Cost of Living in Playa Del Carmen

…the big question is: how much?…

Some buddies were ripping me apart the other day.

They were like “Rufus…how can you afford to always be so drunk?”

Well…I don’t have a mortgage or children here.

Or a wife with expensive shopping habits.

They think that it’s really expensive to live in Playa Del Carmen.

They think I’ve got some kind of secret trust fund that’s keeping me going.

Which is nonsense.

If you’re smart, then you can live in Playa Del Carmen for less than $700 a month.

That’s about the same amount of money it costs to take a family to Disneyland for a day or spend 17 minutes in a Las Vegas casino (that was a painful experience…).

There are thousands of variables when it comes to the cost of living in Playa Del Carmen.

But this article will give you some guidelines to how much it’s going to cost you.

You can also download my Simple Cost of Living Calculator and use it while you’re planning your move here. It’s very simple, but you can always add to it (MS Excel format).

About The Cost Of Living In Playa Del Carmen

Don’t think this is some hard and fast guide to exactly how much money you will need to live in Playa Del Carmen.

Everyone has a different opinion of what is reasonable.

Some think reasonable includes an apartment balcony overlooking the ocean.

Others think it means sharing a bed with anyone who has a wallet full of money.

I’m going to present three different scenarios.

  1. The Cheapskate – This is even a little better than most of the local service workers live (although Mexicans like to sleep six people in a one-bedroom apartment). The cost is only ~$700 USD per month.
  2. The Average Person – This level represents a comfortable life here. Although you will still have to keep an eye on your budget, you will never be walking around with an empty stomach. You can live like this for ~$1300 USD per month.
  3. The High Roller – If you have a business/job that allows you to work remotely and make good money, you could easily be a high roller here. Living the high rolling lifestyle in this city would cost you only ~$3000 USD per month.

You’re likely going to fit somewhere within these groups.

Where depends on how much you drink, smoke, and generally believe is reasonable.

For example, I know some people who only drink tequila when it comes in $50 bottles.

I only drink it when it comes in $5 bottles.

My point? Use these numbers as a guideline.

I’m not claiming that they are definitive or that I know everything, but I hope these give you an idea of the cost of living in Playa Del Carmen.

Inherent Variables and Fluctuating Trends

Any reasonable person can tell you (and any intelligent person might have guessed by now) that there are a number of variables to take into consideration when trying to estimate cost of living in a popular vacation destination.

The most important variables are the following:

  • Roommate(s) – Obviously your costs are going to be less if you share expenses with someone else. If it’s a significant other, sharing the same room can make a big difference in cost per person. The rates below are assuming you live alone or with a roommate you are not romantically involved with. Take this into consideration while planning.
  • USD/MXN Exchange rate – The USD has done extremely well over the last 12 months (2015/2016). Consequently, it is very cheap for Americans to live here (relatively speaking). Nonetheless, this may change. If you are being paid in US dollars or another foreign currency, make sure that you look at the exchange rate and take that into consideration when calculating your cost of living. Also, be realistic enough to know that it is completely out of your control and may change dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Around 80% of my visitors are American, so I try to write for them, but for all practical purposes this could be any foreign currency.
  • Season – If you have read all the pages on this website, you realize that there are multiple seasons AND that prices are affected by these seasons. If you come during December, January, or February, it is high season, and you should expect to pay a premium for that. The inverse is true for low season.
  • Length of stayAlthough the length of your stay may not affect the price of your rent, you will usually get a better deal the longer you commit to keeping the apartment or house. Of course, as with any law in Mexico, contracts are very difficult to enforce. Thus, you will likely pay a hefty deposit (one month’s rent is normal) when you sign the contract. You will lose it if you leave early.
  • Playa Del Carmen’s growth – Some cities grow at a steady pace. This city is different; it’s exploding! Don’t expect these prices to be valid for five years from now. They will likely go up!

In any case, the numbers below are good estimates from what I have seen here in the early part of 2016.

Cost Of Living In Playa Del Carmen Scenario One – The Cheapskate Budget Person

THE FOLLOWING IS BASED ON AN USD/MXN EXCHANGE RATE OF $1 USD = 17 MXN PESOS.

MXN IS BLACK.

USD IS RED.

GAS AND WATER ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THESE ESTIMATES BECAUSE THEY ARE INVARIABLY PART OF RENT HERE.

 

This is the very cheapest a single individual can manage in Playa Del Carmen if you come from a decent country.

It comes to less than $650/month (which is more than most locals live on), but it isn’t going to be for everyone.

It assumes that you are neither a  raving alcoholic, nor that you drink or smoke.

Cutting these costs out in Playa Del Carmen can save you a lot of money!

The main cost when living in Playa Del Carmen is rent.

In this scenario, you’re happy with a simple studio apartment or your willing to share with a few roommates.

As a savvy resident, you own a bike.

So you don’t mind living 15 minutes from 5th Avenue and away from the beach as you’ve got peddle power to get you around.

Furthermore, the heat doesn’t bother you, and you’re not running up any exuberant air conditioning costs.

This scenario may not be the High Roller budget, but you still get to live in paradise for less than $700 USD a month.

Perhaps you’ve got a little online business that’s just making a bit of money.

Quit the job and you can come live in Playa Del Carmen for a very modest salary!

There isn’t much $$$ in the budget for entertainment and enjoying the nightlife of Playa Del Carmen.

