What is a cuarto and how this effects real estate prices in Playa Del Carmen

cuartos Playa Del Carmen

Cuartos in Playa Del Carmen

What is a cuarto? These are the most basic unit of Playa Del Carmen real estate. These are basically rooms for rent. On some side streets you might notice what looks to be a mini hotel. These are small rooms that people rent. But if they are so small, why do people actually pay to live like this? There are interesting factors behind cuartos and how this effects what most people pay for real estate. Here is the story.

Why are cuartos so popular in Playa Del Carmen?

To understand why cuartos are in demand we need to look at the larger Riviera Maya area. If we go along the coast from Cancun to Tulum, there are large all inclusive resorts. Each of these employs hundreds if not thousands of persons. So where do these employees live?

Living on the resort

Many of the larger resorts have housing onsite for workers. These are often basic rooms for two or three people. The rooms can be a great option for young people just starting out. Many young people around the ages of 20-26 move to the Riviera Maya for work from areas like Chiapas and Veracruz, Mexico.

The rooms or apartments are often just rooms with a bathroom. There may be a mini fridge and a hot plate for cooking, but no kitchen. So how do these employees eat? Often meals are included at the cafeterias when working and at other times, people buy basic food stuff to eat in their rooms or go out to eat.

It may seem like a good life, living on a resort and having most expenses included in your job. However life living at the resort is not always easy. A few things to consider are:

  • It often means sharing a room with someone you do not know.
  • The resort properties are along the coast and often not within walking distance to a town. Many cannot afford a car or moped so they use the colectivos along the highway.
  • Rules are strict for only being allowed on the guest resort property only during working hours. This limits workers to the employee housing area when not working.
  • There often is a no guest policy in the rooms or restricted access.
  • On a day off, many want to leave the resort property because workers spend much of the week there.

Why live off property?

As you can see, it can be difficult to live on the resort property for a while or at all (for more on the secret life of the Mexican worker, see our article here). For some it is better to live in a town where you have more freedom. Not only freedom to choose a place to live in, but who you live with. If you do choose to live in a cuarto, you have much more access to the stores and nightlife, especially if you are in Playa Del Carmen.

However with a wage of about 10,000-14,000 pesos a month, this limits the spending power for accommodations. This is where cuartos come into the picture.

Since cuartos are a basic room with bathroom, perhaps a small kitchen, these can be a good option for people that work 5.5-6 days a week. It is also good for people that take many meals at work.

Property owners that know how the economy works here will set up these small rental units. This is where the mathematics comes into play.

The mathematics of cuartos

The return on investment is pretty simple when you look at the numbers. Since many of these properties are close to the center but still on the fringes, the rental potential is greater splitting the property up into units rather then renting it as a whole house.

If many of these properties were available as a whole house, the rent would bring in about 12,000-18,000 pesos a month. This however would require owners to fix them up a bit and invest in the property.

Since cuartos are very basic, very little maintenance is needed or fancy touches. With the same size property it is possible to divide it up into about 8 cuartos. The rent on cuartos ranges from 2,500 pesos-4000 pesos a month. In a similar location to the house example above, 8 cuartos at 3000 pesos a month would be 24,000 pesos. That can be double what you can get from making it one rental. This is why these properties are so profitable and desirable.

Where are most of the cuartos in Playa Del Carmen?

Below is a map of where many of the cuartos are in Playa Del Carmen. You can see this area almost creates a ring around the downtown. The area for cuartos provides residents easier access to public transportation and access to jobs. Since many jobs are along the highway and this is the main artery for transportation up and down the Riviera Maya, being close to this area is important. This also creates demand for property and effects real estate prices.


How cuartos effect the price of real estate

From the map above you can see that the area around the center of Playa Del Carmen that is popular for cuartos. Even though many of these areas might not look like the most desirable neighborhoods, there is demand to live there. With demand for vacation rentals and residential living in the center of Playa Del Carmen, this means that all of the center has demand.

Will cuartos be pushed out of the center? Well, time will tell. But the short answer is, not that fast. For many property owners, it is viewed as a long term investment and when you have a good income stream, there is no desire to sell, even if you can get a prices that is considered much greater then what you purchased it for.

Because owners of cuarto properties are making decent income and not readily selling, this effects demand in the center. Some of the house lots that are near the center are already out of reach for more people. Some of these lots are going for $100,000-200,000 USD. For most people, this does not seem to be a desirable area especially to invest in s a basic structure that needs to be torn down.

Our video about real estate in Playa Del Carmen

Since you have read this article, you might be interested in our video about real estate in Playa Del Carmen. This video covers a lot of the topics that buyers are interested in and hopefully it will help you make a wise decision. 



We hope this explanation of local culture and economics helps you understand some of the intricacies of real estate in Playa Del Carmen. For more about real estate in Playa Del Carmen you can see our guide here. If you are investing in Playa you might want to read our article on recommended real estate agents. There are also many more articles under the Living in Playa and Real Estate tab in the menu above.

If you have any questions you can add them to the comments or email us by the contact tab above.

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  1. Thank you for the excellent explanation. I am sure every building owner has a price and all the cuartos in PDC will eventually be sold to developers for condos development, which would require for resorts’ employees to live further out from PDC. The government should mandate developers to allocate some land to build employees’ communities, which is only fair initiative for these hard working resorts’ employees.

  2. I never thought about this and it makes sense. This is good info that other real estate agents don’t talk about.

  3. I better look at this closely as I was looking at a new condo (Amaite) behind the Chedraui store (Av 45 y Calle 2-3) and spotted few of those in the neighborhood. Could you tell me what is the Nueva Marimba on Av 45? It has load music and late at night. Thanks!

    • The Marimba is a bar in that area and there are a few more that you might not notice if you pass there only in the day. That area is seeing some new development but in my opinion it wont take off until the airport property is finally decided on. That has been on and off for years. It is most likely going to have to be removed since it is too close to the town but things can take time and plans change with new governors.

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