The Ultimate Cell Phone and Internet Data Guide for Digital Nomads to Get a SIM Card in Mexico

If traveling to Mexico is something you’d like to cross off your bucket list and wonder if you need to get a Mexican SIM card, the answer is yes! Getting one while visiting will ensure that you have cell phone data and phone reception in Mexico at all times.

In this ultimate guide, you’ll discover the best Mexican phone carrier, where to get a SIM card, and other helpful information for travelers and digital nomads. 

The Best Mobile Carrier in Mexico

If you want to have good reception and cell phone data in Mexico, Telcel is the phone company you’ll want to use. Telcel is the largest cell phone provider in Mexico, so getting a SIM card from them will allow you to have the most coverage all over the country.

What Are Other Mobile Carrier Options?

AT&T and Movistar are the other cell phone companies available in Mexico. However, the terrible customer service of Movistar and the poor reception of both make them unattractive options.

NOTE: You may already have international cell phone service in Mexico. We recommend calling your current phone company to consult this before traveling and/or buying a local SIM card.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a SIM Card in Mexico? 

SIM cards in Mexico range from $1 to $10 USD; this is only for the card without data, though you’ll need to fill the card with credit to have cell phone data in Mexico. Without credit, it’ll be obsolete.

How to Get a SIM Card in Mexico

TelCel SIM Card, Mexico

If you decide to follow our recommendation and buy a Telcel SIM card, you can quickly get it at multiple sales points: Oxxo, Walmart, corner shops, tech kiosks, Telcel customer service centers, or verified Telcel resale centers, and at some airports. You’ll also be able to top-up your SIM card at most of these locations. SIM cards from other companies can also be purchased at these sales points (except Telcel centers). 

Telcel SIM cards come in 4 and 8 GB sizes; this is the amount of data included with the card that you can use until it runs out. Once this happens, you’ll have to refill it at one of the sales points mentioned before or online on Telcel’s website. 

Telcel also offers prepaid cell phone plans in Mexico that you can purchase online or at the sales points; these plans range from $1 to $25 USD. These plans provide unlimited SMS and phone calls in Mexico. Also, it has options for the USA and Canada, data, and endless social media browsing depending on the plan you purchase. 

Before buying a local SIM Card in Mexico: 

  1. Check if your current phone carrier has free international phone service. 
  2. Make sure your phone is unlocked (If your phone is tied to a specific carrier or contract, it is considered locked).

Pro Tip: Download Whatsapp

Planning to be in Mexico for a long time? We recommend downloading WhatsApp on your phone. WhatsApp is the king of instant messaging in Mexico; therefore, it’ll be a great tool to communicate with everyone you meet on the road, and reach out to restaurants or entertainment centers.

It is the best means of contacting anyone, no matter the location or people using other service providers. It’s a free app for both Android and iPhone phones. Telcel often includes unlimited Whatsapp use with its prepaid plans. 

Final Words

We hope that this ultimate Mexico cell phone guide provides all the information you need. Thanks for reading! 

Travelling further south to Central America? Check out The Ultimate Central America Phone Guide here

Mexico City, also known as CDMX, is the capital of Mexico and a trendy destination among international and local travellers. The energy, culture, colours, food, people, and tremendous variety of activities and attractions make it a destination you can’t miss. For these and many other aspects, Mexico City is an ideal location for all types of travellers you just have to pick the best neighbourhood in Mexico City

So, you decided Mexico City will be your location for the next couple of months. However, adapting to a 21 million people city may be intimidating. 

When choosing the best neighbourhood in a city as big as Mexico City, you want to consider essential aspects such as proximity to shops and sites of your interest, access to public transport, touristy spots, and safety and budget. Next, you’ll find all the details about the best areas to stay in in Mexico City.

Questions arise as you land and check from above this massive Latin American capital. “Where should I live? Am I going to get lost in this concrete jungle?”.

If you are a digital nomad or just someone who wants to plan a long-term trip here, you’re in the right place because we’re about to answer these questions.

We came up with this guide to the best neighbourhoods in Mexico City to make it easier to choose not only the coolest but also the most practical, and safe neighbourhood for your stay.

La Condesa

Colonia Condesa, Mexico City

If you’re visiting CDMX for the first time, you’ll love La Condesa. This western side of town is an excellent choice if you want to surround yourself with an old-fashioned yet modern atmosphere. Here you’ll be able to enjoy many exquisite restaurants, vintage markets, unique shops, and a great nightlife scene. La Condesa is the perfect neighbourhood for artists, writers, students, and other creatives.

