Why Own Property in Mexico

Did you know that owning a retirement home in a vacation destination, instead of in a traditional retirement community is a smart way to retire, allowing you to earn money, travel and enjoy a great income, renting your vacation homes when you aren't using them. We've designated owner lock out closets to put our stuff in, when our condos are rented out. Now every few years we've been able to buy additional properties with the money we're making from our rentals, something we would never have been able to do if we'd bought a traditional retirement home. Don't think you can't continue to earn lots of money in retirement, you've built a lifetime of equity, now you can put it to work.  So let's look at Mexico and why I recommend you own a vacation rental there.

The US Embassy estimates that there are 2 million Americans living in Mexico, as of 2022, and 800,000 of them have full time resident visas.  Mexico has plenty to offer, nice weather, affordable property, low cost of living, good healthcare, and easy accessibility from the US.  The area around Cancun is a top vacation rental destination for Americans.  From an ownership perspective, one of the best reasons is the ability to rent your unit when you aren't using it, think world travel while your unit is earning money to pay for it. For snowbirds, your condo will pay for itself while you are gone, in a strong and proven rental market year round. 

Mexico has plenty of nice beach towns, with the highest concentration along the area known as the Riviera Maya, along the Yucatan Peninsula.  We've all heard of Cancun.  Cancun is more of a vacation destination, think large hotels and lots of tourists flocking the beaches, Carlos and Charlies, Tequila shots and guacamole.  But the area outside of Cancun has blossomed with residential opportunities for both Mexicans and foreigners.  It's become a top destination for vacation properties and second homes for North Americans. 

One of the primary reasons is the easy access from the US.  Cancun International Airport is served by over 50 airlines, with direct flights to over 120 cities worldwide in 20 countries.  That's a big plus if you choose to retire there, making travel destinations easily accessible.  Cancun airport is the 3rd largest airport in Latin America, by volume, and the 2nd largest in Mexico behind Mexico City.  Over 28 million passengers passed through the airport in 2022.  If you own a rental or vacation property in the area, those flights provide an endless stream of vacationers. If you live in the area, it provides easy access to the US, Canada, Europe, and south America, with daily direct flights with competitive pricing for tourism. And by the way, the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the safest parts of Mexico.  The crime rate is similar to that in the state of Connecticut. 

Within a short drive of Cancun airport, you can find lots of vacation opportunities.  Playa del Carmen is the best well known outside of Cancun, but within an hour or two drive time (or ferry) you can also be in Tulum, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Merida, Holbox, and Puerto Morelos, among others.  

My favorite is Playa del Carmen, so much so that I bought a condo there a few years ago.  It's a vacation rental but I have the option of moving there if I decide to, or vacationing there any time I want.  Best of all, my condo rents very well, with high occupancy year round and nice rental rates.  Playa has lots of charm, and is very popular among tourists.  In fact Playa was one of the fastest growing cities in the world in the mid 2000's.  You'll find many of the things you are familiar with in Playa; Walmart, Home Depot, Office Max, Forever 21, Starbucks, etc.  There's a good hospital and lots of activities.  The town currently has a population of over 300,000, but boasts a laid back attitude, unlike Cancun.  You'll find people living there from all over the world, with a slower bohemian lifestyle and nice pace of life.  There are many expat groups from various parts of the globe.  Below is a short video about one of the condos I own that provides a steady stream of rental income for me.  Click on the link to watch it and imagine you owned it.  You can visit any time and it's earning money when you aren't using it.  

Playa del Carmen has a more carefree, unconventional vibe than other nearby towns. As expats moved in, neighborhoods formed much like the US.  There are exclusive gated developments as well as areas with neighborhood associations, home owners associations and lots of condo complexes.  Many of the larger projects are filled almost entirely with north Americans.  

