Cost of Living in Tulum: Budget Guide for Nomads & Expats

​​Are you contemplating a move to Mexico as a digital nomad and considering Tulum as a potential home base? If so, Josh and I were in your exact same shoes just a year ago. When we first moved to Tulum, I diligently researched what the cost of living in Tulum would be for a month or more.

And let me tell you – the actual cost of living in Tulum, may not align with your initial expectations!

The cost of living in Tulum for one month typically ranges between $2,000 and $2,500 USD.

Let’s see how it breaks down.

What’s The True Cost of Living in Tulum?

I wanted to share a detailed breakdown of living expenses in Tulum for a duration ranging from 1 to 3 months.

Is Tulum expensive or affordable? Let’s find out, shall we? 

Temporary Living Costs in Tulum

This guide will walk you through the average living costs associated with housing, dining out, entertainment, transportation, grocery shopping, and other essentials you may need for living in Tulum.

Housing Costs in Tulum

Tulum’s rental market varies significantly, ranging from modest local accommodations to more upscale expat-oriented options.

Rental Prices for an Apartment/Studio

For those looking on the budget-friendly side, a furnished one-bedroom apartment or studio in areas like Tulum Centro or La Veleta can range from $700 to $800 USD per month.

On the higher end, a well-equipped 1-2 bedroom apartment in expat neighborhoods like Aldea Zama can cost between $1,500 and $2,500+ USD per month.

Housing in Aldea Zama tends to be geared towards larger groups if you’re traveling with friends, but expect to pay more due to the upscale renovations. 

We found a lovely one-bedroom apartment in the Tulum Centro neighborhood next to the Chedraui supermarket, in a complex called Tuk Tulum, conveniently situated close to many local amenities. Every time we live in Tulum, we stay here. It has a pool and gym too – which we love!

➡️ You May Also Like: Sustainability in Tulum: Housing + Unique Experiences

Can You Negotiate Rent Prices?

While Tulum’s real estate market is tight due to high demand, it’s still possible to negotiate, especially for longer-term rentals. However, you must be prepared to act quickly, as another renter might accept the price if you don’t. 

Over the years, Tulum has seen a significant rise in rental prices, largely driven by affluent visitors who can afford to pay more. This influx has inadvertently pushed rental prices higher, impacting the cost of living in Tulum.

The Impact of Rising Costs

The consequence of Tulum’s surging popularity and escalating costs is evident. It’s displacing the local population, forcing them to move to neighboring communities not yet touched by the swell of tourism. 

These communities offer a quieter lifestyle at a more sustainable cost, providing an alternative for those priced out of Tulum’s central areas.

Finding Affordable Local Housing in Tulum

When searching for accommodation, consider more locally-focused options rather than the large, corporate-owned apartment complexes that are often priced for the tourist market. 

Here’s how you can find local housing:

  • Utilize Local Resources: Engage with local Tulum Facebook groups (Example: Tulum Rentals or Sales & Rentals). Post your housing inquiry in Spanish first, then English, and specify the lower end of your budget.
    • This approach can help you find more reasonable offers, as posting the maximum budget often results in higher-priced options.
  • Direct Contact: Look for apartments and studios in Tulum Centro on platforms like Airbnb or Booking.com.
    • Direct communication with the owners, like how Josh and I did via WhatsApp, can lead to better deals. This method allowed us to secure a charming apartment in Tuk Tulum, owned by a local resident.

Choosing the Right Neighborhood

Where you decide to live in Tulum can significantly impact your living expenses. While expat-focused neighborhoods like the emerging La Veleta and the more upscale Aldea Zama cater to foreigners with higher prices, the cost of living in Tulum Centro can be more budget-friendly. 

These central areas offer a more authentic experience and typically feature lower rental prices, making them ideal for those looking to stretch their dollars further in Tulum.

Is It Safe To Live in Tulum?

For many who choose to relocate to Mexico, Tulum often becomes their first real home in the country. We were in this exact position, so I understand the concerns that come with moving to a new country, especially with the often negative portrayal of Mexico in the media.

The Reality of Safety in Tulum – Is Tulum safe to live?