Its prime location near the Chapultepec Forest, where you’ll find a magnificent historic castle, a zoo, garden, lake, and more, makes it an excellent area for families and digital nomads who love to walk around. And if you love dogs or travel with one, then you’ll feel right at home because La Condesa is a dog lover neighbourhood. 

Everything you need is within walking distance: convenience stores, coffee shops with high-speed internet, laundry services, yoga studios, parks… You name it! There are many reasons why foreigners choose this neighbourhood.

It is also very well connected with Metrobús, Bus, Metro, and EcoBici stations available just a few blocks away.

Pros and Cons of La Condesa:


  • Unique ambience
  • Excellent nightlife and wide restaurant selection
  • Cozy and attractive accommodations
  • You can peacefully walk around the neighbourhood
  • It’s known to be a safe area


  • If you’re not a party person, the nightlife can be a drawback rather than something enjoyable
  • It’s a little bit pricey
  • If you don’t book in advance, it can be hard to find an accommodation

Local tip: If possible, check if your accommodation has been well maintained since some buildings have been severely damaged from past earthquakes.

Find houses for rent in Mexico Here

La Roma

Typical art nouveau house at Colonia Roma in Mexico City

Roma is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Mexico City. It’s divided into two districts: Roma Norte and Roma Sur.

Roma Norte is a slightly more modern and touristy spot, while Roma Sur echoes the local and traditional life of the area. Roma is one of Mexico City’s best neighbourhoods for young tourists looking for a fun time, but it can also be a good option for couples, families, and older travellers who want to stay in a nice neighbourhood with a unique vibe. 

This hip and vibrant neighbourhood has (almost) the same features as La Condesa. However, here you can feel a more cultural and artistic vibe. 

This historical district is mapped by main roads such as Insurgentes Ave., Medellín, Monterrey, and Cuauhtémoc Ave., which connect the city’s south with the centre. However, this neighbourhood’s core is Álvaro Obregón Ave., where you find a buzzing commercial activity. The area also provides affordable and handy services like laundries, tailors, shoe repairers, and stationaries.

Want to get fresh veggies? Then hit one of the many farmers’ markets that take over the streets.

Pros and Cons of Roma Norte:


  • The landscapes, architecture, and streets are unique 
  • You’ll find good food everywhere
  • You can walk around the area and even to other neighbourhoods 
  • The nightlife and bars are first-class


  • Compared to other neighbourhoods, Roma can get a little expensive
  • It’s a slightly more touristy destination
  • It’s not close to museums or other popular attractions 

Local tip: It is full of digital nomads and ex-pats, so search for coworking places and meet-ups.

La Escandón

Panoramic aerial view of Mexico City, over the Escandón neighbourhood

La Escandón is located just across Revolución Avenue. This neighbourhood has a lot to offer to anyone who wants to build a new life without spending much. Compared to its surrounding areas, La Escandón’s real estate prices are more affordable, the buildings are more modern, and it has a local family vibe. 

Its activity comes from schools, tienditas (convenience stores), late-night street antojitos, markets, and coffee shops sitting on every street. Some offices operate Monday-Friday when the neighbourhood is busier, but after 6pm, the roads get peaceful. 

Pros and Cons of La Escandón:


  • Metro and Metrobus stops are within walking distance.
  • Affordable


  • The roads can be hectic during the day

Local tip: Make some benchmarking in La Condesa and Roma. Prices in La Escandón should be around 30% less. 

La Cuauhtémoc

Located next to the city’s most iconic monument, El Ángel de la Independencia, la Cuauhtémoc (do not confuse it with the Cuauhtémoc municipality) is having its second boom after the 60s, when most of its buildings were constructed. 

Some of them are being improved, but you also find huge original with affordable rental prices. Facilities might be outdated, but they are charming.

In addition to having restaurants, nightclubs, coffee shops, 24/7 convenience stores, and hotels, the location is one of the best in the cities. Walking distance to el Centro, Polanco, Roma, Condesa and Chapultepec Park, and few blocks away from el Metrobús, and Metro.

Pros and Cons of La Cuauhtémoc:


  • Cuauhtémoc has a lively international dining scene
  • It is within walking distance to key attractions and neighbourhoods 


  • It is an older area so facilities might be outdated

Local tip: Walk through every street because you will find delicious ramen restaurants to second-hand shops.


