Do we want to move to Puerto Rico?

My husband has the chance to transfer in his job to PR, specifically to Mayaguez.  We are are trying to decide if we want to put in for the transfer.  I like the idea of adventure and trying a new place for several years, but we have 3 children, 5 yrs. 3 yrs. and 8 mo., and I'm scared of losing my freedom.  I have talked to other people who have lived in PR, and I get such mixed reactions.  When I say losing my freedom, I mean will I feel safe getting around with 3 kids during the day by myself?  I will most likely homeschool, but I want to be able to go places and take field trips with the kids and get out.  Are there homeschooling networks, specifically in the western side of the island in Mayaguez or Rincon.  Are there good areas to live near Mayaguez with kids where we will be able to get to know other people?  I think I can get used to the controlled chaos as I hear other people put it, not being on American mainland time schedule, etc. if I can feel safe going places with my kids by myself when my husband is at work?  And two more questions, does everything rust there, or is it only if you live right by the ocean? And if my husband works in Mayaguez, where are good places to live if we don't want a long commute?  Thanks ....

At the risk of being rude, I don't think you want to move to Puerto Rico..

Thanks for your honesty.  Can you give me any specific reasons according to my question?  To make a long story short, my husband is pretty set on wanting to go.  We are in California now and would eventually like to get back to the East Coast.  If we go to PR, that move would be more possible after 3 years in PR if he wants to keep his current job.  He's ready to get out of Cali.  My main concern is just feeling safe to get around with the kids by myself during the day.

From what you wrote in your first message I got the impression that you have a lot of doubts/concerns about moving to PR. If you are wondering if you would feel safe there's a big chance you will not feel safe.

I think you should try to find a way to spend some time here (maybe without the kids?) and look around in Mayaguez and the countryside around it. When here talk to people that work for the company your husband is working for and when possible spend some time with non working spouses. That will give you the best idea about how your life here would be.

We are in a similar situation and from the research that I've done (including speaking with someone from Mayaguez) PR in general is a very family/child friendly country.  I personally do not feel that we will have a problem with safety.  And I will also be taking my kids around to various activities.  Most people (in any country) respect a mom with kids.

We also homeschool and I have a 5.5 yob and a 3.5 yog.  I'm sure that it is similar to the states (even if you don't find a hs community online) because you can hangout at the local park or beach and meet other moms.  Maybe not homeschooling Americans, but people to meet again on another day.  We spent last Oct living in Mexico and we found that the local park was the place to meet other families.  It worked best to go at different times (ie, Tues at 10a, Wed at 5p, etc) to see when the other families show up.

Good luck with your adventure.  Maybe we'll meet you there.
Jen

I've never felt any less safe in Puerto Rico than anywhere in the US.  Just like in the US, there are areas you wouldn't want to take kids into (downtown Detroit anyone?).  I don't know how you could possibly make the decision without visiting.  I am surprised your husband's company wouldn't have offered a scouting visit.

We fell madly in love with Puerto Rico the first time we went and plan to live half the year in the US and have there.

I have two children (college age) and I still feel safe with them getting around on their own.

The people are wonderful, the island is beautiful, food is amazing...there is alot to love.

I know two families with kids. One woman from California feels very isolated and depressed. The other is here only for a few years and has had some shortcuts that have helped her be more comfortable. If you want to be around white english speaking people and don't want to merge in permanently move to Rincon. There is a homeschooling network (sorry I don't have a link)which is mostly white/english speaking folks and apparently some church in Mayaguez that is a good networking/activity place for new arrivals. Everyone tells us about cars getting broken into etc etc and we haven't experienced that. I feel safe wandering around during the day myself and find people very friendly. We go caving and often end up in farmers fields miles away from our car and people give us rides and offer coffee etc - very friendly. It is an adjustment to be hearing spanish only, to merge into how things are done here (which is very different) but I really enjoy life here.

[moderated: no insults here please]

Are there no schools there that are appropriate? Why homeschool? is it mainly because of the language barrier? because I have a 15 yr old daughter and a 4 yr old son...we are DEFINITELY going to visit first and explore, I am just curious why every one here, who mentioned school, went the home school route...thanks;-)

I already home school here in the US.  We love it and want to continue.  That is why I started off on the home school route.  As a former teacher, I love it for kids in younger grades.  However, we may try to find a Spanish speaking school to enroll our daughter in for 6 months or so so that she can learn Spanish quickly.  I already speak Spanish, but it is not my native language so I think my daughter would learn best with immersion.  I am already starting to teach her the basics and will start doing more with my youngest two.  Most Spanish speaking schools are public schools, which I have heard varying reports about.  I'm sure it depends on the school and district.  They do have several good private schools, and I think most of them are all in English.  There is a school on the army base, which is mostly English with some Spanish.  And we are definitely moving.  My husband is being transferred, and we will end up going to the San Juan area instead of Mayaguez.

I have lived here for a year and a half and am a non-working spouse. My husband is in the military and though we have no kids, most of the other spouses I know do. We are in a completely different situation, us being military, but many people from the States homeschool. I am a former teacher and School Counselor and I can say that even the Dept. of Defense school here is not the same as what you will be use to coming from the States. I am not saying that schools here are not as good, but they do  not use the same standards in terms of curriculum that stateside schools do. That being said, those that I know have had issues upon returning to the States with their kids being behind int he curriculum. There is a DOD school at Ft. Buchannan in San Juan and also one in Aguadilla, but only military or other government agency dependents can attend. As for public schools here, some are bilingual, some are primarily Spanish speaking.  Even in the DOD school, I myself have witnessed that English speaking only students get left behind often, as the teachers find it easier to speak Spanish to the ESOL students. Most teachers even at the DOD schools are Puerto Rican and bilingual. So, all of that being said, MANY people I know get frustrated and disappointed with the schools here and eventually decide to homeschool, even though they never have anywhere they have lived.

As for the safety issue, I feel very safe as a female going out in the day by myself. I agree with early comments that this place is like any other....there are places you don't go and some you do. Just like in the States, there are places that are more dangerous. You just find out where those are, avoid them, and you should be ok. Do cars get broken into? YES, mine was, but it has happened to me in places in the States too. Avoid parking in isolated area and when at beaches, try your best to park where you can see you car. There are enough safe beaches to pick from, so avoid those that are isolated when alone. San Juan has all the major shopping of a big city, so you should be able to find everything you need, as opposed to the NW side, where I have more difficulty. If you are military, you can shop at the commisary at Ft. B, which is nice.

I wish you the best of luck! I love it here and I think the people are super nice. If you have any questions, please let me know!

A few more thoughts....there a few excellent private schools on the island, if you can afford them, that are superior to the public schools. The majority of the curriculum is taught in English, but the teachers are 99% bilingual and the students also get Spanish classes. I think it is an asset if any child can become bilingual while here. But also keep in mind that they need to maintain the standards of the stateside schools so that returning will not put them behind. Just my thoughts as an educator.

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