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New members of the Puerto Rico forum, introduce yourself here – 4th quarter of 2016

Hi all,

Newbie on the Puerto Rico forum? Don’t know how to start?

This thread is for you ;)

We invite you to introduce yourself on this topic, to share with us your expat story if you are already living in the country, or to tell us more on your expat projects in Puerto Rico if you are planning to move there.

It will enable us to help you better but above all to wish you a warm welcome.

Welcome on board!

PD : The thread New members of the Puerto Rico forum, introduce yourself here – 3rd quarter of 2016 continues below!

HI everyone ! We are a French family wnating to move to Puerto Rico around March 2017. We are not fully decided mainly for health and school topics :-/ How easy is it for kids to integrate a private school with only a bit of English or Spanish ? We would live in Ceiba/Fajardo.
Also, what is the cost of health insurance, for a very good coverage (two kids aged 8 and 10)? I hear that many doctors leave the island. With a private insurance, is it possible to see doctors more easily?
Thanks for your help :)
Marie-Claire

Welcome to the forum and hopefully to Puerto Rico. Looks like we may end up being neighbors, I have a piece of land in Ceiba but not moving for a year or 18 months.
I will leave some of your questions for members currently in the island. This way you will get first hand advice.
Welcome

Thanks a lot Rey :-)
I am trying to work out an expense sheet, and have found valuable information on the forum. I still miss out some costs for home insurance (rental), car insurance, activities / sports for kids, and trying to work out what our shopping would be like. However we are used to expensive costs here in Saint Martin and most probably, except for electricity, it will all be cheaper. However our French social security and therefore health coverage are good being on a French island, and this might be a big difference... It'd be fun to meet there :)
Muchas gracias !

In the Ceiba area and parts of Fajardo, you are looking at about 500 to 600 for 2 to 3 bedroom house. Stay away from public housing areas, due to drugs, there is a lot of crime in the general areas of them. Check clasificados online.
Likely everything will be a little cheaper except electric. You will need a car for sure to get places.
I will pm you a possible budget to serve you as a starting point.
While available, not many locals use Renters insurance, I'll send you some phones or websites to call.
If your kids speak very little English and little Spanish it will be a little harder to find the right school for them and in that case the Ceiba /Fajardo area may be too far to drive them. Not sure, but that is what I believe given I am not in the island and do not have kids.
I'll pm you some stuff

Great :D My spreadsheet is going pretty well and it will be great to adjust with your data !

Welcome. No fault insurance is mandatory at a cost of $168 per year for every one. I know that it covers damage if the cause of damage is done by the other driver and visa versa. I do not know yet about liability. It is basic insurance and I have not looked into private insurance.

MarieClaireM :

Great :D My spreadsheet is going pretty well and it will be great to adjust with your data !

I send you some info in Private message, I will send you some sites and phone numbers.
You will need a car, not sure if you are purchasing a car in the island or transporting your car, transport and import taxes can be large.

Check with members with kids about private schools and home schooling if that works for you.

Hi, everyone,
My husband and I have recently retired. We're planning to relocate to an affordable area that is warm year-round. We love Belize, but we can't use Medicare there. We visited beautiful Puerto Rico at the end of July and traveled through many different areas. We're interested in the Ponce-Arroyo-southern part of the island and plan to visit for more thorough exploration in February. We don't need to be on the coast but want to live in a safe area. We would like a 2-bedroom, 2-bath house on approximately a half acre lot. We don't mind a liveable fixer-upper because we're trying to conserve our limited retirement savings. We prefer to live on our Social Security. Does that sound doable? How would you suggest that we find a reputable real estate broker. Thank you for your input.

Welcome to the forum.
The Ponce area is very affordable, you should be able to find something nice but it will depend on your budget and your idea of affordable. Minutes from town is country living with plenty of land to build and farm. If you are interested in purchasing I can send you info on a realtor that has been used by some of the members including me that is responsible and a pleasure to deal with.

Most of the population make it on a salary of less than 1,800 a month (before taxes) for a family of 3. You should be able to make it on 2500 since your standards are likely to be higher

You can make it on less but you need to learn where to shop, when to shop and learn to haggle.
Let me know if you want the realtor info
Rey

Thanks so much Mrkpytn and Rey for your help!