 The best neighbourhoods to stay in Mexico City - Coyoacan f
Museo Frida Kahlo

For artsy streets, bohemian stores and coffee shops, art galleries, and museums, Coyoacán is the spot. Here you’ll feel like nowhere else in the city, and it’s genuinely one of the freshest neighbourhoods in CDMX. Coyoacán also offers plenty of splendid restaurants, stores, and public amenities like the Jardín Centenario and the Mercado de Coyoacán; in this last one, you’ll find an incredible variety of crafts and other curiosities. 

Coyoacán, where Frida Kahlo lived, is a charming, bohemian, and full of jacaranda trees district. Although modern skyscrapers changed the landscape, the centre and surrounding streets keep a historical atmosphere with the colonial architecture and cobbled streets.

Some properties used to be haciendas that now are divided into smaller accommodation like duplex houses or two-bedroom apartments.

Despite being one of the most touristic places in the city, and attended by locals over the weekends, you will be drawn to a slower pace that reminds you of Mexican villages. 

Pros and Cons of Coyoacán:


  • It’s a very safe and family-friendly neighbourhood
  • The restaurants have exquisite food
  • There are many art galleries, museums, and creative spaces


  • It’s very far from the downtown area and its surroundings
  • You’ll need public transport or Uber to be able to move around

Local tip: Traditional Mexican-style architecture is easy to find here. Prices are much lower than in other neighbourhoods. 

La Narvarte

In Mexico, they say something is BBB when it is Bueno: good, Bonito: pretty, and Barato: cheap, and this is Narvarte’s accurate description. This is your place to be! If you’re looking for a more local atmosphere that offers absolutely everything you need at affordable prices…

Middle-class Mexican families mix with the busy commercial activity while enjoying one of the many parks in this square.

Being away from the tourist spots has its perks in terms of prices, but this place is surrounded by every means of transportation. 

Pros and Cons of La Narvarte:


  • Easy access to multiple transportation options. You can quickly move to the city’s centre, Coyoacán and Roma, using Metrobus, subway, trolleybus, truck, bicycle or even walking.
  • Its praise as the “cradle of the taco” is not in vain; in Narvarte, you can find these places on every corner, but gourmet options are also for all tastes.


  • The main tourist attractions are a little far

Local tip: Look for accommodation in smaller streets than can be quieter during the daytime.


Are you looking for something extravagant and fancy? This is the neighbourhood for you! Polanco is the place for luxury hotels, upscale stores, fine dining, and fun attractions. The Museo Soumaya, Museo Jumex, Chapultepec, and Gandhi Park are nearby attractions you need to visit if you decide to stay here. Other sites you might enjoy are the Avenida Masaryk (Masaryk Avenue) and the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. The beauty and appealing qualities of Polanco sound impressive, but this charm comes with a high price because it’s one of the most expensive areas to stay in CDMX.

Pros and Cons of Polanco: 


  • Luxury and comfort are all you’ll find here
  • It’s close to several attractions 
  • There are many options for shopping
  • It’s a very safe area


  • It’s expensive
  • The main tourist attractions are a little far
  • There aren’t many public transport options available 

Local tip: Make sure you walk to the Bosque de Chapultepec and its stellar Museo Arqueológico 

Centro Histórico (Historical Downtown)

The Centro Histórico is one of the most popular areas, and it’s also the heart of the city. You’ll find attractions like the National Palace, the Torre Latinoamericana (Latin-American Tower), Templo Mayor Museum, the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The Centro Histórico Area is one of the best to stay in, especially if it’s your first visit and your budget is tight.

Pros and Cons of Centro Histórico:


  • Has easy access to public transport
  • You’ll be able to find many different attractions within walking distance
  • Accommodation prices are very affordable, and there’s a lot of variety to choose from 
  • Perfect for first-time visitors


  • It’s a very crowded area, and if you like quieter and calmer neighbourhoods, the Centro Histórico can get a little noisy depending on the accommodation’s location and window/balcony setup.
  • Unfortunately, pickpocketing and petty theft often occur on this side of the city.

Local tip: Visit Miralto the Restaurant and Level 40 of Latin American Tower. The Bar is located on the 40th and 41st floors, a high experience dining destination. This iconic culinary hotspot uses traditional Mexican finishes to reinforce its location and present visitors with breathtaking views. 

Ready For Your Trip to Mexico City?

Now that you’ve read ALL the details about Mexico City’s best areas for extended stays and digital nomads, you’ll be able to choose the perfect fit for you. Whatever neighbourhood you decide to stay in, in Mexico City we hope you have a great time visiting this magnificent city.

