After living in Playa del Carmen for a year on and off I decided it’s time I finally wrote this Digital Nomad guide to help out my fellow nomads to decide if Playa del Carmen is for them. Or, if you have already decided to come here, then I hope this Playa del Carmen Digital Nomad guide will help you to settle into this great city.
Why Playa del Carmen is Becoming a Digital Nomad Hotspot?
Like so many people I arrived in Playa del Carmen from Medellin where I’ve been living previously. Before that, I was in Antigua Guatemala. Speak to most people here in Playa and you will soon find out that many of us were living in Medellin before moving to Playa del Carmen.
So what brought us here? And Why is Playa del Carmen so great for Digital Nomads?
First, thing’s first, I LOVED Medellin and did not want to ever leave Colombia. But Sadly it’s impossible to stay in Colombia for too long because of the visa situation. I decided to book a flight to Cancun as it was cheap and it would be easy for me to get back to Colombia once enough time had passed (you can only stay there 6 months of the year). I had planned to set up in Tulum as I’d visited for a few days and liked it. But after speaking to a Mexican friend in Colombia she had advised me to reconsider and instead look into Playa del Carmen as the wifi is better and accommodation is cheaper (both things are true).
As I said I planned to stay for a few months then head back to Colombia, so why did I stay?
A few reasons I stayed in Playa del Carmen:
- The wifi is the best I’ve had so far in Latin America
- The rent is very reasonable, I pay around $300 for a room in a nice shared house in a gated community in the center of town. I could easily find somewhere cheaper, or way more expensive. It just depends on your budget.
There are lots of great places to work, from coffee shops to rooftop bars with pools or Coworking spaces, and beach clubs. You will not struggle to find places with solid wifi and great coffee.
- The visa situation. In Mexico, you can get a 6-month tourist visa and you won’t have any issues with the authorities unless you try and physically work here for a Mexican company. Once your 6 months is up, you just need to leave for a few days then re-enter. Most people fly to Miami or take a bus to Belize.
It’s easy for DN’s to get residency. If like me you are getting tired of being completely countryless and want to get residency somewhere it’s a pretty simple process in Mexico. I’m going through this process right now, so I’ll write a full post soon. But basically, so long as you can prove you have been earning over $1500 USD for the past 6 months from outside Mexico you can apply for temporary residency for 12 months. The second-year you can apply for 2 years and then you can apply for permanent residency after 4 years. If you are interested in this then contact me and I’ll put you in touch with my lawyer!
- The food. Trust me, once you have lived here for a while no other country is going to compete with the food here, and it’s so cheap.
- Mexico is pretty well developed, especially in the Riviera Maya. Here it is way more developed than any other place I’ve been in Latin America. After living in Guatemala and Colombia arriving in Mexico was a real treat. My standard of living is much higher here than it was anywhere else. This is partly to do with the tourist industry here. It was pretty shocking to me at first to see families on vacation and Walmart, 5th Avenue was the biggest shock. But after the initial confusion passed I started to enjoy how easy life is here… it sucked me in!
So if you want to know what life in Playa del Carmen is like for a Digital Nomad, it’s easy!
My rent here is so cheap that I can come and go as I please without worrying about spending money on rent when I’m not in the country. Having Cancun International Airport so close is also a big bonus as I can fly to pretty much anywhere I want to go. If you have issues finding a flight you can just fly into the US and take a flight from there.
The only problem with living in Playa del Carmen is the beaches… why is this a problem I hear you ask? Well because it’s really hard to say no when your friends all want to blow off work to visit the beach. And secondly, it with ruin you for all other beaches you visit after. The beaches in playa aren’t all that great.
But take a short drive and prepare to be amazed! Xpu ha and Holbox I’m looking at you.
How to Get to Playa del Carmen
Getting here is easy. Just get a flight to Cancun airport and then from there hop on an ADO bus. Don’t get a taxi they WILL rip you off. If you don’t do busses then my friend does private pickups that you can book here. I wrote a whole post on how to get to Playa del Carmen that you can read here.
The Cost of Living in Playa del Carmen
Now, this is a hard one, it really depends on how boujee you are! I’m not a Digital Nomad dripping in diamonds but I’m not at the lower end either. If you want to live on your own in a nice place in the center of town you can expect to pay from $500 up.
If you want a pool, you will pay a little more, if you’re good with a studio a little less. You will need to check that your rent is all-inclusive of bills. Be careful as electricity and water can get expensive here. I would also recommend checking on WiFi, most placed get the slow WiFi but if you ask nicely they will bump it up for you, the cost is minimal to double the speed so it’s worth paying a little more.
