amMexico attracts thousands of foreigners each year to move and explore the country. We wanted to examine where these foreigners or (expats) are moving to. In this article we focus on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Maybe the map and article will help you in your search if you are looking to relocate if you are thinking of moving to Mexico
Moving to the Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula
There are three states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Most expats live in Yucatan and Quintana Roo States. Campeche is by far the distant third in foreigner population. This is because of its more remote location from a large airport and not as many desirable places to live in the State by expat standards.
Most expats look for these things as requirements for choosing a location:
- Quality of life.
- Access to services like good medical care.
- Cultural activities.
- Other people to interact with including same language group.
- and cost of living.
Below the map we talk about why people choose a certain area and some of the pros and cons of each area.
Where to retire and live in Mexico
Living in Campeche State
In Campeche there really is only one city where foreigners like to move to, Campeche City. At the center of the city there is a colonial heart complete with colonial architecture.
The Pros are: Smaller feel with colonial charm. It is on the water, slightly less expensive than some other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is not overrun with tourist and people can enjoy the “real” Mexico more.
The Cons are: More distant from other places. The city does have an airport but limited flights. Not a huge expat population and you will need to be more proficient in Spanish at first.
Moving to Mexico’s Yucatan State
There are two main areas of the state where expats like to live. Merida and the beach area including Progresso and the surrounding area.
In Merida you have thousands of fellow expats that have already blazed the trail for you and will be a great support group for your new adventure. This is the largest city in the Yucatan Peninsula with around 1,000,000 people. The city offers a wide variety of neighborhoods to choose from as well as history and culture. There are a lot of favorable things about this city and is why so many now call it home. You can see our first time visitor guide and video to Merida here.
The pros are: Being that it is a big city with a lot of history, you have many styles of housing stock to choose from. You can have an old colonial house with high ceilings, a modern condo, an art deco home or even can live in a new sub development. So, choice of styles of houses and living arrangements are a plus here.
Shopping for everything is possible. Having a large city affords fruit and vegetable markets, local markets to big box stores like Costco and Home Depot. Everything you need to relocated can pretty much be bought in Merida.
Arts and culture are a big reason why Merida is such a popular place to live. It seems like every day there is something going on. Merida boast grand old theaters to modern dance companies and everything in between. There are weekly exhibitions of dance and every Sunday the main Zocalo is blocked off and dancing and concerts take place. Among the scheduled cultural events, many artists have chosen to live in this city and that adds to the vibrancy and cultural richness of Merida.
Merida has a modern international airport and a central hub for regional bus travel. It is also only about 20 minutes to the coast and spending time at the beach is an easy daytrip. Having a good transport system and an urban center can afford you to live without a car.
The cons are: Merida is considered a hot city. It has a lot of concrete and crowded downtown. If you cannot take the heat or choose a home that is not situated the best, you are going to be hot and need to use the air conditioning a lot.
It is a big city and many parts of it offer nothing in the way of sightseeing or interest. The colonial charm might wear as you deal with the grit of a larger Mexican city.
Even though Merida has a nice airport, flights to the US are often more expensive and residents will sometimes fly into Cancun and take the 4-hour bus trip to Merida.
The other area of Yucatan State where people choose to live is the Progresso area and small beach communities. This gulf coast living is spread out among many small villages, so we lump them together as a beach area.
The pros are: Living beachfront was never more affordable. This is one of the cheapest areas where you can actually own a beachfront home. Land is even cheaper if you choose to build. The quiet life awaits you here and you can spend your days eating fresh caught fish and looking out over the Gulf of Mexico.
You are only about 20-30 minutes to the City of Merida. You can take in your culture and retreat to your quiet home afterward.
The cons are: This area can be a bit remote for some and the small village life can become boring after a while.
In the “summertime” some popular communities can become the city escape for residents of Merida and homes are rented out to party loving beach goes and there goes the neighborhood.
If you are thinking of building, be sure to understand ALL of the restrictions in Mexico for building oceanfront. There are very specific laws that have entangled many a foreigner with a dream of living beachfront.
Many expats are “snowbirds”, meaning they come for the winter and go back north for the summer. If you are looking to live year-round you might find yourself with less friends in the summertime.
You will most likely need a car unless you really want to be limited to colectivos or just live in the center of Progresso.
If you live in Progresso, it is a cruise ship destination, and you will have your days where the town gets filled with tourist.
Moving to other smaller areas of in Yucatan State
Holbox Island is very peaceful and beautiful. It is a small island with limited land and real estate. Only a few hundred people live here. Most people however that live there often travel and do not spend all their time there. Most expats own a hotel or business there to keep occupied.
Izamal is a small colonial village that is idyllic peaceful living. It is about 45 minutes from Merida if you need city life and shopping. You will find yourself just one of a few expats though if you live here. If you are an artist of writer then you just might find the peace and quiet life you need to be creative.
Valladolid is also a colonial town right in the middle of the Peninsula. It offers peaceful living with access to Cancun Airport in about 2 hours and Merida in about 2 hours. There are not a lot of colonial buildings left to fix up or live in but rent can be much cheaper here then other parts of the Peninsula. Not many expats have taken the step to live here but you just might be ahead of the trend if you move there since this town is getting more popular every year. Expect to see good things coming from here in the next five years. This place is on the up and up.
Espita is a smaller colonial city that has been off the radar to foreigners but is secretly becoming a charming village to live in. It is smaller than what most people want but offers a central location and authentic Yucatecan town with not much distraction of tourism.
