Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen: Such A Good Place To Live

Derek Mexico 243 Comments

Playa del Carmen

When many people think of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, they automatically think of a heavily touristed party destination for Americans. As a result, it’s no surprise that many independent travelers don’t really have a desire to visit this town at all.

However, every now and then, some independent travelers do end up here, usually when en route to or from Central America, and of course, most of these travelers, at least the ones I’ve met, typically have the same initial reaction upon arrival.

“Playa del Carmen is not for me.”

And I can understand that. For those in search of wild adventures in new and exotic lands, seeing a gringo as soon as you get off the bus, one wearing an over-sized sombrero while inhaling a constant stream of beer from a neon purple, 3-foot long plastic drinking vessel, is not a good start.

Just walking down the street, passing t-shirt shops and sports bars, seems to lead many travelers to declare, “What am I doing here?” and to start thinking about their next destination.


Actually, about four years ago, I backpacked through Playa del Carmen during a brief one month trip to Mexico. And not surprisingly, I stuck around for only 2 days, not wanting to spend another minute here. It simply wasn’t the type of travel experience I look for at all and after one walk along La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), which is a mile-long, pedestrian-only street full of cafes, restaurants, boutique hotels, bars and shops geared towards tourists, I was ready to head elsewhere.

After all, more than any other form of travel, I am at my utmost happiest when I am traveling around destinations where very few travelers care or dare to visit at all. These are the adventures that I live for and that prove the most rewarding to me.

So what am I doing here right now, right in the middle of touristland, if I had such a forgettable experience in Playa del Carmen only a few years ago?

Well, the interesting thing about Playa del Carmen is that the people who stick around for a while, beyond that initial “Get me the hell out of here!” phase, tend to undergo a drastic transformation, one that has happened to just about every friend, family member and traveler who has visited me here. Their initial disappointment suddenly turns into an intense attraction, and instead of looking for the next ticket out of town, people start asking me for apartment recommendations instead.

The phrase of the day then becomes: “I could easily live here for a while!”

And that’s the key. They could easily LIVE here for a while, which is much different than visiting this town as part of a Latin America backpacking adventure.


These days, I love Playa del Carmen. I wouldn’t have spent so much time here last year, and then returned this year, if I didn’t find it to be a perfect place to live. I may enjoy traveling through remote and barely accessible regions of the world, but I certainly wouldn’t want to live in those places for an extended period of time, at least not right now. And due to the nature of my digital work, I need to spend about half of each year living in one place, as it’s too difficult to get significant work accomplished while on the road.

From what I’ve discovered so far, Playa del Carmen offers a combination of impressive benefits that is difficult to ignore for anyone looking to live overseas, especially if you prefer to live near the beach.

What are these benefits exactly?


Most nationalities receive a free 6-month tourist visa upon arrival, making it quite easy to stick around for a while. And if you leave Mexico and then return, even if it is only a couple of days later, you’ll receive another 6-month visa valid from the date of your reentry. Working visas are a little more complicated to obtain, but nothing that a lawyer can’t sort out for a couple hundred dollars, especially if you’re hired by a Mexican company or take the necessary steps to start your own business here.


Playa del Carmen SignFor those of us who are from the US or Canada, Mexico is a most convenient foreign destination. The airport in Cancun (which is located 45 minutes north of Playa del Carmen) is very well connected, with regular non-stop flights to cities such as Fort Lauderdale, New York, Boston, Houston, Raleigh, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. As for me, the flight from Mexico to Florida, where my family now lives, is significantly shorter and cheaper than a flight from almost anywhere else in the US to Florida.

And even for Europeans, there are frequent, direct flights to/from Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Germany and France, making Cancun a surprisingly simple destination to reach.


If you’re not a digital nomad, Playa del Carmen offers a handful of work opportunities that could help you pocket some money while living down here, although a good working knowledge of the Spanish language would be needed. Under the table jobs are available in bars, restaurants, hostels and small hotels and you could always try to teach English (or Italian, French or German) informally. In addition, you could apply to work as a Timeshare salesperson at one of the dozens of resorts in the area, as they prefer to hire foreigners for these potentially well-paid positions.

