Trying to budget a move to Santurce

Hi all! I've been scanning this forum and haven't found an answer to this question. Please forgive me if this is a redundant/common query.

My girlfriend and I plan to move to Santurce in January of 2017. We will bring a car, and hope to find a small apartment downtown to rent. I have income for rent, but plan to budget about $5k for the move itself (that's for shipping a car, flying from Jacksonville, paying first/last/deposit, etc.).

Is this a reasonable figure? Are there other major costs I should consider?

I've seen lots of cheap places listed on clasificadosonline. Are the prices I see there legit? Will I be able to snag a price in that range as an obvious gringo? My Spanish is middling at best.

I think it is too low.
Car transport is likely around 1,200. Then you have to deal with the tax for the car import and that depend on the car value as determined by Hacienda.
You will need a car until yours get there so add that in.
Apartment, you will have first month, deposit and next month.
Plus the cost of anything else you ship. Not all rentals provide furniture, so you will likely have expenses for needs, sheets, silverware, etc.
I would double your budget


Clasificados has so many out of date listings as well.  It's going to be some work to find an apt - not nearly as easy as in US. And I second rays comment about cost with car - it really adds up!  Where will you stay while looking for apt and waiting for it to be avail?

yea, ReyP is right.  you can buy a used car here instead of shipping - might save some that way.

Get your vin number from the car and go to this site to get a close extimate of taxes you will have to pay when the car arrives: … 1List.aspx
Also get extimate for car transport which should be around 1200 from NY, a little less from florida.

Then you decide if you are going to ship the car or not. For rental, budget 3 months of rent as first month, last and deposit, it may be lower but better be prepared. As to amount ...... That depends, you may be able to find a good deal but be prepared to pay 700-900 a month in Santurce for 1-2 bedrooms and some areas may not be too desirable or safe.

Agree with Rey - Definitely do your homework on Santurce.  It's a real upcoming area - lots of promise especially with the art/music/specialty restaurants but I have several friends that have had many problems (mainly home and vehicle break-ins on a regular basis).

You dont want Las Monjas, or Bario Obrero, I grew up there and it is Bad!!!!!! They give competition to La Perla. Some of the area close to Caño Martin Peña, smell and at times get flooded with the nasty waters from El Caño.
They belong to either Hato Rey or Santurce, either way, bad areas.

You really need to do your homework to find out what the total cost for shipping your car is going to be. Are you shipping it from Florida? I think that was around $1200, if from a different state, then get a quote to ship from your location to PR. The tax you'll pay will depend on the car you have, if you have a newer car, the tax will be higher, example, just the tax for my 2005 Toyota Matrix was around $800, then add $250 for someone to clear the car for you and have it ready for you to pick-up when you arrive. Also, add the cost for insurance and license plate to that, maybe $250 for insurance and I forgot what the license plate charge was.

Shipping a car is like the "Wild West" no matter who you use, they have no control with getting your car to you. They place a shipment on a big board that all the truckers use to plan a route. Like some trucker from L.A is making a trip to Miami, so any shipment he sees that's on his way, he'll pick-up the car and try to get as many loaded on his truck as possible.

A few months ago, I was going to move to the Virgin Islands and I had my car shipped there. It was supposed to be waiting for me at the airport when I arrived, that didn't happen. Next day I called the shipper and he didn't know where my car was. The following day he found my car, it was still on its way to Florida and if the trucker would make it in time, I would have my car on Monday. The trucker didn't make it in time and I'd have to wait till the following week. After taking a close look at the Virgin Island, I decided it was a bad move and I'd be better off stopping now and not continue throwing good into bad. I called the shipper and told him not to ship my car but to return it to my place in New Mexico. He did offer to refund me $500, which was more than I thought I'd get from him. A week or so later my car was back in New Mexico. Upon inspection, the antenna was knocked off and there was a huge dent on the rear top of my car. I'm glad it wasn't a new car.

The point I'm trying to make, is do your homework and weigh out the cost and the hassle. Most likely you won't have the same problems I did, but there is a chance you might some problems. If I had it to do all over, I'd sell the car and buy another after I've landed. This is exactly what I'm going to do for my up and coming move to Puerto Rico. Next week the car goes up for sale and I hope to have it sold by August 30th, that's the day I'm moving to PR.