Moving to Quintana Roo State
Cancun has long been the main city in the state. It is famous for it’s beaches and hotel zone and it also attracts people wanting to make it a permanent vacation. (For more information on living in Cancun check out our article on what it is like living in the Hotel Zone)
The pros are: You will be living in the city with the best international airport in the peninsula. This gives you greater access to the world and cheaper flights.
It is a modern city, after all it was started in the 1970’s. Cancun has more high-rise living, malls and big box stores for shopping.
English is widely spoken due to the tourist trade. The joke goes “What is the difference between Miami and Cancun? They speak English in Cancun!”
You have access to beautiful beaches. You also have access to international cuisine, nightclubs and some very trendy places as long as you don’t mind sharing with tourist.
The cons are: It lacks the colonial, or “real Mexico” feel at times and can almost feel like you are in Florida or a version of Miami.
You mostly likely will want a car. Since the City was designed in the 1970’s it is car centric.
Since it is more of a tourist city, it is designed to entertain people for a week and send them home. Besides going to the beaches and shopping there is not a lot to do.
The downtown is not particularly charming since it is more a perfunctory center to support the tourist trade.
Isla Mujeres. Does the thought of living on a tropical island excite you? Then you might look here.
The pros are: You get to say you live on an island in the Caribbean to all your friends! You will get to drive around in a golf cart to do your shopping and you will mostly likely have a great view from your home since the island is long and narrow. You also will have ocean breezes most of the time.
The cons are: You are on an island. Most people after a while lose the interest and move to the mainland. Isla Mujeres is small even by island standards. Shipping everything over and using the ferries will be part of life and all that sea air can take a heavy toll on metal and require constant maintenance around the house.
Since it is so close to Cancun you will have a lot of tourists coming for a few days or day tripping. You will have to get used to tourist driving the gulf carts down one-way streets the wrong way.
Puerto Morelos is just south of Cancun. This small fishing village is a haven for some that seek beach living with a small-town feel. You can find episodes of House Hunters International filmed here as expats look to move. The funny thing is, on the shows they often show footage of other places because there is not much in this small town.
The pros are: Part of Puerto Morales is close the beach and has a small-town feel. There is great snorkeling off the coast.
You are close to Cancun for shopping and the airport. The town just got its first supermarket!
The town is also growing and there have been infrastructure improvements and new housing developments (mostly for local workers) opening up on the highway.
The cons are: It is a small town, and you might find yourself driving to other places to buy things and entertainment. With that in mind you will need a car to live here unless you only want to stay in a few blocks and take taxis everywhere. The town is split in two parts, one by the ocean and the rest 2 kilometers up by the highway.
Prices for beach front or close to the beach are going to be high due to the limited supply. There is a high contrast to what expats pay and what locals can afford.
Playa Del Carmen. Of course we have a lot to say about this place because we are based here. This town/city keeps becoming more popular with expats and nationals for living (about 186,00 residents and growing). It is a European feeling place next to the ocean than most everywhere else. You still can find places under 100,ooo dollars to live (See our article on affordable homes to buy in Playa) and you can find super luxury villas or modern condos.
The pros: People consider Playa Del Carmen to be different from the rest of Mexico. It has a unique feel to it. With so many European and South American influences, you might feel like you are in a very international destination. Most of the downtown is very walkable and you can get by without a car. The growing number of expats make it easy to meet other likeminded people.
Playa has good access to public transportation running up and down the Riviera Maya and buses to Yucatan State. Playa is also jut 40 minutes from the Cancun airport.
With the number of foreigners, you just might find a holiday tradition from your home country being celebrated or even a meal being prepared at a restaurant.
The cons: Compared to the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula you won’t find as much local culture and colonial living.
The city does not have as many shopping options as Cancun yet, but it is gaining. (Getting the first Home Depot was a big deal in Playa and marked a coming-of-age sort of for shopping.)
The city is growing and has limited beachfront living. Since it is such a popular tourist destination, it often is better to own near the beach and rent it out. You will make more money that way and you can live a little way back from the ocean.
Cozumel Island is the most populated island in Mexico with about 90,000 people. Most people live near the one town on the island.
The pros are: Island living with almost everything you need. If you like diving or snorkeling, you will be in heaven here. It is considered to be one of the best places in the world. If you have a job or hobby to keep you busy you can make a success of living here.
Cozumel does have an international airport and access by ferry almost hourly to Playa Del Carmen.
The cons are: Like living on most islands, you can feel stir crazy after a while if you don’t have something to keep you busy. Much of the island is just empty space with nothing to see except gorgeous beaches. (Well, that is not a con except when you get tired and want something to do out of the sun.)
Being in town when the cruises come can make it hard to compete for walking space with all the tourists.
Puerto Adventuras is a gated community around a marina. Residents enjoy manicured grounds and driving golf carts around.
The pros are: Many people enjoy the safe community of likeminded foreigners and condo dwellers.
The cons are: It is not the cheapest option for real estate. Like living in any planned community there are a list of rules and regulations. These can help or hinder you depending on your interest. Also like many smaller communities along the Riviera Maya, it is access to a variety of shops and restaurants can be lacking.
Tulum. Once famous for just the ruins, this town is now gaining in popularity as a trendy ecofriendly beach town (See our special segment on real estate and what is going on in Tulum now).
The pros are: Playa Del Carmen learned from the development of Cancun and Tulum is learning from Playa Del Carmen. Tulum is more eco minded and attracting other likeminded people. Tulum is attracting celebrities to the beaches, and this is helping to bring gourmet restaurants and bakeries to the downtown. Since most of the surrounding area is not developed, there is beautiful areas to visit including Sian Ka’an reserve which is adjacent to Tulum.