If you need help finding the perfect Airbnb – check out our post here.

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The cross into Guatemala from San Cris was relatively easy and a well trekked route but there are a few extra precautions to take due to Covid. Save this post if you plan on taking this trip yourself.

Here’s how to do it:

🎫 Purchase a shuttle ticket in San Cristobal de Las Casas and be sure to do this in advance – they are currently doing limited trips.

🦠 Get a PCR or Antigen test for Covid-19 no more than 72 hours before you are due to cross the border. Make sure you have TWO printed copies of the test with you.

The journey:

  1. You’ll be picked up from your accomodation in San Cris between 8 – 9am depending on how many people they have to pick up before you. Make sure you are ready to go at 8am, they won’t wait!
  2. You’ll drive for two hours then make a stop at an Oxxo for food and the bathroom if you need it.
  3. Next stop is Mexican immigration. Here they’ll check you haven’t overstayed your visa, if you’re a tourist, and they’ll stamp you out of Mexico. If you have overstayed they’ll charge you a fee.
  4. Now you’ll drive 10 – 15 minutes to the Guatemalan border. You’re going to change shuttles here so you’ll need to carry your bags from the parking lot across the border to the immigration office in Guatemala – it’s only about 300 meters.
  5. At immigration in Guatemala first you’ll enter a temporary building and hand over your Covid test results. They’ll also take your temperature and ask a few questions. Once this is done they’ll give you a note to take to the official immigration office.
  6. The immigration officer will take a copy of your test results, the note from the Covid checker person and issue your visa. We are kiwi and American and both got 90 day visas, free.
  7. Once you’re all cleared by immigration it’s time to get into your new shuttle and drive the rest of the way to your destination in Guatemala. We went to Panajachel, and after clearing customs, it was roughly a 6 hour drive with one stop for food. We arrived in Panajachel at 8pm, exactly 12 hours after we left San Cris
  8. That’s it, you did it!

We spent a 12 months working remotely and travelling around Mexico, here’s where we went:

Sayulita > Puerto Vallarta > Guanajuato City > San Miguel de Allende > Oaxaca City > San Cristóbal de Las Casas > Merida > Playa del Carmen > San Cristóbal de Las Casas

Our first stop was technically Guadalajara but we were only there for 9 days at the beginning of Covid-19 so don’t have enough information to make an accurate assessment. For the purpose of this guide we are only including cities we’ve spent a minimum of one month in.

Each location has been rated on cost of living, wifi, food and things to do. Please note these are our experiences and opinions only.

Sayulita 3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Sayulita sign in the plaza

Sayulita was our first real stop in Mexico and we ended up staying here for three months! 

It was the perfect laid back place to get our feet wet (literally) it it’s a small town so easy to get around, English is widely spoken and the locals and helpful and friendly. 

Plus it’s got that cool, surfy-beach vibe.

Cost of Living 3.5 out of 5.0 stars

We spent three months in Sayulita at the beginning of the pandemic and a lot was closed which forced us to cook and stay in, this help us to keep costs low. However looking back the price of eating out and activities in Sayulita is higher than other cities or towns we lived in. We also got veeerrry lucky with our AirBnB and got it for a steal.

Wifi 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Our Wifi was phenomenal, some of the fastest we’ve had in Mexico although we’ve heard some horror stories so be sure to check if your AirBnB host before booking. See our post on booking the perfect AirBnB here.

Food 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

There are some GREAT food options in Sayulita, some of our favourites were:

🌮 @yeikame_sayulita
you’re checking this place out the chicken quesadilla is a must try. They use a blue corn tortilla which was a first for Zahn and did not disappoint. We also love the breakfast burritos here, they are a nice, cheap, grab and go for a breakfast on the beach.

🍕 @larusticasayulita
We ordered pizza from here more than we should probably admit but anyone that knows Addison knows that he could eat pepperoni pizza everyday for the rest of his life and be happy but if you want something a little different try the La Rustica pizza (chicken, pineapple, tamarind BBQ and coriander/cilantro, yum).

🌯 @burrito.revolution
Not only are these guys some of the nicest people we’ve met they also make an amazing burrito and sauces I wish I could bottle and take home to put on everything. All of the burritos are good, all of the sauces are good.

🍛 @achara_sayulita
If you get over Mexican and pizza and feel like Thai this please is great. Our favourites here are the Penang (Zahn’s favourite) and the pumpkin fried rice 😋

Things to do 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Again, due to Covid-19 a lot was closed while we were but regardless, the main things to do here are beach, eat and drink. Not that we are complaining!

