What is different about condos in Playa Del Carmen?

renting vs. buying playa del carmen
New condos on Constituyentes Avenue in the center of Playa Del Carmen.

What condos in Playa Del Carmen are like

Since most real estate is condos in Playa Del Carmen, what are they like. How are new condos in Playa Del Carmen different from older condos? What are some of the unique features of condos that you will encounter? Here is a look at living in Playa Del Carmen or investing in a condo.

New condos in Playa Del Carmen compared to older condos

Playa Del Carmen is a fairly young city. Most everything has been built in the past 20 years, so what is new and what is old? When we reference older condos we pretty much mean anything older than 10 years is considered old. If a condo building was built in the past 10 years is considered newer and if it has been built in the past 3 years it will be very new.

Over the years condo design in Playa has changed a lot, and that is not the only thing. Here are some of the things that have changed with condos in Playa Del Carmen.

Space of condos in Playa Del Carmen

Older condos in general have more space than newer units. In the past few years condos have been getting smaller, even if prices have remained the “same”. Many condos in Playa Del Carmen are designed as vacation rentals. So people are expected to just be there to crash and be out enjoying things during the day

If you are looking at a condo for living, you might have to cross a few condos off your list because of the small size of them.

Parking and storage

Older condos tend not to have parking or at least no underground parking. Newer condos in Playa Del Carmen do have parking but often not for all units. The reason between this mismatch of spaces to units is because many will be vacation rentals and people do not have cars. Some condo buildings give new owners a scooter to get around on. Not only is this a good gimmick it is also saves a lot of space in the garage.

Some condos come with a separate storage area. These can come in handy if you are going to be renting out your unit for a while. You will have a nice little space to store your personal items. There are limited options for self storage in Playa and you can find it full or expensive to keep a few things for a few months. It is great if a building has some on site storage.

More drywall used in new condos

Drywall (gypsum board) is used in many places around the world in construction of walls and ceilings. For a long time this was not standard practice in Mexico. The reason it was not used was because the climate. It is hot and humid a lot of the time and this is ideal for sheetrock to mold and soften.

Most new condo buildings in Playa Del Carmen are meant to be air-conditioned 24/7. So the use of drywall is used more and more for drop ceilings. This allows wiring and light fixtures to be easily installed. It also covers ductwork.

There are basically three types of materials used. There is cement board which is a cement product with fibers in it. This is commonly used in bathrooms and backsplashes because it can get wet without getting moldy. Then there are two kinds of drywall, regular and moisture resistant. These three products all have different cost points. The best one to use in construction in Playa Del Carmen is cement board.

If there is ever a hurricane in Playa Del Carmen and water gets into some of these new condos, there is going to be a lot of mold in condos that are made with inferior materials. If you are looking to buy a new condo in Playa Del Carmen, it is important to see what is used in the construction.

Older condo ceilings compared to newer condos

So how did they build older condos in Playa Del Carmen? The floors and ceilings are traditionally made with cement beams (vigas) and  special cinder blocks that fit in between. Then cement is poured over it creating the floor. This building style allows some space in the holes of the cinder blocks to run tubing for the wires for light fixtures. Holes are chiseled into the ceiling and tubes and lights are installed. This mean the entire ceiling is made with cement and no drywall.

There are a few disadvantages to this style. If you want to move lights you will need to chisel new holes through the ceiling. This is not a problem because it can be filled in with cement products again, it is just work. The second disadvantage is sound. When a ceiling is the floor of the people above, you can often hear through it. A drop ceiling allows more space and a gap where sound can be deadened.

Some buildings are made with Styrofoam panels between floors and then stuccoed over. This technique is used more in newer buildings. This is another thing to look at when buying a condo.

Mexico style vs. modern style

Condos that were built in the 90’s and early 2000’s tend to have a more Mexican feel to them. You will notice more Mexican tiles, palapa roofs and stucco/adobe exteriors. Nowadays, condos are clean, chic, glass, and could fit easily into most modern cities in the world.

Most people looking for condos to buy are looking for newer designs. Most people looking to buy new condos in Playa Del Carmen want less maintenance, hassles and new units to rent out. Vacation renters look for condos that are in a good location and look nice. So no matter what age your condo, make sure you arrange it inside to appeal to people.

Condos in Playa Del Carmen
An example of an older condo building in Playa Del Carmen.

Unique things about condos in Playa Del Carmen

Not all construction in the world is the same. There are some unique things that you will find with condo units in the area. Here is a list.

