Where do you go in Playa del Carmen (Quintana Roo, Mexico) as internet entrepreneur or professional? When you live here you will notice that a decent internet connection is hard to get, rental places promise good internet and give you a 3G USB stick and consider that good. Where do you go and work when this is the miserable standard response?
Updated November 24, 2016: new Coworking Spaces opened Cowork In and Altus Coworking.
Updated July 19, 2016: new Coworking Space opened Workzone… see link… replaced COffice since they closed.
Restaurants and coffeeshops (yes that includes Starbucks) have internet speeds that are terrible (0.5Mb/0.5Mb) and the noise level is high (85-90 dB) and that is like starting a motorbike while I’m on a call with a client. When all our team was together at one location we rented great offices and had multiple internet lines, air conditioning and quite work environments but when everyone started roaming around the world and started working where-ever they felt most comfortable it not only had an organizational impact but I instantly lost a great and inspiring office. We started a coworking space inside our 100 square meter office and rented four spots out since summer 2012 and effectively became the first coworking space in Playa del Carmen “Coworking Playa” and it’s predecessor “The Office” February 2013 we all moved to the new coworking space I opened with a partner (they made the cash and I got access to smart people). Coworking is something I think is important, a constant flow of new and interesting and smart people give inspiration and innovation.
Fast forward to December 2013, our coworking closed and everyone moved back to their favorite location in the world. I was alone again in my favorite spot in Mexico but now without inspiration. Since setting up a good coworking space requires a lot of time, it’s important to have that time. Running two companies is not my thing so I started to search and push people to start one. But
Fast forward to December 2013, our coworking closed and everyone moved back to their favorite location in the world. I was alone again in my favorite spot in Mexico but now without inspiration. Since setting up a good coworking space requires a lot of time, it’s important to have that time. Running two companies is not my thing so I started to search and push people to start one. But without too much of my influence they started popping up. I shared my experience with COffice that started as an initiative in the building of Casona (still a comfortable place to work, although no official coworking anymore). Every coworking initiative always gets my cash since building an ecosystem of technology entrepreneurs is important for Playa’s differentiation in income and my personal need to be close to smart and innovative people.
Playa del Carmen Technology Scene and Ecosystem
Well there is a small echnology scene … and it is growing, with your help. We got the following setup right now for you to improve upon:
- Four coworking spaces (read below)
- Super Happy Dev House (developers meetup)
- Startup Weekend Playa
- TechPlaya (not updated)
- Digital Nomads Facebook Group
- Some informal meetups between people
An ecosystem starts with people carrying the initiative. I organized 21 monthly events under the name of iTuesday and Last Tuesday but stopped with those February 2014 (limited time and constantly putting in my own cash). I was sure new people will pick up the growth of the ecosystem, by investing time and energy and now I’m sure since with some decent coworking spaces and shared office spaces we finally have the base to grow from. Having coworking spaces and desks to work from with other techies we can start thinking of connecting to universities and maybe even bring an incubator to the region. I know I’ll be trying to help from the sideline.
Working In Playa del Carmen, Mexico
With the initiatives, people put out there on the web Playa del Carmen becomes more and more a spot for internet entrepreneurs for a short stay but some stay longer. This brings between $2,000 – $7,000 USD in economical spending per person for this region. That is not much compared to tourists but don’t forget this money is going to local pockets and not big resorts with international backgrounds. I have heard of some developers and entrepreneurs coming to Playa del Carmen because they find a great standard of living and decent coworking or share spaces. But how good is it in Playa to work?
It is good now, four coworking spaces all provide a good enough internet that most apartment and rental homes don’t offer. I’m also convinced that we are getting there and with this post I’ll share the best spots to work.
Internet Connections Here Suck Bigtime
Really, Mexican government changed the telecom law only recently after squeezing in some sneaky dictator like amendments, but one thing they understood well.
High-speed internet by Cablemas goes to 100Mb and around 20 people in town have that (it’s 180 USD a month) and even if high-speed is advertised you will find that different city zones have different standards and almost all of them are down at least an hour a week. So in short, there is no difference between Cablemas, Telmex or Playa Wireless… all suck … but that is all we got at this moment (July 2014). On a side-note there are people that are convincing Telmex staff (with some cash 500-1000 pesos should do wonders … so I hear (and completely disagree with)) that these unused fiber-optic lines in Playacar 2 could also be used instead of laying there doing nothing they actually could be connected to homes. Those are not super fast, but they are super stable lines at the same rates as copper lines.
When you select a coworking spot you need to make sure they have multiple providers of internet there and they have a load-balancer before the wifi. That will guarantee a pretty decent connection because whatever provider and whatever amazing speed they have, the internet will drop and it will drop often. Behind a load-balancer, you don’t notice this too much and will be able to work smoothly in this location.
Top 10 Coworking Spaces in Playa del Carmen for Internet Entrepreneurs
This is the winner and best coworking space so far in Playa and my personal favorite for meeting digital nomands and entrepreneurs. Nest Coworking is a space that was opened May 2014 and has 150 s/meter (1614sq/feet) of space in the same building where I used to have the coworking space (so private offices and meeting rooms are available). Nest is run opened by Cristobal, Nataniel and Liliana. With 150 square meter it’s the biggest air conditioned coworking space in Playa del Carmen.