Mrkpytn, I saw you were doing organic farming, it's great :) Could you tell me if there are local organic markets / shops around Fajardo / Ceiba? Is their organic food the same price or cheaper than the supermarket? We like to buy fresh organic, but here in Saint Martin, it is sooo expensive and so little is produced on island, so we had to give up on a good part of it :(

Rey, you mentioned safety areas and you are right.
For that reason - and because my partner needs to work in a quiter environment for work and we want to be close to Puerto del Rey, we might choose an apartment in a big residence "a rich ghetto" :-/ Not that we love the idea, but we want the kids to be able to go out on their own without worrying and having mummy/daddy watching them also.
I saw yesterday some news of a man threatening a kid on a school roof :'( That is spooky,.

Is there is regularly some violence in public areas, or if it is more restricted to ghettos or drug dealers etc?
(here in Saint Martin, it is generally between gangs and sometimes some armed holdup, so best not to hold a fancy bag or expensive looking jewels).

Thanks :)

As to crime, the majority of the issues are drug related, mostly in the metro area but no town is free from it. Mostly about turf, unpaid debt.

Do not let it scare you, just stay away from bad areas. Most kids are safe anywhere, we have Puerto Rican's with green eyes and carrot top, blonde blue eyes.

2 nd in the list is family fights or neighbors, due to the economy families are stressed, also jealousy, one or the other may be Cheating.

The rest is mostly home or vehicle break ins, never leave anything of value in plain sight. Since there is high unemployment, your articles can mean food on their table or just bread and butter.

A gated community is not a guarantee of safety, your next door neighbor could be dealing drugs and that is how he can afford the expensive place.

Just use common sense and don't flaunt your money.

Organic is usually more expensive. Grow some of your fruits, spices and vegetables. There is a farmer market in Fajardo but I have no info, same with Ceiba. You find a lot of people selling stuff also by the side of the road if you use secondary roads. Typically cheaper than Supermarket, also exchange fruits and vegetables with your neighbors, get to know them, they will keep an eye for your place and teach you about the culture and how to get good value. Don't flaunt your money you will insult them.

Thanks for your feedback on crime, and on organic food. Indeed common sense, and sometimes some things we have not yet been thinking thouroughly about.
Would you happen to know, for what people sell on the side of the road, if they usually grow it the natural way, or if they tend to use products on them?

People selling by the side of the road typically sell what they grow. Most are not comercial farms so it is likely that they will use nothing on the ground or manure. However it is somewhat likely that they may use some pesticides. Wash in soapy water to remove just in case.
Typically large farms have the economic incentives to use non organic methods, the guy with 3 avocado trees and a couple of Mango trees in his land likely used nothing, not even pesticides. Ask before you buy or take a chance, irregular exposure is unlikely to harm you.

Thank you, Rey, for your reply. Yes, please provide your real estate agent's contact information.
Nan

Good evening everyone! My name is Lorenzo and my husband and I are looking to relocate from California to PR early next year. We are in the planning stages of our first trip there just after New Year.

I am a chef by trade and have been  a department manager at Whole Foods Market for the past five years; and he is an assistant manager of an upscale restaurant in Sausalito.

With the events of this past election, we have decided that it is time to leave the country and we look at this as a great opportunity to explore and expand our worlds!

We plan to spend a week exploring the island and check out areas that we may find we would like to move to. I have read, with excitement, this site and the information that I have garnered is excellent! We plan to rent and possibly purchase in the future. We would love to hear the experience of any GLBT people that have relocated or any input into the community.  I understand that the main gay area is in the Condado, but we are open to any community that feels like a good fit.

It feels very exciting and invigorating to be at the beginning of this journey. I cannot imagine our lives a year from now! BTW: we do have two small dogs that we plan to bring with us. We look forward to meeting you and hearing of your experiences.

Welcome to the forum and PR. Some of our members will hopefully share their experiences with you. Locations: entire island, condado, sanJuan, Fajardo, Rincon, many places, but expat LGBT concentrate in those the most.
Hope you get good answers.
Renting is the best way to go so you can decide where you want to put down roots. It takes a while to decide your best location taking into consideration of the type of life you like, social activities , entretainment, business possibilities, etc. Most pets are welcome, I have 2 dogs also and expats tend to also adopt.

