Living in Puerto Rico: Pros and Cons – A Guide to Puerto Rican Lifestyle


Puerto Rico, a beautiful Caribbean island with a rich culture and history, has long been a desired destination for those seeking a tropical escape. The island offers plenty of pros, such as year-round amazing weather, stunning beaches, and delicious cuisine. However, living in Puerto Rico also comes with its own set of challenges that might not be a perfect fit for everyone considering taking the plunge to move there.

While the cost of living tends to be lower than most parts of the mainland United States, other factors like job prospects, language barriers, and infrastructure might also come into play when deciding if relocating to Puerto Rico is the right move. Nonetheless, many expats and US citizens are drawn to the island’s unique natural beauty, strong sense of community, and vibrant traditions that make it a diverse and exciting place to call home.

Key Takeaways

  • Puerto Rico offers an affordable lifestyle with fabulous weather and cultural richness.
  • There are potential challenges including language barriers, limited job prospects, and infrastructure issues.
  • Prospective residents should examine their priorities and carefully weigh the pros and cons before making the decision to move.

Living in Puerto Rico: Pros and Cons

Lifestyle Advantages

Puerto Rico offers a variety of lifestyle advantages for those considering a move to the island. The weather is one of the main draws, with its tropical climate providing warm temperatures year-round, making it a perfect destination for those who enjoy outdoor activities and beach life.

The island is also known for its rich culture and history. With more than 500 years of Spanish influence, Puerto Rico offers a unique mix of Spanish and Caribbean traditions, visible in its architecture, cuisine, and music. This cultural richness makes the island an interesting and engaging place to live.

Puerto Rico’s culinary scene is another attraction, with a wide variety of delicious local dishes and international cuisine available for food enthusiasts. Additionally, the island provides an excellent opportunity to learn Spanish, as it is the primary language spoken by residents.

Lifestyle Disadvantages

Alongside the many advantages, there are also some potential lifestyle disadvantages to living in Puerto Rico. One of these is the island’s high cost of living, particularly in the metropolitan areas. Housing, utilities, and groceries tend to be more expensive compared to many mainland US locations.

Another concern is the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. While hurricanes don’t hit the island every year, the risk of storms makes it necessary for residents to be prepared and take the necessary precautions during these months.

Lastly, the infrastructure in Puerto Rico can be a challenge for some residents. The island’s roadways, public transportation, and utility systems can be outdated and unreliable in some areas, leading to disruptions and inconveniences when compared to the mainland US. This can impact the day-to-day life of those living on the island.

In summary, Puerto Rico offers a unique and appealing lifestyle with various advantages, such as its beautiful weather, rich culture, and abundant culinary options. However, it also presents some disadvantages, like the high cost of living, hurricane risks, and infrastructural issues. It’s essential to weigh these pros and cons before deciding if life in Puerto Rico is the right choice for you.

Cost of Living

Living in Puerto Rico offers an affordable lifestyle with an overall lower cost of living compared to the mainland US. The cost of living primarily encompasses housing and rent, food and groceries, and utilities and services.

Housing and Rent

Renting a home in Puerto Rico is relatively economical. On average, a one-bedroom apartment’s monthly rent ranges from $450 to $800 USD. However, prices may vary depending on the area and the proximity to tourist attractions or city centers.

Food and Groceries

Grocery expenses in Puerto Rico are also moderately priced. Here are some average prices for common grocery items:

  • Milk: $1.72
  • Bread: $2.50
  • Apples: $5.78/kg
  • Wine: $12
  • Beer: $2.08

It’s important to note that these prices can vary depending on the store and area. Eating out is also relatively inexpensive, with an average monthly expense of around $300.

Utilities and Services

The cost of utilities and services in Puerto Rico is generally affordable, but it can vary depending on usage and location. Some of the common utilities and services expenses include:

  • Electricity: The rate depends on the consumption, with prices around $0.20 per kWh.
  • Water: The average monthly water bill ranges from $30 to $60.
  • Internet: High-speed internet service costs between $40 to $70 per month.

It’s also worth mentioning that gas prices in Puerto Rico are lower compared to the mainland US, with an average price of $0.94 per liter.

In summary, living in Puerto Rico offers an affordable lifestyle with a lower cost of living in terms of housing, food, and utilities. While costs can fluctuate depending on your preferences and location, most people find that the expenses are quite manageable.

Taxes and Economy

Tax Benefits

Puerto Rico has become an attractive location for Americans to make a move, primarily due to its favorable tax benefits. Individuals who become Bona Fide residents of Puerto Rico are exempt from filing US taxes on their Puerto Rican income. To qualify, one must spend at least 183 days in Puerto Rico in a year, not have a tax home in another country, and not have closer connections with another country.

Furthermore, Puerto Rico offers additional tax incentives, such as tax-free interest and dividends earned after becoming a resident. There are no long-term capital gains tax on appreciation after you establish residency, and only a 5% tax on long-term capital gains.

