Like most seaside towns, Playa del Carmen is actually comprised of two parts. Old Playa and New Playa. Not many people know that the original part of Playa del Carmen is the seaside, which is referred to as Old Playa.
New Playa is the large and rapidly expanding part of Playa del Carmen west of the 307 federal highway, so basically the highway is the natural city divider. On this side of Playa, New Playa, is where you will find most of the new residential areas as well as shopping malls, cinemas and new businesses. It is also the lesser expensive part of the city in which to live.
Old Playa del Carmen is the seaside which is long and narrow. It is on this side where the oldest structures in town can be found as well as some of the most expensive properties and highest utility rates. Many people believe that utilities are rated straight across the board here, but that is not so. While the use (or non-use) of appliances such as air conditioners play a big part in the final bill, the truth is the city is zoned, resulting in some areas being rated higher than others.
We’ll come back to that.
Aside from higher utility ratings, the cost of homes and property taxes are also more. Even mortgage rates (for local nationals) cost more if you are buying in Playa del Carmen, regardless of where you qualify for your loan. Interest rates to buy in Playa are simply higher.
So now you’re wondering how much more Old Playa costs? It’s approximately four-times more expensive in the way of home prices and property taxes. Utilities, on the other hand, are between two and three times as much than in New Playa, but again, this changes by varying zones.
When I lived in my basic Mexicana casa in the New Playa suburbs, I paid about 320 peso per billing period, which is every two months. Since getting a house in Old Playa, I pay more than 700 peso for running the same appliances. I’m not saying this is expensive, only that it’s double the bill for similar usage. The catch is that I live in a very old suburb of Playa del Carmen that is out of the main zone, so I still get “cheap” utility rates.
When I lived in Cancun, I had similar experiences with nearby neighbors. While I was billed a whopping 150 peso per period, she was being billed nearly 2,000 for living six blocks away in a more “desirable” neighborhood.
When you reside in centro Old Playa, a 700 peso bill will easily be 2,000 peso. If you live in Playacar, the most expensive zone in the city, that 2,000 peso bill will easily be 6,000 or more. When you are considering a monthly budget for Mexico, you might want to take location into consideration as well.