What to Expect When Moving to Puerto Rico: The Basics

Puerto Rico, a picturesque unincorporated U.S. territory, is an increasingly popular destination for those looking to move somewhere warm and vibrant. With its rich culture, historical architecture, and beautiful beaches, it’s no wonder many U.S. citizens are drawn to this tropical paradise.

Moving to Puerto Rico from the mainland United States is an exciting opportunity for a change of scenery, as it offers a unique blend of Caribbean and American experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. Despite experiencing some challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans continue to show resilience and adaptability, making it a great place to consider relocating to.

Key Takeaways

  • Puerto Rico provides a lower cost of living compared to mainland US, with diverse housing options and tax incentives
  • The weather in Puerto Rico features a year-round tropical climate, while the island is also home to stunning natural attractions
  • When moving to Puerto Rico, expect a mix of American and Caribbean cultures, and be prepared to navigate bureaucracy

Weather and Climate

Puerto Rico is known for its tropical climate and beautiful weather, making it a popular destination for those looking to escape the cold winters of the United States. In this section, we will explore the temperature and wind conditions on the island.


The temperature in Puerto Rico remains steady and balmy throughout the year. Coastal areas generally enjoy temperatures ranging from 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit, while the island’s interior, particularly the Cordillera Central mountain range, tends to be cooler. The sea surrounding Puerto Rico is warm enough for swimming all year round, with water temperatures ranging from 79°F in February and March to 84°F in September and October.

Puerto Rico experiences sunny weather for a significant portion of the year, with July being a particularly sunny month. However, there can also be periods of:

  • Partly cloudy skies, when a portion of the sky is covered by clouds.
  • Overcast conditions, when the entire sky is covered by clouds.
  • Showers, which are short, intermittent periods of rain.


Wind conditions in Puerto Rico typically vary depending on the time of year, though the island is generally characterized by mild to moderate wind speeds. During the summer months, when the weather tends to be more humid, winds blow predominantly from the east at around 7 mph. This helps provide some relief from the heat and humidity, as well as circulate cooler air from the ocean across the island.

While Puerto Rico’s climate is largely characterized by sunny and warm weather, it is essential to note that the island does experience fluctuations in temperature, wind, humidity, and precipitation patterns throughout the year. Therefore, being aware of these patterns can help those considering a move to Puerto Rico better understand the island’s weather and climate, and ultimately make a more informed decision.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Puerto Rico is generally more affordable than in the mainland United States, making it attractive to those considering a move to the island. One can expect a wide range of costs, depending on where on the island one chooses to live. For example, monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment can range from $500 to $1500.

Tax Benefits – In addition to a lower cost of living, Puerto Rico offers tax savings for residents. Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, its residents are subject to favorable tax treatment, including exemption from federal income tax on locally sourced income and lower local tax rates. These tax benefits can result in significant savings for those who relocate to the island.

Cost of Moving to Puerto Rico – The initial expenses of making a move to the island vary, but it’s crucial to take into account the typical cost categories, such as housing, transportation and shipping, and everyday living expenses. This way, one can better budget for their relocation and set themselves up for a smooth transition. Keep in mind, the moving costs will depend on factors such as the destination of origin, the size of the move, and the level of professional assistance needed.

Overall, the cost of living in Puerto Rico combined with the tax benefits and the beautiful year-round climate make the island an attractive destination for those looking to escape the traditional 9 to 5 life in the mainland United States.

Language and Culture


Living in Puerto Rico, you’ll find that the primary language spoken by the local population is Spanish. Being a U.S. territory, English is also widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, larger cities, and among the younger generation. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to learn basic Spanish terms and phrases to enrich your experience and engage with the locals.

Local Food

When it comes to food, Puerto Rico offers a unique blend of flavors and culinary traditions rooted in its rich history and culture. You’ll find an abundance of local restaurants and cafes serving delicious and authentic Puerto Rican dishes. Some must-try dishes include:

  • Mofongo: A traditional dish made from mashed plantains, often mixed with garlic, oil, and other ingredients such as pork cracklings or seafood. It can be served as a side dish or a main course.
  • Arroz con Gandules: Rice cooked with pigeon peas and flavored with various seasoning, often enjoyed as part of a festive meal.
  • Lechón: Slow-roasted whole pork, typically found at open-air roadside eateries called “lechoneras.”

Puerto Rico has a diverse food culture that caters to different tastes. In addition to traditional dishes, you can also find a variety of international cuisines available at restaurants throughout the island. So, whether you’re moving to Puerto Rico from the US or just visiting, you’re sure to find a mouth-watering array of local and foreign dishes to enjoy.

