Guide to Buying Property in Tulum: Is it a Good Investment?

Everyone dreams of living in paradise. Are you dreaming of buying property in a new location? Tulum, Mexico, is one of the most beautiful places in the world and is a desired hot spot for tourists. 

What if you could own a piece of this paradise? We will discuss options for buying property in Tulum and help you figure out if it would be a good investment for you.  

A colorful poster that says Welcome to Tulum. The poster is design with bold fonts with orange and yellow beams shooting out from a sun in the background

Buying Property in Tulum

Approximately 46,721 people live in Tulum as per the 2020 census, and this number continues to grow daily. This location has continuous tourism, which has also had rapid growth over the years and is a traveler’s favorite, according to the Riviera Maya Times.

In fact, modern infrastructure is being built regularly, and investment opportunities are increasing. So, options have become much more expansive for those interested in buying property in Tulum over the past few years.

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum is located in Quintana Roo, which is a Mexican State. This pre-Columbian city is famous for its beautiful beaches and charming Mayan architecture. If you’re interested in sightseeing, you’ll be pleased to know that a lot of the city’s walled structures and historic ruins have stood the test of time well.

Some of the ruins lie along cliffs that are 12-meters tall, a beautiful scene situated along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula

Pros and Cons of Living in Tulum

Like any city, there are some pros and cons that come with living in Tulum, Mexico, and it’s important to know what they are before you buy property there. 

Pros 

From its warm tropical weather all year round to endless attractions, Tulum comes with plenty of pros. 

Temperature

Not a fan of biting cold winters? Well, the weather in Tulum is beautiful, with an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit in August, which is considered the hottest month. The coldest month is January, with an average temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tulum still manages to get an average of eight hours of sunlight per day in May, and up to ten in July during the summertime.  

Infrastructure

According to the Quintana Roo state government website, the local Mexican government regularly improves urban infrastructure in Tulum. Ecological and cultural investments also contribute to this. Despite an uncontrolled overgrowth, efforts are now being made to preserve the environment and ensure sustainable growth.

One of the city’s more recent developments, the Mayan train, is proposed to be built in 2021 and will add value to all current housing, hotels, and real estate as it will connect the place with other cities and states within the country. 

Tourism

With so many attractions in Tulum, tourism is always affluent and hotel occupancy is only on the rise after the pandemic. Not only do Tulum’s well-known Mayan ruins draw in tourists, but there are plenty of beaches too – including the Laguna Kaan Luum, which is a lake formed by a giant sinkhole. 

Mayan Ruins

A photo of an ancient Mayan ruin located on a hill next to a beach in Tulum, Mexico. It shows a huge stone ruin overlooking the water and surrounded by palm trees

Perhaps the city’s most famous attraction may be its Mayan Ruins. Each year, the Mayan Ruins attract millions of tourists. In Tulum, the three most famous ones are El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God.

While these attractions may lure in tourists, it’s also good news for residents – you get to live in a growing cultural hub with incredible historic ruins in your own backyard. 

The ruins also benefit investors looking to rent their property to tourists, as they will always be a highly popular attraction.

Cost of Living

While renting in Tulum may be a little more expensive than some other Mexican cities, it’s still significantly lower than the cost of living in the US. 

Cons 

Tulum may have plenty of pros, but it’s not immune to having a few cons for residents either. 

Minimal Space to Build

There are many restrictions on building close to the archaeological ruins in Tulum. The limitations on the use of space and new development create a challenge to those looking to build. 

Due to a large amount of new infrastructure, there is a high need for additional roads to relieve traffic, minimizing new build site options. 

Higher Housing Prices

With substantial rental potential and properties available for purchase online unseen, investors are buying up anything available. This increasing demand has driven real estate prices to skyrocket. 

There is a need for more high-end residences and shopping centers that add value to investment but can cost a lot more to purchase as well.  

Rising Crime Rate

One of the prominent problems this city has is its rising crime rate with certain parts of Tulum being much safer than others. It’s important to research different areas of the city you plan to invest in, as many places are dangerous.

Is Tulum a Good Investment?

Yes, Tulum is a good investment. The real estate market is expanding, and though prices are rising, Tulum is not even one of the most expensive cities to buy property in Mexico. Or you can look at it this way: if you invest now, as prices will likely continue to rise, is it feasible you get a good return for your investment, be it by re-selling or renting your property.

Does Property Appreciate in Tulum?

As mentioned previously, the growing infrastructure in Tulum makes it a place where property demand is growing and will undoubtedly continue to grow. Investment hasn’t decreased due to the pandemic; what’s more, it has grown exponentially from 2018-2019 to 2020. It is expected for this trend to continue.

