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So many questions before accepting a job in Aguadilla, PR.

I apologize in advance if this gets a little scattered...it seems to be the way my mind functions lately :)

A little background: My husband and I have two kids, a 5 (almost 6) year old boy and a 2 (almost 3) month old baby girl and a (almost) year old Yellow Lab. My husband has a job opportunity down in Aguadilla, PR, but it is a time sensitive opportunity so we have only a few weeks to decide if it is the right choice for our family. We would only be going for a year or two, or if we fall in love, then longer.

I have an absurd amount of questions and I feel like I have been searching countless days and not really collecting any information! I know it is a personal decision and I still have plenty of research to do, but it seems only angry people write reviews, so I thought asking questions would get me farther!

1. We are not city people, we found that out real quick in my husbands adventures in the Navy. I work for the county Prosecuting Attorney so I am a little overprotective of my children and quite frankly a bit paranoid because I see terrible things daily. That being said, what areas around Aguadilla are quiet, yet safe? Would we be better off being in a gated area for safety and dealing with a "city" life?

2. I have read a bit about private schooling (my son only knows how to count and a few words in Spanish), I can't seem to find if the prices are per year or per semester, or is it different for every private school? Would homeschooling be a better option? **Personal preference, I know**

3. I will be speaking with my daughters pediatrician next week, but I still like others opinions. She is obviously still in the stages of receiving her immunizations, I have read some not so good things about the health care system, so should we fly back to Michigan for her immunizations? (We would fly free, but still a pain) Or is the system not as bad as some make it out to be?

4. I have read about the rabies, should we be concerned bringing our dog? She is up to date on everything, but would it be in her best health interest to go? We definitely don't want to leave her, but is it a safe and accommodating area for dogs?

5. How bad are the bugs? Seriously. I know there isn't anything poisonous, but I'm not a huge fan of spiders or snakes. Odds of finding a tarantula or snake in our house?

6. I am obtaining my Bachelors degree online, is the internet going to be an issue? Where we're from, most places can't even get internet other than dial-up, so we're used to that. I know we could always use a hot-spot, but also with that, how is the cell service?

I know these questions are probably crazy, but planning and obtaining information keeps me sane. I know I have so many more questions, but as I said, I'm a bit scattered at the moment :)

We all have questions.  I found searching the topics here provide a lot of anwers. You will find there is alot of outdated or wrong information on a lot of site.  I am sure others will jump in here

Welcome! I can answer some of the questions. 
Definitely bring the dog! There is a great chance that you will become a two-dog family once you get here.
There are bugs, like any other place in summer but it is not a bug armageddon.  What you personally need to think about is if you might become pregnant you need to protect yourself from mosquitos, but that is now true in many places.
There are plenty of non-city places to live.  You will love the beaches.
Internet coverage is specific to where you end up, but I suggest that you get an AT&T cell phone that can be used as a hotspot.  In the beginning this was my only source of internet and now it is my backup internet.  I works great.
I have friends with children your age and they go to a local private school but it is on the east coast. They are    fine young boys who were transplanted from Texas. The bonus is that they are learning Spanish.
Keep asking questions.
Frog rock

Oh, I forgot the most important thing.  Don't worry about snakes. They are few and far between.

HinkleyK :

I apologize in advance if this gets a little scattered...it seems to be the way my mind functions lately :)

A little background: My husband and I have two kids, a 5 (almost 6) year old boy and a 2 (almost 3) month old baby girl and a (almost) year old Yellow Lab. My husband has a job opportunity down in Aguadilla, PR, but it is a time sensitive opportunity so we have only a few weeks to decide if it is the right choice for our family. We would only be going for a year or two, or if we fall in love, then longer.

I have an absurd amount of questions and I feel like I have been searching countless days and not really collecting any information! I know it is a personal decision and I still have plenty of research to do, but it seems only angry people write reviews, so I thought asking questions would get me farther!

1. We are not city people, we found that out real quick in my husbands adventures in the Navy. I work for the county Prosecuting Attorney so I am a little overprotective of my children and quite frankly a bit paranoid because I see terrible things daily. That being said, what areas around Aguadilla are quiet, yet safe? Would we be better off being in a gated area for safety and dealing with a "city" life?

