps of research while you are there to see if you can make a business there. Make sure to go to Mexico City 🙂 there are amazing museums- dont miss the anthropology museum or chapultepec castle….you will learn so much about mexican history and culture…. If you want 😉
    Mexico is an amazing country- but so is Portugal 🙂 if you need any advice on where to go to enjoy activities you like, let me know.
    Saludos!

  26. Joao s

    Hi very good Article you have,im from Portugal i Never went to México but im thinking in doing it soon,maybe to work there in my area or maybe open a business,how much would i pay for a apartment close to the beach?are all expensive or we can find a good apartment for a good price,like less then 400 dolars.and how is the town himslelf?the people?any comparison with Cancun ?how about the prices of the things like food,is it safe?do you know if theres alot of opportunities in the hospitality area there in Carmen?
    Thank you and congratulations for the Article

    1. Stacey c

      My advice is to save up as much as you can and then just book your flight!
      Just go and test the waters yourself.
      Youve never been but you want to set up a business? Its not my business but maybe you should go there for a few months first?
      For an apartment, the further you go outside the main hub, it gets cheaper. A normal person who works in Playa wouldnt pay for the apartments that are for foreginers with money- theres just no way. Book yourself into a hostel then walk around and find an apartment that way- theres signs up “for rent” everywhere.
      If you have money there is heaps of business opportunities but you need to find a niche because its very competitive.
      Cancun is nothing like Playa, at all. To me, Cancun is grey and theres no culture. The beach is the only good thing about Cancun. If youve been to other cities in Mexico, Cancun is horrible!
      Playa is more exciting because it has a smaller town feel even though it just keeps growing and heaps of people from all over the world, great food and drink and party. Of course the amazing beach. But again, no “mexican” culture- a beautiful zocalo, spanish architecture, traditional events? Nada!
      I think you just need to go look for yourself because everyone has their oen opinions but only you can see for yourself if it suits you.

    2. Wandering Earl

      Hey Joaa – You can definitely find a simple apartment for under $400 dollars. The town is wonderful in my opinion, the people friendly and very laid-back and it is nothing like Cancun. It is much smaller, you can walk everywhere in Playa and it is more Mexican than Cancun. Food is cheap, it is very safe as well. However, there are not many opportunities for foreigners to work in Playa as most jobs go to Mexicans. It’s still possible but it will take some good contacts to get your foot in the door.

  27. Mark T

    Very nice article. My wife and i are traveling around the world diving and Playa is our next stop. We usually plan ahead but this time we chose to just wing it. Flights already booked hah. She is in a wheelchair so what do you think our chances of showing up and finding something in a few days are? Only requirements are ground floor with entrance and bathroom doors 70cm wide. Budget of about 600to800USD per month.

    Kind Regards

    Mark

    1. Earl

      Hey Mark – To be honest, I’m not really sure. You would have no problem finding a ground floor apartment in general but I don’t know about the wider bathroom doors as I don’t think that’s too common in Mexico. The only places that I would imagine to have such doors would be the boutique hotel/apartment kind of places around 5th Avenue in the center of Playa but they will probably run about $1000 USD per month. I’m sure you’ll find something in the end, but it might take a few more days of research once you’re on the ground in Playa.

  28. R. Craig

    Wow! This is great information. It was like this for me in both Poland and Ukraine. I am coming to Mexico in a few days and have been looking online for apartments. I used Google translator to find the right sites that are in Spanish and geared toward locals. Mexico City has some decent places for between $400-$650. I’m not sure if Playa del Carmen would work for me, but why not? Are the beaches public access ones? Do they cost to use? How long does it take to travel to Mexico City and how – by plane from Cancun? If it isn’t too tough to get to Mexico City, I think this place would be a winner!

    1. Earl

      @R.Craig – Yes, just about every beach in Playa is public access and there are several miles of perfect white sand for you to choose from 🙂 There is no cost at all! To get to Mexico City, it’s about 24 hours by bus and about 1.5 hours by plane from Cancun…and usually you can get decent flight deals if you book a little in advance.