The cons are: This town is new to the development scene. Infrastructure is still developing and things like sidewalks and good water service are still coming along. Like other small towns, shopping is lacking and trips to Playa Del Carmen are necessary for some items. Real estate prices are already high because for years people have been speculating on this place developing.
Lesser lived-in places to mention in Quintana Roo State
Akumal is a coastal town between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. It is famous for its turtles and swimming with them. This community is small but offers a little higher standard of living. It is clean and most of the houses and condos are on the more luxurious side. You will need to commute to get groceries and shopping, but you will live in a place that is beautiful and not too far from things.
Paamul is a small seaside community that started as a travel trailer camp for people. It now has developed into a more permanent community. It is noted for its travel campers with palapa roofs over them. Paamul is not too far from Playa Del Carmen but if you are looking to have a regular house in a regular community then this might not be for you. It is however one of the cheapest ways to live so close to the beach.
Bacalar is a small town on the big lake. It offers lake front living in a tropical setting. You can join a few other expats here. If you like remote living and don’t mind the commute to big shopping and airports, then maybe this place is for you. Chetumal is the nearest big city.
Mahahual and the Costa Maya. This area is beautiful and remote. Mahahual is a fishing village with a cruise ship port. The town is pretty small and the coast just south of there is even more lost in time. It is like the old Caribbean, remote, quiet and undeveloped. If you want to open a small guest house and enjoy quiet days, this might work for you.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article about where the expats live in Mexico. If you have an questions about certain areas or living in the Yucatan, please feel free to contact us here and we will do our best to give you independent advice.
Looking to Move to Mexico but not sure where?
Mexico is a big country, and, in this article, we only covered the Yucatan Peninsula. We have another article about all the popular places in Mexico where foreigners like to live and invest here.
Thank you for a terrific article. I have been to many of the places you discuss and think your portrayal is spot on. It provides confirmation to me and some added information. Really nice job.
Thanks for your feedback. Let us know if you need any specific info for you. You can always use the contact email. We hope your search is successful and you find a good place to enjoy life in Mexico!
Great resource here. I am finally moving to PDC after traveling there since ’88. I want to find a one bedroom apartment, but am open to other options (don’t want room mate situation). Any suggestions or input is welcome!
We are glad you are coming back to Playa Del Carmen again. Here is one article on our website that will help with where to live and find apartments: https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/everything-about-apartment-renting-in-playa-del-carmen/ There is a good interactive map in the article that will help you see different neighborhoods and there are a lot of tips that will help explain how living in Playa Del Carmen is different in other places. If you need anything else just leave a note here and we are sure to point you to an article or give you an answer. We hope you find some place you like.
For sake of saving time, I cut and pasted an email that I sent to several schools in Playa Del Carmen. I was wondering if you might be able to provide some info since I have not heard back from the schools yet. I have seen on several of the websites that the costs totaled like 10-12,000 for the year. I am hoping this would be in Mexican Pesos. What do you think?
Hello. I would like to receive information regarding the cost of your school. We are contemplating relocating to Playa Del Carmen in the near future. We have a 3 1/2 year old son who would be coming to school there soon and we have no idea of what the cost of the school would be. We need this information to see if our budget is accurate or not before moving there. Also I have another child who currently lives with her mother, but may move with us as well. She would be starting 9th grade here in US. Please include any additional costs we would need to budget for including books, supplies, uniforms, etc. For sure our little son will be coming with us, and not so sure about my daughter so please provide separate cost breakdown for each. Thanks so much for any information you can provide! Thanks, David Gladysz
We do need to do an article on schools because many people look for the best ones and information. Playa is becoming more a destination for families that are expats. We have talked to some with children here and they do like the schools here because they are so international. One woman said in her child’s class there were more than 10 languages spoken by different children. Since we do not have an article yet on this and it will take a lot of time for us to research it so we can have a very informative article, we suggest asking in the expats Facebook group so you can get firsthand feedback from parents with children here.
I’m thinking of moving to Mexico to skinny down (solo female 3 dogs) particularly Tulum & Playa Del Carmen. I’ve never been to either. Life changing to say the least but retired 55 and just down right bored. Very interested in these areas and meeting like minded people. Muy porquito Espanol but ready to start classes. Ajijic is just too old for me, I’m still pretty vibrant. Torn but ready…
We definetly think you should check out the two areas and there are smaller areas that people move to. It depends if you want a car. If not, then Playa id a good choice. If you like a more rural chic, then Tulum might be good for you. There certainly is energy in the Riviera Maya and it might be what you are looking for. You might have gotten the cultural side in Jalisco and now this might satisfy your other side.
Looking for a studio apt furnished ac wifi internet 500 a month need asap
Where are you looking to live?
We were just in Ajijic this week and can say that your peso will go further in Ajijic but there is the ocean and more energy in the Riviera Maya. Visiting is a great way to see if it fits you.
I too am seriously considering a move to the area ( Plya Del Carmen – Tulum ) I’m 58 single male with one dog. Like many I own a home in the states ( SC ) that I plan to sell in order to finance my relocation to Mexico. I’ll keep this as brief as possible. I’d love to know if you made the move or have you decided otherwise. I’d really like to find someone or several whom share our interest and pool our thoughts during the process in order to make things easier on everyone. If you’ve an interest in collaborating. I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] anytime. Have a great day… I look forward to your reply.