And for those who simply require an internet connection to get your work done, most apartments come with Wi-fi and there are at least a dozen cafes around town that offer air-conditioned lounges with comfortable seating and Wi-fi (and that don’t mind you sitting there for a few hours working and sipping one cup of coffee).


Playa del Carmen has an abundance of sun, fresh tropical breezes, white sand beaches and warm Caribbean waters, all of which seem to play a role in keeping the body feeling healthy. You’ll also find a never-ending supply of tropical fruits and freshly-prepared fruit juices available for sale on every street corner. Throw in free dance and yoga classes in the park, a public sports complex complete with well-maintained basketball courts, tennis courts and a running track, as well as several modern gyms that offer inexpensive monthly memberships, and it’s difficult to avoid living a healthy lifestyle.


Yes, the throngs of vacationers that flock to Playa del Carmen are actually a major benefit for anyone thinking about living here for a month or more. How is this possible?

To put it simply, tourism equals infrastructure.

It may very well be that, during a travel adventure, we thoroughly enjoy sitting on the floor of an old, rusty, overcrowded bus, bouncing along a dirt road for 27 hours just to reach a destination that is 100 kms from where we started. However, I’m willing to bet that most of us don’t really want to go through that very same experience every time we need to go to the market to buy tomatoes.

Playa del Carmen Colectivog

Thanks to tourism, getting around the entire region that surrounds Playa del Carmen (known as the Mayan Riviera) is not only easy, but comfortable and inexpensive as well. Air-conditioned minivans travel between every town and village in the Mayan Riviera, often leaving every 15 minutes and running 24 hours a day. The cost to travel anywhere in the region is rarely more than $3 – $4 per trip and for an additional 50 cents or so you can even take a luxury bus, complete with free Wi-fi and plush seats.

The roads here are some of the best in Mexico, the taxi operation is well-organized and uses a simple flat rate system, car rentals are cheap and the beaches are kept in immaculate condition. And it’s all thanks to tourism.


When I’m traveling, I almost never eat anything but the local cuisine of whatever country I happen to be visiting (the exception being Indian food, which I will eat anywhere I find it). So for the most part, you won’t see me eating sushi in Honduras or enchiladas while in Malaysia.

However, when I’m actually living somewhere for an extended period of time, I do prefer to have a variety of cuisine available, because truthfully, one does get bored when eating the same food for several months in a row (again, except for Indian food of course!).

Lebanese Food in Playa del Carmen

Luckily, as a result of having so many tourists from around the world vacation here, Playa del Carmen offers an excellent selection of Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, French, Spanish, Chinese, South American and German restaurants in addition to the endless local Mexican eateries scattered all over town.

There are also supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets, organic markets and even shops that sell the ingredients necessary for one to prepare any type of international cuisine at home. I’ve found Thai curry powder imported directly from Thailand, homemade pesto from Tuscany and even grape leaves from Lebanon.


For many people, this is the one factor that makes or breaks any destination, in terms of deciding whether or not a place is suitable for long-term living. I’ll be honest, in terms of costs, Playa del Carmen is no Chiang Mai, Thailand, where comfortable, perfectly-located studio apartments can be rented for $300 US per month and large plates of freshly prepared Thai food barely cost $1. Things in Playa del Carmen are a little more expensive than that, but in comparison to other destinations, and especially in comparison to what I would need to spend in the US for a similar lifestyle, it’s still remarkably cheap.

For those on very tight budgets, you could definitely survive here for around $600 US per month. On the other hand, if you have $1000 US per month to spend, then you could live very well, with about as much to worry about in life as this guy:

Man in Playa del Carmen

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

Are you ready to earn money and travel?

How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel eBooksClick above and get started!

Comments 243

  1. Matt

    Hey, thanks for all the info! Do you happen to have any recommendations on how to teach English in Playa Del Carmen, short-term, maybe 3 months? You mentioned “informally.” Were you talking about a private tutor situation?


