Abstract: We studied the possibility of exciton condensation in Mott insulating bilayers. In these strongly correlated systems, an exciton is the bound state of a double occupied and empty site. In the strong coupling limit, the exciton acts as a hard-core boson. Its physics is captured by the exciton t-J model, containing an effective XXZ model describing the exciton dynamics only. Using numerical simulations and analytical mean-field theory, we constructed the ground-state phase diagram. Three homogeneous phases can be distinguished: the antiferromag- net, the exciton checkerboard crystal, and the exciton superfluid. For most model parameters, however, we predict macroscopic phase separation between these phases. The exciton superfluid exists only for large exciton hopping energy. Additionally, we studied the collective modes and susceptibilities of the three phases. In the superfluid phase, we find the striking feature that the bandwidth of the spin-triplet excitations, potentially detectable by resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS), is proportional to the superfluid density. The superfluid phase mode is visible in the charge susceptibility, measurable by RIXS or electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS).