7 Pros & Cons of Living in Playa del Carmen in 2024

Nestled on the Riviera Maya coastline of Mexico, Playa del Carmen beckons with the promise of turquoise waters, sun-drenched beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle. But for those seeking more than just a vacation getaway, living in Playa del Carmen offers a compelling proposition: a chance to call this tropical paradise home.  We spent most of the last 3 years living in Playa Del Carmen and became permanent residents Mexican residents after our son was born there in 2022.  So I may be biased but I want to share with you the reason we’ve enjoyed calling this beautiful town home.  

living in playa del carmen

A Bit of History

Playa del Carmen’s story is one of transformation. Once a sleepy fishing village, it has blossomed into a cosmopolitan tourist destination. Its Mayan name, Playacar, translates to “ground of the stars,” reflecting its celestial beauty. Today, Playa del Carmen retains its charm, offering a unique blend of Mayan heritage and modern vibrancy. Situated just 45 minutes south of Cancun International Airport, Playa del Carmen is easily accessible with frequent flights from major cities around the world and Mexico boasts a generous tourist visa of up to 180 days for most tourists giving you plenty of time to explore all this wonderful has to offer. 

Whether you’re a young family, a digital nomad, or a retiree yearning for warm weather, here are seven pros and cons we’ve experienced while living in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo:

1. Perpetual Sunshine

PRO: Imagine waking up almost every day to sunshine and warm temperatures. Playa del Carmen boasts a subtropical climate with over 240 days of sunshine annually. Even during the rainy season (typically June to October), showers are usually brief and refreshing. So living here you get to ditch the winter coat and embrace the warm embrace of the Caribbean year-round.

CON: The Caribbean experiences hurricane season, typically from June to November. While major hurricanes are not frequent, there’s always a risk of disruption and potential damage. Additionally, the rainy season brings daily showers that can impact outdoor activities.

2. Stunning Beaches on Your Doorstep

PRO: The Caribbean is synonymous with breathtaking beaches, and Playa del Carmen doesn’t disappoint. Pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters create a picture-perfect backdrop for swimming, sunbathing, or simply soaking up the beauty. Explore hidden coves, snorkel vibrant coral reefs teeming with life, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding – the possibilities are endless.  Even when bad weather beckons you can hop on the ferry to nearby islands of Cozumel & Isla Murejes for a guaranteed good time. 

CON: While beautiful over the past 10-15 years The Caribbean has seen increasing amounts of sargassum (a type of seaweed) sweeping the shorelines of PDC.  This phenomenon seems to occur mostly from April/May to October but it’s extremely unpredictable.  When the sargassum does hit badly it can be very smelly and turns the usually crystal clear water to tinges of brown.  

3. It’s Family Friendly

PRO: Playa del Carmen is a haven for families. Mexicans are renowned for their love of children, and your little ones will be showered with warmth and attention from the locals. The town boasts a variety of family-friendly activities, from building sandcastles on the beach to exploring ancient Mayan ruins. Additionally, Playa del Carmen offers a good selection of restaurants, kidspaces and schools, catering to different needs and budgets.

CON: Spanish is the primary language in Playa del Carmen. While English is understood in tourist areas, navigating daily life and integrating with the local community can be difficult without some Spanish proficiency if you choose to live outside of the tourist zone.  

4. Affordability

PRO: While Playa del Carmen is a popular tourist destination, the cost of living can be surprisingly reasonable, especially for those earning in US dollars or British pounds. A family of four can comfortably live here for under £2000 a month. Water bills rarely exceed £20 a month a taxi across town is usually less than £3 and you can find a decent meal out for out for £10 per person.  This allows you to embrace a life less ordinary without breaking the bank.

CON: While generally cheaper than other tourist destinations, Playa del Carmen’s cost of living can be higher compared to other parts of Mexico. Imported goods can be expensive, and depending on your lifestyle, accommodation and eating out can add up.  Always remember that Playa del Carmen thrives on tourism, so especially during peak season which is from November to April, prices can often be significantly inflated. 