While Mexico has generally felt safe for us as nomads living on and off here for two years, the situation in Tulum is unfortunately changing. The town is experiencing the downsides of over-tourism, which includes irresponsible behaviors like drug purchases on the streets or in beach clubs. 

These activities are attracting criminal elements looking to control these lucrative territories. The increasing presence of these groups has led to a rise in crime rates in Tulum, including serious incidents such as shootouts, thefts, robberies, and even cases of assault.

Safety Tips for Living in Tulum

No matter where you are in the world—be it Mexico, the US, Europe, South America or elsewhere—it’s crucial to adopt safety practices:

  • Stay Socially Safe: Always go out with friends and avoid walking alone at night. Don’t be drunk walking alone – especially at night!
  • Be Discreet: Do not display valuables or large sums of money publicly.
  • Stay Vigilant: Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid risky areas, especially after dark.

Important Health and Safety Tips

  • Water Safety: Never drink directly from the tap!! Tulum’s water can be contaminated, and it’s common for newcomers to get sick shortly after arrival. (This happens to us, every time!)
    • Always use filtered water for drinking and washing fruits and vegetables. If boiling water for cooking, like rice or pasta, do so for at least 3-5 minutes to ensure it’s safe.
  • Ice and Food Caution: Be cautious with ice in drinks; if it has a hole in the middle of the ice cube, it’s usually safe because it’s filtered. If unsure, it’s better to avoid it. Similarly, be wary of consuming raw salads unless you’re confident in the water used for washing.

These precautions can help mitigate health risks, such as gastroenteritis, often humorously yet aptly called “Montezuma’s Revenge.” Carrying or purchasing electrolytes, like Liquid IV, can also be a lifesaver in managing hydration and health during your adjustment period in Tulum.

Dining Out in Tulum: Is Eating Out Expensive in Tulum?

Wondering if dining out in Tulum is expensive? Well, it depends on where you choose to eat. The cost can vary significantly depending on whether you’re in Tulum Centro or the Hotel Zone by the beaches.

Cost of Eating Out in Tulum

In Tulum Centro, dining out is generally more affordable compared to the pricier Hotel Zone.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for meals in Tulum, giving you a better idea of the dining costs (estimates are per person):

  • Cup of Coffee: $2-4 USD or $60-90 MXN
  • Beer/Cocktail in Tulum Centro: $5-10 USD or $100-200 MXN
  • Breakfast in a Bohemian Cafe in Tulum Centro: $6-12 USD or $140-250 MXN
  • Lunch in a Restaurant in Tulum Centro: $6-15 USD or $140-350 MXN
  • Taco Street Stands: $1-5 USD or $20-100 MXN 
  • Dinner in Tulum Centro: $10-20+ USD or $200-$400 MXN
  • Dinner in Tulum’s Beach Hotel Zone: $30-50+ USD or $550-920+ MXN

➡️ For a more comprehensive guide on where to eat, including budget-friendly and mid-range options, check out my full guide on the best breakfast spots in Tulum!

My Favorite Dining Spots in Tulum Centro

Tulum Centro is home to numerous delightful dining venues, from vegetarian and vegan cafes to charming outdoor restaurants perfect for any meal, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Just to name a few: 

  • Raw Love 
  • Botanica Garden Cafe
  • Nimeno Bakery
  • DelCielo

The atmosphere in Tulum Centro is more laid-back, and the prices are more wallet-friendly compared to the upscale dining options along the Beach Hotel Zone.

Activities and Entertainment Costs: Budgeting for Tulum Activities

Exploring Tulum offers a myriad of activities, but how much should you budget for them?

Here’s a detailed look at the costs associated with some of Tulum’s top attractions and activities.

Cost of Cenotes

Cenotes are among Tulum’s most enchanting natural attractions, but visiting these beautiful water-filled sinkholes can come with a significant entry fee. 

