12 Tips for Living in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
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An expat talks about what it's like living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Did you know that there's a large Italian expat community in Playa del Carmen with a Little Italy and lots of Italian restaurants?
Expat Life in Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen, is just about an 1 and half hour plane ride from Miami. The community is filled with expats and each year that passes, the assimilation process gets easier and easier. This is due to the high US investment in the area. We now have Home Depot, Starbucks, Old Navy, Forever 21, Sephora. So many of the products and services that expats are accustomed to using can now be found in town. This was not the case 11 years ago when we moved there.
Cost of Living in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
It is still quite reasonable to live in Playa del Carmen, but prices have increased for restaurants significantly over the past few years. We used to eat on 5th Ave all the time. But now we tend to eat off the main tourist drag because the price and overall value of the food is better found outside.
Local Clubs and Organizations
We have a huge expat community. Activities include Rotary Club, English speaking churches and organizations, animal rescue, and many groups that assist underprivileged children. There have been some expat get togethers but I do not believe this is a regular thing.
Facebook groups are good place to find activities.
International Schools in Playa Del Carmen
I do not have children but I have friends who do. There are a handful of international schools in the area that are all bi-lingual.
Shopping in Playa Del Carmen
We have so many large grocery stores in Playa, that I wonder sometimes how they stay in business. We have two Walmarts. Local produce markets are not easy to find. There is one very small one in town once a week.
We have collectivos - or small buses that run up and down the beach and pretty much anywhere you want to go. They are cheap - 15 pesos - and reliable. Taxis are abundant and are cheap too. They are supposed to charge based on a chart, but the taxi drivers will try to get as much as they can from you. Be sure to agree on a price before getting in the cab. Uber is not in Playa del Carmen
Hot, hot, and hotter! Humid, humid, and humider!
Well the high season between Dec and April is still pleasant and not as humid. Summer is a killer!
Restaurants and Nightlife
EVERY type of restaurant. At one time, Playa had the largest amount of Italian expats. As a result we have ton of great Italian places. Ironically, there are not many "fine dining" Mexican restaurants. Many great taco carts and very casual places for Mexican. The nightlife scene has expanded in Playa as more and more younger people are visiting here.
Health Care Facilities in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
We have one major private hospital in Playa. This is a really important thing to me as the public hospitals are not up to par with what expats are accustomed to coming from the US, Canada or Europe. The care is really outstanding in the private hospitals with most doctors speaking fluent English. They are also required to have an additional level of training to be able to work in a private hospital. I have been retired for 15 years but I actually sell international health insurance to expats which allows us to use ANY PRIVATE hospital or doctor in the world. I got involved in this because I was hit by a taxi cab about 15 years ago while traveling and ended up in a public hospital. The conditions were so bad - no soap or toilet paper in the bathrooms - 50 people in a group room..... I never wanted to be in that situation ever again. That was when I went quest for international health insurance. It is something critical to have.
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
Anything related to the beach, snorkeling, golf, exploring cenotes (caves), dining out. The food is amazing and the options are endless.
Residency and Visa Requirements
This is still a bit of a nightmare. You must apply for your residence from your home country and then there will be a few appointment with immigration. It took us 5 months to get our temp residency and we have to be in Mexico 30 days prior to our 1 year expiration date to renew. Keep you posted on that. At one point we were temp residents but gave it up as we were never in the country longer than 6 months at a time. We travel a lot. But the Mexican govt really wants you to have your residency.
Crime in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Crime is a big topic in Mexico. The crime that is occurring is primarily targeted between drug cartel members and it not something you would run across unless you want to become involved in this business. Petty theft has increased with more tourists, so common sense just like in any city should be used.