I’m pretty lazy so I eat out most days, I have breakfast at home, lunch out, and for dinner, I probably eat out more than I cook. On average, I spend maybe $10 on shopping a week and around $5-10 a day eating out, depending on how fancy I’m feeling.
Nights out is going to depend on your gender, sorry guys, but in Playa del Carmen women can pretty much drink for free every night of the week. At first, this annoyed the feminist in me. But now I just go with it. Even when I do have to pay it’s not so expensive. Expect to pay $40 MX for a beer and $80-$150 MX for a cocktail.
When I first moved here I was living on $1000 USD a month. Now I’m making more, I’m spending more.
Coworking in Playa del Carmen
In preparation for writing this post, I’m been flirting with all of the Coworking spaces in Playa del Carmen. Up until now, I’ve been a Playa del Carmen digital nomad who either worked at home or from a coffee shop. But I’ve been converted. The standard of the Coworking spaces in Playa del Carmen has really impressed me. They are all very different and will suit different people, so to help you decide the best fit for you I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible:
I love Bunker!
Pretty much, everyone, I know who is a digital nomad Playa del Carmen works or has worked in Bunker. It’s in a great location, has top facilities, and everyone raves about how friendly everyone is (I can confirm this is 100% true). I was chatting online with a DN a few days ago who was telling me how much she misses her Bunker family.
They have plenty of hot desks, a meeting room, and 2 booths where you can make private calls, or teach online. They offer new people a free day pass so you can check it out, all you have to do is sign up for their mailing list.
This is where I work at least a day or two a week so be sure to let them know I sent you and come say hi if you see me. If you are looking for a Coworking space with a meeting room, places you can make private phone calls, and great coffee, then Bunker is the space for you.
This isn’t a space I have been to, and I probably won’t because it’s a bit too far out of town for me. But it looks nice and if you end up staying in one of the gated communities on the outskirts of town this could be a good option for you. Although it is the most expensive place to work remotely in Playa so maybe not…
I’m a big fan of Murá!
Along with Bunker, it’s where I choose to work. However, it’s not for everyone. Firstly they run a lot of workshops, so if you need a silent workspace, it probably won’t work for you. Same goes if you need to make private calls, or teach online. At the moment they don’t have a private area to do this, but they are making one. As I write this is it only 3 weeks old so still a very new space.
Ok, so they are the negative things… But why do I love Murá? The play music haha, and if a friend drops in I can have a chat at the desk without worrying about the noise. Plus they have a cafe so you can buy snacks there (like I said I’m lazy and don’t like to cook). I’m a person who likes noise to work so on a normal day I like to work here. Other days when I need silence I go somewhere else.
So, if you can deal with a little noise and don’t mind putting your headphones in while the workshops are going on then it’s a great place to work. It has much more of a coffee shop feel to it, but you don’t have to deal with the espresso machines and screaming kids…
If you are local you pay a reduced rate and they offer a free trial day so you can try it out before committing. Even if you decide this Coworking space in Playa del Carmen isn’t for you be sure to follow them on Facebook as they have some amazing workshops and regular classes happening.
You’ll find me working here when I’m not in Bunker or Ah Cacao (my favorite coffee shop).
Nest is probably the largest Coworking space in Playa del Carmen. I did a trial day there when I first arrived here in 2018. Although the space is great, it wasn’t for me. They have lots of activities and workshops, the location is great, there is nothing bad I can say about it. I just didn’t really like working there personally.
If you don’t know about Selina already you clearly haven’t been in Latin America long. Selina is a chain of Hostels with Coworking facilities right across Latin America. There was one in Medellin and one in Antigua. As well as the one here in Playa del Carmen there is two in Cancun and one in Tulum.
What Selina is great at is creating a space for those fast-moving Digital Nomads who come into town for a month or less and then move on to the next place. The space itself is great, they are the only Coworking space with a pool and a communal kitchen, plus they have a bar and restaurant. Oh and yoga classes.
So effectively if you book to stay there and work there, you never have to leave!
But in all seriousness, it’s a cool place with everything you need. For me, it’s at the wrong end of town so it’s not somewhere I work from regularly, but almost all of my Digital Nomad Meetups in Playa del Carmen happen here.
Unless you are living over that side of the highway this one probably won’t be an option for you. It’s a nice place, but it’s out of town and because of this it’s mostly full of local people rather than Nomads. Daily and monthly fees are some of the cheapest in town though, which could be enough to draw you over.
Best Place to Work from in Playa del Carmen
Not into Coworking spaces? No worries, Playa has so many places you can work from the list could go on and on. But I’ve added my favorites and some of the more popular ones from other DN’s to get you started.
