The Cost of Living in Tulum as a Digital Nomad

Ok so you've read about the beautiful beaches and weather of Tulum: the diving, kitesurfing, yoga; the very high quality of life, numerous other activities and insane number of amazing restaurants.

You're interested in moving to Tulum and you'd like to get an idea of how much it costs to live here.

As a rough guide

If you're a digital nomad - used to living anywhere on the cheap - then I would say that the cost of living in Tulum is comparable to (and in many ways cheaper than) popular destinations in Western Europe: Lisbon, Las Palmas, etc. I say cheaper in the sense that accommodation costs are roughly comparable but food and eating out can be very cheap and high quality in Tulum. As a very rough guide I would say the average digital nomad is spending between USD 1,500 - USD 3,000 a month to live here (including everything). The range is wide: keep in mind that many locals here survive on a monthly salary of less than USD 600; there are also visitors spending USD 5,000 a night for accommodation alone.

Playa Del Carmen (an hour up the coast from Tulum) is popular with digital nomads - partly because it can be cheaper to live there. I think there are more long term options in Playa Del Carmen (because it's a city - not a town) but the reason I came to Tulum (and not Playa Del Carmen) in the first place was because the price of Airbnbs was the same or better here. And in retrospect Tulum is, in my opinion, a much nicer place to live.

If you're an expat or remote worker from North America I would say that the cost of living (and living well) here is easily half that of your average North American city (I moved here from Vancouver).

The Cost of Accomodation in Tulum for Digital Nomads

One of the biggest draws for Digital Nomads in Tulum is that it's very liveable: generally the accommodation is very high quality and good value. Almost all of the apartments that you'll see as a remote worker here are less than two years old, modern, fully furnished and fully equipped with full kitchen, TV and wifi. Almost all of them have their own pool on the grounds or the roof of the building.

There are numerous options for long term accommodation here from the very beautiful Arthouse Tulum (which I think will run you USD 2,000 - USD 3,000 for a one bed place) to the very new and comfortable apartments of La Veleta and Aldea Zama ; to the much more down to earth (and authentic) properties in the centre of town (Centro) and areas North.

As a rough guide: a comfortable, modern, fully furnished apartment in La Veleta or Aldea Zama with a three month contract will cost you about USD 700 - 1100 / month for a studio; USD 1,000 - 1500 for a one bedroom and around USD 1300 - 2000 for a two bedroom place. These are nice, very comfortable apartments - almost definitely with a pool - in good areas!


There are many large new (and beautiful) developments whose clientele are mostly vacationers but who also rent out their properties long term. I give you the somewhat spectacular Panoramic which will give you a studio apartment with kitchen, balcony, laundry, gym, etc. (see also Los Amigos) I've seen people rent studios in these places for less than USD 1,500 / month.


The areas I've mentioned - La Veleta and Aldea Zama are brand new and popular with expats and remote workers (and more expensive as a result). Whilst being mindful that the onslaught of Gringos to Tulum is pricing out the locals, you can find very cheap (by American standards) accommodation in Centro (the town centre) and areas North and West of town. Centro is down to earth and authentic, somewhat noisier than the other residential areas; you need to be a little wary of petty crime here. Having said all that, you can easily find apartments here for USD 500 / month and up.

If You're On a Budget

You could easily live on USD 1,000 / month in Tulum for everything (keep in mind that many of the locals here survive on a monthly wage of USD 500 in total).

I haven't been a hosteler for some time (the memories are good if somewhat hazy). There are a number of hostels in town where you'll never be lonely (seriously: a great way to meet people if you're coming on your own) and, judging by some of the pool parties visible from Avenida Tulum, everyone certainly seems to be having a good time. A bed in a hostel will set you back USD 15 / night and will be a lot cheaper if you pay weekly or monthly.

As always you can halve your costs by sharing an apartment or villa with other digital nomads.

The Cost of Transport in Tulum for Remote Workers

A well publicised downside to living in Tulum is that transport (in particular the use of taxis) is expensive. The parts of Tulum where you are most likely to be living are probably 5 miles (7km) from the beach / hotel zone; getting to the restaurants of Centro from where you live is probably a couple kilometres walk. Unfortunately taxi drivers, as they do all over the world, respond to market conditions and charge accordingly: a ride from the Hotel Zone to La Veleta on a Saturday night can easily cost you USD $50 - $100 (for a fifteen minute ride. At less busy times the same ride will cost you $15 - $20).

Luckily there are alternatives!


Tulum is small and flat with a reasonable network of bicycle lanes to the beach and around town. Many people cycle here as their main means of transport. As with anywhere, cycling and parking here will cost you nothing and get you fit and suntanned (if also somewhat sweaty) which is important in Tulum.


There are Whatsapp groups to find rides together (some of them for women only).

Some adventurous people hitchhike in town: even carrying a helmet for jumping on the back of passing scooters and motorbikes. In time-honoured fashion your success at hitchhiking will probably correlate with your physical attractiveness; it's probably best not to hitchhike at night.

Renting Vehicles

Renting vehicles here is (I think) quite expensive: figure $25 / day for a scooter and between $500 - $800 for a month (ATVs are roughly double the cost).

Renting a car will cost you roughly $100 / day inclusive of insurance, etc.; there are people in town who will rent you a vehicle for around $40 / day if you commit to a longer term.

Buying Vehicles

Having said that renting vehicles is expensive here, buying them is very cheap. You can get a decent second hand scooter for well under $1000; a (small) second hand car in decent shape for $2,500. Search on Facebook marketplace for the best deals.

Local Transport - the 'colectivos'

There are alternatives to taxis in Tulum: these are the local 'colectivos' - minibuses that run routes large and small all over Mexico. They are frequent and cheap. I like the colectivos but the economics of running them are obvious - the more people, the more money: you will frequently find yourself crammed into quite a small space with fourteen other people. This is ok for a fifteen minute trip to the beach, perhaps not so great if you're trying to impress someone on a hot date.

The Cost of Food for Digital Nomads in Tulum

You can say what you want about Tulum but the range and quality of food here is exceptional. Every type of food is here: from Steak to Indian to Greek to (many) vegetarian and vegan options. I have had the best sushi of my life in Tulum.

Keep in mind there are two distinct sides to Tulum: the Hotel Zone and everywhere else.

A meal on the beach in the hotel zone will be very high quality, in a beautiful setting on the beach with palm trees and moonlight (I was there one night when there were baby turtles running around on the beach: try topping that on a first date). It will probably set you back the better part of USD 100 per head (and up). My experience is that the food and ambiance are well worth it for special occasions (and who can put a price on all the internet points you're going to get).

On the other hand you can eat anywhere else in Tulum (Centro, La Veleta, Aldea Zama) for an average of USD 5 - 20 (and street food / tacos start at less than a buck). I love Palma Central which is a leafy, laid back collection of food trucks (with very good food) on a green space with a playground for the kids. There's often live music and - arrive early to avoid the lines - salsa dancing on Tuesday nights.

Tulum has numerous small produce and health food markets; there are also two main supermarkets: Chedraui and Aki Market. Quality produce and food is easily available and cheap: you can save a great deal of money by eating at home, even if it's only occasionally.