Looking to retire in Puerto Rico

Hi, my husband and I are retired in BC Canada and would like to retire or live 6 months or maybe year round in Puerto Rico.
As a Canadian what is the medical insurance like? My husband has early Parkinson.What is the crime rate and is it safe living in PR? I hear great reviews from vacationers but that's not the same as living there.
I also heard about high drug traffic in PR is this true.Would you advise to come live in PR?
What is the cost of living like?
Can someone give me honest reply?Thanks Rikkie

So many things can be said about moving to PR. In my opinion none positive. If you really want to make the move, I respectfully suggest to please have your head examined.

Thanks for your honest reply, I have read the blogs for a while now and I thought because we do not need work just buy a small home with a piece of land we should be fine.
Maybe I will look towards a different country or Island preferably in the Caribbean, a sunny spot.I was planning to make the move on Jan 11/2012. but maybe I will cancel.
Thanks again. Rikkie.

Dear Rikkie,
This is verbatim what I wrote to thepogo but it just the same can apply to your situation.

Before coming to PR please, and with all due respect I tell you, go and have your head examined. This is not, I repeat not the place to be, with all the skills you have mentioned I suggest you check out someplace like Costa Rica first. Sorry if I burst you bubble, but life here is HARD. And being from BC I imagine there will be the additional factor of culture shock. This , my friend is not a nice place. Daily life is a struggle and like the old American west, it's basically lawless and only the strong (ie corrupt) survive. I was just having a conversation with my wife just today. And it's so sad that living in such an environment how one must adjust to living here. At first one tries to rise above the daily grind and the injustices that one witnesses everyday, but the sad part is that sooner or later you MUST go down the the level of society here, because if you dont. You will be left behind and in many cases I know first hand of, fight for food on a daily basis. I guess what I'm saying is that this is not for the feint of heart. When it's eat or be eaten, you learn how to eat real fast. But then again this is just my opinion.


Thanks again for your info I was a bit shocked to hear your side as many people I talked to a lot of people who told me how wonderful PR is. Some have purchased revenue property as well.But as you mentioned,living in PR will probably be a culture shock for us.We don't speak Spanish either.

There are many people who love living here; I'm one of them. I've been here for 10 years now and I'm still happy to be here.

Having said that I don't close my eyes for the down sides.
Yes, the homicide rate is very high here, 4 times the national average of the USA. Most of the murders are drugs/crime related though and if you're not living in or close to a public housing project you will only learn about the killings from the newspapers/TV.

Spanish is the language here and if you don't speak it you'll have a hard time communicating with many locals. Some of them do speak (some) English but many don't (or pretend no to).

Like others wrote in other threads, before you think of making the move spend as much time here as you can and get a feeling for what life's about.

The cost of living is comparable to the USA and some things (cars f.i.) are more expensive here.

Medical care generally isn't as good as you are used to in Canada and it might be difficult to find an insurance, especially with pre-existing conditions.

Hospitals-  My 25 year old step daughter lives in Ponce where medical facilities are better than most places. She went to the hospital last week to have her gall bladder removed. The operation went well and everything worked out just fine. But during her two day stay we had to purchase things like a bed pan, washcloth and towels, soap and anything else that was needed because the hospital doesn't provide that stuff. If your loved one needs to be bathed in bed during their stay, or needs any other type of non medical attention, you have to do it. Otherwise they won't get taken care of. Having Parkinsons and living in PR will be considerably more difficult. Medical facilities and care are not usually at the same level as you are used to. But for the people living in the states, most times you can at least get medical care here that you can afford. I went to a doctor shortly after I got here and was charged $15 for an office visit. The downside is that in a lot of places you might have to wait six or 8 hours to see a doctor.

