Moving to Playa Del Carmen

What to pack and bring.

moving to playa del carmen

Moving to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

So you are moving to Playa Del Carmen! You must have so many questions. One of which is what to pack and bring. There are several considerations to take into account here. One being how are you going to move your things to Mexico. We will consider this first since this effects on what you can bring with you.

Ways to Move to Mexico

There are three ways that people move to Playa Del Carmen. You will have to examine each one for your personal benefits.

  1. Have items shipped from your home. This involves finding a shipping company and packing them in a shipping container. The pros of this method is the amount of things you can bring. This eliminates the hassle of trying to replace things and shop for all the things you need. The cons are it can be expensive and it can be a hassle to coordinate with immigration. You also have the chance of things getting broken in transport.
  2. Driving you and your possessions to Mexico. The pros are that you can bring animals with you easily in the vehicle and you pack and transport your things hence reducing breakage. The cons are doing the long drive and how to deal with importing your vehicle into Mexico legally now that immigration laws have changed a little. You may end of paying a large tax for your vehicle or having it driven back out of Mexico.
  3. Selling most everything you own and flying to Mexico with suitcases. The pros are the ease of moving without all the logistics of transportation. You can feel free and start your next adventurous stage of your life. You will also have money in your pocket to go shopping for things here and allow you to buy things that will hold up to the climate. The cons are the fact you will have to get rid of most of your earthy possessions and many people find it hard to replace everything in Mexico.

Moving Company for Shipping things to Mexico

If you have decided to move things on a cargo ship we have this company for you to look into. They leave from Panama City, Florida, Houston, Texas, and Tampa, Florida and arrive into Progresso, Yucatan in Mexico. The name is Linea Peninsular. You can see their website are:

What do expats suggest to people moving to Playa Del Carmen?

Most people that have done the move already recommend that you bring less than more. A lot of things like furniture is made of soft woods that do not hold up in the climate and to termites. Since we live in a digital age, photos, documents, books, and music can all be digital. This saves what you need to bring and will also hold up better in the climate here. Things like flat screen TV’s have come down in price and are nearly on par with prices in the US or Canada.

Remember, the more you acclimate to the local culture, the more you will save money and have less worries. What this means is, if you want all the luxuries of home in your new home Mexico, it is going to cost you. For example, if you bring a piano and your book collection, you are going to have to use air conditioning all the time and make sure your house does not have a moisture problem. It will be a constant battle against mother nature.

Learning to have different luxuries will make your life more easy in Mexico.

What should you move to Playa Del Carmen with?

After you decide what method of moving to Mexico you are going to have to choose what you will need or want to bring. Here is a list of things other people have found good to bring. This list is not in any specific order.

  1. All your clothes you will use in Mexico.

    Clothes are more expensive here and the quality is either Walmart or Bloomindales, so forget the middle range. Stock up on underwear, socks and other clothes before you come. Most women love to go to the US to buy underwear and bras because they cannot find what they want in Mexico, so keep that in mind.

  2. Some of your art.

    Art is personal and once you have it on the walls of your new place it will start to feel like home.

  3. Your computers, cameras and chargers.

    Not only are they good for digitalizing a lot of things, they are more expensive here. Having a webcam will make it easy to Skype with friends and family back home. If you are a graphic designer or need a good desktop computer with a lot of programs then bring it. Remember that any computers and software bought here will be in Spanish. You can switch some things over to English but you might have to get used to some things like a Spanish keyboard.

  4. Good sandals!

    You will use them a lot here. Since most floors are concrete you will wear them inside as well. Getting some with good arch support is key. Sketchers makes some good sandals that are comfortable and have arch support, you might want to check these out. 

  5. Several pairs of good sunglasses.

    It is sunny all the time and having casual glasses and dresser glasses are good to have. Finding good quality glasses in Mexico is hard, so buy them when you have a chance.