2. I have read a bit about private schooling (my son only knows how to count and a few words in Spanish), I can't seem to find if the prices are per year or per semester, or is it different for every private school? Would homeschooling be a better option? **Personal preference, I know**

3. I will be speaking with my daughters pediatrician next week, but I still like others opinions. She is obviously still in the stages of receiving her immunizations, I have read some not so good things about the health care system, so should we fly back to Michigan for her immunizations? (We would fly free, but still a pain) Or is the system not as bad as some make it out to be?

4. I have read about the rabies, should we be concerned bringing our dog? She is up to date on everything, but would it be in her best health interest to go? We definitely don't want to leave her, but is it a safe and accommodating area for dogs?

5. How bad are the bugs? Seriously. I know there isn't anything poisonous, but I'm not a huge fan of spiders or snakes. Odds of finding a tarantula or snake in our house?

6. I am obtaining my Bachelors degree online, is the internet going to be an issue? Where we're from, most places can't even get internet other than dial-up, so we're used to that. I know we could always use a hot-spot, but also with that, how is the cell service?

I know these questions are probably crazy, but planning and obtaining information keeps me sane. I know I have so many more questions, but as I said, I'm a bit scattered at the moment :)

Let me put your mind at ease:
First off ask away, we are here to help, most of the people here have gone thru some of what you are going thru. As to angry reviews, I have not seem many in this forum, awkward government system, yes, unefficient goverment offices yes. But most of that is a one time issue, you will not be dealing with the goverment too often.

1) A gated community would be best if you are paranoid, there are also some benefits like pools and playgrounds in some gated areas. BUT ..... Most. Areas are fine outside of a gated community, so it is not a requirement. Most crime is either drug related or a family abuse issue. Keep your doors locked and don't flash your money,  likely you will never see or experience any crime in Aguadilla.
2) Private schooling is expensive but very desirable. Your other option is home schooling, many in this forum in different parts of the island practice it. There are support groups for home schooling also.
3) You can get vaccinated at doctor office and some pharmacies, the issue with doctors are mostly expecialists and low number of pediatrician, but regular doctors are fine unless your kids need special care.
4) you need not worry about rabies if your dog is at home and not playing or fighting with wild animals, but keep it vaccinated, it is the law. While PR has a lot of homeless dogs and cats, they do not go around attacking people.
5) Bugs vary, make sure you have screen door and screens in your windows, wear repellent outside. Tarantulas are not a problem other than outside and they rather run than face you. Check your pluming and apply some putty around any holes around the pipes so bugs can not come in the house. Pissi ants love any sugar in the kitchen so keep some ant spry handy and keep food stored in sealed containers or bags.
6) Internet can be spotty in some areas at time, but it will be rare to loose it for more than a day a month.

Do searches in this forum, lots of people have gone thru some of the same, but no two situations are the same so do not be afraid to ask. Not everyone is online all the time so some questions may take time to answer, be patience.

Since you will be staying for a year or two, you need to rent a place with a fenced in yard, let me know if you need a realtor to find you a place in a nice area of town..you will also need a car, you can ship one if the company will pay for it or buy an old car. One point is that rentals don't usually have furniture but you can rent some or talk with the owner to get you some spares until you get your own.
Ask away
Rey

I would agree with most of what Rey says, but disagree about gated communities; I'm a private person, and not a city person either. The towns/cities are relatively small in area, even the heavily populated ones, it's easy to go from crowded urban neighborhoods, to country, in just a few minutes. Working in Aguadilla, you can find nice homes to rent (2yr lease could be negotiated with a reduced rate, as most rent for 6-12moths) I found my home on clasificadosonline.com (for home and car, furniture, just about everything!)

you can use the google chrome browser, you can right click, to translate to English, if your Spanish isn't up to snuff... to paraphrase what Rey said; "ask away"; you will find very helpful people here!

I copied your post and put my reply after each question.  I hope this info  helps.
Joy

1. We are not city people, we found that out real quick in my husbands adventures in the Navy. I work for the county Prosecuting Attorney so I am a little overprotective of my children and quite frankly a bit paranoid because I see terrible things daily. That being said, what areas around Aguadilla are quiet, yet safe? Would we be better off being in a gated area for safety and dealing with a "city" life?

I don't know specific areas of Aguadilla. We lived for 2.5 years in the countryside/jungle of Utuado before moving to Hatillo.  We chose a gated community because of safety concerns and we are very pleased.  It is an oceanfront community with swimming pool, tennis courts, playground, basketball courts.  As country folk, we thought we would dislike living in this kind of community, but actually it has been a blessing because the homes are closer together so we are not isolated and have met so many nice people in our community.