Business Opportunities

The island provides a unique business landscape, mainly because of its low cost of living and appealing tax breaks. Several opportunities stand out for those who want to start or expand their businesses in Puerto Rico:

  • Lower Taxes: Puerto Rico has lower tax rates than mainland US, which can make it attractive for businesses looking to save on operational costs.
  • Increasing Tourism Industry: The island’s rich culture, history, beautiful beaches, and tropical climate are attractive to tourists, creating opportunities for businesses related to hospitality, travel, and entertainment.
  • Cost of Living: The overall cost of living in Puerto Rico is generally lower than in mainland US, with monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranging from $500 to $1500. This lower cost allows for more competitive pricing for businesses in various industries.

These factors make Puerto Rico an ideal destination for entrepreneurs or expanding businesses looking to take advantage of the tax benefits, lower operating costs, and vibrant local culture.

Language and Culture

Puerto Rican Culture

Puerto Rican culture is a vibrant blend of indigenous, African, and European influences. The island’s rich history can be seen in its traditional music, art, and lively festivals. One such celebration is the annual San Sebastián Street Festival which takes place in Old San Juan, featuring live music, street food, and handicrafts for sale.

A popular dish in Puerto Rico is arroz con gandules, a comforting combination of rice, pigeon peas, and various spices. This dish often accompanies special occasions and family gatherings, showcasing the importance of food in Puerto Rican culture.

English and Spanish

In Puerto Rico, both English and Spanish are official languages. Most residents are bilingual, making communication relatively easy for expats and travelers from English-speaking countries. Spanish is the primary language spoken in daily life, while English is frequently used in business and tourist areas.

It’s important for anyone considering living in Puerto Rico to familiarize themselves with at least conversational Spanish, as it will enhance their overall experience and help them better integrate into the local culture. Moreover, learning Spanish will broaden one’s understanding of Puerto Rican history, literature, and customs.

Weather and Climate

Warm Weather

Living in Puerto Rico comes with the privilege of experiencing warm, tropical weather all year round. Due to its location near the equator, the island enjoys relatively consistent temperatures with minimal variation. This can be particularly enjoyable for those who dislike the colder seasons. Summer months can bring hot and humid conditions, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities and beach trips.

Puerto Rico’s tropical island climate means residents can take advantage of plenty of sunshine, which contributes to the overall friendly and laid-back atmosphere for which the island is known. Residents can often be seen enjoying a variety of outdoor activities, thanks to the consistently comfortable and warm environment.

Hurricane Season

While the warm, tropical weather is a significant plus for living in Puerto Rico, it also comes with an important downside: hurricane season. The island is situated in an area that is prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, which can develop from June through November. These storms are generally accompanied by high winds, torrential rainfall, and flooding, causing damage to infrastructure and affecting residents’ daily lives.

Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico in 2017, serves as a reminder of the devastation these powerful storms can bring. It is crucial for those considering living in Puerto Rico to be prepared for such events and to know how to stay safe during hurricane season. Local authorities and communities work together to develop disaster management plans and awareness campaigns to provide guidance and assistance in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm.

Despite the presence of potential weather-related risks, the island’s rich culture, lower cost of living, and various festivities make it an attractive place to live. The warm climate and hurricane season are just a few components of Puerto Rico’s unique lifestyle, and being aware of both the pros and cons of its weather conditions is essential for those looking to move there.

Infrastructure and Transportation

Public Transportation

Puerto Rico offers various public transportation options, including buses, trains, and taxis. The main bus system, known as AMA, operates in the metro area of San Juan, providing a reasonably affordable mode of transport. However, the network has limited coverage and might not always be the most reliable option. The urban train system, Tren Urbano, services San Juan, Guaynabo, and Bayamón, offering convenient and timely travel within these areas. For short-distance travel, taxis are available, but they can be more expensive than other public transport options.

Roads and Traffic

The island has a well-established road network, connecting key cities and towns. Major highways, such as PR-52, PR-22, and PR-53, enable smooth travel between different regions. However, secondary roads might not always be in optimal conditions, posing challenges for drivers in some rural areas. As for traffic, it is a common issue in heavily populated areas like San Juan and surrounding towns. Rush hours can be particularly challenging, and drivers should be mindful of congested traffic during peak times.

Healthcare and Education

Public and Private Healthcare

In Puerto Rico, healthcare is generally good, with both public and private options available. Around half of the island’s population receives benefits from the Medicaid program, but there are some key differences compared to healthcare in the mainland United States. The public healthcare system in Puerto Rico consists of a network of hospitals, clinics, and medical centers that cater to the needs of its residents.

Private healthcare facilities in Puerto Rico offer more specialized services and are an option for those who prefer or can afford it. Health insurance plans are available from various providers, offering coverage for different types of medical services. Residents can choose the plan that best fits their needs and budget.

Educational Institutions

Education in Puerto Rico is available through a mix of public and private schools. The public school system, managed by the Department of Education, offers free education to students from pre-kindergarten through high school. The quality of education in public schools may vary, but many of them provide a decent education to students.

