Bacalar Real Estate Guide 2023
Bacalar is known as the lake of seven colors because of the cenotes and colors of blues. For those that have discovered it, it is a beautiful natural area that is becoming more connected to the rest of the state because of infrastructure projects. Bacalar has traditionally been the weekend home area of people from Chetumal. Slowy people have discovered it and it is transforming into an interesting community. Is Bacalar a good place to buy now? Is Bacalar somewhere you can retire or live? We recently spent some time in the area of Bacalar where we made a video and talked to a lot of people locally to get a pulse on what is going on in the area.
Below is a map we created to show an overview of the areas we will talk about and mention in the video. On the north end you have the town of Buena Vista. This is a small town with mostly residential homes. In the center of the map is the town of Bacalar. This is the main commercial hub of the area. Bacalar town is where people can take tours of the lake, shop, go out to eat and enjoy views of the lake. On the south end you have the second municipality that oversees the Bacalar area, it is called the Othón P. Blanco Municipality and has the town of Xul Ha. This area is seeing many of the higher end boutique hotels and projects being built here. There is also the rapids between here and the town of Bacalar. The rapids are famous for the crystal-clear water that flows into the lake.
Our video overview of Bacalar and what is going on in the real estate market
We recently spent time in the area doing research for our readers and made this video of Bacalar and what is going on now with the real estate market. We hope you enjoy it.
Would you like to talk to Sebastian about real estate or the buyer’s guide?
The realtor in our video is Sebastian and a recommended realtor in the area. He and his team work in mainly the areas from Playa Del Carmen to Bacalar. Below is his email for contact. It is good if you can include a phone number also and what times it is good to reach you. Also mention what area you are interested (Bacalar) because they also work in Tulum and Playa Del Carmen.
Properties for sale in Bacalar
Below are several types of property that are available in Bacalar and what prices are now.
Bacalar condos for sale
There are not a ton of condos now in |Bacalar, but more are planned. Most of the condos are near or in Bacalar town. Don’t expect lakefront, but many have views since the town is higher up and rooftops often have views. Entry level for condos in Bacalar is about 100,000 USD. This starting price will get you a nice “apartment” but if you want something to have more space or rent out better in the future, we recommend planning on spending more. A one bedroom with some space and building amenities will run about 175,000 -200,000 USD. Penthouses are around 300,000-400,000 USD in Bacalar.
Note: As with any area in Mexico that offers pre-sale developments, it is important to work with agents that know the area well and know the reputation of the developers. This includes knowing the financial backing of projects. These are things that a good real estate agent will know and do for you. This is important because buying pre-sale involves a lot of trust in the developer and having all the legal framework in place to assure your satisfaction.
Townhouses and houses for sale in Bacalar
There are very few options for sale in this category, but more townhouses are one the way. There are older lakefront homes that are for sale that will only fit it you like the house and it fits your budget. Because there is not a huge demand for houses, there are not really any neighborhoods being planned. Townhouses are something that are being built in Bacalar. These might fall into the category of condos because some of the new buildings are not true townhouses. Some of these developments are connected to the lakefront and connected to well-known boutique hotels. These types of properties in Bacalar are going for about 250,000-350,000 USD. These are the types of properties that will be easy to rent out and live in part of the year.
Bacalar land for sale
Land is one of the hottest things now in Bacalar. Of course, as the saying goes with oceanfront, “there is only so much, and they are not making any more of it “, the same goes with lakefront properties. In the past 6 years we have seen the prices quadruple for premium land as demand is high. Lakefront can start at 500,000 USD, most of the better lots will start at one million and go up from there. Just note that a lot of land offered online says it has access, this usually means it is not lakefront but has a trail to the water on a shared access trail.
Besides lakefront property, there is land in town that can be good for businesses or homes, and land outside of town if you want more space. Bacalar is a fertile area and people do like having some land to grow things as well. Since there is a decent amount of land that is not lake adjacent, prices for lots are decent now. The basic starting price for a lot is 40,000 USD and go up to about 200,000 USD. We feel that land is a very good investment as prices will only rise and prices are still reasonable.
Note on buying land: Not all land comes with titles in Mexico. Some land is called ejido land. This is basically land set aside for communal use and agriculture. This is one of the reasons using a good realtor to sort through real properties with titles to look at. Sometimes you see land for sale online at a price that seems to be too low to be good. It often is ejido land and you don’t want to get mixed up with that.
Can you live in Bacalar or retire there?
If you are reading this and wondering if you can retire there, but have not been, well, you are going to have to visit for yourself. Bacalar is not for everyone, but that is what makes it even more special. Bacalar is all about having a nice place to live with a view or nice garden and enjoying the area. There are some things retirees or people wanting to live in the area might what to consider, so we will talk about these next.
For many, Bacalar is good for a weekend home, or rental that you also visit and enjoy. Some of the biggest drawbacks for retiring in Bacalar are having medical facilities close by. The second is the quieter lifestyle of living by the lake. Many of retirement age do start thinking about medical care and options. Chetumal is the largest city nearby and is the capital of the state. In Chetumal you can get most basic care you need at a hospital. For specialty care, you might look to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or Merida for better options. In Bacalar there is mainly basic care clinics for cuts, doctors’ visits when sick and similar basic care.
