The Secret Life of the Mexican Worker

What it is like to work in Mexico

things to know about MExico

Most people come to Mexico to relax on vacation and don’t really think about all the people providing services, everything from cleaning the rooms or managing the hotels. What most people don’t know is what life is like for people working here. What are the wages in Mexico? Is there a minimum salary? What are working conditions like? It may be of interest to get a look into what it is like to live in paradise but also to work here.

You will notice that most people are happy here and smiles abound. Even when people come on vacation here and look forward to the one week of being here, it is supposed to be the most magical time. But imagine the people that are there everyday, the guest are so energized but for them it is work. Most people do an exceptional job of smiling and being happy that you would never think what is it like to wake up each day and do the same things and match the energy of the guest. Just because it is sunny with palm trees and the beach nearby does not mean people get tired like you do at your job.

Here are several issues Mexican workers have to deal with that you may of never thought about.

Wages in Mexico

As you might imagine, wages in Mexico are low. There are minimum wage standards which are less then $8 USD a day but in reality very few make just that. Here are some general averages for what people make to give you an idea. These wages are for the Riviera Maya which in general is more than what people make in other parts of Mexico.

*Keeping in mind the pesos fluctuates in value and wages do not really line up with inflation in Mexico nor do wages change quickly.

  • Housekeeper 6,000-9,000pesos a month plus tips.
  • Construction worker around 300-500 pesos a day.
  • Hotel front desk 11,000 pesos a month plus any commissions if they sell things like tours.
  • Waiter at nice restaurant on 5th Avenue 900 pesos a day, mostly from tips.
  • Corner store cashier in a local neighborhood 200 pesos a day.
  • Laundromat worker 250-350 pesos a day.
  • Office worker 10,000-19,000 pesos a month.
  • Nightclub waiter in Playa Del Carmen 500-1,000 a night depending on season but often it is 10 hour shifts.
  • Entertainer at hotel 14,000-17,000 pesos a month.

What is the minimum wage in Mexico?

Below are the listed minimum wages for Mexico for 2021. Most of the country is at 141.70 pesos a day rate. These means that at current exchange rates, a person making minimum wage makes about $8 USD a day. 

In rural areas many of the basic jobs offer this rate. Many people that take these jobs are part of a large family and they pool their money to support the family. 

wages in Mexico
These are the rates for minimum wage in Mexico for 2021.

Where do these wages go?

Where do these wages go? Well this is where you can see that what most people make, most people spend every month. Most people live month to month off money earned. This is the reason why people line up on the 1st and 15th of the month at bank machines to withdraw their money. Almost everyone in Mexico is paid twice a month on the 1st. and 15th.

Some resorts offer housing and some meals to staff. This can be great for young people just starting out and for people moving from other parts of Mexico to work in the Riviera Maya. Many however prefer to live in Playa Del Carmen where they can easily access the gym, grocery store, laundry and hang out with friends. This means renting in Playa Del Carmen.

Living expenses and how far to stretch a wage in Mexico

Many people can only afford a room to rent in Playa Del Carmen (called cuartos). These rooms are just a room with a bathroom and maybe a mini stove top and mini fridge, these rooms are not in houses, just a building with small hotel like rooms. Rooms can start around 1000 pesos a month but most near the center of Playa Del Carmen are 3000 pesos to 4500 pesos.  The average for a two bedroom apartment is about 5000-7000 in areas when most workers would look.

Basic apartment in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
This and the photo below are what many people can afford to rent. These rooms come with a bathroom and very basic cooking spaces. The rent ranges from 1000-3500 pesos a month, about $60-200 USD.

Sharing a living space is on the best ways to save money in Mexico and is why most do it even if you are in your 20’s and 30’s. This means that most people spend 30%-45% of their wages on rent. Usually the rest of pay is divided between cell phone, transportation, and food. This does not leave much room for extra spending and is why going to the beach or the movies is a popular activity.

Working Conditions in Mexico

The good news is that in Mexico there are some basic rights of working which include severance pay, standard hours, good working conditions and health care. The bad news is that many businesses find a way to reduce benefits that workers should be getting.

You are hired, but not by us

One way businesses get around workers rights is not to hire anyone. How is this possible? Well, they go to  a separate company that hires the people and then supplies the worker to them. This way companies are dissolved of issues with employees and any issues have to be dealt with a separate company. You may say you work for a big fancy company, but in fact you really work for an obscure company that is a small office somewhere.

Short term contracts

Another way businesses get rid of responsibility is by not having long contracts. It can be difficult to fire people in Mexico. The longer you work for a company the more rights you have to severance pay and vacation time. Some company only have contracts for a few month and then you have a mandatory couple of days off and then magically you are hired again for another contract. This does not exactly instill confidence in job security and this practice is used often.

How much vacation time do Mexican get?

Most people will be surprised that vacation time for Mexican workers is only about a 7 -12 days. Even after working for many years with a company it is hard to accumulate vacation days.

Prejudice in Mexico and Job discrimination

There is prejudice in Mexico and that means a type of job ceiling for some people. People do not like to talk about it but there are basically three levels of society in Mexico. There are the more indigenous looking people, mixed people or “Mexican looking” people and then there are the more Spanish looking people. If you notice on TV there are lots of more white looking people and usually at front desk of hotels there are not more indigenous people. This just highlights a kind of cast system that workers face in Mexico. These are long running tendencies of Mexico and sad to say that many have a hard time trying to change the system but at the same time don’t really try to change it.

