Cost of Living in Playa del Carmen: My One Month Budget

by | Feb 1, 2018

If you’re thinking about spending time in Playa del Carmen as a digital nomad, remote worker, or even just on vacation, the first question that comes to mind is all about the finances. What is the cost of living in Playa del Carmen? Here’s the budget breakdown of one month I spent eating, drinking, and exploring this beautiful place in 2018.

 Mexico beaches and blue ocean waters from above



Furnished Studio Apartment: $542 

This was definitely the toughest part to keep on budget. Rent will play a huge factor in determining your cost of living in Playa del Carmen. I was on and off Airbnb for weeks looking for places near the beach and was coming up with nothing affordable. Luckily, I finally landed a jackpot.

Our Airbnb is a 15 minute walk from my favorite beach in Playa del Carmen, and a 45 minute walk from downtown. Obviously not ideal, but the walk is on the quiet 5th Ave. and actually really nice to make after sitting at home working all day. When we don’t feel like walking, a taxi is only $2.

We’re also staying in high-season, and when I was searching for a month long stay in January Airbnb said only 1% of listings were left on my dates. So you might have even better luck in different months of the year.

My tip: Start looking early. The absolute best places to stay are between Calle 2 and Calle 40 near 5th avenue, but we’re all the way out on Calle 98 and it’s still safe and nearby.



Transport total: $450

Next, transportation. This is a little stretch to our cost of living in Playa del Carmen because here I include our flights in and out of Cancun, which you can dismiss if you want to. I always compare prices on flights with Skyscanner to find the best deals. It also lists the airport buses and taxis in our day to day life. This does not include transport to and from weekend excursions and day trips, which is in the activities section.

Two Flights Chicago –> Cancun w/ checked bag: $272.58

Two Flights Cancun –> Mexico City w/ checked bag: $82.28

Two Airport Bus Tickets Cancun –> Playa del Carmen: $18

Two Airport Bus Tickets Playa del Carmen –> Cancun: $18

Taxis are cheap here, but they don’t have meters and require some negotiating. Just make sure you always leave the main touristy area on 5th Ave where the drivers will offer you crazy high prices. Walk up to Avenue 10 or 15 and you’ll be charged a fraction of the price. During our one month stay in Playa del Carmen we walked a lot, but probably spent an estimated $60 on taxis.


jungle and steps up the Coba pyramid


Food, Drinks, and Activities

Activities total: $1,000

We budgeted to spend $250 a week on going out to eat, getting drinks, and all weekend activities. We work during the week but during the weekends we did a lot. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Playa del Carmen for food and fun.

One day swimming with the turtles $40 incl. one meal

One day visiting a rooftop pool $20 inc. one meal

One day boat Cruise with snorkeling Sponsored but $24 on transport and tip

Two days laying on the beach Free

Two night weekend trip to Tulum, visiting cenotes, the Coba ruins, and renting bikes $170 incl. transport, hostel, food, and drinks

Two night weekend trip to Laguna Bacalar $200 incl. transport, hostel, food, and drinks

Various meals out, nights out, movies, etc: $546

During the week we also volunteered to walk dogs at SOS el Arca (free) spent a day working at the co-working spaces (you can get free one-day passes here), went to movies ($2 tickets) or would walk to town or spend the evening on the beach. Having so many cheap/free/nearby options really helped keep our budget down and save money for the weekends.


steak dinner on catamaya cruise



Total Groceries Costs: $300

For groceries we spent $75 a week at Walmart and that was enough for 3 meals a day all week and one or two cooked at home on the weekend. This included steaks, salmon, fresh fruits and berries, salads, and lots of good eats.



The nightlife in Playa del Carmen is one of the main reasons why people come. To give you an idea of costs drinks are usually $5 to $8 for a cocktail or $2 to $3 for a beer. However, you can definitely find them cheaper if you know where to look. If you wanna save money check out my list of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen.



Sprint International phone plan – $36

Health care – $280/month (although there are much cheaper travel health care plans available, this is the one we use through Daniel’s job)


water swings in laguna bacalar


Total Cost $2,608

Ok! So, this may seem pretty high at first but just keep in mind that it is for two people, and includes our international flight into Cancun, a domestic flight out, and an expensive US health care plan. Eliminating these three costs puts it closer to $2,000 a month.

This is definitely not the cheapest place we’ve ever stayed, but for such a touristy destination and to be walking distance from a beautiful beach, I still thought the cost of living in Playa del Carmen was surprisingly low. We ate, drank, and went pretty much wherever we wanted to go. You could easily lower the budget even more by including lots more beach days instead of weekend trips, and of course cutting out alcohol.

If you’re wondering about the cost of living in Playa del Carmen, I hope this budget breakdown helps give you a better idea of what to expect! If you can make it here, you’ll fall in love with this little slice of Mexican heaven 🙂

All my love,

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