Most people that are just retiring, are coming from places where they have lived a while and perhaps even worked. Switching to being retired and living in a small town might be just perfect for you or it might not provide enough options for an interactive life. Bacalar is laid back and have less options that larger towns, but it is growing, and it feels like in the past 5 years Bacalar has really moved from being a humid, sleepy, lakeside town to a trendy, Tulum adjacent, artistic place that just might start appealing to more people.
Researching online for Bacalar Investing
We mention in the video that Sebastian is an expert with using AirDNA. AirDNA is a company that analyzes locations across platforms and has tons of information that can be helpful for investing. We have an article and video showing what type of information you can garner from AirDNA here. There is a basic version of this software and professional versions, but don’t worry, if you don’t want to buy this software, if you work with Sebastian, he gladly shares all this research with his clients.
What makes Bacalar better than other places to buy?
Bacalar, besides having the beautiful lake and nice setting, what makes Bacalar better than other places? What are some of the disadvantages of living in Bacalar? Let’s take a look at other local options.
In the same area as Bacalar there is Mahahual and Chetumal. That is about it, and both of these other places do not really stack up for much competition against Bacalar. For one, Mahahual is on the beach and has that advantage (sort of) but also has a lot more disadvantages. Chetumal is the capital of the state and about 40 minutes south of Bacalar. Chetumal however is more of a perfunctory city and not a place that people look to invest in real estate.
Mahahual is a town, albeit small town on the ocean. Oceanfront is always desirable, but when we compare Bacalar to Mahahual, we don’t see much competition. We were just in Mahahual and were a little surprised at how much has not changed there over the years. It is a town dominated by cruise ship tourists and this has limited the development of the area. Honestly, it is a relatively cheap place to get a condo near the beach, but the reason prices are cheaper is because there is not much in Mahahual. The one thing it has going for it is the beach. When it is clear it is beautiful. We have noticed in town though, how it is not the cleanest and over the years there has not been that much improvement in the area.
What are some of the benefits of buying in Bacalar?
The benefits of living in Bacalar are the natural setting, services like restaurants, and benefits of the location. The setting of Bacalar is relaxing and tranquil. Sunrises over the lake are special and the location offers some unique benefits. Bacalar is on a freshwater lake which means no seaweed ever and no salt air to deal with unlike locations closer to the beach. Bacalar is still close to the ocean but does have a little buffer when there are hurricanes.
Bacalar is a Pueblo Magico, which is a designation from the government for towns in Mexico that are special for some reason. There are a lot of requirements for the municipality to get the status of Pueblo Magico, but this comes with extra funding for the area. This funding is being implemented in infrastructure projects in the area.
There are also future benefits coming to Bacalar. The closest two airport to Bacalar is Cancun and Chetumal Airports. The distance between Cancun Airport and Bacalar has limited people’s desire to make the trip of over 4 hours and traditionally the airport in Chetumal has been only useful for some domestic flights. This is all changing with a new international airport being built south of Tulum which is expected to transport upwards of 5 million people a year. Chetumal Airport is also expanding some service, so there are more options for flights. The train Maya is being built now and will connect Bacalar with the rest of the Riviera Maya and also a loop around the peninsula. All of these things are creating a greater connectivity that is opening up Bacalar as an easier destination to get to.
There are also amazing ruins, remote parts of the lake and more to be discovered in this area. There is still to be opened Ickabal Ruins which is older and larger than Chichen Itza ruins. These are just some of the things influencing people to invest in the area.
What about the environment?
This topic is sure to come up when talking about a fragile environment, a beautiful destination and development. The good news is that much has been learned from the development of Cancun in the 70’s and 80’s, Playa Del Carmen in the 90’s and Tulum in the 2000’s. From horrific urban planning in Cancun to Eco chic Tulum, things have changed a lot in this part of Mexico. Bacalar appears to be taking the better ideas from other parts of the Riviera Maya and making an environmentally conscience community with more space and sustainability.
Bacalar is not going to become a city and it is not looked at for a huge ROI where people make tons off the destination. The area is already starting to be a more exclusive market. Not just for the wealthy, but for those that want to be part of a place and not turn it into a bedroom community to make money off of. Yes, Bacalar is growing, and more people will soon have much greater access to visit, but this does not mean that it will have the same boom as Tulum. Bacalar is growing more slowly and investing in the area should be looked at a quality-of-life investment because certainly you can have a relaxing and good quality of life in Bacalar.
What about the water system and infrastructure of Bacalar?
This is the most pressing issue and thoughts of people because no one wants to see the lake get contaminated. In Bacalar town, all of the wastewater system is separate from the lake and is not connected. Wastewater is collected in a holding system and then trucked to Chetumal to be cleaned. It is by far not the most efficient system but has worked while Bacalar has grown. As Bacalar grows, they are looking at building a wastewater treatment plant in Bacalar, it is just a matter of seeing how Bacalar grows to determine the size needed. It sounds a little like an excuse to kick it down the road, but that is the plan as of now.
We have noticed changes in Bacalar as well in the paving of roads, new sidewalks, the main square has been renovated, and a beautiful, public boardwalk has been built to walk out on to the water. The additional public access points to the lake are also a welcome infrastructure improvement. Overall, Bacalar is a pretty clean town and has a lot going for it. It just will be up to residents, developers and political figures to continue guiding Bacalar to sustainable growth.
If you liked this article and video, we do have others for different areas of the Riviera Maya. If you would like to know more about the buying process in Mexico, we have a good guide with videos here.