Playa Del Carmen Apartments
…one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to park yourself in paradise…
NOTE: This page does not bullsh*t, lie, play “can’t we all just get along” games, or try to make lemonade from lemons (without sugar).
It simply tells the truth – without heed or homage to those who want to magically cleanse the reality of finding an apartment in Playa Del Carmen and supplant it with the vanity of political correctness.
Here I am going to tell you the best places to live.
I am also going to tell you the places that you should NOT live.
As you may have already found out, there are a number of half-witted articles out there showing apartments that were rented several years ago for $200-$300/ month.
These articles were usually written by utopian-centric “travel bloggers” trying to sell books/courses that teach students how great it is to live on a few dollars a day.
They casually mislead readers by omitting important information (it was in a crap neighborhood, they had several roommates, they were sweating profusely every night without A/C, etc…)
The authors of these posts exuberantly embellish their experience and put incredible amounts of energy into trying to convince readers that every single square inch of this city is perfect.
Any reasonable person knows that this is false.
Every inexpensive tourist destination in the world hosts an economically underprivileged class.
These are the workers who provide the “inexpensive” part of the equation.
This city is no exception.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
When these people write about Playa Del Carmen apartments for rent, they usually show interiors of apartments (that appear visually appealing).
Not surprisingly, these same people refuse to show the exterior of their apartment, and are even more adamantly against showing the neighborhood it resides in (which likely lacks all sense of beauty, order, and civility).
I’m not one of those people.
That’s the reason I created a “Best Apartment Area” map on this page with adequate descriptions that will guide you in the right direction.
The apartments in sketchy neighborhoods are almost invariably located outside of the “Best Apartment Area” as shown in the map below.
Use the map as a guideline, and not a hard and fast rulebook.
With that said……and on a lighter note…….
Congratulations! You’ve Decided To Rent A Playa Del Carmen Apartment
Now you just have to hope that I don’t walk past drunk at 4am and ring the buzzer thinking your apartment is my own.
I’ve lived in a few Playa Del Carmen apartments.
When I lived in the first one, my roommate moved out after I kept sneaking into his room to steal his premium tequila at 5am.
In the second apartment, I had a swimming pool and huge balcony–as well as a nasty visit from the landlord’s heavies after I didn’t pay the rent for three months.
But the third is just perfect.
Big enough to impress the very occasional women who dare to enter; small enough to be affordable.
And it’s in my favorite Playa Del Carmen neighborhood.
Finding an apartment here is extremely easy.
Finding a safe, affordable, and good value Playa Del Carmen apartment is more of a challenge.
If you are hell bent on living here (believe me, I know how this feels), you will find a way to make it happen.
I did, and I’m sure I am more of a goof up than you.
But to make things easier for you, I’ve created this page that is loaded with apartment search suggestions and includes an idiot-proof, step-by-step guide to finding a reasonably priced apartment here.
Playa Del Carmen Apartments – What Can You Afford?
Before looking for an apartment, you have to be realistic about what you can spend.
But most of those people don’t understand the symbiotic relationship between location, size, and amenities.
Here you’re going to learn about those.
For now, save all the fancy stuff for the hotels.
Get to know Playa Del Carmen before making any rash decisions.
When it’s all said and done, the cost of an apartment really depends on four independent things:
- Location – The cost of a Playa Del Carmen apartment is mainly dependent on location. The nearer to 5th Ave and the beach then the higher the cost–and gated communities like Playacar also have huge prices.
- Size – The second consideration is the size. A bigger Playa Del Carmen apartment equals more $$$.
- Amenities – The third is amenities. But be realistic about this. Will you really use a swimming pool or exercise facilities when you’re so close to the beach?
- Furnished / Unfurnished – Finally consider whether you need a furnished apartment. Furnished apartments are more expensive, but they save you time and money when you have to move.
So look at what you realistically want to spend on rent.
Then consider the above and think about what is most important.
Some people sacrifice size for the 5th Ave location.
Others won’t mind being away from it all if they get a bigger place.
Best Areas For Apartments
The following map shows the best areas for apartments.
The map was based on duel criteria:
- 100% Safe – The neighborhoods in the map had to be 100% safe. That means you can walk around 24/7 without feeling unsafe, you can come home and leave whenever you want, and there is a heavy police/private security presence in the area.
- Reasonably Located – The apartments in the “Best Apartment Area” had to be reasonably located and close to the action.
Although sizes, prices, and amenities vary dramatically, you will be in walking or biking distance of all the hotspots if you stay within the area shown on the map.
If you deviate far from this, caveat emptor (buyer beware) and rent at your own risk.
However, the areas in this map are all 100% safe and conveniently located.
Moreover, you can find some really good deals if you spend some time looking, talking to a variety of people, and asking the right questions.
Decide Which Neighborhood You Want Your Playa Del Carmen Apartment In
Playa Del Carmen is generally safe, and there are only a few distinct places I would strongly caution you against living.
