Playa del Carmen: Such A Good Place To Live

Playa del Carmen: Such A Good Place To Live

By |2016-07-21T23:48:45-04:00May 28th, 2011|Mexico|245 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

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  1. Irma Nance January 27, 2018 at 5:44 am - Reply

    Is this a service you are offering? I want to know how to get started on retiring in Mexico. I do not want a retirement community. I want to be close, but not in a dangerous and crazy area. I want to be close enough to civilization but far enough away to relax.

    • Derek January 27, 2018 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      Hey Irma – If you have any questions about moving to Playa, you can always send me an email through the contact link above and I can offer some assistance.

  2. Allison Little June 29, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Jason, did you ever make the move to Playa del Carmen from Mississippi? I live in Jackson Mississippi and am wanting to move to PDC in June, 2018. I would love to hear how the process went for you.

  3. Fraser March 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    Yes Tulum much better than PDC for the tranquility alone.

  4. Greg Davis January 31, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    We have traveled to playa for years and thoroughly love it. We are actually going this May 2017. And would like to investigate local apartments. In the near future we want to move. We love the local experience. I always like reading your info on playa. We have been going to playa for the last sixteen years. Any help for local apartment guides that we could meet would be helpful.

    • Derek February 1, 2017 at 5:07 am - Reply

      Hey Greg – Great stuff that you’re heading down there and could possibly move there as well. As for apartments, I no longer offer that service, simply because Playa has become so much more expensive these days. Several years ago you could easily live on $1000 USD per month there but now it’s much more than that. Your best bet will be to go through an agency such as and hope they can help you.

  5. Suzanne Sweetman December 7, 2016 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Hi! Anouk, Just curious to know if you are still in Mexico. What made you leave PDC if I may ask? I am currently living in Montreal so know what you mean about the cold. I spent some time camping on the beach in Tulum, 10 years apart. A lot of changes in the area, but still beautiful. Good memories! Thanks, Suzanne

  6. James November 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    My wife just got a place in playa car guys, it was 850.00 a month 2 bedroom I thought it was a awesome deal, she is moving there in January . So you can find good deals just need to do like we did take couple weeks off and go searching. I was lost here at first but after 2 weeks I know my way around now.

  7. Dan Mitchell August 16, 2016 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Wandering Earl (or anyone else who knows),

    I am an American citizen on SS and a small pension, totaling approx. $2,350/mo. My Japanese wife (with Permanent Resident status in the US) and our small chihuahua mix are planning to retire in PDC, at first with a Residente Temporal visa, to be later converted to a Residente Permanente visa. We both live in new Jersey. I have read on Mexican Consulate websites that I would need to show proof of $2,000 income for myself and another $500 for my wife, although it appears that we would be spending much less than that to live there. However, I also saw notes on the Mexican consulate sites that I should visit different consulates in the USA (in my case it would be NYC or Philadelphia) because the income requirements change depending which consulate I visit.

    My question is in a worst case scenario of $2,500 income requirement, I am approx $50 short for the two of us. Is that $2,500 income requirement “written in stone” or are there flexibilities available? Is it less for a Residente Temporal vs a Residente Permanente? I plan to get US Citizenship for my Japanese wife soon, but possibly not before we move to PDC.

    As far as working in PDC, I have worked on line for years in the US, and have spent a number of years as a jazz singer in the US, so possibily I could earn enough to make up for the $50/mo shortfall. Ideally, we can move there with just what I earn now.

    Any advice will be really appreciated. If we can rent a 2 br apt somewhere in a decent safe neighborhood in PDC for approx. $750/mo, I’m sure we could afford it.

    I can be reached on-line at [email protected].

  8. Lynn Gabinsky February 14, 2016 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Hello, I am thinking about retiring to Playa Del Carmen and hopefully be able to buy a place. However, you mentioned that a person would need a Visa to move there. How do I do that? Thank you for your article, Lynn

  9. Jason February 11, 2016 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Hi Earl. I’m thinking about spending 6 months or so in Playa. I’m working from laptop for a couple years. The one thing that’s confusing me are the conflicting reports I get about rent prices in Playa. In my research, I’ve discovered that if you look for apartments on Spanish language apartment-finding websites, you can find studios in Playa fr 350 USD. For example: If that link doesn’t work because you read this after the posting is taken down, then just check the website and plug in “Yucatan”and then search for Playa del Carmen. So is it 500 USD or 300 USD for an apartment in Playa?

    • Wandering Earl February 11, 2016 at 11:37 am - Reply

      Hey Jason – I’d say it’s $500. I no longer live there but based on what people are saying who do live there, finding a studio anywhere near the center for under $500 is really not possible these days. For example, the apartment that you linked to in your comment is about a 1 hour or more walk from the center of town and the beach, in a neighborhood that really has nothing around it. Definitely not a desirable place to live. Even for $500, you’re looking at being 30-45 minutes walk away from the center of town. To be right in the center, it’s about $1000 or so for a 1 BR apartment at the moment.

      • Jason February 11, 2016 at 11:57 am - Reply

        Ah ok cool, thanks. Yeah I had a feeling that listing was for a spot far from the beach, ha. Makes total sense.

        • Gaelle February 11, 2016 at 12:34 pm - Reply

          Hi Jason, you will find all prices in Playa. When I arrived 1.5 yrs ago I saw in center some at 6500pesos if taking 6months rent but I would have been depressed inside of them. Price vary depending on location, building, amenities, new or old, furnitures? Time of the year and duration you will rent (if renting less than 6 mo then you are considered tourist in vacation.

          • Jason February 16, 2016 at 3:57 pm

            Cool, thanks. Really, I’d be happy with something under 400 USD that’s within 1.5 miles from the city center. Right now, where I live in Mississippi, the nearest place with a lot of activity is Walmart, almost 2 miles away. I have to walk 2 miles to get to Walmart, as I don’t have a car. My rent here is 290 for a small room in a terrible apartment. If I can get a studio in Playa for around 300 USD, where a 1.5 mile walk will get me to a downtown area with a nearby Caribbean beach, that’ll be a major step up.

      • Jason February 11, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

        Although I have to say, right now I’m smack dab in the middle of Mississippi for grad school, have been for the past 3 years, about a 4 hour drive from a subpar beach, and an hour’s drive to the nearest city, so moving to a spot that’s a 20 minute walk to a beach may as well be heaven, ha. I swear, central Mississippi for 3 years has set the bar so incredibly low, I can’t go wrong.

        • Jason February 11, 2016 at 9:40 pm - Reply

          Although I have to say, right now I’m smack dab in the middle of Mississippi for grad school, have been for the past 3 years, about a 4 hour drive from a subpar beach, and an hour’s drive to the nearest city, so moving to a spot that’s a 60 minute walk to a beach may as well be heaven, ha. Right now I’m a 45-minute walk from Wal Mart. I swear, central Mississippi for 3 years has set the bar so incredibly low, I can’t go wrong.

  10. David February 6, 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Thanks for the great article. Do you think there would be a need for one on one Physical Therapist treatments, for folks living in the area that have suffered orthopedic injuries or neurological conditions such as rehabilitation following a stroke? If so, how much do you think would be a fair price for such services? This would be mostly geared toward ex pat community. Thanks for any info you can give.

    • Wandering Earl February 11, 2016 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Hey David – To be honest, I’m not too sure. I haven’t lived there in a while and wouldn’t really know how to answer those questions. The one thing to be careful of though is that you are not legally allowed to work while there on a tourist visa.

  11. jerry January 23, 2016 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I have had it with the northeast. im coming home . e condition I have a question ,got a felony conviction how difficult wiil it be to get across the border and what do I need. I workin with about 1800 a month on ssd and need the sun because of bone condition . do the bank atms work with us banks or will I need other arraingments . loved your article and could use the help and direction .

    • Wandering Earl January 25, 2016 at 6:41 am - Reply

      Hey Jerry – To be honest, I’m not sure how it works with the felony conviction. You’d have to research that online a little more. The ATMs do work with US bank cards (although check with your bank as there might be heavy fees).