You will see many  job descriptions looking for “female age 22-26” or “male 20-30” actually in the description. Many personnel department are looking to fill a job that needs a nice young female or what they feel is appropriate person for the job. It can be very hard for older people to get a job. Something as simple as a cashier in a convenience store will have age restrictions.

The hard working Mexican

The preconceived idea that Mexican workers are lazy and unproductive really is not the case.  It is true at times you may get bad service but mostly this is due to bad on the job training and some cultural differences. Many people from the United States, where there are many Mexican workers, may think that the same generalization of Mexican workers is true on both sides of the border. This really is not true. Many workers in the Riviera Maya are well educated and speak two or more languages. Given the same skills, many workers here could do very well in other countries and  be eligible for a good job with a much better wage. However the fact remains that while people are very skilled here, wages are low and opportunities are not that frequent to advance.

Sometimes you might think that that service is not good at a place because it is slow. Think can be a reflection on management because they protect profit rather then hiring more people. Because of this, people work harder to compensate and often are busy for long periods of the day. You might ask then, “Why don’t they just get a different job?” Well the fact is there often is limited job options and if you live in a small area there are only so many jobs within a commutable distance. Also other jobs have the same situation and it is pointless to change jobs.

wages in Mexico

What workers do on their time off

With most people working 5 1/2 -6 days a week there is just one day to relax and start all over. This means it is time to relax and do nothing and the only time people have to shop and get things done like laundry.

A majority of workers in the Rivera Maya work in tourism and this means many work at large hotels. Resort have policies that workers cannot use the property on their time off.  This mean going somewhere else even if your apartment is connected to the resort. Visiting cenotes or the beach with friends is popular. With wages in Mexico so low and the devaluation of the value of the peso, it does not leave many options.

With many people working in the sun during the week, the number one thing to do on their day off is relax and watch movies indoors or at the theater. This is why you will find the theaters in Centro Maya or Plaza Las Americas so full on Sunday, the main day people have off.

What you can do to make working in Mexico better

You may think that there is not much you can do or the only solution is to tip generously so people have more money, but that is not really the answer. Here are some things you can do that benefit the situations of workers here.

  • Yes tipping is nice, but there not over tipping.

    Here is why. Tips add to the percentage of take home pay for many workers. While some workers like waiters get more tips than pay, most people receive about 30% or their wages through tips. Even if you are staying at an all inclusive where everything is paid for, tips are appreciated especialy for great service.

    Over tipping however can skew the system and people become overly reliant on tips or employers lower wages because people receive bigger tips or service can be focused on giving “better” service to foreigners or to certain nationalities that tip more. This can lead to some people being slightly more prejudice against. For example you take a taxi, you give a nice tip. Tipping is not normally done in taxis except for rounding off 5 pesos if you like. If everyone that is a tourist starts tipping and over tipping, taxi drivers will rather pick up tourist and pass locals standing waiting for taxi. Pretty soon preferential treatment is given to certain people. The best way to tip is follow the normal tipping rules in Mexico.

  • Tip on tipping: Normally we recommend using pesos here for everything but it is acceptable to tip in USD.

    The reason for this is because it is easy to employees to use USD at grocery stores and a few other places at a good exchange rate. If it was a location where employees needed to go to the bank and exchange them and loose a portion, we would recommend tipping in pesos only, but this is not the case.

  • Besides tipping, a gift might be well appreciated or an invitation to go with you to enjoy a meal.

    If you are at a large resort, workers usually cannot join you for a meal at the hotel but if you go off the property why not treat someone to a meal. Not only is it a great cultural exchange it is a great way to say thank you on a personal level.

  • One way to really personally thank someone in Mexico is to stay in touch.

    Many all inclusive resort guest come back to the same hotel year after year and can actually see the same people working there. Receiving a card or a special note when a guest leaves is a nice way of saying thank you. We know many people here that save the cards and hold them dear. Often making friends around the world and connecting on Facebook. This makes people feel more like friends and less like a person just serving other people.

  • Make guest comments to the hotel or other place of business.

    If you had exceptional service, mention in a comment or email to the business. Often employees will be rewarded because of guest comments. It is a nice way of saying “Good job” to someone and “job well done”. These bonuses can pad some of the low wages in Mexico. 

  • Say hello and greet people.

    Mexico is a very welcoming country to outsiders. It is easy to see the faces of the front desk or your waiter at a restaurant but behind them there are many people making things happen for you. Even a simple “hola” to a gardener or “gracias” in the window of the kitchen to the chef is greatly appreciated. All of this makes people feel appreciated for their hard work. You also will be rewarded because of you go back you will get an even bigger smile and perhaps even better service just because you are nice.

  • Support local businesses when possible.

    Most large resort have a bottom line and cutting cost often starts with workers pay. Your cheap holiday is built on the inexpensive labor workers provide. Staying at a small hotel might be the same situation, but in general small businesses are often family run. Patronizing them will support the people directly rather then a large corporation first.