  6. Stock up on sheets and towels before moving.

    More sheets because they are hard to find for good quality thread count sheets. If you like large fluffy towels the you might want to bring some. You can use these items to pack breakable things in your suit case. Most towels in Mexico are small and are made just to do the job, but not luxurious. It should be noted though when moving to Playa Del Carmen you have to deal with humidity and large towel take a long time to dry. Also think about mattress sizes. Most Mexican mattresses are not the same standard as the US.

  7. Small kitchen appliances.

    Most are much more expensive and good quality is hard to find. This included blenders, food processors, coffee makers etc. Amazon Mexico is a good start to shop, but you might find it easier to bring your favorites. 

  8. Small dust buster for cleaning furniture and area rugs.

    You can buy this in Mexico but if you have space and have it already then bring it. Don’t bring a vacuum cleaner since there is no such thing as wall to wall carpeting.

  9. Your pots and pans.

    It is hard to get quality and if you find it, they will be expensive. Good non stick frying pans are hard to come by. Many of the non-stick pans last about 6 months here. If you like baking, bring all your accessories also.

  10. Kitchen utensils.

    Your favorite spoons, spatulas and knives. These simple things can be hard to replace. There is this good store in Playa Del Carmen but they don’t have everything.

    moving to Playa Del Carmen
    This is one of the best stores in Playa to find things for your kitchen, but you still might not find everything here.
  11. Fans to cool your place in Playa Del Carmen.

    Being in a tropical climate means that you will most likely need air running all the time. To save on AC cost, fans are used like big box fans and ceiling fans. Box fans and fans on a stand can be bought here but are usually about 20%-35% more. Ceiling fans can be bought cheap here but since you will see them all the time and it is a constant feature, if you see one that is designed nicely, then bring it. Just make sure they move a lot of air. There is a big difference between fans and it can be frustrating having a fan on high and barely feeling it.

  12. Lamp shades.

    Lamps are not used much here and finding lamp shades is hard. REALLY hard. Maybe forget the lamps all together.

  13. Designer fabrics, pillows or curtains.

    There is a selection of materials here to make all the things you need and it is very affordable to have pillows and curtains custom made for you. The problem is finding a designer print or interesting material with the limited selection here. You can always take the filling out of pillows and bring them and refill them here. Bringing fabric here and having someone make curtains can be very affordable.

  14. If you bring a DVD player, make sure it is multi regional.

    DVDs are made to  play in only one part of the world. This helps prevent piracy.

  15. If you like old things like antiques, bring what you can.

    If it will hold up in the climate then bring it because finding anything old is a challenge. Old things can be found in older cities but most items are expensive. Most good items have been purchased already to furnish colonial homes or haciendas in the Yucatan.

  16. Cameras.

    Video equipment, underwater and regular all for documenting your adventure. There are so many interesting things to see that you will want to take lots of photos. Cameras are in general cheaper outside of Mexico.

  17. Spanish language lessons on DVD or downloaded.

We hope this list helps you prepare for moving to Playa Del Carmen. Since you are going to be living in Playa Del Carmen you are sure to have many other questions. See our Expats section on our website for tons of articles about living in Playa De Carmen.

One article you might like reading is our guide to Playa Del Carmen real estate. This article give you a nice overview of the market and places to look. Another article that is good to look at or have as a resource is our furniture buying guide. It helps you find where to buy home furnishings. We also have a great immigration lawyer recommendation for you if you are looking for help.

Below is our video for our readers to help get an overview of the market and get some tips on what to look for especially if you are moving to the area. 


Is there anything you would add to this list for moving to Playa Del Carmen? Feel free to comment below so we can add to the list.

moving to Playa Del Carmen
Maybe you won’t need any furniture when you move to Playa Del Carmen. You can just but a cart full of furniture!


  1. Great, useful information. Items like desk-top computers, scanners, printers and the like — would they have to be container-shipped as you would furniture or are there other means of getting such smaller items to Playa from the U.S? Thank you.

    • You can drive in with them from the US, check them on a flight you are arriving or ship them. If you are moving to Playa Del Carmen with a small amount of things it might be cheaper to see about flying in with the items.