We did also try horse riding, and snorkeling in Sayulita with Mi Chaparrita

Check out more on Sayulita here.

Puerto Vallarta 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

We fell unexpectedly in love with Puerto Vallarta. Yes there is a very touristy vibe. But once again the people were so lovely and helpful and there’s a whole other side to this place beyond the usual tourist and resort scene.

Cost of Living 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Puerto Vallarta was much more affordable than we expected, we were able to get a really rate on our AirBnB which helped.

Wifi 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

The Wifi was good, although we did have the occasional drop out it was quick enough for us to both make video calls at the same time without a drop in speed.

Food 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

This was our first real introduction to tacos, oh-em-ge, the tacos! Plus there was such a wide variety of international options and beachside restaurants, you can’t go wrong in Vallarta.

Things to do 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Within Puerto Vallarta itself there is plenty of art galleries, shopping and beaches to keep you occupied. There’s also plenty of day trips to do in the area including Mayto, San Sebastián, Talpa de Allende and more! 

Watch more videos from our time in Puerto Vallarta here

Guanajuato City 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Guanajuato is one of our top three cities and we wouldn’t hesitate to come back, from the beautiful colourful buildings adorning the hills to the active city squares. Guanajuato is a must see.

Cost of Living 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Guanajuato was were we really saw how cheap Mexico could be. We had an incredible 3-story house, with a breath taking view in town for roughly $600 per month. 

Wifi 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

No complaints here with the internet but as usual we recommend you check with your host.
Download Mbps 19.23, Upload Mbps 6.43

Food 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

Probably the only downside in Guanajuanto City; the food just wasn’t that good! But, it was very cheap. For example you could order a package breakfast which consists of fresh bread, fruit, coffee, juice and a main dish such as chilaquilles for about $85 pesos 

Things to do 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

You can’t walk around the streets of Centro Guanajuato without tripping over a beautiful gallery or museum. There’s also mines, tunnels, and mummies to explore. 

San Miguel de Allende 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

This was our first taste of disappointment in Mexico.  Our experience was seriously tainted by the absolutely atrocious internet speeds and high cost of living.

Cost of Living 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

Everything in San Miguel felt more expensive, from taxis to activities and everything in between.

Wifi 1.0 out of 5.0 stars

The wifi did not work at all in our AirBnB. We ended up hotspotting through a Telcel sim card. BUT, there is currently no unlimited data plans in Mexico! That’s what we said. So we had to top-up a couple times a day which was stressful and expensive.

Download 1.66 Mbps , Upload 1.23 Mbps 

Food 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Although the food was more expensive than other places in Mexico – it was delicious. The restaurants in downtown San Miguel de Allende were on par with some of the best you’ll find all over the world. Plus, on the other end of the scale there were also fantastic taco and torta stands dotted around the neighbourhoods.

Things to do 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

San Miguel de Allende is one of those cities that is so beautiful you could happily just walk around and enjoy the sites but there is also plenty of more formal activities including food tours, archeological ruins and museums.

Read about some of our favourite things to do in San Miguel de Allende here

Oaxaca City 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Oaxaca is known as one of the gastronomical hubs of Mexico and this city did not disappoint.

We spent a month here in November and could’ve spent many more. We were only able to scratch the surface of what Oaxaca has to offer because of Covid-19 restrictions but we’d gladly come back.

Cost of Living 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

The cost of living is reasonable in Oaxaca, you can find everything from cheap street food to high-end restaurants. We spent a lot of time dining out to take advantage of the amazing food scene which did push our monthly expenses up but you could easily live here on a budget.

Wifi 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Oaxaca was a wifi dream with super fast speeds: Download 63 Mbps, Upload 19.26 Mbps

Food 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

There’s a really good reason Oaxaca is known for its food. The moles, the memelas, molotes plus the mezcal scene make this a foodies dream. 

Check out our food recommendations for Oaxaca City here

Things to do 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Besides eating and drinking there’s plenty to do, and lots of culture in Oaxaca. In fact there are 16 indigenous languages spoken in Oaxaca.

Some of the top things to do are:

  • Visit the daily markets 
  • Go to Monteban 
  • Visit workshops of local artisans

San Cristóbal de Las Casas. 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Probably our favourite place in Mexico. This small, colonial city in Chiapas, 2200 meters above sea level is a real treat.