But some people are happy with nothing more than enjoying the tranquility and atmosphere of Playa Del Carmen.

Cost Of Living In Playa Del Carmen Scenario Two – The Average Joe / Jane

THE FOLLOWING IS BASED ON AN USD/MXN EXCHANGE RATE OF $1 USD = 17 MXN PESOS.

MXN IS BLACK.

USD IS RED.

GAS AND WATER ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THESE ESTIMATES BECAUSE THEY ARE INVARIABLY PART OF RENT HERE.

 

If I’m going to write something as bland as the “average person budget,” then I’m going to have to do some clarification.

Average in the States might mean working 50 hours a week, spending $100 on fast food drive-thrus, and running up an obscene cable bill from all those pay per view extras they show.

The cost of living in Playa Del Carmen for an average person can be around $1300 USD.

But that doesn’t include any McDonalds or Burger Kings.

However, it includes pretty much everything else you would need to live here.

That means you like to drink and go out partying three nights a week.

And you nail a pack of cigarettes a day while you’re at it.

The apartment you rent is more than double the cheapskate-budget guy.

But that’s because you’ve got a two bedroom place and use one of the rooms as your home office.

You live in a good neighborhood that’s less than ten minute cycle to the beach or 5th Ave.

Plus you’re happy with a regular blast or air-con to cool you down.

I think the majority of people will fall in and around this category.

Some will blow more on entertainment and drinking.

Others will save on a slightly smaller or cheaper apartment.

Either way, can you imagine living a good life in the States for less than $1300 a month?

$1300 USD usually only covers rent, bills, and a few cans of tinned food in most US cities.

This cost-of-living scenario can easily cover most people and makes Playa Del Carmen one of the most affordable places for living in paradise.

Cost Of Living In Playa Del Carmen Scenario Three – The High Roller

THE FOLLOWING IS BASED ON AN USD/MXN EXCHANGE RATE OF $1 USD = 17 MXN PESOS.

MXN IS BLACK.

USD IS RED.

GAS AND WATER ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THESE ESTIMATES BECAUSE THEY ARE INVARIABLY PART OF RENT HERE.

 

The great thing about Playa Del Carmen is the amount of cash you need to be a high roller.

Go to New York, LA, London, Paris, etc, and you need to be a millionaire to join the high rollers club.

The cost of living in Playa Del Carmen is such good value that $3500 USD a month sees you join the top 1% of earners in Playa Del Carmen.

However, you’re not an idiot.

Anyone flaunting obscene amounts of cash around Mexico isn’t the smartest.

The high rollers live well and entertain equally well.

But this isn’t Hollywood where it’s important to shove the GDP of Colombia up your nose every weekend.

If you’re a high roller, you need a pimping pad.

And much of this budget is going on a two-bedroom plus apartment that’s dead smack on 5th Ave.

You’re staying cool.

Which means the air conditioner is on almost constantly.

You’re out partying almost every night, cavorting between different bars, clubs, and restaurants, and happily paying for a cute female that you meet.

Perhaps you go through 10 packs of cigarettes a week, and you’ve got a pretty neat liquor collection that’s the envy of most expats.

You can’t cook or you don’t want to cook. Either way you eat out twice a day. More than that and you will get fat.

And there is plenty of money in the budget to make sure you can participate in several activities a week.

Money isn’t a huge issue for the high roller.

And that’s a very nice and comforting feeling to have in life.

Imagine if it could be achieved with an income of only $3000 USD a month.

The Cost Of Living In Playa Del Carmen – Putting Money Aside For Emergencies

It’s always good to have some cash set aside for emergencies.

Unless you have good insurance, you’re going to need to pay in cash for most emergency situations.

And you don’t want to mess around with international money transfers when your leg is hanging off.

Other than that, you’re ready to go.

  1. Download my Simple Cost of Living Calculator and play around with it while you’re looking for an apartment. It is in Microsoft Excel format.
  2. Then run a cost of living comparison between Playa Del Carmen and where you live now.

Then you’ll see how I can afford to be drunk all the time!

See you at the bar!

Lots of love,

Rufus

Rufus signature

It’s your turn. Do you have any more information about the cost of living here? Please leave it in the comments section below!

2 comments on “Cost Of Living In Playa Del Carmen

  1. Rufus , Is it legal or even average practice for expats to use ATV’s or golf carts to get around Playa del Carmen ?

    • Mad Matt,

      Good question. Honestly, I’m not sure about the legality of riding around town on a golf cart or ATV. However, I know it happens quite frequently. In fact, they even rent tiny GO-KARTS here that are far less safe than a golf cart! Really, you’d be a pancake if you were ever hit by a car while riding in them. Nonetheless, many ATVs, go-karts, golf carts, etc… still have license plates on them, and people rent them and ride around hassle-free.

      The bottom line in Mexico is this: money talks. Of course you still have to play by the rules, but the police assume you’re a tourist (probably a “rich” tourist staying at one of the golf resorts) if you’re riding around in a golf cart. Because they understand that tourism is why they have a job, they usually leave tourists alone. Moreover, the vehicles are registered and all applicable tax has been paid on them. Consequently, they are “street legal.” And because the state of Quintana Roo (where Playa Del Carmen is located) got its money, that’s all that really matters (from the government’s perspective)!

      Hope this helps, Matt! Also, if you see any other crazy vehicles around town, please snap a picture so that I can post it here!!!

      Take care,

      Rufus

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