  12. Scott Norris September 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    My wife and (a Mexican national from Villahermosa, Tabasco) are thinking of moving to the Playa. Our first choice of Cuernavaca is much to dangerous at this time.

    My question is, what is (if any) the music scene like for an American musician playing rock, blues, tributes (Santana), etc??? Don’t need to earn a living, just want to continue playing if we decide to move.

    I had met and corresponded with a sax player, playing a duet with a drummer with tracks. Lost track of him though. He was playing at the resorts and in Cancun all the time.

    Anyway, my wife and I have relatives there also and know the area, rather low key and pretty laid back for the most part. Hurricanes are a way of life sometimes. It is what it is.

  13. erica September 21, 2015 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    I will be visiting in April. Can you tell me where the best place to buy organic produce is? Thanks!

    • William September 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Under Yoga By the Way

      Davis has Bio-Orgánicos Playa del Carmen

      It’s the place the yogis go

  14. Steve Roth August 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    My wife and I our retiring to Playa early next year. We fell in love with Playa on our last visit. We are looking for a one or two bedroom apartment
    We were wondering if you could recomend areas to live in Playa We are budgeting $800 to $1000 US for a an apartment for a six to twelve month lease. Are we being realistic?
    Before we decide to move we are visiting Playa in November to final our decision. We thank you in advance for any help you can give us.

    Steve and Margo

    • Wandering Earl August 5, 2015 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      Hey Steve – That is reasonable for sure…probably for a 1 BR apartment pretty close to the center of town…it would be the “El Centro” area of town. That would be where I would look!

    • Gaelle August 12, 2015 at 5:27 am - Reply

      Hello Steve, I live in Playa since november 2014 in the center. Both apartments I had were two bedrooms for 12000 pesos (around 750 USD) right in the heart of Playa and one was one block from the beach and the next one was 3 blocks from the beach. So your budget will get you something really nice. I had a friend who had a 1 bedroom in a luxury building with rooftop pool one block from the beach in the center when he arrived in february. About recommendations, it depends what you like to be honest! Also it depends if you will have a car. I personally love the center because i can bike anywhere and walk anywhere via 5th! I chose Elizabeth from renting playa like it is recommended many times on this website and she is awesome and will definitely help you find what you are searching for if you tell her your criteria!
      If you have any questions, my email is [email protected] Looking forward to maybe see you in november!

  15. jon March 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Nice read!

    I am also considering going to la Playa for a couple months this year. My spanish is good, was wondering how hard it would be to pick up a job once I get there?

    Any advice would be great!


  16. Christian stones February 8, 2015 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Great piece.. Am booking now! .. On a side note I wish people wouldn’t compare apples with oranges… Chiang Mai is a city is in the north of Thailand.. Near the mountains no sea. You can’t possibly compare this to PDC as this is a beach resort town.. Why don’t you compare it to Phuket? It’s the closest comparable or koh Samui…and I bet your cost of living is less in PDC thank Phuket.. Just a thought 🙂

  17. CARLOS NEGRETE GARCIA January 13, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Hi dude! Amazing post! I’ll be moving to Playa in 4 days, I’ll be working at Xcaret, I have one question.. Any recommendations about apartment locations? I’m not taking my car so I don’t want to be so far either from Xcaret and the public transportation!

    Hope to see you around when I get there man!

  18. Jillian September 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl!
    You have no idea how happy this article has made me! My husband and I are from the states and are in our early 20s and have been dreaming and dreaming about moving to the Riviera Maya. He works on planes and I am just finishing nursing school. From what I have read in the past it seems hard to get jobs in our career field in Mexico due to the fact that we could be taking a job away from a Mexican citizen. It wouldn’t bother us to work outside of our career fields but we are just wondering if it is possible to make a steady living and not just some extra cash down there. We have been to the Puerto Aventuras area which we loved but I am sure renting there would be a little more spendy. Do you have any other suggestions for an expat type community in the area that could be more affordable? Also we have two dogs that if we decided to make the move that we would like to take. Is there any type of rules about bringing dogs into Mexico? This is the most positive review that I have read about living in the area for a long time so I would love to hear back from you 🙂
    Thanks Earl!

    • Wandering Earl September 11, 2014 at 6:28 am - Reply

      Hey Jillian – I appreciate the comment and here’s some thoughts. First, Puerto Aventuras is actually quite inexpensive compared to other destinations in the Riviera Maya. This is probably because there’s not much around so most foreigners want to live in Playa del Carmen or Tulum instead, driving up prices there. But in Puerto Aventuras, with less demand, the prices have remained lower.

      The main place is Playa del Carmen. There really aren’t many options – Playa, Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras. And Playa is the most popular because it has everything you could possibly need, but as a result, it is quite expensive these days. It really depends on your interests and what kind of atmosphere you’re interested in because each town has it’s own feel.

      As far as I know, you can take your dogs with you. You might need to get some paperwork though.

      And with jobs, yes, it is difficult for foreigners to find real work in Playa apart from the occasional jobs in the tourism industry (hotels, scuba diving operators, etc.), usually if you speak Spanish, and the pay isn’t so good as it’s based on Mexican wages. You can work as a timeshare salespeople in the major resorts but most people living there full time either work online, work remotely for a company back home, have started their own business in Playa or don’t need to work.

      It’s all possible but definitely takes some planning first!

      • Evan December 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

        Earl — Excellent info but I’d like some clarification: You mentioned that Playa is very expensive these days — so it takes a great deal more than the $1000 to live in reasonable comfort? It that’s the case, where is still reasonable in the Yucatan and approx how much monthly?


        • Wandering Earl January 5, 2015 at 5:18 am - Reply

          Hey Evan – Along the beach, you could try Tulum which would be a bit cheaper than Playa. Other than that, you would want to head inland to places like Merida or Valladolid. I’m not sure how much money you would need exactly per month in those places but my guess is that it would be closer to the $600 range.

        • Karl February 5, 2015 at 12:12 pm - Reply

          Just left playa a week ago after 10 days.Agree with Earl that at first you thought you were in the Mexico Las Vegas strip, but after three days I was looking for apts and gyms. I work online so thats not a problem other than my hotel internet was sketchy at best. I’m assuming residential paid service is far superior. But I found two bedroom apts for $500 on the other side of the hwy that looked very safe and comfortable.
          Eating is dirt cheap by US standards. Dont know your budget but I think $1200/month budget is doable. Am I missing something Earl?

          • David February 6, 2016 at 10:53 am

            Hello. I am thinking of relocating to PDC with wife and 4 year old son. I would have a budget of $2300/month. Out of that I know that I would need to pay about $200/month for a good school. Do you think this would be enough monthly income to get in a complex with 2BR, 1200 square feet, access to pool, walking distance to school and everything else in central PDC? Any ideas of good condo complexes to search? We are not golfers or tennis players. More like the beach, gym, play with kids kind of folks. Thanks

  19. Richard July 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Great piece, Earl! Man, the seo on your blog is through the roof as I’ve often been directed to your site over the past 5 years while sussing out my own wanderings. So thanks for that.

    Question: I’m visiting Playa for a few days and I found an airbnb apartment that says it’s in the “Hollywood area of Playa and is full of ex-pats, especially Italians and Argentinians.” Do you know this area? Is it a good area? Central to beach, 5th, etc? I’m a seasoned traveller, 50 countries on 5 continents, so I’m good with ‘roughing it’. Mainly, just curious as to your valued opinion! ;o)

    Thanks in advance for any reply, Richard

    • Wandering Earl July 25, 2014 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Hey Richard – Thanks for the comment and for visiting the site over the years! As for Playa, I’m not too sure where is the “hollywood area” actually but I have a feeling it’s off of 5th Avenue, around 38th – 50th Streets, an area that has become the new hip part of town to hang out in. I can’t imagine an area called “Hollywood area” being anywhere far away from 5th Avenue and the beach so I’m sure it will be a good spot!

