Everything you need to know about buying and selling real estate in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta, and the Banderas Bay region

Property Market in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum

Viewpoint East Coast of Mexico

Recently I was privileged to attend the FIABCI Latin American Conference in Tulum, Quintarro, Mexico. We visited properties in the three best known areas of the Rivera Maya: Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.

Cancun is the original destination in the Yucatan Peninsula

  • In Cancun everything is geared around the tourist industry. There are a great deal of vacation packages.
  • Local merchants have learned many ways to charm you by offering cheap drinks in bars, timeshares, expensive souvenirs and overpriced tours. You can avoid some this problem by staying in upscale hotels.
  • Cancun is not a walking city. The Hotel Zone alone has miles and miles of hotels. It can take 20 minutes by car to reach the downtown. Walking around is limited, so many people stay in their resort and book tours with pickups.


Real Estate: Cancun downtown: 1-2-bedroom condos under $100,000 USD: A listed one bedroom for $95,000 USD is 300 s.f. for a cost of $316 USD per ft. Puerto Cancun or Cancun City are more expensive: a 4-bedroom condo is listed for $1,000,000 USD, or $300 USD a foot.

We toured a beautiful luxury project: SLS Harbor Beach, with ocean views. Each condo is a million USD or higher, with an average price of $400 USD a s.f. Harbor is in construction and will have 5-star amenities to pamper owners and guests.

Playa Del Carmen is more European in feeling and a is a smaller scale.

It is a very walkable city and most things are in a 20-block area. The city is centrally located to many of the tourist areas as well as being close to the airport. This city is an international destination, not only for tourism, but also expat residents. There is a very active restaurant scene and a nice range of shopping for visitors and locals.

  • Playa del Carmen has been growing over the years at a fast rate. Rustic beach huts, sand streets, and older infrastructure host chic restaurants and boutique hotels. Tourists and residents prefer the small feel and charm. Some residents and returning tourists see Tulum as Playa Del Carmen of 15 years ago.
  • All-inclusive hotels are limited with just a few in the Playa Del Carmen center. More are in the Playacar neighborhood at the south end of Playa. This location can be a happy medium between staying at an all-inclusive and being able to walk into the center of Playa.
  • If Playa del Carmen sounds just a little too big, check Puerto Morelos, a smaller town between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.


We find listings here for a 1-1 in West Playa for $58,523 USD. Size is 645 s.f for $91.00 USD a s.f. Also, in Oceana, a beach location, a 2-2 condo of 1,400 s. f. Is available for $850,000 USD.

Tulum is eco-chic or hippie-chic.

Tulum is divided into two areas: There is the center of town which has all the businesses, souvenir shops, transportation and hostels. There is also an area which is separated from the town by almost three kilometers. The beach area is now known for its eco-chic hotels with a price of $300 USD a night, small gourmet restaurants, sightings of celebrities and New Yorkers walking around.

  • You can receive high levels of service and seclusion here and the food scene is ever increasing. Cheaper accommodation can still be had in town and father back from the beach.
  • Tulum is about relaxing and an eco-chic destination. There are no malls, movie theaters or mini golf. If you want to do activities other than stay in your hotel: go to the beach, visit the ruins, or dine out and walk the town in one hour. Attractions include the Coba ruins, Muyil ruins, cenotes and Sian Ka, which are all close to Tulum.
  • You also do not have as many of the large all-inclusive resorts in Tulum. Transportation from the airport to Tulum will take over an hour.
  • If you do think Tulum sounds good but you want smaller, Akumal, is a small town between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum


Listed properties in Tulum include a studio of 356 s.f. for $59,000 USD and a 2-2 condo of 506 s.f. for $70,000 USD in downtown.Near the Parquet National Archaeology site, there is a 4-bedroom condo for $850,000 USD for $392 USD per s.f.



This article is based upon Flex MLS reporting, legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller of Mexican real estate conduct his own due diligence and review. If you have any other questions, contact me through my website.

Harriet Murray



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