Playa del Carmen or Cancun: Which city should you choose?


June 27, 2020

Quintana Roo has some of the most beautiful places in the world, which you should visit at least once in your life.

Best of all, they are not only tourist destinations, but some have become an excellent option for living and retiring.

However, once you have started planning to move after your retirement, you have surely wondered the best city to do so, its benefits and quality of life.

There are two cities that have many similarities, and that may be the ones that come to mind when you think of joyful, party-filled and exclusive places: Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

That's why in this article we will tell you the main characteristics of each one, to help you clear up any doubts and help you decide what's best for your future.

How is Playa del Carmen?

First we have to talk about Playa del Carmen, a tourist destination in Mexico that has taken a lot of relevance in the last years.

Before, when people thought about visiting Quintana Roo, only Cancun came to mind, but thanks to all the growth that the Riviera Maya has had, more and more people are discovering this incredible city.

Playa del Carmen.
Cancun and Playa del Carmen have several similarities, such as its tourism, its cheerful atmosphere, its luxuries and exclusivity.

However, Playa del Carmen has many more things to offer, and that once you discover them, you are completely convinced.

The 5th Avenue

Unlike Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a small city, although that doesn't mean it doesn't have enough places of interest and activities to do.

In fact, its size is an advantage, because it allows you to explore everything the city has to offer without having to travel long distances.

The 5th Avenue is the most famous place in Playa del Carmen, which takes New York's 5th Avenue as its inspiration, as both are full of interesting shops and boutiques.

And what will you find on the 5th Avenue?

Among the things you can find are exclusive brand stores, where you can buy clothes that comply with the latest fashion.

It is also very common to see restaurants and bars that offer a great variety of dishes and drinks; from traditional Mexican food to popular international dishes.

And if you are one of those who enjoy a good coffee combined with a good atmosphere, then you are in luck, because on the 5th Avenue there are several cafes that give you a very particular bohemian atmosphere.

Another very interesting point of interest on the 5th Avenue is the Callejón del Arte, which is a place where artists of all kinds-and from various parts of the republic-come together to showcase their work and talent.

This is not the only place dedicated to art and culture, because you can also buy handicrafts from various shops located along the avenue, and visit the Frida Kahlo museum.

What can you do in Playa del Carmen?

One of the things you can do in Playa del Carmen is to visit the 5th Avenue and then go to the beach since they are very close to each other.

Aerial view of Playa del Carmen.
This combination is what gives magic to this incredible place, as well as being a great boost for tourism.

Playa del Carmen has more than one beach. Here are some of the must-visit beaches:

  • Playacar beach: This is one of the most exclusive beaches, since it is located within the hotel zone and you have to be a guest to access the beach.
  • Mamitas beach: This is one of the most popular beaches in town and it is very close to the 5th Avenue.
  • Punta Maroma: It is located north of Playa del Carmen, about 10 kilometers. Punta Maroma is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Riviera Maya because of the crystal clear water and the fact that it is away from the urban area.

What else can you do?

If you want to keep visiting more exclusive shops - besides the ones on the 5th Avenue - then you should visit Quinta Alegria, a shopping mall located near the city's pier.

As for the festivities and events, you will find several throughout the year, such as the famous Carnival of the World and the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival.

And last but not least: one of the great advantages of Playa del Carmen is that it is right in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

This makes it very easy to visit other beach towns, such as Cozumel Island, Tulum, Coba, Akumal, Xelha, and even Cancun.

There is no doubt that Playa del Carmen offers a great variety of benefits and things to do, so it will be very difficult for you to get bored living here.

Capital gain in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has not only become an important tourist destination, but it is the perfect place for real estate investment.

Actually both things are related because Playa del Carmen's popularity is on the rise, making properties increase in value, and thus investors make money in the medium and long term.

There are several ways to prepare your retirement in Playa del Carmen; one of them is to buy an apartment and rent it as soon as you move there for good, while the other is to buy it as a vacation home and still rent it for the rest of the year.

Anah La Quinta.
In this way you get a pretty good passive income, and secure your future in a dream home.

So, it is easy to see why many decide to invest in Playa del Carmen than in other cities in Mexico.

What is Cancun like?

Now we have to talk about one of the most famous cities in Mexico, and one that has long been the vacation choice of many Mexicans and foreigners: Cancun.

Spending a few days in the Cancun hotel zone is synonymous with having a good time, and enjoying the best of its beautiful beaches.

This city is ideal for those people who prefer to be in environments where the city is more predominant than nature, since it is a big city with a lot of shops and a pretty lively nightlife.

Although there are certain differences between vacationing in this place and living in it.

The Cancun Hotel Zone

So, one of the best ways to enjoy the things that Cancun has to offer is to stay in one of its all-inclusive hotels in the hotel zone.