  20. Emilia June 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Hey dude great article!
    I just moved to Playa yesterday running away from the stresses of Mexico City, though I’m pretty sure I will be making less money, my health, and mostly my nervous system, will be very very thankful! I loved the picture of the guy sun tanning on the roof so funny!!! I hope I can make it here, I hope so, but anyways if there are some bumps in the road… This is Playa sort of a slice of paradise,
    Thanks dude! only one question what about safety tips for us moving down here?

    • Wandering Earl June 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      Hey Em – Welcome to Playa 🙂 As for safety tips, there’s not much to say. It’s quite a safe town, not much happens at all. Just use your normal common sense and that’s about it!

      • Emilia February 10, 2015 at 9:01 pm - Reply

        Hey wandering!
        I´m still here and still loving it! no security issues so far thanks to God!

  21. A Hopeful Digital Nomad May 31, 2014 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great post. I’ve heard some conflicting reports on internet reliability, I’m glad you are saying that in general it shouldn’t be an issue. I work remotely online but on a fixed schedule and I have to have a solid reliable connection. I’ve also heard that in the peak months there is a bad smell over much of Playa Del Carmen…did you experience that? Other than that living somewhere either in Playa Del Carmen or close to in along the Mayan Riviera sounds like a great place to live. Thanks for sharing.

    • Wandering Earl June 2, 2014 at 10:18 am - Reply

      @A Hopeful Digital Nomad – I’ve never heard of the bad smell over the town during high season and I’ve been here for a couple of high seasons in the past. Some people mention a smell at one small area of the beach but that’s about it and I’ve never experienced that myself either.

      As for internet, it’s as reliable as most places I’d say. I work online and have never had a problem at all here.

    • Gaelle August 12, 2015 at 5:35 am - Reply

      There is a coworking space called Nest in the center and they have the best internet in town. They brought optic fiber inside their building I think. all online entrepreneurs work from there. Super cool as well to meet people!

      • Anne-Marie January 22, 2016 at 3:07 pm - Reply

        Salut Gaelle,

        Is this Nest space free or there is a fee of some kind? My husband, Pascal, and I plan to spend 2 months in PDC (maybe…still researching) next winter (Jan-March 2017) but he must have reliable high speed internet for his business.
        We plan to rent an apt so perhaps there will be wifi but I do not know how reliable it will be.
        Merci bien!

    • Anne-Marie January 22, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      For Digital Nomad:
      I see your post is from May 2014. I assume you are back from Playa or still there? My questions are like yours were: I had read about a smell and we must have reliable internet as well for my husband’s business.
      What did you find?
      We are looking to go next winter (2017)

      Thank you!

  22. […] spent time in Playa. As with any place, there were pros and cons. I think Wandering Earl described it best as a place that’s not great for sightseers or adventurers, but perfect for digital nomads […]

  23. Katie May 18, 2014 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the info! I’m about to embark on a 4 month journey through Central America, working in hostels, volunteering, couchsurfing etc along the way and was torn between Playa Del Carmen or Tulum. I’ve been to Playa before, but for very brief trips where I didn’t have much time to explore. I found opportunities in both, but wasn’t sure which I would prefer staying in for 2 week-1 month. I think I’m leaning towards Playa the more I research though 🙂

  24. Anouk May 14, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Hi Joanne!

    We are a young family (me, my partner and our 6 yrs old daughter) from Montréal, Canada. We are moving soon (in 2 months!!) to Playa del Carmen to escape the cold, discover a new culture and learn Spanish. We are going to be “digital worker” there. Opening a business in Mexico is possible, I know from the internet a young woman from Québec, Canada, who opened with her mother her own hotel in Playa! It’s called LunaSol or something like that. There is also the “Chambre de commerce québécoise de Riviera Maya”, the members are people from Québec running businesses in PDC. You can check out their website if you have questions.

    I’m gonna lauch my website about my journey in PDC, it’s not ready yet but you can check it out too. Bonne chance!

    • David February 6, 2016 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Anouk, I am thinking of moving to PDC soon with wife and 4 year old. I would like to contact you to see how you have endured the transition to life in PDC. My email address is [email protected]. Please contact me if you can help me out. Thank you

      • Anouk February 11, 2016 at 1:12 pm - Reply

        Got it! We are not in Playa del Carmen anymore, but I’ll be glad to help if you have any questions!

  25. Matt April 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    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?


    • Wandering Earl April 18, 2014 at 4:58 am - Reply

      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.

      • Matt April 18, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

        Totally understand, thanks! Any recommendations on Spanish schools in the area?

        • Wandering Earl April 21, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

          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.

  26. […] why does the town pop up over and over again on so many travel blogs from Wandering Earl to Never Ending Voyage to Travel with Bender? The answer to that question is that the town […]

  27. Donna Vest March 26, 2014 at 12:11 am - Reply

    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?


    • Wandering Earl March 28, 2014 at 4:02 am - Reply

      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.

  28. Joanne March 14, 2014 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Wandering Earl March 21, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      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.

  29. Scott Norris March 1, 2014 at 12:20 am - Reply

    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?

    • Wandering Earl March 2, 2014 at 4:01 am - Reply

      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: [email protected]

  30. Adrian February 20, 2014 at 11:42 am - Reply

    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.

    • Wandering Earl February 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm - Reply

      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.

  31. Barbara January 5, 2014 at 8:14 am - Reply

    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?

    • Wandering Earl January 7, 2014 at 4:11 am - Reply

      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!

  32. Bill December 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I also used Elizabeth – she was great

  33. lorena December 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Wandering Earl December 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Hey Lorena – You can contact my friend Liz at [email protected]. She can help you out as she is a local who helps foreigners find apartments in Playa del Carmen.

  34. Breno Nunes November 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    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

  35. Jamie Moi October 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    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

    • Wandering Earl October 30, 2013 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Hey Jamie and Michelle – That’s so wonderful to hear and I wish you a wonderful time in beautiful Playa!

  36. Our New Home! | samonthelam October 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    […] We have found a new home!   Just 10 minutes by cab from the Centro of Playa del Carmen and a 15 minute walk to the Caribbean Sea, this little home is now ours.  Our wonderful landlady, Elena, lives upstairs from us.  We got this 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home with a full private yard and gardener for just 6350 Pesos per month or about $530 Canadian per month.  Right around the corner is the laundry and a corner store that sells everything we could need.  The home is fully furnished and in a  gated community!  When we arrived with Beatriz, the wonderful woman who picked us up and arranged to show us homes, she had to give the attendant her ID just to get into the complex.  Guests collect their ID upon departure.  We found the contact for Beatriz and her associate Elizabeth on the blog Wandering Earl […]

  37. Joe October 14, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    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?


    • Wandering Earl October 15, 2013 at 7:23 am - Reply

      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: [email protected]

  38. Federico September 30, 2013 at 7:31 am - Reply

    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!



    • Wandering Earl September 30, 2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

      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.

      • Federico September 30, 2013 at 9:38 am - Reply

        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

        • Wandering Earl October 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm - Reply

          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.

  39. […] Del Carmen is very livable. It has conveniences and plenty of choices of restaurants but it’s much small than Cancun. […]

  40. 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!

  41. Debra August 11, 2013 at 6:48 pm - Reply


    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?

    • Wandering Earl August 12, 2013 at 3:57 am - Reply

      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.

  42. […] have written about me and my services. Some of them are: 1. Wandering Earl (Read the comments: Playa del Carmen: Such A Good Place To Live – Wandering Earl) 2. Sarah Somewhere (Finding Our Mexican Hacienda) 3. Travel With Bender (The In's & Out's of […]

  43. Pauline July 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    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!!

    • Wandering Earl July 22, 2013 at 3:44 am - Reply

      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.

  44. jeff July 15, 2013 at 10:03 pm - Reply

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

  45. Erin July 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Wandering Earl July 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      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.

  46. Taujuanna ware July 13, 2013 at 10:04 am - Reply

    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!!

    • Wandering Earl July 14, 2013 at 8:15 am - Reply

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

  47. Ron | Active Planet Travels July 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    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.

  48. jeff July 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Wandering Earl July 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      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.