Please read the rules of the site and ask away. We are here to try to inform you and make the transition as smooth as possible.
Rey

Welcome, from my 16 years of spending half my time in Puerto Rico with many gay friends and visitors I feel that you will have no problem being openly Gay in Puerto Rico. I have Puerto Rican friends who have hosted events on the South side of the Island catering to the GLBT community without any backlash. Indifference seems more in order. The South coast is more traditional and one phrase that applies to most aspects of living in Puerto Rico is, "avoid controversy. " I have been told that the mayor of Ponce is lesbian. She may not be promoting this but everyone seems to know it. She was reelected. The only criticism I hear is of a political nature. Santurce is a progressive part of San Juan. There is a documentary out on transgendered Puerto Ricans that is very interesting. I do not recall the title of it but one of the persons interviewed established an organic market place in Santurce that supports the organic agriculture movement in Puerto Rico. There is a grass roots movement taking place that turns back the clock to pre colonial times. Friends of mine in The Ponce area are actively involved in this which includes the GLBT community. Welcome on board if you choose to move to PR. This year I will be in Puerto Rico full time and I intend to be active in this movement where I can contribute what insights and skills that I am inspired to express and can share. if you are interested in visiting sometime you can pm me for information. I have some awake PR friends that I find comforting in comparison to what seems to be occurring with a lot of folks on the mainland. I can empathize with your interest in moving to PR

Thank you all for the kind and supportive words. We look forward to exploring PR very soon with the hopes of moving there.

In my opinion, Puerto Ricans are very accepting. My apartment is in Viejo San Juan and rent it out  to vacationers when not there. Some of the renters have been gay or lesbian and they say they have never felt out of place. The last time I was down I ate dinner next to an openly gay couple. The restaurant is called Dragonfly, right in the heart of VSJ -- kind of a nuevo Asian/Spanish fusion. As a chef I guarantee you will appreciate it. One of my neighbors down there is lesbian. EVERYBODY knows her and considers her a dear friend.

I can understand why you would want to leave  the mainland. Just be thankful you're not in Georgia where I live.

So, a few questions about what to consider to bring. Really we are thinking clothes, some artwork and my cooking equipment. Should we sell our furniture and plan to buy new or resale there? what about electronics. I cannot see spending money on tv's if we can buy new ones and either have them sent there or buy on the island. i am thinking that since we are coming from California that we would just buy an inexpensive car there.

Amazon is your friend, you can get almost everything you want in the local stores and there is always Amazon to buy the rest.
The trick is the cost to ship versus selling the stuff and buying again.
Cheap car in PR is a good idea instead of shipping the car due to shipping cost plus taxes when you go pick it up.
You likely have items of nostalgic or unique value, bring those, but the rest you have to decide to sell and buy again or also ship. Check with a shipping company then decide.

You can get just about anything you want. Puerto Rico is blessed with Wal-Marts, CostCos, Macy's (the largest outside of the one in NYC), Home Depot, Home Goods, and there's even an Ikea. I bought a ton of furniture from Rooms-to-Go, a bunch of linens and stuff like kitchen supplies from Marshall's, Home Goods and Bed Bath Beyond. Got the TV's from CostCo. There's a Puerto Rican Craig's List and Classificados has tons of stuff second hand.

You can also order stuff from Amazon.com. I bought some lamps and side tables off Amazon and had them sent directly to my property manager in VSJ.

There's nothing to worry about. You guys wil be just fine.

Rental units may or may not include major kitchen appliances, check that and be ready to buy or consider a different unit.

Actually most people don't care your sexual orientation. You will find most people are more concerned about getting along than condone you. There are lots of gay and lesbian folks on the PR government, the mayor of Yauco and the new elected mayor of Guayanilla are openly gay and that was not even a subject on the elections.

I will suggest explore different parts of the island and see what you prefer. Maybe the metro area is not what you prefer, to me it resembles living in most mainland cities.

Welcome to the forum!!

Btwy, most rental do not include range or refrigerators. Be sure to ask what's included on the property.

