Evaluating places to live in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands


We are a couple from NYC looking to relocate in a few years. We are in our late 40s and we plan to work, not retire (yet). We are trying to read, learn, ask as much as we can about PR (mostly West side), and US VI. Renting an apartment or buying a small house would be ideal. We would like to be near the beach, in a community that has some activities and cultural events, and of course friendly people.

We are coming to PR last week of August 2017. Would really like to meet some "expats" and locals and hear their stories and advice. Most of our time will be in Rincon, with few days in Fajardo.

Thank you!

If you want to see Palmas del Mar in Humacao, let me know. It is about one half hour south of Fajardo.

Hi Lillym6,
Welcome to the forum and hopefully Puerto Rico soon.
I would recommend to rent for 6-12 months before you consider buying a property. This will let you try the island, see if it is for you, decide where you want to live and how well you can adapt to a Spanish run country. While there are English speaking people in the island (mainlanders and locals) you can not count on them being there or being sufficiently proficient to help you out.

I do have one concern ...... Puerto Rico unemployment is high, around 15% compared to the US 4.3%, also most jobs require you to be fluent in Spanish. If you can keep your mainland job and do it remotely you can do great, if you are looking for a local job, your chances are rather slim.

We also have a lively Facebook group called "Expats In Puerto Rico" that I run and people from all over the island frequent. It is mostly for socializing but you can ask questions about the island, however I must warn you that we are VERY strict about no advertising or anything that smells like it in that Facebook group..

This site is the place to do research and ask for help, so you are in the right place. We have lots of threads that are searchable in forum so there is a good chance that almost any question has been answered already. Members come in an out of this forum so sometimes it may be a few days before you get answers that is why searching is always faster.
Good luck, let me know if I can help

Palmas is a lovely place and we have 3 to 5 members in that community. We also have members around Luquillo which seems to be an interest to you. The West, North and the East of the island has most of our members. We only have a few in the south.

I been told that US virgin island properties and cost of living is higher than in Puerto Rico, I could be misinformed. Also there is less land mass so it is likely more crowded.

Ray, yes, you are right. That's why we want to visit all of these places and see for ourselves. We've been to PR and we are learning Spanish right now. If anyone else wants to know about our experiences, we would be happy to share after September (when we come back from all 3 islands).
I think it's important to distinguish between retirees and people looking for a job like us. Obviously it's much easier to retire and have safety, than looking for a job and health insurance and all other things . That's why we want to take a few years and do lots of research before we decide.

Great. I will send you a message couple of days before. Big thank you!

Good luck, Lillym6. As you two need to find employment, you're plan to relocate to PR will probably fail. I don't say that to be insensitive. But please understand that your chances of finding a job that pays you enough to live beyond paycheck to paycheck are very slim. In fact, your chances of finding a job at all are very slim. As I've said before, don't move to PR unless you already have a job contracted for or you have sufficient passive income to live without needing one.

There are some big companies near me, such as Microsoft and Bristol,Meyers.  Just like anywhere else, your chance of getting a job will depend on what these companies need. Lawyers do not have much of a chance here. It is not as big a business as in the states.  Many of realtors I know are former lawyers.

I am hoping to do an exploratory stay in PR this winter of 2017/2018. I am alone and would love to find people interested in showing me around. I am happy to pay within reason.
  I am interested in living in the cooler regions in the mountains, not in a city, but not too far from one. I want to have land to farm and raise some critters.
Any suggestions about where to stay in a clean and quite place for my stay would be great!  I am concerned about being a single gringa woman and being on my own completely.

welcome no2nwo

When will you visit?  We have nice farmland in our area (NW coast), many people that live a few miles inland from the coast and in the higher ground raise chickens,  cows, pigs, etc, as well as vegetable and flower gardens.    Plan to spend several days driving around looking at possible locations.

You may want to look into Las Marias, it is in the west coast, close to Rincon where many expats live, it is an agriculture area with a few gringos and inexpensive land. Depending on where, you are 20-30 minutes from a beach.

Use this map to orient yourself and learn a little about every town in PR.

As to places to stay, I recommend using AirBnb, stay a day or 3 in every area you are considering, drive around the back roads and look for "Se Vende" signs.

Learn the island before you commit to purchase, you don't want to make an expensive mistake.

Welcome to the forum and hopefully Puerto Rico.

Agree with Rey re airbnb. Try to stay away from the hotels. They are very expensive (although I once stayed in a motel in Isla Verde for about $35 per night if I remember correctly - room had no windows at all).

Thank you for your kind suggestions!  Being near a beach is not so important to me,but not being too hot or humid is.  I felt to explore areas where the climate is the coolest and good for organic agriculture.

no2nwo :

Thank you for your kind suggestions!  Being near a beach is not so important to me,but not being too hot or humid is.  I felt to explore areas where the climate is the coolest and good for organic agriculture.

Central part of the island then is the place to go, you need not go far in. As the birds flies you can not be farther than 18 miles from the sea since the island is only 35 miles wide. However with the curvy roads it can take a while to come down to sea level. Good dirt up there and inexpensive land. Plenty of rivers and waterfalls to cool you down.

Look at towns around El Yunque.

The Utuado area is also nice but not as consistently cool as it is around El Yunque (doesn't rain as much though).

Just wondering, comparing the north side v the south side of the island,  I'm guessing the north gets more rain.  The south side includes an arid zone in the SW part of the island.  So, is that a consideration for someone interested in vegetable gardening?  e.g. If I wanted to grow peppers and tomatoes for market, where on the island is the best micro climate?   :unsure

no2nwo :

I felt to explore areas where the climate is the coolest and good for organic agriculture.

You may want to have a look at Aibonito. It's up in the mountains and it holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in PR (40F in 1911). The yearly average temps can be found here: … n=USPR0006
A link that might interest you about a Puerto Rican woman who runs an organic farm in Aibonito is here: … erto-rico/

When I was in The area around el yunc it was very hot wet and humid.  I seek a less hot and humid environment,
   I think the central mts is where I will look.

no2nwo :

... hot and humid environment

That's a pretty accurate description of Puerto Rico's climate.  ;)

Southwest, around Guanica, is known as a dry climate.

Thank you for this lead. It is right up my ally!!

frogrock :

Southwest, around Guanica, is known as a dry climate.

Well.....  average around 75% humidity: … co/us.aspx

It is a matter of getting acclimated to it. Most of the time humidity does not bother me even when I just visit. As time goes by it should be less of an issue, but it may take years.

Even as a native I am fairly white but tan in 2 to 3 days which offers me protection quickly since I have the melanin already. I never wear sun block, my wife uses it but I don't.

Several of our members are very white but they have build a nice tan over the years.

But the sun does age your skin, so it is a good idea to pamper your skin. EV factor is much higher than in most states since the sun is more direct in PR. Also dark glasses help a lot it is a lot brighter.

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