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If you’re thinking about spending time in Playa del Carmen as a digital nomad, remote worker, or 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?
To help you get a better idea of what you’ll spend in this city and how much to budget, here’s the breakdown of my cost of living during the one month I spent eating, drinking, and exploring this beautiful place in 2018.
Cost of Housing in Playa del Carmen
Furnished Studio Apartment: $542
This was definitely the toughest part to keep on budget and 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 was 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 much 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 were all the way out on Calle 98 and it was still safe and near all the action.
Cost of Transportation in Playa del Carmen
Transport total: $450
Next up is 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.
This also lists the airport buses and taxis in our day to day life but 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 costs you got before. During our one month stay in Playa del Carmen we walked a lot, but probably spent an estimated $60 on taxis.
Cost of Food, Drinks and Activities in Playa del Carmen
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 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.
Cost of Groceries in Playa del Carmen
Total Grocery 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 a lot of good eats.
Cost of Nightlife in Playa del Carmen
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.
Miscellaneous Costs 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)
Total Cost of Living in Playa del Carmen: $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 so 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 🙂
For more inspo check out my list of the best Instagram spots in Mexico or visit the Mexico Guide for more excursions from the city like how to spend a weekend at Laguna Bacalar and see the Lake of 7 Colors, how to climb a Mayan Pyramid at the Coba Ruins, where to swim with the turtles and much more!