The vibe is good and so far I found two details that they can improve: better chairs and a small calling booths (it gets noisy fast). The internet is great fiber optic liked of 60Mb sync, low latencyand you can buy as much as you need. They have private offices that start at $600 USD and coworking with 24×7 access from your smartphone is $250 USD a month. The spot is popular and also the reason I go less than before (it’s hard to do video meetings there in the common space) but it still wins with 24×7 access and a great central location that most likely for nomands and travelers is key.
Second best working space in Playa del Carmen is Workzone in my opinion. Workzone is a space that opened in the summer of 2016. Prices are around half of Coworking Nest. Workzone is not in the center and still pretty empty now after a couple of month but chairs are better (compared to Nest Coworking) and the internet is not fiber but a pair of high-speed consumer lines behind a load-balancer that seem to hold strong for the handful of coworkers you’ll find there every day. Part of my team is in Workzone and I like it since it’s more locals and seems to form a closer community with recurring people of non-travelers.
See the video below on the space (made by a friend of mine)
Cowork In made a choice for to settle slightly out of center to the Playacar 2 area. Next to the airport they settled down in November 2016 and have made an impressive space that feels simple and cute. Of course completely empty when I write this the place has an impressive internet speed and if you need to sync you Dropbox this is your spot. With 90Mb down and 35Mb up they give you the best bang for you buck and spot of choice for designers and video guru’s I’d say.
Cowork In cost around $250 USD a month fulltime at the time of writing but they also have prices in pesos so check before coming what the deals are. Here is their Facebook page. They open from 8am and close at 7pm (8:00-19:00) but it’s a new spot so call before if you really plan on standing in from of the door 8am … (it’s not yet punctual).
Altus is a new coworking spot since September 2016 and 5 blocks from Net Coworking. CTM and 1st they settled in a new area of Playa del Carmen where internet lines are not yet that strong. They have two lines of 5Mb (down) and both 0.5Mb up behind a load balancer and when lines are bigger they will upgrade.
The space is really nicely designed and customer service spectacular. I love attention and they have someone serving coffee (from a great espresso machine) and tea to everyone 9am to 1pm (9:00-13:00) every day. The owners are from Mexico City so its daily operations is in the hands of staff. They have some private offices for rent and the central coworking pit (yeah feels like the basement) is comfortable with nice chairs and good light.
And did I share their awesome coffee! Prices also $250 USD a month for a full-time space but office hours are limited to 9am to 6pm (9:00-18:00pm) making it a very limited option to work for entrepreneurs (who starts are 9 and stops at 6…. those are employee times). So for that reason, I’d pick the other spaces before Altus as a frequent coworker. See their FB page here.
When you feel like locking yourself in a two-by-two meter glass cage this spot is your thing. At $9 USD an hour you will have the unique experience of a fish in a bowl. But with a difference that you have two internet lines and a possible crying baby next to you. Unique in many ways, but might just save you when you just need a quick meeting room that is for a virtual meeting and cheap. Read full review here.
6. Ah Cacao (Calle 38 and 5th Avenue)
If you are more open to an informal meeting place that might or might not have good internet that day, try Ah Cacao on Calle 38 and 5th Avenue. Great coffee and snacks (lots of chocolate). The noise level is pretty high (with blenders and babies – yes I bring my own baby there 🙂 The internet is bad but location and food is great, read the full review.
7. Coco Maya Beach Club (Calle 12 and beach)
Normally you go clubbing here, but during the day it is actually a good working spot. If you don’t get distracted by people enjoying the beach and the occasional DJ that plays his tunes, the seats are good and internet usually is pretty stable. No fans or airco but a sea breeze. Don’t fight it, go in swim shorts enjoy it, be productive for two hours but nowhere near a real coworking experience. Read the full review here.
8. Wah Wah Beach Bar
Normally Calle 2 and beach is home of Canadians and Americans (the ones from the USA) is a surprisingly good work spot in the morning (from 9:00 to 13:00 – 9am to 1pm) with a stable Cablemas line of 30Mb. Expect a plastic seat and plastic table near the bar (if you need electricity) but a view (like Coco Maya) of the beach and a nice breeze. Read full review here.
On 10th Avenue and Constituyentes you will find Sanborns on the top floor of the mall Quinta Alegria. Always a cool spot to work… very very cool brrrr. Nice seaview on balcony and good inexpensive food. Read my experience there … here.
10. My Home & Your Home
You can make your home as comfortable as you like, but unless you are an employee of some company that does not mind you working half way around the world and you prefer to be alone I will not recommend you staying home at all. Enjoy Playa by having breakfast behind the laptop that is fine, but go out to cowork to get inspiration and share learnings with the world. My experiences here and here.
Nest is the best coworking spot in Playa del Carmen for traveller and digital nomad, the months of searching are now over. Nest is the cool kid in Playa and my choice of coworking; the winner for me.
Nest is loosing it’s advantage rapidly with new coworkings opening. I think Workzone is a great option if price matters and you have a bike or car or love close by that location. I will work at least 1 day a week from Cowork In which is close to my home and on the way to some family activities, Altus will join once every two weeks and I’ll also use some local restaurants to work from. I think Playa is now new spot to consider a serious option for those local and traveling internet entrepreneurs with a decent budget to enjoy this safe and beautiful spot of Mexico. It’s not a spot where you can expect your rental condo to have great internet so you need on of these coworking spots.