So happy to know that Amazon is present here! We have Prime so that is a big help! I have noticed that some places (both rentals and to purchase) do not include the major appliances. Finding that much of what we have is just mostly unused so this is a great experience to let go of just stuff.

Thanks much for the warm welcome!

Sell the stuff you can replace in PR. Not worth shipping it down.

lgustaf :

Sell the stuff you can replace in PR. Not worth shipping it down.

I agree it will cost you more to ship it than buy new. Same with a car, by the time you add the shipping cost and taxes is not worth it to ship a car.

Hello everyone! My wife and I have been following the website for years now and finally decided to actually join, contribute, and seek guidance. We both travel internationally a lot with my work and for pleasure. We've spent a lot of time in the Former Soviet Union for work and generally do most of our vacationing in Europe and Asia. We don't really have a home but do have a couple of rental properties in the U.S. that kind of sort of keeps us grounded in the U.S. (although we haven't lived there in over five years), but our plan has always been to retire outside the U.S. We had a small condo in South America and sold it, and were planning to look for something in Asia where it is warm to eventually call home.

Then about four months ago after having lived far away from the U.S., we decided that there are places just as nice as Asia (mainly were looking at Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia), closer to the U.S., and just as warm and friendly. Plus in our travels and living abroad we've met many expats and one of the key things we learned is that having roots somewhere fairly familiar, brings an added layer of peace of mind. So we decided to start doing research inn Puerto Rico. We will be traveling to PR in January for a few weeks of vacation and to get the lay of the land for a purchase sometime in the summer of 2017. This will be our primary residence (since we don't have one) and the only requirement we have at this point is a great view of the water (preferably able to see or hear waves).

You will see us asking questions on the forums and if we become annoying, please feel free to tell us so. Also, if you need any information on countries in the Caucasus/FSU, several countries in Asia, and some countries in Europe, please ask away.

Welcome to the Forum Ckang,
I assume you are a US citizen.
It is great to travel and see the world. The one thing you will get in PR is all the rights of a US citizen and the same federal laws. Plus the convenience of quickly traveling to the mainland without the immigration hassles.
There are plenty of properties available. You can get something close to the sea, or even at the edge or you may like to be up high with an even better view.
It sounds to me like a condo may be the way to go for you, specially if you plan to travel to Europe from time to time as there will be little maintenance to worry about. Some condos have pools and the sea close by and some may be up a hill to add more to the view.

Given European contacts you could consider an Inport/Export business, you get the stuff local and ship it to Europe. Act 20 /22 can help you pay a lot less taxes on the business.

Thank you ReyP. Yes we are U.S. citizens. We are excited to visit PR in a few months. Browsing the multiple sites for properties, I think we'll like something higher up with a nice view but best for us to get there first and explore. I agree with what I believe is the consensus from reading through the PR forum: don't jump into anything without a decent feel of the island. This being said, having lived in countries where water/electricity frequently goes out, traffic issues, services being hit or miss, and living with the kindness to not so kind people, we think we will adapt pretty quickly and buy something by summer (house or condo).

One thing that we've already learned is that tracking down a good realtor takes some work. I thought we had/have one lined up but it took some time to get them in the phone. Once we did, we sent an email but have received no replies. So I'm thinking that this trip it maybe makes sense to spend time getting to know the island (as much as possible in 2-3 weeks), do drivebys on some of the places we found online, and try to meet up with some folks in PR who can share some of their experiences because at this point we have no idea where we would want to live. Rincon or Cabo Rojo areas sounds like a winners but so does some of the places on the northern coast (Isabella), and even east like Farjado (the lower part near Gaviotas). There are even a few places south of El Negro that look nice, as well as the San Juan area itself, but now I'm just throwing names of areas out without having any idea of what the living is like.

One question I have is do you think it makes sense and is practical to "base" out of San Juan and do day trips to the various parts of the island and back? Or is it smarter to maybe stay in San Juan a few days (4-5) move to the west coast for the same period, and then do the same on the east side? The only issue with moving around for us is that we do want to enjoy the island without having to pack our bags every few days. We definitely would like to see the city area but perhaps we should only do that for several days while visiting the east side of the island that is closer, and then spend the rest of our time on the west coast. We like the city life but really want those great ocean views.