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Matt – I taught informally in Thailand myself and while you might be able to get some clients in Playa, it’s a bit hard to find teaching English work in that city. This is mainly because the town relies so much on tourism that almost everyone speaks English already.

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Matt – There are many but I personally used a private tutor (it was cheaper and more effective for me) so I don’t have any recommendations. Haven’t heard too many reviews about any of them down there.

  2. Pingback: Nomads of Playa del Carmen |

  3. Donna Vest

    Hey Earl,

    Great blog about PDC. We’ve been a few times and even though touristy we love the weather (HOT)….as long as there is ocean & sand near by we are happy. Anyway, saw several responses about STARTING businesses in PDC but what about buying an established business? I’m sure you’d need the same work visas, lawyers, etc. Anything else we need to know about?


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Donna – I’m too sure about buying a business down there but you would definitely want a good, well established lawyer to help you out for sure.

  4. Joanne

    Hey Earl,

    Great and realistic view of PDC. My family and I travel here at least 2-3 times a year and we have made the decision to move. It’s a little scary since I have a 16-months old son, but we are determined and want to do it right, which means take a year to save as much money and possibly use it as down payment for a condo. My plan is to come here and get a job as a waitress to become fully fluent in Spanish and understand how restaurant business works and take it from there.

    I speak conversational Spanish, French, and of course I am fluent in English and Romanian. I can become fully fluent in Spanish in 2 months with practice. Our dream is to open up a restaurant, but we really don’t even know where to begin to research this information and how to proceed with this. We will actually be in PDC in 3 weeks on vacation and connect with people.

    Do you have any suggestions or advice on some of the steps I should take? I know you obviously have not met me, so giving such advice to a stranger is asking for a lot, but I am sure you have been in similar situations and it takes some luck and the right people to get where you want to me.

    I truly appreciate it.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Joanne – You’ll need an excellent lawyer to open up a business down there and plenty of money 🙂 It’s very expensive to start something in Playa del Carmen and without a lawyer, it will be almost impossible. I don’t know of any lawyers who deal with business set up unfortunately so I would ask around once you arrive.

  5. Scott Norris

    My wife and I (she’s from Villahermosa, Tabasco, MX) are wanting to move to PDC in a year or less. She’s worried about boredom, and I’m concerned about being able to play a little music along the way. Being a musician, I’d still want to play, American rock, blues, etc..

    What is the music scene like?

    We’ve been looking at houses/villas, and are seeing some that are priced decently. It’s been 3 years since we’ve been there, so I’m sure things have changed some.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Scott – Keeping in mind that Playa is not a major city, there are still a decent number of bars where musicians, including foreigners, tend to play. Just wander down 5th Avenue and you’ll find them all. As for houses/villas, you might want to contact my friend Liz, a local who offers a great service for foreigners. She basically helps you find apartments/houses at more local rates than if you used a real estate agency. She can be reached at:

  6. Adrian

    Hi Earl
    Great information here!
    I have a condo in playacar and visit quite often. I am a chef by trade and allways cook on vacation. My problem is finding places around town besides sorrianas and sams club that sell local produce, meats, fish. Do you have any recommendations for locally grown perferably organic food sources in pdc? Thanks.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Adrian – There’s an organic supermarket (small but good) near the corner of Avenida 30 y Constituyentes. It’s on Avenida 30, about a half block away from Constituyentes and it has a small restaurant in the front as well. Again, it’s quite small but they have some great stuff.

  7. Barbara

    Very helpful information about Playa del Carmen, but my husband is reluctant to go to Mexico because of reports of violence – we’re both 70 years old.

    Out of all the places you’ve lived, where would you most like to return and live for a year or so?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Barbara – Playa del Carmen is very safe, hence the reason why thousands of foreigners have moved there. And to be honest, Playa would probably be the place I would most likely return to in order to stay for another year or more!