Cost of Living 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

San Cristobal de las Casas is hands down the cheapest place we’ve lived in Mexico.
See a breakdown of our costs here

Wifi 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

We stayed in two different houses in San Cristobal and both times the wifi was excellent.
Download 46.69 Mbps, Upload 14.2 Mbps

Food 3.5 out of 5.0 stars

There are some great food options in San Cristobal de las Casas, all very reasonably priced. You can get a good meal at a nice restaurant for roughly $600 pesos for two people – including drinks!

Things to do 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

This is another one of those places that’s beautiful you could happily walk around all day and not get bored.

But if that doesn’t sound like you, can can also easily travel to waterfalls, lakes, indigenous villages or even the Palenque ruins.

Check out some of our favourite things to do in San Cristobal de Las Casas here

Merida 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Merida was another city we left feeling a little underwhelmed by. The city itself is reasonably large and modern but lacked flavour for us. Most people spoke great English and used that to try and sell us on tours and trinkets, which is normally fine – we are used to it. But, here it came off a little cheesy and people would often follow us as we walked, under the guise of trying to help.

Cost of Living 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Although the prices weren’t as high as we were expecting it certainly wasn’t cheap! 

We paid double what we normally would for accommodation, we had a private pool but were in the suburbs and needed to taxi to the city. 

See a full breakdown of what we spent in Merida here

Wifi 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

We stayed her over the Christmas holiday period and didn’t plan on working so I didn’t check the internet speed but it was not great and dropped out often with frequent power outages.

Another thing to note is that there is free wifi downtown that you can connect to.

Food 3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Like all modern cities, you get the full range in food options, from street food to fast food and high end restaurants.

While we didn’t find the food bad here it didn’t wow us.

Things to do 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

In the city itself there’s not a lot to do, there are museums, galleries and churches you can visit. However, the real reason most people visit Merida is for what’s just outside the city. 

There’s a plethora of ruins to visit; thousands of public/private cenotes (swimming holes) + beaches close by.

Playa del Carmen 3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Playa del Carmen has a reputation as a digital nomad hub and it’s easy to see the appeal, plenty of modern amenities – apartments, restaurants and bars and of course the beautiful weather and beaches. But, we felt a little old here and the found the overall costs too high. 

Cost of Living 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

The cost of living in Playa del Carmen was significantly higher than other parts of Mexico: food, taxis, and activities were all on the higher end of what we’ve experienced in Mexico. We ended up having to book accommodations quite far outside of the city centre to get something we could afford. Taxis back and forth were expensive!

Side note, if you need to take a taxi DO NOT take it from within the tourist zone, you may receive a fare up to 4 or 5 times the price. Just walk a few extra blocks before hailing a cab and save yourself some $$

See a full breakdown of what we spent in Playa del Carmen here

Wifi 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Another excellent wifi spot.
Download 64 Mbps, Upload 20 Mbps

Food 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

We didn’t eat out a lot in Playa del Carmen but what we did eat was pretty average.  

Things to do 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

There’s a lot going on in Playa del Carmen – a large digital nomad scene to chill; beaches to relax at. We particularly enjoyed getting out of Playa del Carmen and taking trips to nearby Akumal, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.

Watch the video here ↓

Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Oaxaca. With your delicious food, mezcalitas and magical markets.

We spent a month here in November and could’ve spent many more. We were only able to scratch the surface of Oaxaca has to offer because of Covid restrictions but if you’re lucky enough to visit this beautiful city, here are our must-dos.

  • Go to the Sunday market in Tlacolula, try the barbacoa goat and of course check out the handicrafts
  • Get brunch at Boulenc, Always! But there is a good use of space. I’d say the vibe is hipsteresque: You will see all types of people – mostly tourists – and the music is as cool as it is current, yet somehow not mainstream. Making the above scrumptious meal is just the side-hustle. They make delicious bread (pan) 🍞 first and foremost. In fact, their bakery (next door) has even more customers!
  • Do a street food tour with Betsy @oaxaca_street_food_tour. We’ve actually got a whole video on this one experience coming soon plus a video already out about the traditional Stone Broth Soup
  • If you are interested in the crafts and artisans of Mexico, Teotitlán del Valle, a small Mexican village near Oaxaca city is a must visit!  Teotitlán del Valle is known for Zapotec weaving, using traditional techniques, tools, dyes, and patterns. We were able to watch and learn about the whole process at Casa Don Juan and, I’ll tell you what, the art of natural dye is impressive, and so is the weaving and machines used to produce these beautiful pieces
  • Taste all the mezcal at Expendio Tradición. The cocktails are 👌 and the food is pretty good too

We’ll definitely be back!