  2. This is a really good list of things to have. We are moving to Playa Del Carmen this year and in the process of closing on our house now and packing. We have gotten rid of most of our furniture and will be taking suitcases and a few boxes on the plane down. We look forward to starting fresh there. Thanks for all your guides.

  3. Great tips! We are packing now for a look at trip to Playa Del Carmen. We have been reading as much as possible for our potential move south. We are so excited to make it happen and hope to be joining you there soon.

  4. Great list of things to consider. We moved to England in 2003 and now are moving to Playa Del Carmen. It is a lot of different things they the last move and we are looking to scale back on bringing things.

  5. We have our bags all packed and checked your list twice. We are moving to Playa del Carmen this next month on the 1st. See you there!

  6. Hello, I bet this article has gotten much more reads since the recent election in the United States. Welcome to Mexico!

  7. B. Kram you are probably more correct than you know. My husband and I are trying to find a way to make the move. I can work remotely from home through the Internet but my husband would need to find a job or start a small business in Playa. The election is driving us away. Is there any business ideas that Playa could use?

    • Hello Ed

      There are many restaurants, so you can mark that off your list. Importation of furniture or making it here is a good idea, the wedding industry is large and growing, tourism is big but very competitive, there is not an older population of expats past the age of 70 but with the amount of expats there is a market there for many services. Medical tourism can be expounded on.

  8. I love reading through your site. It has lots of great info for people moving to the area. I think I have read most of your articles on the website.

    • Hello Mark

      The laws have changed in the past few years on bringing cars and who has what visa. If you are going to be a resident and you bring a car you will need to nationalize your car (aka pay import tax). This means high fees and most people nowadays just buy a car here. Fees can be thousands of dollars and most people prefer to sell their car and get a one here. If you are coming and going as a tourist then it is easier to have your car here and take it back with you. This means driving it in and out of Mexico. The laws concerning cars are meant to be for people following the laws of visas, so by doing everything right things can be easier.

    • Hello Stu

      We do not have any companies to suggest to you for moving. We will keep an eye out for suggestions though. Thank you for reading our website.

  9. I’m so glad I found this site. My husband and I are moving in 10 months, not sure yet what area in the Yucatan. My biggest question is about my internet business. I’ll be offering destination weddings in Mexico through my US company. How to I find out what business laws I need to comply with in Mexico?

    • Hello Jennifer
      We are glad you found our website as well. We have tons of content about what to do here, places to go for the weekend and where to eat as a local. the laws for business can be complex and different for each type of business. It is best to contact a lawyer here that works with immigration that can guide you to what you need. Many people like Mildred (Mily) at Legally in Mexico.

  10. We are planning on moving to Playa del Carmen soon and appreciate all the details on your website.

  11. I want to bring I love seat of fabric two lamps will take a little table and a wicker chair can I do this

    • Hello Maryam

      Anything is possible but the question is how are you going to move this here? Are you paying for a shipping container? This might be a little light to fill part of one for the price. Are you driving here? This might be pretty easy to bring. Is the love seat and chair that important to you? You can find those items here and can buy new ones which saves the cost of moving them.