Thanks for all your comments. It is a good way to connect with like minded people heading to Mexico. Sorry for the delay in posting, we have to manually accept all comments so we don’t have spam on the site. We hope you find some people to meet up with some others moving to Mexico. It is a popular thing to do these days! And, as always, let us know if you have any questions about living here and we will try to give you all the information you need.
Dana 54 yrs planning to go to playa in the month of Jan 2017 to learn Spanish and. Find living arrangements. Any help would help. Wendy Ontario Canada [email protected]
solo female need help to just retired at 55 and now im worried about living in a secure area. can u help me
I apologize as this is off topic, but I am looking for a reputable service to assist with Wireless Internet via Satellite for my boat. We are right in front of the Beloved Hotel and the Marina Internet is very slow. I need someone to come to the boat. Any recommendations would be so very helpful! Muchas gracias mi amigos!
I am a retired RN thinking of relocating to the Riviera Maya and would like to post some adds looking for a semi or retired gentleman that I can be a part time companion for and to be the housekeeper, laundry, house sitting, etc. in exchange for a bedroom. Can you offer me some ideas of the best places to post my adds? Muchas gracias for your time.
Hello and thank you for your question. We do have some suggestions for you as far as a location to post. But before we do we will say that it might be a little less common of a situation as you might expect here in Mexico. It seems that many people retire to Mexico at a time when they are still pretty active and when they get to thsee point of needing assistance them seem to move back with family. Also on the Rivier Maya side the expat population is a little younger and more independent than say some places like Merida or San Miguel. It does however seem that there will be a greater need for caregivers as more people move to Mexico and more stay longer.
As far as posting, Craigslist is a small option but it is not used too much here, Facebook groups for expats is another option and just might be one of the better options. There are some English publications that expats read and this might be a possible place but the cost of running an ad might not look too attractive in the long run.
I too plan to relocate to the area. Have you made any contacts yet? If you’d like to correspond, please feel free to do so. I’d love to hear how it’s going so far. Have a great day. Good luck! Please email me at [email protected]
Thank you very much for the useful information. Facebook is a good idea. I may have given the wrong impression that I was looking to be a care giver. Really I am looking to be a live in housekeeper and if wanted, a periodic companion, although my Nursing skills could be utilized if needed. Thanks again, I appreciate your time.
I’d like to correspond with other liked minded explorers concerning our dream of living in Mexico ( Plya Del Carmen – Tulum ) Yucatan. If anyone is interested in sharing their experience and or advice I’d love to hear from you. A side note: I was wondering if anyone has an interest or need of shared transportation when the move becomes apparent. I plan to take the Gulf Coast route is anyone is interested. I’ll be driving down in my personal vehicle. I drive a full size truck with enclosed tono cover so I’ll have some room available if anyone needs it. I may be pulling a small enclosed trailer as well… I figure time wise at end of summer 2016, Thank you.
What are your thoughts on Cancun now? Are many people moving there or is that just for tourist. My wife and I am looking to buy a condo and like the closeness to the airport.
Cancun is a tale of three cities. The Hotel Zone, downtown and the new areas being developed or new communities. The Hotel Zone has added some quality of living improvements notably a new grocery store that makes us jealous in Playa Del Carmen. The downtown has always been a little more of a perfunctory part of the city but as Cancun ages, it is getting more large trees and a little settled in, but still not popular for expats. There are some new areas being developed and a lot of high rises around marinas. These have not taken off in sales yet but Cancun is looking to transform itself. I think we just have to wait to see if there is that momentum to catapult it forward. There is a big difference between Playa and Cancun but actually in terms of the airport we are about the same since the airport is just south of Cancun.
Hello. We have been looking to move to Mexico and we found your website. It is a great resource for giving us an idea of the cost of living and where to think about moving. We have been looking at Tulum or Playa Del Carmen and are coming down this fall to check things out again. We will be retiring this year and want to buy some place to live for a year and travel around. We have always loved Mexico and look forward to exploring. See ya soon!
Hello. Well you will be in good company with many other people looking to move to Mexico. Tulum and Playa are good choices to look at and each one has advantages and disadvantages. Once you are here you should be able to see how it feels to you. Once you are here there is so much to see and do, you will have a lot to explore! See you soon here.
Hi! I’m thinking of moving to the Playa del Carmen area and have been seeing what places expats like to live. I am not a beach person but see that so many like to live there must be something about it. I should come down and check it out sometime.
Hello Herbert. We will be writing more about why expats like to live in Playa Del Carmen. It is not a perfect place but it can be a good place to use as a base and travel in the Yucatan. It is also a modern city which some people like. It is not for everyone but many like it and more keep moving here. Come to spend some time to see if it is for you! See you soon.
We looked at Campeche but although it was charming it was still to small and the lack of good airport access was a determining factor for us.
I see interesting articles you’ve got here. This one where expats live I wanted to say that I live in Merida but have seen the expat population level off. I don’t know exactly why but I think the housing stock has run out of cheapish stuff. There are a lot of places to live in the world and I think Mexicans don’t alays have a good perspective of how things are.Some are out to make money off selling real estate and then when the prices are so high they wonder why people are not buying any more.
Thanks for the map of where expats live in the Yucatan. My husband and I have been narrowing our search for where to look. We hope to retire to Mexico this year.
We’re poking to buy a place in playa deal Carmen. The only thing holding us back is the lack of knowledge with the real estate market there in PDC. Could someone recommend real estate agents?
