The Pros and Cons of Living in Cancun| Tips From a Local

Wondering what it is like living in Cancun? 

Look no further. I have been living in Cancun for 7 years and although now I am constantly traveling I can still call Cancun the home I return to. Only now when I go back I have a sort of tourist lifestyle with local knowledge. 

Therefore I feel like I am the right person to tell you all the information you need whether you want to move to Cancun or you just want to go to the sprawling city on vacation. 

In fact, I am living all sorts of experiences and in this post, I am going to share it with you in this comprehensive post.

I will share all the necessary information about living in Cancun, where to find all the most important services and facilities, the best restaurants, emergency contacts where to get the best fresh fish, and where to go for a good run or a yoga session, cost of living and more. 

So without further ado let’s dive in. 

Punta Cancun beach lagoon overview - which living in Cancun worth it!

Living in Cancun- An Overview

Let’s not lie, Cancun is a very ugly city. Nothing like a colonial feel like the nearby Valladolid, or the gypsy vibe of Playa del Carmen or Tulum. 

Cancun Downtown is dirty and chaotic not inviting for a nice stroll. You just go where you need to go, park the car (if you find parking), do your thing, and go back home. 

It’s been built in the 70s to give a home to the workers of the hotel zone. 

It wasn’t meant to develop so much. And yet it did. 

Now, if you want to go for a walk in Cancun Downtown you need to go to Malecon Tajamar with a beautiful promenade along the lagoon Nichupte’  or go to one of the Cancun Outlets and Malls.

In fact, in Cancun, you won’t find anything like the Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, or Tulum Pueblo Main Street.

However, living in Cancun has its benefits and here below I will share all the pros and cons of Living in Cancun. This way, if you are thinking about moving you know what to expect.

Aereal view of Punta Cancun Hayatt Beach

The Pros of Living in Cancun

Every time I tell anyone that my home is in Cancun, I always get a “how lucky you are” answer. Living in Cancun certainly has its perks but also some negative implications.

It also depends on what you are looking for and what are your priorities. Here below I will share both sides of the coin.

👍🏽 The airport is only 10 miles away 

One of the things that make living in Cancun a blessing is the vicinity of the Cancun International Airport, which is the second busiest Airport in Mexico that connects Cancun with all the major international and domestic hubs.

That makes traveling much easier, first of all, because you can reach many destinations with direct flights.

But also when you get back to Cancun, it will take not more than 30 minutes to get from the airport to your Cancun home.


👍🏽 Accessibility to big supermarkets and brands

In Cancun, you will find all the most common supermarkets, from Cosco to Sam’s, Walmart, and many other local brands such as Chedraui and Soriana which makes shopping easier and cheaper.

In these big chain supermarkets, you have a variety of choice of products, including the latest healthy ones.

So, especially if you follow a strict diet based on the strangest and rarest product, you will definitely find it in Cancun

Besides those big brands, you will also have access to small local markets, and healthy food shops, probably more expensive but with a good variety of supplies, including gluten-free, eco-friendly, vegan, super-food, and much more.

Cancun beach and Lagoon
Cancun Beach

👍🏽 Cancun stunning beaches are just a few miles away from downtown

Whether you are working online or you go to the office, if you live in Cancun, you can spend your free time on one of the Cancun spectacular beaches, which is a real blessing.

When I arrived in Cancun for the first time I was in awe and I immediately signed up for surf lessons. I would wake up every morning at 5 am and get to Playa Delfines at 6 am take my hour of surfing at while the sun was rising from the Caribbean Sea, and get back by 8 to get ready for the office.

I was so pumped and stocked that I was actually doing it, at the same time.

If you are not a morning person, you can always get to the beach when you finish work in the evening. Or on weekends.

It’s such a blessing to live close to such an amazing beach and be able to choose among different beach clubs where you can get a day pass, or just go to a public beach.

Just remember that on Sundays beaches are very crowded.

It would be better to have a car in Cancun, otherwise, you can still hop on the R1 or R2 bus that runs along the Avenida Kukulkan, along the Hotel Zone for the cost of 11 MXN.

Punta Cancun beach

👍🏽 Variety of modern infrastructures at hand

In Cancun, you will find almost anything you need, from high-end hospitals, equipped with the most modern facilities, to equipped gyms and yoga classes.

Although I am hoping that you will never need it, keep in mind that hospitalization or private medical visits in Cancun are expensive. So make sure you get yourself a good insurance, in case anything happens.

If you ask me I have two recommended travel insurance companies, one is SafetyWing, which I find relatively affordable and quite comprehensive.