The neighborhoods that are reasonable to live in are centrally located. The neighborhoods that I would not recommend are outside the popular tourist areas. Here they are:
- Colosio – This area is quite notorious. Anything north of 46th St. gets increasingly messy the further north you go. Is it all bad? No. However, in the far north, it is downright dirty – think garbage on the streets and houses without windows (around 70th street and further).
- DON’T CONFUSE THE STREETS AND AVENUES HERE. I am talking about this problem beginning north of 46th STREET. If you reach 46th St., you will not believe what you’re reading here. However, if you make it to 115 Street – and I can guarantee that most of you will not – you will believe every word on this page and profusely thank me for writing it! Although some people claim this area is perfectly fine, they are doing nothing more than trying to be politically correct. If you are from a developed country, this entire area is going to be quite depressing for you.
- Villas Del Sol – This neighborhood, far away from the beach, downtown, and the civilized world has been featured in local newspapers multiple times.
- It has earned the title of “the neighborhood more dangerous than Colosio” and proudly boasts of having the largest number of police calls originating from it. It is virtually 100% Mexican. And they’re not the friendly ones who are smart enough to capitalize on the social-economic benefits that come from the collective tourism industry. They are the type of Mexicans who are very poor, don’t understand why they are so poor, vehemently hate tourists, despise anything foreign, and listen to the OOM PAH, OOM PAH, OOM PAH music over and over. The sight of tourists makes them feel inferior, so they simply want tourists to go away so they can go back to living in jungle tepees (like they did before the tourists came).
- Anything west (non-beachside) of 30th Avenue – This is 30th AVENUE! I was reluctant to write this here because you will be perfectly fine in many of the areas all the way up to 50th Ave (where the main freeway crosses through town).
- However, when I was looking for apartments here, 30th Avenue was my personal cutoff point. If you find a great deal on an apartment near 45th Ave or 50th Ave, you will likely be okay – depending on the exact location. From 30th to 50th Ave, it’s only a little bit dirty (again, Mexicans throwing trash on the streets). Beyond 70th Ave, it gets downright nasty. This is not to say it is always dangerous, but it definitely lacks any sort of cosmetics that you are probably familiar with if you come from a NON-third-world country or were enchanted by the photographs of Playa Del Carmen before deciding to move here.
- Mexican people love throwing their trash on the streets. Apparently they have never heard of trash receptacles. You will start to see that in these neighborhoods. If that’s your thing – fine. But I find the sheer amount of street litter in the Mexican neighborhoods quite offensive.
- See the map above for the safest and most convenient areas of Playa Del Carmen
- There are also many other private, gated communities north of downtown, but they fall short when it comes to convenience; you definitely need a car or motorcycle to conveniently live in most of them. Consequently, I am not considering them for that reason.
The FAILPROOF, STEP-BY-STEP Process to Find A Cheap Apartment In Playa Del Carmen
This is obviously the hard part – but also the most exciting.
Finding a good apartment can take time, but it’s worth taking your time.
It’s easy to jump at the first one you see on the internet, but if you spend a week looking, I guarantee you will be able to find what you’re looking for.
Here’s the basic process for finding a good apartment:
- Rent a bike or scooter and spend several days cruising around the city getting to know the neighborhoods and general layout.
- Turn your GPS on and begin taking photos of “For Rent/Se Renta” signs outside of the buildings that look nice to you. I see many people with pen and paper writing phone numbers down as they walk or drive around. Don’t do it. You’ll be much better off with your smartphone’s camera and GPS. Plus the photos will help jog your memory.
- Visit these two websites and do broad searches for apartments in the area. Write down the phone numbers that you find and save the link or bookmark every page that lists the apartments you like:
- Download and install WhatsApp on your smartphone. Everyone uses it here and will expect you to use it, too.
- Begin contacting apartments via the numbers from the pictures you took. Start to get a feel for prices, neighborhood averages, what’s included, etc…
- After you’ve gotten a feel for the prices, amenities, and locations that you like, write down your absolute limits. This will include the following:
- Maximum price
- Neighborhood(s) you find appealing
- Necessary bedrooms
- Necessary amenities (AC, swimming pool, gated entrance, allows pets, whatever….)
- Begin calling ALL numbers from photos and begin calling ALL numbers from VivaNuncios and Andale (links above). Use WhatsApp to contact them, too. Also, send a template-based email to ALL listings that provide email addresses.
- Begin meeting apartment owner/managers until you find a good match
Beware – many Playa Del Carmen apartment owners do not speak English. You must be either confident in your Spanish or take someone with you who speaks excellent Spanish.
Either way, and even if you do speak a little Spanish, see if you can get a local to help you.
As I have mentioned several times throughout this website, nearly all Mexicans believe that foreigners are rich and that they should pay more than Mexicans.
This is thoroughly institutionalized and not just for apartments (hospitals maintain “foreigners pay more” policies, ferry companies give discounts to Mexicans, the parks like Tulum give discounts to Mexicans, bars have “local’s rates,” etc…).
Although this would be considered discrimination in the US, it is perfectly acceptable here.
To make it clear, Mexicans will ALMOST CERTAINLY try to take advantage of you if they can.
