The Elusive Apartments of Playa Del Carmen
Apartments in Playa Del Carmen can be hard to find and confusing with all the particularities of Mexico. If you are coming to Playa Del Carmen for one month or longer, then renting is the option that you will most likely be looking at. How do you go about looking for and renting in Playa Del Carmen? What are the best places to look for an apartment? Can you find an apartment before you come? What about rental agencies? We explore these questions and more below.
Starting the Search for an Apartment in Playa Del Carmen
You most likely will start online. There are the typical online sites that advertise rentals (both in Spanish and English). Looking over apartment listings will give you a general sense of how much and in what location apartments are going for. It will be a little difficult at first because Playa Del Carmen has many neighborhoods and names you might not be familiar with. We are adding a map below so you can see some of the names as a reference.
Usually each planed community has a name. These types of developments are popular on the west side of the highway. In the downtown, is where most people want to be since it is walkable and possible to live a little bit easier without a car.
Here are 4 things to avoid when looking online:
- Do not offer to do a credit check before you have seen the apartment or met in person with the landlord. In fact, no one really does credit checks in Mexico, so it will raise a red flag if this comes up. The reason for this is the amount of personal information you give to a stranger. This can be a trap for identity theft.
- Do not send a deposit before arrival to anyone that is not a reputable agency or person. You can never be sure if the apartment is real and if they ask to send the deposit to anywhere else “since they are out of town on business” this is another huge warning sign this can be a scam. If you find something that sounds reasonable and have talked to the owner or emailed, check it out when you arrive and then make an agreement. However, you also have to consider the owner or rental company since they may not want to hold an apartment for people with the uncertainty if someone will take it or not. Playa Del Carmen is a hot rental market and certain times of the year, things go fast.
- If you are solicited on Facebook for a rental because you posted about looking for an apartment, be careful who you deal with. Most people are trying to be helpful, but there are scammers that try to fast talk you into a dream apartment without seeing it because it is still occupied or other story.
- You will learn after calling many rentals that the one you call about is not available, but they have another one. Many apartments listed are permeant listings or just a trap listing in order to get you to call. Since most rentals don’t last on the market long, it is less beneficial to advertise real listings and pay for a month.
Plan to look before you rent an apartment in Playa Del Carmen
If you plan on being in Playa Del Carmen for a while and are wanting to find a rental, plan on staying your first week somewhere while looking around. This can save you from making a bad decision that you literally have to live with.
Using a reputable rental company can make things easier. Most of the time rental agencies have upper end units for rent but they can take some of the footwork out of the search.
Know the areas of Playa Del Carmen
Seeing where a place is and what it is next to it is important in Playa Del Carmen. Since Playa Del Carmen has grown so fast over the recent years, sometimes you will find nice little rental apartment next to a local families house with roosters that will crow every day or you might find a nice looking unit that advertises itself as only 10 minutes to the beach, only to find out that most of Playa Del Carmen is that close “by car” and you are going to spend your time trying to find out how to get everywhere.
If you would like to see some maps that will help you with the neighborhoods, see out article on helpful maps of Playa Del Carmen. This can show you where people are referring to.
Tip: Looking for an apartment in (November-January), and (Easter/ Semana Santa/ Spring Break) is the worst time because these are the busiest times. Although the other times of the year are getting busier as well. It seems demand for rentals in Playa is fairly steady.
Interesting fact: Many apartments in Mexico as well as Playa Del Carmen come with some furniture. This is because new couples just starting out do not have the means to buy everything at once and apartments are for more transient people so there is a need for furniture. This makes it a little easier to get an apartment. The basics are: beds with mattresses, table, chairs, TV, and maybe a sofa and chairs. Some of the higher end units/tourist rentals will have dishes and all the basics, you just need to bring your clothes. The difference between furnished and unfurnished units is about 1000-2000 peso a month (this depends on the size and location). If you are renting for only a few months, it makes sense to pay more for a furnished unit.
How to look for an apartment in Playa Del Carmen
How can you look on the ground while here? Walking around can give you a good sense of what an area is like. The map below can give you a general idea of where you might want to look. You will find many apartments not advertised online just by walking around. You can snap a photo of the number and building and call them or call later with someone that speaks Spanish. Most owners that rent in the touristy areas will speak some English.
Rents are not standardized here, by this we mean that just because a one bedroom with “x” amount of space is “x$”‘ a month, that does not mean you will not find a good deal on the same size place with a garden and run by a little old lady. So, search around and look for what interest you. You may look for easy beach access, close to grocery store, or roof top pool. Buildings and amenities in Playa Del Carmen come in all shapes and sizes.
Renting Apartments in Playa Del Carmen with a Pet
Do you have a pet? Do you need a pet friendly apartment? Most apartments in Playa Del Carmen will say they do not allow pets. This is because the added cleaning cost and the consideration of the other tenants not to have a barking dog in the building.
If your pet is well behaved, you might try looking first and introducing yourself to the owner. Once you have established a relationship, ask about pets, even if they mentioned “no pets” in the ad. If you describe the dog or pet and perhaps offer to bring the pet by, then you will have a much better chance of renting the unit.
Some apartment owners will charge more for the deposit or a cleanup fee added on to the rental. The good thing is that in Playa Del Carmen most apartments have tile floors, no rugs and concrete walls. All this makes for easy cleanup. It is mainly furniture that is an issue because most apartments come furnished to some extent.
Apartment Rental Contracts in Playa Del Carmen
Ok, here is the lowdown on having a contract for an apartment in Playa Del Carmen. For years people had a basic form to sign but when owners needed to evict a tenant that was bad or not paying, it was very hard. The rights of people already living in an apartment are strong in Mexico and the eviction process is lengthy. So, what was developed was a contract that is signed by a notario. This is not a notary public like in many countries. A notario is a lawyer that is put into place by the government. Everything they sign is a legal document and because of this the eviction process is much easier.
