What is living in the Riviera Maya like?
If you have thought about moving to the Riviera Maya you will want to all the details before taking the decision. No doubt you are familiar with the beaches and some of the towns along the coast. You probably have visited before as well. In this article we will talk about what life is like in the Riviera Maya and the towns and cities that make it up. We will also consider some of the advantages and disadvantages to living in the Riviera Maya.
What makes the Riviera Maya a special place to live?
Let’s start with where the Riviera Maya is in Mexico. It broadly runs from just south of Cancun to Tulum area in the state of Quintana Roo.
Mexico is a very welcoming country. not only for the people. but also the laws regarding visas for taking up residency. For people that are looking to retire outside of the United States, Canada, or Europe, the income requirements are fairly easy to meet for residential visas (for help processing your visa we highly recommend this immigration consultant). Mexico is also a close country geographically to many looking to make the move. This makes keeping in touch with family and friends a little easier.
The idea of living in a warm climate with no chance of snow is also very appealing to people. Palm tree lined beaches and colorful communities are an attraction for sure. The Riviera Maya is also a very developed place that can offer a high standard of living. You can find everything from golf courses to gourmet food. All of this combined, attracts many to move to the Riviera Maya. But there are many towns and places to live along the Rivera Maya where foreigners like to live. We will talk about this next.
What are the best places to live in the Riviera Maya?
Here is a brief rundown of the main locations where people like to move to in the Riviera Maya.
Living in Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen is the main city of the Rivera Maya (Cancun is technically not part of the Riviera Maya) and also is right in the center. Most of the services can be found here and transportation is more available. Most people choose between a condo close to the beach or a house further back from the downtown. Playa Del Carmen does get a bulk of foreigners moving to the Riviera Maya. One of the main reasons is the many options for housing.
Playa Del Carmen host people from many walks of life and has niches for those seeking out like minded individuals. See our article about living in the Playa Del Carmen for more information.
Paamul and Akumal
Paamul and Akumal are two of the smaller towns to live in the Riviera Maya. Being smaller towns means quieter life. but also traveling to larger towns to go shopping. It also means more intimate communities that have bonded. Usually like minded people end up living in these towns because they feel comfortable there. Even though these two towns are small and on the coast, they are very different.
What is Paamul like?
Paamul is a smaller town that started out as a place to park RV’s next to the Caribbean. It evolved into a more permanent community with the palapa shelters for the RV’s being enclosed and made into houses. Now, this small town is more a community of permanent or semi permanent residents. Here you can find the land is rented. but the houses owned, it is a unique community on the coast. Many Canadians and Americans call Paamul home these days. Some live here part of the year. while others live year round.
Life in Akumal
Akumal is a more upscale community in the Riviera Maya. It is famous for its beach on a bay and swimming with the turtles. Because of this and other attractions, Akumal receives a lot of daily tourists. There is a small central street that has a few small businesses. These are the main options for grabbing a bite to eat or buy a snack.
Most of the larger scale development has been kept at bay, leaving most of the oceanfront small houses or guesthouses. Property is more upscale and many try to a mix a guest house with living in Akumal.
Living in Puerto Aventuras
The main difference about Puerto Aventuras is the fact the beach side of town is a gated community. When people say they live in Puerto Aventuras, they mean the beach side. Some describe this as “Florida” or “Stepford wives town”. People use these terms because it is the most sanitized town and many things are regulated here like the color of the buildings.
You can find golf and boating enthusiast here since there is one of the few ports in the Riviera Maya and golf right in town. You can also find families living here with children because of the community feel and schools. In the center of town you can find a marina with a spattering of restaurants and shops.
Recently a new section of the community was opened with a new section of waterways carved out. This has added more upscale housing options including many condos with beautiful views.
Living in Tulum
Tulum has grown a lot in the past few years. The rise of it’s Instagram fame, attracts more upscale tourists looking for the bohemian chic style that Tulum offers. Tulum offers condos in the center and houses and even jungle living on the edges of this community. Like every growing town there are growing pains. These pains also offer more opportunities for services and it just depends on how you take it, this is if it will work for you or not.
Those wanting to move to Tulum are often very likeminded to the residents already there. Most people like the unique vibe of Tulum and of course the beaches.
See our article and video about what is going on with the real estate market here in Tulum.