Don't take this the wrong way, but try to get a little more than $5k to make a start, $5k will disappear before your eyes in a flash. But good luck I hope yours is better than mine. I'm trying to make you aware of the pit falls and despite our positive thinking, shit happens


Shipping a car from Texas I was quoted $700 to transport it to Florida, $1200 boat fees to port in PR plus in the island it was amother $150 to register plus taxes, another $900-1200. Plus all the hassle to go thru the process.

For the same amount or maybe a little more I can find a good car down there.

If and big if, you were moving to the central or southwest part of the island and you already knew people there. I would say $5K will be almost enough to start. You can make it with $1200-1500/month, the locals do it with less. But not in the metropolitan area. A hotel room will run you over $100/day, a house in a good part of the metro area will go for over $600/m IF you can find it. Add to that water/electricity that will require deposit for new connections. That's just to start.

I don't want to rain in your parade but you should consider saving more money.

My friend, I'm with you 100%, I hope I might be able to help you if needed. I'm also with Willie and the poor boys. I'm not rich by any measure. I'm a disabled veteran living on a fixed income. Which is peanuts when compared to the income I was making when I was worked at Intel.

I couldn't believe the bullshit I went through when I tried to ship my car, it was a nightmare, and I thought I had all my bases covered. I'm just trying to say, do your homework, I got screwed and I'm giving you a "heads up" I didn't know anything about shipping a car when I started, I had to find out the hard way. Like I said, shipping a car is the Wild West and it doesn't matter who you talk to, none of them own their own trucks that will pick up your car and deliver it to Puerto Rico, the shipper farms your car out, its a crap shoot. Maybe some shipping companies own a truck or two and can do a short hauls But shipping a car through a shipper, you'd be better off driving your car to the port where all the shippers deliver their cars to, they all use one or two companies that own the boats, Crowley is a major shipping company they all use, (I think the spelling is right) they own the boats, and you can deal directly with them and bypass the shipper. The shipper just makes it easier and charges you for his service, then he pays a cut to the trucker as well in the cost. It's a game, and they all use the "Big Game Board" that shows all the shipments and all the truckers pick and choose the cargo they pick up and make a deal with the shipper. the cheapest one always wins. In a nut shell this is how it works. It took me some time and costly mistakes to find this out.

After the major mistake with the Virgin Islands, I had to tuck my tail between my legs and come back to where I started to replenish the money I blew by making that mistake. If my crystal ball was working, I'd be leaving with $5000 more in my pocket. I'm using $10,000 as the least amount for me to get started, enough to start with, and maybe enough to bail out if I have do a plan "B" . I don't know anyone on the island, friends are always a leg up and good to have. Maybe after we both land, we can hook up and have a laugh or two about our adventure.

I wish us both the very best for our quest for a better life, I'm on your side.


@condorbutch- I just sent you a PM asking more about your car shopping experience with the USVI.

I think I answered that, I shipped my car, something I would not advise unless you have a damn good reason for keeping it. I forgot to mention, when I finally got my car back it was damaged with a big dent that knocked off the antenna

We've heard that the used car market in PR is dodgy and that we'd be better off shipping... do you think that's not the case?

Having to buy a car here in Puerto Rico is not the end of the world.  Most of the people I know who have shipped their cars have regretted the decision.  It is a royal pain in the butt and it always costs to much. 
If you have someone to do all of the legwork and will pay for the shipping, then go for it.  Otherwise, don't get analysis paralysis.

Like everywhere, some people are good some are bad. If you know about cars you will do fine, or bring somebody who does once you find the car or two that interest you. There are a lot of cars on the road that are 8 to 14 years old and if well maintained they are fine. Just dont expect no dents, lots of minor accidents in PR.

Just did the estimate of taxes due on our 2012 Honda Civic -- $1,600! Ouch. I'm starting to warm to the idea of buying a car on the island... but does anyone have advice that will keep me from getting conned into a lemon? Is there anyone on this forum who sells used cars or knows a reputable dealer?