Mamitas Beach Club
Mamitas is the place that many people who aren’t local to Playa will tell you to go. It does have it’s good points, fast WiFi and a nice view being two of them. Downsides are I haven’t found any outlets yet and it is really expensive compared to other beach clubs… plus when you are on your own and not drinking the staff will practically ignore you.
But it’s the price you pay for being able to see the ocean from your laptop.
I’ve worked here once and it was ok, I’m not really a work on the beach kinda girl. However, my good friend Andrea who blogs over at It’s a Travel OD raves about it as she loved to work on the tables right on the beach. The wifi is great as is the customer service. Because there are no outlets on the beach tables, you will need to come fully charged and then move inside to recharge. They also have a loyalty card, which is always a bonus!
Top tip: they do a breakfast buffet here which is one of the best in Playa, but it does get busy, so either get here early to grab a table, or come after the rush at around 10:30-11am.
This is my personal favorite, I refer to it as my office and when I’m in town and not at a Playa del Carmen Coworking space I’m in here. There are 2 in town on 5th Avenue, the one where you will find all the nomads is between Calle 38 and 40.
Come in order a drink and then sit upstairs with the rest of the workers. It’s (generally) quiet, the coffee is good, and wifi is strong. It does drop off after a few hours though so you will need to re-login, and don’t forget your headphones as it can get noisy if groups come in for meetings.
You can work at their rooftop bar, although be careful as it can get a bit confusing. The last time I went here they charged me $200 MX which is the day pass price. If you stop and ask at reception they will charge you this and give you a towel. However if you just walk in and go up to the roof, grab a table and order food you won’t be charged. If you use the pool they may make you pay though, like I said it’s all a bit confusing!
The views are great, the food is ok, and the pool is pretty sweet. The wifi can be spotty though. I’d say go here on a lazy Friday when you don’t have a lot of work to do.
I have a love-hate relationship with this place. On the one hand, the staff are generally nice, the food is good. But I have never in all of the many many times I’ve been there not had some kind of incident. Generally, it is just my order is wrong, they forget about me and I have to beg them to take my order…
One day I even had someone (possibly a manager who I have never seen before) shouting at me for trying to sit down at a table when I was there on my own. It wasn’t busy, and he was sat with friends and just casually embarrassed me and a member of staff who told me I could sit there.
Anyway, it really put me off, so it’s on the list because no doubt you will end up meeting another DN there at some point who will tell you to go there, just manage your expectations!
Oh, and the wifi isn’t great.
If you have any sense skip Choux Choux and instead walk down the road to Papa Charlie. The staff are so much nicer, the food is better, and so is the WiFI. I go there at least once a week for breakfast and do a few hours work from there.
Did I miss your favorite place? Let me know and I’ll check it out and add it in.
Living in Playa del Carmen Mexico – important things to know
Living in playa del carmen Mexico is amazing, but it can also take a bit of getting used to, especially if you are heading here from the USA or Europe.
Firstly the internet in Playa del Carmen is pretty solid, but it can be patchy. Don’t expect the speeds you take for granted in the USA, but compared to when I lived in Guatemala it’s a million times better.
I also write for the Playa del Carmen blog so check that our if you need more details info. I’ve written lots of posts on safety and money etc. a lot of my posts on there are more geared towards tourists, but the information is the same.
If you want your finger on the Playa del carmen pulse then you need to link into the Mexpats community. The group is headed up by local entrepreneur Rodrigo Sagastegui who is the person in the know about all things Playa. He runs the Facebook group and organizes get-togethers and events. It’s a good idea to link into the Facebook group to see what’s going on.
There are a few other expats in Playa del Carmen groups but this is the only one managed well (in my opinion) Rodrigo does a great job at keeping out spammers and trolls.
Other groups you should join are:
- Digital Nomad Tribe Playa del Carmen (I admin this group)
- Blogging in Riviera Maya (I admin this group)
- Playa del Carmen eats & drinks
- Expats in Playa del Carmen
- Expats & Locals in Playa del Carmen
I’ve written many posts on this subject so I’m just going to list them here:
- Food Tour in Playa Del Carmen
- Doing a cooking class in Tulum
- The Best Resturants in Playa del Carmen
- The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Resturants in Playa del Carmen
Aside from these restaurants here is a quick list of a few favorites:
Papa Chary – I’m a big fan of their breakfast
Finley’s if I want a burger – they don’t have a freezer, everything is super fresh and the guy who runs it is a straight-up nice guy if you go in, tell him I sent you.
Sushi Ken – They do 2-4-1 sushi on Wednesday and Thursdays make sure you go with a group though as the rolls are HUGE. You can get 4 rolls for under $10 USD.