Walk up or short elevator ride

There are height restrictions in Playa for condos. Most older condos are 3 or maybe 4 floors. Nowadays some of the condos in Playa Del Carmen are 5 floors or even 6 counting the roof. Most of the older ones have stairs only. Even the new ones that do have elevators, they tend to be small and not very well air-conditioned. Many elevators are small and warm. Forget about moving furniture in them as well, they are too small.

How condos are made in Playa Del Carmen

Everything is made from concrete and cinder blocks in Playa Del Carmen. This is the basis of the structure. This mainly affects two things:

  1. Walls have no insulation. This makes them harder to cool. So this is important when looking to buy or rent a condo. Is it  a condo in the center of the building, or does it have shade? Some condos in Playa Del Carmen are basically concrete boxes in the sun. It is a constant battle to keep them cool.
  2. The second thing the construction method effects is the sound. Yes the sound passing through the walls and how you decorate to eliminate echo. Curtains, a big sofa, pillow, plants and a throw rug will all be good noise absorbers in your new condo.
Playa Del Carmen condos
An example of a new condo building going up in Playa Del Carmen. You can see the Styrofoam panels between the floors.

Condos with a view (roof view)

With land actually becoming more valuable in Playa Del Carmen, developers are using the entire footprint of the lot for construction. This means a courtyard or rooftops are the place for pools and outdoor space. The latter is the most prevalent.

Rooftops are popular in Playa Del Carmen. New hotels seem to compete for the latest and greatest rooftop. Condo buildings also like to add a few glossy photos into the brochure to capture your imagination of what it would be like to live there. If you are looking to buy in a new condo building, do yourself a favor, count the units and imagine half those people on the roof. How does the space look? Some condo buildings in Playa Del Carmen have small roofs for the amount of units.

Condos in Playa Del Carmen
The rooftop pool at the Marea 34 building in Playa Del Carmen.

Air circulation, circulation, circulation

Playa Del Carmen is in a tropical place and it does have year round hot weather. This affects condos in several ways.

One, it can be hot and humid. This can create humid conditions in closets and spaces with bad air circulation and low sunlight. First floor units often have the most problems with this. If you are buying a new condo or looking to rent one, be sure to think about this.

Good air circulation or cross breezes can save on your electric bill when it is cool enough to open the windows and enjoy the fresh breeze. A lot of new condos in Playa Del Carmen are not designed with the best features to lower the heat inside. Most are designed to have air conditioning on all the time. Choosing the better unit can save you thousands of dollars in eclectic bills.

Cooking with gas or electricity

Most people prefer gas cooking because it is faster and more consistent. Depending on where you buy or rent, you will be stuck with one option. Some new condos make everything electric. Some people feel better buying in a building with no gas lines running through it. And some builders just make the decision.

If you have electric for cooking your CFE (electric bill) will have some strain. High usage of electricity pushes your rates into higher categories.  If you have gas, this means another utility to keep track of. No matter what you have, you will have to think about venting the heat out. That is our next topic.

Stove hoods

It is amazing that in a hot climate the one place that generates a lot of heat (the stove) often do not have good exhaust fans. Some (especially older condos) do not even have one. The hot air just stays in the room. There might be windows nearby that can be opened. This is a smaller issues but something you should look at since it is not a given with condos in Playa.

Taxes on condos in Playa Del Carmen

This is another area that makes Mexico and Playa Del Carmen different. Property taxes are much lower in Mexico than most places in the world. You can expect to pay around a few hundred dollars a year for taxes on a condo in Playa Del Carmen. There are other cost like maintenance fees and as a foreigner setting up a trust. Still, all of these things are a relief to know how affordable it is.

So are you interested a condo in Playa Del Carmen?

We have some other helpful articles you might like to read. We don’t sell real estate, so we feel free to give opinions and honest looks at real estate in the area. On our website we do however have some recommended realtors that have good reputations in the area and have worked well for other readers.

Since you are most likely looking to invest in a condo as a rental, you might be interested in reading our article on ROI in Playa Del Carmen and what to expect.

We also have this very complete guide to Playa Del Carmen Real Estate here to help our readers navigate it a little easier. We also have this video that covers many topics about real estate in Playa that you might be interested in. 


If you are looking for beachfront real estate, there is a little in Playa Del Carmen but also outside of town also. Here is an article and video talking about beachfront real estate

Do you have questions or comments? Let us know in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you. 

condos Playa Del Carmen
A look at a courtyard at a condo building in Playa Del Carmen.

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1 Comment

  1. The is a good thorough explanation of what condos are like in Playa. I have lived in Playa before and remember my condo with a gas stove. I had no hood but a window for airflow in the kitchen. The only problem was the small pilot light would go out with a stiff breeze. Oh good memories of Playa.

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