Sure. We will send you an email with some different ones that work with different types of property. Some real estate agents work better with houses and lower priced real estate, some work better with things in the center of town and some work better for buying a property along the coast.
We have been looking at the coast around Progresso but thing we have more rental options for our place when we are not living in our place. We are coming in October to check real estate out. Can you email us some realtors you guys think will be a good option to contact for us? Thanks
We hope you like this side of the Yucatan Peninsula as well. There are many expats living in Playa Del Carmen and besides a good community there are good options for renting out your property. We will send you an email with some options of realtors to contact for your trip down.
Hello. We are thinking to move to Playa Del Carmen or along the coast. Do you have some good realtor that you recommend for us to contact? We are looking for a house that is within three blocks to the beach and has two bedrooms. We don’t need to be near a school since we do not have kids. We can live in a city or town and will have a car. We just want a good realtor that will be honest about what it is like to live in a town and what we will expect after we are living there. Thanks
Good evening !
We plan to come to your area somewhere in October but only after we have a portfolio of houses ready to be seen. We would like to rent a nice house, not furnished, for about three years. Please help us with some reliable realtors. I think any place along the Riviera Maya would be good for us as long as it is affordable, has +5 bedrooms and it is not far away from the beach. No kids, we are a team of 6 people and need a nice place to work on our project. Thank you in advance , Ella
Hello and thanks for the message. We will send you some via your email. We take it that you might want a little space since you have non related people in the house. Also maybe a common area to work in? Would you need good access to internet or other services? Playa Del Carmen is great because you have everything so close, supermarkets, shopping, entertainment, beach and you don’t always need a car. Playacar phase 1 and 2 have larger homes that are quiet but still close to the center of town. Akumal is also a small ton between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum and this small town has some larger vacation homes that might be a spectacular location for views, but then again maybe no one will want to work with such a settling. hahah.
We will send you an email today or tomorrow with some suggested agents to call. We wish you the best and hope you find something that fits. If you need anything else just let us know.
How is the quality and reliability of the Internet in Playa. I am a teleworker and need areliable Internet Provider.
I am looking to snowbird it initially about 3 months a year while looking for a permanent residence there in Playa. I would like to have a contact there that could show me the ropes and help get things situated.
The internet is pretty reliable and about what you receive in Canada or the US. It will depend on what areas of the city you are in. Not all areas of the city are covered by Izzi (formerly Cablemas) or Telmex. If you are looking at a place out of the downtown you should definitely ask about the internet and test it yourself. Many rental companies or owners will say there is intent, but to those that rely on it, speed counts and so does reliability.
We would say Izzi is the better of the two main providers. If you needed a very fast connection you could go to the NEST office space and rent space there. Many expats are helpful in getting new people acclimated. We hope this gives you a little insight in living in Playa Del Carmen and working with the internet.
We would like to get a list of realtors to help us locate a rental in Playa Del Carmen so we can try it out for a season.
Any info that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
I hope to build phase 1, this year on my land in MX.
Thanks for your Great web site. Much of your published comments & replies are also areas of my interests and concerns.
My personal story;
35 years ago, as a young hippy backpacker I would escaped the cold midwest winters to areas around Tulum. Ten yeas ago I bought 3 lots, two – out NW of town in Macario Gomes – I’d like to Sell these two lots “cheap” and would like to Find an agent or buyer?
The other one SE of Tulum I’d like to build, but need to Find and feel comfortable with an established reliable builder with ideas toward sustainability.
First time saying – I’m a young retired guy looking for connection to Tulum community, friendships, learn some more Spanish – and still travel back to the midwest to assist with my aging parents.
Please! Any feedback or networking would be great.
We will send you an email with some ideas and questions for you. Thanks for your comments.
Great article! My daughter(age 20) and I will be visiting for 3 weeks to PDC and looking for a comfy apartment that is secure and not super loud at night. AirBnB may help us but we wanted to have other options. Can spend up to $1200 max and need internet service. Your help would be great. Thank you,
Hello Arlene. We do not rent a apartments in Playa but our article on renting might be a good start for your daughter. In her budget she should not have too much of a hard time finding one especialy with the exchange rate.
I have spent a lot of time going around Mexico looking at what places are good to live in. It is hard because many cities have been bought up and new places that are up and coming are not that exciting and you need to guess as to how it will develop. It is hard to guess and many need to examine how they want to live. Waiting for a place to develop or move to an area that is built up.
Any tips on finding the most tolerable climate? I’m glad you mentioned the heat in Merida. I flew into Cancun the beginning of September and wasn’t prepared for how much the humidity intensifies the heat. The heat in Cancun was at my limits. When I saw that Merida is even hotter, I took it off my list of possible places to live. I’ve visited Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tolum. Now that there are some overcast days and some days below 90F it’s a bit better. I like to walk a lot, and the sauna-like heat isn’t enjoyable. I’m glad I missed the hottest months.
Playa del Carmen is about the right size with convenient shopping and cafes, but I wouldn’t want to live there year-round.
It looks like my only options for a cooler place to live is at higher elevations. Any suggestions?
Hello and thanks for sending us a message. As far as the weather in the Yucatan Peninsula for living goes, the entire Peninsula has a similar climate. The entire peninsula is flat and there is no elevation. Where some people notice some difference is the coast because you get sea breezes, but this only works if you are within a few blocks. Many people right off the interior of the Yucatan because many people say it is hot. However with much of it covered in trees, it can be cooler. It is cities like Merida that are all concrete that reflect back the heat at night and keep the temperature high. Like many places in the world. people learn to live in the climate by having homes that stay cooler naturally and organizing your schedule so you are not out in the heat of the day.