  49. […] 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 […]

  50. […] with friends my costs would have lowered to $600 (and my friend Earl says that’s about the cost of living in Playa del Carmen on the east coast beaches as well … I’ll share more Mexico resources at the […]

  51. Sam June 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    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 🙂

    • Wandering Earl June 15, 2013 at 9:57 am - Reply

      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.

  52. Ben May 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    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.


    • Wandering Earl May 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      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.

  53. Carrie April 2, 2013 at 2:04 am - Reply

    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?

    • Wandering Earl April 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      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!

  54. Marko March 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    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

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      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.

  55. Bob March 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    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

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      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!

  56. […] my lengthy stay back in 2010/2011, I had nothing but positive things to say about the town of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It was as ideal of a destination as there could be for someone like me who prefers warm climates, […]

  57. […] Though we’ve only been here a couple of days we are already beginning to feel at home and last night were able to have dinner, drinks and excellent conversation with a new friend, Wandering Earl. Earl is a travel blogger Jason has been following and corresponding with for years and we were lucky enough to be in the same city and free on the same night. In 1999 Earl went on a solo trip to Southeast Asia during his gap year between college and finding a job. He enjoyed it so much that he never went home. That’s right, he’s been on the road for 14 years! During that time he’s been able to cultivate a large following on his blog and in our opinion is one of the best in the business. Whether you would like to live a life of travel, are planning on living abroad or are just bored in your cubicle I would highly suggest checking out his site, it’s entertaining as well as informative. In fact one of his first posts we read was about a time in his life when he lived in Playa del Carmen. […]

  58. Ron March 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    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:)

    • Wandering Earl March 3, 2013 at 12:14 am - Reply

      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.

  59. Quinn February 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Wandering Earl February 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      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.

  60. robbie lenox January 20, 2013 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    great article..hope to be in mexico soon… I will also eat indian food wherever I can and am!

  61. Whitney January 17, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    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 🙂

    • Wandering Earl January 21, 2013 at 2:31 am - Reply

      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.

  62. […] latest digital nomad base is Playa del Carmen in Mexico. We’d heard mixed things about the city. Wandering Earl thinks it’s an ideal place to get some work done, while others think it’s overly […]

  63. Charles January 2, 2013 at 11:58 am - Reply

    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.

    • Wandering Earl January 5, 2013 at 12:00 am - Reply

      Hey Charles – It could be

      That’s closest to craigslist that I know of for Mexico!

  64. Paul December 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    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

    • Wandering Earl December 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      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 🙂

  65. Ione Green November 29, 2012 at 11:34 am - Reply

    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!


    • Wandering Earl November 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      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.

  66. Kim and Craig November 28, 2012 at 12:19 am - Reply

    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!

    • Wandering Earl November 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      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.

  67. Richard Bonnet November 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    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

    • Wandering Earl November 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      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: [email protected]

      Hope that helps!

  68. james November 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    is it easy enough to get some part time work over there or?

    • Wandering Earl November 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      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.

  69. Megan November 1, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    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!

  70. tara October 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I’m going to Playa and will be looking for a long term rental in Jan, how would I get in touch with Elizabeth?

    • Bill October 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      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

    • Earl October 17, 2012 at 12:13 am - Reply

      Hey Tara – I just sent you an email with her details.

      • Liwlig December 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm - Reply

        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.

        • Wandering Earl December 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm - Reply

          Hey Liwlig – Elizabeth can be reached at: [email protected]

          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!

  71. Gene October 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Medicial insurance in mexico. How do you go about that or do you just chance it?

  72. William October 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    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

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:46 am - Reply

      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!!!

  73. Cambron October 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm - Reply

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

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:24 am - Reply

      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.

  74. David September 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    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!!!

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      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.

  75. Joanne September 9, 2012 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl, I’m leaving in 3 weeks to go to Playa for more than two months (travelling on my own)….this is my test of a “longer-term” stay in the place I may want to live. While I am there, I am renting a very nice home in Playacar, but will be searching out longer term rental properties that are more affordable. Can you make any recommendations on where I should go or who I could contact while there. I’d really appreciate it.

    • Earl September 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      Hey Joanne – I have a good friend in Playa who runs a small service for foreigners. She finds them great local apartments at local prices (based on your needs) so that you don’t have to worry about paying inflated-foreigner prices. If you wish to contact her, just send me a quick email and I’ll forward you her details.

      • william September 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm - Reply


        I found your site a this great article

        Could you sent me your friends information

        Im staying in Playa for 3 months and would luv to find a great deal on an apartment

        Thx again

        • Earl September 23, 2012 at 4:44 am - Reply

          Hey William – If you want, just send me an email using the contact link above and I can provide you with the email address of a local friend in Playa who helps foreigners find great apartments at local prices.

  76. Felix June 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl.I just found this great blog and hoping that u could help me.I am from germany and I`m writing because i need information.My sister was in playa for few months.Now she’s planning to go back to live and work there.So she cant speak any spanish but is telling me that the all inclusive resorts hire foreigners who can speak english and they help them getting the working visa.

    So here is the problem..she has a criminal record,she did something stubid and got convicted from fraud.didn’t get jail time but has a record.So if she goes there and tryes to get the work visa,will they check her backround/criminal record?and then what would happen?

    Really worried for her..

    • Earl June 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Hey Felix – I’m not really sure what might happen as I don’t really know about the resorts and the background checks that they conduct.

  77. Nancy May 3, 2012 at 1:05 am - Reply

    I have been to Playa about 10 times. My most favorite place on the planet. (and have been all over the world). Am female- mid fifties- pre-divorced and will be on limited budget. I am semi literate in Spanish – but am taking courses to become completely fluent. Currently have a small RV that I would like to live in while I suss out living there. Two questions – is it possible to live in an RV ( super small- more like a van) and also I have a dog. Are these no-go’s for Playa?

    • Earl May 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      Hey Nancy – I’m sure it’s possible to live in an RV somewhere in Playa but I don’t know off the top of my head where you could park it exactly. As for a dog, that’s definitely no problem as many foreigners bring their pets with them!

  78. Heather March 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl
    I am 100 percent moving to playa del carmen. Its always been my favorite place to go. The only thing that concerns me is speaking spanish. i know some spanish but im not fluent. Would that be a HUGE problem? Or can i get by without for a while?

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 8:51 am - Reply

      Hey Heather – That won’t be a problem at all. There is plenty of English spoken down there and I’m sure you’ll pick up more Spanish as well. Everyone in Playa is quite laid-back and more than willing to help you practice…the key is to just start speaking Spanish once you arrive and you’ll improve quite quickly 🙂

  79. Cathy Aleman March 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Looking to move to Playa del Carmen. My husband and I have been to the area twice. Our last visit was last week in Feb/12. We looked at condos there and was impressed by what we saw. We would probably rent for a bit to make sure it is the area we want. My concerns are is it safe there, for I will be there alone from time to time because my husband works at different destinations in the world. Alot of talk here in Ontaio, Canada regarding Mexico and how dangerous it is there right now. I sure did not feel that in the week we were there. What is your advice on this matter. All I know is from the time I arrived there, it is like I am a different person (that I want to be) more relaxed and not a worry in the world but of course my husband is with me. Would I feel different when he is not there I don’t know but only one way to find out! When we visit tropical destinations we cannot believe how we don not have the aches and pains in our body like we do in Canada. My age is 51 with back and neck issues and my husband is 46 with back issues, so we are researching different places and we keep coming back to Playa del Carmen for some reason. I also worry about hurricanes and earthquakes. Do they happen there. Any info would be appreciated to help in my decision. My husband has no problems his only concern, is my safety while he is away.
    Look forward to hearing from you
    Cathy Aleman

    • Earl March 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Hey Cathy – Thank you for the comment! I actually just responded to the email you sent me earlier and answered your questions there 🙂

  80. Misti March 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    HI Earl,

    I am so glad I found your blog! My fiancé and I (both 28 yrs. old) have travelled to Playa 3 times now and each time we obsess over living here. We live in Oklahoma now, but everyday we talk about how we are going to move down there. Right now, its just trying to find a way for each of us to make a living there….and also getting our stuff including our cats there! I wouldn’t take furniture of course, but my fiancé has spent a lot of time and money acquiring music equipment (guitars, speaker cabinets, amps, etc.) Is it hard to get things shipped to Playa from the states? Also, Im super worried about our kitties…have you heard of anyone bringing their pets with them to Playa? Any advice would greatly help! We hope to move to Playa next fall!