People work very hard in Mexico and long hours. Wages in Mexico are low and spending power is being cut. It may not be that workers can be “on” everyday. You might not have the best service but just remember that workers have more things here to deal with than what you might imagine. In many cases if people had the same conditions and hours in your home county, you can bet people would be complaining about it a lot. Here though, for the most part people are happily going about their business and working hard.

A little appreciation goes a long way, so next time you think of it, thank everyone that helps you. People work here and even if life’s opportunities for different conditions are not available, your kindness and appreciation should be.

Do you have a story about wages in Mexico? or a comment about your interaction with people while on vacation in Mexico? We would love to hear from you in the comment below.

If you liked reading about what it is like to work in Mexico you might also like our interview with a hotel worker here in Playa Del Carmen. She talks about what her dreams are and common misconceptions people have.

About The Author


  1. Thank you very much for all the information on here! This will be my first time out of country and first time in Mexico!
    I am not coming until May but doing some research early! I still believe i have much to learn for sure. I am an avid Birder (also known as: bird nerd, one who watches and looks for new birds to add to the list). There is one birding site on here i will have to check out!

    • We hope you have a great time here in May. Here are a few places you might want to check out if you have time. There is a bird aviary in Xcaret that is set up really well. A tour to Rio Lagartos is another great natural place to see birds especially flamingos. The three points tour in Holbox is great too because you go to bird island where you can see many different birds. In Playacar there is an aviary as well but it is small and the 300 pesos entrance is a little discouraging.

      • Hello,
        Thank you for all your information. My husband and I just returned from a luxury vacation in Riviera Maya. We stayed at a 5 star hotel right on the beach. My surprise for our 25th anniversary. A place like this is pretty much beyond us. We are simple people and very much middle class. I say this so I can express how much we were drawn to the Mexican people. I wanted so much to learn to speak better in Spanish. Everyone from our concierge to the ground workers were so friendly and kind. I made sure I said hello, how are you to them all. They all smiled and said hello back. I loved how they were so willing to help me learn Spanish. I wanted to get to know them all! So my vacation at this grand hotel was all about the Mexican people. I hope maybe I made a difference in their days in some way. Love these people, it was very obvious what hard workers they are….and with a smile. Special, very special.

        • Patricia
          We are so glad to hear you had a good experience. We know that if you come back again and even get out of the tourist areas you just might be even more impressed with how friendly people are. Mexico is full of surprises and glad you had an opportunity to enjoy it.

    • Thank you very much! We love traveling to Mexico and often wonder what the workers that make our trip so wonderful are earning. We always knew it was low. Thank you also for all of the tips.. we always try to tip very well but looks now like that’s not the best idea. We always try to treat everyone with kindness and we have always been treated very well in Mexico and that’s why we continue to go back.

    • Sitting at breakfast at a Vidanta resort in Cancun. Very timely information. We were just discussing this topic. Staff here is superb. Everyone is professional and friendly. Our theory was these are good jobs for the employees.

  2. Hola,

    I am very pleased having took time to read “The Secret Life of the Mexican Worker” and well other many parts of Everything Playa Del Carmen info. This offer me to get prepared for my 19-26 Feb, 2016 trip to La Vidanta resort.

    My resort is not full included and surely your website has given me lots of info what to do on my week of vacation at Riviera Maya, Mexico. I do hope my wife will fellow me on my adventure to Playa Del Carmen, Tulum ruin and Cozumel Island and all that trying to do it by Colectivos and ADO transportation.

    Gracia, Thank you, Merci
    NB, Canada

    • Thank you for sending us a nice message. We hope you have a great trip down and get to find some of the great local restaurants and nice spots to check out.

    • Hi all
      Thank you for this brilliant read up. I am from England and fly to cancun in september 2018. For 2 weeks
      The Mexicans sound like a great bunch of people.
      I will be saying hello’s and thankyou’s more often than not.
      My and my husband’s first time to mexico so thoroughly going to enjoy it.
      I will treat the staff how they would be expected to be treated. With gratutude and consideration.
      And plenty of tipping.
      Thanks again for the write up.

      • I did indeed stay in touch with my intelligent, bilingual and kind private cab driver we use exclusively for transportation, no matter where.
        Really, the difference in our economies have made it possible to help him move to a better private room in a better location, and to pay for a necessary operation. We have kept in daily contact for quite some time now.
        Life can certainly be difficult at times, but this is what friends are for.

  3. What a great article about workers in the Playa Del Carmen area.
    We love visiting this part of Mexico because of the people. Everyone is so nice and willing to let us practice our Spanish with them. Most of the employees at the resorts really like it when you take the time to talk with them and let them know that you appreciate their hard work.
    Some resorts are noticeably better than others and treat their employees well. We have returned to our “family” of resort properties over the last few years and always go home with new friends that work at each resort.
    The general Cancun area is much different than the west coast of Mexico. The Cancun and Playa area is a place we always miss when we leave.
    As for tipping at our resort, tipping is really appreciated by the staff but is never expected.

    • That is great to hear that you find people very friendly and welcoming in the Riviera Maya. We talk to many people that work here and it is always nice when people are thankful for all they do.

  4. I just returned from the Riviera Maya for my first time. I have a COMPLETELY different opinion of the Mexican people. They are the friendliest hardest workers I have ever been around. I felt completely safe on my vacation and will return to vacation in Mexico. Thank you for a great vacation!