  8. lorena

    Hi Earl, I’m planning to move to Cancun or playa de carmen. I really need someone to help me to find an apartment in a safe area. Thank you very much Earl hopefully you can help me out.

  9. Breno Nunes

    Hi there Earl!

    Thanks for the article, very elucidating… I was suggested to try to find a job and live there by a cousin who just got back from his honeymoon in Playa, and quite liked his idea. Nowadays, I manage a Brazilian wedding portal on the web.

    Hopefully I can become your neighbour sometime in the near future!!! 🙂

    Best regards, Breno

  10. Jamie Moi

    Hi Derek,

    I cannot tell you how helpful your blog has been for me and my partner, Michelle. Five days ago we relocated to Playa del Carmen, Mexico and used your blog as a reference for many things. We contacted Elizabeth and worked with her associate Beatriz and it was a wonderful experience! She was able to find us our perfect home in just 1 day for a price that was exactly our budget. Thank you so much for all that you do and please see our blog at

    All the best,
    Jamie and Michelle

  11. Pingback: Our New Home! | samonthelam

  12. Joe

    Hey Earl, love the blog hope to do some travelling myself soon!

    Planning on going in December, are there any pests to be aware of (mosqiutos, sand fleas, etc) or specific times of year to AVOID entirely?

    I see comments mentioning an Elizabeth for help, would you be able to pass on her contact info?


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Joe – There are mosquitos at certain times of the year but nothing that would be too annoying at all. Definitely not a reason to avoid going. The summer is extremely hot so for some people, that’s not a very enjoyable period of time to visit. With that said, the cooler months between November – April are the most crowded so that’s not for everyone either.

      As for Elizabeth, you can reach her at:

  13. Federico

    Hi Earl,

    I’m an Italian guy and I’m planning to move to Playa del Carmen to find job and try to stay there a little bit more than 6 months. I’m moving with my girlfriend ( Russian ): is it true that when my tourist visa will expire, I can go out of mexican’s border and come back after 72 hours and get another 180 days visa?

    Is it dangerous working with “under the table” works?

    many compliments for your awesome blog…really a great work!



    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Federico – As of right now, yes, you can return and get another tourist visa. As for under the table work, it’s not too dangerous, the only thing is that there really isn’t much under the table work there since most jobs go to local Mexicans.

      1. Federico

        Hi again Earl,

        so how can I find job with tourist visa (and then change my visa with a regular “for workers” one)? Have you got some tips? I am a little bit confused…

        thank you

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Federico – If a company hires you, they will help you get the work permit and you can switch your visa. But the challenge is finding that job. Usually, the best way is to try and make some good contacts, foreigners who already work there, or to simply walk around visiting companies/hotels/etc where you would want to work and asking if they have anything available.

  14. Pingback: Where to Go to Escape US Winter? - 30Traveler

  15. Ruchik Chauhan from phorenyatra wordpress blog

    Wandering Earl,
    First of all, I would like to say that you are living my dream (of traveling all over the world). Your blog is also incredible.
    I visited Playa a few months ago and found that it was somewhat less commercialized than Cancun. Also one major difference between Playa and Cancun was that Playa had a very European feel. The tourists were also mostly European, as most Americans preferred Cancun. Foodwise, my most fond memory is a Mayan cuisine restaurant called Yaxche. The food there is just incredible.

    I also love traveling and writing about it. If you get a chance, please check out my experiences too. Cheers!

  16. Debra


    Having been researching moving out of US after retiring I have been to numerous websites. Earl, yours by far it the most informative.
    Do you live in Playa?
    And how easy is it to find a PT position in Playa? Weather it be working in a shop or assisting others in relocating?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Debra – I used to live in Playa but now I’ve moved on. I’ve been using Romania as my ‘base’ for the past 1.5 years or so. As for finding a position in Playa though, unfortunately, it’s not the easiest. In the end, Mexico is still a developing country and so most positions go to locals, especially in shops. As for assisting others who want to relocate, you’d have to be an expert in that process and then you could try to start your own service. I don’t know of anyone or any company that does that down there off the top of my head.

