Southern Puerto Rico

Buenos días everyone!
Let me quickly introduce myself: I'm from Germany and it looks like my husband will be transferred to work in Puerto Rico in the Yauco area. We both like the proximity to restaurants, cafés, shopping, sports, etc. so we were thinking with Ponce being the second biggest city, this would be a good place for us.
What is life in Ponce like? Is it safe to live there? Would there be any other expats? Is English spoken? Does the pro baseball team still exist? We would like to live in a gated community with a gym and pool. Any suggestions?
What about Yauco? Or Mayaguez?
Any input is highly appreciated as it's quite hard to find information about the South.

Hi Jultie,

When I was in the military I spend 2 years in Germany and loved it, I was considering even emigrating there, but I never did.

Ponce is a great city, lots of things to do, restaurants, museums, and history. It is in the south part of the island so it is a little more arid as it does not get as much rain as the rest of the island, but it has several rivers that service it and a large reservoir so normal it is not affected by droughts.

Mrkpytn lives in Ponce, he will probably the best person to inform you. No, there are not many expats living there. English is everywhere in the island, but not everyone speaks it. Spanish is the primary language by a long shot.

This site has a little of info about every town in PR to get you started, check all the links specially the cities link that will show you every town in PR.

As to Yauco, the area is mostly hills, a back to nature area, it is know for growing coffee

Mayaguez is another large city but it has few expats and the expats that live close have not given me a sense that they like it much as it is busy and large, but it also has a lot of history and things to see.

As to gated communities, they exist in every town, are you planing on renting or purchasing?
Houses in gated communities tend to be close to each other, very little land between the houses, anywhere between 3 to 10 feet between houses on the sides and 10 to 50 feet in the back. Some are in large lots but those communities tend to be a little more upper scale so the price will be higher. You have not yet provided a lot of info as to how you want to live, all things in life are a compromise of one kind or another.

If willing to live outside of a gated community, the Yauco area will provide you the ability of living "Country" or El Campo as we say in PR. Lots of green lots with houses separated from each other where you can farm the land and can be self sufficient, People in El Campo tend to raise chickens for eggs and meat, have horses, grow fruits, vegetables and herbs. In Yauco you will be a little distance from the sea, but you can get get to the beaches in about 20 minutes in the south of the island.

Crime is everywhere in the island due to drugs and people not having jobs, however most of the crime is a crime of opportunity, you leave something in your car and somebody breaks in to get it, you walk at night in an isolated area by yourself and somebody way want your purse or wallet. They need to feed their family and there are no jobs to take. Find out where the public housing is around the area you live, crime seems to be concentrated around them, specially drug related crime.

If you are open to country living or gated communities, you will like Yauco, if you want action I recommend Ponce, the other places you mention may make it difficult to drive to work.

Spanish is going to be a must, not everyone speaks English or knows it well enough to explain things or deal with complicated questions. So it will depend on who you are trying to communicate with.

So check out that site, let us know what sort of living you want to do and we can guide you better.
Site for purchasing, renting stuff and homes most used is a classified site, however it is in Spanish

Welcome to the Island,

Thank you for your quick reply, Rey!
It sounds like Ponce would be a good fit for us then. We definitely don't want the country life. We're city people :-)

As far as living goes, we are planning to rent a small house. We really want a swimming pool and gym so a gated community would be our choice. I found Estancias del Golf in Ponce and thought it looked nice. Have been browsing the clasificados a little already.

I speak Spanish and my husband will start taking classes once he gets this assignment. I've read that newspapers are available in Spanish and English. What about movies at the movie theater? Also both languages or mainly Spanish?

How is the megaport in Ponce developing? Is it mainly for trade or is the port used for tourism (like cruises, etc.) as well?

Rey, where were you in Germany? And what would you think would be the biggest adjustment for us?


I am mostly in the northeast and east of the island, those are my hunting grounds, I am comfortable with both city and country life, most of my childhood I was in Santurce and San Juan areas. So I understand. I am looking myself for Country living.

I was stationed in Heidelberg for 2 years but traveled all over Germany and the border with France and travelled also to Spain. I worked for 2 weeks in a row with little to no sleep, then I was off for two weeks,  I was at the coffee shops and beer gardens a lot, meeting people and absorbing the culture., unlike most of my servicemen who stayed in the base and cried for their mothers.

As to adjustments .... The language, the lay back attitude, why do it today if I can do it tomorrow, music is very different it is in the blood specially the percussion of the drums, no racial issues we are all Puerto Ricans, we tend to not be in a hurry when driving unless we have to go to work, otherwise an hour or two late is "on time". We are highly political, but tend to select lousy leaders. I forgot a very different thing ...... family shopping at the supermarket and other stores, You may find the husband, wife (with the cart), 2 or 3 kids, the grandmother all filling the aisle, walking slowly, talking with not a care in the world, while you are stuck behind them. Teach your husband "Con su Permiso" if you want them to open you some space to pass (With your permission or Excuse me). It drives me up a wall every time. Using your car horn may get you in trouble, pass them when you get a chance, otherwise you may have an encounter. Relax and learn to accept the idiosyncrasies of the island.

I know next to nothing about the megaport.