2. I have read a bit about private schooling (my son only knows how to count and a few words in Spanish), I can't seem to find if the prices are per year or per semester, or is it different for every private school? Would homeschooling be a better option? **Personal preference, I know**

We  don't have school age children. But I have read  about some very good bilingual schools in Aguadilla. Information is available on the internet. Having said that, I know there are many children being home schooled, and the parents have formed networks for group events and activities.

3. I will be speaking with my daughters pediatrician next week, but I still like others opinions. She is obviously still in the stages of receiving her immunizations, I have read some not so good things about the health care system, so should we fly back to Michigan for her immunizations? (We would fly free, but still a pain) Or is the system not as bad as some make it out to be?

Personally I do not think the system is bad. There are many good  doctors here. I definitely would not travel off island for routine care.

4. I have read about the rabies, should we be concerned bringing our dog? She is up to date on everything, but would it be in her best health interest to go? We definitely don't want to leave her, but is it a safe and accommodating area for dogs?

Not sure what you read, but rabies is not prevalent here. So of course you should bring your dog (we brought all four of ours when we moved here). Make sure all of your dog's rabies and dhlpp vaccines are up to date, and be sure to stay up to date with heartworm preventative (because there's are a lot of mosquitos).  You will also want to use a flea/tick product such as Bravecto. (Frontline doesn't work well here).
There are cane toads in the jungle and they can be dangerous to small dogs (and small humans). There are no cane toads in the coastal areas because it is too dry. (They like the constant dampness of the rainy areas).

5. How bad are the bugs? Seriously. I know there isn't anything poisonous, but I'm not a huge fan of spiders or snakes. Odds of finding a tarantula or snake

I hate spiders and snakes, too! I would be unable to live here if it was common to see them. 
I've seen zero snakes here.  I can count on one hand the number of scary insects I saw when we lived in the jungle,  and I've seen NONE since we moved to our current home.  Mosquitos are pretty bad here, so get used to wearing insect repellent instead of perfume. And be sure that your house has screens on all windows and doors!

6. I am obtaining my Bachelors degree online, is the internet going to be an issue? Where we're from, most places can't even get internet other than dial-up, so we're used to that. I know we could always use a hot-spot, but also with that, how is the cell service?

ATT has great coverage, even in the mountains.
Verizon doesn't have any towers here, so service is sporadic and replacing a phone is an ordeal.
We have internet through Liberty cable and it is reliable (about 95% uptime).

I know these questions are probably crazy, but planning and obtaining information keeps me sane. I know I have so many more questions, but as I said, I'm a bit scattered at the moment

We lived in Aguadilla for awhile before having to move back to the states due to family illness. We have two kids. At the time we lived there, they were in Pre-K and K, respectively. We sent them to a private school in Aguadilla (Borinquen Bilingual School) and LOVED it. Their education was top notch, the teachers were GREAT, and the kids loved their time there. I still get homesick thinking about that school. The price was around $275/month TOTAL for both of them and that included both breakfast and lunch every day. If you have any experience with private schooling or daycare here in the states, you'll recognize that that is a ridiculously cheap education. I believe most of the private schools in Aguadilla are similarly priced, but I can say this: I would not hesitate for an instant in putting my kids back into Borinquen Bilingual.

Enjoy your time there and if you have any questions about Aguadilla, specifically, let me know. We loved our time there and it truly felt like home.

Thank you all so much! We still have a huge decision ahead of us, but all of your replies have been extremely helpful in this stressful situation.

I was facing the same decision a few months ago. We just made the move three weeks ago! We are further east of Aguadilla in Dorado. I also have two little kids and a dog. Looking forward to our two years here!

We lived in PR for a couple of years & are now in Bogota, Colombia - but I would happily go back to PR.

I see that lots of suggestions have already been made, but I thought I'd add a couple of comments (in no particular order):

- I'd recommend either a gated community or a concierge building with it's own private security if you can afford it. You'll be more comfortable & you won't have to live in a house with bars on the windows & five locks to get in & out ;). Plus, such buildings/communities often come with amenities & you don't have to worry about constantly sweeping leaves, etc. There are many such buildings/compounds in the area of Aguadilla through Isabela. I recommend looking in Isabela on PR-466 between Isabela Pueblo & the beach community of Jobos.