  17. Pingback: Has anyone ever dealt with a company called Renting Playa? - Page 2 - Playa del Carmen, Mexico forum

  18. Pauline

    Hello Earl,
    We are considering purchasing a bar on 10th avenue. It a very new place and a good price. As a Canadian is the process of getting liquor licences and business licences a reasonable process?? And how hard of a go do business have down there? I am willing to work hard just not for nothing!!

    Thanks Earl!!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Pauline – To be honest, I don’t know too much about starting a business down there in Playa but from what I’ve heard, you really want to make sure you have a good lawyer who can check all of the contracts for you. As a foreigner, it is impossible for you to know exactly how things work down there and a reliable local is the only way to ensure you don’t run into any major problems.

  19. jeff

    Hi Taujuanna. Congrats on finding a job down there. Any idea if your company or other related time share companies are hiring in PDC?

  20. Erin

    Hey Earl,
    I was planning on heading down to Playa del Carmen to work with the volunteer organization GVI, with kids with disabilities. I was wondering if it would be easy to get a job down there on my days off. I would really appreciate you feedback. Thank you.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Erin – Thanks for the comment. The thing is, there aren’t a ton of work opportunities for foreigners in Playa del Carmen since Mexico still is a developing country after all. Most jobs go to locals and even if you can find something, the pay will normally be quite low. Most foreigners who live down there work online, work remotely for a company back home or have started a business.

  21. Taujuanna ware

    Hello Earl!!

    I enjoyed reading your blog. Fortunately I am one of the lucky ones who was just hired to work with a timeshare company so they are sponsoring everything and I will be able to experience PDC for three months before I decide to move my 7year old son down. The company is even covering housing..etc. for three months but afterwards I have the option of moving into my own place. I am super excited about this opportunity and would love to have Elizabeth’s information sent to me because if everything works out I will need to find a nice place for me and my son. Thank You!!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Taujuanna – You can contact my friend Liz through her Facebook page:

  22. Ron | Active Planet Travels

    I’m with what you originally said early on in the article, I tend to veer away from touristy areas as I don’t get much out of them. I prefer the experience of those really hard to reach places where you won’t find many “gringos” but as far as living as a digital nomad, I totally agree that you need to settle down in an area where wifi and modern commodities are easily accesible. I’ll be sure to check out Playa del Carmen on my next sweep through Mexico.

  23. jeff

    Hi Early, great responses thank you. I am looking to move to Mexico to live and work. Is the paperwork and approval process difficult? I dont think I could get sponsored by an employer, and I dont own my own business. I am a regular guy with a degree. Do I have a chance of getting legal permission to live and work (to target a spot like PDC.) Any website references?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jeff – There’s always a chance but it’s not so easy down there. You would have to get hired first and then your employer would sponsor you so that you could obtain a working visa. But the reality is that most jobs go to Mexicans, so it can be difficult for a foreigner to find work there.

  24. Pingback: How To Find An Apartment In Playa del Carmen - Wandering Earl

  25. Pingback: Cost of Living in a Mexican Beach Town

  26. Sam

    Hey, great blog, I’ve been in Playa del Carmen for a few months now and am finding it a bit difficult to get a job, I knew it would be difficult before but… do you have any advice for me, anywhere/anyone I could go ask? I will have the papers to work but I just need a job offer from somewhere :S Thanks 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sam – Unfortunately I don’t have much advice for getting a job in Playa as it really is a hard place for foreigners to find work. If you speak Spanish you could just go door to door to the hotels and guesthouses and see if they need some extra front desk staff (I know some people who have done this) but otherwise, I’m not really sure where to look. Most opportunities go to Mexicans down there and as a result, most of the foreigners living there are working online.

  27. Ben

    Hey Earl,

    Thanks for all of the great information. My wife and I are planning on moving to Playa at the beginning of September and we will stay until early December. While there we would like to work, is a special visa required for that short of period? Also, I was wondering what area you would recommend staying in for that amount of time with a spouse. We both speak Spanish and English.


