Affordable Beach-Living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

If you like your beach living with comfortable amenities like first-run films, great restaurants, and plenty of night life, then consider heading to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This relaxed resort town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast has all these comforts…along with some of the most beautiful beaches around.

Once a simple fishing village where tourists caught the ferry to Cozumel, Playa today is a popular resort on its own. Thousands of tourists visit Playa (as it’s commonly known) every year, drawn to its beautiful beaches, with their clear, turquoise waters, and its laid-back Mexican lifestyle. Many expats—from all over the world—have also come to live here either full- or part-time. Not surprisingly, Playa’s population has boomed—the city now has about 150,000 residents.

Beach-living in Playa del Carmen still offers good value for money

Thanks to all this growth, Playa is no longer an inexpensive beach town. But with all Playa offers, it’s good value for money—and still very affordable. You can find one- and two-bedroom condos in town near (though not on) the beach in the low $200,000s. If you’re willing to be farther from the beach, you can pay even less.

Rentals are a snap. Many people have vacation condos they rent out short-term when they’re not using them. Rents start at about $450 a week. A smaller number of properties are available to rent long-term.

Playa has plenty of local fruit-and-vegetable stands where you’ll pay pennies on the dollar for fresh produce. Don’t speak Spanish? No worries—many locals in Playa speak some English. And if you prefer to just read food labels, you can shop at the supermarket instead. Playa has several large supermarkets belonging to Mexican chains like Mega Comercial and Chedraui. At these large stores you can buy all your groceries, pick up household items like appliances, linens, and dishware, and even get some auto supplies and gardening equipment.

You’ll also see some familiar U.S. brands here, too. Walmart and Sam’s Club have stores in Playa. You’ll find a Costco just up the road in Cancún. And U.S. chains like Burger King, McDonald’s, Starbuck’s and others are in Playa, too.

Playa has all kinds of restaurants and cuisines, from simple taco stands up to fine restaurants with linen and china table-settings. For a casual restaurant, expect to pay $8 and up for an entrée; generally speaking, $20 a person will get you a main course, a drink, and—for a couple—perhaps a shared starter.

There are several cineplexes in Playa del Carmen, and first-run Hollywood films generally open here at the same time they do in the U.S. Even better, in Playa there’s usually at least one screen showing the film in English, with Spanish subtitles. Film tickets run about $3 to $5.50 per person (though here, as in the U.S., what raises the cost is all those extras like popcorn and soda….).

The beautiful beaches, of course, are free, and with Playa’s tropical climate you can swim all year. You can also snorkel, para-sail, scuba-dive, or go fishing, sailing, or water-skiing. You’ll pay extra for the special equipment you need…but with Playa del Carmen’s affordable cost of living, you’ll no doubt find a way to work it into your budget. This is beach-living in Mexico at its best.

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