  29. mike chiang mai

    spot on with the real estate advice. i have been an expat for 20 years. all of your advice is generally applicable overseas. ms. pdc real estate was afraid you would talk some prospective clients out of commissions from her. one rule you forgot to mention in reference to long stay deals. in places like thailand and mexico most things are cheaper than in north amercica or europe. so… don’t pay more than you would in your own country!! in fact, in pdc in a non-tourist location you should pay less. second talk to locals. they’ll give the truth about REAL prices and the place, both good and bad. so i don’t hide in bushes i simply tell them WHAT I WILL PAY. there’s always another apt.

    1. Earl

      Hey Mike – That’s a good rule and it makes sense of course. I have met a lot of people who ended up paying more than they would at home in a country where they should be paying less than half, or even less than that!

  30. Genevieve McClain

    Hi Earl
    I read your blog it was very informative. I wish it was around when my daughter and I live in Playa 7 years ago. We were charged double for rent on our apartment and felt that when the local saw us coming the prices went up. That being said I still loved Playa and plan to return sometime this year. I like your idea about having someone find an apartment for you. I need help in locating a place. I plan to stay for about a year or more to learn Spanish. Your help is welcome

    Genevieve McClain

    1. Earl

      Hey Genevieve – At least you’ll know for next time! And I just replied to your email a short time ago. Let me know if it leads to any other questions.

  31. Stacey

    Stumbled across your blog and been reading for a
    while now…its great and inspiring. 🙂

    I too came to Mexico after other travels, with no plans…and I too fell in love with the country. Being from Australia, all I knew about Mexico was unfortunatly from US tv and movies. After travlleing and living here for almost a year and a half, I just want to see and learn more everyday. I was first sucked in by the paradise/hell that is Playa. It sucks you in big time…It is a paradise, but as soon as you start to see past its beauty, there is a lot of craziness there. Well, it was my experience anyway. Best time of my life!

    I wanted to say, yes, I too have become dumber! When I speak to my family on the phone I always stuggle to find words, my vocab has definetly declined!

    Also, wanted to ask about the cruise work. I tried..not to hard…to find info about this and gave up. Mostly because I got the feeling its easier for American or Canadian citizens. Did you meet many Aussies on your cruises? Does your ebook focus from a American/Canadian perspective or does your advice apply to all nationalities?

    Cheers 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Stacey – I’m happy to hear you’ve been enjoying Mexico…it’s funny how almost everyone who ends up in that country falls in love with it 🙂

      As for cruise work, there are probably more Australians working on board cruise ships than Americans! There are Australians working on almost every ship and they can be found in almost every department. I’ve met plenty during my time on ships and even had a couple of Aussies working in the Shore Excursion department with me on one ship.

      The information in the eBook applies to people of all nationalities so you’ll find it just as useful as someone from North America and I can honestly say that it definitely is not more difficult for Australians to get hired. As long as you have the proper information and know how/where to apply, you’ll have an excellent chance!

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  33. Misti

    I did not take the time to read through all of the posts but did take your advise on the site posted above in spanish with respect to available rentals. Amazingly the google translate toolbar works wonders! It will automatically change the site from spanish to english. Perfect!

    1. Earl

      Hey Misti – I hope that site works out well for you. You’ll definitely find some great deals on VivaStreet if Google Translate continues to do its job 🙂

  34. Chris

    I read about how Playa del Carmen was this great beach village, maybe during the 80’s. Then I visited Playa in 1996 (Club Bananas) for the first time and it was fun – topless beach was mellow, Blue Parrot for chilling out with a beer, Captain Tuti’s and Spiral for dancing.

    Went back in 2000 during a dive trip to Cozumel and visited Playa for a day – it was bigger and busier. Lots of land speculation by gringos that I met. The North half of the city is basically a private enclave if I recall, so it seemed to me most of the growth is pushed south or up, or across the highway into the jungle.