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ben – If you work in Playa, you would need a residency/work visa. Just keep in mind that getting a job down there is not so easy for foreigners. Mexico is a developing country in the end and as a result, most jobs go to locals. There are very few opportunities for foreigners and even then the pay is typically very low.

  28. Carrie

    Hi Earl
    Thank you so much for posting your traveling experiences. I’m looking forward to following you! My question is in regard to visiting PDC the first week of June. I’m traveling there with my 2 children, 11 & 13, and am concerned about the weather and the amount of activities available since it seems to be the end of the tourist season there. What do you think?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Carrie – During June it will certainly be hot but if you don’t mind that, it’s a great time to visit since it will be low season. As for activities, there will be no shortage…anything you can do during high season, you can do during low season as well!

  29. Marko

    Hi Earl, I am from Europe and am planing to recolate to Playa del Carmen in a year or so. I am thinking to rent a small beach house for the whole year (if that’s even possible, as it seems beach is taken by hotels almost exclusively).
    Secondly, I don’t have a clue what are the REAL living costs per month.
    Say groceries, electricity, gas, car……. those kinds of things. Any resources available so I can have a good estimate ? I will have approx 2.000 eur (2.600 USD) monthly budget for everything. realistic?
    Thanks Marko

    1) long term rent of a small beach house (to live there) to live there with my wife, kids are grown up. I would consider this house as my second home so I don’t like packing everything every 6 M. So I would pay for the whole

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Marko – Finding a small beach house in Playa del Carmen is not possible unfortunately. The beach front is all hotels or expensive apartment buildings. But for the budget you’ll have, that should be more than enough. It’s still easy to live in Playa for less than $1500 USD per month if you live in a 1 Bedroom apartment 15 minutes walk from the exact center of town.

  30. Bob

    Earl, I have thought of moving to Mexico for the last couple of years. I am single and have enough to live in US comfortably so don’t think money would be a problem. My main question is I have spent some time this last year In Cozumel and got to know some of the expats there. The thing I like about Cozumel is also the thing I dislike most, it’s small , the American expats seem to stay together to the point that’s all you end up interacting with. The crime is getting Worse there also. My questions about living in Playa are is petty crime growing, as in Cozumel. Is the city small enough that you can become friendly with other expats and locals, but big enough you don’t get island fever from seeing same people and things everyday. If I visit first is there a good part of town to stay to get the feel of the town. Thanks bob

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Bob – To me, it seems that crime is still very low in Playa del Carmen and as for it being small enough to meet others, it is very easy to meet expats and locals here, although it does depend on how social you are of course. And Playa has it all and plenty of activity so that you won’t get small town fever…and if you ever need a bigger place, you can always take a day trip to Cancun for more action!

  31. Pingback: Would I Live in Playa del Carmen, Mexico Again? - Wandering Earl

  32. Pingback: A.W.O.L. Americans | Our first few days living in Playa del Carmen

  33. Ron

    Hi Earl,
    My wife and I are both 45 yrs old. We could liquidate everything to the tune of about $400,000. I’m trying to convince her that we could retire NOW to PDC. We are currently freezing our butts off in Oregon:(. I also do massage therapy and would consider doing this a bit to stay busy and earn a little grocery $$. Also would you consider buying a small place or just renting and not worrying about ownership and being stuck in one locale?? Any input regarding my situation and help convince my wife it would be all good would be much appreciated:). Gracias:)

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ron – That’s tough for me to say as everyone views real estate differently. Buying something is possible but sometimes it is best to just rent when in a country that you are not 100% familiar with in terms of the rules/laws associated with buying property. Luckily, there are enough places for rent that you could spend some time here in a rental first and then, if you decide to make it a more permanent move, start looking for a place to buy. I’m actually here in Playa del Carmen again right now just visiting friends for a couple of weeks and I’ve realized once again that there’s a reason (or endless reasons) why this place has become so popular!! It really is a great place to live.