- We lived in the San Juan area & were happy with our private school there. Generally you pay a matriculation fee once a year ('matricula'), plus a monthly fee. At our school matricula was $900 and the monthly was about $380. Other schools are cheaper, some (particularly a few in the metro area) much more expensive! The least expensive private schools are Catholic. The most expensive schools (Robinson, TASIS) are 100% English - but who needs that, right? You probably want your son to learn Spanish!

- The insect life is one of the wonderful aspects of living in the tropics! In Puerto Rico, there are some creatures that look scary (e.g., scorpions, tarantulas, whip scorpions), but these are not actually harmful. The only thing you have to worry about are disease transmitting mosquitoes. That being said, there is no malaria or Yellow fever on the island. The worse things are dengue, chikungunya, & zika. We all got zika & lived to tell the tale. It is much more of a concern if you intend to have more kids.... With regard to window screens, they are very rare in Puerto Rico! However, you can buy the material to make window screens in any Home Depot on the island (there are many), and (if your windows fit them) make your own.

Good luck!

Anolis,

I eill disagree with you first and last comment here. First most areas in the island don't have bars on the windows and five locks on the doors. Most of us that live or have property in the island loves the outdoor feeling and open concept of the island homes. With that said, if you only experience was with the metro area you will see a lot of houses with bars on the windows, not the same in the other parts of the island. Plus most gated communities are in the metro area.

Windows screens are VERY common in the island. Almost every town will have people that specializes in building them. Look for aluminum doors and windows builders, they will make your screens as well.

adlin20 :

Anolis,

I eill disagree with you first and last comment here. First most areas in the island don't have bars on the windows and five locks on the doors. Most of us that live or have property in the island loves the outdoor feeling and open concept of the island homes. With that said, if you only experience was with the metro area you will see a lot of houses with bars on the windows, not the same in the other parts of the island. Plus most gated communities are in the metro area.

Windows screens are VERY common in the island. Almost every town will have people that specializes in building them. Look for aluminum doors and windows builders, they will make your screens as well.

Hi adlin.

No offense was intended.

I'm sure that you're right that they are becoming more common due to mosquito borne disease concerns (such as Zika), however windows screens have long been relatively uncommon in Puerto Rico for a variety of reasons including that they don't fit typical hurricane-proof jalousie style windows (that is, a windows in multiple panes with interior crank handles) that are  used in almost all home building outside of higher-end building where full-pane hurricane glass are more common. This contrasts with typical 'hung' windows in the U.S. where screens are often built-in by the manufacturer. (I have also heard a cultural belief that they reduce airflow, which may be true.)

I understand that there are a number of programs to increase screening, including specifically in the homes of pregnant women. Last year, when chikungunya was a big concern & we were living on a lower floor, I built screens for our apartment with material from Home Depot. I think we were the only apartment in a building of about 20 units with screens. In looking at homes to rent or buy in Puerto Rico  (that is, apartments) over the past few years, I saw probably 30 properties or more, and none had screened windows. I mention this because if you want window screens, you may want to look at the windows and judge whether they can fit screens (the aforementioned jalousie windows do not), rather than expect to find an apartment with screens already installed.

With regard to my comment about 'bars' etc., I should have phrased that differently and I apologize. Certainly, there are security concerns on the island that mean having a totally unprotected lower-floor glass window is generally considered unwise. (Jalousie windows or hurricane shutters often provide that protection - not necessarily bars.) In a building with security this necessity is obviated, and you can take advantage of breezes, views, etc., that can be so wonderful in the Caribbean.

Once again, good luck. I hope you decide to make the move and find it to be worthwhile.

Most houses I visited over the last 5 years have screens in the windows. They are in the inside since the windows when fully open extend past the frame.

Houses with security windows and door do not normally have bars, those with non security windows and doors typically do, but most have screens. Also around full size air conditioners you see the bars unless they are the split units which are thinner and probably would not allow someone to break or push them out.

There are a bit of home breaks regardless or where you live, and there is a reason for that, the economy, people without jobs, or somebody looking for money for a fix.

In the country side it is fairly rare for somebody to break in but it does happen from time to time to one or two places in the community but not to most people and it may be the only break in in many, many years.

