How to learn Spanish cheap, on a budget, in Mexico | Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum
The goal of this article is to help you with calculating and anticipating how much you will (need to) spend when learning Spanish in the Caribbean part of Mexico (Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Tulum). We will discuss and give a few tips on how to save money while being in this beautiful area.
Mexico is an awesome and affordable place to learn Spanish, without spending too much money, while being surrounded by amazing culture, delicious tacos and beautiful beaches!
If you are interested to learn Spanish in Mexico, while being on a tight budget.. we advice that you to keep on reading.. this post is written for you.
To start, before we continue, we would like to mention a few things.
First of all, we would like to note that Mexico is not the only amazing place in Latin America to learn Spanish on a tight budget. In this post, due to our specific knowledge of this area, we will focus specifically on studying Spanish in the Caribbean east coast of Mexico (Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Tulum). It is this area that stole the heart of our time and read here about different reasons on why to study in this part of the Latin American world.
Second, studying and learning Spanish is an investment. There are many more variables than just the tuition fee, to consider when choosing the language school to spend your time and money to acquire a language. We highly recommend to not only look at the price of the language school.
Finally, through this platform, here, we offer the possibility to request free personalised quotations from different language / Spanish schools in the area of your preference within Mexico. Hereby our platform helps you to make effectively the best decision for the right language school. After filling in our form, the different schools will contact you with their best offer. You will save time, by having the schools contact you with their personalised quotation instead of having to contact all the language schools in the area for information!
Okayy let’s go! Let’s talk about how you will be most likely spend your money, while learning Spanish, in this amazing part of Mexico!
Probably you will spend a few Mexican pesos in Bacalar, Akumal, Cozumel, Holbox, where you will find many of these spots
Besides the costs/the tuition fee for the Spanish language school there are other costs to consider!
Consider the cost of your
- Flight ticket (Return ticket from where you live to the airport of Cancún)
- Insurance (Medical insurance and travel insurance)
– Tuition Fee
- Accommodation (some schools offer the service of helping you with finding accommodation)
- Tourist attractions
Let’s discuss all of the costs to consider! To make it easier for the reader that is not yet in Mexico, we use USD and EUR in the post, however of course, in Mexico you pay with Mexican pesos (Although in many places they accept USD as well).
This depends obviously on where you are coming from. Flight ticket and insurance are costs to consider, but the price will be a bit different for everyone!
Tuition fee of Spanish schools in Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum
The prices between the language Spanish schools and/or private teachers vary in the range of 10-30$/9-29€ depending on the levels of quality, services, facilities etc.. You can use our platform (Compar.com.mx) to request personalised quotations for the period when you are staying and goals that you have, when learning Spanish in Mexico. If you fill in our form, up to 5 different Spanish schools will contact you with their best offer, based on your preferences.
Accommodation in Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum
In all of the cities of our focus, Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, you will be able to find a room in a decent area for around 300$/270€ a month.
A fun alternative could be to stay (temporary) in a hostel! In a hostel you will not have your own bedroom (probably you will be sharing it with 4-8 people), but it could be a good and fun temporary solution. You might make some friends as well there since many travelers and backpackers looking for a good time stay in the hostels. You will be able to find a hostel for 11$/10€ a night.
When using our platform to request personalized quotations from the different language schools, you can opt to tell them that you are also looking for accommodation. This way, schools that are offering accommodation will include it in their personalized quotation for you.
In general, transportation in Mexico is affordable, however to save money there are different options to do so. For example, instead of taking taxis all the time, you could rent (or buy) a bicycle. You will be able, if you compare a few places, while negotiating, to rent a bicycle for 2.75$/2.50€ a day, or to buy a new bicycle for 110$/100€.
If you don’t rent your own car, the transport between the cities will be done in busses. It will take you approximately one hour from Cancún to Playa del Carmen (the airport is also located in Cancún), while the distance between to Mérida and Cancún is approx., three hours. From Playa del Carmen to for example the turtle beach of Akumal and most of the cenotes it will be around 30 minutes.
Instead of the more luxury busses like the ones from ADO (link) take the colectivo (small vans that connect almost all places). Please take a look here, at our colleagues see link, for an extensive article on how to use the colectivos. To make the comparison, one way from Playa del Carmen to Cancún (or the other way around) would cost you 4$/3.60€ in the more luxury bus of ADO while being in the colectivo around 1.70$/1.50€.
Not world changing differences, but if you really want to learn Spanish in Mexico cheap, all small parts will help you.
Food in Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum
Besides the tuition fee, probably your biggest cost will be the amount of money that you spend on food.
You can make your spending’s on food as expensive as you would like it to be, if you would like that, by eating in all kind of overpriced places in touristy areas (with sometimes questionable quality). But here we will discuss how to eat well for a price as low as possible.
For breakfast we recommend to simply go to the supermarket and get your own eggs, bread, cereal, milk, avocados, and orange juice. Avocados are a fraction of the price as they are in Europe and the VS (around 0.42$/0.40€) for a big one, and eggs costs around 0.05$/ 0.04€. For a liter of orange juice you will pay around 1.20$/1.10€.