Thank you both Gary and Gregg for your replies.
I do understand about the crime rate. If you stay close to home and don't venture out you will probably be safe. But its just unnerving to know that if we go for a drive one day and get lost, what may or can happen to us if we end up in a "wrong" area. I know a lot of people love PR and live there as well. But by now you know the language,area and culture. This may be a difficult time to make the move.Especially with a husband who has Parkinsons. I am very disappointed as I was about to book a trip in January and ready to purchase a small house possibly in Moca PR.I don't know anyone in PR was just tagging along with a friend who is visiting.Also no Spanish.I guess we are too old for this kind of adventure.
Gregg I noticed you are in Moca, that's the area we were looking at.but I don't think I would be able to handle the hospital situation. I got a quote from a PR medical insurance it wasn't too bad since the Sinemet CR would be the only expensive medicine for Parkinsons and cost a little less in PR than in Canada.I'm just very concerned to live in a country/island that I could possibly be an innocent victim or bystander.If I happen to shop or just be out at night for entertainment.I don't want to be cautious all the time, retirement is relaxation, not to have to worry all the time.
Or hear about the country that you now live in is one of the worst in crime.
I don't know if I'll find paradise in the sun, nothing is perfect. But if I know what's out there I should at least try and avoid it.
Thanks again.Rikkie

Hi Riki,
There are many great areas to retire in here in pr depending on the lifestyle you are looking for.  LUQUILLO IS A BEACH community with great views , wonderful beache areas and restaurants.  Condado is more urban with culture, healthcare, shopping everything only blocks from the ocean. Rio mar. HUMACAO, Fajardo all are beachy with lots if winterbirds from the mainland and Canada.
there is crime and most of it is drug related; as with any place you live you stay away from places that are questionable.
PR is a lovely place to live; frustrating at times but friendly and worth the trip.

Rikki, please remember this is
America for better or worse.  You are protected by the American government. This is not true in DR, Costa Rica etc. This negative feedback is NOT universal: most doctors are mainland trained.  Of course if you go to a local walkin clinic you get what you get; my Vet is a Cornel grad for god sakes!!

Please visit, spend the winter, take you time and buy after you are sure what kjnd of a lifestyle you want.  It's not paradise but close to it!!

Rikkie: I used to live in PR. Yes, drug crime is a big issue in PR, mainly in the metropolitan area, but if you are not involved in it, you should not have a problem. I recommend to research as much as possible about areas. Living in the country side is more calmed and people are very friendly. There are many areas where a lot of americans reside like Luquillo, Rincon, Cabo Rojo. Again, this takes a lot of research. Going out for nightlife is not a good idea, especially in the metro area (San Juan, Bayamon, Guaynabo). But if you just want to buy a small piece of land in the mountains and live modestly, you'll be OK.

I am a senior citizen from Florida  and such would receive Medicare in P.R.  I spent 3 weeks in San Juan and I went solo.  I had a wonderful time.  The people are friendly and helpful.  I wrote several articles on HubPages.com about why I love Puerto Rico.

I moved here in early Feb. and love it.  I live in Ocean Park, Condado and Ocean Park are relatively crime-free except for occasional petty theft or other smash and grab type things from what I have seen.  It all depends on the area, and your life experience. I know nothing about suburban living or living outside of a large city, so can't comment on moving from BC to here.  I wouldn't live anywhere else.  I know nothing about drugs, and the crime associated with all that is in the ghetto towns.  It's just like Boston or NYC, if you live in Midtown you probably aren't going to get gunned down by a drug runner, but if you live in the Bronx you might have problems.   Same here.  Best to check it out yourselves, but if you don't absolutely love latin culture, florida might be a better fit.

Hey, I was born in San Juan but grew up  on the Mainland. We'll bee ready to retire in a couple of years. We'll be living on fixed income and will likely be renters. I don't want to hassle living in big cities so I don't mind living in the country. My wife also speaks Spanish and we are familiar with the culture, lifestyle, foods, etc. We absolutely love the island and find the people friend and welcoming. I'll be looking for a rental in the 500-600 range unfurnished. any thoughts?

Best opotions to Retire in Puerto Rico are Dorado which is 20 minutes from San Juan. Palmas de Mar resort community in Humacao.
Isabela, Aguadilla, Cabo Rojo and Rincon are also nice places to retire.

