I love Puerto Rico but just feel very isolated and lonely

Hi everyone, I've lived in Guaynabo for a year now. I love Puerto Rico but just feel very isolated and lonely, more so because of my nonexistent Spanish speaking skills. I'm a social butterfly, so my inability to communicate adequately has truly affected me. Living here has been hard but rewarding all at the same and I sincerely wish I would have found this forum sooner.

People at this forum like to meet others and chat while having a drink or sharing a meal and if lucky they may invite you to their home.
Fairly close to you we have members in Santurce, condado, Old San Juan, Dorado, Luquillo, Rio Grande and Fajardo. Farther of we have members in Hatillo, Aguadilla, Aguada, Ceiba, Humacao, Cabo Rojo, Ponce and other I don't recall.

Thank you Rey.

If ok to ask, how you end up in Guaynabo? Not a common place for a mainlanders.
Check some of my posts about Fluentz for learning Spanish, dedicate at least an hour a week and you will do fine. The more time you spend and the more you repeat each lesson the better you will get at it. My wife repeats the same lesson many times until she is confortable before moving to the next one.
I speak Spanish fluently and was raised inPR but my wife is a mainlander and is learning Spanish but doing well with that course.

I am a teacher at Fort Buchanan and didn't want a long commute so I live less than 10 minutes from the base. I will have to check that out because I definitely need to learn how to speak Spanish.

Welcome to the island, hope you make good friends here and share your experiences with new members in the future.

An hour a week, Rey? Really?

Well. I don't know how busy she is, an hour a day would be much better of course.

Hi tpritty,

I am pretty new to the island too. I was born here, but lived in the US until earlier this year.

I feel you on the isolation somewhat. Although I'm Puerto Rican, I'n not an exact fit. :)
Plus, I'm an IT guy that works from home, so there are weeks I don't leave the house for day, but it's great being able to live here because of the job.

I live down the street in Bayamon if you ever want to check anything out. Yes, I'm a hermit but do pop out from time to time.

Thank you for the invite Islandman. I will definitely take you up on that offer.

Many people in Guaynabo speak English, at least that's my experience. The problem is that Guaynabo is full of gated communities and condominiums with security guards so you don't see a lot of the people out on the streets.
I'm sure there are ways to get in touch with others like social clubs, sports etc. If you don't know the newcomers club yet , here's their website:
Nevertheless learning Spanish would be a good thing, especially if you're planning to stay here.

Welcome to Puerto Rico, i'm pretty much in the same boat as you, I've been here a year now, however, I've learned a lot of Spanish since ive moved here,  The more you're immersed in the society the more Spanish you'll pick up, most people here speak English or broken English, Spanglish.

Happy Thanksgiving all!
I live in Bayamon/Guaynabo line and have for the past 10 years... in a gated urbanization.  And... I work from home most days and it can get isolating for sure.  Another way to meet people other than the Newcomers Club, which I have been a member in the past... is meetup groups in PR.  Find your interest and sign up and start to meet people.  It appears most of the groups are in English and there is a nice variety of things to do.  My profession does not demand that I speak Spanish, although after 18 years here I do... My friends, clients and activities I go to are in English.  Anybody that wants to chat in English or get some tips I am happy to help you.   Enjoy the Island!

That I believe is which has a lot of meetup activities in the mainland and some in PR. You can create your own meet ups there, you can also create some in this board.
Also check out for activities and if you participate you will meet locals and expats, likely most will speak some or fairly good English. Eco activities are also good way to meet others.

Here is a publication of things happening in the island, unfortunately it is in Spanish maybe somebody can help you with it.
In PR we love our music, dancing, our patrons and holidays, even the dog birthday is a good excuse for a party or festival.

Thanks! for your post.. I've been living in PR for about a year. 
At times, I too feel isolated because of the language barrier.

IF you ever want to grab a cup of coffee... let me know.  :)

Linda, Not sure if you are referring to me or someone else. Either way I try to meet members when I come visit to check on the property and deal with my family and friends in the island

I was replying to the initial poster BUT I  am up to meeting everyone over a cup of cafe.  :)

There you go tpritty, you got yourself another invitation.!!!!!!

Perhaps you could take a Spanish class? I did a quick Google search and found this Inlingua. I have no idea if this place is any good or not. It's in Guaynabo.

I've been living in Rosario, Argentina for more than 2 years now. Although I'm fortunate that many of the people I'm surrounded by know English, I still have felt out of the loop when I'm sitting around in conversations because they talk so fast and I can't keep up. I try to take these times to train my ear and my brain to understand the conversation without constantly translating. It gets very frustrating, but it's necessary.

I've been studying consistently since I've been here and am getting better every day, although not nearly as adept at the language as I had hoped. One of the cool things I did is take an Spanish class in the center of Rosario. That's why I posted that link above. There I met people from all over the globe and it was interesting to hear the reasons why they ended up in Rosario. And it made me feel better knowing I wasn't the only one struggling to get a grasp on a new language.