  12. First of all, thank you for all the info included on this site that is definitely helping my fiance and I navigate the possibilities and potential issues that we would never thought to factor in had we night found your site.
    At this point, I have one question that is the ultimate “make it or break it” decision to move to Playa.I am a professional musician with 20 years playing guitar and singing for tourists in places like the Carolina Shores and Myrtle Beach. Fiance’ is a seasoned talented bartender and we are curious if you have an opinion on whether or not there is enough demand for a “bar performer” who’s schtick is that I’ll play any and all requests from the dining and drinking crowd wherever i’m playing. I’m not the best singer or guitarist in the world,anywhere however , i’m much better than 98% of the guys i’ve lived and performed. I charge a flat rate for a 3 to 4 hour show, usually averaging $200 to $300…plus my tip jar, which can make a tremendous difference. The fiance’ is in the same boat regarding tips and therefore need to know if our professions are safe to say do not fall into the normal range of income level that you list on the comparison of cost and income section of your site?
    Can you tell me if there is a demand the services we perform? Ive heard mixed responses on this. The most recent was from a Mexican gentleman at my last show who struck me by saying, “if you lived in Playa, you’d have a gig every day…sometimes twice a day because the bars have a performer change out several times a day til closing and live music always playing at the bars, restaurants and special events and celebrations.”
    We want to move to Playa so badly, but want to be as accurately informed before making our final decision so it can be the right one.
    If anyone at all has any advice, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear from you.
    Next step in the research is to actually visit and see for myself.
    Scott – from Richmond, VA and now residing in Houston, TX
    – I have so many questions that I don’t know where to begin. If anyone would be willing to contact me, I would be eternally grateful.

    • Hello Scott
      First, thank you for reading the website and for trusting us with your question. The answer should come in theee parts. One part is you should visit first to see if it is what your imagine. Second, legal aspects of how you are going to be in the country and work. Will you set up your own business? Most bars are not going to do the papaerwork for you to get a working visa to come to Mexico. Only large resorts hire people and work with entertainment companies to bring in performers. But this does not sound like the more freelance work you are looking for. The third issue is money and how much your can make. You might find the wages here and what people make a little shocking. There are lots of talented people here that will work for small wages. Perhaps a vacation here will give you. Chance to see the place and talk to bar owners and get a feel if something can work. If it does not work, you had a nice vacation here.

  13. We are Canadian , we are planning to move in the next year in Playa . We want to know , about the medical insurance ? I am 53 and my husband is 61
    It seems to be very costly .
    Thank you for sharing

    • Hello Lynn

      Canadians have either purchased some health insurance or just pay out of pocket for medical needs. We do have one article on hospitals and basic care. Some things are very inexpensive. There is universal care for residents but this is basic and usually expats prefer some plan or certain hospitals to go to. Merida has excellent hospitals for major medical emergencies. Hospitals are getting better in the Riviera Maya but most people prefer to have some plan to purchase.

  14. Hello. I am a retired divorced male of 66 and really love Playa. I was planning on relocating there within the next year or so and wanted to find out if there are many single people of my age moving down to Playa to live the wonderful lifestyle I have experienced on past trips there. And I have cats. What is the best way to move with them? Thank you

    • Hello Jerry

      There are single people moving to Playa. It can be harder to meet them though since many people are off in their worlds. There is also people that speak different languages. That is why we wrote a guide for people to find locations of where to meet people in Playa.
      We assume you have two cats? There are restrictions on how many pets per person you can bring to Mexico. Some have flown and some have driven. It should depend more on how you want to come. Flying is much easier and if you are not brining much, you can carry a lot on trips back and forth on flights. There is also the option to fly and ship things in cargo. The last option is driving. It is about a 4 day trip from the Texas boarder to Playa. It is not as hard as you might imagine to get hotels that allow animals. Many will post it on the websites and there is even people who blog their travels with pets and where they have stayed.

  15. I must thank you for all the information you have on your site. I have used it a lot and also contacted the realtor you told me to talk to. We have bought a condo love and are very excited to start our new life in Playa del Carmen.

  16. Is it easy to find hotels along the route from San Antonio to Playa if one decides to drive? And are the roads safe, well lit and busy or dark and deserted? Where would I find the safest and best route to drive? Thank you.

    • Hello Jerry

      The central route is the preferred drive. Going through The Golf coast will run you into rougher roads and not a s good places to stop. Most people do not dive after dark for several reasons. One there are animals and other things that make night driving more dangerous. Crime is also more likely to happen at night. Expect it to take four days. Driving in Mexico is a little different and there are things to be alert to. See our guide here for some.

  17. I have kind of a silly question but here it goes. Are there any places in or near Playa that have updated plumbing where you can actually flush the paper? It’s a trivial matter but I was just curious. How about the condos or new apartment complex’s. Thank you.