DavidPR wrote:

Best opotions to Retire in Puerto Rico are Dorado which is 20 minutes from San Juan. Palmas de Mar resort community in Humacao.
Isabela, Aguadilla, Cabo Rojo and Rincon are also nice places to retire.

Hi David: I am a PR expat. Have been to rincon many times and love it. seems reasonaably priced too. also been to Palmas some years ago. Seemed to much like US. Been to Cabo Rojo, love the beach there. Good location, too. we've been tracking rents on craigs list. we're close to deciding: either PR or Pacific northwest.
Joe kC.


I love Rincon too! If you love a small town feel on the beach, Rincon is the place. In fact there is a big American exp. community in the Rincon, Aguadilla, Isabela area.

Another advantage of the area are the affordable, fairly priced housing prices.

Greetings from Puerto Rico!

I wanted to respond to Rikkie and encourage him/her to visit Puerto Rico and make a decision based on facts and not the opinions of others.  People concoct biased opinions based on one unfortunate incident or hearsay.  Do not be guided by that; Puerto Rico is just as safe as any other large city in the USA - if you're not involved in criminal activity, crime and violence will not touch you. People are super generous and friendly, always seeing the good in humanity and just about everyone in most larger cities and towns, speaks some English. You will not feel lost or out of place.

Make your own decisions based on your experiences there. Hope you make the move...maybe we'll meet up when I make my move! 


Rikki was going to move (or not) in January 2012.....

Good morning...thanks for standing up for "La Isla del Encanto".  All the Northwest is absolutely beautiful.  I am originally from Isabela - one of the most, if not the most beautiful city in the island - and Isabela certainly remains one of the cities that I will continue to research as a good retirement destination. I need to have many "things" in place before I make my decision.
Thanks for the response - Rikkie certainly deserves to know the good side of Puerto Rico so correct decisions can be made.

Hasta pronto,

I agree, the Northwest is a beautiful area.

The point I was trying to make is that Rikkie must have made her decision to move here or not more than two years ago.
She either lives here or decided not to move to PR.

Apart from that, in order to make a good decision one needs to look at both positive and negative aspects.

Hi Gary, my "fair and balanced friend". I had a friend tell me something years ago that I'll never forget. It applies to many situations in life with people. It goes like this "You can easily drive a bullet through a 1/2" steel plate by just merely pulling the trigger on the gun. But sometimes no matter what you do it's impossible to drive a thought through a 1/4" of bone." Happy 3 Kings Day.

Thanks Gary...I did get your point the first time. I'm just thinking that, like me who has been looking at places for over two years now, they might still be undecided and looking. All is well and still researching.

Buenas tarde,

Hi Gregg! I hear you ;)
Happy Three Kings Day to you as well. Big party going on here in the mountains of Eastern Puerto Rico!

Well said, we have been living in Quebradillas which on the Northwest part of the island now for two years and love it. Your comments are correct for any place you make home, Unfortunantly some people in their desire to be helpful only point out the negative side of things. Life is what you make it and so are your surroundings. Good luck to you and when you make the move please contact us.

Thanks for your support of the island. Quebradillas is another beautiful city, especially as you are driving all along those curves overlooking Guajataca and entering Isabela.  My grandmother was born in Quebradillas - I remember it so well.

Wishing you all the best in this New Year!

Saludos a Quebradillas!

Hi Hector, I agree with you wholeheartedly about making it your own wherever you go.  Once you find that spot that is to be your home.  I am so glad that you found yours. We still have a few months here in the cold of the northeast, then we will venture down there and look for our paradise in the sun. 

Not sure yet, where we will land but I am sure that we will find somewhere good to continue our lives.  I'm not sure if it will be in the West of the island, but have considered it since my hubby was stationed at Ramey many years ago and likes that area, besides he still has family in San German.  I am more prone to look in the Fajardo/Luquillo area but we will see what happens.

