Are you moving to Playa del Carmen and looking for a long term apartment rental? Whether you’re a digital nomad looking for an apartment for a few months or an expat looking for a longer term rental, I’ve detailed everything you need to know about the Playa del Carmen apartment rental process.
When I first moved to Playa del Carmen, I had a really hard time finding any valuable resources online for securing long term apartment rentals so I really wanted to share all the knowledge I’ve acquired to make the apartment renting process a little easier for those looking to settle in Playa del Carmen. Read on for my detailed guide on how to find a Playa del Carmen long term rental.
If you’ve never been to Playa del Carmen before, I would highly recommend staying in an Airbnb for a few days once you first arrive so you can check out the rentals in person. Online advertisements can be deceiving and it’s best not to sign for anything until you’ve actually seen the building and are familiar with the area. Below is an overview of some of the most popular neighborhoods in Playa del Carmen.
Playa del Carmen Centro
The downtown area of Playa del Carmen is called “Centro” and it’s probably the most popular place to live. I would definitely recommend this area as it’s closest to the lively 5th Avenue and the beach. It’s also where the majority of restaurants, bars, and shops are located. The downtown area is almost completely walkable or you can easily ride a bike or rent one from Biciplaya to get around.
In Centro I would avoid living right on 5th Avenue due to the noise but I would recommend living closer to 5th as it’s generally safer and there are more people out and about. I always preferred to live no further west than 30th Avenue as I felt it was just a little bit safer, at least for a female. Below are a few areas/neighborhoods that I favored (these are by no means restrictive – you can find a ton of great rentals all over Playa – but these are a few areas that I really liked):
- Colonia Hollywood – This is a cute residential neighborhood located right behind the Mario Villanueva Sports stadium. The buildings are little bit older but it has cute tree-lined streets and some of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen.
- 38th Street – This is a popular street located towards the end of 5th Avenue. It has some great outdoor restaurants and newer condo buildings plus it’s closest to 38th Street beach, which is one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.
- Avenida Constituyentes/near Mega – This is a very central area right in the middle of downtown Playa del Carmen and being close to the Mega grocery store is a huge plus
- Coco Beach – This neighborhood is on the edge of downtown Playa del Carmen at Avenida CTM and the beach. It is more upscale with a lot of luxury buildings but it’s a much quieter and and up-and-coming area
Playacar is a gated residential community just to the south of downtown Playa del Carmen. It’s primarily home to expensive beachfront properties as well as all-inclusive resorts, but there are some apartment buildings as well. There are different phases or “fases” where the properties are located. You can find some nice rentals in Playacar but it’s definitely more expensive than downtown Playa del Carmen since it is more exclusive. You’ll also need to drive to get around so it’s better for those that own a car.
Another option is to live in a private gated community (fraccionamiento), which are mostly located further away from downtown Playa del Carmen on the other side of the highway 307. There are a ton of these in Playa but some examples of these are Los Olivos, Real Ibiza, Real Bilbao, Selvanova, and Punta Estrella. These are generally 2-3 bedrooms apartments or townhouses that usually offer security, pools, and some amenities.
These gated communities can be very nice and are much less expensive but the location is not very convenient to getting to downtown Playa del Carmen. You will definitely need a car to live in these communities, or you will have to rely on taxis all the time. These areas are more popular for families and Playa del Carmen locals.
Colosio is another neighborhood located just north of downtown Playa del Carmen. There is a lot of new construction in this area so there are some nicer and less expensive rental options. It’s also just a few blocks from the beach so the rooftop views can be really great. However, this area is a little bit of trek from the lively downtown and it’s also not as safe (especially at night). I know some people that have had very nice rentals in Colosio but I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable living there on my own as a female.
Step 2: Determine your budget
The great thing about Playa del Carmen is there are rental options for every budget. You can easily get by with a much lower budget or there’s a multitude of luxury options as well. You’ll want to make a list of what’s important to you and your must-haves and nice-to-haves in terms of amenities, location, and building services. Below are a few things to consider when determining your budget.
