In the market of Mexico homes, two excellent choices are Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Although just down the road from each other (about 1 hour apart), the character of these two cities differs considerably. This summary of some of those differences will help you choose where to buy your home.
City Mouse and Country Mouse
This is a generalization, since both areas are cities. Cancun is about 4 times the size of Playa del Carmen, but both are growing quickly. In addition to the size, in Cancun the layout, highrise buildings and large number of city streets full of stores, restaurants, cars and people definitely give the feeling a bigger city. In Playa del Carmen, low-rise restrictions (4 storeys) and a pedestrian street serving as the main downtown shopping and nightlife district (Fifth Avenue) puts just about everything close together within walking distance – more of a small town feel. While there are quiet neighborhoods in Cancun, and there are some busy streets in Playa del Carmen, in general if you prefer the movement and services of a larger city, Cancun is the better way to go; if you like the slower pace of a small town, you'll feel more comfortable in a Playa del Carmen home.
American vs. European
An extension of this difference is that most people will say Cancun has been designed like a nice, modern American suburb. Wide, tree-lined boulevards, with large new malls and high-rise hotels define the feel of the city. Even as Playa del Carmen grows, the downtown area has been chosen as home by a growing number of Italians, and Argentinians - although the Argentinians aren't European, the have definitely added a distinct flavor. Downtown is comprised of narrow to average roads, small city blocks, little plazas and low buildings snug to the sidewalk.
On the Beach, off the Beach
In both cities, homes directly on the beachfront are rare and very expensive. Since the main stretch of beachfront is the hotel district, separated from the city by a lagoon, Cancun homes off the beachfront are usually in the city and further away from the beach. If you have a car, however, the shape of the hotel district makes a much larger variety of beach areas available without having to leave Cancun. In Playa del Carmen, most streets downtown lead past Fifth Avenue, to the beach. If you live in this area, the walk will usually be less than 10 minutes.
Of course, these three points are fairly broad generalizations, and exceptions to all three can be found in both communities. These help give the atmosphere of each place, and will help you know where to focus your search, according to your lifestyle preferences.
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