Are you thinking about where to live in Mexico as a digital nomad and heard Tulum was a good choice? If so, then you’re in the same boat we were about one year ago.
The cost of living in Tulum is not what you might expect! We know everyone has a different budget for traveling and enjoying life in Tulum. Expats and digital nomads who work remotely will obviously have a bit more leeway when it comes to budget.
But that’s where this subject gets tricky. (More on responsible/ethical travel in just a bit!)
So how much does it cost to REALLY live in Tulum? Is it expensive or affordable? Let’s find out!
In this guide, you’ll discover how much it costs to live temporarily in Tulum Mexico. We’ve divvied this post into sections so you can learn about the average cost of housing in Tulum, restaurants/going out, activities, transportation, grocery shopping, and anything else that has to do with living in Tulum.
Cost of Renting an Apartment or Studio in Tulum
Apartment rentals in Tulum can vary on a scale between “local foreigner” and “rich foreigner.”
We say this because, no matter how good your Spanish is, if you are a foreigner coming to live in Tulum then you will be considered moderately wealthy.
On the cheaper side, you can get a furnished one- bedroom apartment or studio in Tulum Town for around $500-600 USD. We found a lovely little studio in the Colonia Hurucanes neighborhood which was cool because we were close to much of Tulum’s street art scene.
On the upper end of the scale, you can have a fully equipped 1-2 bedroom apartment in an “expat neighborhood” for $1000-2000+ USD per month.
While you can try to negotiate the price for a monthly, long-term deal, most prices for housing are fixed.
This is simply because there is currently so much demand for housing in Tulum — if you don’t take the offer, someone else will.
This is also part of the problem. Tulum is becoming too expensive for its own good. Unfortunately, gringos who can afford $2000+ monthly rentals are coming to Tulum in droves. The consequence? It’s pushing the local population out of Tulum into neighboring communities currently unspoiled by tourists (such as Muyil to the south or Chemuyil to the north), as they can no longer afford to live in Tulum’s vicinity.
When finding housing in communities such as in Tulum, which are often negatively impacted due to overtourism, consider opting for more local accommodation options over nicely- packaged apartment complexes owned by giant corporations.
You may be asking then, “But, Bri — how do I find local housing in Tulum?” Our recommendation:
Search on local Tulum Facebook groups — Post your listing in Spanish first, then English, and state the low-end of your budget (if you state the maximum, you’ll only receive offers with the maximum or above). Use Deepl for translations if you need it. Search for quaint studios/apartments in Tulum Town on Airbnb and reach out for a monthly deal — This is how we found our cute little studio in Tulum Town that was owned by a lady from Mexico City.
Where you live in Tulum also will have a huge impact on the average expense for rentals. That’s why, if you are on a budget, you should look for housing in the town. Expat (read “gringo”) neighborhoods, such as the up- and-coming La Veleta neighborhood and the Aldea Zama neighborhood, are targeted toward foreigners and are therefore overpriced/expensive.
Is it safe to live in Tulum? Where should you stay?
Many people coming to live in Tulum often are first- timers to Mexico and this may be the first time actually living in Mexico as a whole. If that’s you, then safety will be a top concern when first moving here.
Moving to Mexico as a digital nomad can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. The media, and how it often portrays Mexico in a bad light, doesn’t help. In general, as a nomad who has lived in Mexico on and off for three years, Mexico feels pretty safe. Unfortunately for Tulum, that status is currently changing.
Overtourism in Tulum is leading to irresponsible tourism — including foreigners buying drugs off the street — which is attracting low-lying drug cartels to fight over territory. As a result, crime rates are increasing. Sadly, this has led to several incidents of shootouts in Tulum (as well as petty theft and robbery, and even a rape case).
No matter where you live — in Mexico or the US or Europe and beyond — always stay with a friend, never walk alone, don’t stay out after dark, don’t flaunt your valuables, remain aware of your surroundings, and avoid places you shouldn’t be.
Is Eating Out Expensive in Tulum?
Are restaurants expensive in Tulum? Yes and no. The answer depends on where you go.
Typically, eating out is much cheaper in Tulum Centro than in Tulum’s hotel zone by the beaches.
Here’s what you can expect price-wise when eating out in Tulum (estimates are per person):
- Cup of coffee: $2–4 USD or $60–90 MXN
- Cocktail: $5–10 USD or $100–200 MXN
- Breakfast in a cute cafe: $6–12 USD or $140– 250 MXN
- Lunch in a restaurant in Tulum Centro: $6–15 USD or $140–350 MXN
- Lunch in Tulum’s hotel zone: $15-25 USD or $250-500+MXN
- Street food: $1–5 USD / $20–100 MXN
- Dinner in Tulum Centro: $10-20+ USD or $200– 400 MXN
- Dinner in Tulum’s hotel zone: $25–50+ USD or $500-950+ MXN
In Tulum Town there are lots of delicious vegetarian-vegan cafes as well as airy outdoor cafes and restaurants to go to for a nice meal for either lunch or dinner.