5. Thriving (Black) Expat Community

PRO: Moving to a new country can be daunting, but you shouldn’t feel alone in Playa del Carmen. The town has a vibrant expat community, with people from all corners of the globe. Facebook groups and WhatsApp chats connect with other expats and families, offering a wealth of support and opportunities to meet new like-minded people.

CON: While internet connectivity is generally good enough to keep you connected for your remote work, it can be slower and less reliable than what you might be used to in Western countries. If you rely on super fast constant internet then choose your accommodation carefully when looking for providers.  Telmex is a reliable wifi provider that you can ask for.  

6. The World on Your Plate

PRO: Mexican food is a revelation, and Playa del Carmen offers a chance to experience it in its most authentic form. Go beyond the usual Tex-Mex fare and discover the depth and variety of Mexican cuisine, from fresh seafood tacos to flavourful moles. But Playa del Carmen caters to all palates. You’ll find a diverse range of international restaurants, from Italian and Thai, vegan and even amazing Jamaican options.

CON: While Playa del Carmen offers a variety of restaurants and shops catering to tourists, finding some specific international brands or everyday items may be more challenging compared to larger cities. Try the major supermarkets like Mega, Walmart & Chedraui when looking for speciality items, just be willing to pay a premium for them. To remain in budget, be prepared to adapt and embrace the local options. 

7.  Exploring the Mayan Riviera

PRO: Playa del Carmen is your gateway to adventure. The Yucatan Peninsula is steeped in history and natural wonders. Explore the awe-inspiring Mayan ruins of Tulum or Chichen Itza, delve into the mystical cenotes (natural swimming holes), or kayak through lush mangroves. For the eco-conscious traveller, Playa del Carmen offers a plethora of sustainable tours and activities. It’s extremely well connected to other jewels for you to enjoy like the 7 colours lagoon of Bacalar to the bioluminescence wonder of Holbox. Just hop on the ADO or recentlybuilt tren Maya.  There truly is something for everyone. 

CON: Mexican culture embraces a slower pace of life. Siestas (afternoon breaks) are common, and things might not always run on a strict schedule. This can be a welcome change for some, but for others, it might require patience and adjusting to a more relaxed approach.

living in playa del carmen and visiting chichen itza

Is Playa del Carmen Right for You?

While Playa del Carmen offers a multitude of advantages, it’s important to consider your lifestyle preferences when looking for places to live. While there are supermarkets and some familiar conveniences, life here has a slower pace compared to Western metropolises. Be prepared to embrace a more relaxed approach and adapt to a different way of doing things.

But if you crave sunshine, adventure, and a welcoming community, Playa del Carmen could be your perfect slice of paradise. So, pack your swimsuit, embrace the spirit of adventure, and start dreaming of your life under the Mexican sun.

Frequently Asked Questions About Living In Playa Del Carmen

Is Playa del Carmen safe?

Playa del Carmen is generally considered safe, especially for tourists and expats. However, as with any destination, it’s always wise to be cautious. Be mindful of your belongings in crowded areas, and avoid walking alone at night in deserted areas.

What language is spoken in Playa del Carmen?

Spanish is the primary language spoken in Playa del Carmen. However, due to the high number of tourists, English is widely understood in most restaurants, shops, and tourist areas. Making the effort to learn some basic Spanish phrases will go a long way in enhancing your experience and connecting with the locals.

What currency is used in Playa del Carmen?

The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso (MXN). However, US dollars are widely accepted in Playa del Carmen, particularly in tourist areas. It’s always a good idea to carry a mix of pesos and dollars for convenience. Keep in mind you may get a better exchange rate if you use pesos.

What are some things to do in Playa del Carmen besides the beach?

Playa del Carmen offers a variety of activities beyond sunbathing. Explore the fascinating Mayan ruins of Tulum or Chichen Itza, snorkel or dive in the world’s second-largest coral reef system, kayak through lush mangroves, discover hidden cenotes (natural swimming holes), or immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife scene.

Is Playa del Carmen a good fit for digital nomads?

Playa del Carmen is a popular destination for digital nomads due to its relaxed atmosphere, affordability, beautiful surroundings, and good internet connectivity. There are many co-working spaces available, and a growing community of remote workers. However, keep in mind that internet speeds can vary depending on your location.

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