    • The entire Hotel Zone in Cancun is plumbed this way since tourist are the main flushers there. In Playa the systems are being updated and it is not as important not to flush paper but it is still good not to. It can overwhelm the little processing that is done in the city. None of the large condos have internal processing. Playacar has a sewage treatment center in the back of it.
      It is pretty amazing how it does not small when you put into the trash and empty every several days. It does take some getting used to after years of doing it separately though.

      • I was just there and could not flush paper down the toilet. A very easy and clean solution is to install a T connector at the source water for the toilet at the wall. Make sure the T connector is the type with shutoff valve. From the T connector run the supply line to the toilet as it was to begin with and the other T connector attach a hose with a sprayer on the end of it. Like the kitchen sink type sprayer with a depress valve. Then you just spray off and dry with paper and throw in the waste basket. I have that here in California.

  18. I just wanted to let you know that my wife and I are moving to Playa del Carmen this year and your website has been a huge help. It is the best one out there. We look forward to being there soon.

  19. What about medical care? I have a chronic pain disease and I am disabled from it. Are there doctors who will continue the same care I have had for 20 years? I am on medications and that is my big concern. I lived in playa when they didn’t have much electricity and running water. It’s changed soo much!

  20. We are finally moving to Playa Del Carmen this March! After much planning and several visits we will be arriving for sure. Thanks so much for all the information on your website, it is has been beyond helpful. See you soon!

  21. We are moving to Playa del Carmen in 2019! See you soon. Your website has been so helpful to us including where to find an apartment and meet people. We love all the exploring you have done and we are looking forward to getting to know the area well. We have just retired and very excited to be there soon! See you!

  22. Thank you so much for maintaining this site. I’m moving to Playa in May after years of visiting on vacation and your site has provided links to much of the information I couldn’t find elsewhere. It’s a little daunting for a 60 something, widowed, retired female to contemplate such a move, but I’m also excited to start over and your site has been a big help.

    • Hello Jan

      Thank you so much for reading our website. We hope your move goes well and you get settled in soon.

  23. Hello. I will be visiting Playa from Oct. 8th – Oct. 18th. I plan on moving to Playa within the next 12 – 18 months. Is there someone there I could talk to about what I need to do once I actually move there? There are so many things to deal with I just want to make sure that once I make the move I am not blindsided by two or three things that I didn’t do but need to. For example electricity, water, internet, health insurance, doctors, hospitals, veterinarians etc. I want to get a long term rental when I move so if possible I would like to sit down with a good realtor who deals with long term rentals and discuss what I will be looking for. I can give him my current pension and social security incomes. And where are the best places within Playa that are close to the beach, 5th avenue etc. I know I am asking a lot of questions here but I want to know what I can expect when I do move. And if there are any good expat hangouts where I could maybe talk to someone. Thanks, Jerry

    • Hello Maria

      Amazon does ship to Mexico and has Amazon Mexico with products already in Mexico. There are Costcos and Walmarts in Mexico but we do not think they will ship to Mexico. Amazon seems to have it more streamlined with import taxes. Just be careful about ordering things from China, it can take a month or more and there are no tracking codes usually. Sometimes products don’t arrive.

  24. We are moving to the area soon. I have heard that we can no longer apply for the certain types of medical care. I will be 71 before we move and would appreciate any advice on options for medical.

    • There are certain medical services al aula me to residents and locals in Mexico. However most people do not rely on these since they are very basic and often take a lot of time. Most people they move to Mexico get some
      Kind of health insurance. There are some
      Very good options that are not that expensive unlike other counties. We don’t promote one over the other but asking around and getting details that work for your situation is best. Asking in some Facebook groups will get you many referrals.

  25. Excellent info. It is nice to have all these details in one place. We are excited to begin thinking about our move to Playa del Carmen in 2023. See you soon!

    • Hello Greg

      That is exciting. We hope your planning phase goes well. Let us know if you have any questions about Playa Del Carmen and living here.

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