Don't allow fear to guide your life. A lot or well meaning people are giving advice or warnings based in fear

I pick-up on little things I see or hear no matter the source, a little bell goes off inside me to let me know this is true, and I take it to heart, even if I read it in a comic book. For example the movie "After Earth" with Will Smith staring in the movie,  there was a line I heard that I've incorporated into my belief system. Will Smith was talking to son (his real son also stared in the movie). The line went something like this "Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. [i][b]That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. [/u]We are all telling ourselves a story, the story we are telling ourselves is how our life will unfold, we are the story tellers of our life. On that day my life changed"

Years ago when I moved to Costa Rica the only word I knew in Spanish was "Cenicero" (Ashtray) I went there alone and didn't know a soul or how to go around the block or even to ask someone for help. It was like parachuting out of a burning aircraft into a strange land. It was the best move of my life. Since then I can speak enough Spanish to get by, I've sailed down the Nile, I lived on a beautiful island in the South Pacific, went to Italy to study art and bounced around almost every country in Europe alone, and what I've found is, the world is full of good people, yes there are snakes, but the good book tells us to be "Wise as serpents, but harmless as Doves"

I haven't lived in Aguadilla long enough to give you detailed information, but the local people I've met here are friendly, warm and honest, heads above those I met in Costa Rica or Nicaragua. Living in those places I had to be on guard 24/7.

I don't think I'll be living in Aguadilla much longer. When I landed in San Juan last week I only had a few days to buy a car and find a place to live. The car wasn't a problem, but I want to live on a beach again or within walking distance of a beach. I'm retired so I don't need to live close to a job. On Craigslist, the place I rented had a photo of a swimming pool and a beach, the pool was there, but the beach wasn't. It's close, a 5 minute drive, but it wasn't like what the ad suggested. I'll stay here long enough to find the place on the West coast that is either on a beach or within walking distance. At the most I'll be here 2 months.

If there are any questions or if you need any information, just send me a message. and I'll try to answer or help.

Butch

Butch, you have lived a very interesting life and I'm sure must have lots of stories to tell.  Maybe you'll end up in Rincon.  We go back next Feb. 2017, too far away for me, haha.

Maybe we'll run into each other, next week I'm going along the west coast to find a place on the beach, Rincon is one of the places I'll be checking out. Let's try to keep in touch, maybe we'll all get together soon. I enjoy making new friends and meeting people.

Butch

@condorbutch; I agree, that the folks here are very honest, and nice! We just moved to Isabela, from Rincon (the rents were much lower, and I don't mind a 15min drive to the several beaches here... but we do miss the small-town Rincon community!), We found a 1.3 acre 4br 3ba home for $700/mo. I have five dogs, and they love the wide open, fully fenced yard. They are safe, so's my son, when he visits. Our neighbors in Rincon were great people, and our neighbors here are also. Our neighbors have given us platanos & squash, and we give them Avocados off our tree... neighbors are all great, both here and in Rincon.

I have found that if you want to find trouble, you can, with little difficulty, but to live a 'normal' quiet life, with good folks... is equally easy to do, wether in PR, or any other state/country. If I were still working, and offered a job in Aguadilla, oh man! I would advise you to JUMP on it, and get on down here!

I lived 6yrs in Guayama/Arroyo, and then moved to Rincon, now in Isabela; great ppl here in PR! The BEST places to eat are those little stands on the side of the road. and really do check out clasificadosonline.com

Yes, Butch, I'd love to meet!

Mac, great perspective on PR :)

If I were offered a job in Aguadilla, I would hop on it in a heartbeat. Relax. It will work out. Even in one of the most "notorious" areas around, which is La Perla, just across the wall from Old town, I freely walk without feeling threatened, even though it's obvious I don't belong.

My apartment is on the other side of the wall in Old town, and despite its proximity to La Perla, nobody I've met in Old Town considers it an issue.  You need a key to enter my building, and that's sufficient security for me. and anybody else I've met.

Wherever you end up, make friends with your neighbors. Many communities consider their neighbors something of an extended family. Neighbors are your eyes and ears and they will look out for you. 

Puerto Ricans are very open and friendly and they are suspect of those who are guarded and paranoid, so don't be..

Things have been quite crazy and busy here for us! I appreciate everyone's advice and insight and stories!! It seems that we will be making our way down the beginning of November  :o We still have a lot to plan and figure out but we are getting excited!

It sounds exciting...good luck!

HinkleyK :

Things have been quite crazy and busy here for us! I appreciate everyone's advice and insight and stories!! It seems that we will be making our way down the beginning of November  :o We still have a lot to plan and figure out but we are getting excited!

Hi Hinkley!! I AM RIGHT BEHIND YOU! I GOT THE JOB!

Excited for you, you have a trip to plan now. Let us know how we can help.

Taka a deep breath, exhale slowly... you're on island time now! EVERYTHING moves slowly.

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