Here are a few popular cenotes and their typical costs:

For those seeking more off-the-beaten-path experiences, there are less expensive options:

➡️ You May Also Like to know: Where The Best Cenotes Are Near Tulum

COST of Tulum Ruins

Tulum is also famous for its historical sites, particularly the well-preserved ruins:

  • Tulum Ruins: Overlooking the Caribbean Sea, a visit here costs just $90 MXN. This entry price will also get you to the beach below the ruins – a must-visit!
  • Chichen Itza Ruins: About a 2-hour drive from Tulum Centro, entry to this part of the Seven New Wonders of the World costs $614 MXN.
  • Muyil Ruins: Located just south of Tulum, about 20 minutes by car, where you can also enjoy a unique lagoon experience in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve for $70 MXN.

Here are a few unique experiences to see the ruins of Tulum:

🔷 Tulum Ruins and 3 Cenotes – Jungle Adventure

🔷 Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid Small Group Day Trip

🔷 Sian Ka’an and Muyil Archaeological Site Tour from Tulum

Cost of Tulum Beach Clubs

Tulum’s beach clubs are renowned for their exclusive atmospheres and come with a hefty price tag for access to private beaches and lounge chairs:

  • Amansala Beach Club: Entry starts at $50 USD per person, excluding food and drinks. This was our go-to beach club. 
  • Luxurious Beach Clubs like Papaya Playa Project, Tantra, and Taboo: Entry fees can exceed $70 USD per person – depending on if there’s an event. 

These costs reflect the premium experience offered by Tulum’s beach clubs, making them a popular choice for those looking to relax in style by the sea.

When planning your activities in Tulum, it’s important to consider these costs as part of your overall budget to ensure you can enjoy all that this stunning destination has to offer without any surprises. 

Whether you’re diving into the clear waters of a cenote or exploring ancient ruins, Tulum offers experiences worth every peso.

➡️ Also Read: What Wear in Tulum: The Ultimate Packing Guide

How Much Is Transportation in Tulum?

Navigating through Tulum can vary significantly based on your location and preferred mode of transport. 

Here’s an overview of the options available to help you get around efficiently and economically.

Getting Around On Foot

If you’re residing in Tulum Centro, walking is a convenient way to explore the area. However, reaching the beach or cenotes on foot from the town center isn’t practical. For longer distances, consider other modes of transportation such as bikes, scooters, or taxis.

Bikes

Biking is an excellent way to get around Tulum and soak in the local scenery. If you plan to stay in Tulum for an extended period, purchasing a bicycle might be a cost-effective option. 

Bike rentals are available but can be pricey, costing up to $350 MXN per day

You can also buy new bikes at local stores like Aki Tulum for approximately $2500-3000 MXN ($125-150 USD), or look for used bikes on platforms like Facebook Marketplace.

Scooters and ATVs

Renting a scooter or ATV is another popular option for transportation in Tulum, allowing greater mobility to explore areas further from the center. 

Foreigners can legally rent and drive scooters and ATVs with a U.S. Driver’s License or an international license. However, always exercise caution as accidents can occur, and navigating Tulum’s roads requires attentiveness.

Side Note: We had a friend who got in a scooter accident and had to wear a neck brace – (not to scare you) but, just be careful as there are no STOP signs in Tulum and traffic lights are only on the main highway. 

Bus/Public Transportation

Public transportation, while not extensive, is reliable and affordable in Tulum. 

The ADO bus service (for example) provides budget-friendly travel options, including routes to/from Cancun Airport for around $15 USD per person.

 Local mini-vans, known as Colectivos, are common for traveling between Tulum and nearby communities but don’t typically run directly to the beach strip.

Taxis

Taxis in Tulum can be quite expensive and subject to complex local regulations that restrict where certain taxis can pick up or drop off passengers. 

Pro Tip: Acquiring a personal contact number via WhatsApp for a reliable taxi driver can improve your experience but beware of the high costs and traffic delays. 

Renting a Car

For those traveling in groups or needing more flexibility, renting a car might seem like a good option, though it’s less common due to Tulum’s narrow and congested roads

Be prepared for significant upfront costs, such as a substantial security deposit, and daily rental fees of around $100 USD. Tulum’s infrastructure is better suited for smaller vehicles like scooters or bikes, which are more adaptable to the local environment.