How Much to Budget for Tulum Activities
As for things to do in Tulum, how much do they cost? Here are the main expenses to expect to pay when doing some of Tulum’s top activities.
Cost of Tulum Cenotes
The best cenotes in Tulum typically come with a steep entry cost! Here are a few examples:
- Cenote Calavera — $200 MXN
- Gran Cenote — $180 MXN Dos Ojos — $350
There are a few others that are more “off the beaten track” that are less expensive to enter!
- Cenotes Escondio y Cristal — $120 MXN for both
- Cenote Carwash — $100 MXN Casa Cenote — $150 MXN
- 3 Cenotes near Coba Ruins — $100 MXN ea.
Cost of Tulum Ruins
You can’t go to Tulum without visiting its well- preserved Tulum Ruins overlooking the Caribbean! Cost of Tulum Ruins: $80 MXN.
There are also the Coba Mayan Ruins in the jungle located about 40 minutes that often is visited on a day trip from Tulum. Cost to enter Coba Ruins: $65 MXN.
Lastly, if you are wanting to explore all the ruins around Tulum, then head to Muyil just south of the town (about 20 minutes driving) to discover the Muyil Ruins and go on a fun lagoon float in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Cost to visit Muyil Ruins: $45 MXN.
Tulum’s Beach Clubs
Now, one of the most FAQs we get is “How much are the beach clubs in Tulum?” To that, we say $$$$.
Tulum’s beach clubs are interesting. You basically pay for access to the privatized beach and provided lounge chairs, but it isn’t cheap.
The cheapest beach club is Ziggy’s at $50-100 per person, and that doesn’t include the cost of food that you’re required to purchase. The more expensive and luxurious beach clubs — such as Papaya Playa Project or Habitas — have a minimum spend of around $200 per person (though that may have recently changed).
How Much Is Transportation in Tulum?
Getting around in foot
Thankfully, if you live in Tulum Centro, getting around on foot is pretty easy. You won’t be able to walk from the town to the beach, though, or from town to any of the cenotes. For that, you’re better of renting a bike, scooter, or taxi.
Depending on how long you intend to live in Tulum, you might want to consider buying a bicycle to get around. In our opinion, it’s the best option for exploring Tulum. Rentals cost up to $200 MXN per day, so renting a bike in Tulum may get expensive if you stay one month or more.
There are new bikes for purchase in the Súper Akí Tulum supermarket in town for around $2500– 3000 MXN pesos (about $125-150 USD). Used bikes can be found on Facebook Marketplace.
You won’t be able to buy a scooter as a foreigner in Mexico. But you can rent a scooter in Tulum and drive them legally with your US Driver’s License, or international license if you’re coming from Europe. You can rent scooters for weekends to explore a bit further around Tulum and to get to/from the cenotes quicker.
Bus or public transportation
Public transportation in Tulum is fairly reliable and cheap. You won’t really find mini-vans (called colectivos) that run between Tulum Town and the Tulum beach strip, but you will find them making pick-ups/drop-offs between Tulum and neighboring communities. That said, you can take a colectivo to get from Tulum to Akumal Beach, from Tulum to Lagoon Kaan Luum, from Tulum to Muyil Ruins, etc.
Taxis in Tulum are extremely expensive. What’s worse, you run the risk of getting stuck in traffic. If you are want to live in Tulum, getting around on foot or bike is ideal for keeping your transportation budget down.
Average Prices for Groceries & Shopping in Tulum
As usual, shopping at local markets in any destination is going to be the cheapest option. You can bulk buy veggies and fruits for half the price. A couple typically spent $50 per week on veggie/fruit hauls from the local market.
Chedraui and Super Aki are the two main supermarkets in Tulum. They’ll have conserves, shelf staples, and all the frozen and commercial foods you could need. The prices are about what you’d find in any Wal- Mart — not super expensive like an organic niche store, but much more expensive than the local veg/fruit markets in town.
If you live in Tulum and shop each week at Chedraui, expect to pay up to $100 per couple on groceries.
Cost of Coworking Spaces & Coffee Shops
Last but not least, if you are a digital nomad or remote worker, then you will no doubt be on the hunt for some decent co-working spaces or coffee shops where you can get some work done. The coworking spaces have fairly expensive pricing plans, but they’re worth it if you need fast wifi and wouldn’t mind joining a community of fellow nomads.
The Digital Jungle coworking space has packages that start out at $350 MXN for a Single Day Pass ($300 MXN for residents). When it comes to coffee shops with wifi in Tulum, there aren’t that many. Starbucks was always our safe haven when the internet at home was sucky. Otherwise, there’s Ki’bok (but it’s busy and loud), Babel, or Vintage Cafe Tulum in Aldea Zama that opened more recently.
Total Monthly Cost to Live in Tulum
If we add all this up, the average cost to live in Tulum can range from $1500 up to $2500 and beyond (it really all depends on your housing situation and lifestyle).
We hope this guide helps you get a better idea of how much it costs to live in Tulum.