Ever get something in your head and just HAVE to do it?

That’s what happened with the Edward James Surrealist Garden – Las Pozas, and us.We were leaving San Miguel de Allende for our next spot in Oaxaca and decided it would be a good time to tack on short trip in between.

Our route ended up looking like San Miguel de Allende > Xilitla (how to the surrealist garden) > Querétaro > Mexico City > Oaxaca City.

This garden famed for being build by an eccentric British guy the came to Mexico with 5,000 boxes of Kleenex was not on the way at all.In fact, it was in the opposite direction but off we went at 4am through some very windy roads in the dark for 6 hours to get there. Addison was not impressed.

The garden was beautiful and the town was quaint but in hindsight it was unnecessary. Ever been on trip that needed up not being worth all the hassle?

Watch the video here ↓

If you are a beach person and don’t mind a tourist-y vibe, Playa del Carmen is a must. There are so many beautiful beaches close by from Playa 88 in the Colosio to a little further a field in Akumal, Xpu-Ha or the surrounding Islands.

We didn’t spend much time downtown on 5th Ave and ate a lot at home but still managed to rack up an expensive month with two overnight trips and activities but it was worth every penny!

Rent (see our apartment here) $773
Other Accommodation (hotels for 2 x weekends away – see below) 388.35
Cellphone $29.96
Groceries $186.84
Eating Out $333.42
Activities $336.82
Toiletries/Pharmacy $14.14
Laundry (we had a washing machine in our apartment) $0
Transport $395.82
Total for 2 people for 28 days $2458.35

Weekends away

We have included in the costs above two week trips we took while in Playa del Carmen as we don’t think a trip to PDC would complete without them.

1) Isla Mujeres – see our post about getting from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres here

Isla Mujeres is a laid back island with stunning beaches, 20 minutes ferry from Cancun. We spent two nights on Isla Mujeres at the Ocean Drive Hotel.

The biggest cost here were:

  • The hotel which cost MXN$4030.10 / USD$193.17,
  • a day pass for Garrafon (a waterpark/resort type of thing) MXN$1964 / $94.14 which included unlimited food, drinks, snorkelling and a zipline.
  • and we also hired a golf cart which was MXN$1,200 / USD$57.52.

2) Cozumel

Cozumel is another Island but this one is closer to Playa del Carmen – a 45 minute ferry from downtown. Cozumel is more geared toward diving and is much larger than Isla Mujeres.

Here we had one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed in and it was completely unexpected! The hotel had recently completed a newer building next door to its original which was adults only and we were given an upgrade to the new section (yay).

The hotel we stayed at was Hotel B and cost us USD$175.39 for two nights!

Other costs on Cozumel were:

  • Car hire for two days MXN$2,200 / USD$105.45
  • Snorkelling for two MXN$1980 / USD$94.91

Activities breakdown

Turtle in Akumal
Bike Tour of Playa del CarmenMXN$808.62 / USD$38.76
Akumal Snorkelling with TurtlesMXN$1415.09 / USD$67.83
Snorkelling at CozumelMXN$1980 / $94.91
Yal Ku Cenote in AkumalMXN$860 / $41.22
Garrafon (Isla Mujeres) Day PassMXN$1964 / USD$94.14

Transport Breakdown

Bus to Cancun, ReturnMX$260 /USD$12.46
Ferry to Isla Mujeres from Cancun, ReturnMXN$798 / $38.25
Golf Cart in Isla Mujeres for 24 hoursMXN$1,200 / $57.52
Ferry to Cozumel, ReturnMXN$1,200 / $57.52
Car Hire for 2 days in CozumelMXN$2,200 / $105.45
Taxi to Akumal, ReturnMXN$1,200 / $57.52
Taxi to Xpu-Ha Beach, ReturnMXN$1,200 / $57.52
Taxis Around Playa del CarmenMXN$600 / $28.76

Isla Mujeres to Cancun

Getting to Isla Mujeres is easy. If you’re coming from Playa del Carmen you’ll need to take the bus to Cancun. Go to either of the ADO stations and take the bus to Cancun downtown NOT the airport.

ADO Terminal Turistica Playa Del Carmen
AddressCalle Quinta Avenida LTE 2,
Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.

Playa del Carmen Alterna
AddressCentro, 77710
Playa del Carmen, QROO

Cancun to Isla Mujeres 

Once you’re in Cancun you’ll to take a taxi to Ultramar, there are two Ultramar terminals Puerto Juárez and Hotel Zone, we’d recommend going to Puerto Juárez – it’s closer to the busy station and taxis are expensive in Cancun. It should cost your roughly $200 pesos, although I’m sure if you walk a block or two away from the bus station the prices will drop. 

