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The Best Three Ways to Rent Your Property In the Riviera Maya in 2024

Renting a real estate property is one of the best ways to gain a passive income. But, which one is better short-term or long-term? The exact definition of what constitutes a short or long-term rental is different in the Mayan Riviera compared to other parts of the world.

Renting a property to tourists is considered a short-term rental, and the relevant period could be one to two weeks.

Instead, a one-year contract with foreign digital nomads is a long-term rental.

But, what about the financial considerations that an investor has to take into account when deciding between short or long-term rental?

family on vacation in playa del carmen
Best 3 ways to rent your property

Benefits of short-term rentals in the Riviera Maya

1. Flexibility: Short-term rentals are ideal for travelers who value flexibility and spontaneity. Whether you're planning a weekend escape or a week-long vacation, short-term rentals offer the freedom to book accommodations on a whim without committing to a long-term lease.

2. Convenience: Short-term rentals are often fully furnished and equipped with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, including kitchen appliances, linens, and toiletries. This convenience allows you to travel light and focus on enjoying your vacation without worrying about packing essentials or purchasing household items.

3. Variety: The Riviera Maya boasts a wide range of short-term rental options to suit every budget and preference, from cozy beachfront condos to luxurious villas with private pools. Whether you're looking for a romantic retreat for two or a spacious family-friendly accommodation, you'll find plenty of choices to suit your needs.

4. Accessibility: Short-term rentals are readily available through online platforms and rental agencies, making it easy to find and book accommodations that meet your criteria. With just a few clicks, you can browse photos, read reviews, and secure your reservation, saving you time and hassle during the planning process.

Rental income

In general, you can make more money from your investment in the Mayan Riviera if you rent your property to tourists for a short-term period of time, than decide to lease for a long term.

When you assign your property as vacation rental, you can set different rates depending on high, medium or low season (for example, Christmas holidays are considered the highest season in the Mayan Riviera, Easter being the second).

The Mayan Riviera can provide you with higher rents than other places in Mexico, and can ensure you a capital gain on the properties’ value over the years.

For example, we assume that you invest in a 430 sq.ft. central and modern apartment in Playa del Carmen, located at a short walking distance from the beach and the main streets. You can rely on an average daily income of US $130 if you rent short term (which will be higher during the high season and lower during the low season).

If this property is rented long-term, the average annual income could be, instead, around half of the vacation rental.

Nevertheless, you have to take into account that a vacation rental does not ensure 100% property occupancy; therefore, you must always calculate a vacancy rate, which usually is between 30 to 35% per year at the Mayan Riviera. This will reduce your expected annual income.

This is not the case for long-term rent, because you ensure a tenant for at least 6 months to 1 year, without no need to think about high, medium or low season.

Operating expenses

The main operating expenses related to a real estate property are:• electricity• laundry• cleaning• internet connection• property taxes• ordinary repairs and maintenance• administration expenses• platform / agent expenses• insurance

You can find all of these costs in a short-term rental as well as other expenses such as laundry, cleaning and ordinary maintenance costs, which will be particularly high.

But, moreover, tenants will not make any changes to the apartment during a vacation rental, and they would use the property without the need to customize or refurnish it.

On the other hand, in a long-term rental, many of these operating expenses will be paid by the tenant: especially, utilities (electricity, internet, water, gas) and administration costs.

However, when renting long term, anticipating extraordinary capital expenditures provision would be a sound financial management strategy. These repair and renovation expenses (e.g. replacing appliances or the annual maintenance of air conditioners) are not scheduled maintenance activities.

How to rent your property in Tulum
vacation rentals in the Riviera Maya

Benefits of Long-term rentals in The Riviera Maya

1. Cost-Effectiveness: Long-term rentals offer significant cost savings compared to short-term rentals, especially for travelers planning an extended stay of one month or more. With lower nightly rates and the option to negotiate a lease agreement, long-term rentals provide excellent value for money for budget-conscious travelers.

2. Immersion: Long-term rentals allow travelers to immerse themselves in the local culture and lifestyle of the Riviera Maya in a way that short-term stays simply can't match. By living in a residential neighborhood, shopping at local markets, and interacting with neighbors, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the region's customs, traditions, and way of life.

3. Stability: Long-term rentals provide a sense of stability and continuity for travelers who prefer a home base during their stay in the Riviera Maya. Whether you're working remotely, studying abroad, or simply seeking a change of scenery, a long-term rental offers a sense of permanence and routine that can enhance your overall experience.

4. Personalization: Long-term rentals allow travelers to personalize their living space and create a home away from home that reflects their unique style and preferences. Whether you're hanging artwork, rearranging furniture, or planting a garden, you'll have the freedom to make your long-term rental feel like your own sanctuary in paradise.

The third way to rent your property is in a hybrid way.

What does that mean? This is a strategy that many people use to increase their profits. The high season months that go from October to March are rented for short term and the low season months that are from April to September are rented as long-term. In this way you take advantage of the entire year, generating very good profitability.

Return Rates

Based on the above assumptions, we can calculate a potential return both for long-term and short-term income, in order to find out which might be the most profitable investment.

In the case of vacation rental property, the financial metric Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate), is calculated by dividing the net operating income ( that is, the difference between the rental income, the net vacancy rate set at 30%, and the operating expenses) divided by the purchase price, is around 16%.

For a long-term rental property, that gauge is around 11%, with a lower rental income but, at the same time, reduced operating expenses and no vacancy rate.

If you wish to know the property’s return over a 5-year period, you may take into account the Internal Rate of Return (IRR), by assuming an expected rent increase per year corresponding to the inflation rate (3.5%), and a 10% property’s appreciation per year.

According to those assumptions, the property’s Internal Rate of Return for a short-term rental will be 22% per year, and 17% per year for a long-term rental.

Checking in on a airbnb in Playa del Carmen
Increase your income by renting a property


The choice between short or long-term rental is not so easy.

As demonstrated above, the total return on a short-term rental investment is greater than a long-term one. However, the numbers don’t tell the whole story, because other factors come into play as well.

Despite the return on a long-term rental is lower than a short-term rental, it is more stable because it ensures a steady income month-to-month. In addition, a long-term rental will give you fewer worries: once the lease is signed, you will not have to create and launch marketing campaigns to promote your property or hire a property manager; you will rely on a fix income according to the length of your tenant’s stay; and you will only have to promote your property every time the contract ends (1 -2 times per year).

Short-term has fewer risks, because is virtually nil the case of a failed payment of the rent, particularly if you use online booking channels (Airbnb,

Short-term rental provides greater flexibility, because the owners may reserve the right to use the property for their vacations at certain periods of the year.

You can decide to rent the property short term while waiting to sell it: it is a good strategy to make some money and to make it more attractive for other investors as you are selling an already operating unit that has already built a reputation within the online booking channels

By renting short-term, the owner can inspect the property in between vacation rentals, in order to check if everything is in order and something is broken or damaged. This is a bit more complicated for long-term rentals: even though you can rely on a security deposit to protect your building and the appliances.

Both options are quite attractive and provide you with a good return on your investment, also they represent a minimal risk with generous appreciation of your properties.

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