Where are you from, David, and what are you doing nowadays?
I am an IT professional who moved to Puerto Rico with my wife and two boys from San Antonio, Texas. I now primarily trade equities and produce content for my two blogs.
What has attracted you to Puerto Rico?
My wife and I had been looking to exit the rat race for some time and had actually been giving serious thoughts towards moving to Panama. However, when we heard of the tax incentives available here, specifically Act 22 for resident investors, we knew we had to take a closer look. After visiting the island in 2013, we knew that this was the place for us. The natural beauty coupled with the availability of familiar modern conveniences won us over.
As a US national, what where the procedures you had to follow to move there?
Puerto Rico is a US territory, so it was as simple as buying a one-way airline ticket. This was also part of the draw for us.
How long have you been in the country?
Nearly ten months.
What has surprised you the most at your arrival?
The first thing you notice are the narrow roads and seemingly aggressive driving style. Once we got acclimated to the "rules of the road", it became much easier. Now, when I visit the States I wonder why the roads are so wide!
Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available there?
We wanted to buy and the property search process much more difficult than in the States. In the States, its standard practice for the selling agent to clearly offer buyer agent compensation in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Typically, it is 3% of the selling price. Here in Puerto Rico, the commission has to be negotiated individually between each buyer's and seller's agent. For this reason, buyer's agents, at least the way we are used to them in the States, are virtually non-existent here. This meant we had to do a lot of the legwork ourselves, searching online and contacting several selling agents. That said, it's worth the effort because there are some really amazing properties and good deals to be found on the island.
What are the local labor market's features? Is it easy for an expat to find a job there?
I saw jobs very similar to what I was doing in the States pop up on LinkedIn, but I haven't pursued them. In most cases you do need to be bilingual.
How do you find the local lifestyle?
Abundant tropical fruits. Water sports. Relaxing at the beach. Latin culture. Amazing sunsets. I absolutely love the laid-back, slower paced lifestyle here. I don't know how, but I have dropped 20 pounds without even trying since we've moved here!
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
Well, we live in an area where expats congregate, so we haven't integrated as much as we would like. It doesn't help that most of the locals are bilingual as well, so we aren't often forced to try to speak Spanish. My wife in particular is making a concerted effort to learn the language. We want to be able to converse comfortably with the locals so we can feel more like part of the community.
What does your everyday life look like in Puerto Rico?
I make breakfast with my wife which we eat on our balcony while gazing at the ocean. Then, I walk down the hall to my "office" where I usually stay during stock market hours. Afterwards, we eat dinner together, again on our balcony. A couple of days a week after dinner, I walk down to the beach with my sons to go boogie-boarding or snorkeling. I'm not going to lie, it's pretty sweet.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Puerto Rico? Is it easy for an expat to live there?
Housing is less; much less in some cases. Almost everything else is a little higher. Overall, it's a wash as long as you are willing to make a few modifications to what you are used to.
How do you spend your leisure time?
Nearly every Saturday, we take our boys to a horse class in Rincon. Afterwards, we head to the beach with friends. We also try to get out and explore the island at least once a month. I love that there is so much to see that is just a short drive away!
What do you like the most about the country?
Puerto Rico is a unique melding of American and Latin culture. Many of the stores and brands we are used to from the States are available here, but it also has the feel of a foreign country which is appealing to us as well.
Your favorite local dishes?
Mofongo, tostones, and empanadas are great, but my favorite is probably the roasted pig with a side of Puerto Rican style rice. It is amazing!
What do you miss the most about your home country?
Definitely family and friends. I also miss the access we had to certain specialty food items like raw milk, serrano peppers and natto to randomly name the first three that come to mind.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in Puerto Rico?
The people that struggle are those that expect it to be like moving to another State. Puerto Rico is different which is part of it's charm. Learn some Spanish. Smile a lot. Go with the flow. A "glass half-full" attitude can go a long way in helping you make the transition and thrive.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, moving to Puerto Rico was a huge undertaking for our family. We are finally enjoying the fruits of our labor and have no grand plans for the foreseeable future. We are happy with the lifestyle we have put together for ourselves here.