    I bought a house in Cozumel in 2004 and had to go to Playa to buy air conditioners and stuff now and then. Playa seemed just bigger, busier, noisier.
    Sold the house in 2008 cause I got tired of all the hurricanes hitting the area.

    I want to take my family to chill in Mexico over this winter somewhere and thought about Playa, but can you refresh my memory why it is considered so great a place to stay at? What about Akumal, Chetumal? What about Merida?

    1. Earl

      Hey Chris – Just like anywhere in the world, every place appeals to different people. Playa del Carmen was ideal for me because not only does it have the white sand beaches, but it is actually quite easy to get away from all of the tourism. In all of the time I spent there I don’t think I ever went to a tourist bar or restaurant and most of my days were spent in the more local sections of town and on the more local beaches. Sure, it’s growing rapidly but I didn’t mind as again, I had no problems having a very local experience. And it’s the south part of the town – Playacar – that is a semi-private neighborhood, but anyone is welcome to go inside and there are a couple of good cafes there that are great places to meet locals.

      Merida is a wonderful place as well. I personally prefer to live on the beach but if that isn’t so important, than a place like Merida or even the beautiful Valladolid would be ideal destinations for a winter. Akumal is almost all foreigners these days and because of it’s location, it’s a little more isolated from activity (cinema, restaurants, etc.). But again, if that’s not important, then Akumal is another great option!

  35. huera81

    Thank you y gracias! i love the info you have provided…Very informative.My fiance and i ;he’s mexican hope to find something nice. I hope your tips can help alot..I ust don’t want to be here stuck..Gracias compa. y mucho cuidado

    Heather

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  37. KRK

    Love your website! Thanks for providing such great information. I’m now confident that my family and I will do just fine when we make our big move. Keep up the great work!

  38. Pingback: Cost of living in Playa del Carmen – Living in Mexico for $850 a month | Nomadic Notes Travel Blog

  39. Roger

    Hey Earl,
    I’ve been to Playa on 4 different occassions and find it refreshing to hear about your site wanting to help other people locate for long term stays. We have spoke to rental people in Playa and had the feeling that I was dealing with a used car salesman… not very reasuring. This said, when renting for a month or more do we reallt have to sign a contract ?
    Gracias,
    Roger

    1. Earl

      Hey Roger – That’s a good way to put it and is why I don’t recommend using such a rental agency at all. in terms of contracts, it depends. There have been places where I have rented month to month without a contract and there have been places that I rented for several months at a time which did require a contract. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t sign anything that wasn’t a direct contract between you and the owner of the apartment. I also wouldn’t sign anything without seeing the place for myself as well.

  40. Marie (Food Nouveau)

    Hi Earl, I’m a bit late commenting on this, but I just wanted to say thanks for your advice, and a big and loud YES to your idea of providing help to rent apartments at “local rates”! After reading your previous article about living in Playa Del Carmen, we are planning to go next winter. It is still the early stages of our planning so we’re not ready to talk apartments yet, but I will for sure come back to you when we’re ready to.

    I had a look out of curiousity and Playa Del Carmen rentals listed in big popular sites are CRAZY expensive – and boring as well! We want to stay in the city in an apartment that feels like a home, not in a resort or isolated in a sparkling new and white place! A service like the one you are currently setting up would be of huge help.

    1. Earl

      Hey Marie – That’s great that you’re thinking of heading down to Playa next winter! And just ignore those apartments you find online. There are endless possibilities here that will give you exactly what you’re looking for. So I’ll be more than happy to help you guys out whenever you’re ready. Just let me know!

  41. Mollie

    thanks so much for the information you provide. Please put my email on the list for the “Official” announcement of your new rental business.

  42. Bluegreen Kirk

    Great advice! My question though is who actually signs for the apartment would it be you or your friend and what happens if they find out your friend isnt the one actually staying there?