    • We are so happy you had a great vacation and had a good impression of the people that live here. It is surprising the image that Mexican have in different counties in the world, in particular the United States. We wrote this article to tell more the story of people here and often how hard they work. Many find it a surprise that people work six days a week and yet at many resorts they are always pleasant and welcoming. We like to highlight the hard working people here and how the maid or other person you cross paths with, has a back story. We will continue to bring you more insider article on life here. Sometimes we feel like National Geographic and have to think how fortunate we are to be close to so many people here and know the inside story. We feel a responsibility to tell other people about it. Thank you for reading and commenting on this article. We hope you come back soon and get to explore more! Even the small communities in the interior of the Yucatan can be amazing and the people so welcoming.

  5. I really liked your reporting on things behind the scenes. We have kept in touch with our favorite staff at Sirenes Resort. They are like family when we come back each year. I know how hard they work and are always pleasant. Your comments and insight are good and hope it helps people.

  6. Your website certainly opened my eyes to the fact that so many people work hard to provide services for tourist. I make sure to treat them well and become their friends. I hope resorts take note and pay wages that are good.

  7. I like how you go behind the scene to write about how things are there. I appreciate tell me how workers are treated and know what the wages are like in Mexico. I will be sure to think about that next time I am on vacation in Mexico.

  8. Just back form Riviera Maya, this is my four times to Cancun and Riviera Maya. My family love our stay in Cancun and Riviera Maya,people are friendly and work hard. I always think that Mexico should be a even greater country, because Mexican people not only work hard but also very smart. maybe those huge mega resorts are designed by European, but they need smart and work hard workers to build them.
    I will continue go back the Mexico to learn the culture and experience the beauty of this country.

    • Hello Kevin
      We are so glad you had a good time in Mexico and appreciate the hard working people that are working behind the scenes and in front of the scenes to make Mexico a welcoming place. Some of our staff was just in another country and had interactions with hotel staff, waiters etc, and really reflected back to Mexico and how hard working and friendly the people are in Mexico. We do really like living an working here in Mexico. laces can be beautiful but are made even better by the people.

  9. Very informative. I just came back from Cancun. I thought about the same thing the article addressed. My sisters and I made sure we tipped generously morning,noon and evening. We also made sure anyone who served us was tipped.

  10. We are in Mexico right now staying at the Valentin. This article is eye opening. I am amazed how hard working and pleasant the entire staff has been during our stay. Everyone greets you with a pleasant smile and is always willing to help. I have a lot of respect and admiration for everyone here.

    • We are happy to hear you notice how hard everyone is working there. We just got back from Europe and some of the places that deal with tourist has horrible attitudes and customer service. We were even more appreciative of the quality of the people here in Mexico. We hope the rest of your stay goes well and thank you for taking the time to make a comment.

  11. We just stayed at the Royal Hotel in Playa del Carmen. The staff there are so nice. Each year we see many of the same people and they are like family. The people in Mexico are so warm and the stupid people that worry about the boarder don’t know the real Mexico. Keep up the pleasant

  12. I just came back from a trip from MEXICO CITY, the people were super nice, was my first time there. I truly could not believe how nice everyone I came in contact was. Everything I heard in the media prior to going had me a little nervous, the media has it wrong!!! MEXICO CITY was and is amazing and so are the people. Upone leaving I found out that the minimum wage was 70 pecos a day, which I found truly shocking and sad!!! Everyone I came in contact with was so hardworking and nice, it truly broke my heart!! I find it very hard to see how they can make ends meet on that wage amount.

    • The first time I went to Mexico City I had all the thoughts of what was in the media as well. As soon as the plan was landing, I saw the green parks and rooftop pools. I was surprised already before hitting the ground. it is nice to hear you had a good time and met great people. It is amazing how hard most people work in Mexico and for the low wages. Most people also don’t realize that many people in Mexico work 5 1/2 or 6 days a week.

  13. We are leaving today from the Catalonia Riviera Maya hotel, it has been the most amazing 2 weeks, and we really want to come back soon.

    The staff are amazing, so friendly, helpful, and always a huge smile.

    In the UK we don’t really tip that much, but over here we’ve done it regularly, because we understand the wage situation, and we really appreciate the service that we’ve received.

    It’s an amazing area, so much culture on the doorstep, and we still have so much that we want to see, but we climbed the pyramid at Coba (if you’re thinking of doing it, get it done, you won’t be able to do it next year apparently), had a tour around Chichen Itza & Tulum. Still can’t quite get my head around what we were shown at Chichen Itza, mind blowing!

    Of course we also had to do the obligatory trip to Coco Bongo – great night!

    Genuinely can’t wait to come back, haven’t left yet, and missing it already!

    • Thank you so much Barrie for your trip report. It is nice to hear how people’s trips went and what they did. We are so pleased that not only did you meet nice staff along the at but also got out to explore. We hope you come back soon and get to explore more. We will be here writing and discovering more places for you.

  14. My family and I are here right now enjoying the well deserved vacation and we see first hand how the people work hard here in riu tequila , all the people who work here are very nice , we learned now and appreciate more our life back in Canada ,we see the worker here and how much they only earned . And they manage to smile . We will come back for sure .