There's plenty to do in the area, with some major theme park like tourist offerings, centered around eco tourism and the ocean.  The most noted are Xcarat, a huge water theme park, with underground cenotes and thrilling shows and activities.  Xelha is another big park, providing lots of diversions for visiting tourists.  You are within an easy drive from some of Mexico's most noted archeological ruins, including Chichen Itza, Coba, and Tulum.  The area is such a tourism mecca, there's even a Cirque de Soleil show running nightly.  You are also close to other prime vacation destinations; Cozumel is just a 40 minute ferry ride away, Tulum is a short 30 minute drive, Cancun is 40 minutes away and Isla Mujeres is about an hour away.

The weather is pretty ideal. Hot, tropical, and with lots of sunshine. The average temperature in Winter is 73°F (22°C). In the summer months, temperatures can reach highs of 90°F (33°C) so expect warm nights. Hurricane season is between September and October and the Peninsula has been affected about every 10 years by a hurricane of merit, but with decent elevation above sea level, and solid concrete construction, these events are short lived. 

It's estimated that 16,000 Americans are currently living in Playa del Carmen, but with the addition of tourism, the actual number of English-speaking people is much higher.

There are a number of Facebook groups and forums, to dive right in if you want more information.

Real Estate Opportunities - As mentioned above, most North Americans are living in Condo complexes or apartment buildings in Playa del Carmen, with limited numbers of single family homes.  I've investigated a number of builders and projects, narrowing my recommendations to just a few. Some of the condo offerings have restrictions on how often you can use your own property, since the project is run as a resort, not as residential housing.  The developer restricts your usage but typically guarantees fee free use for the owner, with limits of just a few months of use per year.  I don't recommend that model.  

There's also lots of new construction, with some builders better than others.  You need to be careful when buying pre-construction, that the building will get completed in a timely manner and to the quality and standard you've been promised.  There's plenty of inventory on both the primary and secondary market, direct from the builder, or from one of the many internationally known real estate firms, REMAX, Century 21, etc.  My recommendation is to experience a chill weekend from a developer, a way to get a good idea of the market, see finished projects and units, see what's on the drawing board for new construction and stay in one of the units built by the developer.  After much searching, I narrowed in on one builder, the one I represent now.  They've got a great track record, a super rental management program and strong return on investment for owners. You'll also have some free time on your visit to check out the offerings from the local real estate offices.  

Want to learn more about real estate opportunities? The developer I bought from, and the one I recommend to others, is Simca. Simca has over 30 years experience managing hotels and building residential, retail, commercial and industrial projects in Mexico.  They've completed many condo complexes in Playa del Carmen, have great building skills and offer fully furnished condos and turnkey rental management.  Prices range from the low $200,000's for a fully furnished one bedroom condo to upwards of a million dollars for a rooftop penthouse with private pool and 4 to 5 bedrooms.  What's best about Simca is their rental management program.  You can work directly with them or via one of the many rental management companies in Playa del Carmen.  Most of their buildings have a "front desk" to facilitate vacation rentals and you can expect occupancy of 60% to 80% annually without any effort on your part.  You'll pay management fees but they work with well known rental agencies, AirBNB, VRBO, Expedia, Trip.com etc. to maximize your return on investment. 

We are offering a 4 day "Chill Weekend" where you will stay in one of Simca's condos, see finished offerings as well as a review of what's on offer pre-construction, have a presentation of their rental program, and tour their properties with a knowledgeable representative of the company.  The cost of the chill weekend is $399 for four days and includes transportation to and from the Cancun airport, 3 nights lodging, lunch on one of the days and your own personal Simca consultant to show you their offerings (airfare is not included).  You can come whenever you want to visit, but we recommend a Thursday to Sunday or Friday to Monday window.  You can sign up for a chill weekend here and we'll reach out to you to schedule a visit.  Don't book airfare until we have confirmed your visit dates.  See some photos below from a variety of Simca's projects in Mexico.  They've been building for over 20 years in the region and are a very large and reputable company.

HubSpot Video
4 day Riviera Maya Tour Application