Looking for street food in Playa del Carmen?
OK so here are a few places I love:
On a Saturday and Sunday morning on the corner of Calle 44 and Avenida 30 you will find 2 women selling tortas de cochinita (pulled pork) they are to die for and the perfect hangover cure. Cost is $25 MX
There are always a few good food trucks at the side of the supermarket on 30th Ave and Calle 40. Look for the big red one with the bench and big salad bar, they have the best Argentinian chorizo tacos. If they don’t have any go for el Pastor, 15 MX for 2. There is also another truck there with a woman who always calls me ‘Reina’ they also do great tacos. It’s normally the first one on the left-hand side of the carpark entrance.
My other go-to street food place is the park on the corner of Ave 10 and Jurez. That is the main place where you will find all of the food trucks. I like to get a quesadilla in here, but you can’t go wrong with anything you order in here. If you aren’t sure, look for the busiest one and go there.
If you are new in town and want to sample some traditional Mexican food then I highly recommend doing the Playa del Carmen food tour. They will take you to some of the best places to eat in playa del carmen. I know the guy who set this up and he spent a long time researching to find the best of the best.
Where to stay in Playa del Carmen
This blog post is getting LONG so I’m not going to make it any longer by talking about the different areas in Playa del Carmen to stay. I wrote all about that here on my accommodation guide. I know that for most of you you won’t want to stay in the hotels I’m recommending, but it will give you a good idea of the different areas.
The best advice I can give you if you want to find somewhere for 1-6 months here in Playa is to book 2-3 nights in a hotel or Airbnb (like this one in a house with other nomads). Then as soon as you arrive start looking for a place to move into.
Once you know where you want to be, finding Playa del Carmen apartments isn’t so hard. Most long term rentals in Playa del Carmen can be found through Facebook Market Place, or by walking the streets in the area you want to live and looking out for signs. Failing that ask in the Digital Nomad Facebook group or take a look in Rentas y Roomies en Playa del Carmen. If you get stuck ping me a message and I’ll ask around for you.
I have a friend who rents out her spare rooms on AirBnB it’s in a great location, a 5 minute walk from 2 coworking spaces and Ah Cacao. She works as a tour guide, so a great person to stay with for a few nights while you find your feet. Her name is Sonja and you can see here rooms on Airbnb here and here, tell her Claire sent you.
This place in Tohuku is another great option. If you want to stay longer than a month then get in touch with me and I can work out a better price for you!
Finding apartments to rent in Playa del Carmen Mexico is pretty easy and you can move in fast. If it’s empty you can normally move in the next day.
The Best Time to Rent in Playa del Carmen
As a general rule, prices go up during November, December, and January. This is high season here and it is almost impossible to find anything decent for a good price. If you want to best deals arrive towards the end of August, it’s hot, but you will find a lot of options and people lower the prices. Now if you are just renting for a month, you will probably pay more than someone willing to sign a 3-6 month contract. If you come here during the Summer (May-August you NEED AC).
If you don’t want the hassle and don’t mind paying extra use AirBnb, if you are thrifty it’s time to break out your Spanish and negotiating skills. There are plenty of cheap rentals in Playa del Carmen to be found, you just need to arrive in offseason and be prepared to do a bit of leg work (aka walking the streets looking for signs on vacant properties).
How Safe is Playa del Carmen
If you are wondering, is it safe to go to Playa del Carmen? You aren’t alone. The media can make things seem much more terrifying than it actually feels here. So here’s the thing I’m a woman and I feel safe enough cycling home after a night out dancing salsa on my own at 1 or 2 am. I live in the city center within a gated community. When I lived in an area slightly less safe and further away, I didn’t. I don’t EVER take taxis at night especially alone. There is no Uber. So for me, the bike is my best bet. Would I have done this in Medellin or Antigua when I lived there… absolutely not.
Take a look at the statistics you would probably think that Mexico is far more dangerous, and if you are going to go getting mixed up with drugs and the cartels, then yeah, you are probably going to get yourself shot. If you don’t go looking for trouble or wandering the streets at night drunk you will probably be fine.
Burglaries are common here, so be sure to get a place either on an upper floor or with bars on the windows. I know it may look a bit like a prison, but trust me you get used to it and I wouldn’t live anywhere without bars now!
So is Playa del Carmen safe? In my opinion, it’s safer than most US cities, and I feel safe here. But everywhere has its problems… I wrote this post where you can see the areas to avoid in Playa.
If you made it to the end, well done! I know this was a long one. But I wanted to try and be as thorough as I possibly could.
Did I miss something important? Let me know and I’ll get it added!
And of course, if you come to Playa be sure to come to one of my meetups.