Housing and Real Estate

The housing and real estate market in Puerto Rico offers a variety of options for those looking to move to the island from the US. With a buyer’s market, you’ll find that housing rates, both for purchasing and renting, are generally lower than the average across the US mainland. This makes it an attractive option for those considering a relocation.

In Puerto Rico, you can find a range of property types, from high-rise condominiums in bustling city centers to secluded beachfront homes, rustic farmhouses, and picturesque mountain villas. This diverse real estate landscape can truly offer something for everyone, whether a family home or an investment opportunity.

As a US citizen, the process of buying property in Puerto Rico is quite similar to purchasing in the mainland. However, it is essential to work with a local, bilingual real estate agent to better navigate the ins and outs of the island’s property market and to familiarize oneself with Puerto Rican property laws and tax regulations.

Renting in Puerto Rico is also a viable option, with monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranging from $500 to $1500, depending on location and amenities. Rental prices can vary from city to city, with areas like San Juan and Ponce offering higher rates compared to smaller towns and rural locations.

The real estate boom, which began in San Juan, has expanded throughout the island, drawing investors to smaller towns and beachside communities. This increasing demand for properties in Puerto Rico is a testament to the island’s unique charm and the overall appeal of its housing market.

In summary, the housing and real estate market in Puerto Rico offers various opportunities for US citizens looking to relocate to the island. With affordable purchasing and rental prices, diverse property options, and a growing investment interest, Puerto Rico presents a welcoming and friendly environment for newcomers.

Tax Incentives and Savings

Moving to Puerto Rico from the US comes with some enticing tax incentives. One major advantage is that US citizens who relocate to Puerto Rico can take advantage of a 4% income tax rate, 0% dividend rate, and 0% capital gains tax rate. However, there are certain criteria that must be met to enjoy these benefits. It’s important to establish a “tax home” in Puerto Rico and adhere to specific requirements outlined by the local government.

In order to meet the presence test, individuals must be physically present in Puerto Rico for at least 183 days during the tax year. This ensures that they are considered a bona fide resident of the island for tax purposes. Another requirement is the tax home test, which obliges individuals and their businesses to actually move to the island and conduct their operations from there. Establishing a tax home in Puerto Rico demonstrates that one’s main place of business and income-earning activities are located on the island.

The closer connection test is another criterion used to evaluate whether an individual has stronger ties to Puerto Rico compared to another jurisdiction, such as the mainland United States. Factors considered in this test include the location of one’s family, residence, personal belongings, social connections, and economic interests. By meeting these criteria, individuals can establish a closer connection to Puerto Rico and become eligible for the attractive tax incentives.

Keep in mind, part of Puerto Rico’s government tax incentive programs may require individuals to purchase a home within the first two years of moving. This investment in the local economy acts as a prerequisite for securing the lower tax rates offered to residents. Therefore, it’s essential for those considering a move to evaluate their financial situation and weigh the potential tax savings against the cost of relocation.

In summary, taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s tax incentives and savings can be a great opportunity for US citizens seeking a friendly and vibrant place to call home. Just remember that meeting the necessary criteria, such as the presence test, tax home test, and closer connection test, is essential for enjoying the financial benefits of island life.

Moving Process


Before relocating to Puerto Rico, it’s essential to gather all the necessary documentation. US citizens do not need a passport, but they should carry a valid government-issued ID. In addition, it’s crucial to create an inventory of all belongings that will be shipped, ensuring a smoother move and easier customs clearance. For any valuable items, consider obtaining a power of attorney if someone will be overseeing the move on your behalf. Additionally, if you plan to bring your pet, obtaining a health certificate is of utmost importance.

Choosing a Moving Company

When moving to Puerto Rico, it’s essential to choose a professional moving company that specializes in international moves. This ensures that your belongings are being transported by experts in international shipping regulations and logistics. Consider getting recommendations from friends or reading online reviews to find a trusted and reputable international mover.

When selecting a moving company, compare their offered services, costs, and insurance options. Obtain quotations from several companies, taking note of their delivery timelines, any additional fees, and the type of moving container they offer for transporting your belongings.

Shipping Your Car

If you plan to ship your car overseas to Puerto Rico, it’s best to work with a professional international moving company that specializes in car shipping. They’ll be familiar with the necessary documentation, customs procedures, and insurance. Keep in mind that importing a car could be subject to taxes and fees, so gather all the information before making a decision.

Before shipping your car, ensure it meets Puerto Rico’s vehicle standards and prepare it for transportation by removing any personal items and cleaning it thoroughly. Obtain a detailed quote that includes shipping costs, taxes, and insurance, as well as instructions for picking up your car in Puerto Rico.