    • Hello Veronica

      We are glad you selected this are to come on vacation. We also thank you or taking the time to mention the workers at your hotel. We personally know some people that work at the Rio Tequila. They are very dedicated and treat it like their profession. We are constantly impressed with the people of Mexico and we love sharing their stories, not just in articles like this but telling the stories of great couples that run restaurants or people doing good things for their communities. We hope the rest of our vacation is great and you come back to explore more soon.

  15. We stayed at RIU Tequila in Playa del Carmen and tipped 20 pesos for food and also for room service a day, after a few days we noticed some difference in the employees and tipped the best worker 200 pesos, he almost started crying.

  16. This is accurate and earnest. It is important that anywhere life takes us, we owe it to ourselves and to the people who serve us (those silent unsung warriors), to understand just a little. My experiences in many trips to Mexico has been quite positive. The average Mexican person is quite hard working, curious, and open. Of course we will come across a person or two looking to hustle a tourist (this is true around the world). Thank you for this.

  17. Muchas gracias for this information. I am moving to Playa del Carmen from Hawaii TOMORROW! I have learned a lot from your site already, and this article is also very enlightening. Your articles will help us acclimate to the people and the culture.

    • Hello Stone and welcome to Playa Del Carmen! We hope to do more inside stories like this. Most people do not get to go behind the scenes and see what life is like beyond the resorts or even their neighborhoods. Thanks for reading and following along. We have Instagram, Facebook and the website and post lots of things. Some may be of interest and others might not be what you need. We just try to put out as much helpful things for both residents and tourist. Welcome!

  18. Just returned from the Barceló Maya Palace yesterday! I was ready to go back by the time we got on our plane to come home! We were there for seven nights. We LOVED it! We were looking up dates and places for our next visit to Mexico as soon as we got home. My husband manages a five-star RV resort in Florida so we appreciated the great service and friendliness as soon as we arrived. From the driver at the airport to the end of our stay, we were amazed at the entire staff! As beautiful and maintained as the Barceló resorts were, we were more impressed with the people who worked there! I made a point to say “hola” to every worker I passed because they are always smiling and friendly. It doesn’t seem fake or forced either! We tipped everyone! I am positive that we would not be so inclined to return if it wasn’t for the workers there! From Carlos the waiter to Ulyses the bartender, we remain in awe! I am beginning to understand why Mexicans want to come to the U.S. to work, but then want to return home to their family and friends. They understand that having a happy life means putting OTHERS first, regardless of their own circumstances. Americans are taught nowadays that their OWN selves are of the highest priority. Maybe that’s why many seem so miserable, even when their circumstances are greater than most. Don’t get me wrong, America has it’s great qualities, but I think we are lacking in our relationships to others, whether family, friends, co-workers, and everyday acquaintances. The drivers on the road there were a little scary though! LOL!

    • Thank you Jen for your comments here. It is really nice to hear. We hope you and your family get to come back soon.

  19. What a great article, every tourist should read it before planning a trip to Mexico. We will be going to Riviera Maya next week and would like to know, besides tips, is there any small gifts we could bring as we normally do when visiting Cuba?

    • Hello Ava

      You must be thinking on the same lines as another reader because someone else just asked us about gift ideas. The personal thought really goes a long way and we know many people have collections of cards letters and items that people gave to them over the years. We mentioned to the other person that baking cookies is a nice touch especially since Mexican bakeries make very similar things. If where you live there is a tourism shop you might stop there and get some souvenirs to share. It is so very nice that you are thinking about others on your vacation. You are sure to make an impact on people live and bring smiles.

  20. This will be our second trip. Last year being the first. My husband and I believe in tipping well. But i would like to know if there are “little gifts from the US we can also bring for all the lovely people who make our stay so wonderful. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thank you.

    • Hello Ellen

      Some possible gifts are something small that is from your area. Even making cookies would be appreciated because Mexican bakeries produce the same things and American or Canadian style cookies and baked goods are different. This also would add a personal touch. If there is a tourist shop in your town you might go there and get some items. For example if you are from Philadelphia you could get mini Liberty Bells, or from Houston, a magnet with an image of the area. Anything is appreciated and it is so nice you are thinking of others while on vacation.

  21. Should be read by all visitors. I love the people here.They really touch my heart. Tipping is the only practical way to show your love and gratitude.All blessings to you for this excellent article.

  22. I am Mexican. I liked your article and I agree but working in other cities, not in the riviera maya and not in a touristic places, the work is worse. Just imagine what you said but no tips and not living in a paradise.
    I worked for years in a government office and we didn’t have the mandatory benefits for other workers.
    Is a shame but it is what it is.

  23. Tipping a couple dollars goes a long way in Cancun. I tip all the time for my appreciation. Everyone in Cancun works hard and are very friendly and respectful. In the US, tips are already included even when the service sucks.

    • Mexico is my favorite place in the world. It is so beautiful, and the people I have met there are so genuine and kind.

      I hope one day to retire to Mexico, to some lovely little town where I can spend time among real Mexicans and contribute to their economy.

  24. my name is Nwodom David from Nigeria, my question is that How can someone which can not speak Spanish work in Mexico?