One thing that has held me back, like I mentioned earlier, is that so many people around me know English that I tend to fall back on that. Recently I've told a number of people to only speak to me in Spanish because I think that's a big reason why I'm not currently better than I am. I mention this because I suggest you embrace the new language and look at it as a challenge. Really, you are in the best position to be learning the language since you are immersed in it.

Good luck to you!

Join newcomers group! join book club on mommies and daddies playgroup on facebook! join! go to spanish class!   There are lots of ways to meet people, but it takes quite a bit of effort. message me if you need more information on any of these - I do all of them.

There is a Meetup Group called Books, Coffee and Conversation. The next meeting is December 1.  Also, you could invite some of us on this forum to a get-together.  University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras continuing education has Spanish classes.  I go square dancing on Monday evenings in Rio Piedras (I know, this is a bit funky!)

Have not done square dancing in many many years. I will likely join you when I move to PR.

That's not funky at all. I love square dancing.

I have done most of these. Spanish class at UPR, part of several meetups, book club, etc..

I meet people but most eventually leave PR (within a year) and go back to the states.

I just went to book club tonight in Condado with women from 30-70 years old, from all parts of the world, here in PR anywhere from 3 months - 21 years.  Most only speak a little spanish. everyone is welcome!

I like square dancing, too. But any kind of dancing is good. I'm all about Latin dancing. In VSJ, I can just walk out the door and there will be dancing, and I just join it. Music, dance and art are universal. You don't have to speak the language to share.

That sounds awesome! Thank you

The subject of this thread is extremely relevant to me.  I now live in San Francisco, CA, am nearing retirement age, and would like to eventually relocate to south of the border.  Among my places of interest are PR, Chile, and the DR.  Apart from overcoming isolation in general, the language barrier is one of my biggest feared obstacles to assimilating into a foreign, Spanish-speaking culture.  It is frightening to think of having to transact all business and social interactions in a foreign language.  I've been studying Spanish for over 10 years, but being able to understand and speak it fluently is another matter.  I can understand English even if one is mumbling, but, unless a speaker slows down and enunciates, I have incredible trouble understanding Spanish.  Part of this problem seems to be is that Spanish tends to be spoken softly and without the natural forcefulness of English.  The other problem is the thousands of words of vocabulary that don't know but that I would have learned if I had attended a Spanish-speaking grade school.  One thing that has helped recently is watching VeMe TV, an off-the-air educational station, with the subtitles turned on, but even this is often hard to keep up with.  Surprisingly, I've had recent experiences in which I have understood several sentences without even having to translate them in my head first!  If I could overcome this obstacle, it would open up whole new worlds for me.

I had the same issue when I first got to the states and trying to understand all the different accents from each state.

The problem with fast speech is because you are not yet familiar with the language enough to think in the language. I now think in English when I speak it and in Spanish when I speak Spanish, I no longer translate between them. That will come over time. I used to read a dictionary from cover to cover to increase my vocabulary, and reading books in subjects that interested me. Commercials are also good to learn the language. Take an old movie in English where you know the words almost from memory and watch it again in Spanish. Many tricks.

But being immersed in the language will take you far.

In PR we also shorten words like PUEDO (can), we sometimes instead say PUEO, where we drop the D. D dropping is common. This makes it easier to speak faster but makes it harder for non natives.

Jamesj24, the question that I'd like to ask you is why do you want to move away from San Francisco.
Are you looking for a better climate? Do you have less to spend when retired or are you looking for a better bang for the buck?

Thing is that moving to another country is a big step and the older we humans get the more difficult it is to adjust to a complete different life. Now, I'm not saying it's not doable but you need a strong reason and the will to succeed to leave your life behind and start all over.
Having to cope with another language is only one thing. You will have to find out everything that  you need on a daily basis. How to deal with getting a place to live, how to get utilities connected, where to buy your favorite ...(whatever). Getting a bank account, which government office do you need for this or that, how to deal with getting a driver's license, if it's a foreign country how to deal with entry and residence permits.
Find a doctor, hospital, pharmacy, the meds you need.The list goes on and on.

Then, are you going alone or are you coming with a partner who will stand next to you?
Unless you or your partner have family in the new place it's going to be a challenge to build a complete new social circle.

Like I said,  there has to be strong reason to leave your place and move to another country.

Now, as you know, Puerto Rico is USA so a lot of the formalities are easier for you.
Still, this feels like a different country, not only because of the language.
You could take a look at Rincon (or "Gringoville" as some call it :D) because there are quite some US Americans who live there part time or full time and it will be easier to make some new acquaintances who speak English. In Palmas del Mar on the east side of the island you can get along with English as well, the same goes for areas like f.i. Condado, Old San Juan and Guaynabo in the metro area.

Then, like Rey said, immersion is the only way to get fluent in a language. BTDT more than once (with English, German and Spanish - Dutch is my mother tongue). Move to a place and start talking, that's the best way. :)

ReyP :

In PR we also shorten words like PUEDO (can), we sometimes instead say PUEO, where we drop the D. D dropping is common. This makes it easier to speak faster but makes it harder for non natives.