Should I Buy Property in Tulum? 5 Things to Consider

A photo of a outdoor shopping stall in Tulum, Mexico. It shows large tables and racks with the colorful clothing and hats

Before you buy property in Tulum, Mexico, here are a couple of things to consider. 

  1. Return on Your Investment

If you want to grow your money, Tulum is a great spot to do so. Long-term investments in real estate guarantee rental possibilities. Online options for renting assist property owners who are not local to maximize their investment. 

Tulum is one of the most sought out destinations globally and is known for food, local attractions, and the Mayan ruins, so you are guaranteed to receive a high return on your investment.  

  1. Fideicomiso 

Depending on the area where you’re buying, restrictions may apply. Foreigners are allowed to purchase and own properties in the whole of Mexico, but in some restricted areas, they must do so via a fideicomiso. 

This means that a bank trust is issued, and the bank is the legal owner of the property, though you get all of the rights that allow you to rent or re-sell. 

  1. Location

This beautiful city is located along the coasts and the state of Quintana Roo for tourists looking to enjoy the beaches; the eight sister cities also offer excellent locations for growing real estate. 

Those who do invest in Tulum take advantage of constant tourism from the natural landscape, possibilities for long and short-term vacation rentals, and the ruins.    

  1. Ecotourism

Clear beaches, nightlife, and the Mayan jungle attract adventure seekers. Natural reserves are protected and offer a great variety of biodiversity. With the largest reef in the world, tourists enjoy sea turtles, mangroves, and beautiful flora and fauna. 

  1. Steady Tourism

Tourists continue to make Tulum a major vacation destination. Each year the number of tourists increases. People of all ages and abilities flock to Tulum. 

Is It Safe to Buy Property in Tulum?

As far as residency goes, not all parts of Mexico are safe  – including Tulum. Crime has especially increased in the past three years, especially with instances of small-scale drug trafficking. Compared to some of Mexico’s other cities, certain parts of Tulum report high crime rates, and aren’t very safe to buy property. 

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t safer neighborhoods in Tulum, but if you are considering investing in property, you’ll want to do your research about each area’s specific crime rates. 

Related: Best Areas of Puerto Vallarta

Can Foreigners Buy Property in Tulum, Mexico?

An image of the American and Mexican flags side by side representing the close relationship between the two countries

Yes, foreigners can buy property in Tulum, Mexico. There are some restrictions to buying property in Mexico if you are a foreigner. Some geographical restrictions may affect a foreigner’s ability to buy in the most sought-out areas of Tulum. 

Using a Mexican Bank

If you choose to buy residential property 31 miles or closer to a coastline or within 62 miles from a border (also called the “restricted zone”), you must use a Mexican bank. Given Tulum’s location, most of the property that you’ll be looking at is going to fall within this zone. 

Since it takes a little more legwork to wade through, foreigners looking to purchase property within these limits are encouraged to work with a lawyer or notary to assist in navigating this process.

Property Agents

If you are considering a purchase in Tulum, it is recommended to work with a real estate agent. Real estate and property agents are local and know the area well, probably much better than you. 

An agent can show you a variety of options to fit your needs and budget. Realtor fees in Mexico are not high. You can negotiate fees with a local agent. 

Be Cautious of Scams when Buying Abroad 

If you are a foreigner buying property in Tulum, be sure to protect yourself from potential scams. 

Trust your Agent

Be sure to get a referral of an agent in Mexico. Although they are not required to be professionally trained or licensed you can ask for credentials. There are situations where foreigners are taken advantage of so it is best to speak with someone who has worked with this agent before. 

Become Familiar with Market Prices

Becoming familiar with market prices is a great idea before you buy, especially to avoid paying overinflated prices. This may mean talking to a trusted agent, looking at multiple properties before you decide on one, and fighting for a discount. 

More than ever, rapid residential growth has made it easier for buyers to negotiate bigger discounts on the properties they purchase. Current prices in Tulum range around $2,000 to $4,000 per square meter, and studio apartments that are within walking distance of the beach tend to sell for around $100,000. 

Meet your Agent and Seller

If you can be present when making a large purchase on a property, it is best to meet your agent and the seller. Face-to-face conversations are highly encouraged. Meeting the seller and the agent also allows you to ask all of the questions you may have and see the property. 

Inspections

Before they buy, some foreign buyers may do a buyer survey, where they hire a professional to inspect the property. These inspections aren’t super common, but if you’re purchasing an older property and want an estimate on damages or structural issues, it’s usually recommended to get an inspection before you even make an offer. 

Mailing Money

Ask the seller to make the transaction when you meet face to face. If the seller is hesitant to meet with you or wants you to mail the money, be cautious. There should be no reason not to meet. This type of behavior is cause for concern.

