Playa del Carmen is one of the best digital nomad destinations in Mexico.
Located between popular hotspots Cancun and Tulum, Playa blends work and play better than anywhere else in the Yucatan Penisula.
Remote workers have been flocking to Playa del Carmen for its lifestyle, affordability and year-round warm weather.
This digital nomad guide will walk through everything you need to know about Playa del Carmen as a digital nomad destination.
About Playa del Carmen
A once quiet coastal town, Playa del Carmen was a relaxing alternative to the partying of Cancun.
Nowadays Playa has boomed into a bustling town. The town still holds a different feel to Cancun, but it's not the retreat it once was.
Playa del Carmen has become a town of options. It has the nightlife, resorts, and fancy restaurants if that's what you're seeking. But it's also a great budget-friendly location with cheap housing options, cheap eats, and laidback activities.
Playa del Carmen is what you make it.
To get your bearing around Playa del Carmen, think of 5th Avenue as the long center of activity.
5th Avenue a busy walking street lined with restaurants, bars, souvenir stores. While you'll find everything worth doing away from this street, its central location means you'll likely find yourself here often.
Avoid booking accommodation on this street as it'll likely be very over-priced.
Between 10th and 30th Avenues is what I like to call the digital nomad sweet spot.
Prices of everything lower in this area, cafes are less busy, and you're still only a 10-20 minute walk to the beach.
If you're a remote worker moving to Playa del Carmen, I recommend living between these Avenues.
At the southern end of 5th Avenue, you'll find Playacar, an upscale resort area where everything costs double and Mexican culture disappears completely.
Playacar doesn't generally appeal to digital nomads, but in many of the resorts, you can pay to use their facilities on weekends.
When to visit Playa del Carmen
One of Playa's biggest drawcards is the consistent warm weather.
Seasonal temperatures generally remain around 70-80F (21-27C).
But while it stays warm, Playa does experience high-humidity levels, heavy rain, and hurricanes at certain times of the year.
You're most likely to experience rain and hurricanes between June - October. As a remote worker, be aware this weather can impact electricity and wifi. On the plus side, this is the cheapest time to visit, and you'll find lots of low season deals.
From October - November, Playa experiences less rain and hurricanes (generally, but not always).
Playa del Carmen's high season is January - March, where the town experiences a tourism boom. Prices rise slightly at this time, but nothing like the price boom experienced in nearby Tulum.
Safety in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is safe, but it's important to stay smart and alert.
The current US Travel Advisory is to exercise increased caution due to crime in the Yucatan Penisula.
Crime is the main concern in Playa del Carmen, especially since COVID has put many locals out of work.
Some safety tips for Playa del Carmen include:
- Don't wander (outer) streets at night
- Avoid drunk-walking home
- Use registered taxis
- Use ATMs in public areas
In my experience, you shouldn't encounter issues by taking these basic cautions in Playa del Carmen.
Mexico offers a very alluring 6-month visa on arrival for a lot of countries.
Of course, 180-days without visa runs is a big drawcard for nomads. If you want to stay longer, Belize and Costa Rica are popular countries for border runs.
The 180 days on arrival applies for passport holders of:
- The US
- New Zealand
- EU Schengen Countries
See a full list of passports that don't require a visa for entering Mexico.
Where to stay in Playa del Carmen
There are a number of accommodation options in Playa del Carmen.
As mentioned earlier, staying between the 10th and 30th Avenues is a sweet spot for digital nomads. This area is more affordable and is close to lots of coworking cafes.
Airbnb is a popular choice for accommodation and has plenty of options for different budgets. Remember to book 28 days or more to unlock Airbnb's monthly discounts.
If you're new to Airbnb, sign up with this link and receive a discount on your first booking.
If you're seeking shorter stays, Bookings.com is widely used, and the options endless.
Here are some recommended accommodation options:
Anah Luxury Condos is a fully self-contained apartment that also has a shared gym, pool and jacuzzi. It's in a prime Playa del Carmen location too.
This compact apartment is a great option in a perfect location. It's basic but has everything a remote worker needs in Playa.
If you want to splash out a little more to be right on the beach, Casa Kay has this great beach apartment. The room has a kitchen, workspace and some incredible ocean views.
Transport in Playa del Carmen
One of the great things about Playa del Carmen is it's a very walkable town. It's completely possible to get by without any form of transportation if you're happy walking.
Unlike Cancun, Uber doesn't operate in Playa, and taxis are everywhere. Prices for taxis vary considerably and are mostly dependant on your haggling skills. Always agree on a price before getting in a taxi. Getting into a cab without negotiating a price will leave them to charge you whatever they please.
It is possible to rent bicycles in Playa del Carmen, but they are nowhere near as popular as they are in Tulum. This is perhaps because Playa del Carmen isn't as bicycle-friendly due to more traffic and busier streets. Regardless, bicycles are still a great budget option in Playa. Note: some accommodations might include bicycles, so if you really want one, it pays to check.
Again, not as common in Playa del Carmen as in Tulum, but scooter rentals are another option.
If you're traveling outside of Playa del Carmen, buses are your cheapest and best bet. Ado Bus runs daily buses up and down the Yucatan Penisula and tickets are very affordable. They also have buses that run to and from Cancun Airport.
Collectivos (shared minivans) also run this route and are an even cheaper option. However, their pickup points and stops can be a little confusing for foreigners, at first. Always make sure your driver knows where you want to get dropped off, and make sure to pay attention in case he forgets.
Working in Playa del Carmen
In my opinion, Playa del Carmen has the best infrastructure for remote workers in the Yucatan Penisula.
While Cancun is a larger city, it lacks a thriving digital nomad community, and its affordable rental options are located Downtown, away from the beaches. Similarly, Tulum is a good digital nomad option, but high-prices and unreliable electricity hinder it as a nomad destination.
By no means is Playa del Carmen a perfect digital nomad hub. But for this region, it does stand out.
Wifi is generally okay, but not great, in Playa del Carmen.
There are a number of workspaces and cafes with strong wifi connections, but if you're planning on working from your accommodation, make sure you get the owner to send you screenshots of a wifi speed test before booking.
Fiber optic wifi is available in Playa, but it's not commonly found.
Another common workaround is using a portable wifi device like Skyroam to control your own wifi overseas.
Powercuts can occur in Playa, especially in hurricane season.
And sometimes, there's simply nothing you can do about it.
However, after experiencing hurricane season in both Playa and Tulum, Playa definitely recovers faster.
Playa del Carmen's best coworking cafes
The coworking cafe scene in Playa del Carmen is great.
While there aren't a huge number of options, enough cafes are seeing the benefits of offering strong wifi and available power-outlets, to make life good for nomads.
You can also read our Playa del Carmen coworking cafes guide to find more free workspaces.
Playa's coworking spaces
If cafes aren't your thing, and you need a serious workspace with top-notch wifi, then Playa del Carmen also has a few great cowork space options.
Monthly - $250 (currently $180)
Daily - $15 (currently $13)
Nest is the only cowork space in Playa del Carmen I've personally used. I prefer cafes, in general, but this cowork space is a great alternative.
The space is located centrally and has a good vibe with indoor and outdoor work areas. It comes will all the basics like free coffee, office chairs, and meeting rooms.
Unfortunately, Nest isn't a budget-friendly option, with monthly plans as high as $250.
Monthly - $150
Daily - $13
Cowork-In is a smaller, less flashy cowork space. However, it has everything you need at a lower cost to popular Nest.
The workspace is located close to the resorts of Playacar, and like Nest, it's just a short stroll to the beach.
Coliving in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen also has some coliving options.
Coliving is a great chance to meet other digital nomads and have your accommodation taken care of for you. This is usually a pricer option than doing it yourself, but it can be worth it for the relationships you build.
Check out these coliving options in Playa del Carmen:
Cost of living in Playa del Carmen
On average, digital nomads live between $1000-$1500 per month in Playa del Carmen.
It's definitely possible to live in Playa del Carmen on a reasonable budget.
As you can eat and live both very cheap or very expensive depending on your lifestyle, the cost of living varies considerably in Playa.
You can live as cheap as $700 per month by renting a small place slightly further afield (around 30th Ave), and eating local meals.
Things to do around Playa del Carmen
A great thing about Playa del Carmen is you won't be short of things to do on days off.
When you're not hacking away in a cafe, you can cruise nearby islands by jeep, chillout on some of the best beaches in Mexico, and visit one of the wonders of the world.
There's really so much to do.
It would be a shame to relocate to Playa del Carmen and miss out on Cozumel, the island 45 minutes off the Playa coast.
It's the perfect weekend escape, and it's at your doorstep.
It feels like everyone is talking about Tulum.
While Playa slightly edges Tulum as a digital nomad hub, Tulum definitely wins when it comes to aesthetics.
Luckily, it's only a 45-minute bus ride south to get there.
Tulum has some of the most stunning beaches in the country, along with incredible street-art, and unmissable cenotes.
A perfect day-trip away is Chitzen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
This iconic Mayan archeological site has to be seen to be believed.
Chitzen was one of the Mayan's largest cities dating back to the early 400s A.D.
Don't miss its nearby cenotes to complete a full day out.
Eating in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen has a huge food scene.
You can spend as little as a couple of dollars on some street tacos or go all out in a fancy restaurant.
As a rule of thumb, restaurants on 5th Avenue will be the most expensive, and street stands and smaller restaurants beyond 10th Avenue will be a lot cheaper.
The vegan food scene in Playa del Carmen has expanded in recent years with vegan restaurants popping up everywhere.
Also, some of the best vegan tacos you'll ever eat are found at 100% Natural on 5th Ave. Ask for the crispy zucchini tacos.
Check out Playa del Carmen's complete vegan guide here.
There are three large supermarkets in Playa del Carmen and lots of other smaller supermarkets.
Generally, you'll never be too far from the basics.
The main supermarkets in Playa are:
Chedraui is Mexico's largest supermarket chain and Playa del Carmen has a number of them nearby.
Yes, Mexico has Walmart too.
Just a short walk from 5th Ave you'll find a large Walmart.
Super Aki has more of a local feel to it.
There are a few dotted around Playa.
Is Playa del Carmen a good choice for digital nomads?
Playa del Carmen is a good choice for digital nomads, but it's not without flaws.
If you're heavily reliant on bandwidth you'll need to take precautions, whether it's renting somewhere with fiber optic internet or joining a cowork space.
Hurricane season poses the biggest issues for nomads with uncontrollable weather events sometimes leaving the town without power.
Despite that, I stand by Playa del Carmen as the best digital nomad hub in the Yucatan.
No one likes to think about it, but traveling in Mexico can have risks. By covering yourself with the right travel insurance, you can enjoy the world without worries.
I recommend World Nomads as my favorite travel insurance provider.
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