The other is not a company but a site aggregator, Travel Insurance Master which will help you find the perfect insurance for you. You fill out the form with the information about your profile and requirements and they select the insurance company that is a good fit.

👍🏽 Variety of restaurants

If you are a foodie and you love eating out, Cancun is your city. There are so many amazing restaurants to choose from, for every budget and cuisine.

If you want to try some high-end restaurants, you should check out some of the best restaurants in the Cancun Hotel Zone, such as Elephanta, Hacienda Sisal, Thai, Nicoletta, and many more.

If you want to try some local cuisine, you must check out El Pocito or La Habichuela in Down Town.

Do not miss some street food in the Avenida Nader or Mercado 23, as well.

Restaurante Habichuela

👍🏽 There are many things to do in Cancun

In Cancun, you will never get bored. There are so many things to do and places to explore, whether you like to do it on your own or join organized tours, the sky is the limit.

The Nichupte Lagoon is a blessing for the city, there you can do some kayaking or paddleboarding, or take a boat tour to explore the local marine life.

If you love the water, in Cancun you can enjoy some amazing snorkeling adventures or diving trips.

You can also challenge yourself with some surfing classes or kitesurfing in the Cancun hidden gem Isla Blanca, a pristine white sand beach north of Cancun.

Also, Cancun is located at a 30-minute ferry ride to Isla Mujeres which makes it a great place for a weekend getaway.

The Colonial town of Valladolid is only a 2-hour drive away and you can also explore the spectacular cenotes and beaches in the Riviera Maya, take a stroll on the Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, or explore the Mayan Ruins of Tulum (only 2 hours drive).

👍🏽 Cosmopolitan atmosphere

More and more expats choose Cancun as their new home and therefore you will find a huge community of people from different parts of the world living here, besides many tourists who choose Cancun as their main hub before exploring the rest of Mexico

Cenote Corazon Tulum

👍🏽 Getaway to the Riviera Maya

Cancun International Airport is the nearest airport to get to the Riviera Maya. Therefore you must get to Cancun if you want to explore the Mexican Caribbean coast and the entire Yucatan Peninsula.

In fact, from Cancun, you can easily reach any destination in the area either by car or by bus.

👍🏽 Well served by public transportation

If you like to travel by bus, all buses get to Cancun, even from Mexico City there is a public bus that takes you to Cancun, on a 24-hour ride, if you are brave.

Also, you will find collectives (minivans) that connect Cancun with Playa del Carmen and Chiquila´(Holbox)

Although I always recommend having a car, for better convenience, Cancun downtown and hotel zones are well served by a network of public busses that will take you anywhere.

Down Town Cancun Mural
Cancun Mural Downtown

👍🏽 Affordable cost of living

Although most people think that Cancun is an expensive travel destination, you should know that it’s possible to travel to Cancun on a budget, and living in Cancun is not as expensive.

Although renting a house has increased in the past few years, and it is a fact that many homeowners prefer to rent their best homes on Airbnb, you can still find a decent home at a reasonable price and relatively near the city center.

If you have a higher budget you can even find amazing condos on the beach with stunning views over the ocean.

Then, as I mentioned before you have a variety of supermarkets, grocery stores, and local markets where you can find cheap produce and any sort of products.

The cons of Living in Cancun 

👎🏼 It’s a chaotic city

Cancun downtown and the hotel zone are quite chaotic, with lots of traffic especially from 7 to 10 am and from 4 to 7 pm when people go in and out to the office.

I am still getting lost when I drive in downtown area, if I am not using Google Maps and sometimes even that makes mistakes.

👎🏼 Cancun lacks the charm of a historic city

Cancun town doesn’t have any charm at all. If you are looking for a colonial town, with beautiful historical buildings and interesting architecture, forget about Cancun, as you won’t find it there.

Cancun is a relatively young city that has been built for the hotel staff in the 70s when the hotel zone was being created. There was no intention to create a touristy place but with time, and the growth of the destination, they are now trying to embellish the downtown area as well.

PUnta nizuc drone view
Punta Nizuc Drone View – Photo © Isabella Biava

How much does Living in Cancun cost? 

As I mentioned before Cancun’s cost of living is not that high if you compare it with other cities in the world

To put it in perspective, according to Numbeo:

  • Cancun is 56.8% less expensive than New York (without rent, see Numbeo cost of living index).
  • Rent in Cancun is, on average, 84.6% lower than in New York.