    • Hello Nwodom David

      You need to have a company hire you and send you a letter. Then you apply outside of Mexico and then enter with a visa. Then you finish getting your working visa when you arrive in Mexico. Most companies do not like to do this since it is a lengthy process, costly, and there are many nationals that can work in jobs. We will say this is not an easy process many people find it difficult. If you do want to proceed with the plan, it usually means visiting and going to companies to talk to them about work. Then leaving and going through the visa application process.

  25. My wife and I just spent a week at the Grand Luxx in the Grand Mayan Riviera. Our stay was outstanding, the staff was unbelievably kind ,courteous, and competent. I wish We Americans could copy the impeccable service and humble attitude of the Mexican people.

  26. We have been to the Rivera Maya area 10 times and to Akumal Bay Beach Wellness Resort 8 times. It is because of the people who work there who are kind and friendly that we always return yearly. We love to use the Collectivo to go to PDC. I always tell my friends how lovely the Mexican people are. We also always tip these hard working people. Thank you for the article. We will be there again in December.

  27. We’ve been going to the same resort (Mayan Palace) every year since 2011…sometimes twice a year. We’ve become friends with some of the workers and communicate through Facebook and now WhatsApp. Whenever we go we try to request some of our favorite people to work in the pool areas that we like. Most of the time our requests are granted and we’re very thankful for how accommodating management is with moving people around for us. I’m going to name our friends and where they work so if anyone reading goes there they can also experience the great service from our friends.
    Mayra-poolside server
    Angel-Gong and Azur waiter
    Last year in September we had the best experience we ever could’ve imagined. Mayra invited our family to have dinner with her family at their home. They were all so gracious and hospitable towards us that we didn’t want to leave. We got to see that even though they didn’t have a lot, they were willing to share what they did have…a loving family with good hearts. That is by far the best day I’ve ever had on any vacation in my life and I’ll treasure it dearly.

    I’m so thankful that I got to see how different everyday life is for the residents and yet it didn’t break their spirit.

    Absolutely amazing.

  28. My family and I are at Azul 5’s in Playa del Carmen. Having a wonderful time. The staff is great, friendly and helpful. My daughter and son-in-law and I got into an argument about tipping our 1st day here. They thought we shouldn’t because it’s all inclusive, I knew we should,as a server myself, I know these people don’t make a living wage. Plus, T.I.P.Saturday means to insure proper service. We see the same staff everywhere, yes, I believe because I tip, I get a little quicker service than the person who does not. You get what you pay for.

  29. We are currently in Playa Del Carmen for our wedding. This is our first time out of the US and it’s going to be hard to go back. I’ve never met so many good hard working people in my life. It actually puts the US to shame. I have yet to see one person without a smile at our resort it’s crazy and so appreciated! They say tip for great service, let’s just say I’ve been tipping the entire trip!! Can’t wait to visit again and do more off resort.

    • That is great to hear Matt. We hope you have a great rest of your time and come back to explore more soon. We try to make out guides easy for first time visitors so you get to explore some of the amazing places here.

  30. My wife and I have just returned from 8 glorious days at the Excellente Riviera Resort. We have never been so impressed as we were there, and especially by the staff.
    Your article is so right on, the Mexican people are such hard workers, day in and day out, they were so friendly, kind, and genuinely
    committed to our having a great time. We still have not found the words to adequately decribe our visit.
    Yes we tipped even though we not required, we just could not let there most excellent service go unrewarded, it was extraordinary!

    Thank you for the very informative article, I wish we had read it before we went to Mexico. We are already planning a return trip and will take your good advice concerning gifts and shared meals, a wonderful blessing for sure!

    • We are so happy you had a good time here! If you get an opportunity to explore more deeply into the Yucatan you will find even more hospitality and genuine smiles. We are so happy to explore the area because so many people are wonderful here and they really make the place special.

  31. I have been coming to Mexico for 30 years, and have always had a wonderful time. I have never had a major problem.
    I have met hundreds and hundreds of the friendliest, kindest, and welcoming persons.
    The Yucutan has been extremely enjoyable. Playa del Carmen has been a home away from home here, but we have rented cars and driven all over the Yucutan and visited cities, towns, large ruins and many of the smaller ones where we 2 or 3 were the only ones there. Every day has felt like a gift from a a country and people that is warm, exciting and very special.
    If you visit here, come with open eyes, ears, and heart.
    You will leave a fuller and enriched person, eager to feel Mexico again.
    el Amor siempre Mexico

  32. We stayed at the blue bay resort for my daughters wedding, the staff there in the restaurants are so polite, the will always be looking to see if you need anything. The place needs some work, but nice place to stay. The events we wanted to do were unorganized and they were very rude workers to us. But I have to say I loved every restaurant we ate at, my thanks to the hard working servers , we couldn’t have enjoyed it without you…….thank-you

  33. This will be our 2nd visit in sept this year we tioed every time for drinks food as the wages are so little we are taking shortbread and a couple of other thing from scotland, thay are so nice and hard working.

    • That is so nice of you! Shortbread is not at all found here, so it is always a nice treat.