In conclusion, moving to Puerto Rico from the US involves careful planning and organization. By following the steps outlined in this guide—gathering the necessary documentation, choosing the right moving company, and shipping your car—you’ll be better prepared for a smooth and hassle-free move to your new home in Puerto Rico.

Living in Puerto Rico


Living in Puerto Rico offers various transportation options for both locals and expats. The island’s capital, San Juan, boasts a public transportation system, including buses and the Tren Urbano, a rapid transit system connecting the city’s metropolitan area. For those interested in exploring the beautiful Caribbean beaches and nearby islands like Vieques and Culebra, ferries are available. While many Puerto Ricans prefer to own a car for convenience, ample transport options like buses and taxi services make it easier for individuals in the City of San Juan. Outside of San


Education in Puerto Rico follows the U.S. schooling system, with both public and private institutions across the island. Public schools are generally free, while private schools can have varying costs (but often offer bilingual instruction). Puerto Rico has a robust academic community, including esteemed universities such as the University of Puerto Rico, which has multiple campuses. Additionally, several technical and vocational schools provide education in various fields like tech, healthcare, and arts. In essence, Puerto Rico offers diverse educational opportunities for students of all ages, allowing them to receive quality education in a unique and culturally rich setting.


Puerto Rico’s healthcare system encompasses both public and private facilities. The island’s public healthcare system covers essential medical services, while private healthcare providers offer premium services that cater to individual needs. Residents have access to hospitals, clinics, and specialists in urban areas like San Juan and other regions on the island. In addition, the U.S. federal program Medicare also applies to qualified residents of Puerto Rico, ensuring accessible and affordable healthcare for many locals.

Natural Attractions

Puerto Rico is home to various stunning natural attractions, boasting an abundance of rainforests, mountains, and waterfalls. This tropical island offers numerous opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore breathtaking scenery and indulge in various recreational activities.

One of the island’s most famous attractions is El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System. With its lush foliage, unique wildlife, and enchanting waterfalls, El Yunque is a must-visit for nature lovers. Visitors can hike through several trails, discovering the forest’s biodiversity, and take refreshing dips in natural pools fed by cascading waterfalls.

In the central region of Puerto Rico, one can find impressive mountain ranges, such as the Cordillera Central. This area offers picturesque views, quaint towns, and beautiful hiking trails. Many hikers enjoy trekking through the Toro Negro Forest Reserve, home to one of the island’s highest peaks, Cerro de Punta. The reserve also offers opportunities to explore caves and marvel at natural waterfalls.

For those interested in more aquatic experiences, Puerto Rico has a variety of stunning beaches and coastal attractions. From snorkeling in crystal-blue waters to witnessing the magical glow of the bioluminescent bays in Vieques, the island’s coastline has something for everyone.

In addition to the widely known attractions, visitors can also explore lesser-known natural wonders, such as Guánica Dry Forest, Mona Island, and Gilligan’s Island off the coast of Guánica. Furthermore, La Parguera Nature Reserve in Lajas, and Flamenco Beach on Culebra, are among the hidden gems waiting to be discovered by those seeking unique experiences outside the usual tourist paths.

In summary, Puerto Rico offers a diverse range of natural attractions to satisfy any adventurer’s curiosity. From rainforests to mountains and waterfalls, the island’s beautiful landscapes provide an unforgettable experience for anyone looking to explore its mesmerizing natural wonders.

Dealing with Bureaucracy

Moving to Puerto Rico can be an exciting adventure, but dealing with bureaucracy is an inevitable part of the process. To ensure a smooth transition, it’s important to be aware of the necessary steps and paperwork involved in the process. This section will provide a friendly guide to help you navigate through the bureaucratic procedures in Puerto Rico.

Firstly, housing arrangements need to be made prior to your move. It’s important to research available properties and identify a suitable place to live that fits your needs and preferences. You can consult local real estate agents or online listings to look for rental or purchase options. When you find a property, be prepared for some paperwork, including signing a lease agreement or purchase contract, as well as providing proof of income and employment.

Secondly, transporting your belongings to Puerto Rico requires some planning. Contact international moving companies to obtain quotes and coordinate the shipping process. They will help you navigate through customs clearance, which varies depending on the items you’re bringing and their value. Keep in mind that Puerto Rico has a sales tax which may apply to your items, so it’s essential to check the latest tax regulations.