    1. Earl

      @Bluegreen Kirk: The actual person renting the place would sign the agreement and the local owners wouldn’t be bothered by the fact that someone else would be living there. It is actually quite common here for people to look for apartments for other people. Sure, they might lose out on the extra rent they would have charged if they knew it was a foreigner from the start, but in the end, there are hundreds and hundreds of apartments for rent here. Supply far outweighs demand, so local owners are generally happy to have anyone living in their apartments in order to earn some extra income.

  43. Michele Kinnon

    It would indeed be a gross exaggeration to say that all the locals would do such a thing and that no one is to be trusted. There are wonderful people here! The majority of the people we have worked with here in Playa del Carmen and all across the Riviera Maya are honest and trust worthy. Unfortunately, there are also people here (locals and foreign owners alike) who see nothing but dollar signs, as you have very colorfully suggested, in your post, will absolutely take advantage of a newcomer if they can. There would be simply no need for hiding the the bushes if that were not the case. It seems, we are actually much in agreement about how foreigners CAN be treated here. We just have had different experiences. You expect to be screwed on the front end, thus having a local negotiate for you. We try to not only protect our customers from getting a bad deal but also from getting screwed after the contract is signed. No so different really. Just an added layer of protection.

    1. Earl

      Hey Michele – I understand what you’re saying although what I’m referring to (locals charging foreigners/people with more money higher rents) is a part of real estate all over the world. Owners naturally want to try and obtain as much money for their place as they possibly can and even Mexicans from other parts of the country, especially any that appear to have money, will be charged higher rents as well here in Playa del Carmen, as would be the case in the US, Canada or anywhere else. I find a big difference between a local apartment owner trying to obtain as much money as they can in rent and claiming that locals will throw you out in the street and steal your stuff. One is business and one is criminal.

      My hiding in the bushes idea is simply a way to obtain a better deal in a business transaction, not from the criminals you claim exist, but from locals who are genuinely interested in renting the apartments/homes they own at a suitable rate.

  44. Iosazaur

    Hi Earl,
    My name is Gabriel and I live in the far country of Romania. I always dreamed visiting the world like you do, so this blog is just perfect for me to kind of look and learn for my future as a traveler. You have an amazing blog and you are so lucky to be able to travel so much.
    Will keep reading your blog (added to my blogroll).
    All the best from Romania,
    Gabriel

    1. Earl

      Hey Gabriel – Welcome to the site and I hope all is going well for you out there in Romania! I really appreciate you reading the blog and especially for adding my site on your blogroll. Thank you so much for that.

      If you ever have any questions about anything you read here or about my travels in general, please let me know. And I shall let you know when I make it to Romania as I haven’t been there yet.

      1. Iosazaur

        Sure my friend,
        Anytime you want to visit I will be happy to show you around or to guide you through the country, which is beautiful.
        Nice blog. Thanks!

  45. Michele Kinnon

    Well, as the owner of a Playa del Carmen real estate company and a person who has personally booked 100s of long term rentals in Playa for people from all around the globe, I am going to have to take offense to some of this post. You have forgotten to tell your readers of all of the “local” owners who will gladly throw a renter out on the street, regardless of a contract, as soon as high season rolls around. As a foreigner tenant you have no legal ground to stand on and will quickly find yourself without a place to stay. I can’t tell you how many panicked phone calls we have received in the middle of the night from newcomers who thought they got a “deal” only to find the locks have been changed on their apartment and their stuff…or what is left of it..is in the street. The reason you pay more (and not that much more) when you work through a reputable agency is the security that they provide. The best property managers and rental agents will only represent owners they know and trust. Your Mexican pals may get you a smoking deal but will they be there to stand up for you when suddenly the owner wants double the rent come high season? Likely not. A good property management or real estate company will have the legal horsepower to fight for your rights.

    1. Earl

      Hey Michele – Thank you for your comment as I always believe it’s beneficial to hear from all sides on every topic.