With regard to lunch and dinner, our team might be biased, because we are in love with the street food in Mexico.
There are different spots, for example here and here, where delicious burritos and tacos are made for a very good price. A burrito will cost you 2.30$/2.05€ and a taco around 0.70$/0.60€.
However, please note, that it is well known that the Mexican street food could be a bit too much for the stomachs of Americans and Europeans that not used to exposure to bacteria. The street food probably at times contains more bacteria than what you can expect in restaurants, or that you are used to.
Our team only have had incidental bad experiences with the street food but please take it as a note of advice.
For an accompanied drink you could go for delicious Jamaica (flour) or Horchata water that is sold for around 0.90$ or 0.80€. If you really want to go cheap you could bring your own water ;).
We recommend to avoid the restaurants in the touristic areas. The touristic area in Cancún is the Zona Hotelera, and in Playa del carmen it is the Quinta Avenida (fifth street). Prices of restaurants in the tourist areas are often around the same price as you would pay in the USA or Europe. You can find places to eat with good (and possibly even better) quality for a lower price. The obvious way to save money would be to go the supermarket chains buy your food over there and cook at home.
Even though the objective of this article is to save money and discuss how to learn Spanish cheap in this part of Mexico, we do request you, in case the service has been decent, to tip minimal 10% to the waiters. The waiters work very hard and are depended for their income to the tips. Salaries are very low in Mexico, therefor we kindly request to not save money on the tips.
Okay now the fun part..
Playtime at the beach
Over here you can have as much fun as you would like to, and you can make the fun part as expensive as you would like to have it. Expensive things would be to go Kitesurfing, to rent Jetskis and/or Jungle buggies, to go to an electronic festival in Tulum (40$+/ 35 EUR+), to relax at resorts, to eat on the Quinta Avenida (Playa del Carmen) or close to the Zona Hotelera (Cancún) and go out at Coco Bongo.
Inexpensive, or even free, but just as much fun, would be to get your own snorkel set and go to Akumal to swim with turtles, to take a colectivo and go to a Cenote, where the entrance fee is free or just cost a few $ (there are many Cenotes to explore), go for paddle boarding, play sports on the beach (tennis, volleyball), make new friends in hostels and/or roof tops of hotels, go to a salsa/bachata free entrance party, take cooking or dance classes.. the possibilities are endless..
We have heard that, as with many experiences, specially the experiences that teach you something will stay with you for a lifetime. Therefor we recommend to take the cooking classes and take the dancing classes, even though more costly, you could actually even consider taking some diving classes, since there are amazing spots to dive in the area.
Cenotes are making diving in underwater caves possible
If your goal is to save money, don’t pay for organized tourist tours. You are able to go, independently, by yourself, or with your friends, to the attraction (for example the archaeological site of Chichen Itza) and if necessary, negotiate yourself a good price with a local guide at the attraction.
For example if you want to go to visit the beautiful islands of Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and/or Holbox just take a van to the port where the boats are leaving and take the boat. Arrived on the the islands rent your own way of transport or take a taxi, bring your own snorkelset and stay in the night in an AirBnB or a hostel.
Our team always lives the idea of being a traveler and not a tourist. By finding your own way to the different places, you are not only saving money, but you are being a traveler and not a tourist. The advantage is more fun and adventure ;).
With regard to the nightlife, if you go to the mainstream venues, you will have to, and especially in the weekend often pay an entrance fee (6-16$/5-15€). The nightlife in the Zona Hotelera (Cancún) and in the 12th street (Playa del Carmen) is not very cheap, particularly considering the drinks, To enter a place as Coco Bongo you will have to pay around 60 USD/50€ (drinks here will be included).
However, there are many less mainstream venues/bars that have a great mix of tourists, expats and locals. The less mainstream venues/bars are way more affordable, and most of the time possible even way more fun. In Cancún a bit less mainstream venue would be for example the Mambo café (and the surrounding area), and in Playa del Carmen a venue like La Embajada and or the bar La Chancla.
Learn how to dance the latin rhythms, and dance the night away
With regard to nightlife, if you want to learn Spanish cheap, keep it easy on the alcohol, if you drink, buy some beers beforehand, because even though it’s the land of tequila and mezcal, alcohol is not cheap in clubs and nightlife.
A beer in the supermarket or in one of the many small convenience stores around, would cost you around 1$ and in the bar around 2/3$. In the stores you can buy a bottle of Tequila for 10$, but our team has never seen Tequila or Mezcal for less than 3$ in the nightlife.
We have given you an idea of the costs that you can expect to have when studying Spanish in Mexico in the cities of Mérida, Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Also we have given some tips on how to save a Mexican peso here and there.
With regards to choosing the right language Spanish school in the area, if you fill in the form on our platform and receive free personalised quotations from up to 5 different schools in the region.
Finally, if you have any tips or experience for studying Spanish cheap in Mexico, let us know in the comments!
We wish you an amazing stay and experience in Mexico!