    • Earl March 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      Hey Misti – It’s not hard to get things shipped to Playa but it is VERY expensive and you’d need to use a reputable company or else things might go missing along the way. I once had to send an important document from Mexico to the US and it cost me $65 USD with FedEx! As for your cats, it would be much easier. I’ve met people who have brought both cats and dogs down there so I don’t think that’s too much of a hassle at all.

      If you have any other questions about Playa at any time, feel free to send me an email through my contact link at the top of the page!

  81. Caitlin February 29, 2012 at 8:16 am - Reply


    ive been offered and internship in playa – i just wondered about living costs – my accomodation will be provided but i will have to pay for the rest of my living expenses…i just wonder if you could shed some light on living costs there? i know you touched on it but i couldnt work out if that was including accom or not?
    any advice would be much appreciated

    • Earl March 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Hola Caitlin – The living costs are quite low, although, they can increase rapidly if you want to enjoy the nightlife! In general, if your accommodation is taken care of, you could easily live well for about $500 USD per month. If you can afford $600 or so, you’ll live very well and will be able to eat out in great local restaurants and do pretty much any of the activities you wish to do.

  82. Chris February 26, 2012 at 5:17 am - Reply

    I have been wandering the earth for the past 5 years with no real home and now looking for a place with good internet and a hot climate to stay for awhile, I’m tired. At 58 I grew up on and worked on the Caribbean waters for years. My 2 adult sons will meet me down in Mexico in June for business and to start their Latin travels south. My eldest son a Traveller like me, a financial investor like me, needs his wisdom teeth removed on his way through Mexico. My question, is there two tier pricing for foreigners like there is in many parts of the world. I have been in contact with at least 2 dozen dentist online regarding prices and it seems their prices are way over priced. I will be arriving in Cancun from Europe in March 2012 to begin the process of looking for a small place for myself and a dentist for my son. What is the deal with dentist in Playa and Cancun? Any inside info would be helpful. Thank You.


    • Earl February 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Hey Chris – Thanks for the comment! As for the two-tier pricing, in general, if you contact a dentist that is advertising in English on the internet, they are trying hard to attract foreign business and in turn, will charge much higher prices. The key is to find a reputable dentist who does not try to market towards foreigners. The one I used (and was super happy with) is Dr. Cristina Bernal at Dental Plus Cancun. I believe the office email is dentalpluscancun @ She’s friendly, highly qualified and her prices are the normal going rate for locals who want to be treated by a well-trained dentist.

  83. kate January 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    so question – ill possibly be going here for an internship. my accomodation will be provided. so for all the other living costs – food drink travel etc how much per a month do you think i would spend? any advice muchly appreciated

    • Earl January 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      Hey Kate – It all depends on what kind of places you eat at and how much nightlife you plan to experience. Food can cost $10 or $20 USD per meal if you eat in the main tourist area or an amazing local meal can be had for $3 or $4 just a few blocks away. Groceries are quite inexpensive at the supermarkets as well. Nightlife is expensive though and if you go to clubs and the main bars, you can expect to pay $5 – $10 per drink. Overall, it’s quite possible to spend around $750 USD per month to live very well but you’d need about $1000 if you plan to go out at night more often…

  84. nina January 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl.i`m so glad that i found this blog.First..i`m from finland so my english isn`t that great,but hope you will understand..=)

    I`m coming to playa this april,and would be very grateful if you could tell me some advice about where i could find a apartment for rent?

    My budget is max.645dollars/month..Is it possible to find anything for that price from 5avenue or near there?

    And second..where should i go to find some good but cheap food?
    Because i have been there once,last summer for 2weeks,and the food was
    surprisingly expensive.But we were at the tourist area because weren’t sure
    if it`s safe for us to leave there.

    I would really like to see the hole town,and not just the 5av. area.
    But wondering is it safe,because i`m alone and a blond girl.

    best wishes Nina=)

    • Earl January 22, 2012 at 5:38 am - Reply

      Hey Nina – Thanks for the comment. First, Playa del Carmen is super-safe and you will have no problems at all wandering anywhere in town. This is the reason why thousands of foreigners from around the world move and live here 🙂 When I was living there I would go to 5th Avenue maybe once per week and I basically stayed in the less touristy parts of town and never had a single problem. Food on 5th Avenue is going to be expensive, as is the case in any tourist destination but as soon as you walk a couple of blocks away, it all changes.

      Even one block away on 15th Avenue, near the corner of 10th Street there are four or five small restaurants/food stalls next to each other that serve great, cheap tortas, quesadillas, gorditas, tacos and more. And then, just head to 30th Avenue, between about 14th – 30th streets and you’ll find several local restaurants with excellent food for little money.

      Once you get to know the town better you’ll find endless places where you can eat well for less than 50 pesos!

      As for apartments, just read through the other comments on this post. I’ve listed several apartment options that you might want to try. For your budget you probably won’t find anything right on 5th Avenue as those tend to cost $1000 or more but you’d be able to find a nice apartment a few blocks back, somewhere around 20th avenue, which is still just a few minutes walk to the beach.

  85. Mickey January 16, 2012 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Reading this and missing Playa – been there twice, once with the wife and 2nd time with her and our 2 kids – loved it both times. I could definitely live in Playa.

    I work in Fitness equipment – seen plenty of hotels with really run down equipment…wonder if there’s opportunity for extended working vacations there…

    I paid $1200 usd for a week at a 2 bdrm condo at Riviera Maya Suites (Behind Las Palapas) – which was very nice but would like to cut the cost next time if i can get something just as nice.

    • Earl January 16, 2012 at 8:56 am - Reply

      Hey Mickey – Thanks for the comment and you can definitely find something for less money than that. I lived in a wonderful 2 BR apartment four blocks from the beach and I paid a little more than half that amount for one month. And I’m sure you’d be able to work on your fitness equipment idea. That’s the kind of creativity needed to find ways to earn a living overseas!

  86. Lindsey January 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm - Reply


    I think it is amazing what you do and am very envious of you! I just got back yesterday from Mexico. I went to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Mujeres. I fell in love wi Playa and I have thought about how I could swing living there for awhile. It’s always been a dream of mine to live somewhere by myself and I think Playa is a great place to do so.

    Do you know if it is possible to rent a studio apartment for a month or would it have ti be for longer than that? I’m hoping my job will permit me to go away for that long, especially since I’ve already been gone for almost 2 weeks.

    I would appreciate any advice you can give me and I will be reading more of the comments on your page later today. I think it is so incredible what you have been doing and I would love to do something like what you do, at least for a little while 😉


    • Earl January 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Lindsey – Thanks for the comment and you’ll definitely be able to rent a studio for a month in Playa. There are plenty of foreigners who come down there for a month or so and as a result, there are dozens and dozens of apartments that will gladly rent out places for such a period of time. If you want some specific contact details for some good apartments that I know of, just send me an email and I’d be more than happy to send the info over to you!

  87. katie December 21, 2011 at 6:54 am - Reply

    Hi Earl, I am planning to move ton PDC in a few weeks. I have been living in Cabo San Lucas for a year and decided it was enough for me and now I am beginning my new adventure on the other side of Mexico. I have been looking into apartment rentals in PDC and have stumbled across a few that were in my price range, however most were rentals for tourists. I need something more long term as I plan to reside there for a while ( 6 months min). I would only like to pay about $300-$400 us a month and I need something pet friendly as I do have small, well behaved beagle who will be travelling with me. I found one really good website: bu sill haven’t found anything yet. Do you know of any other websites or rental companies close to the center of town? I need something within walking distance to the main streets and the beaches.Please let me know. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Katie (Canada)

    • Earl December 22, 2011 at 4:52 am - Reply

      Hey Katie – To find something in that price range, that’s quite decent and in the center of town, might be a challenge, especially considering that it is currently high season in PDC. However, my recommendation would be to check out and check the real estate classifieds there as you’ll find local listings that are not being offered by agencies that cater only to foreigners. The site is in Spanish but you’ll find excellent options in all price ranges!

