12 Tips for Living in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
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An expat talks about living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Although the cost of living in Playa del Carmen is high for Mexico, an expat couple can dine out for $20 and have their laundry done for $5 per week.
Expat Life in Playa Del Carmen
This is a very popular expat community for a number of reasons. The first and foremost...the sun and the beaches! We have white sand and turquoise water. It is an amazing sight. Of course another reason is the cost of living is much less than in the US, Canada, or Europe. We are only about an 1.5 plan ride from Miami, so many expats like the fact that it is easy to get back if necessary.
Cost of Living in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The cost of living here is one of the most expensive in Mexico but is still much more affordable than the US. We eat out everyday....spend about $20 for two - for a complete meal, then tend to eat something light at night. I attend Zumba and pay for my monthly classes about $30, My husband goes to an amazing gym - classes included - about $50 a month. I never do my own laundry because there are laundry services everywhere. We spend about $5 a week. Gas is more expensive about $4 a gallon. Many appliances and sheets are about double the cost of what we pay in the US. So these items I try to bring from there.
Local Clubs and Organizations
We have not found much activity with expat clubs here. It is surprising, although there is one small one that very infrequently has get togethers. There is a rotary club so many expat business owners are involved in that. It is very easy to meet people here though as our down town area is very concentrated.
International Schools in Playa Del Carmen
I do not have children, but I have friends who do. There are about 3 popular BILINGUAL schools which most expats like. Two popular ones are within walking distance to most expat's homes.
Shopping in Playa Del Carmen
We have so many grocery stores that I always wonder how they all stay in businesses. Most of them in the expat area are located on the same road. We have Walmart and Sams, as well as many others. We have small organic market once a week.
We have "collectivios" - which are small buses that run everywhere. They are abundant and cheap - less than a dollar. We have an abundance of taxi's too. I have a hard time recommending them though as most are looking to take advantage of a foreigner. So always ask your price before entering a cab. There is actually a designated chart of the prices but it is never seen in the cab. We do not have Uber. Many people choose to walk, or bike.
Hot, hot, and hotter! Humid! Dry, rainy. It just depends on when you are here.
Restaurants and Nightlife
We have one street - 12th street - dedicated to night life and featuring Coco Bongos. Dining is my favorite activity! We have literally thousands of restaurants in all price ranges in Playa. You can get an amazing taco from a food card for less than a dollar or dine with a world renown chef. So there are more options and type of food that I could ever list here. There is absolutely no need to cook here.... it is cheaper in most cases to dine out.
Health Care Facilities in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
We have several hospitals/clinics in town. But it is important that you go to a PRIVATE HOSPITAL. Expats will not be accustomed to using a public hospital in Mexico and I do NOT recommend it. The private hospitals are clean, take the patients right away, easy to get appointments without waiting for months, doctors speak English, doctors have an extra certification to work there, and overall you will have very good experience...as long as you have health insurance! I ran into an issue of not having health insurance and ended up in a public hospital. Not an experience I want to repeat. So, I now have a policy that allows me to choose ANY PRIVATE HOSPITAL OR DOCTOR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. My coverage also includes the US - but this is an option. I am paying a fraction of the price that I paid in the US. I love to travel and this insurance gives me piece of mind. If you need info please let me know.
Expat Health Insurance in Mexico
Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.
Recreational Activities in Playa Del Carmen
Our most popular recreational activities are all water based. So all water sports - snorkeling, diving, paragliding, SUP. But we also have tennis courts, horseback riding,golf, and one of my favorites and unique to Mexico - swimming in a cenote. Cenote fresh water caves - both open are and covered - an offer a refreshing way to cool off.
Residency and Visa Requirements
Foreigners are allowed 180 in Mexico. This is decent amount of time and so most snow birds do not have their residencies. But, it is advisable if you plan on buying or spending much time in Mexico. The residency requirements have just changed this past year. You now start the process in your home country at the Mexican consulate. From there you will have to continue this process in Mexico. If you are not a retiree, you can only get your temporary residency, for one year. Then you have to go through the process to renew. If you are a retiree then you can go for your permanent residency, and this is a one time thing.
Crime in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
This is a hot topic - especially in the US - about how dangerous Mexico is. In reality, yes there is some bad stuff going on between the drug cartels, but unless you are directly involved with them, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that you will ever even be aware of this. So I honestly have no concerns about that. It seems like with the growth of the city, petty theft is on the rise. So like anywhere, don't leave your purse unattended or valuables on the beach. Honestly, we have never know anyone to have anything stolen but we know it is possible. I feel safer in Mexico than I did in Miami Beach, Florida.
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