Next, importing a vehicle to Puerto Rico involves additional paperwork. You need to obtain a Certificate of Compliance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and pay the applicable excise tax. Additionally, your vehicle should pass an inspection by the Puerto Rico Police Department. To register your car, visit the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP) along with the required documents, such as the title, bill of sale, and insurance.

Make sure your pets meet the entry requirements before bringing them to Puerto Rico. A health certificate issued within 30 days at the point of origin and a rabies certificate for pets over four months old are necessary. If you’re planning to enroll your children in schools or colleges, research educational institutions and their admission process in advance. Also, be prepared to provide proof of residency and vaccination records.

Lastly, setting up bank accounts and learning about tax incentives is crucial. Some Americans might be eligible for Act 60, which grants tax exemptions for individuals and businesses relocating to Puerto Rico. This could potentially provide a significant financial advantage for those who qualify.

In conclusion, being well-prepared and knowledgeable about the bureaucratic processes in Puerto Rico will make your transition smoother and more enjoyable. Always double-check current regulations and requirements, as these may change over time. And remember, a friendly approach will go a long way in dealing with bureaucracy.

Living Post-Hurricane Maria

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, life in Puerto Rico has been gradually recovering. The devastating hurricane caused an estimated $90 billion in damages, and to date, Congress has allocated about $63 billion for disaster relief and recovery operations, with 71 percent of these funds still not utilized.

Moving to Puerto Rico from the US can offer many opportunities, but it is crucial to understand the changes and challenges that the island continues to face in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The power grid remains fragile, even four years after the disaster, making power outages a common issue for residents. However, the government and various organizations are working to improve the power infrastructure and make it more resilient to future weather events.

One significant concern for new residents is the long-term health effects that have emerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. A study has shown that the hurricane has had a massive impact on the health of Puerto Ricans, particularly in communities of color. The island’s healthcare system has struggled to manage this increased demand, so newcomers should prioritize accessing a stable healthcare provider once they establish residency.

In addition to being prepared for potential health issues and the power grid situation, those considering a move to Puerto Rico should also be aware of the ongoing recovery efforts across the island. While most areas have made significant progress, some regions still face lingering challenges from the hurricane’s destruction. It is essential to research the community you plan to move to and ensure it has the necessary infrastructure and services for a comfortable living experience.

All this being said, Puerto Rico remains a vibrant and beautiful place to live, with friendly locals and a rich culture. The ongoing recovery efforts and commitment of its residents showcase the island’s resilience, and newcomers can actively contribute to its growth and development by joining community initiatives and supporting local businesses.

Remember, when moving to Puerto Rico, it’s essential to plan ahead, stay informed of the island’s ongoing recovery process, and adjust your expectations of life post-Hurricane Maria. In doing so, you’ll be well on your way to thriving in the island’s unique and captivating environment, embracing both the challenges and the opportunities it offers.

Other Considerations

When considering a move to Puerto Rico from the US, it’s essential to keep in mind various aspects of life on the island. In addition to its beautiful weather, there are other factors you might want to take into account.

One of the most appealing aspects of Puerto Rico is its stunning sunrises and sunsets. As a Caribbean island, Puerto Rico offers some of the most captivating views of the sun rising over the ocean and setting behind the lush, green mountains. These natural beauties can be admired throughout the year due to the island’s tropical climate.

Regarding the weather, it’s important to be aware of the island’s average temperature, humidity, and weather patterns. Puerto Rico experiences warm weather year-round, with temperatures generally ranging from 70°F to 90°F, which is perfect for those seeking a tropical paradise. However, the island also experiences a rainy season from May to November, so be prepared for occasional showers.

Moving to Puerto Rico from the US requires some preparation. As a US territory, no passport is needed for US citizens, which simplifies the moving process. However, relocating your belongings and pets may require more planning. To bring your pets, you will need a health certificate issued at the point of origin within 30 days and a rabies certificate for animals over four months old.

In terms of job opportunities, research potential options in your field before moving. Puerto Rico has a diverse economy, with sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, and finance. It is essential to note that wages in Puerto Rico are generally lower than those in the US, so it’s crucial to have realistic expectations about your income.

Don’t forget about the moon phases, as some individuals find this influence on their daily life quite significant. Puerto Rico’s clear skies provide plenty of opportunities to observe the moon in various phases, adding an additional layer of enchantment to the island’s already captivating atmosphere.

In summary, moving to Puerto Rico from the US can be a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. From captivating sunrises and sunsets to the warm tropical climate, a lower cost of living, and rich culture, there are many attractive aspects of life on the island that make it worth considering. Remember to research job opportunities, prepare for the different weather patterns, and enjoy the unique role nature plays in everyday island life.

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