Playa del Carmen is a small beach town about an hour south of Cancún. It’s become a popular vacation destination for Europeans and North Americans. You’ll also find a growing expat community here––North American, Europeans, Argentinians, Canadians, Venezuelans, and more.
This growth in popularity brought luxury residential buildings, restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment venues.
An attractive aspect to Playa del Carmen, besides the natural beauty, is the fact that foreigners can work there. So if you’re not looking to retire yet, this destination is worth looking into.
Playa del Carmen has warm, tropical weather year-round.
The dry season runs from November to February. From March to May, temperatures gradually rise as the rainy season approaches. The rainy season runs from June to October.
Temperatures usually stay in the mid-70s during the day, and humidity is low. Nights are cooler, but it usually doesn’t get below 60°F. However, the breeze that comes in from the shore and keeps you cool during the day can feel quite chilly once the sun goes down.
Owning a short-term rental anywhere in Playa del Carmen would result in a good, steady yield. The closer to the beachfront, the more it would earn. However, a mid-range apartment farther out of the town’s center (closer to the highway) would still earn a decent amount.
There are expats in Playa del Carmen who own and operate bars, teach English, teach at or run schools, manage real estate offices, and more.
Some expats have chosen to raise their families here. The international school was founded by expats who recognized that they and other expat parents needed a good option for education.
In this town, you will see tourists and residents of all ethnicities and that represent all part of society. You’ll come across young couples and retired couples, families, students, and it’s a welcoming destination for the LGBTQ community.
With such a large group of expats and tourists, English is widely spoken. You’ll have no problem getting by if you don’t speak Spanish.
Another charming aspect of Playa del Carmen is that you can get pretty much anything you’d have gotten back home. This town has 12 supermarkets and 2 Walmarts.
Barra de Navidad was the quintessential sleepy fishing and farming village until it was discovered in the mid-20th century. Mexican vacationers were first on the scene, followed by vacationers from the United States. In recent year’s snowbirds, especially Canadian snowbirds, are spending the winter months here.
While nobody would describe this as a fishing village anymore, Bahia de Navidad still retains a laidback feel. If you want somewhere quiet on the Costa Alegre then Bahia de Navidad should be on your radar.
Nearby (a 3 hour drive) Puerto Vallarta has become a tourist favorite in recent years. What was once an off-the-radar escape is now busy to the point of overcrowded.
The Bahia de Navidad (Christmas Bay) is a beautiful, sweeping, crescent-shaped bay and beach located on Mexico’s Pacific seaboard. Barra de Navidad, at the southeast end of the bay, shares the beach with its neighbor, Melaque, on the northwest end.
These two towns, separated by just a short walk across the beach, are very different. Barra de Navidad is chic, charming and upscale compared to rustic, laid-back Melaque. The complement each other nicely giving locals different options.
Cost for everyday consumables in Bahia de Navidad is about half of what it would be in the United States.
Utility bills are low. The warm winter weather means that you don’t have to spend money on heating. During the summer months you will want to run fans or Air Conditioning. This adds money onto your electricity bill. Some houses are built here to take advantage of the sea breeze. If you have find one of these houses you can save extra money on your summer electricity bill.
A couple can live and retire for as little as 21,966 Mexican pesos per month.
|Gas||MXN 298||Used for hot water and cooking.|
|Electricity||MXN 2,593||Winter electricity MXN 460 per month without air conditioning. Summer electricity MXN 4,000 per month with prudent air conditioning.|
|Water||N/A||Included with electricity.|
|Telephone||MXN 778||Includes DSL Internet, and cost varies according to Internet speed and long-distance calling plans.|
|Internet||N/A||Included with telephone.|
|Cable TV||MXN 220|
Bahia de Navidad is benefits from a modern and well-maintained road system. It’s about 25 minutes drive on highway 200 from Manzanillo airport. You can drive here from the United States without difficulty
There are frequent daily flights to Los Angeles (Aerocalifornia), Phoenix (America West Airlines and US Airways), Mexico City (Aeromexico), Houston (United and Continental), and from just about anywhere else through Mexico City.
Bahia de Navidad has good intercity first-class bus service (Primera Plus) to nearby and major cities Manzanillo, Colima, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, and Guadalajara. Most of these first-class buses are equal or superior in comfort to first-class airline seating. All roads are paved and in good condition and have two lanes except through larger cities where they have four.
The weather stays warm all year here, which is one of the main reasons a lot of expats come here during the winter.
The daytime temperatures in Bahia de Navidad average 85 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit year around, with March being the coolest month and August the hottest. Higher humidity during the summer rainy season makes the temperatures feel several degrees hotter, especially if you’re out in the sun, but constant offshore breezes keep things from getting too stuffy. Nighttime average temperatures are pleasant, ranging from 67 degrees in March to 77 degrees in August. You can sit out on the porch and enjoy a BBQ or some drinks.
The rainy season runs from June to October, averaging 9 to 15 rainy days per month, with September having the most rainy days. The high perceived temperature, or real feel (temperature plus humidity) of the rainy season months is such that many residents stay just five or six months here—November through April is typical.
The crescent-shaped Bahía de Navidad has two sheltered areas: one at the far northwest end, where the cliffs and rocks curl around to protect a small section of the bay (there are often a few sailboats taking shelter there); and the other at the southern end of the bay known as La Laguna de Barra de Navidad, which is a much larger and better protected area, situated inside a sturdy sandbar with a small opening to the ocean.
This sandbar and lagoon provided several advantages to the south end of the bay, resulting in a vastly different class of town. The lagoon that provided shelter for the Spanish navy 450 years ago still protects the fishing and tourist boats and the upscale houses of modern Barra de Navidad on one side, and the enormous resort-hotel complex, Grand Bay Hotel, on the Isla Navidad side.
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