      • katie December 22, 2011 at 11:08 am - Reply

        sweet! I actually saw the listings you posted after I sent the message haha..I probably should have read your entire article first! so I had my work cut out for me yesterday with emails and phone calls. I have been in contact with Melissa from Croccondos and since I am moving in the middle of the month she is going to give me a studio apt for $300 for 2 weeks which I think is a pretty good deal considering its completely furnished and super close to everything not to mention my dog is allowed to be there! Do you think this is a good place to start?

        • Earl December 22, 2011 at 11:22 am - Reply

          That’s an excellent place to start Katie! It’s about ten minutes walk away from everything and they are very friendly over there. Also, just ask them where the restaurant Sabor X is. It’s a small, open-air family run place just down the road on Avenida 10 and they serve incredible home made breakfasts and dinners for around 20 – 50 pesos.

          Definitely a good choice you made!

          • katie December 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm

            Great! and I will definitly check out sabor x..I’m always down for a good, cheap breakfast 🙂 Thanks for all of your help with this, it definitly made things more relaxed for I am all set..I just need to get there!

  88. […] to Find an Apartment in Playa del Carmen – Wandering Earl has convinced us that Playa del Carmen makes a great base for digital nomads. It’s affordable, there’s great food,decent […]

  89. stephan December 1, 2011 at 1:19 am - Reply

    Hey Earl, me and a friend will most likely be moving to Playa in Jan/Feb for the foreseeable future for work. Really enjoyed reading about the town and can’t wait to get to live there! It sounds like we are quite lucky to be sent there! We are looking for either a 3 bedroom apt, or perhaps a 4-5 bedroom house, wondering if you know of any people we could get in contact with? Thanks!

    • Earl December 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      Hey Stephan – Thanks for the message and I think you’ll enjoy yourself in Playa for sure. Not a bad place to be working from at all. I actually don’t know anyone that is offering such a large apartment or house. Most of what I’ve found have been 1 or 2 bedroom apartments. You can probably find 4-5 bedroom homes in the Playacar area, which is a semi-gated section just south of town. It’s a great place to live, except that it’s a bit too far out to walk into town. But in the main central part of town, I really haven’t seen anything that large unfortunately. It is quite a small town in the end 🙂

  90. crazy sexy fun traveler September 18, 2011 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Playa del Carmen is amazing! I so loved this place!

  91. Jasmine July 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    This sounds so appealing right now… I’d love to spend a month or so on the beach just working and wiling away the days. Just added Playa del Carmen to my list 🙂

    • Earl July 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      Hey Jasmine – It definitely deserves a place on your list. The community of bloggers and nomads is growing rapidly over here…and for good reason!

  92. […] is only part of the story though, and after readings Earls article about why Playa del Carmen is such a good place to live, I felt comfortable with the decision to spend some time […]

  93. Scott June 19, 2011 at 1:59 am - Reply

    Thanks for the insights. I am planning on being in Mexico & SA for a few months next year and will need to stay somewhere for at least a month or so to find some work and just chill out, so Playa has made my list, thanks!

  94. […] 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 […]

  95. Roy June 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl, Great read. My wife and I spent three months there about a year ago and loved it as well. We are thinking of going back to live. I work via the internet and need a strong, steady connection. Do you know the best part of the city to live in to obtain this?

    • Earl June 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Roy – The good part about Playa del Carmen is that the internet is very strong here. Most apartments come with good wi-fi and the only area of town that does not have internet are the furthermost outskirts, where chances are you won’t be living. There really is nothing to worry about at all in terms of internet. I rely on the internet for most of my work and have never had an issue!

      • Roy June 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm - Reply

        Thats sound good. For my work I am hoping to get at least a 10 kbps connection.
        Thanks Earl!

  96. Marie (Food Nouveau) June 8, 2011 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Hello Earl, I loved this post! It’s funny because I’ve rented a house on Cozumel before, but never thought of renting in Playa del Carmen! I love Mexico and the coast South of Cozumel, but I had “resort fatigue” and didn’t feel like going all-inclusive anymore. The idea of having my own apartment there sounds like a perfect vacation. I was wondering if you could recommend good apartment rental agencies that offer great choices over there? Thanks!

    • Earl June 8, 2011 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Hey Marie – Thank you for the comment! The thing with Playa del Carmen is that if you use an actual apartment rental agency (especially one that you can find on the internet), you’ll end up paying vacation rental prices, which are typically 3-4 times the normal rents. The best way to find a place here is to arrive and spend an afternoon walking around the center of town, calling the phone numbers on all of the “Se Renta” signs on the apartment buildings. This way you’ll get in touch directly with the local owners or with a local real estate agent (who isn’t in the business of renting places to foreigners) and as a result, you’ll be able to find great apartments for much more reasonable prices.

      This is what I’ve done every time I’ve looked for an apartment here and so far this has worked out quite well. I’ve had friends come down who rented a place online before they arrived and paid as much as $2000 US for a month. I’m not paying anything even close to that amount and have a very nice 2BR apartment in the center.

      • Marie (Food Nouveau) June 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm - Reply

        Thank you for your reply! Arriving in Playa Del Carmen without having a guaranteed place to live is a little adventurous for me, but knowing it always worked out for you is reassuring. Would you say negociating with locals is possible in English (and little or no knowledge of Spanish)?

        • Earl June 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm - Reply

          Hey Marie – Actually, it all depends on how long you’re looking to stay down here for. If you’re only planning to stay for 1 or 2 weeks, then the prices are going to be quite high, even if you arrive without a place and look around. For this amount of time, I would recommend staying at one of the cheap, but very nice, boutique hotels in town which only charge around $35 US per night.

          If you’re planning to stay for at least 1 month, then send me an email and I can forward you a couple of recommendations of good apartments. As for negotiating, it is possible to do it in English but you will definitely get a lower rent if you can negotiate in Spanish. However, I do know of one option that can help you get local rates without speaking Spanish which I’ll explain in my reply to your email.

  97. Daniel June 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    Hi man! I live in Playa del Carmen too!! Ive read several post of your blog from the recommendations of Colin Wright at his facebook but didnt know you lived in my town! thats awesome! and Im on digital business aswell and we are definitely like minded people! would love to get together some day soon whaddaya say?…I usually go out to work at ah cacao café at 30 street and 5th…let me know, cheers!!

    • Earl June 7, 2011 at 12:14 am - Reply

      Hey Daniel – Too funny. I typically spend my days working at the Ah Cacao on Constituyentes and 5th! I’ll send you an email now and we can plan to meet up.

  98. Karen June 5, 2011 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Playa del Carmen is one of my most favorite vacation destinations in the whole world for many of the reasons you mention above. Although I’ve never thought of living there full-time, I have thought (seriously!) about staying there for much longer than the one week I usually visit…it’s gorgeous!

  99. Juno June 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    True! Yes, you never know which place is going to be your home. I’m looking for one too. I”ve live in my hometown for over two decades but I don’t feel like home. I don’t want to ‘live’ here. But I felt home at quite a few places.
    I’m not sure Playa del Carmen is the place for me but I will check it out with open mind! 🙂

    • Earl June 2, 2011 at 1:21 am - Reply

      Hey Juno – You should definitely check out Playa del Carmen! It just may surprise you 🙂

  100. Vago Damitio June 1, 2011 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Great post Earl. You gotta love cheap food, affordable living, and solid infrastructure…not to mention the beaches. Maybe we’ll see you there.

    • Earl June 2, 2011 at 1:08 am - Reply

      Hey Vago – That’s about as good of a combination as I know of! Do let me know if you make it this way…

  101. Sabrina June 1, 2011 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Sounds like a great place to live! I never knew that even work visas were fairly easy to get. That’s a huge benefit. Working in the US as a European has been great, but the immigration paperwork and requirements are a pain. I’ve been planning to visit the Cancun area for a while now… which season would you recommend as the best to come?