This is Your Call

If there is anything that makes you uncomfortable when purchasing a property as a foreigner, trust your gut and walk away. This is your money and it is probably a significant amount of money. You do not want to be taken advantage of. 

What is a Good ROI for Residential Spaces in Tulum?

There are average prices in Tulum, Mexico that can assist in understanding what a good ROI on a rental property is. As mentioned, hotels in Tulum usually strike around 85% capacity, so there’s a high chance you’ll get a good return on your investment. 

How much you charge will depend on how much you make. Based on the International trade, foreign direct investment and global value chains guide, a good return on a rental property is between 8-12%.  

How to Buy Property in Tulum

There are many options that you can look into when buying property in Tulum. If you are a foreigner and are looking to buy property in Tulum follow these simple steps:

  1. Look into getting a mortgage, either with a Mexican bank or another investor. 
  2. Find a real estate agent.
  3. Locate the property you want, research average prices in the area, and make them an offer.
  4. Have a notary draft up a sale contract. 
  5. Sign all official mortgage papers and make the transaction finalized. 
  6. Sign a contract with the seller. 
  7. Pay your taxes and consult a lawyer to make sure everything has been done properly. 

Buying Property Online

Online properties are listed all the time in Tulum. Before beginning your search online you should keep in mind the size of the property you are looking for, your needs, location, and price: 

What to Look for in the Property You Purchase

There are quite a few considerations before jumping into making a purchase. 

Type of Property

In a major city like Tulum, you can buy an apartment, villa, or condo quite easily. If you are looking to buy a freestanding home or find land to build upon, that might be more difficult. An agent can be very helpful when looking for the perfect place for you. 

The Condition

There are limited building standards for properties in Mexico. Surveyors can help inspect the condition of the property if you are looking to buy a prefabricated home. Be cautious of surveyors recommended by the seller or agent, find your surveyor that is not associated with the two. 

Is There a Bible in Tulum Real Estate?

There is not a bible in real estate in Tulum but there are legal requirements when buying a property in Tulum, Mexico:

  • A Notary must draft up a sale contract.
  • Figure out how you will hold the title of the property. 
  • Titles for properties in restricted zones are held by a Mexican bank, a fideicomiso
  • If you are located outside of a restricted zone you can hold your property title. 
  • Contracts should all be in English. A professional firm can do this for you. 

Can a US Citizen Move to Tulum?

Yes, a US citizen can move to Tulum. If you plan on staying for longer than 180 days and spend more than $60,000 you require an investor’s visa to live in Tulum. Check with the US Embassy and Consulates in Mexico for further travel recommendations.  

Do I Need a Passport and Working Visa to Live in Tulum?

A tourist visa is issued for 180 days and, for many people, that is enough time if you want to live there for short periods. If your property costs more than $60,000 in US dollars, you need to buy an investor’s visa. 

If you buy an investor’s visa, you can stay in Tulum as long as you want. Many people like to purchase a second home in Mexico. Luckily you do not need to be a Mexican citizen or have a visa when buying a property in Tulum. 

Banks, Loans and Mortgages

Large international banks in Mexico assist you in getting a mortgage or loan. Banorte and Banamex are local banks that you use for a mortgage or loan in Tulum. Plan to budget for exchange rates and other fees when calculating the total costs of your property. 

Even with a small budget, you can still find a villa on the beach or even an urban-style apartment to suit your needs.  

Taxes and Fees

When you purchase a property, it is difficult to know all of the associated costs. It is recommended to keep the following considerations in mind if you’re a foreigner or expat: 

  • Negotiate agent fees.
  • Notary and lawyer fees are taxed at a rate of 16%.
  • You may have to pay acquisition tax which is between .2 and 4.5%.
  • Registration fees are .02-1.8%.
  • Insurance for the title costs approximately .5%. 

Does Tulum Have Good Healthcare?

The healthcare in Tulum is provided by a variety of small clinics along with one main hospital. The hospital offers 24-hour care but is small but can tend to the local population. There is an operating room and beds in case you require an extended stay.  

Is Tulum Expensive to Live in?

In comparison to many other tourist locations, no, it is not expensive to live. Tulum offers affordable services to simplify your life, such as house cleaners and gardeners. 

Is Tulum a Safe Place to Live?

As mentioned, the crime rates in Tulum have continued to increase over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean this city is entirely unsafe to live in. Still, you’ll want to stay on top of current crime statistics for Tulum, and it’s always a good idea to exercise basic safety precautions  – like avoid walking alone at night, lock the doors of your property, and be careful about driving alone after nightfall.

Final Thoughts

While you may not want to purchase property in Tulum if you’re looking for an immediate return on your investment, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good investment. With rapid growth, scenic attractions, and lower property prices, Tulum, Mexico has a lot to offer buyers. 

Related: Buying Property in Mexico