Private schools in Puerto Rico, on the other hand, often offer better educational opportunities and resources. These schools include both religious and secular institutions, and may provide a more personalized approach to education. Tuition fees for private schools can vary, but they usually range from affordable to expensive options depending on the institution.

In summary, living in Puerto Rico offers residents access to both healthcare and education through public and private options. While the public systems may have some limitations, there are various choices available to cater to different needs and preferences.

Safety and Crime

Crime Rate

Living in Puerto Rico comes with its own challenges regarding safety and crime. While the overall crime rate on the island is higher than the US mainland, it’s essential to understand that these statistics vary by location. Urban areas, such as San Juan, tend to have higher crime rates than smaller towns or rural regions. In 2019, Puerto Rico reported a homicide rate of 20 per 100,000 residents, which is notably higher than the US mainland average.

When it comes to property crime, Puerto Rico has a lower rate compared to some major US cities. However, tourists and residents should still exercise caution and take preventive measures like securing their belongings and being vigilant about their surroundings.

Personal Safety

Personal safety is an important aspect to consider when living in Puerto Rico. While the island is considered relatively safe for visitors and residents, it is always wise to take certain precautions. Here are some friendly tips for ensuring your personal safety while living on the island:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded or unfamiliar areas.
  • Use common sense when traveling alone, especially at night or in unfamiliar neighborhoods.
  • Lock your car doors and windows when parked, and never leave valuable items in the open.
  • Ensure your home or apartment has proper locks and security measures in place.
  • If taking public transportation, stay alert and be aware of pickpockets or other potential threats.

In conclusion, while Puerto Rico has some concerning crime rates in certain areas, it is still possible to enjoy a safe and comfortable lifestyle. By taking precautions and being informed about the local safety measures, residents can make educated decisions about the neighborhoods they choose and the daily activities they engage in.

Leisure and Attractions

Puerto Rico offers abundant leisure opportunities and attractions for both visitors and residents alike. The island is rich in diverse cultures and natural beauty, making it a haven for those seeking adventure or relaxation.

Beaches and Surfing

Puerto Rico boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, offering a variety of water sports and leisure activities. Notable beaches include Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island, Sun Bay Beach on Vieques, and Condado Beach in San Juan. The island also hosts several great surfing spots like Rincón and Isabela for those seeking thrilling waves. Here is a brief overview of popular beaches:

  • Flamenco Beach, Culebra: Crystal clear waters and white sand make this beach a favorite among visitors.
  • Sun Bay Beach, Vieques: This picturesque beach is perfect for relaxation and family fun.
  • Condado Beach, San Juan: A bustling beach lined with hotels, restaurants, and shops.

For surfing enthusiasts, places like Rincón and Isabela offer challenging waves and beautiful coastlines:

  • Rincón: Known as the “Surf Capital of the Caribbean,” Rincón offers world-class surf breaks.
  • Isabela: With powerful and consistent waves, Isabela is an ideal spot for experienced surfers.

Rainforests and Historic Sites

In addition to its beautiful beaches, Puerto Rico is also home to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States. This lush rainforest is perfect for hiking and exploring with its stunning waterfalls, unique wildlife, and breathtaking vistas.

Visitors interested in history will find the island rich in fascinating historic landmarks. Old San Juan, the capital’s historic district, is home to several noteworthy sites such as:

  • San Felipe del Morro: A 16th-century fortress with breathtaking views of the ocean.
  • San Cristobal Castle: Another fortress that illustrates the island’s rich Spanish colonial history.
  • La Fortaleza: The official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico, La Fortaleza is a must-visit site in Old San Juan.

In summary, Puerto Rico offers abundant leisure opportunities and attractions for residents and visitors alike, ranging from beautiful beaches and surfing spots to enchanting rainforests and historic landmarks.

Expat Life and Moving Process

Moving to Puerto Rico

Moving to Puerto Rico can be an exciting adventure for expats seeking a new lifestyle. The island offers a lower cost of living compared to the mainland US, year-round tropical weather, and a rich culture. Generally, the cost of living in Puerto Rico varies across the island but monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment can range from $500 to $1500.

Expats will find that they do not need a passport to move to Puerto Rico as US citizens are free to come and go. However, learning some Spanish can be helpful in blending with the local community, as it is the predominant language spoken on the island.

Digital Nomads and Remote Work

For digital nomads and remote workers, Puerto Rico offers plenty of advantages. The infrastructure in most urban areas supports a strong internet connection, making it easy for digital nomads to work from anywhere with relatively stable connectivity.

In addition to the lower cost of living, digital nomads can also benefit from Puerto Rico’s unique tax incentives such as Act 20 and Act 22, which offer tax exemptions for businesses and investments. While remote workers may not qualify for these incentives, they are still an enticing factor for some expats.

Puerto Rico has a variety of coworking spaces and cafes that cater to digital nomads, providing a work-friendly environment and networking opportunities. These spaces can help remote workers and digital nomads connect with like-minded people, form new friendships, and enjoy the Puerto Rican lifestyle with ease.

Recent Posts