All of this sounds good so far but where this affects you as the renter are the fees involved with this. The notarios in the states all got together and basically said they would charge one month’s rent for the document. So, this means that not only is there the customary one month’s deposit, now there is a fee just for the contract. This fee is passed on to you as the renter.
How to get around the contract fee for an apartment
Some apartment owners tell the notarios that the actual rental price is lower, so they charge less for the document fee. This is one way it is done to make the fees less. The other way would be by not having a rental contract taken to the notario.
The best policy is to have a good relationship with your landlord and then both parties may feel better with a basic contract. Make it clear how long you are going to rent for and give advanced notice if you are moving. This makes for a clear relationship and leaves no one feeling like they got taken advantage of. It also makes it easier for the next person looking to rent there.
Most landlords prefer foreigners because they usually have the money to pay rent and are not depending on a job to pay the rent which can be affected here by high and low season here in Playa Del Carmen.
Contracts for higher end apartments in Playa Del Carmen
For higher end rentals (8000+) many landlords want a good contract that is signed by a notario. A notario is not just a notary like the name suggest. Most upper end rentals prefer this because it gives them more authority to evict people that damage or do not pay rent.
If you do rent an apartment with a detailed contract, make sure you note:
- The cost of early termination for you leaving.
- Annual price increase terms.
- Length of notice to move.
It is also good to take photos when you are moving in, and have it documented so there is no discrepancy when you go to move out over what is damaged and the condition of the apartment. Perhaps even taking pictures when you are show the place with the owner and getting the owner in the photos.
Brokers or realtors for apartments in Playa Del Carmen
Many people ask us for reference of a good agency or person that does longer apartment rentals in Playa Del Carmen. The truth is that many people do not like to work as long-term apartment agents. Why? Because of the following reasons:
- There is not central list of apartments.
- Most apartments in Playa Del Carmen are in small buildings and they all have individual owners. So, this means agents have to work extra hard to keep contacts of owners and do more calling to see what is available.
- Many owners are hard to give up commissions to brokers especially for 6-month contracts or shorter. So, agents might have to feel out both the renter and owners to make sure they get their cut.
- Airbnb has taken many apartments off the books in the central area of Playa Del Carmen. Many owners like to rent out short term to make more money, so it is harder for agents to listings.
- Many agents prefer to do short term rentals because so many rentals are for vacation rentals, and it is easier to work with tourist rather than someone who wants to take time looking in person at units.
Commissions for agents
If you go through an agent that is looking for you, you should know that they work on commission and usually get one month’s rent as a finder’s fee. This means that the owner needs to recoup that money somehow, usually by charging more for rent. So, if you are looking by yourself you might get a better deal or be able to ask for a discount since they will make less money if they work with brokers.
Tip: Rent is negotiable in Playa Del Carmen at times. Your experience may vary but depending on how long you are going to rent and the season. You may be able to lower it by 500 pesos a month for example. It never hurts to ask. This is something that is different here and something that you might not have considered.
Caution when approached about rentals
If you use Facebook groups or message boards to announce that you are looking for an apartment, be cautious as to whom replies. Just because someone says they have listings; this does not mean they are a professional agent. There are many people who think it will be profitable to just “connect” people who have a place and people looking. You might get lucky and get a good apartment. Other times there is a lot of negotiation going on between the apartment owner and this so called “agent“. They are out for a commission. If anything goes wrong with the contract or you have issues, those “agents” will not there nor be able to do anything. They were just out to make a quick commission off you.
Maintenance and who fixes stuff in the apartment
Something that is slightly different in Playa Del Carmen while renting is the fact you may be asked to pay for repairs. This happens more with lower end properties and if you are a longer-term renter. The owner or manager may have a maintenance person but if the sink is leaking and the part to fix it cost 100 pesos, they may ask you to pay for the part. This does not make to much sense because the tenant will choose the cheapest replacement part for the job and will only add to it wearing out sooner but some landlords may think of it as a way to keep some tenants from complaining all the time and paying for things that they are wearing out.
Now start renting an apartment to live!
So good luck in searching for an apartment in Playa Del Carmen. We hope this article has helped you with some of the particularities.
Map of Playa Del Carmen and areas to rent
In the map below there are 5 areas that are the most popular for expats and longer-term people to live in. There are cheaper areas further back from the ocean in areas called fraccionamientos. These are planned communities that built by a developer.
The Downtown (Red Area)
This area of the center of Playa Del Carmen is becoming more of an area just for tourist and it is getting more expensive to rent here long term. Many people prefer to rent on Airbnb, so the returns are greater than doing long term rentals. Rents will run about 8,500-20,000 pesos a month here.
All of Playacar is included in one area. You should note that the back side of Playacar is less expensive, and some places are more for housing of staff for the all-inclusive hotels. Transportation can be something to think about in Playacar. Taxis are expensive getting in and out of Playacar and it is a long walk to stores. Rents in Playacar have a huge swing. You can find places for 8,500 a month all the way up to 30,000 pesos a month.
This is an area of the downtown where you can find some lower rents but still be close to the action. Rents in this area range from about 9,000-20,000 pesos a month.
This area just on the other side of the highway has some nice condos and is a quieter neighborhood. You will need to have a car to live in this area. Prices range about 7,500-17,000 pesos a month.
This area is called the Colosio Neighborhood. It is where artist and musicians like to rent. From 5th to 10th Avenues is where most of the decent places are. It can be a good location because you can walk or bike down 5th Avenue right into the center of Playa Del Carmen. In this area you can expect rents to be around 8,000-20,000 pesos a month.
If you have any questions about renting in Playa Del Carmen or apartments, let us know in the comments below.