Yeah.. it took me quite a while to understand stuff like " Y no hago ma' na', ma' na' ". I'm still not fluent but I'm getting there. :D

I am learning Spanish but will never be fluent.  I am still challenged by the subjunctive tense of verbs, but I was able to communicate my needs in the hospital emergency room.  Most of my encounters are in Spanglish.  It is very common here where I live in Puerto Rico.  Ninety-eight per cent of the time this is good enough.   Ordering drive-through fast food orders is a challenge,and I do this for fun.  Just today, I asked my neighbor to help me telephone the plumber, but once he is here we will be able to communicate.  I am a volunteer at a thrift shop. This is a great way to hear everyday Spanish.

Gary :
ReyP :

In PR we also shorten words like PUEDO (can), we sometimes instead say PUEO, where we drop the D. D dropping is common. This makes it easier to speak faster but makes it harder for non natives.

Yeah.. it took me quite a while to understand stuff like " Y no hago ma' na', ma' na' ". I'm still not fluent but I'm getting there. :D

Expanding on his example: "Y no hago ma' na', ma' na' "
Corrected Spanish (no abbreviation) would be: Y no hago mas nada, mas nada
Translation: And I do no more, no more.

We tend not to enunciate so our mouth do not open much and we are ready for the next sound, by shortening the words we speak even faster. A lot of people also tend to write it the way they speak it. But when speaking correctly, you will not see these abbreviations and not everyone does it any way.

Gary not many have the ability to speak that many languages, (pad on the back).

What killed me in the states were all the old folks sayings and the accents, however after 43 years they are no longer an issue. Sarcasm in English for many years was hard because I took everything literally due to translation, and things did not quite compute, so I always had a perplexed expression on my face.

@Frogrock I fully agree with you. Spanglish is working almost always. I found that 99.9% of the non English speakers here on the island are happy when you try to speak Spanish and Spanglish works just great. Plus that there's always somebody around who speaks some English and they're glad to help.

To be honest, I had a harder time in the German speaking part of Europe. Some people would hear the (Dutch) accent in my German and decide they didn't understand me even though my German was (and still is) pretty much fluent.

ReyP :

We tend not to enunciate so our mouth do not open much and we are ready for the next sound, by shortening the words we speak even faster. A lot of people also tend to write it the way they speak it.

Oy vey!

It is also the Jibaro/Campesino/Hillbilly way of speaking. Even the governor as good and proper, every so often fall into his Jibaro speech.

Yeah, been living in El Campo for almost 15 years now and I'm surrounded by Jibaros. :)

(just to make sure, I take jibaros any time over city suits)

:) I am a jibaro we are proud of it, specially during the holidays.

The short answer to your question about why I am trying to relocate from San Francisco is that I am seeking an older, simpler style of life that other countries seem to offer.  I appreciate all of the complexities of moving to a different city, much less a different country, language, and culture.  Years ago, a wise man suggested that I consider PR when I expressed a desire to live abroad, mostly because PR is a U.S. territory, with basically the same laws and constitutional rights, and political stability.  He himself had attended college at the University of PR in San Juan and spoke fondly of his memories of San Juan, PR as a beautiful place. 

My concerns are also financial.  I am approaching retirement and am concerned about the extraordinarily inflationary cost of living in San Francisco.  I am aware that there are many places to live that are as beautiful and as interesting as SF that are much more affordable.   I am a also concerned about the U.S.' political and social stability.  There is a growing polarization between the poor and wealthy classes that has resulted in a noticeable increase in violent crimes.   Many wealthy people in the SF Bay area are choosing to live in gated communities because of the increase in crime.  For me, this would be like living in a prison.  After reading about the gated communities in PR, however, I am not sure that it would be any safer.  Longer term, I am worried about the increasing risk of terrorism as a result of the U.S.' continued involvement in the Middle East.  Basically, I am looking for a place that is almost never in the news, like Chile, or other places in South America.  Generally, the U.S. seems to consider everything south of the border as insignificant! 

Speaking of Chile, I am attracted to low-cost places that offer a mild, Mediterranean climate similar to California's.  There exist places in the Caribbean that, due to their high altitude (approaching 10,000 feet), have moderate, Mediterranean-type climates.  Of course, with that comes the tropical risks of scorpions, fire ants, alligators, snakes, and hurricanes. 

The central coastal region of Chile seems most interesting as its climate mirrors California's, though with a lower cost of living, and less social degeneration.  The downside is that it is so far away.  Distance might make it harder to adjust and maintain ties to the U.S. for things like pension, medical insurance, and social security.  It is a long trip home, but a good Internet connection make distance less of a problem for accomplishing normal financial transactions like inter-bank transfers of money. 

For now, I want to travel to PR, Chile and the Dominican Republic (DR), spend a few weeks or months there, and discover first hand what living there is really like.  Many countries like the DR and Chile have had a history of long term political instability, or at least 30+ years of dictatorship and political atrocities.  Once having relocated there and re-established myself, it will not be easy to simply pull up and run without the likelihood of significant economic losses.  That's why I would like to travel and spend some time in those places before moving there permanently.  If nothing else, I will get a few good vacations out of the experience.  I'm hoping that I will discover something there that ignites a passion that makes moving there worthwhile.

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