Average Rental Costs
Here’s a rough estimate of the average monthly rental costs in downtown Playa. These prices are by no means set in stone but will give you an idea of what you can expect to pay. Obviously if you’re looking for a luxury rental, the prices will be on the higher end. Rates can also vary by season so during high season (December-February) rental rates will be much higher, especially if it is a shorter term rental.
- Shared unit: $5,000-$7,000 pesos ($250-$350 USD)
- Studio: $6,000-$12,000 pesos ($300-$600 USD)
- 1 Bedroom: $12,000-$25,000 pesos ($600-$1,250 USD)
- 2 Bedroom: $20,000-$30,000 pesos ($1,000-$1,500 USD)
- 3+ Bedroom: $30,000+ pesos ($1,500+ USD)
Almost every apartment for rent in Playa del Carmen will come furnished. Some lower price rentals might be partially furnished but basic furnishings usually include a bed, couch, table, as well as some kitchen supplies. I usually just had to buy my own sheets, towels, and some additional kitchen utensils. Higher end rentals will have everything you need. This makes it very easy to move in with only your luggage and personal belongings.
You’ll definitely want to consider which amenties you are looking for in your rental. Some amenities include a pool, fitness center, reception, security, or a 24 hour doorman. The more expensive condo buildings may also offer a movie theater room and spa facilities. Personally, I was willing to pay more for a pool and added security.
Another big thing you want to look out for in your rental is air conditioning. Not all rental properties have air conditioning and might just offer a ceiling or window fan. For me, air conditioning was always a must. The heat and humidity in Playa can be unreal, especially in the summer months. If the rental property does have air conditioning, it will most likely be a wall unit with a remote control.
Step 3: Consider the added costs for utilities
Okay this is a big one and very important when you’re looking for an apartment rental in Playa del Carmen. Electricity prices can be crazy expensive in downtown Playa del Carmen. For some rentals, especially those that are typically used as vacation rentals and run the air conditioning all the time, monthly electricity bills can be $500+ USD. Yes, that’s U.S. dollars not pesos.
CFE is the main electricity provider in Mexico and each property is charged based on your usage and watts consumed. If your usage is continuously high then you get charged at the highest rate level which is called “DAC” (Domestic High Consumption). Once the property goes into the DAC level it is extremely hard to come down from that. So basically you want to make sure that the rental is not in DAC before you decide on that rental. You can ask the landlord to see the last few months of electricity bills to verify this.
Internet is relatively inexpensive in Playa del Carmen and is usually included in most rentals. If it’s not included, you may be charged $400-$500 pesos ($20-$25 USD) a month for internet service. There are a few different internet providers in Playa del Carmen including Telmex, Izzi, Total Play, and Terared. You’ll definitely want to check the provider and the speed of the internet to make sure it will meet your needs, especially if you are working from home. I was able to negotiate a faster internet speed with one of my landlords so keep that in mind.
Water is sometimes included in the rental price but if it’s not then you will pay the bill directly to Aguakan. Water is pretty inexpensive in Mexico and depending on your usage, bills can be around $25 USD every 2 months.
Step 4: Look for Apartment Rentals
Below are some recommendations for the best places to look for apartments for rent in Playa del Carmen. I will say Playa is a little behind the times with digital listings but it has gotten better in recent years. Be sure you’re looking for long term rentals in Playa del Carmen (“largo plazo” in Spanish). You will find a ton of cute apartments that are listed as ¨Renta Vacacional”, which are short-term vacation rentals or Airbnbs. Most of these are not available for long-term rent as they’re able to make more money from nightly stays.
In my experience, the best place to look for Playa del Carmen long term rentals is on Facebook Marketplace. There are many listings that are updated frequently and the listing agents are usually very responsive. The search filters make it easy to narrow down your criteria based on price and location. I personally found 2 of my rentals on Facebook Marketplace.