    • Earl June 2, 2011 at 1:07 am - Reply

      Hey Sabrina – As for the best season, it all depends on how much you like the heat! The winter is high season and so it is very crowded down here, but the temperatures are quite comfortable, even cool at times. The summer is very hot (the other day it was 36 C) but it’s low season so things are much cheaper during these months and it’s not crowded with tourists at all. It also rains a bit during the summer but usually just once a day for 30 minutes or so.

      I personally love hot weather so I prefer the summer but the heat is not for everyone!

      • Sabrina June 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm - Reply

        Thanks for that info. 36 C actually doesn’t sound too bad. We have that almost every second day here in West Texas in the summer too 🙂 And I like heat – Ok, I have to admit, after a few weeks in August at the Red Sea, I was ready to reconsider, but if 36 C is as bad as it gets, I’m in.

  102. Clara June 1, 2011 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Great post! I haven’t been to Playa del Carmen, but now I want to go. Thanks for all of the detailed information!

  103. Bluegreen Kirk May 31, 2011 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    I really can see where you are coming from with this. Too often our first impressions can be wrong if is only we can get past that initial thought. For many its hard to do simply because they are only there for a short period perhaps only 2 or 3 days.

    • Earl May 31, 2011 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      @Bluegree Kirk: You’re absolutely right and it’s definitely understandable that people’s impression of a place will be different based upon the amount of time they spend there. Luckily I learned this lesson a while ago or else I would never have thought to live here in Playa and missed out on such a great destination!

  104. Nick Berggreen May 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    I feel like sun-bathing guy deserves his own Mexican TV show.

    • Earl May 31, 2011 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Hey Nick – He certainly does although the show would have to come to him as I doubt there is anything that could motivate him to get up off of that lounge chair.

  105. CancunCanuck May 31, 2011 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Great article, thanks for sharing it. I’ve lived in Cancun for almost eight years and get frustrated by travelers who only give the area one glance and leave. Sure, first sights are pretty touristy, but ask around and you’ll be off the beaten track in no time. Like you say, one or two blocks off 5th in Playa and it’s a different city. Same with Cancun,don’t go to the hotel zone and you won’t find the sombrero-wearing fuzzy drink guzzlers.

    The best part of living in Cancun for me is getting out of Cancun every weekend. I hop in the car and hit the road, looking for hidden cenotes, secret beaches and tiny ruins sites. Living here gives me the opportunity to have a good job, a great school for my son and convenience while allowing me to be an adventurer on my days off.

    Glad you’re enjoying Playa (though it’s a bit touristy for my weekend adventures, haha!)

    • Earl May 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      @CancunCanuck: I easily could have written this post about Cancun as well as I agree with what you said completely. I enjoy heading up to Cancun for a day every now and then and contrary to popular belief, you could spend a week there and not even come across another foreigner. And this entire region certainly does offer an endless selection of adventures…I just might have to pick your brain and find out what your favorite hidden beaches are 🙂

      And if you ever do head down to Playa at all, do let me know!

      • Jo-Anne June 15, 2011 at 12:03 am - Reply

        Earl- I love this article. I’ve been thinking of living in PDC for awhile now. I just completely feel at home and at peace in PDC. It’s always in the back of my mind. My husband is an elementary teacher…so I’m thinking the best opportunity for him is to teach English. But, how in demand is teaching English in PDC/Cancun area? What business opportunities would thrive in the area? I got married in PDC and I know how sought after PDC is when it comes to weddings. I’m thinking a business that targets the wedding market would be successful as long as it’s marketed effectively.

        @CancunCanuck- If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of job do you do in Cancun? I have a son myself…who is only a few months old…but for the near future, what type of school is your son attending? Is it a private or international school? Great to know for future reference.

        Thanks so much for your help.

        • Earl June 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm - Reply

          Hey Jo-Anne – While it might be possible to find a gig teaching English down here in PDC, it is admittedly much harder to do so than in other parts of Mexico. The tourism industry is so strong here that English is already widely spoken. Rarely do I meet anyone that doesn’t know at least the basics of English.

          As for other business ideas, it’s difficult to say what might work and might not. Any business that focuses on tourists will run into quite a lot of competition but that’s not to say that you can’t be successful. I’d recommend spending more time down here observing different business ideas that you think you’d enjoy and how they are already run here. Once you find a business idea that you feel you can improve upon and do better than the existing competition (after observing how they operate), you may just find your answer!

        • CancunCanuck June 15, 2011 at 2:19 pm - Reply

          Earl, will let you know next time I am down your way!

          Joanne, I work in tourism, social media marketing (I am very fortunate, I “must” go on tours, stay in hotels, take photos, write about it and share on Facebook and Twitter).

          My son goes to a private school, though not an “American” school (it’s actually very tiny, only 9 children in his class) and I have been thrilled with his education. I hope it’s ok to share a link here, I recently wrote a post about what my son had to know for his kindergarten final exams.

  106. Giulia May 31, 2011 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Sounds like a great place to live! And yes I wouldn’t mind having as much to worry about as that guy in the picture. Oh and I could teach Italian there? Interesting!

    Only one thing my inner picky Italian is asking me to tell you: pesto is not from Tuscany, so that must have been a touristy version :p

    • Earl May 31, 2011 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Hey Giulia – You could easily teach Italian here! With such a large Italian community, the locals are very interested in learning Italian as well. You’d probably have an easier time finding students than those who want to teach English 🙂

      As for the pesto, thank you for clearing that up. Although it is funny because I saw it in the most expensive Italian-owned Italian grocery in town and the only people that shop there are generally Italians!

  107. Shane May 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    I live in a similar sounding town in Turkey so can see your reasoning. Except to visit the Temple of Apollo I doubt I would have come here as a visitor but as a place to live it has its attractions.

    • Earl May 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      Hey Shane – That’s right, some of the best places to live have nothing to do with the best places to visit. We don’t need constant attractions to visit if we’re planning on staying in one place for a while. Having a somewhat comfortable, healthy lifestyle is much more important.

  108. Elle May 29, 2011 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Ah yes, the famous drinks by the yard from Señor Frogs. Once you get over the initial gaudiness of all of the gringos and start digging around to find the authentic Mexican experience, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel for that matter, isn’t a bad place.

    • Earl May 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Hey Elle – Luckily down here all you need to do is walk one block away from La Quinta Avenida and the tourism just disappears. I always find it fascinating how Playa is such a touristy place but all of that tourism is concentrated in such a small part of the town!

  109. Rob May 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Love the last photo, have not explored C. & S. America, thanks for putting this on my radar.

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:54 am - Reply

      Hey Rob – That guy in the last photo would be in that chair for at least five hours every day. I used to live in an apartment building across the street and could see him from my window. Talk about a relaxed life!

  110. Erin May 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    I had been wondering why a guy who loves getting off the beaten track was spending so much time in a tourist town, and this post has answered my questions! I completely understand the need for good infrastructure when living somewhere for a while, and the more you get to know a place the easier it is to avoid the tourists.

    We are tempted to live there for a while at some point, although Chiang Mai is calling us for later in the year.

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:53 am - Reply

      Hey Erin – I’m definitely willing to give up a few months of off the beaten track travel each year to be in a place that allows me to accomplish more work in one day than I can accomplish in one month on the road! It just seems to make sense these days. And then I don’t have to worry so much about work during the months that I’m traveling around somewhere.

      Chiang Mai is obviously a great place to live as well and probably will be a good change for you guys after your South America adventures. Although Playa del Carmen would let you keep up with your Spanish 🙂

  111. Untemplater May 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Ah this post brings back memories. I spent some time in that area and loved it. I don’t mind some of the more touristy places as long as there are quieter nooks nearby. Mexico definitely has a lot to offer and that 6 month visa sounds great!

