What is it Really like to live in Tulum?

Living in Tulum

What Living in Tulum is really like!

If you have thought about moving to Tulum, you have no doubt wondered what living in Tulum is really like. Even if you plan on living part of the year in Tulum, you will still encounter the good the bad and the unexpected things in Tulum. We hope this honest look with our interview in the video helps tell you exactly what Tulum is really like to live in. 

Our video about what it is like to live in Tulum

We visited Tulum and sat down with a friend that lives there. From someone that just visited while traveling the world to someone who has built several projects in Tulum, she certainly has a lot of experience in Tulum. 


Getting ready to live in Tulum

Living in Tulum is more than just going to the beach and riding a bike or scooter around. There are practical things you need to do and one of the first things is getting set up for living in your home. This will include figuring out how to furnish your home and where to buy everything. Most everyone will tell you that out of the two options, sell everything and move to Tulum or move with everything, the first option is best. Many things that we have in homes further north, often do not do well in the climate of Tulum. 

Factors for choosing home furnishings 

People looking to furnish your places fall into two categories. The first is the person that will move to Tulum and live and the second is the person that might spend some time in Tulum but will rent out their unit when not around. Whichever category you fall in, we have some differing advice. 

In general, you do need to work with the climate and what is available no matter what position you are in. Tulum is hot and humid often and there are tropical pests like termites. 

furnishing your home
A furniture and design store in Tulum.

Having things made for your property

The idea of having custom made furniture for your place might seem like something luxurious and expensive. It is however not only affordable but a great way to support local carpentry workers. You can also get custom made pieces that make your home feel special. This also is a good way to make your rental property standout from the others. So how do you get custom made furniture? Well, the further you get out of Tulum, the cheaper it gets. You can find carpentry and furniture shops in Tulum and along the highway, but getting out of Tulum will put you more in touch with carpenters that offer good prices. 

The closest area is the Tulum to Coba road. You can find many artisanal shops and furniture makers along this road in the three towns it passes. We have an article about this place for buying things for your home plus pictures here. 

Be sure to check out our article about working with local carpenters and all things you need to think about. 

What do you do all day living in Tulum?

Those that live in Tulum fall into four categories. 

  1. Construction workers. These are mainly from other parts of Mexico. Life in Tulum is all about long days, slow weekend and saving money to send home. Some of these workers commute in the weekends to visit family in small towns across the peninsula. 
  2. Locals living in Tulum. This mostly includes families living in the downtown area. These are the people that work at stores, hotels, city offices, and firemen and police. 
  3. Foreigners that have moved to Tulum and live year-round. 
  4. Foreigners that live part of the year in Tulum and rent out units when not in Tulum. 

What to do in Tulum if it rains?

Tulum is still a small town and some of the things that are missing are things that you might do on a rainy day. Since so much of Tulum is about outdoor living and the beach, a rainy day can bring things to a pause. There are no indoor shopping malls, movie theaters, or real museums to visit. So, the main things to do, is work, go to the gym, or stay home and watch a movie. It is interesting that many Mexicans that live in the area, a rainy day is like a snow day. People like them because it breaks up the many sunny days that we get here in the Riviera Maya. 

What are some of the costs of living in Tulum?

Overall, the cost of living in Tulum is about 15-20% more than Playa Del Carmen. We mention Playa Del Carmen because it is a sister city in some ways and also in the Riviera Maya. Often people look at the two when thing=king about living in Riviera Maya. 

Cost of rent in Tulum

One of the largest expenses will be rent if you are going to be renting. Compared to other parts of Mexico, Tulum is very expensive, compared to other parts of the Riviera Maya, Tulum is more expensive. Here are some examples. 

The most basic rental you can get is in the downtown area, which is where many locals live. A room with a bathroom and maybe a hotplate for cooking is about 5000 pesos a month. These are mainly for locals that work at hotels and want to have their own place. See our article on “cuartos” because we go in further depth about these. 

In one of the better neighborhoods in Tulum (Aldea Zama) it can be hard to get a month-to-month rental because so many people want to rent only short term. A studio is around 20,000 pesos. A two-bedroom unit starts around 25,000 pesos to 50,000 depending on amenities and what floor. 

La Veleta is a neighborhood a little further south in Tulum. This area is a little more artsy and has more small independent restaurants and cafes. Rent here is cheaper. For example, a one-bedroom apartment here is about 15,000-17,000 pesos. 

Living in Tulum
You could end up living in a condo like this in Tulum. It is very Tulum style. 

Utility costs in Tulum

  • Internet and cable 800 pesos a month. 
  • Gas for cooking and hot water, this can cost anywhere between 1600 pesos to 4,000 pesos depending on how many people use the place and how much you cook. 
  • Water. Basic service is about 300 pesos a month but is also based on consumption. So, if you have a leak or use a lot of water you bill can jump to 2000 pesos or more a month. 
  • Electricity. Electricity in Mexico is provided by one company, CFE. This is a national company that provides affordable electric, but when you use more, the price goes up. Most of Tulum is built for air-conditioning and a lot of new appliances and TVs. Most places are not built with great energy efficiency, so electric can be one of the largest expenses. Monthly, depending on the size of your place, it can range from 2000-6000 pesos. 