I ideally you might look at Chapala because it has a micro climate. We did write an article about it comparing it to Playa here: https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/living-in-mexico-lake-chapala-or-playa-del-carmen/
San Miguel is also a popular option because it has a higher altitude and pleasant climate. San Miguel is also a very nice city with affordable options to live since it has a lot of space around it. The one thing we don’t like is the fact an airport is a little far to arrive there.
We hope this give you a little more insight to your questions. You might not find the perfect place but there are a lot of places in Mexico that expats love, sometimes you just have to learn to love the stuff you don’t like or put up with it so you can enjoy the other great things Mexico offers.
Would you recommend Merida or Chetumal for overall living? I’m considering places to learn Spanish.
Hello. Thank you for your question about choosing a place to live. We would have to say Merida is a more popular option. There are very few expats that live in Chetumal. This is most likely do to the fact that this is not that glamourous of a place and further removed in many ways. Merida has the colonial charm and many road trips for weekend getaways. Most of the time people move to Merida to live in a colonial house and have that image in their heads.
Chetumal is quieter and has Bacalar to escape to or a boat trip to Belize. Merida is a hot city due to the interior position in the peninsula and concrete but some neighborhoods are cooler and have more trees.
Both Merida and Chetumal have airports but Merida’s is more accessible and has more international flights.
Some people like to talk with other expats but some might want to be emerged in the culture and speak Spanish. This however still can be hard for people to talk about common interest. Many times it can be nice to talk about international politics or traveling and many locals will not have similar experience as you, so that can be a downside of living in just a local area without many expats.
Are Merida and Chetumal relatively safe?
Both Merida and Chetumal are very safe areas. Merida is a large city of nearly one million but compared to many cities that size, Merida feels much more smaller and safer. The entire Yucatan Peninsula is considered one of the safer places in Mexico and more safe then many US cities. The more rural towns even more so.
Are there many expats living in the Tabasco region? Any recommendations on cities to live in? Is Tabasco safe?
We have been to Tabasco several times. There are not many expats that live there at all. Villahermosa is the main city people live in. This city is on the rise and has some modern conveniences and beautiful parts to it. Most of Tabasco is very green and also very hot most of the year. There is a lot of history and interesting waterways there with a lot to discover. However tourism is very low and the promotion of this area is not done well either.
Is there a specific reason you ask about this area?
I’m wondering how, or if, a person with small savings can live modestly in these areas.
We are in our 30’s, professional service workers with college education, willing to do nearly any task, as long as it provides us with resources for rent and food.
Is that possible? Can work be found in restaurants, bars or hotels, etc as an American? I’m optimistic, but concerned.
Thanks so much!
The first place to start is with Mexican visa laws. Living can be very affordable in Mexico but first you must meet requirements by Mexico to get a visa to live here. If you are not receiving enough income to support yourself from outside of Mexico or have it saved up, that means you need to work here. A visa to live in Mexico does not allow you to work in Mexico. That is an added provision. If you need to work in Mexico the laws can be strict because they don’t want tons of people moving here and taking jobs. Either you need to form a corporation and create a job for yourself or have a company willing to hire you.
The jobs that hire foreigners are high level jobs that are hard to be filled by locals. A restaurant or service job will not likely be sufficient to get a company to hire you. MOST companies do not like to hire foreigners because the process is long and expensive. Often after a company will do the process, people leave the job and it was not really worth it for a company to do all the work. There are many skilled people in Mexico that have a first right to pursue a life in their country.
The best option for younger people is to get a job online and work in Mexico but have a company you work for outside of Mexico. An immigration lawyer will be able to give you full details and more options.
How does Villahermosa and Cardenas compare to Merida? Are they safe etc?
Merida is a bigger city but in general more safe than Villahermosa. In part it has to do with peoples attitudes. But really, it is hard to compare such different cities. They are very different in many ways.
In what ways are they different (a few examples would be helpful)?
For example Villahermosa is more secluded from the international scene. For example there are less tourist that visit Tabasco and only one international airline. There are about 1 expat in Villahermosa to every 1000 in Merida. There are more art galleries and cafes in Merida compared with Villahermosa.
We are curious about the expat community in Chetumal. I’ve been a Respiratory Therapist for 25 years, and I understand that there are good hospitals in Chetumal. We will be coming to Mexico for 2 weeks in May, and we are looking at staying in a home from airbnb. We spent 11 days this past spring at a resort just north of Playa Del Carmen, and completely fell in love with the area. We currently live in Key West, FL. My husband has 3 engineering degrees; but he has been working as a tour guide here in Key West. We need to be able to work. I’m exploring TOSEL/TESL options as well. Any direction or guidance you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Chetumal is the capital of the state of Quintana Roo. We would say the best hospital on the Peninsula is Star Medical in Merida. Many expats and even people come from outside Mexico to have work done there. Sometimes you have to choose a place to live based on if you actually like the city or town. Then figure out work. Chetumal is not a hotbed of activity. There are very few expats that live there, so that should tell you something. Visiting in person is always best so you can get a feel. In the coastal area of the Riviera Maya we would say Cancun has more of a medical community.
So perhaps start in Merida?
We are thinking about retiring to Tulum, I’m Wondering if you can help with a few questions.