We picked up a ticket once we arrived at the ferry terminal but if you are travelling during high season and want to ensure your seat you can also book online.

One you’re on the ferry it’s a quick 20 minute trip across to Isla Mujeres.

Getting Around on Isla Mujeres 

Everything in download Isla is super close so if you’re staying in the central downtown area you shouldn’t need a taxi.

As you get off you’ll be bombarded with people trying to rent golf carts to you and if you plan on exploring more of the island we’d suggest you to pick one up.

We used GoMar II which was a block or two back from the main strip, $1200 pesos for 24 hours and had no trouble whatsoever.

As I said, everything downtown is really close and the island is small so 24 hours should be enough time to explore. A second loop takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half. We drove round twice – once to get a feel for where everything was and visited the Turtle sanctuary and Punta Sur (the lighthouse) and on the second go round went to Garrafon, more on that below. 

Merida has a reputation as one of the expat havens on Mexico and as such we were expecting the prices to be a little higher and we weren’t disappointed in that regard.

It was definitely one of the more expensive places we’ve been in Merida and in all honesty not all that it’s hyped up to be. It could that Covid was impacting our experience or we’d just been spoilt with so many other Mexican gems before getting here but we left with a little feeling of ‘meh’.

However there is plenty to do just outside the city, here are our highlights for Merida:

  • ALL of the ruins but in particular Uxmal and Mayapan. Chichen Itza was impressive but a little too busy for us.
  • Cenotes, cenotes, cenotes. I mean what’s not to like.
  • And…. that’s about it! A lot of the museums and galleries were closed and to be honest we found Merida a little boring, which seems to be an unpopular opinion 😬

Below are our costs for 28 days in Merida for two people, in USD.

Rent (see the Airbnb we booked here) $997
Cellphone (for 2 phones) $29.96
Groceries $174.05
Eating Out $459.37
Activities (see list below) $521.82
Toiletries/Pharmacy/Personal Care $82.35
Laundry $0.00
Ubers around the city $66.09
Bus to Playa del Carmen $43.24
Taxi from Airport to AirBnB $24.97
Total expenses $2,398.85

Activities include:

  • Mayapan 
  • Uxmal and Choco-Story
  • Chichen Itza and the pink pools 
  • 2 x Cenote trips
  • Day trip to Progress 
  • Walking tour in Merida City

We always feel a little bad when we don’t love a city we’ve stayed in (it’s actually only happened once with another very popular spot – San Miguel de Allende).

We are extremely grateful to be here and still had a lovely time but want to keep it real and share when something or somewhere wasn’t what we expected or what it’s hyped to be.

Thinking of moving to Mexico but not sure about finances. Read our full breakdown on cost of living in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico

In December we spent most of the month in San Cristobal de las Casas (we were in San Cristobal de las Casas from 23 November – 19 December) and, moved to Merida towards the end of the month.

The cost of living in San Cristobal was comparatively cheaper to other places we’ve been in Mexico however that last week or so of the month our costs up.

Eating out was a big expense for us this month with $358.67 of the total falling into San Cristóbal de las Casas and $336.28 over only 11 days in Merida! Oops.

We also spent a significant amount on activities while we took a few weeks off work. The below total for activities includes:

December 2020: Income and Expense Report

Rent (AirBnB Merida, paid in December for 19 Dec – 16 Jan) $1,000.29
Cellphone $20.00
Groceries $151.01
Eating Out $694.95
Activities $577.86
Toiletries/Pharmacy $14.14
Laundry $15.26
Laptop Repayments $91.00
Taxi (San Cris) & Uber (Merida) $50.85
Travel (flight) San Cris to Merida $112.31
Total expenses $2,727.67
Income $6,120.71


Our income and expenses is for x 2 people and is made up of multiple streams (and excludes business expenses such as VAs, other. contractors, software etc.)

All $ mentioned are converted to USD using the latest exchange rate at the time of reporting.

In December our income was made up of:

  • $207.71 Teaching English Online
  • $3,934 Freelance (in December 2 x clients were late paying invoices for work that had been completed to the value of $1,410 which will be transferred to the month it is paid)
  • $1,979 – Part-time employment income

Planning a trip to San Cris? We hope you found this post on the cost of living in San Cristóbal de las Casas valuable – let us know if there’s anything we’ve missed.

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