      With that said, I must firmly contest what you claim. First, I have never heard of anyone being thrown out on the street and I actually just called my girlfriend’s mother, who has been a real estate agent in this region for over 15 years, and she thought I was crazy when I mentioned what you said. She too has never heard of this happening to anyone.

      Second, what you’ve basically said in your comment is that people should trust your agency, run by a foreigner living in Playa del Carmen, in order to avoid locals, who will simply cheat you, change the locks and steal your stuff. That doesn’t sit well with me at all. And while foreign renters may have no legal ground, foreign real estate agents have no right to make a grossly exaggerated generalization that paints such a negative picture of the people who have welcomed you into their community.

      Over the past 2 years, I have lived in 5 different apartments in Playa and I’ve met and spoken with over 30 local real estate agents and apartment owners. I would be quite interested to hear their reactions to your comments.

  46. Untemplater

    Wow $2200 is a huge difference in price!! Glad you were able to get a good deal on that 2 br apartment down there with the help of your friend. Was it fun hiding out in the bushes? 🙂 Your idea on connecting people with locals to get the best pricing on apartments in Playa del Carmen is great! Good luck with the final steps.

    1. Earl

      @Untemplater: The difference in price is more than huge! And people pay those inflated rates simply because they don’t know any better.

      And actually, I did enjoy hiding in the bushes. It allowed me to have some time to myself, among nature, so that I could reflect on what is important, which at that time was getting a low rent 🙂

  47. Jeremy B

    Hey Earl- I may be heading to Playa in September. I don’t know if you remember who I am but had a complicated real estate situation that I needed to resolve before I could travel and it is very likely that this obstacle wil be gone in late August. So, yeah, I will definitely be in touch. Thanks again!

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeremy – I definitely remember! And what good news that your situation will hopefully be resolved soon. I look forward to hearing from you when you have a better idea of when you’ll be able to finally start traveling and even more, I look forward to meeting you in person once you make it here.

  48. Meg K

    Your post came at the perfect time for me. I’m planning on staying in either the Playa del Carmen area or on Caye Caulker in Belize for about 3 months starting in November of this year. After that I’ll be heading to Cambodia/Burma/Thailand. This information and possible service will be a big help, I would like to rent a small apartment and don’t speak Spanish. I had planned to email you at some point about how to find an apartment, but you read my mind!

    1. Earl

      Hey Meg – Thanks so much for the comment! And that’s great to hear that you’re heading down to this part of the world towards the end of the year. Whether you end up on Caye Caulker or in Playa del Carmen, this is overall a great region of the world to visit, especially for an extended period of time.

      And of course, as I mentioned in the post, if you ever have any questions at all about Playa, I’d be more than happy to help out!

  49. Christian Hollingsworth

    Although I’m not planning on moving to Play del Carmen anytime soon – I read this entire post and thought it was rather interesting.

    I think this goes to show the power of comfort. Knowing those you’re dealing with. It’s always amazing at what type of treatment people get – based on whether they’re tourists or locals.

    When I’d travel down to Baja Mexico with my family, we loved to shop. We’d go to all the shops and really enjoy our time. On the days when the cruise ships were in port – everything automatically increased in price. We had to convince the locals that we weren’t part of the ship (most often by showing them we weren’t wearing “white” tourist shoes) and they’d lower their price. It was hilarious.

    1. Earl

      Hey Christian – That’s too funny! So I guess there’s even different levels of tourists when it comes to prices. Even after spending 4+ years on cruise ships I never realized that the passengers got an even worse deal that other tourists in some ports of the world 🙂

      But comfort is the key. There are so many local rules and cultural intricacies to be learned that really make a difference when it comes to interacting with locals, especially in terms of business (or rental) dealings.

    1. Earl

      Hey Christy – I’m telling you, hiding in the bushes works remarkably well, as does hiding in the trees, behind the fence, in the ditch… as long as the gringo is out of sight, you can bet the rent will be much lower!

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