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Tulum Vs. Playa Del Carmen – Which Is Best For Digital Nomads?

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If you have the ability to work remotely and looking to head down south to enjoy paradise, the Mexican Caribbean is an appealing choice, especially for the winter months. And when looking at your options, you might find yourself asking the question, “should I move to Playa del Carmen or Tulum?”

To help you make that decision, we can definitely help you out from our experiences in Playa del Carmen and Tulum. From the WiFi quality to the lifestyle these cities can provide and everything in between, here’s everything you need to know about Tulum vs. Playa del Carmen for digital nomads. 

This post will cover practical things like the cost of living, digital nomad experiences, food, beaches, and more.

Woman working on laptop on beach

How’s The WiFi?

Let’s get one of the most important things for digital nomads out of the way – the WiFi situation. Playa del Carmen is a much bigger city than Tulum and with a much more solid infrastructure. That being said, you are more likely to find reliable WiFi 24/7 in Playa rather than in Tulum.

For starters, there’s a wider range of restaurants and cafes in Playa del Carmen compared to Tulum to find a WiFi connection to get a few hours of work done. 

close up image of a coconut drink on a tropical beach in the Riviera Maya.

When checking on the site Nomadlist however, you’ll see that Tulum has an internet speed rated as ‘fast’, at an average speed of 11 Mbps. Playa del Carmen’s WiFi speed is slower, at 6 Mbps on average.

If you’re working a 9-5 type of job and need to jump on calls from time to time, both cities are good to work from if you have an internet connection set up in your apartment or vacation rental. That’s what many digital nomads do in both cities, and they are able to get by just fine. 

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Cabana at Tropical Resort with Laptop

The Lifestyle

These neighboring towns in the Riviera Maya, in many ways, couldn’t be more different. On the surface, you might think they are the same, but there are many aspects that make Playa del Carmen and Tulum unique. When it comes to living there for a few weeks or more, your day-to-day life can look very different in these two cities. 

If you live in the center of Playa del Carmen, you’ll have much easier access to the beaches. Digital nomads in downtown Tulum will have to make the trek (or take a pricey taxi ride) to get to the best beaches along the coast.

But if chilling in funky cafes and daily yoga sessions are your thing, Tulum has a variety of options. That’s not to say that there are some great spots in Playa del Carmen as well where you can definitely get your daily caffeine fix and morning yoga or pilates in before getting to work. It just depends on what you’re looking for and want to experience as a digital nomad.

Playa del Carmen tourists

The Cost Of Living In Tulum And Playa Del Carmen

Factoring in costs such as average monthly rentals, food (U.S./international and local Mexican options), transportation, and entertainment, Tulum is more expensive than Playa del Carmen. The calculated average monthly costs for locals, expats, and digital nomads, are all higher in Tulum than for those living in Playa del Carmen.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs of living in both cities:

Average cost of living for locals in Tulum: $1,152 per monthAverage cost of living for locals in Playa del Carmen: $1,078
Average cost of living for digital nomads in Tulum: $5,690 per monthAverage cost of living for digital nomads in Playa del Carmen: $2,865.

Disclaimer: These numbers were taken from Nomadlist. While these may not reflect everyone’s experience, this is just to give you a sense of the general cost of living for digital nomads in Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

Entrance to Tulum Beach

The Amenities

During your trip, if you need to go to the clinic or anything like that, know that Playa del Carmen has a lot more options when it comes to health care services. Plus, in Playa del Carmen, you’ll be closer to Cancun if you need more detailed care. There is a CostaMed in Tulum, so you can go there in case of an emergency or need a check-up. 

vegetarian options at Aloft Tulum hotel

Food And Entertainment: Tulum Vs. Playa del Carmen

It’s been widely reported that a hot destination like Tulum has a bunch of amazing restaurants offering upscale versions of local flavors and world-class international cuisine. In both cities, digital nomads can enjoy everything from authentic Italian food, to sushi, Yucatecan cuisine, amazing seafood, and more. You can go for a fancy meal by the coast one day and hit up a small taco stand the next. From international brunch spots to delectable desserts and everything in between, both Playa del Carmen and Tulum are great spots for foodies. 

Nightlife and entertainment is where these two cities really show their true colors. The nightlife in Tulum is more exclusive parties by the beach and annual festivals that draw in tourists from around the world. Digital nomads love coming here for these events, big and small, so it’s up to you and what you’re looking for. Playa del Carmen, similar to Cancun, is pretty much a party every night. You can basically walk along 5th Avenue any night of the week and find a lively club or bar with live music. If you’re more low-key, you can also check out the arts scene at Lotus Rouge or meet other vagabonds at Salsa night hosted by Buzo’s.

beach by Coco Reef resort in Playa del Carmen

What Will Your Digital Nomad Experience Look Like?

Whatever city you decide to check out on your digital nomad journey, you’ll be sure to get an unforgettable experience. Just come with an open mind and enjoy the ride. There’s a reason tourists keep returning to these amazing cities year after year, so check them out for yourself and learn a bit about why they are so fascinating.

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