  34. Quinn

    Earl, I’m 18 and visited about a year ago. I loved it and I loved the town of Playa del Carmen.. My dream is to live there. Is this an irrational dream? How would I first begin to move there? I am learning spanish currently and will most likely be fluent when i’m about 25. How do I learn about jobs in this area? Where would I begin to make this move?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Quinn – It’s not irrational at all….just ask the thousands of foreigners who do live here already! The first step would be to spend more time here…come down for a month and see how it feels. As for work, that can be a little tricky in Playa as Mexico is a third world country in the end and as a result, most jobs go to locals. And if you can get a job, the pay is usually quite low. It’s a much better idea to try and start something on your own, either a creative local business or something online.

  35. Whitney

    We are so sick of living in Mexico City, and we can’t stop dreaming about picking up everything moving to Playa del Carmen. I have a great job here though, and I am worried that it will be tough to find a job that pays USD3,000 or more a month. Do you think I can find that sort of job in Playa del Carmen? It’s important, since we have to raise our two kids 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Whitney – I’d say it would be quite a challenge to find a job that pays that much. Playa del Carmen is quite small, with only 100,000 people or so. While there are some opportunities to earn money, there isn’t much to earn a big salary like that unfortunately. There’s probably more of a chance over in Cancun, although, many people don’t enjoying living over there as much as in Playa.

  36. Pingback: Our Temporary Home in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

  37. Charles

    Hey Earl,
    Just finished up reading your blog and its right on on how I felt when I went my first time. A little touristy at first but I was staying away from the tourist areas and spent a lot of time with the locals.
    Do you by chance know what the craigslist equivalent site is there? I remember a lady telling me about the site a few years ago when I was there. I just can’t remember it for the life of me.

  38. Paul

    Hi, Earl, your blog weems to be the most honest I have read for a long time, I am travelling to PDC in January for a couple of weeks before taking a short cruise & then back to my home country the UK.
    My wife & I spend a fair amount of our holidays in Thailand & would like to spend winters there but visa’s can be a pain so I will be looking at PDC as a possible contender, you apear to have travelled in Thailand which one would you choose to spend a winter in??
    Paul & Mandie

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Paul – That’s a tough call as the two countries are quite different and it really depends on what you like to do or have around you. Playa del Carmen is definitely touristy but at the same time, it’s probably the best value destination that I’ve ever come across in terms of the cost of living and what is available in the town itself (beaches, cinemas, excellent food, parks, plenty of places for day trips, etc.). I would see how you like it in January and go from there. Few people I’ve met do not fall in love with PDC although it can take a few days…usually many people are surprised by how touristy it is at first but soon realize that if you walk two blocks away from the main strip, it’s an entirely different place! As for me, I would choose PDC for longer-term living over Thailand 🙂

  39. Ione Green

    Hey Earl,

    I loved your blog, and it gave me such a lovely insight into Playa del Carmen. We have been planning to go check it out in jan/feb 2013 and if we like it, moving by june/july 2013. What i wanted to ask you is how much demand is there to work as a photographer? I can see there are several businesses there already. Is it really competitive? Can you make a decent living from it? Is all the photography mainly for tourists? And if so, where are most tourists from? The US?

    Thank you for your invaluable work! Loved it!

    Thank you so much!


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ione – Thanks for the comment and to be honest, I’m not sure about the photography opportunities down there. In reality, there aren’t many work opportunities for foreigners as it is a developing country and most positions go to Mexicans. You’d probably have to figure out a way to start your own business but again, not sure if you’d be able to compete with any locals who will be charging less most likely. It’s one of those things where you’d have to travel there and see for yourself how feasible it would be. You’d probably need some good contacts to make it happen I’d imagine as everything down there is all about who you know.

      As for the tourists, many are from the US but there are now several charter flights from Europe directly to Cancun so there is a good mix of nationalities these days.