  34. Terrific article.

    My wife and I have been staying in Playa all of February for about 6 years now. Just love it. Many other friends that have never been ask if we really feel safe down there, and about the crime rate. I always tell them to compare the shooting/knifing stats of Playa to Toronto, Canada, where we live.
    That usually opens their eyes & they shut up. However if not, I tell this story which is entirely true.
    One year I was seconded by our group to get the best price on Xplor tickets. An expat said go to the travel booths just past the check-outs at Walmart. His view was that if people in those rented booths were making people unhappy then Walmart would toss them out the door. Make sense to me.
    I pay cash for everything in Playa, but keep a couple of emergency credit cards in my wallet. I got prices from the private booth at Walmart & then confirmed it was a good deal. Then I collected the cash from everyone & went to get the tickets.
    Had a great time. (went again the next year too). Pickup, etc. was exactly as described.
    About 10 days later I went through the check-out at Walmart & thought I would pay some positive feedback. It is something I often think to do since it never seems to happen much. I went back to the same Clerk that sold me the tickets and let her know that all went really well and thank you. She said, “Steve” ? I said yes. She went to a filing cabinet and into a folder and came back with my main credit card that I didn’t even know was missing from my wallet. I had dropped it on the floor 10 days ago.
    It says a lot for the crime rate in Playa.

  35. Thank you for the helpful article and information. One small thing though…

    I’m uncertain where you got the idea that people view Mexicans as lazy and lacking motivation. I live in the US and everyone I know views the Mexican worker as industrious, hard working and polite. My husband is in construction and everyone on the job sites say that the Mexican crews work them under the table..meaning that they put forth more effort than others.

    It is for these reasons among others that we have chosen the PDC area for our 1st vacation since our honeymoon 24 years ago. We have been putting cash aside for tips for the past few months so we can reward the hard workers we are sure to encounter.

    • Hello Jean

      It is not our view that Mexicans are lazy, we are just implying that some in other countries have this view. Of course as you can see in our article we are talking about how hard working people are here serving the tourist market and more.

  36. Hi my husband and I have travelled to Mexico for the last 8 years we have stayed in the Rui palace las Americas we have never met such a lovely bunch of people their service their attitude and their hospitality is totally overwhelming we love Mexico and we love the people can’t wait to come back and see all the friends we have made.

  37. I have been lucky enough to travel to Mexico several times in the last 15 years. I keep going back because of the the beauty….of the people, the country and the hearts. It feels like home and where I should be. I have brought family and friends to experience the culture and the genuine attitude of the people. Along with tips, I always express my Thanks to all, as well as purposely bring daily gift bags for our hotel workers…always with a note of thanks. I was wondering what I can bring that is difficult for workers to get on a daily basis? I also like to bring gift bags for their children..coloring books, crayons, small toys and always a sweet. What would they enjoy?

    • That is a very nice thought Jacquie. Most things can be found in the Riviera Maya but a touch of where you are from is nice. For example if you are from London, a small replica of Big Ben, some shortbread cookies and a jam. Little touches of where you are from are a great way to share culture and spread the love. We hope you have a good next trip here.

  38. I was born in el salvador, i live in mexico for 13 months and now i have been living in edmonton ab canada every country that i have mentioned i have seen lost of poverty even in canada minimum wage is not easy to live with mexico is one the worst places that i have live because so much corruption my prays go to those poor people living in there

  39. I’m at a resort near Playa and, as you touched on it, I notice most of the people here are younger. In the restaurant I rarely see anyone over 30. I don’t know if it’s just older people don’t want these jobs or, like in the United States there is a lot of age discrimination. In the U.S. it’s discrete due to the law but from your article it sounds more blatant. Sucks.

    As for the peoole, they are so nice. Yes it is more idingenous and your article makes me sad about the discrimination they face. The ones here are so nice compared to hotels I’ve stayed at in the U.S. and other countries.

    As for hard workers, some people might have that impression but where I’m from (Chicago) it’s the opposite. They are known to be the hardest workers and take jobs a lot of Americans won’t take. Sad that naive uneducated people want to keep them out because ” they take American jobs.”. What American wants to work at a slaughter house or picking fruit in hot weather.

    • Hello Bryan

      Thanks for taking time to comment on our article. Resorts do have a lot of young people working there. There are a lot of resorts that require a lot of physical activities. Most that are good at their jobs do move up and tend to get jobs that pay better. It may mean working at a small restaurant as a waiter in a town or working behind the scenes at a resort. There are more people in the workforce now and not a lot of jobs for people when they get older, so it will be a difficult transition in the next decade. More professional careers will have to be developed in the area and not just jobs in tourism that require a lot of energy.

  40. We are Irish, living in London, and have been spending January and February in downtown Cancun for 4 years. We really like Mexicans, and they have not lost the natural friendliness that is missing in European holiday resorts. I over tip at the end. Kitchen staff, maintenance workers, pool area staff as well as the usual people who get tips. This is a wonderful place and people should not be put off by any reports concerning safety. London feels 10 times less safe. People on the street actually smile at you and say hello. As you can tell, I really like this place.

  41. We just got back from a week vacation at the Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa. It was absolutely wonderful and worth every penny spent. I only wish I had known some basic Spanish so I could have visited more with the staff that worked there. We had two specific wonderful servers in the Colonial main lobby who were so nice and attentive to us that I wanted to give them an ‘extra’ tip. So, I tried (wishing I knew more Spanish) asking them if they get to keep their tips or share. It seems (not sure) that they must share tips with bartenders etc. which I understand .. but still am curious how to give individuals an extra tip that they can actually keep. Any insight or more info on this would be very helpful.