In addition to Facebook Marketplace, there are a ton of Facebook groups for apartment rentals in Playa del Carmen, as well as people looking for roommates.. You can easily create a new posting and realtors will send you a Facebook message with any options they have available. Here are some of the Facebook groups I joined:
Whatsapp is a messaging app that’s an absolute must if you’re moving to Mexico. If you don’t have it on your phone, go download it now. It’s the most common way you’ll be communicating with other people as well as businesses in Mexico. There are some dedicated groups on Whatsapp for Digital Nomads and Ladies of Playa del Carmen. Once you arrive to Playa, reach out in one of the groups on Facebook to get an invite to the Whatsapp Group. where you can ask for any insider listings.
Another way to find rentals in Playa del Carmen is just by walking around. Look for signs that say “Se Renta” and call or text the number listed to find out more information. Even if the apartment is not available, the landlords usually have other properties nearby to recommend.
This is also a great way to discover the area and find streets that you would like to live on, as well as gauge the proximity to nearby restaurants, shops, and grocery stores. If you don’t speak Spanish, I would recommend taking a picture of the phone number and asking a Spanish speaking friend to assist.
Step 5: Complete the apartment rental process
Below is some useful information in regards to completing the Playa del Carmen apartment rental process, and a few things to consider when choosing your rental.
It’s very common to be charged a deposit of 1 month’s rent. If you are working with a broker or real estate agent, the landlord will typically award the deposit to the broker as commission. As long as everything is in good working order when you leave, you should get your deposit back once the contract is done. Depending on your contract, they might deduct a small fee for cleaning but I have never had any trouble getting my deposit back from my apartment rentals.
Signing a contract is almost always a requirement for renting a long term apartment in Playa del Carmen. Contracts will be in Spanish so it’s a good idea to have a native Spanish speaker review the contract before signing anything. The contracts are similar to a standard apartment lease you might find in the U.S., with clauses for the rental terms, rules, and any additional fees. Contracts are typically for 6 months or 12 months, but this is definitely negotiable.
If you’re signing a contract with a decent landlord, there will likely be a contract fee. This might be around $1,500-$2,000 pesos (~$75-$100 USD) and covers the cost of having a notary sign the contract. Although it might seem like a lot of money, it is actually smart to have the contract notarized so it is a legally binding contract that protects both parties.
Monthly rent can be paid in cash or through an online bank transfer if your landlord will allow it. I always preferred to pay through an online transfer like Western Union or Transferwise as it was more convenient and costs less when paying from a U.S. bank account. I love using the Transferwise app as it is super quick and will deliver the funds in less than 30 minutes. I also felt safer paying online rather than taking out large amounts of cash from the ATM. If you do pay in cash, beware the lines at the ATM are extremely long on the 1st and 15th of the month.
Tips for Apartment Renting in Playa del Carmen
Apartment renting can be a stressful experience no matter where you live, but trying to find one in a foreign country can make it even worse. Here a few tips I’ve learned from my rentals in Playa del Carmen:
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate the rental price. It’s Mexico – the rules are not hard and fast so you can definitely try to negotiate the rent, especially if it is during low season.
- Trust your instincts – there is no shortage of scam artists in Playa del Carmen that will take advantage of you if you’re not careful. If something seems off or too good to be true, it probably is. Do your due diligence before you commit to anything you’re not comfortable with.
- Always pay rent in pesos. Some landlords may try to get you to pay in USD but since the exchange rate is always fluctuating, you’ll almost always save money by paying in pesos.
- When the utility bills arrive, always ask your landlord to see the bill before you pay for anything. They can easily forward you a picture to verify the amount.
- If you’ve found an apartment you are interested in, be sure to stop by at night time to gauge the safety of the building and neighborhood. Streets can look very different at night.
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