Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Playa Del Carmen Mexico

This quaint little Scuba divers town has a lot to offer for the Cleveland snow bird. It is only 30 minutes from Cancun , which means you can get a direct flight pretty cheap because there are always flights to Cancun. The real estate prices are pretty fair, unless you are a stupid Gringo and you pay Mucho more because as I always say don't leave your brain at the border!

Every morning you hear the clang of air tanks as they get ready for the next fresh batch of divers. You will see groups of them walking in the street toward the ocean for their dive in the morning and at the end of the day you see their walk of honor coming back from their ocean dive. This seems to be the over all flavor of this wonderful spot on the ocean.

Driving through Playa Del Carmen is a little tough as there are a series of one way streets that you have to manage to get to where you are going. We stayed at El Faro Residences off 1st street and 10th. It was a real challenge to get here the way the streets are set up but it is a benefit because the traffic is low because of it. Parking is mostly off street parking. The condo we stayed at had parking but not for our unit. We really didn't need the car once we were there because we were smack dab in the middle of town and right on the ocean. Yes there is a little street noise and of course the clanking of the air tanks but that is part of the charm. One morning I woke up at 2 in the morning to hear the most wonderful violin music. I sat on my balcony and enjoyed my little string concert.

Playa Del Carmen is about 50 minutes or 15 Mexican minutes from Tulum. This is an ancient city about 500 years old that has a beautiful are of ruins to see.

Another neat sight in this area are the Cenotes pronounced Seh No Tay. These or fresh water craters or well that run under the ground and have a few openings like a large well. There are lots of myths with these. You can dive them, four wheel them, walk them, swim them. There are a bunch of major amusement parks all set up around them along with Zip lining, and of course don't forget all the Mexican stuff to buy.

I would consider coming back here again or even spending a winter here. If you have a car there are a lot of places close by to visit like Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujures (one of my favorites)and Belize.
If you want to buy a condo or a small house here there are plenty of expats here to keep you company. Running a business here is tough. Competition for your dollar is very strong. Restaurants come and go.
Renting ocean front units are available but beware. We reserved a unit through Bookings.com which came through Trip Advisor. I had written confirmation for a one bedroom unit on the ocean. When we arrived at the condo they didn't not have confirmation. What happens here is the condo owners use local real estate companies to lease their properties. There are some companies that do not even have a unit there they just copy a real companies listing. Luckily we didn't put a deposit down with the company that we thought we booked through. We remained calm and the front desk guy pictured here saved our trip!

He called several property managers in his building and got us the same deal we thought we had. We paid through Paypal and everything was great! So I spent some of my time collecting the names of legitimate real estate property management companies in the area.

One day when we were lounging by the pool we noticed a disgruntled Canadian just complaining up a storm. It turned out that she bought a time share at this condo. The problem is it is a condo not a time share. Someone pulled a fast one on her and got her to pay for a timeshare probably several thousands of dollars for a few weeks worth of time at this condo. I guess the first week was fine but at the end of that she was asked to check out. That is when the fire works started. They even had huge signs stating that they are not a timeshare and please do not talk to timeshare people about this place. Buyer beware! Before you purchase in Mexico do your homework or hire someone like me who has spent years working the Mexican real estate market. And even then look what happened to me? I trusted trip advisor and bookings.com but was smart enough not to pay anything upfront. My front desk hero told me that the company that fraudulently booked me was known for doing just that! The company name was TeamoPlaya.
I reported them to Booking.com but I don't think they did anything.

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