Navigating Tulum requires some planning, especially considering the cost and practicality of different transportation options. Whether you choose to bike, drive, or walk, understanding these options will help you manage your budget and enjoy your time in Tulum without unnecessary stress.

Average Prices for Groceries & Shopping

Understanding the cost of living in Tulum for everyday essentials like groceries is crucial for managing your budget

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to spend on groceries and where to shop.

Local Markets

Shopping at local markets is usually the most budget-friendly option. Here, you can buy bulk vegetables, fruits, and meats at significantly lower prices than supermarkets. These markets are great for those looking to eat fresh and save money. You can find these markets in Tulum Centro.

Supermarkets in Tulum

For a more conventional shopping experience, Tulum hosts 2 large supermarkets:

  • Chedraui
  • Súper Akíi

These supermarkets offer a wide range of products from pantry staples to frozen goods, comparable to what you might find in a Wal-Mart. 

Prices here are not as high as those in specialty organic stores but are generally more expensive than local markets. 

Typically, a couple can expect to spend up to $200 on weekly groceries at these supermarkets, noting that prices have been rising over the years.

Cost of Coworking Spaces & Coffee Shops

For digital nomads and remote workers, finding a good place to work is essential!! Tulum offers several coworking spaces and coffee shops designed to meet the needs of nomads seeking reliable internet and a productive environment.

Coworking Spaces

Although the pricing can be on the higher side, coworking spaces in Tulum provide not just fast Wi-Fi but also a chance to connect with a community of like-minded individuals. 

Here are a couple of popular options:

  • Xclubhouse: Provides daily passes for $300 MXN and monthly passes for $2580 MXN. They also offer fun events!
  • The Digital Jungle Coworking Space: Offers daily passes for $400 MXN and monthly passes for $5000 MXN.

These spaces are worth considering if you need a consistent and conducive work environment.

Coffee Shops with Wi-Fi

While Tulum is not overflowing with coffee shops that offer great Wi-Fi, there are a few gems where you can enjoy a good brew and stable internet because these places have a backup generator!

Some of our favorite spots include:

  • Holistika (La Veleta)
  • Italdo (La Veleta)
  • Ahau Tulum (Hotel Zone)
  • Layla Tulum (Tulum Centro)
  • Kimpton Aluna (Aldea Zama)

These cafes not only offer great coffee but also a pleasant atmosphere for working or relaxing.

➡️ For more detailed information on coworking spaces, check out my Best Coworking Spaces In Tulum. This guide will help you find the perfect spot to work remotely while enjoying the vibrant life Tulum has to offer.

What’s the Total Monthly Cost of Living in Tulum?

The average cost of living in Tulum can range widely from about $1,500 to $4,000 or more per month. Determining your monthly expenses in Tulum depends significantly on housing choices, how often you eat out, the type of activities you participate in, and your general spending habits.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of what you might expect to spend living in Tulum.

Our Personal Budget Breakdown

Josh and I have managed to maintain a relatively moderate lifestyle in Tulum, and our monthly expenses typically range between $2,000 and $2,500 USD

Here’s how our costs are typically distributed:

  • Housing: $1,200 USD
  • Eating Out: $300 USD (We enjoy dining out quite frequently.)
  • Activities: $150 USD
  • Transportation: $0-$100 USD (This varies depending on whether we rent a bike or scooter.)
  • Groceries: $600 USD
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: $80 USD (This includes items like water filtration and gym membership)

Adjusting to Different Budgets

It’s important to note that while this cost of living in Tulum budget works for us, your expenses might differ based on your preferences and lifestyle. Some might spend more on experiences and leisure, while others might prioritize saving or investing in different areas.

I hope this cost of living in Tulum guide provides a clearer picture of what you can expect to spend during a few months living in Tulum. Remember, everyone’s experience and spending habits are unique, and your costs can vary. 

Whether you’re planning to live minimally or splurge on luxuries, Tulum offers options to suit a range of budgets.

If you have any specific questions or need further details, feel free to reach out or leave a comment below. We love sharing our experiences and helping others make the most of their time in Tulum!

➡️ Read Next: BEST FREE THINGS TO DO IN TULUM

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