Keep on keeping on.

I currently live in Columbus, Ohio and cannot stand to watch the local news here.  There is so much crime here that there are always people getting robbed, shot and killed.  I do not think people in Puerto Rico realize how bad the crime here is.  Thirty years ago, crime was not bad here.  Now it is terrible, so I do not think that Puerto Rico is so much more dangerous than other places in the U.S.  Crime and drugs are very bad lots of places in the U.S,. but just as the news here in this city does not tell me about the crime other places in the U.S outside of Ohio, people in Puerto Rico probably do not hear about how bad the crime is other places in the U.S.  Please do not think that we are that much better than other places as far as crime goes, because I think that is not the case.  I certainly would not want people from Puerto Rico to move to Ohio just because they thought there would be less crime, because I fear in such a case those people would be very disappointed.  I have known several people who visited Puerto Rico and told me it was very safe there.  I could not visit Costa Rica for even one day without being robbed by my taxi driver!

Doctor visits here cost a whole lot more than $15!  As far as wait time goes, I had to wait 2 weeks for a doctor's appointment here in Columbus, Ohio.  I could not wait that long and had to go to the Emergency Room where I was diagnosed with pneumonia!   $15 is a real bargain for a doctor visit!

Thanks for the good advice!

There are places in Columbus, Ohio where I am not sure it would be safe for a woman to walk alone down the street in broad daylight.  I would not try it.  It sounds to me like it is just a matter of what you are comparing Puerto Rico to.  At least there are no icy roads there and there certainly are here!

There certainly are places in Puerto Rico where a woman shouldn't walk alone day or night but that is the same with any city in the U.S.  You just have to be aware of your surroundings and not act all scared and stuff. I am not saying act all tough but know where you are going or at least act like you do.  I have lived in NY all of my life except for a few times living in other cities and I still am always aware of where I am and who is near me.  Maybe it comes with age because when I was young, I went everywhere with not a care in the world and thank God that nothing happened to me but now I  know not to go certain places and at certain times.

As far as the icy roads are concerned, that is what I am trying to get away from also.  We plan on moving down in a couple of months and look forward to the nice clean roads and warm temperatures.

We are also looking to retire there and I welcome all the advice given on this forum and blogs but I also look at some of the warnings with a grain of salt and hope for the best when we get there.  Good Luck.


best of luck to you tonie. I hope your hopes and expectations are met or exceeded when you make your move. You are right about always being aware of your surroundings. That applies  to just about anywhere you go anymore. My wife is Puerto Rican and when we moved there she taught me a few things. Being aware was the first. But she also suggested to not be flashy and draw attention to yourself (as in lots of jewelry and driving a fancy car). She also suggested to just act naturally as you go about your business and don't show signs of fear or paranoia. Act like you belong and you will just blend in. When I was there most of the people thought I was native. Never once had a problem (well, except when I had to confront my neighbor with the baseball bat who was looking to kill all the dogs in the neighborhood). Speaking of which, it would be nice if you could carry around a bag of dog food and some water in your car and show some kindness once in awhile to the many strays there.

I agree with Gregg, ALOT of stray dogs in PR, too bad u see alot of them dead on the highway aswell :(

The good news though is that there are a lot of animal rescue organizations popping up and they are beginning to make a difference. It's still a huge problem and it will still take many years for any real tangible results but something is finally being done. Seek out the rescue organizations. If you can donate please do. If you can't, then foster an animal. If you can't do that, spread the word or volunteer.

Check out Playa Azul in Luquillo we did and love it

I'm Brittish canadian and I would like to move to porto rico. I'm buying my retirement home there.My girlfriend was there and she loves it there. What is the best route that I can go. All help would be appreciated.

Before you take your final decision you should spend (quite) some time here yourself and see if you like it, too.

Then, this island being a US territory, you should investigate how you can get a "green card" (permanent resident card): www.uscis.gov

Hi everybody,

As this topic is very old, i am therefore closing it.

Thanks and regards


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