Cost of living in the Riviera Maya, Mexico
Cost of living articles and questions are always very hard to pinpoint. There are so many factors that go into what cost you will have. Things like your level of housing you want, how close you are to the beach will affect your cost of electricity, the size of your family, how much you integrate with the local culture and so on.
Compared to the rest of Mexico, the cost of living is higher, but that comes with a higher standard of living. Compared with the United States, for example, the cost of living is a considerable amount less.
Here are things that cost the same or less in the Riviera Maya
- A big win for people moving to the Riviera Maya is property taxes and the cost of rent. Housing cost are much lower than other parts of the world. Of course, you can find apartments for several thousand dollars a month but this is not the norm and you will have an awesome place if you do pay that. If you want to live in the center of the action or close to the beach, you will pay a premium since many owners like to rent out units as vacation rentals only.
- Car insurance. This tends to be much lower than other parts of the world where people move from. However, it might not cover as much, but you will pay less for it.
- Groceries are in general about 30% less expensive. It will depend on what products you purchase though. Some imported products are more expensive and harder to find.
- Labor is much cheaper in Mexico. This includes everything from maintenance on your house to having a housekeeper. For what you pay one hour in another country you can have someone most of the day in your house.
Things that cost more than other countries or parts of Mexico
- Buying a car will be about the same as anywhere in the world. Most people moving to the area will sell their own and buy a new or used one in Mexico. Mexican used cars are often more expensive than used cars in the United States.
- Healthcare cost much less in Mexico in general. People coming from countries where much of the medical care is taken care of will find it an added expense to get healthcare. The overall costs are more in the Riviera Maya than other parts of Mexico for heath services.
- Many touristic attractions are priced higher. Since the Riviera Maya is a major tourist area, prices are high and demand for places to go raises entry prices. Residents can get some good discounts, but often residents will seek out other places to go rather than the large parks and tours.
- Going out to dinner in the Rivera Maya to nicer restaurants can cost $50 USD or more. This still can be cheaper than other countries, but it is more expensive than the rest of Mexico. Prices tend to be about 20%-25% more in the Riviera Maya for fine dinning.
- Overall, many of the small things that you buy or pay for a service will be about 5-10% more than other parts of Mexico.
- Electricity can range from $15 USD a month to $400 USD a month. It depends on how much you use and how close you are to the beach. The more you use, the higher the price.
Why the Riviera Maya is not for everyone
There are several factors that people consider when looking at the Riviera Maya as a destination to live.
Climate of the region
Lets face it, the Riviera Maya is a hot place. With nearly 300 days of sunshine every year and warm temperatures, you can feel like you are stuck in summertime year round. Some love it, some deal with it and some get tired of it. The weather, even though it looks like paradise, can wear on you. So can the high electric bills if you are running the air conditioning all the time.
You basically have three options, learn to embrace it, deal with it, or accept defeat. The worst time of year for many is the late May to June time when it is hot and dry. The woods look like it is barren and the heat kicks in before the summer rains cool things off occasionally. Some deal with it by going on vacations during this time or living in the Riviera Maya part time.
Definitely, if you are thinking of moving to the area, take this into account when visiting. If you come in winter only, you won’t get a true feel of what it is like during the hotter months. Nice sunny weather can see like paradise on paper but a lot of it can be too much for some.
The Cultured life
Mexico is a country rich in culture. You do have to admit the fact that most of the Riviera Maya has been built in the past 30 years and not much of the really ancient or established culture exists. The state of Quintana Roo is a different country from the rest of Mexico. It has developed its own culture which revolves around tourism and the beach. Some, overtime or even after one visit feel like there is not enough of the culture they were looking for when considering Mexico as a new home.
The good news is, in the back yard of the Rivera Maya are many traditional towns and villages. The other half of the peninsula is a very culturally rich area. Some move to the other side and consider living in Merida for this reason. Others take advantage of both worlds, living near the beach and spending the weekends exploring the more “authentic” areas of the peninsula. Others find places like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico to be the cultural spot they were hoping to find in Mexico.
Schooling for children
Options for schooling younger children has gotten much better in recent years. It still does revolve around larger population centers though. Some from countries where education cost is low or free find it harder to pay for the schools in the Riviera Maya. Even competition to getting into some international schools can be difficult for foreigners moving to the area. The good news is, more and more families are moving to the area and this is opening new opportunities for schooling.
Thank you for reading our article about living in the Riviera Maya. Let us know if you have any questions or comments and post them below. We would love to hear from you.