Mexico has always been the most popular sunny hotspot for American vacationers going abroad due to its relaxed atmosphere, lower prices, and stunning coastline, but now it is attracting yet another category of visitors.
This time, they are not staying short-term.
This small beach city in the Riviera Maya is now the most popular destination for digital nomads South of the border, having registered a sharp increase in expat numbers in recent years and now challenging other Latin American giants for the title of regional ‘Workcation’ Capital.
But why is it so, and what is it about this place that has nomads so enthralled?
Playa del Carmen Is Mexico’s Workcation Capital
As reported by the Cancun Sun, the leading independent news source on everything Cancun and adjacent towns, Playa Del Carmen is currently the most sought-after destination for digital nomads in the Mexican Caribbean.
Between January and June of this year, around 1,220 foreigners have been granted resident status in Playa, the highest rate not only in the state of Quintana Roo but seemingly all of Mexico. As expected, Americans make up the majority of residency applicants.
U.S. remote workers have been flocking to Playa Del Carmen in search of Mexico’s slow-paced lifestyle, drastically different from the hectic routine they lead back home, the lively social scene, and the excellent weather.
In a sense, they are not different from their short-term visitor counterparts, as both seek similar qualities when picking somewhere to go, but while tourists often prefer the resort-packed Cancun for a week-long getaway, nomads have found in Playa a more peaceful, better-equipped homebase to work from.
Why Are Nomads Picking Playa Over Other Cities?
Both Cancun and Playa are coastal cities with a booming hospitality industry, competing for higher occupancy rates and the greatest proportion of luxury resorts in a single Hotel Zone, but where the latter truly stands out is in nomad-friendly facilities:
It has a growing number of work-friendly spots, drawing in thousands of nomads who are not necessarily after luxurious amenities, while Cancun caters almost exclusively to big spenders looking to splurge on an all-inclusive vacay, not slow travelers or long-term residents.
Playa, on the other hand, has something for every category of visitor, especially digital nomads, who benefit from a wide array of co-working spaces, such as Cowork-In, a centrally-located office featuring a terrace and conference room, high-speed Wi-Fi, and neat, well-lit interiors.
Those who are looking to socialize at the same time as they carry out their daily duties can opt for Nest Co-Working, which, according to the Cancun Sun, ‘promotes a sense of community’ through its weekly nomad events and workshops.
Playa Del Carmen is also a lot smaller than the bustling metropolis of Cancun, yet it is bigger than other far more quaint, sleepy Riviera Maya towns.
A More Relaxed Atmosphere
Home to over 300,000 residents, it boasts shopping, leisure, and fitness centers, a modern seafront promenade, beach clubs, entertainment venues, a well-frequented municipal beach, and an unparalleled nightlife, but some argue it is easier to navigate, and more pleasant to reside than Cancun.
Other than the great infrastructure, another aspect nomads love about Playa Del Carmen and the Mexican Caribbean as a whole is the high level of safety.
The Quintana Roo Government has increased spending on several areas relating to public security this year, from introducing a new ‘tourism battalion’ aimed at keeping tourist hotspots free of criminals and pickpockets to launching special operations to curb gang activity in the zone.
Playa del Carmen Is Safe
These have proven successful, as time and again, Quintana Roo has featured among the safest destinations in Mexico, consistently ranking in the Level 2 listing of the U.S. State Department, which means Americans are not discouraged from visiting due to high levels of crime.
While criminals still operate in the area, and pickpocketing and scamming can be common, a majority of tourists and expats feel safe in Playa Del Carmen, usually by adhering to general safety advice, such as not displaying unnecessary signs of wealth when in public, and avoiding non-touristy districts.
Playa del Carmen Is Popular Even Though There Are No Nomad Visas Available
It’s no wonder so many nomads are applying for residency permits from Playa Del Carmen, which is particularly impressive seeing that Mexico is yet to launch a Digital Nomad Visa (DNV), or any nomad-specific category with the aim of easing migration.
Instead, nomads looking to reside in Playa Del Carmen must apply for a regular resident visa, like any other aspiring residents, on the basis of income and good character.
Though the process is bureaucratic, and there is no Mexican DNV in sight for the foreseeable future, Playa is exploding in popularity, as well as the wider Riviera Maya.
Other examples include the island of Cozumel, a paradisiacal oasis where around 227 residence permits were delivered during the first semester, and the ancient Tulum, where close to 100 new visas have been issued in 2023, as of now.
None have come close to Playa, though, with its great infrastructure, booming expat community, and of course, great weather.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com