Yes, a lot of them are pretty filthy that way.
And worse, they have absolutely no shame about it–none, whatsoever.
Consequently, you are more likely to get quoted a better price if they believe that you are a Spanish-speaking Mexican than a foreigner.
Interestingly, if you’re on the phone with an high-end, upscale apartment, speaking Spanish might hurt you; many apartment owners don’t want Mexicans as tenants. They want to rent to wealthy foreigners so that they can charge higher-than-normal rental rates.
Don’t overthink it. Let common sense prevail, and you’ll be fine.
Check Out Some Playa Del Carmen Apartments
Now that you’ve contacted a few apartment owners, you’re close to making a decision.
While it might not always be possible, I strongly advise visiting the apartment before signing any contract.
Also, do not trust Google Street View; the pictures are invariably out-dated for this city because it is growing so fast.
- When you visit, you can check the standard things (e.g. “Does it look like the photos?” “Is the neighbor’s dog mental?” “Does it have hot water?” “Is the bedroom window overlooking a dump site?”)
- It’s also good to talk to the neighbors.
- Firstly to find out what they’re like–you don’t want to be surrounded by Mexican grannies if all you want to do is party until 7am.
- But also to ask them how much they pay, and look at whether you’re getting a reasonable price. (I could tell you some interesting stories about what happens if you don’t do this.)
Sign The Contract And Become A Playa Del Carmen Resident
Now comes the serious part.
- Bring a camera with you and take photos of the apartment AND be sure to email them to both yourself and a 3rd party. This way you have a dated record of what the apartment looked like when you moved in. Make sure that any damage is already recorded and any work the owner needs to do is written into the contract.
- Don’t feel pressured into signing– ever.
- Getting bad vibes from the neighbors, landlord, etc.? – call it off and don’t sign.
- Outside of your budget? – again, don’t sign.
- Understand the meaning of the contract – what’s included, what’s not, how much of a deposit you have to pay, etc. – before signing. Most owners will ask for a 6 to 12 month contract as well as a deposit of 1 month’s rent.
- If possible, take a local with you when signing the contract – People are usually better judges of character within their own culture/language and can give you some expert insight that you may miss.
- Finally, make sure the owner is actually the real owner. This is easily done by talking to the neighbors.
Obviously, you may not be able to take all of these steps, but the more you can take, the better!
NOTE: I met a beautiful Australian woman at one of the local hostels near my own apartment. She had paid a cash deposit to someone who she thought was the apartment manager/owner. It turned out that the person was a fraud and took off with around $500 USD of her money! Interestingly, she had just started working at one of the local universities as a professor.
My point? Don’t think that your status – teacher, lawyer, accountant, woman, man, hot, ugly, friendly, good negotiator, etc. – is going to save your ass! It won’t!
“Mexican hospitality” is an oxymoron. Truly, it is. Also, the fraudsters here are ruthless and cunning. The serious and intelligent conmen are few and far between (luckily), but ignorant, petty thieves and 3rd-rate hustlers abound here.
But before you sign the contract, let me tell you…..
The Truth About Apartment Contracts In Mexico
Mexico is neither known for order nor consistency, but is infamous for corruption.
Mexico is also considered a difficult country to do business in (ranking between 38th and 58th in the world).
There is one big reason for this:
- The unenforceability of contracts
In the Mexican city that I lived prior to coming to Playa Del Carmen, there was a huge problem with abandoned/vacant homes.
Sometimes you could walk down a city block and see that 1/3 of the houses were completely empty – built and ready for occupants, but empty.
This was because many of the homeowners were living in the United States. They would work in the US, send money to Mexico, and simultaneously build a house that they would live in when they returned there from the States.
If you talk to an American or Canadian in a similar situation, they would say, “Rent the house to someone while away. The renter will pay the mortgage, and you’ll have a debt-free home when you return.”
Of course, in the US or Canada this makes perfect sense.
However, in Mexico, it doesn’t.
It is very easy to find tenants, but there is virtually no legal recourse if those tenants destroy the house that you rented to them.
Why, you might ask?
This has to do with the lack of access to the court system and the unenforceability of contracts.
For all practical purposes, low-value contracts cannot be enforced in Mexico.
They never are – especially not for a relatively petty sum like the monthly rent on a house.
My point is this: DO NOT WORRY ABOUT SIGNING YOUR LIFE AWAY ON AN APARTMENT RENTAL CONTRACT; IT IS NOT ENFORCEABLE ANYWAYS.
The only thing that the landlord has to hold against you is your deposit – and they will do exactly that for any reason they see fit (especially if you’ve violated anything in the contract).
But nothing more.
In Mexico, an apartment “contract” is as worthless as the paper it’s written on beyond the value of your deposit.
Should I Get A Playa Del Carmen Apartment?
Yes, yes, yes.
Get yourself an apartment here…..and welcome to paradise.
And if this was useful, send me an invite to the house warming party!
Lots of love,
It’s your turn? Do you have something you can add to this conversation about getting an apartment here? Please leave it in the comments section below!