Playa del Carmen – An ideal home base for the Yucatan Peninsula

Being a full time working nomad I have been testing out the right balance of work and travel. Currently the one month on/one month off system is working for me. This year I have managed to spend a month in Penang, as well as a couple of months in Chiang Mai in between travels. While I was in Chiang Mai I met up with a fellow long term traveller, Derek “Wandering Earl” Baron. After a few online discussions we realised that we would both be in Mexico at the same time. It also turned out that he had a spare room for rent in his apartment around the same time I would be there as well. This is what brings me to Playa del Carmen, which will be my home for my next one month off travel.

Playa del Carmen Beach
[The white sandy beach at Playa del Carmen]

I didn’t know much about Playa del Carmen other than it is close to Cancun. When I think Cancun, I think resort town filled with American spring breakers. That is only part of the story though, and after readings Earls article about why Playa del Carmen is such a good place to live, I felt comfortable with the decision to spend some time here.

I have been in Playa a few days now and I sold on the idea of staying for a month. There is no denying that this is a touristic destination, but after scouting the town I see that the most of the tourist shops are confined to one street (5th Ave) which runs parallel to the beach. Further back from the beach, Playa is an every day working Mexican city, but with better infrastructure. There are plenty of local restaurants that are half the price of some of the restaurants on the tourist area, and there is also a Mega supermarket nearby for household grocery items.

Señor Frogs - Playa del Carmen
[There is more to Playa del Carmen than Señor Frogs]

My home for the next month is a modern and spacious apartment with a swimming pool and wifi included. It’s about a third of the price of what I would pay for the same standard accommodation in Melbourne.

Apartment pool in Playa del Carmen
[Living in Playa del Carmen]

Perhaps the biggest attraction of living in Playa is its location on the Yucatan Peninsula. Basing myself here I can make day trips to highlights of the region, such as Tulum, Chichén Itzá and the Cenotes. July is also rainy season here so it is not so busy, and the rainy days (which I haven’t experienced yet) may encourage me to stay inside more and get some work done before heading off on the road again. Afterall I am actually meant to be working while I am here ;)

Over the next month I will be visiting more of the region as well as reporting on living in this great part of the world.

Comments

  1. says

    That apartment complex looks like it’s near Mega. Very close to that (around 30th and Constitueyentes, across from Nativo) is La Ceiba at DAC (the grocery store), a fantastic place for smoothies and great food, fairly cheaply.

    Playa’s a great place to live. Enjoy your time there.

  2. says

    That apartment complex looks like it’s near Mega. Very close to that (around 30th and Constitueyentes, across from Nativo) is La Ceiba at DAC (the grocery store), a fantastic place for smoothies and great food, fairly cheaply.

    Playa’s a great place to live. Enjoy your time there.

      • says

        We found we used the pool every day, but only went to the beach every few weeks. Crazy, because we live so close to the beach you’d think we’d always be there. Just much easier to go back and forth from the house to the pool – don’t have to pack a lot of stuff like you do when going to the beach.

  3. says

    Nice post James. If I could add something, it would be taking the ferry over to Cozumel. Among many things to do there, the zocalo (central square) of San Miguel is a great place to take in the wonderful Mexican tradition of families hanging out and, depending on the holiday, dressing up and enjoying a beautiful evening together.

  4. says

    Nice post James. If I could add something, it would be taking the ferry over to Cozumel. Among many things to do there, the zocalo (central square) of San Miguel is a great place to take in the wonderful Mexican tradition of families hanging out and, depending on the holiday, dressing up and enjoying a beautiful evening together.

  5. says

    As I said on Facebook I think, I’m jealous!! Touristy elements aside, I actually adore Playa Del Carmen and as it was the first place I visited in Mexico as an adult traveler – it also has a permanent soft spot in my heart. I’d go back in a heartbeat and live there without needing an arm wrenching!

    • says

      Yes it was Facebook you said that :) It’s an interesting how first places visited can command such a place in the heart. I started off in Mexico on the Pacific coast and I am torn over which side I would like to live the most.

  6. says

    As I said on Facebook I think, I’m jealous!! Touristy elements aside, I actually adore Playa Del Carmen and as it was the first place I visited in Mexico as an adult traveler – it also has a permanent soft spot in my heart. I’d go back in a heartbeat and live there without needing an arm wrenching!

  7. Clemax2000 says

    Hi James,
    I really enjoyed your post as I will be in Playa for 40 days starting on Feb. 26 2012. Would it be at all possible for you to tell me the name of that condo in which you lived in. I have been in Playa on 4 different occasions before this, but have always stayed in small hotels and for shorter periods. Your comments would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.
    Roger

    • says

      Hi Roger, I don’t remember the name of the complex, only that it was across the road from the Mega supermarket. My friend who I lived with brokered a deal with with the owner of the apartment which helped to bring the price down. This seems to be the cheapest way to do it, rather than going through an agency.

  8. isabel says

    I am wrapping things up in Milwaukee (yes, home of the Fonz and Laverne&Srirley). I will be arriving in Playa mid-month. I was freking out and wanted every step scheduled. No more. I have to see where this leads. Thanks to your blog and others I’ve read I am ready to just go.

  9. John says

    James, I would like to stay at the building you are showing above. How do I make contact with the person renting it. Thanks

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