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Living in Playa Del Carmen – Expat Life

This winter we will be living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico! We chose to live in Playa del Carmen Mexico for a number of reasons, most importantly the beach! However, there’s a lot more to Playa del Carmen than just the beach.

It also has a fun up and coming ex-pat community, tons of great food, and fun bars. The whole area around Playa del Carmen is full of cool and interesting things to do. There are tons of day trips from Playa del Carmen to keep us busy while we are living in Playa del Carmen!

Jump to Information on Playa del Carmen

Our apartment where we will be living in Playa del Carmen:

  • Apartment Cost: 17,000 pesos per month (peak season – 4 month rental)
  • 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath, 495 sqft (46 sqm)

Take a video tour of our apartment in Playa del Carmen and a little bit of info on the city and the rental market in Playa del Carmen.


What’s It Like Living In Playa del Carmen

The first thought that comes to everyone’s mind when talking about living in Playa del Carmen, or Mexico in general, is safety. I can say with confidence Playa del Carmen is safer than a lot of U.S. cities.

Hannah walks around the town by herself and we walk late at night without worry. I am sure you could get yourself into trouble if you are looking for it, but I think that would be true anywhere in the world.

We lived in Playa del Carmen for five months and settled into the lifestyle. We have found our favorite taco place, the best cafe, and our place on the beach.

Ex-pats In Playa del Carmen Groups

There is a community of a couple of hundred people from around the world that are now living in Playa del Carmen either long-term or permanently. There are long-term groups for ex-pats in Playa del Carmen and there are a few meet-ups every month.

For info on ex-pats living in Playa del Carmen check out these  groups:


Finding An Apartment In Playa Del Carmen

One of the most difficult things about living in Playa del Carmen is actually finding a place to live. Playa del Carmen is growing very quickly and the rental market is a bit difficult to navigate. There has been a recent trend to rent apartments on Airbnb, putting a big strain on monthly or long-term rentals. This is especially the case in the peak months of December-April.

We began our search by hitting the streets and calling the numbers listed on an apartment building for rent signs. We quickly came to learn that most of these signs are just always up and don’t necessarily correspond with an apartment that is actually for rent. Some do, but the majority of the 50+ we called had apartments but were not that specific apartments. Another issue is that about half the numbers we called were Spanish speaking only and our Spanish is ok, but not great. This made some of the finer points of the apartment details tricky.

On top of some of these issues, we had rental agents try to change prices on us, change contract lengths, and just about everything else. The best advice I could give to someone trying to find an apartment in Playa del Carmen is to arrive before the high season and plan to take it immediately. Just about everyone wants at least a 6-month lease and even more, want a year. Also, no one will rent to you more than 15 days before the move-in date.

Living in Playa del Carmen - best area to live

Best Areas For Living In Playa Del Carmen

As a general guide, most ex-pats in Playa del Carmen look for apartments in the main area of Playa Centro. This is the main part of town with lots of restaurants, shops, and nightlife. The best area to live in Playa del Carmen is between Juarez Ave on the south, up to calle 46th (CTM) on the north, and from the beach back to the highway. This square is the main area of Playa del Carmen, and where you want to be when living in Playa del Carmen.

Related Article: Ultimate Playa del Carmen Guide

There are other areas of town, but most choose to live in this area. Playacar is another popular area of Playa del Carmen. This is where the resorts typically are.

Playacar is also where you will find some nice apartments and luxury private homes/condos. Playacar is a fully gated community with guards at every entrance. This is a nice area, the only problem is that you are further removed from the main Playa Centro and it would be hard to live here without a bike, or car.

Related Article: The Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

We suggest coming to Playa del Carmen for a few days and staying in a vacation rental like our favorite Elements Playa del Carmen. Wander around the city and get a feel for the different parts of the city and decide what fits your lifestyle the best.

That is exactly what we did. We came in October and January and made the final move a week after our January visit with our “stuff.”


Rental Agents In Playa del Carmen

One of the easiest ways to find a place if you are planning on living in Playa del Carmen is to use a rental agent. The rental agent will get a commission from the property owner (usually, sometimes the renter) to find renters for apartments or apartments for renters. They basically broker the lease for clients who may be out of the country or the city.