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:47 am - Reply

      @Untemplater: Touristy places seem to automatically get a bad reputation sometimes by independent travelers but they also can offer a lifestyle that is hard to beat when living overseas. And knowing where to go to get away from all the activity does make a difference. Here in Playa, one simply needs to walk 20 minutes north along the main beach and you end up with a stretch of perfect white sand all to yourself!

  112. Dave May 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Thanks for writing this. I would’ve never expected to find you in Playa del Carmen, but I totally get the appeal. Like you I enjoy traveling to far flung places, but appreciate creature comforts and good infrastructure!

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:41 am - Reply

      Hey Dave – Exactly. When it comes time to concentrate on work, far flung places are not ideal at all. Some good wi-fi, comfortable apartments, an abundance of cafes and of course, white sand beaches, are a much better option!

  113. Terry May 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Another possibility to put on my retirement list! But how is it for the older crowd? Would a person feel safe walking at night?

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:34 am - Reply

      Hey Terry – Playa del Carmen is very safe. I actually just replied to an email earlier today in which a reader asked a similar question and I told him that I never feel unsafe here, no matter what part of town I happen to be in and no matter what time of day or night it is. It’s a very laid-back, friendly town that doesn’t have much crime at all.

      For the older crowd, you’ll find a large community of retirees living here from the US, Canada and Europe, making it quite easy to settle in. There are literally people of all ages living here, all attracted to the simple, relaxed lifestyle.

      If you have any other questions feel free to send me an email and I’d be more than happy to answer them as best I can!

  114. Elizabeth May 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    I completely agree with you… I love Playa del Carmen and it is a great place to be. The beaches are breath taking, the rent is not expensive and everything is walking distance.

  115. Lash May 28, 2011 at 11:17 am - Reply

    Hey EArl,

    You certainly make a convincing stance on Playa del Carmen! It does sound great and the white sands on long beaches are stunning. Sounds very similar to the places I’ve been living/ staying in SE Asia. I’ll definitely go visit when I pass through Mexico…

    THanks for the post, Lash

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:18 am - Reply

      Hey Lash – Playa does have a similar feel to many places in SE Asia, which is probably another reason why I like it so much down here. A laid-back tropical destination is always a winner, no matter where it is located!

  116. Shannon O'Donnell May 28, 2011 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Thanks for the shout-out my friend. You have the advantage of beaches, I will give you that…for a bit more than CM, Thailand you get crystal clear waters…that’s a big plus. Add to that my recent cravings for Mexican and maybe we can switch places for a bit?! 😉

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Hey Shannon – No need to switch places…there’s plenty of room for everyone down here! The beaches are definitely a huge bonus. They never get old, nor does going for a quick swim in the warm waters every day. So when should I expect you?? 🙂

  117. Pete Heck May 28, 2011 at 9:15 am - Reply

    I would have never even thought of living in PDC, but the case you make, it might be a decent place to settle for a while. And wi-fi on buses? I am a human time capsule, never even knew they had this yet….

    PS the sushi in Honduras is fine (well at least here in Roatán, maybe not on the mainland 😉

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:11 am - Reply

      Hey Pete – Haha…well, welcome to modern times 🙂 There’s wi-fi everywhere down here. Even the supermarkets have free wi-fi for some reason.

      And good to know about the sushi in Honduras. On my next visit I’ll have to get a recommendation for a place in Roatan!

  118. Jason May 28, 2011 at 4:03 am - Reply

    It’s great to plot in places every now and then, and Playa del Carmen, sounds just as good as anywhere. Kick back and enjoy, and in such an environment with good internet you will no doubt get those fingers tapping on that next eBook mate.

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 12:04 am - Reply

      Hey Jason – Tapping away indeed…although it’s a bit difficult sometimes to sit down in front of my computer when a white sand beach is only a few minutes away 🙂

  119. James Clark May 28, 2011 at 3:02 am - Reply

    Readily available tropical fruits and white sandy beaches – I’m sold!

    I can’t wait to go now 🙂

    • Earl May 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      Hey James – Those are the two aspects that really drew me in as well! Looking forward to having you down here for a while. Not long to go now…

  120. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler May 28, 2011 at 1:51 am - Reply

    I have fond memories of Playa Del Carmen. In my early twenties, I would often fly there for a week at a time by myself and meet all sorts of interesting locals. It’s definitely not a bad place to live. 🙂

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 1:05 am - Reply

      Hey Christy – This would be such a great place to do that…to just take off for a week for a random trip. The locals here are great, very easy to connect with and very welcoming as well. And yes, living here is not too bad either! I highly recommend it 🙂

  121. Lily May 28, 2011 at 1:30 am - Reply

    How interesting! I went to Playa del Carmen about 4 years ago and thought it was pretty but definitely touristy. I never thought of it as a place to live but like you said I only stayed a long weekend…good to know about the other side!

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 1:08 am - Reply

      Hey Lily – That’s usually how it goes. But the longer you stay, the more you begin to discover that other side of Playa del Carmen and understand why so many people are starting to move here from other countries. In terms of quality of life, it doesn’t get much better than what Playa can offer.

      • Patricia October 8, 2011 at 11:10 am - Reply

        Hi Earl:

        It is fascinating what you are doing. I am thinking about going to Playa for a month or two. Needs to be done cheaply and safely but if you could recommend any rentals that would be great. Hopefully under $600.00 per month. I am looking at Feb and possibly March. I do not need anything fancy at all – just clean and safe – able to walk to beach and grocery store.



        • Earl October 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm - Reply

          Hey Patricia – For under $600 per month, you’ll definitely have some options although they will be a little more limited at that time as Feb-March is a part of the high season in terms of tourism. But here’s a list of some places that you might want to check out:

          *Kaa’Xel* This was my second choice when I moved down there and is in an even better location than where I lived. The woman who manages the building showed us a very nice 1 Bedroom apartment for around $650/month. It’s clean and large with a balcony and swimming pool, only 2 blocks from La Quinta Avenida (the main street in town).

          Contact – +52 19982123434 (if this number doesn’t work, try it without the first ‘1’)

          *Nice 1 BR Apartments* (sorry, no name on the building): Brand new cozy apartments built by a nice Italian guy and being rented for around $600/month although you can probably negotiate as it’s low season now. Great location, actually just three blocks from where I lived on the same street.

          Contact – Alessandro +52 19841087442

          *Villas del Carmen* Small apartments down the road from where I lived. I actually didn’t have a chance to see the inside but they seem to be decent from the outside and there are other foreigners living there. I’d be surprised if these were more than $500/month or so.

          Contact – +52 19841469644

          *Posada Flamingos* Studio apartments in a great location. Small, simple building. I haven’t seen the inside here either but anything in this area is

          Contact – +52 19982580210

          *Hotel Hora Feliz* Great studio apartments located 3 minutes from the main street in town and 5 minutes walking from the beach. The building is owned by another Italian guy, Marco, and the studios are all well-kept, spacious and with plenty of light. He will probably quote you a very high price but if you tell him you won’t use the air-conditioner (and use fans instead), he’ll normally offer you an apartment for around $500 – $600 / month.

          Contact –

          *Croc Condos* (search for them on Facebook and you’ll see their details on their Fan Page): They offer small, dark and cheap studio apartments in a great location but they also have a couple of 1 Bedroom apartments that are a little more money but are very good value. And for around $750 USD per month you can rent the penthouse apartment which is an amazing place to stay.

          Those are definitely some good options to start with and I’ve sent quite a few people to Hotel Hora Feliz and Croc Condos and everyone has been quite happy!

  122. Heather in Lapland May 28, 2011 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Umm, it seems I’ve managed to end up in a place with no convenience, transport system, choice of food and that’s really expensive to live. I clearly didn’t think this through properly, did I? 😉

    • Earl May 29, 2011 at 1:13 am - Reply

      Hey Heather – Haha… well, I’m sure that Lapland has it’s own set of benefits to offer those who live there. Lots of outdoor activities I’d imagine and all of that natural beauty!

      Although, I know that I personally wouldn’t be able to handle the climate. I prefer to be in a place where I can wear sandals every day 🙂

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