A single person can live with about 700 USD per month in Cancun (excluding the rent)

Rentals for a decent home in the downtown area can go from 400 USD and up, depending on the kind of home you are looking for.

Cancun Avenida Bonampack drone
Avenida Bonampak Cancun Drone view

Cancun layout  

Cancun has a peculiar layout. We have two main areas, the Hotel Zone, which is the tourist area which is basically an island separated from the mainland (where Cancun Downtown is) by the spectacular Nichupte’ lagoon and connected by two bridges.

The Hotel Zone is where all the hotels are located, but also, malls, clubs, discos, restaurants, and everything a tourist can possibly ask for! Not surprisingly Cancun is the mecca for spring breakers.

The Downtown area is where the majority of the people leave although it’s become more and more popular also for tourists to stay there as it’s cheaper.

Also, they have been trying to make it more interesting and attractive, with new walkable areas, such as parks and the Malecon Tajamar, malls, and events. Lots of work needs to be done, but we can appreciate the efforts.

Here below you can check out the map with all the most interesting and useful places I have been talking about in this post.

Cancun maps of places

Cancun shopping map

Cancun Beaches Map

Cancun directory

Grocery Shopping

Costco – Google Maps

Sam’s Club – Google Maps

Walmart – Google Maps

Superama (Walmart express) – Google Maps


General Electronics and Phones – Walmart

Apple Stores – Puerto Cancun – Plaza La isla – Plaza Las Americas

Self – Care

Dharma Spa – Google Map

Hair stylist and Spa – Domenico Di Meo – Google Map

Chiropractor – Oliver (He’s awesome!)

Healthy Food

Sirena Morena – Google Maps

Immigration Lawyer

Although you may be able to take care of your paperwork to become a resident in Mexico, I would recommend a good lawyer to spare lots of time and headaches. It’s relatively affordable and, you will thank me for this tip.

Meeting my immigration lawyer Durvin was a blessing. I recommend you contact her if you are planning to move to Cancun or anywhere in the state of Quintana Roo.

Lic. Durvin Alcocer – Email

Plaza la isla Mall
Plaza La Isla Mall

Living in Cancun FAQ

Where is the best area to live in Cancun

If you have the budget, it’s probably the Hotel Zone. My dream was to live in one of those condos near Playa Chac Mol and wake up every morning looking at the turquoise sea.

These apartments may be around 3000 USD a month.

Otherwise, another area in Cancun that I like is the Avenida Nader, which is close to the entrance to the Hotel Zone, Puerto Cancun, and Avenida Tulum.

Also around the Avenida Tulum, where the Shopping Mall Las Americas is, there are several secondary roads that are quiet and relatively safe to live in.

Do I need a car in Cancun? 

I spent my first two years in Cancun without a car and I survived, but if I had to go back in time I would get one immediately.

Getting around by taxi is not really convenient, especially when you need to go grocery shopping.

So yes, I would say you need a car if you want to move to Cancun.

Punta Nizuc Sunset
Punta Nizuc at Sunset

Is Cancun a good place to live?

In my opinion, it is, for the above-mentioned reasons, but it all depends on what you are looking for and what are your priorities.

What’s the average rent in Cancun?

Renting in Cancun goes from 350 USD for a decent house in the outskirts to more than 3000 in Puerto Cancun. It really depends on your budget and your standard of living.

Is Cancun safe to buy a house?

Yes it is safe to buy a house in Cancun, as long as you ask a good lawyer to assist you or you are in the hands of a professional realtor.

Keep in mind that you, as a foreigner are not allowed to purchase a home at a close distance to the beach. In this case, you will need to pay a “fideicomiso”.

Realtors will know about it and will give you instructions.

Cancun lighthouse hoover

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Mexico?

I would say, around 2000 US$ a month would be a good amount to live comfortably but you could live with less as well. Again, it depends on what you mean by living comfortably.
If you are somebody who wants to eat out or party every night, that wouldn’t probably be enough.

Can you live off $1,000 a month in Mexico?

If you consider that a graduate employee may earn around 700 USD a month, yes you could live off 1000 in Mexico.

In less touristy areas it will be more than enough, but in some areas, like Cabo, it would be very stretched.

However, it all depends on the lifestyle you have. If you want to travel and eat out and save, that won’t be enough, for sure.

Living in Cancun: final thoughts

I hope this post was helpful and gave you a rough, general idea of what it’s like to live in Cancun.

If you are planning to move I would still recommend you should go and spend a couple of months there, maybe at different times of the year, and then you will be able to make your own decision based on your personal experience.

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