You’ve probably heard a lot about Cancun. It’s on many people’s travel bucket lists.
But there’s more to Cancun than its picture-perfect beaches, luxury resorts, food, and nightlife. The city has world-class amenities and infrastructure equal to the U.S. and Canada. And it’s very different to live in Cancun than to go on vacation.
Cancun is a paradise beach town that is home to many expats. But it’s also not for everyone.
What is it like to actually live here?
Population in Cancun
The city has over 930,000 people.
The population is diverse. Foreigners from all over the world and Mexicans from different states live here.
The Mexican Caribbean is popular among expats living in Mexico, with a large community across Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. The area also attracts many digital nomads and snowbirds.
Weather in Cancun
Cancun is ideal for warm-weather fans and beachgoers.
Average temperatures are 74-83F throughout the year. May to October is warmer than usual, with daytime highs of around 90F.
There’s no specific rainy season, meaning it can rain any day. But heavy downpours don’t usually last long, except during a hurricane. And there’s plenty of sunshine! October gets the most rainfall, about 5.6 inches.
Cost of living in Cancun
Cancun is not the cheapest city in Mexico. But many U.S. and Canadian expats find it affordable vs. their home cities. And you get to live in the Caribbean, which is a dream come true for many!
Rentals in Cancun
- 1-bedroom apartment in the city center – MXN11,000 or USD550 per month
- 3 bedroom house outside the city center – MXN $14,000 or USD $750 per month
- 2-bedroom, 2-bath furnished apartment in the hotel zone – starting at around MXN25,000 or USD1,250 per month.
The oceanfront 3–4-bedroom luxury apartments with all amenities rent for USD4,000-7,500 a month (or more). These are exorbitant by Mexican standards. But they’re still cheaper than oceanfront condos north of the border.
Remember, online ads target foreigners and have higher prices. You can find better deals through local real estate agents or by spending time in the local area and looking for signs that say “se renta”. But as always, that can also be a gamble because you never know who you are renting from. That’s why I still recommend a reputable realtor. Get our list of recommended realtors in Cancun and across Mexico from the COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide.
You’ll pay about USD100 a month for a 2-bedroom house with very low AC usage:
- Water – MXN300 or USD15
- Gas – MXN400 or USD20
- Electricity – MXN600-800 or USD30-40
- Internet – MXN500 or USD25
- 3-course dinner at a mid-range restaurant (for two) – MXN800 or USD40
- Budget meal at a cheap restaurant – MXN180 or USD9
- Pint of domestic beer – MXN40 or USD2
Cancun has hundreds of restaurants serving a variety of international and local food. Don’t forget to try some regional specialties like the famous Lime Soup.
You can shop at large supermarkets like Chedraui, Walmart, Soriana, and many local shops and markets. There’s also a Costco.
You’ll also find specialty food stores like Mr. Tofu for Vegan food, organic food stores, and other imported food.
A couple can buy their monthly groceries for about MXN8,000 or USD400.
Getting Around Cancun
Cancun and the Riviera Maya region (to the south) have great transport. These include local buses, luxury buses like ADO, shuttles, colectivos (shared vans), taxis, Ubers, and Didis:
- Local bus fare: Around MXN12 or USD0.60 each way
- Taxi: About MXN60 or USD3 per mile.
- Colectivo to Playa del Carmen: Around MXN60 or USD3.
A car is nice to have. But traffic can be a problem in Cancun. And because Cancun is very touristy, there is no shortage of taxis. Unless you live or stay on the complete outskirts of town.
A couple can live comfortably in Cancun for around MXN 50,000 or USD 2,500 a month.
The number will increase if you rent a luxury condo by the beach. But keep in mind that property taxes in Mexico are insanely low! So, if you own a condo or house anywhere in Mexico your property tax bill will only be a few hundred dollars a year.
Healthcare in Cancun
The city has world-class healthcare. This is also why Cancun is attractive for people looking to retire in Mexico.
There are several great hospitals like Galenia hospital, Hospitén Cancun, Hospital Amerimed, and more. Many doctors and medical staff in private facilities speak English.
Healthcare costs are a fraction of what you’ll pay in the U.S. But don’t ignore health insurance. Because a sudden event can send your medical bills through the roof. I discuss all this on: What Are Your Healthcare Options in Mexico?
If you’re moving with aging parents or want to plan for your later years, Cancun has good elder care and assisted living facilities in Mexico.
Is Cancun Safe?
Cancun is safe for expats. Violent incidents targeting foreigners are very rare. But the state of Quintana Roo is not crime-free. And petty crime happens.
Particularly with people who can make themselves a target. A common scam is pick pocketing when someone looks drunk or not sober. Another common scam in Cancun and other parts of the Riviera Maya is the mustard/poop trick.
Someone will put mustard on you without you noticing. While another person tries to clean you up and appear to be helpful. All the while they are actually stealing your wallet.
Another commonscam are some of the street police who can ask for bribes from time to time and try to intimidate you. But you should know your rights and know that bribes are EXTREMELY pubishible in Mexico if they are reported. My best advice: never pay a bribe. If a cop tries to “settle the fine” with you on the spot, politely decline and ask them to write you a ticket. If they insist, tell them you are recording their license number and will go to the police station to report them.
And I am telling you this, not to scare you, but because I care about you not being intimidated. Not every cop is corrupt. In fact, I would say the majority are not. But knowledge is power!
Cancun is A Major International Hub
Cancun attracts millions of tourists every year. And its international airport offers excellent connectivity to the rest of the world.
There’re heaps of direct flights to the U.S. and Canada. You’ll also find direct flights to other regions, including many countries in Europe and Central and South America.
So, if you’re a frequent traveler, Cancun is an ideal place to live in Mexico.
Things to do in Cancun
Do you love the ocean, food, history, and culture? I’ve got good news for you:
The turquoise waters will delight you!
Cancun has a beautiful coral reef where you can snorkel, scuba dive, and see amazing marine life. You can also enjoy water sports like flyboarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet-skiing, and many more.
The Underwater Museum of Art is a must-see. If you’re not into snorkeling or diving, you can see this through a glass-bottom boat.
There are stunning beaches to relax like Playa Delfines, Playa Ballenas, and Playa El Niño.
You’ll also find beautiful cenotes (sinkholes) in Quintana Roo. Swimming in a cenote is a fascinating experience you won’t regret!
Embrace the Maya culture
The region is rich in Maya culture, with several famous archaeological sites like Cobá and Tulum. Remember to visit the Mayan Museum of Cancun.
The region is also popular for traditional cleansing and healing rituals.
Enjoy some shopping and nightlife
From upmarket designer labels to traditional handmade products, there’s something for all shoppers. Keep in mind that the shopping malls in touristy areas are pricey.
Check out the street markets for some budget shopping. A popular one is Mercado 28. Here you can find everything from souvenirs to clothes and food.
Partygoers won’t be bored in Cancun. The nightlife is vibrant, with many bars and clubs.
Moving to Cancun
Some people love Cancun, and others don’t. But remember, Cancun is not just its tourist area. Many expats also retire in Cancun and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle with all the comforts.
The best way to determine the pros and cons of living in Cancun is to visit. But I know it’s easy to let the tourist area mislead you.
So, we offer PRIVATE Cancun Relocation Tours to Cancun and Playa del Carmen to show you what living here is actually like. These tours will be at your pace because it’ll be just you, your family, and a relocation guide. And there is NO Agenda to sell you any real estate or time-shares.
You can also pick anything special you want to see or do. And your guide will share all the info and tips to help you decide if living in Cancun is right for you.