We do not speak Spanish at all, but want to learn once we move there. Can one move to this area without knowing Spanish?
also is there an expat “neighborhood” with mostly Americans and or Canadians (English speaking)?
lastly can you recommend a good real-estate agent who would be willing to work with us in looking for a 3 bedroom, 2+ bathroom house or condo?
We were in Tulum yesterday looking around. There are about three separate areas of Tulum where people like to live and each represents different styles of life. There is the area along the road from Tulum to Coba where there are some lots and land. People that like this area are more interested in a more rural home and building it themselves. There is the downtown of Tulum where it is still developing. Here some people have bout land or a building to turn it into a business or rental units. Then there is the area closer to the beach where there are condos and more high-end developments. These can be good for people that want to live for part of the year and rent out the rest or live year round and have a more modern type of living arrangement. In this area there are more English speakers and since Tulum is a small town you will be able to network and ease your way into speaking Spanish. We will email you with reconditions for real estate agents to talk to if that is ok.
I am looking to spend a few months in the Yucatan to see if it will be the right fit for me. I’m 47, originally from Brooklyn, NY but lived in San Diego for the last 4 years. I just checked out Costa Rica for a month but it didn’t suit me. Now I’m in Cancun & I like it very much. I’m finding it difficult to find realtors who can help me find a vacation rental for a couple months so I can give it a trial run. I’ve not been to Playa Del Carmen yet, this week for sure. Where else should I explore? Looking for oceanfront 2BR cat friendly place to retire. Would welcome any suggestions or references for realtors. I’m in the hotel zone till Feb 1st. Thanks so much for your time!
If you are liking Cancun because it is more a city like Miami, then that might be the best option for you. Playa Del Carmen is getting more like a city but the center is still walkable and it is a more international feeling city. Going south there are only small towns so these might seem nice on vacation but if you want things closer to you when living, you might not find a good fit in Akumal or Tulum. The west coast also does not afford any large cities on the beach, so Quintana Roo might be the best option for you. Most real estate agents don’t bother with a few month contract because often there is not much of a commission compared with renting a unit for a year. Often the prices are much higher for a short term as well.
Your post caught my eye Bc I too am from Brokklyn and moving to Playa In a few weeks. I’m a 34 year old female soon to be former sales professional relocating to work with my best friend opening an inn at a property in the area she recently purchased. I’ve never even been to Playa, I was in Cancun about 15 years ago but realistically I’m moving to Mexico sight unseen for a new adventure in life. My question to you is, as a New Yorker, am I in for a major culture shock, are there really a good amount expats to connect with and do you have any tips on acclimating? I’m beyond excited and lucky my friend knows the ropes pretty well by now but I’ll be renting by the beach in Playa at an Airbnb type place the first month while I look for an apartment. She currently lives about a 15 min bike ride from the beach in a studio for about $300 a month (insane to me when I think of my Brooklyn rent ha). I’d like to spend around $300-$500 on the apt, be walking/bike distance to the beach and in a safe area. I don’t yet speak Spanish but she does and knows a ton of people but I’d like to get by on my own as much as possible so an area with English speaking like minded people is ideal. Basically, in general, how has your experience been since moving there? I plan to eventually get a work visa but I want to spend a few months adjusting and exploring. Any advice is welcome with regard to life in general there or a good place to use for an apartment hunt next month as I’m totally going in blind ha. Thanks!
We will help tackle some of your questions. You must be very excited about this new adventure in your life. There are many English speakers in Playa Del Carmen. More in the center and as you get our further, less and less. If you will be staying 15 minutes by bike from the beach you will most likely be in a more local area. To help you understand some of the culture shock, see our article here: https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/culture-shock-mexico-how-to-understand-the-cultural-differences/
To help you look for an apartment see our article here: https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/aparments-playa-del-carmen/
Like minded Brooklyn women from bay ridge.. I just spent a week in akumul and playa del Carmen with my husband I currently live in San Diego, the truth! I am thinking of buying a place in playacar, or a little south of playa del Carmen, which I find too crowed. I plan on visiting again and look at condos. Planning on retiring in a few years.
It would be interesting to keep in touch and share experience. Seems like your ready we won’t be at least for a year, unless I find something’s that I can’t pass up. Keep me posted on your progress. Be nice to buy your a beer!
Thank you for your response. Was in Playa the other day. Seemed very nice but it almost didn’t feel like I was in Mexico. Mostly tourists & lots of ex-pats in the 5th Ave/walkable/beach areas. Was actually like some neighborhoods in LA. All that’s missing is a Whole Foods! While I can definitely see its appeal, it’s a little too trendy for me. While Cancun is SUPER touristy, it seems to afford the opportunity to mix with the locals more. One day in Playa cannot tell me much so I’ll keep exploring & comparing.
Yes at first Playa can seem very touristy. But then again if you go to the Hotel Zone in Cancun it is 200% touristy. Most locals live the other side of the highway in Playa Del Carmen, leaving the downtown more for tourist rentals. There is more that just 5th in Playa but it is nice as resident to go for a walk and feel the energy at times. Another things that makes Playa Del Carmen a good place to live, is the fact it is more central to things in the Riviera Maya and Peninsula. You can visit Tulum or Cancun for the day, hope over to Valladolid or go to a cenote. Cancun is rather in the corner of the peninsula.
This is a very good article, I just left Tulum but will visit PDC next year. I’m really considering moving to either Tulum or PDC, I imagine Tulum will grow as PDC has but not needing a car sounds appealing to me also as I live in DC right now. Is there a way I can sign up to your site to receive emails once you publish something new? Again, thank you very much!
We do not have an email list yet but do publish articles almost every day. Some are just about restaurants and small things and some are larger articles or guides. If you follow us in Facebook and Instagram we usually post the bigger stories and best article with video and photos there.
No mention of Celestun. I have been considering buying a home there. Any reason it is not mentioned? Thanks, Abigayle
We did not mention it because it is such a small community. There are several small beach towns north and south of Progresso that are places where expats do buy. There is nothing wrong with them, we just were writing about some of the more obvious choices that people decide where to live and give a general description of them.
We are looking to move to the Yucatan. We first started to look at Merida but see there are more options. We are looking for a place with good internet and other expats. We want to avoid Cancun and be connected to the airport to fly to the States. It is hard to find the perfect place but there are sacrifices in looking for a place. We imagine ourselves there every day!
I am a single retired woman who wants to escape midwest winter months. Looks like lots of options in the Yucatan! Can you recommend an area? I would like to be able to make friends with some expats (but not stumble over them like Lake Chapala) and have someone to go on outings with. I like a quiet, relaxed lifestyle with most of what I need within walking distance (no car.) Near water would be nice (lake or ocean.) Affordable prices. I am learning Spanish, and I would like to become part of a community and learn more about the culture.
Well it sounds like Merida might be the right fit for you. It is not on the water but it is a short drive by car or bus from the city. All of the small coastal cities near to Merida are car necessary. Merida has many cultural events and lots of day trips available. One thing you can look at is our interactive map of places to visit as cultural weekend trips. It is heavy toward the Riviera Maya but we are always adding more places to this map. https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/playa-del-carmen-tours/
Playa Del Carmen in the center is walkable and near the water but cost of living are higher and it is not as cultural.
This has been a very informative blog! I too am interested in these areas PDC and Tulum! On retiring in the near future. Will be visiting in Sept staying at Bahia Principe in Akumal as our launching point to explorer the possibilities. Thank you so much for the information .
Welcome to the area Kevin! We hope your exploration goes well and you get to know the area well. As you will see by staying at Bahia, distance from services is important. There is only one grocery store between Playa and Tulum and not much else for shopping. Sometimes paradise in a remote beach are nice for a few days but services are good to have as well. It is always a balancing act.
So the last comment I’m seeing here was over a year ago?! Am I missing some? I just wanted to comment on Puerto Aventuras. I purchased a 2 bed, 2 bath condo there (a 7 minute walk to the beach!) in March of 2015. It was still being built and took quite a long time to get finished. I finally got it in February 2016 and started renting it out (Holladay House at Airbnb) in May of 2016. Do check out your builders and/or real estate companies as some don’t operate all together on the up and up. It can be a real pain especially if you don’t live there! Originally I considered retiring to Puerto (born and rasied in Southern California and over it!) but I have since decided, I think, I might retire to Charleston, SC area instead. But we will see. In the meantime, I really LOVE Puerto Aventuras. It’s an awesome safe, gated community, right next to Hard Rock resort, with many stores, restaurants, music, things to do, a laundry service, 3 resorts inside it, a doctor and dentist, a school, parks, golf, tennis and racketball, barber and beauty shops, farmers market, a marina, a spa, beautiful beaches and snorkeling, dive shops and tour places, a museum, great neighborhoods and nice, friendly people. Many expats live there from what I’ve seen. There’s a large grocery store and some other shops just a block away within walking distance. Just by the front gate is a gas station and a few other small shops. By the way…Tulum got a new big grocery store last year). Puerto is very centrally located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. I really think people should check Puerto Aventuras out….especially if retiring and/or would just like a bit more relaxing atmosphere. Young party people might find it a bit boring to live there full time, though. There is so much to see and do on the Riviera Maya. I really do love it there 🙂
thx for the info
Excellent article, thank you!
United States travel ban suggested with 5 states, thankfully not the peninsula… have also been reading crime is up? Is it our news being sensational or is that the case?
Also what areas are best for high speed internet?
We are looking at coming for a year and have two kids in junior high. We also want to get plugged into a Christian community and find ways to serve and get to know locals. Thoughts?
I am also diabetic and need access to prescription and medical supplies. In the US the med supplies get mailed to me…
Most towns have good internet but often as it is in Playa it is neighborhood to neighborhood. Some newer ones have no service. Crime was up in the past 11 months but has gone down again. We keep this article up to date on crime for residents. https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/playa-del-carmen-crime/
There are some Cristian communities and churches in the area that do volunteer work in communities. So there are some opportunities to work and get to know local through this way. As far a medications, these are generally available. If there is something specific you need but good to ask people that are here and use medications so you know if it is available.
Great information! Just wondering if you know much about how to obtain a resident visa? I am a New Zealander and looking at moving to Playa next year.
It will depend exactly on if you are single or a couple and if you are going to want work permission and details like this. A great person to facilitate the process is Milly Arceo. She comes highly recommended. Her email is here: [email protected]
Can you provide me with websites I can find a long term rental in Playa? I am planning on relocating there in the near future and would like to get an idea as to what to expect for a budget of 1100 USD with two cats. I am retired as well.
I’m looking for a real estate person to help me find a long term condo or house in PDC or Playacar, can anyone recommend someone from experience, thanks
There are not that many agents that work with long term rentals because there is more that like the short term market. Some of the large agencies are good places to start but you will find more the high end places. Facebook groups are a good place for individual renters.
I was surprised to see how many expats are moving to the rural areas in the Yucatan. It used to be Merida and the beaches but places like Valladolid are really growing.