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Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 05, 2022

Summary: Playa del Carmen is city on the Riviera Maya situated between Cancun down to Tulum. With approximately 300,000 residents, expats, digital nomads and retirees love living in Playa del Carmen. They love the low cost of living, beautiful turquoise waters, endless sunshine and vibrant expat community.

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What do I need to know before moving to Playa del Carmen?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Playa del Carmen, they said:

"My advice would be to list your priorities of what you are really looking for in order of importance to you. Determine what would be a deal breaker and make the realtor aware of this information. Keep looking and don't stop until you find what you want because it is here in Playa! My 1st trip, I looked for 2 days. A month later when I returned, I found my dream home and signed a year's lease within 24 hours. I am very happy," remarked another expat who made the move to Playa del Carmen.

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How do I find a place to live in Playa del Carmen?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"I hired a taxi/guide/realtor service to show me around the various neighborhoods. I was given the history and current makeup of the communities. I was able to determine which were popular for families, pets and parties. I kept hunting until I found the perfect place for me," added another expat in Playa del Carmen.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Playa del Carmen?

"I am in a 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment. it's perfect for me as a single retiree in a quiet neighborhood. This is typical for those willing to pay a little bit more for a tranquil community," remarked another expat living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

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What is the average cost of housing in Playa del Carmen?

If you are thinking about moving to Playa del Carmen, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The housing costs [in Playa del Carmen] are definitely lower than in my home country. I am 3 blocks from the beach and I would be paying 3 times as much in my home country. The average cost where I am is about $1,000.00 USD per month. for a furnished 2 bedroom apartment with utilities included. I pay a little less because the furniture is antique...which some call old," mentioned another expat in Playa del Carmen.

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What should I bring when moving to Playa del Carmen?

People living in Playa del Carmen were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"I wish I had brought: 1. A year's supply of my favorite hair oil. My hair is a different texture than most Spanish people. 2. Old Bay seasoning to go with the great seafood dishes here in Mexico. 3. The international telephone numbers of my account holders Should have left at home: 1. Heavy clothes that weighed too much on the flight 2. The last five year's business records 3. Any clothes not made of cotton," added another expat in Playa del Carmen.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Playa del Carmen?

"Unfortunately, when I moved abroad I was hit by a taxi. I was taken to a public hospital. That experience was life changing... I had never seen the conditions that I saw there - bathrooms with no soap or tp - group recovery rooms - disorder. I immediately realized the importance of have PRIVATE health insurance, and went on a mission to find suitable insurance for my family. As we love to travel I found insurance that allows us to be covered ANYWHERE in the WORLD including the US - at a fraction of the price we were paying when living in the US. We can choose ANY HOSPITAL OR DOCTOR that we wish. The policy is in English, the office is located in Playa Del Carmen with courtesy translation service, and there is an in-claims department, finally they are partnered with an international law firm. I felt that was soooo important to myself and my expat friends, that I asked for a job selling this insurance. I have been retired for 15 years, but got into this business because it is something that I feel passionate about and know that all my expat friends need," said another expat.

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Is the cost of living in Playa del Carmen high?

We asked people about the cost of living in Playa del Carmen, they wrote:

"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," commented one expat 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," remarked another expat living in Playa Del Carmen.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Playa del Carmen?

"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," remarked another expat in Playa Del Carmen.

"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," added one expat living in Playa Del Carmen.

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Why do people move to Playa del Carmen?

When we asked people why foreigners move to Playa del Carmen, they responded:

"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," remarked another expat living 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. ," said one expat living in Playa Del Carmen.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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