What is the best and worst thing about living in Tulum?

No doubt knowing the extremes of what life is like in Tulum can prepare you for everything. Let’s start with the worst things about living in Tulum. 

Some of the drawbacks of living in Tulum

  • One of the top things that most residents of Tulum mention is one of the worst aspects of living in Tulum is the constant changes. Tulum is seemingly under construction everywhere. This means lots of construction workers, trucks and all the dust that comes with it. Some even comment on the high rate of flat tires since there is construction debris and nails that are on the streets. 
  • Higher costs of living.  The Riviera Maya is more expensive than most of Mexico and Tulum is another 20% more expensive than other parts of the Riviera Maya. Yes, Tulum is one of the most expensive places in Mexico, but also does offer a high standard of living and many options that other parts of Mexico do not offer. 
  • Hard water. This is not just in Tulum, but most of the Yucatan Peninsula has high content mineral water. Unless you install a whole house filter, you will have to deal with lime scale build up on all faucets and showers. In addition, the water is hard on your skin and hair. Many people notice their hair thinner after living in Tulum.
  • Tropical weather. This can be a blessing and a curse. Living in the tropics can mean hurricanes and other times of the year, hot and humid weather. This is something that not everyone can deal with. 
  • When it does rain, there is not much to do in Tulum. There are no indoor shopping malls, no theaters, and no real museums. 
  • Regular services can be spotty at times. This means the cell phone signal is down for a few hours or the internet goes out. Part is due to a growing network and construction and part due to bad installation. 
  • Service. This is not limited to Tulum, but in general many people comment about service in banks, offices, and for government offices. Be prepared to wait in line, have to visit multiple times or changing standards. 

What are some of the perks of living in Tulum?

  • Closeness to nature. Not only is a lot of Tulum wooded and has vegetation, but you are also close to nature reserves and many other areas with little development. 
  • Outdoor living. Besides being close to nature, the climate allows people to live part outdoors. This makes it nice for decks, pools, and rooftops to enjoy the weather. 
  • World class DJs and parties. Tulum is known for its beach clubs, music festivals and many DJs that visit Tulum and spin in local bars and beach clubs. 
  • There is a higher level of many restaurants and cafes in Tulum compared to most of Mexico. If you are living in Tulum, this might not be something you partake of everyday, but it can be nice to have it as an option or for when you have guests. 
  • Accessibility. Tulum has a new International Airport with more and more flights each month. There is the Tren Maya which is being built and will connect Tulum to Cancun Airport and south to Bacalar and many other places along this route. Tulum is also only an hour from Playa Del Carmen and one hour to Valladolid to name just a few popular destinations. 
  • You will be living in one of the most dynamic places where most things are new, and architects compete for the most visually appealing green architectural projects. 
  •  Self-growth. There are a lot of classes of yoga, meditation and the like. You can explore and learn in this direction in your life. 

Is Tulum a Nice Place to Live?

This will depend on your perspective and what you want to get out of a location. Over the past 8 years or so we have noticed friends from Playa Del Carmen moving to Tulum. They are doing this because Tulum has grown to a point where you can find many of the services you want to live in an area. They also move for job opportunities. The Mexican friends that we have that move to Tulum are usually better educated, bilingual and have more job experience. This is because the level of tourism is higher in Tulum and has taken some of the luxury market out of Playa. 

The moving of friends from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum has shown us that Tulum has crossed the point of being a bedroom community and becoming a city in itself worthy enough to attract residents. Tulum still is heavily based on tourism but the actual amount of people that live in Tulum is rising

Tulum can be obnoxious with “Tuluminati” (very Tulum people with flowing linen clothes and spiritual/crystals/nuevo hippie viewpoint on the world). But it can also be interesting meeting people from all over the world that ended up in the same place as you. Tulum is unlike any other city in the world now. It has an intense focus on green, clean, and chic living. That does not mean it is a perfect place, it is still developing and changing and there still are a lot of things in the works to make Tulum a more livable place. Tulum is one of the options to live in Mexico and in the Riviera Maya. For most people, it is a love it or leave it type of place that does not leave many people on the fence. 

Still just thinking about living in Tulum?

If you are still thinking about the possibility of moving to Tulum, you might want to check out our article and video below about Tulum real estate and what it is like this year. In this video we show you around to some places in Tulum and we talk about recent infrastructure projects and everything else about Tulum. 


Thank you for reading our article about living in Tulum and what it is like. If you have any questions or comments, let us know in the comment section below. 

About The Author

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.