It’s important to know the pros and cons of living in an area before you visit or make a big move. Living in Puerto Rico–even for a short time–can be a wonderful adventure or full of stress and culture shock, depending on your expectations and resources. I’ve put together a BIG list of the pros and cons of living in Puerto Rico so you can decide whether moving to this beautiful island is the right choice. Enjoy, and if you have something to add to the list, go ahead and add it to the comment section below!
Puerto Rico Pros and Cons
- Warm weather all the time
- Longest Christmas season in the world
- Lots of bilingual people (if you don’t speak Spanish)
- Some of the best rum in the world
- People are warm, friendly and helpful
- Flip flops and sandals year-round
- Beautiful men and women!
- Great boating, fishing, diving and surfing
- All people born in PR are US citizens
- LOTS of parties and festivals — you will meet people and have a busy social life
- Always a beautiful beach to be found, usually empty
- Colonial architecture
- Delicious local food and some of the best coffee in the world
- Over 20 forest preserves
- Easy transition from U.S. (same money, no passport needed, no customs at airport)
- Lower drinking age (18)
- Incredible tax benefits
- You can grow a lot of fruit and native vegetables easily & year round
- You are living on a tropical island!
- More affordable than many U.S. cities, other Caribbean islands or Hawaii
- Good infrastructure (highways system, cable, Internet, cell phone service)
- You will find yourself exercising more—lots of outdoor recreation
- You will find familiar stores (Costco, Walmart, Best Buy and food chains)
- You can hire people for lower wages
- Like the U.S., they have Social Security, Medicare, and worker’s comp
- Easy to start and operate a business in certain sectors
- Housing and real estate–it’s a buyer’s market
- Health insurance costs are MUCH less. Good quality care (though you WILL wait)
- A good college education is very affordable
- Warm weather all the time
- You will not be able to vote in U.S. elections (if you file paperwork to become an official resident)
- The economy is poor
- Many things are more expensive like cars, milk, electricity, non-native food, gas…
- You will probably need to send your children to private schools
- Many homes have no air conditioning (or don’t use it) and lack a dishwasher
- Culture shock-things are done differently
- Shipping costs from the U.S. can be high
- Many online companies don’t ship here, or won’t ship some items here
- It’s hard to find fresh local fish! How crazy is that?
- Local TV news is in Spanish
- High season tourists
- Traffic in San Juan and surrounding areas
- Poor public transportation
- Hurricane season from May to November (but the locals don’t care)
- Everything (especially in the government) has to be done in person
- Crime is high in some areas (like most cities)
- Hard to find a well-paying job, if you are looking
- You electricity will go out. Often in some areas.
- Everything takes longer–at least 3x longer
- Very hard to live here if you are vegetarian or eat only organics (pork is in EVERYTHING)
- Bugs! Big bugs (but none are deadly)
- LOTS of stray dogs and cats. It’s very sad to see
- Finding stores, doctors, restaurants or anything online. Most businesses lack a web presence or don’t have a good one
- GPS works only part of the time
- Emergency rooms and hospitals are crowded and not as good as in the U.S.
- Any doctor’s visit takes all day
- Waiting in lines at the supermarket–and most other places
- Bad driving! A left turn across traffic at a red light from the right lane isn’t uncommon.
Areas to Visit
San Juan: A business and tourist hub with preserved Spanish colonial architecture, shops, bars, restaurants, and bustling nightclubs. In San Juan, stay close in either Isla Verde or Condado for the easiest beach access, or in Old San Juan for proximity to historic sites, restaurants, and bars.
Northeast: A short drive from San Juan, this area is densely populated, but low-key and home to beautiful rainforests and secluded beaches
Northwest: World-class surfing, natural wonders and some of the best beaches in the island; Aguadilla, Rio Camuy Cave Park and Rincon are main draws, but also Dorado, with its golf courses and casinos
Southwest: Arguably the island’s most beautiful region, with white-sand beaches, forest reserves, exotic birds, phosphorescent waters, charming colonial architecture, and opulent villas. Head to the western side of the island to be close to charming towns like Boqueron.
Southeast: It’s the land of contrasts, with luxury living, golf courses, miles of beautiful sandy beaches, and undeveloped areas. In eastern Puerto Rico, you’ll find big resorts, nature reserves, miles of beautiful beaches and luxury living.
Islands: The most famous offshore islands are Culebra and Vieques, with clear waters, breathtaking beaches, and coral reefs; uninhabited Isla Mona has beautiful soaring violet cliffs