There are many rental agents in the city and they all seem to have only a limited supply of properties. This is much different than other cities we have used agents. Two agents, we have worked with and can recommend:

  • Chris
  • Natalia

Facebook groups to find apartments in Playa del Carmen:

Cost Of Apartments In Playa del Carmen

The cost of the apartment largely depends on the time of year and how long the lease will be for. Many people will only rent 6 months – a year. Others will only do nightly and weekly rentals.

  • Studio in Playa Centro – 5,000-10,000
  • 1 Bedroom in Playa Centro – 7,500-12,000
  • 2 Bedroom in Playa Centro: 9,000-16,000

Note: When signing a lease there will almost always be a contract fee. It’s claimed that it’s a lawyer fee, but it just seems like a scam. Unfortunately, every apartment seems to have this and it costs between 1500-2500 pesos to sign your lease.


Cost Of Living In Playa del Carmen 2020

Playa del Carmen has several major shopping centers including a Walmart, Sam’s Club, and other major Mexican grocery chains. There isn’t much you can’t find in town while living in Playa del Carmen. Below is a list of current prices for common items. Below is a list of common items to judge what the cost of living is like in Playa del Carmen.

Prices in Mexican Pesos. Current exchange rates are between 18.5-19.0 pesos per $1 USD.

  • $55 – 500g Chicken Breast (1.1 lbs)
  • $22 – 2lt of soft drink (coke/diet coke)
  • $9- chobani greek yogurt cup
  • $14- Kraft mac n cheese
  • $50- frozen pizza
  • $15- 1kg of fresh oranges (2.2lbs)
  • $32- Baby spinach ready to eat bag
  • $150 – Sim Card for smartphone
  • $300/350/400 – for 2gb/3gb/4gb of prepaid internet, voice can be added for $1mxp/min

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Monday 4th of September 2023

Extremely informative article. I am 73 and planning on a permanent move to Playa either late 2023 or early 2024. I want to get involved in volunteering and things that make life worthwhile. I plan on renting a 2 bed apartment if possible and will appreciate any advice from seniors who have already made this move.



Monday 29th of July 2019

I will be visiting Playa from Oct. 8th - Oct. 18th. Where is the best place to purchase pesos to get the best exchange rate. I will be leaving from San Antonio, Texas. My bank is Bank of America. Or should I use a website to get the best rate. Thank you


Monday 29th of July 2019

You may want to get some pesos from your bank at home before the trip, or you can use an ATM once in Mexico and withdraw pesos there. We would suggest avoiding the airport for exchanging if you are looking for the best rates, but it is more convenient. Banks are the best bet most times. There are money exchanges and banks right on 5th avenue in Playa del Carmen. Lastly, you can also use US cash in most places but you'll pay more. Have a great trip to Playa del Carmen!


Wednesday 24th of April 2019

I am a retired male and wondered if there are expat groups where I could meet and make new friends. I want to make both Mexican and American friends. Thanks


Friday 26th of April 2019

There is a good community in PDC, I would start with the Facebook groups listed in the article and from there I am sure finding more people will be pretty easy. Enjoy your time in Playa!


Tuesday 1st of May 2018

Hi Hannah and Adam, I really enjoy reading your blog posts. I am heading to PDC in two weeks and I need a data sim when I arrive. I heard Telcel is most reliable. Could you let me know where I can get a Telcel data sim? I will be staying one block north of ADO bus terminal. Appreciate your help.

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Not sure if there is a Telcel in the airport or not. We always just went to the Telcel on the first floor of Mega on 18th & 30th in PDC. There are 2 ADO bus terminals in PDC, so not sure which one. Mega is super central and right across from the best restaurant in Playa del Carmen, El Fogon. You'll have no problem getting a SIM card in Mexico sorted very quickly.

Lisa Halstead

Friday 13th of April 2018

Need to find a house or condo.My son lives in Tulum i want to be near him .If any one knows anything please feel free to contact me .

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Thursday 19th of April 2018

Your best bet is to join the Facebook groups linked in this post to find a place. We rented for a week on Airbnb and then looked at places in person once we got there, this is a great option too.