We moved to Old San Juan in January 2015 and did not bring a car, waited to purchase after our first six months on Island.  There are reputable car dealerships on Island so purchasing was not a hassle for us except to find dealerships with enough people who spoke English, since we did not speak Spanish was a chore some time.  The move cost of just a small amount of furnishings cost us $2,700.  We found a very small apartment in OSJ for $825 per month, with an awesome view, which at the time we thought was a steal; but to find out later staying out of the city is less expensive plus the sea air won't ruin your furniture.  We moved to Fajardo for a fraction of the cost but we are almost 40 miles from the City.  Like all cities, there are good areas in Santurce and not so good.  I would consider looking for something on airbnb or homeaway for a place to stay while looking for a place.  You can find a reasonable hotel here, but by the time you add in the 11.5% sales tax and the 18% hotel tax, it brings the cost up considerably.

The deposit for the water company was $50 but the time you spend sitting at the office to get it turned on could be an all day adventure.  Fortunately, our landlord went with us and helped to speed the process along, but we were still there for 3 hours and we had emailed all of our information to them (it only took 15 minutes once we were finally called to the back).  The deposit for electricity was $150, we were able to get the electricity done by fax and was billed the deposit.  Electricity in the City was much more than what we pay out here in Fajardo.

The amount we budgeted for the move was not enough because we didn't add in enough for unforeseen incidentals.  But, it can be done, but it will take careful planning and spending.  If you need other specifics, you may message me or ask in the forum.  Good luck, it is a beautiful island so spend some time to soak it all in.

miminich :

We've heard that the used car market in PR is dodgy and that we'd be better off shipping... do you think that's not the case?

I've both shipped a car here and bought & sold one.

Having done lots of research, my shipping process went rather smoothly but it helped that I didn't need the car here and was already driving around the one I had bought from a local. It cost me ~$1k to get it from California to Jacksonville, FL and another ~$1k to Crowley, the main shipper to boat it over here to SJ. I chose to deal with two different shippers for this and they both did great. I can recommend a PR shipper who handled all the Crowley tax paperwork for me. On top of that, it cost me another ~$2k in Hacienda taxes on a 2007 vehicle. So I paid ~$4k on a car worth about $13k, but I'd known that going into it and decided it was worthwhile because the car has sentimental value.

It took me months to both buy and sell my other car here, a 2012 Nissan Sentra with very low miles, but that's primarily because a) I was super-picky and b) I insisted on a manual transmission. I know the market enough now to know that if you want a good automatic, you can both buy and sell one rather quickly. And you'll have a huge selection, almost as big as the continental US.

In your shoes, unless you have a specific reason to ship, I would definitely buy or lease here. There are dozens of reputable used & new dealerships up and down Route 65 de Infanteria (rt 3 on google maps) that I would be happy to buy/lease from.

Also, I like Santurce as everything's cheap but it's pretty ghetto and many parts are run down, including its hospital. I live about 15 minutes away in Isla Verde. There are much better places to live that are still way, way cheaper than the continental US.

tinymonkey, could you help me out with information regarding car leasing?  We are coming in Feb. for 5 weeks and the car rental is really eating into the budget.  I appreciate your help!

Schuttzie :

tinymonkey, could you help me out with information regarding car leasing?  We are coming in Feb. for 5 weeks and the car rental is really eating into the budget.  I appreciate your help!

You mean you only need a car for 5 weeks total?

I moved to santurce 4 months ago. We are near the la placita.we pay 650$ for a 2 bedroom little house. It's clean and quite on our street. There are some sketchy areas close but it's the same as Philly were we moved from. Don't go there after dark and never alone.
Keep in mind santurce is a great area close to many things but it is a transitional neighborhood. Our neighbors are all really nice hard working people and they look out for us.
One thing that is normal here you might have to buy your own fridge and stove. We lucked out and made a deal with our landlord so it's included.
Our neighbors across the street,  3 guys, pay 550$ a month for a slightly bigger 3 bd house. But they started renting 1.5 years ago.  So the prices are going up.
As for the car, unless you own it  outright and can ship it for less than 1200 it's not with it.  Although it did take us 2 months to find a used car here and I asked for help on this forum.
We used Rose Delmonte shipping and cost was about 1g for two people 1 king matress kitchen table a small couch plus 27 boxes.
Good luck and hit us up when you get here

Yikes, tinymonkey, I missed your response, so sorry!  We need it for a total of 5 weeks.  Hopefully, you may have some ideas.

I have been doing some research because I plan to move on the Island in the near future and ship a car too. You mentioned shipping your car and I believe you will have to pay taxes for the car when you register it. Visit the Departamento de Hacienda, for more information.  Hope this info helps.  ~ Rudy

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