Tourism in Playa del Carmen has skyrocketed over the past fifteen years and the sleepy fishing village has grown into a real holiday hot spot. But it’s not just short term vacationers who are flocking to this Mexican beach town. Expats, snowbirds and digital nomads have also discovered the benefits of this dynamic little city as a longer term home. This means that decent Playa del Carmen long term rentals are now in high demand.
Looking for Playa del Carmen monthly rentals is a much different game than looking for beach vacation rentals. It requires a lot more research and due diligence to find a place you’ll be happy with at the right price. After all, you are not just after somewhere to sleep and store your clothes, you are looking for somewhere to call home for a month or more. We should know, we have done this exercise twice in the past four years.
Finding Playa del Carmen Long Term Rentals
The first thing you need to do is to make a list of what you are looking for. What are your ‘must-haves’ and what are you willing to compromise on?
What is your budget and minimum size or number of bedrooms required?
Rent prices will vary drastically, as they do anywhere, based on length or time, location, size, quality etc. With some work and luck you can find a simple but decent furnished place for 1-2 people for as little as $400 USD per month. However, there are also plenty of larger, fancier, beach-front apartments that go for well over $1,500 USD.
What area do you prefer?
This is a key factor in looking for a home in Playa del Carmen so definitely do your research. The town has grown incredibly over the past decade and what used to be considered ‘far from everything’ is now ‘conveniently located’. On the other hand there are new apartments located right next to local homes which may not be in a really desirable location or there may be roosters next door to wake you at the crack of dawn. It really depends what you’re comfortable with.
If sticking to a lower budget is priority then you’ll need to forget being right by the beach or 5th Ave. But if you make sure you are walking or cycling distance or close to a bus route you can save some money and still quickly get where the action is. Generally, the best area to stay in is between Calle 44 Norte and Calle 3 Sur and between 30 Avenida Nte and the beach. This area is safe and pleasant and close to everything.
The Playacar area can also be a good choice but it’s usually more expensive and if you’re at the far end you will want a car or be using taxis. This is not to say that there aren’t good options outside of these areas but they will require a bit more caution before renting.
Do you need it fully furnished?
Many apartments come at least partially furnished with things like beds, sofa, table and chairs but they may require that you purchase items like bedding and kitchen ware. If you are only staying for a month of two then you will likely want a place that is fully furnished and ready to move in. Of course, there will usually be a price difference between these options but it’s not as much as you might expect.
Do you want a full kitchen?
Most long term rentals in Playa del Carmen will have a full, if basic, kitchen. However, some may come with just a small fridge and cook-top so if you plan to cook at home a lot this would be a something to consider when looking for a place. Remember though that there are many fabulous, reasonably priced (away from 5th Ave), local restaurants and street food vendors in Playa so you may not use the kitchen as much as you think.
What are your ‘must-haves?’
Are you someone who needs a TV or are you happy watching on your laptop? Speaking of which, is internet a top priority? For digital nomads it obviously is.
Is air conditioning vital? We say yes it is, but some people are ok with a fan in the winter months.
Is it important for you to have outdoor space like a deck or patio?
Do you want a swimming pool? This usually comes with a higher price tag.
Do you need a place that accepts pets?
Is a washing machine a must? Keep in mind that very few rentals will have a washing machine and we have never come across one with a dryer. Plus, laundry services are very cheap in Mexico.
The next step is to begin the search. There are many ways to look for long term rentals in Playa del Carmen and we have found that a combination of some of the following is the best way to go as opposed to relying on one source. Whichever resources you use we highly recommend actually being in Playa del Carmen to view the properties and handle the negotiations in person before signing any contracts or giving large deposits. But much of the research can be done prior to arrival.
Airbnb is usually our first go to if we’re only looking for a one month rental or if we want a place to stay for the first week while we search for a longer term rental. The prices are generally much more expensive than long term rentals but at least you can be reasonably assured that you are going to get what is promised and nobody is going to rip off your deposit. Plus, there are some Airbnb’s that are willing to offer substantial discounts for long term so it’s always worth asking. If you haven’t yet signed up for Airbnb you can use this link for a $35 credit.
Online classified listings like Craigslist Playa del Carmen, or the local sites like Andale Classifieds, Vivanuncios (Viva Street.) Of course, these will generally be in Spanish so if you can’t read Spanish just use an online translator like Google Translate to get an idea of what is available. You can also use it to translate an email to the landlords and ask questions. Note that English websites will be full of high-priced listings catering to foreigners so you will likely find better deals in the local classifieds.
There are plenty of agents you can contact prior to ever stepping foot in Playa del Carmen that will send you a list of places that somewhat meet your requirements. However, keep in mind that this will almost always be the most expensive way to go. These agents work on commission (often getting the first months rent) so it is in their best interest, as well as the landlords, to rent the place for as much as possible. We would only suggest using this method if you have more money that time or are just too nervous to find a place on your own.
Walk the Streets
Obviously this method requires that you be in Playa del Carmen. There are many, many places for rent that never even get advertised anywhere other than a ‘Se Renta’ sign in the window. These are usually the best priced options but it will normally require speaking Spanish as most of these landlords will not speak English.
If you are comfortable speaking Spanish, or if you have a friend willing to negotiate for you, you’ll be ahead of all the non Spanish speaking gringos in terms of getting a good deal. It’s unlikely that you will ever get the same price as a local but you’ll definitely pay less than you would with an agent. Take photos of the places you like and either knock on the door or record the phone number to call later.
Top Tips for Apartment Rentals in Playa del Carmen
- Do your research on areas in Playa del Carmen. This is preferably done on the ground but if that is not possible read as much as you can online about the different neighborhoods and look at Google Street View.
- Find and join Facbook groups and travel forums for Playa del Carmen and ask questions. Often there are people on there who can suggest places for rent.
- If you don’t speak Spanish try to find someone who does that is willing to help with negotiations. If you don’t know anyone ask your Airbnb or hostel host. They may be willing to help for a few cervezas!
- When possible, always view the place before giving a deposit or have someone else go and see it. Photos are usually ok but sometimes they can be very old or deceiving. Also, it’s good to walk the neighborhood and get a good feel for where you’ll be living.
- Once you have found a place you like try to talk to neighbors. Ask if they like the building or neighborhood and even ask what they pay for rent. It may sound rude but it’s actually quite normal in Mexico.
- Unless you are looking at a high-end rental it’s unlikely that there will be a notarize, enforceable contract involved. Generally, it will be a hand written basic agreement so try to create a good relationship with your landlord.
- Download WhatApp if you don’t already have it. Everyone uses it in Mexico and it will be the best way to communicate.
We hope this post helped ease the anxiety that often comes with renting in a different country. The main takeaways are to do your research, take your time, be prepared to negotiate and if possible recruit a local to help.
Once you have found a place and settled in we have no doubt that you will love living in this beautiful Mexican beach paradise as much as we did.
There will be challenges and adjustments, of course, but that is part of what makes life interesting. After all, if you didn’t enjoy change and new experiences you wouldn’t be looking to stay long term in a different country!
Now that you’ll have plenty of time to experience all that this beautiful part of the Maya Riviera has to offer, you may be interested in reading about Xcaret Theme Parks or the quiet paradise of Xpu-Ha.
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.