I would recommend that you try AirBnb or some other service like that and stay a few and I mean few days at each of the sides of the island to get a feel. Also visit with some of the members of the forum to get their story and why they decided on their side of the island. After that come back and revisit areas that interested you the most.
Driving from the metro area to farther places can take from 1 to 4 hours one way based on distance and traffic so your day would be spend traveling instead of seeing.
Most AirBnb like places let you stay a minimum of a day or two and there are always hotels if there is nothing available.

You could also delay moving and take 1 or more additional trips to really get a feel of the island.

Condado área and Isla Verde puts you in metro and the sea but you are going to pay more for a place, but you will enjoy it all.

Visit with Members hear them out

Welcome to the forum!  Rey's spot on (as usual), and I'm glad to hear that you will dedicate a couple of weeks to your tour.  While it is a small island, it is tremendously diverse, and you will want to take the time to discover the changes in geography, climate and social conditions from region to region.

I was thinking of recommending La Parguera to you, if you are looking for quiet and beautiful views of the Caribbean.  There's also a fairly sizeable expat population there and some condos with tremendous views.  Then again, if frequent international travel is a priority for you, you may want to locate in the NE of the island, for easier access to the airport.

I'd also recommend that you take some time and explore the interior.  I too am focused on properties with easy access to the water (and I'm looking in Cabo Rojo at the moment), but you may discover that the magnificent beauty of the interior steals your heart.  You won't know until you look.

The real estate business in PR has to be experienced to be believed.  I can't explain it, but what you described is the rule, not the exception.  Have patience (I've been in the market for three years now), and chalk it up to the relaxed, informal culture of the Caribbean.  As frustrating as "manana" can be when you are trying to get things done, it's one of the reasons I'm looking to retire to PR.  Grin and bear it!

WarnerW is referring to the why do it today attitude of the island (Mañana).
A lot of people selling property tend to ignore the fact that there are a lot of properties for sale and think instead that they can get a good price like the period around 2005-2006 when all was well and prices were inflated. A typical home is in the market for over a year (sometimes 3) before it is sold and sometimes ends up in the hands of the banks instead because they loose the property before they can sell it.

Not all properties for sale are listed,  a lot of times they just have a sign out front where the owner is selling it himself. Driving around those curvy roads can find you a nice place you were not aware was available.

Watch out for churches close to the property, they tend to be loud and are not contend with just having the church goes hear their sermon and songs.

Also public housing close to the property would likely be bad some have very bad drug issues and fights for territory. While there are very few innocent killings, who wants to drive by when two or more guys want to fight for territory?

Do not expect to be able to turn the property around and sell it for more within 3-5 years. The economy is bad and there is a surplus of Real State. Ten years is a better target. Mean time enjoy the island and get a place you will enjoy for many years regardless of its real state potential.

I end up purchasing a lot next to a house I was planing on Purchasing, that house is still in the market and it has been almost a year since my offer, since then, mine was his best offer and he only received two including mine.

WarnerW and ReyP thank you very much for the input. Agree with all points especially taking the time to see the interior and the don't expect to turn property quickly. We'll definitely do some driving around and through the middle of the island. As for turning a property, this purchase will be a primary residence and maybe one day we will rent it out short term, but the goal is to find something that we will be happy being in for a long time (10+ years). Not that money can't be made in PR but with all the uncertainty with the market, we don't want the stress of playing the real estate rebound game.

I also agree that the "manana" mentality is a perfect fit for retirement living and is one reason why we are looking to PR. Excited and will reach out as it gets closer to January.

Thanks again for the help and now we can tweak our planning even more. Very excited!

Well don't be a stranger, we are here

Was thinking the same thing. Maybe a few in SJ and a few in Ponce.

Riososo :

So happy to know that Amazon is present here! We have Prime so that is a big help!

Yup, being an Amazon Prime customer is a good thing if you live here. Now, don't expect two-day free shipping, being outside the lower 48 that doesn't apply but you will get free (standard) shipping on all Prime items.
What I like the most about buying at Amazon is that you avoid paying the (11.5%) sales tax. :D

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