    • It is different at each hotel. Generally the waiter gets the tip. It is always up to them to pool it or pool all they get if it is pooled. If you give your waiter or person an envelope with a tip and thank you note, it should go to them.

  42. Thank you, Great info, enjoyed reading it. On the subject of tipping, not wanting to under tip and be seen as cheap or on the other hand over tip, how much would be considered as a good tip? Here in the UK a service charge of 12% is added to your bill, if the service has been good I give an additional 10-15% of the total bill. This is seen as generous. However our trip is all inclusive so I don’t have a price to gauge total bill amount.

  43. Having literally just returned from our first visit to Mexico..(Grand Bahia Principe resort) I can confirm
    the staff are absolutely wonderful!
    I did tip but not overly high amounts because I wanted to try tip as many as possible during my stay.
    They are exceptionally good at their job and usually it was 1/2 USD if I was with my wife it would be 2 if I was alone 1 and every other day I would give the maid 3USD as she was so efficient and ever so welcoming and friendly..after reading the reviews here I am glad that I wrote a google translation note thanking her for her efforts and she seemed genuinely touched in that she gave me a great big smile and a hug!
    The resorts are great but the staff are greater!

    • Thank you Martin for sharing your story. Often the staff are behind the scene working hard to keep everything running efficiently. We are sure the staff really enjoyed your kindness.

  44. Hi, thank you for the information. We are currently staying in a lovely hotel and can honestly say that all the staff are the most polite I’ve come across and we have travelled a lot. My husband had an accident and he ended up in hospital. The staff in the hotel where very accommodating and couldn’t do enough to help, even to the point of a member coming with me to make sure we where ok. I appreciate that staff work long hours and we have been tipping, making a special effort to make sure they no we are appreciative of their service and what a difference it makes to our holiday. A thank you goes a long way.

    • Thank you Julie for your nice comments. We hope your husband is doing better and the rest of your holiday goes well.

  45. I am moving to Yucatan in January. A ranch in between Merida and Cancun. Your article is now over 3 years old. Are the wage guides still close to the same?

    • Hello Curtis

      We will take a look at this article again but in general the rates are about the same. Things change slowly in Mexico and this include wages and prices. Some things have gone up because of the exchange rate but this does not effect some of the lower wage earners because they don’t buy much imported things.

  46. “Besides tipping, a gift might be well appreciated”
    What types of gifts would you suggest for people in Mexico from Canada?

    • Here are some ideas. Maple candies, little bottles of maple syrup, local made candies, a hand written note in a post card. Of course all of these can be added to a top for services. The personal touch will be mi u appreciated.

  47. I feel so sad for the people of Mexico right now. So many rely on tourism and, as you say, live month to month. What will they do? How will they eat?

    • Yes, this is a hard time. There are about 57,000-65,000 people out of work now. Many started doing charity work to help out right away because they knew there would be a need. There has been some help from the government but no big payments for people to replace their wages. The good thing is, there has been times similar in the past and people know a little about hardship and how to rely on friends and family. Others have gone back to their towns around Mexico where they are with their families. It is a little easier there for some. IT is a hard time and we only hope this time passes as soon as safely possible.

  48. Don’t have time to comment much, just a HUGE THANK YOU! For you well written article and for portraying the truth about my wonderful Mexican people,,! ?

  49. Thanks Great article As far as tipping I asked gringos how I should tip. Much more often than not gringos tell me to tip 10 % I prefer to tip the same percentage I tip in USA 20 percent or more if I so choose It helps any waiter Also cost of living is high for Mexicans and they’re not going home to fancy apartments barely afford their rent Many don’t even have cars I also tip the grocery baggers 10 pesos And when my bus fare is 7 pesos I give the driver 10 I’ve seen some gringos who can afford to tip not even tip grocery baggers at Walmarts for a whole cart of groceries They need the money and I don’t need to be cheap I mean for Heaven’s sake we get good meals and other things for half the price why not tip all I service people ? I think some people are looking for loopholes to be cheap so they can have a few extra pesos for an extra glass of wine

  50. Thank you for that great article. We are going to the playa area in January, tipping is a thing with me. I usually bring Tips for wait staff, beach staff, chamber people, bartenders and even sometimes when I remember the staff that cleans the gardens and pools. We are going for 18 days, so was wondering $50 pesos is good for chamber person? We also bring necklaces or earrings and chocolate bars only available in Canada, for them also. My son in law said we tip to much. We change everything into pesos so it’s easier for locals. I like to tip about $5000. Per stay.

  51. I’ve been going to Mexico for 75 years. From Tijuana, Puerto Vallarta Cabo San Lucas Cancun Merida Chetamal and many more. Now my plans is to move to Mexico early next year. Love the people.

  52. Thanks for this article. I have visited Mexico many times on many different budgets. This time I visited Playa with my friends from other parts of Mexico. They were shocked at how demanding the restaurants on 5th were for tips. They explained tipping a few pesos is normal but the 15% added to the bill is not acceptable. When the tip was less than this, the waiters very rudely demanded that the tip was bigger. I think that the American tipping culture has really affected the center of Playa in a negative way. Especially for those Mexicans saving up for a holiday on their own coast.

  53. Great info. We always make sure we talk with the staff and tip where appropriate. We know wagers are lower and people need to live off a living wage.

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