As to Ponce ... I think it would be the best choice for you in this case given that you are looking for more city living. It will not be like in Germany where where you get off the apartment and go to the Cafe two doors down and the butcher across the plaza since you are going into a gated community, but if you go downtown, you may find something somewhat similar.

Movies in English with Spanish subtitles, sometimes English movies with Spanish voices instead that do not anywhere match the type of voice of the actor, A deep voice may be replaced with a voice actor that almost sounds like a woman. Stick to full English with subtitles. May have problems with people talking while watching a movie, happens often.

Did I forget anything?

Moderated by Priscilla last year
Reason : Please post in english only on this english speaking forum

I think I got that you are German and I think something about 8 years ( maybe lived) but my German ran out.

Moderated by Priscilla last year
Reason : Please post in english only on this english speaking forum

Marion, I know you speak English, why are you posting in German?
Do I need to delete the posts?

Hi, perhaps I can give you a better idea of what Ponce has to offer but know that my lifestyle is a little bit outside of the traditional one. I do have a traditional Colonial home in Ponce Centro that is in the historic area. It suits our needs very well and we also have a farm where we do intend on living full time eventually. Ponce has a beautiful art museum  and an assortment of museums. What is interesting about Ponce is that it is very Puerto Rican with a strong Jibaro presence about it. There is a level of sophistication here and there is a lot of provincialism here as well. Fortunately I appreciate both. Ponce is safe. You can walk anywhere at any time with no problems. If you should happen upon a section of town in the fringe areas someone will let you know not to go there. I have not heard of any personal assaults in the 15 years I have been coming here. We do have our home on and have steady bookings in the winter months and none of our guests have had any issues with the folks here. Estancias Del Golf is about 10 minutes from town. I do not know much about it but I drive by on many occasions as it is sort of on the way to my farm. El Monte is where most of the wealthy live. Villas Del Monte is a gated community. My attorney lives there. It reminds me of gated communities in South Florida. Not many people live in the historic part of town but the ones that do live here have a great love for the town. There is a yacht club. One has to be invited to become a member but that should be easy if that is what you would like.  When I bought here about 15 years ago it was more populated in the historic district but offered little night life. Now that is changing. Before there were no restaurants except the 6 or so fast foods. Now there are two fast foods and a nice variety of restaurants. There is an organic farm scene developing and I willl be more involved with that. There are no good beaches to speak of as this is a port town. Guanica, Playa Santa 45 minutes away offer nice beaches. You can reach the Atlantic side in 45 minutes. The climate here is more agreeable than the climate in Florida. People are basically very nice. For a big city it is not too busy. You can get from Estancias Del Golf via secondary roads very easily. There are a couple of places to get fresh fish. Free range chickens are available at an Agricola store in downtown Ponce. We do have a Sams. Two super Walmarts. IKEA. I think there is a Macy's in the Caribe Mall (second largest mall in PR). We are basically drought proof with Lago  Cerillo.  Electricity is good. Internet too. Basically you can get most of what you need. Not many expats here. Feel free to ask me any specific questions. Mark

Hi Mark,

thanks for your input as well! I think I read somewhere else that Ponce is mainly "love it or leave it" and mostly leave it for expats. From what you guys have described, I think we will like it. We don't need a fancy glitzy beach town. From what I've seen online and how you describe it, the architecture sounds great and I already love that there are museums, more restaurants in the historic part of town and shopping.

Are there any community centers or clubs/activities where we would meet the locals? What do people in Ponce do in their free time? We love sports, especially baseball and softball. Does the pro team still play in Ponce? Are there any public golf courses? And mini golf? Do you know if there are running events like 5ks?

What about the boardwalk? It looks nice in pictures. Is it a well-liked place to hang out?

From a housing point of view, we really want to have a pool. And instead of taking care of a pool ourselves, I thought it would be easier to live in a community with a pool. Do you know of any other communities like that? I think El Monte will be a little bit too expensive for our taste.

Oh, one more question about housing: we want to rent. Are most houses furnished or should we bring our own stuff?

Thanks and have a great day!

Oops, sorry!  :top:

Hi Marion-Olga,
great to hear that there is another German person in PR :-)
Any input from your side about Ponce? Or living in southern PR in general?

Hallöchen, there are many of us everywhere on this island.
I have a German friend on FB, he worked for Pfizer in Ponce for 5 years and he lived in a gated Comunity and he had a pool. I could ask him! :)

That would be great! Thank you.
How do you cope with the sun and heat?

Could'nt live without the sun anymore, I love it! Here in the western side if the island we have the most beautiful beaches (Cabo Rojo) and that's where I love to spend hot days! :)
The summer over here is not my favorite time of the year, it get's really hot (33 Grad) and humid, that makes it feel even worse and you sweat from doing nothing. It starts around May and goes until November. Hot and rainy days.
Winter ist just perfect!! Love it muchooo! Less rain, not so hot and less humid!
If I could I would stay in Germany during summer and stay here for Winter.
Electricity ist expensive and they just made it more expensice since this month due to the financial crisis!
We don't have a/c in our house, only ceiling fans in every room. For us it works fine, even if it is pretty hot in the sleeping room at night. We are used to it. In Germany you have hot nights too and no a/c. My husband freezes in winter when we have 20 Grad at night lol!

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