  40. Kim and Craig

    hi Earl,
    I am coming to visit end of Jan/Feb with my Dad. He is in his 70s, and would like a comfortable place to stay. any unique recommendations for a nice Hotel?
    thanks so much for the help!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kim and Craig – I don’t really have any specific hotel recommendations as I lived there in an apartment and really only have contacts for apartment rentals. But there are literally dozens and dozens of hotels in Playa and some of the boutique hotels around 5th Avenue are really nice, although Jan/Feb is high season so they will cost a decent amount.

  41. Richard Bonnet

    What are the chances of finding an apartment Jan. 1, 2013 for 3 months. We are going down for the winter and we are looking to but a condo or house. We are from Nova Scotia.
    Thanks so much for your work.
    Richard & Gloria

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Richard – 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.

      Her name is Elizabeth and she can be reached at:

      Hope that helps!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey James – It’s not the easiest but it is possible if you know some people. Most jobs go to Mexicans but some positions in some hotels/resorts may go to foreigners.

  42. Megan

    Hi! I am also looking for a long term rental for late December early January and would love any info you could provide on what neighborhoods are the best to stay in and apartment rental. Thanks!

    1. Bill

      I used Elizabeth and she was awesome

      One thing to consider is Jan is high season

      You are better off getting a 6 month lease now than a 3 month lease in Jan

      Just as reference – the hotel i stayed in for 10 days quoted me $900 a month until Nov 15th then $3000 a month for the next 3 months

      Elizabeth got me a great apartment for 6 months
      No way I would have gotten this place in Jan

      just for your consideration

      Enjoy Playa

      1. Liwlig

        Hi Earl!
        I’m so happy I found your blog. You really have some super info here, thanx for sharing:-) Well I’m from Copenhagen, Denmark and off to Mexico in april/may for some years, not sure where to start , used to go to isla Mujeres, but think I’d love to explore Playa Carmen and Cozumel. So… I’m looking for long term rent to, maybe a little shop. If you can help me with contact to Elizabeth, I’d really appreciate it. Thanx. Could be fun meeting you over there.

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Liwlig – Elizabeth can be reached at:

          Just mention that you got her contact details from my blog and she’ll help you out! And it would be great to meet you there as well but I’m currently in India and apart from a visit in March, I’m not sure when else I’ll be back in Mexico. I’m sure I’ll be back again at some point though!

  43. William

    Elizabeth was great at helping me locate a Playa del Carmen rental here.

    Thanks for putting me in contact with her.

    Yes, it is a better idea to come to Playa first and have a local like Elizabeth locate and negotiate a rental in Playa. Elizabeth is friendly and knows the ins-and-outs.

    She showed me 6 places and and in one case the guy quoted me $1300 and she asked again and he said $900. – Thats a huge difference.

    I also think it’s worth it to brush up on the Spanish or take some classes. I plan to to the 4 week immersion course.

    For others I recommend
    Food: El Fogon – cheap and good
    Dinner: FUSION – nightly music from 5pm
    Salsa lessons Tuesday- Wed La Bodeguita

    1. Earl

      Thanks for the review of Elizabeth and her services and I’m very happy to hear it worked out so well for you! But, you shouldn’t have listed El Fogon…now you made me miss that town even more 🙂

      And don’t forget to eat at El Cuevo del Chango!!!

  44. Cambron

    Hey Earl, I’m thinking of opening up a business over there, what would you recommend? I have around 5000 usd to invest.

    1. Earl

      Hey Cambron – That’s a tough call. I would go there, spend several months looking around and try to find out what the town could use. There’s a lot of competition down there so you need to find something unique that will really stand out.

  45. David

    Hi Earl, THANK YOU!!!!
    I have learned a lot from all the information you provided about PD C.
    I am thinking of spending 1-3 months early next year. I gather from the information rent for 1 bed room with good access to Internet I am looking 500/month and at least anoth 500 to use for spending? my question as are we talking about furnished apts?

    Thanks a million!!!

    1. Earl

      Hey David – That should be doable in Playa, probably for a 1 bedroom apartment about 10 – 20 minutes walk away from the main strip. And yes, most apartments in Playa are furnished considering how many foreigners go there for short term stays.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *