Playa del Carmen Mexico Pros & Cons

Today, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and revisit our decision to move to Cuenca, Ecuador rather than Playa del Carmen, Mexico when we left the United States.

As some of you may know from watching our older videos, Ecuador wasn’t our first choice. We had our sights set on Playa del Carmen because it was familiar to us and much closer to home. However, we ended up ruling it out for various reasons.

After traveling throughout Ecuador, Mexico, and Colombia, we felt it was time to reevaluate our decision and answer the burning question: Did we make the wrong choice?

Playa Del Carmen Pros And ConsPlaya del Carmen, Mexico: Our First Choice

Initially, we had our hearts set on Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We were both familiar with the area and enjoyed our time there on prior vacations, making it the easiest option.

But, after extensive research and weighing the pros and cons, we opted for Cuenca, Ecuador instead. So, let’s dive into the details of Playa del Carmen and discuss whether we still believe we made the right call.

Our Playa del Carmen Experience

We were quite surprised upon our arrival in Playa del Carmen. Despite the airport being only 34 miles (55 km) away, traffic made the drive feel like an eternity.

We stayed in a nice Airbnb outside of the main tourist area, which was peaceful, close to the grocery store, walkable, secure, and clean. It was very small and the kitchen could use some more gear, but it was super affordable and our host was fantastic and even recommended drivers for us.

Pros of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has a lot going for it that make it a popular home for expats and digital nomads.

Playa del Carmen Mexico Pros & Cons

  • Scenic 5.2 km walking area along 5th Avenue that’s mostly flat
  • Pedestrian and pet-friendly
  • Great for people-watching
  • Popular among digital nomads, retirees, and singles
  • People from all over the world and lots of languages spoken
  • Vibrant Mexican culture
  • Amazing food and restaurant variety
  • Numerous options for different dietary needs
  • Abundance of shopping options, including grocery stores, malls, Walmart, Home Depot, and local tiendas
  • Pharmacies carry a wide range of prescription drugs

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Cons of Playa del Carmen

No place is perfect and Playa del Carmen has several drawbacks that could make it a challenging place to live full time.

  • Hot and humid
  • Extremely crowded in tourist areas, especially during peak season
  • More concrete and less beach than before
  • Seaweed (sargassum) problem on the beaches – it was really bad
  • Walking the gauntlet on 5th (persistent salespeople)
  • High prices in tourist areas, comparable to US costs
  • Can’t drink the tap water (water filter bottles recommended – we used the Katadyn BeFree Bottles)
  • Can’t flush the toilet paper (at least not in the AirBnB where we stayed)

The Verdict: Cuenca vs. Playa del Carmen

We could have definitely lived in Playa del Carmen, especially as expat newbies.

The abundance of English speakers and expat-oriented services would have made the transition easy. We also loved the bustling vibe and numerous activities.

However, we don’t think we would have wanted to live there long-term. The constant influx of tourists, heavy traffic, and hot, humid weather might have eventually worn us down.

In the end, we still believe Ecuador was the right choice for us, considering our lifestyle preferences.

For more on this topic, check out this article next: Top 10 Reasons Why We Chose Ecuador.

Watch Our Video About the Pros & Cons of Playa del Carmen



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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!

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