Not that long ago, Playa del Carmen was just a little fishing town on the beach. For the first 50 years that it existed, it was entirely ignored by both Mexicans and international travelers. Why and how was it that Playa del Carmen suddenly transformed itself into one of Latin America’s foremost tourist and real estate areas in less than a decade?
Perhaps there is no one, nice easy answer for the sudden and rapid success of Playa del Carmen real estate in Mexico Latin America; however, if we review several key factors, we will see that together they point to a recipe for success and ongoing appeal of this vibrant and adaptable market.
The following factors all contributed to Playa del Carmen’s sudden boom in the 90s and 2000s, and continue to make real estate and tourism attractive today:
The Beaches – Many travelers feel that the beaches in Playa del Carmen are among the most beautiful in the world. They are wide, the sand is soft and white, and the Caribbean Sea is warm and unique turquoise colour. These beaches are ideal for walking, enjoy a cold beer, swimming or just relaxing.
Cancun – As beautiful as these beaches are, the village went completely unnoticed in terms of tourism for the first 50 years or so of its existence, and they were completely abandoned for 400 years before the fishing village was founded. Some event needed to happen to draw the world’s attention to these beaches; this event was the founding of Cancun just over 40 years ago. Cancun was built up from scratch 1 hour north of this village as Mexico’s first fully planned resort community. Along with the creation of Cancun came large-scale international promotion and an international airport, which is only 45 minutes away from Playa del Carmen.
Unique Lifestyle Atmosphere – There would be little reason for buyers to take notice of Playa del Carmen if it were just a smaller copy of Cancun. The very fact that it started as a little fishing village gave it a unique shape of development. When tourists from Cancun first started traveling through to take the ferry to the island of Cozumel or as a stop on the way to the pyramids of Tulum, as small, local-style town grew up around the village. This town had narrow streets, small city blocks and a quaint main street with a few handicraft shops and restaurants called “Fifth Avenue.”
This small-town atmosphere continues to define Playa del Carmen; buildings are no higher than 4 stories. This atmosphere has been further developed by a large number of Italian expats and investors who opened boutique hotels, restaurants and cafes, adding a European flavour.
Variety in Real Estate Choices – The first kind of real estate to attract attention in the area was beachfront condos. Because of the layout of the town, however, condos and homes back from the beach offer excellent lifestyle value since there is frequent and easy access to the beach both downtown (where just about every road leads to the beach) and in the outlying gated communities. Homes, condos and villas in gated communities have become an attractive choice, especially in golf course communities; Playa del Carmen is currently home to 9 courses, many of which are professionally designed. There are also marina front condos. For those who like personal projects, some of the original homes make for nice fixer-upper projects near the beach.
Modern Services – Part of the growth in Playa del Carmen and the area in general has been the rapid appearance of modern services. These include everything from modern malls and movie theaters and Walmart to state-of-the-art hospitals and modern highways. Of course, anything that isn’t in Playa del Carmen can be found in Cancun only an hour away.
Attractive Prices – When tourism first began to overflow from Cancun into Playa del Carmen, one of the attractions was the prospect of living on the beach for such a low price. While prices have risen since then, they are still much lower compared to just about any other place that combines this unique set of factors. What’s more the factor mentioned above allows buyers on a lower budget to buy back from the beach and still fully enjoy the beaches as well as the small-town, provincial lifestyle of Playa del Carmen. Playa del Carmen offers good properties in all price ranges in a variety of styles and locations.
Considering this combination of factors, it is little wonder why Playa del Carmen real estate was first noticed by international buyers, and why it continues to be a very attractive favorite. What might be more surprising is why it took so long to be noticed.
About the Author:
Thomas Lloyd, Founder and President of TOPMexicoRealestate.com
Originally from Indiana, and a graduate of Purdue University in the Krannert School of Management, he holds a degree in management with a speciality in finances. Lloyd has several diplomas and certifications in Mexico Real Estate topics and is one of only a few professionals to hold Mexico's new degree in real estate. This degree is accompanied by a Professional Identification Number, "cedula profesional," which is issued for trained professionals such as those in the medical field, or in law. He has over 15 years of direct experience in Mexico's business culture.