That's actually one of the differences it has from Playa del Carmen, because Cancun is more about enjoying everything without having to leave the hotel zone, whereas in Playa del Carmen it's better to stay there -or live there- and then go out and explore the surroundings.

What are the benefits of the hotel zone?

The all-inclusive packages, as the name suggests, are quite complete, and these are some of the benefits:

  • Access to private beaches: These are exclusive to the hotels and are kept quite clean and have palapas.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner in the restaurants: The restaurants have buffet service.
  • Access to gym: In case you want to continue your workout routine while on vacation.
  • Pool of various sizes: You will always find a pool where you can swim.
  • Drinks at bars: Some packages include an open bar or discounts, so you can enjoy drinks while you sunbathe at the pool or palapa.
  • Miscellaneous Entertainment: Including daytime shows, evening parties, among other things that vary depending on the hotel.
  • Land and water sports: Like beach volleyball, soccer, ping pong, snorkeling, kayaking, jet skiing, etc.
The Cancun Hotel Zone.
The rest of the benefits depend on the hotel you choose, the type of package, and even the time of year you go.

What can you do in Cancun?

Cancun has several things to offer outside the hotel zone, which are the benefits you would have access to if you live there.

Here are the main ones:

  • Travel to Isla Mujeres: An island in front of the city, which is ideal for a short getaway, kayaking and snorkeling.
  • Go to Playa Delfines: It is one of the public beaches near the hotel zone, where you can spend the afternoon.
  • Visit Mercado 28: It is a place full of all kinds of crafts, shirts, handmade bags, hats, etc.
  • Visit the archeological zone El Rey: It is a good way to know the Mayan culture in Cancun, since these are some of its most important ruins.
  • Spend the day at La Isla Cancun Shopping Village: It is the favorite shopping center for those who stay in the hotel zone and for those who live near the zone.

As you can see, Cancun is an excellent option to go on vacation and get rid of any worries, but many of its benefits depend on its hotels.

The climate of Cancun and Playa del Carmen

Both Cancun and Playa del Carmen share similar climates - which is practically the same - as they are very close to each other.

And what is that climate? It is a warm sub-humid climate, with some rain in summer, and an average temperature of approximately 26 degrees Celsius.

It's not for nothing that the Riviera Maya and Cancun are perfect for going to the beach, because the climate of this area makes it possible.

Being sunny most of the time you don't have to worry about feeling cold when you're swimming in the sea, or that you won't be able to get a tan.

Besides, the rains that occur throughout the year do not usually last long, so if it rains in the morning the sun will most likely come out again in the afternoon.

Banner of real estate developments in the Riviera Maya.

How to choose a city for retirement

After having seen what both Cancun and Playa del Carmen are like, their characteristics, their environment and activities, you must already have a clearer idea of what you like best.

Now there are only certain things to consider before making your final decision.

When you ask yourself if Playa del Carmen or Cancun is better while planning your vacation, the possible answer would be to give both places a chance, because they are not so far from each other.

In fact, one of the best ways to explore the Riviera Maya is to spend a day in each city, because they all have something to offer.

However, you have to consider that choosing a city to visit for a couple of days is not the same as choosing to live there or to retire.

Why? Because - even though many of its benefits are preserved - some aspects vary depending on whether you are in a hotel or in your own home.

So, here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  • Entertainment: Places to explore, the beach, shopping malls, cenotes, restaurants, bars, etc. You will always find something to entertain you.
  • The amenities: By this we mean that your condo - or house - has all the amenities, such as 24-hour surveillance, pool, recreational area, sports court, event room, among others.
  • Quality services nearby: Are there hospitals, schools, parks, banks?
  • The atmosphere: This point has more to do with the type of activities performed. Maybe you want to live in a quieter place, or maybe you like crowded places.
  • The capital gain of the area: Even though this is your home for retirement, you should not rule out the return on investment of properties in the Mexican Caribbean.

Based on these points, you will find it easier to choose the city that best suits your needs.

Banner of real estate developments in Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen, a retirement paradise

So, which is better? Playa del Carmen or Cancun?

Cancun is a great vacation destination, but if you want to have the best retirement ever then Playa del Carmen is the city for you.

Playa del Carmen has everything: beautiful and world-renowned beaches, exclusive shops and stores, luxury restaurants, bohemian cafes, bars where you can spend a good afternoon, cultural areas, places to practice sports and a lot more.

Perhaps most importantly, it is in the heart of the Riviera Maya. You can explore beach towns like Tulum, Akumal and Cancun.

This way, far from being limited to just one city, you would be in the best position to explore all the other opportunities.

That's why we say that choosing Playa del Carmen as your home is one of the best decisions you can make.

If you want to know more reasons to invest in this beautiful Mexican area, keep reading our article about reasons to invest in the Riviera Maya.

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