Living in Guaynabo

Hello.  I'm new to this forum. I have found the information here quite useful. Only surprise is there seems to be a bit more polarized views on living in PR versus other expats blogs I've read.

My wife and I are considering a move to PR for a few years. I would be moving to a new job with my company. We have two kids age 10 and 14. None of us speak Spanish. Private school would be a mandatory ...likely Baldwin from what I've read.

Any comments on what it's like to live in Guaynabo? Will we have issues getting without Spanish. Is the area safe...this is our primary concern. Is the expat community strong?

Thanks in advance for any comments.

Hi, trn.

Guaynabo is the most American-ish neighborhood in PR. Nicer neighborhoods; very suburban layouts. It has the best roads in the metro area and has done a decent job of keeping things nice, like having several palm-tree lined streets with fresh road paint. It also has what seems to be the greatest concentration of US-chain eateries in PR. Traffic is god-awful, though there is nothing strange about that in the San Juan area.

Is it safe? Hmmmm, nowhere is really safe in PR except for Culebra. I remember reading about how a young couple sitting on a bench in a quite Guaynabo neighborhood were gunned down last year for no known motive. Of course, the perpetrators were not caught. They almost never are. So you have all of these murderers running around free on the streets. They have absolutely no respect for the value of human life whatsoever and they know the chances of them getting caught are extremely small (unless the murder is domestic violence).

My experience is that the expat community is not strong but perhaps others have a different take on this. I believe there is at least one group of expats that has posted on this forum somewhere. I never actually sought out expats so my take on this question is not well informed (although I did come across them individually in the course of my work).

Thanks for the very quick response. Your story on the shooting is a bit scary. Most of what I've been told or read is that you will be fairly safe if you are not involved in the drug trade and stay out of certain areas.  Not sure what to make of it. As for expats, I assumed given the proximity of the Baldwin school, there would be a bit of a network.

Felicidades....does your company offer a relocation package including cultural orientation? It would be a great advantage for you and your family. Cartus, Hansa one, DeanFoster and myself all offer well balanced cultural orientations which your company should offer. Pls let me know if I can help.  The negatives you read here would probably be negative where evere they live.

The company will provide Orientation and undoubtedly already have a company they use.  What we are trying to do now is decide do we really want to make this move.  We have not made a final decision so are still in consideration mode.

It will be a wonderful experience! Life here is not perfect but
them where is it? People are friendly and since it is USA you will have
Have the best of noth worlds

Make the will be a great experience for the whole family. Make sure you take advantage of the orientation services your company offers. Hopefully i will be your facilitator
happy holidays!!

I concur with WereMovingWHERE!- this lifestyle is wonderful.

Stories of murder and robbery, hmmm, sounds like every other place in the world where you turn on the TV. NOPE. Puerto Rico is not a third world country. LOL. It is as safe as any other state in America. period.

Guaynabo is beautiful! Some of the best and most lavish gated communities in San Juan are there. Gorgeous homes, cliff side, incredible architecture, communities are all Latin, international and American in nature, and all mixed. Most in Guaynabo communities are English speaking (whether first or second language) The malls for shopping are everywhere. I have several friends and family members who own properties in the various gated communities there. They are beautiful!
Go online and check out HomesPoint2. search Guaynabo Homes so you can get a feel. Guaynabo is 15 minutes from San Juan ( I live in Condado and took classes in Guaynabo, so it was part of my daily commute) and it is an easy straight shot on one freeway.

St Johns and the Robinson school in San Juan are incredible Private schools there.

Hope to see you soon in our communities! You will find that if you have visited California, Puerto Rico will remind you of the same energy!
Best of luck!!

My husband's office is in Guaynabo....  So, that's where we primarilly looked at houses.  We also liked the LOOKS of Baldwin.

People said Dorado was amazing, but the commute was terrible.  We almost didn't even go look at the area.  But that's where we ended up! After 3 years I can say it was the best choice we made!

We have 3 kids who go to Tasis - a private international school.  Very good!  It's small, safe and the kids are great!  We live in an amazing neighborhood  (walk to the beach) and there a loads of expats.  I feel very safe in our "Dorado Bubble."  We hardly ever leave Dorado because it is paradise. 

I cant say that for other areas.  When looking in Guaynabo, the rents were high, there wasn't much garden/yard and very few had pools.  I also don't know how "safe" it is with kids.  We are in an amazing neighborhood, 4 golf courses, waterpark, private beach and the kids have loads of activities.... completely safe, they can ride their bikes/golf carts everywhere. 

Most people speak English - not a problem here!  And my husband doesn't mind the commute/exchange for where we live.  Its also a great place to make contacts/dr.s ect.... they all live HERE!

If you need any help finding a school/house/or generally need help, give us a jingle.  We have lived as expats for nearly 10 years and know many other expats!  Good luck.

We are planning a move to PR in late August.  My son in law will be working in Guaynabo.  We would love to live in Dorado but have heard the traffic into SJ is awful.  How long does that commute take? It seems that housing prices in Dorado are less expensive than in Guaynabo.  We are looking to rent as his assignment is for four years. Does anyone have any reccomendations in Guaynabo?  How about Condado?  What would that drive be like?  Any advice would be helpful. 

Hello Ann,
don't be too concerned about the traffic.... it's just bad!!  Dorado is DISNEY LAND! beautiful homes on manicured's a wonderful place to live but not really "PUERTO RICO"  it's about a 45 drive to Guaynabo in traffic depending on exactly where your son is working.  there are wonderful places in Guaybabo: los paseso area, los filtros area .. housing or condos for rent: very suburban feeling gated communities or high rises.  You can live and work in Guaynabo and it can take you 40 minutes to get to work!! just depends.  Condado would be the ONLY reverse commute: 15 -20 minutes most times to guaynabo, against morning and evening rush traffic: Beach front condos and walk to almost everything.  it's NOT Atlanta, it's a big city with LOTS of traffic fighting for several major highways... it's more like New York or LA in that respect.... you live with the traffic... it took me 2 hours R/T last night to the airport: traffic and RAIN. normally a 30 minute r/t.. you live with it. 
I do cross cultural and relocation training if you are interested. ;-)

Thanks so much for your reply, the insights are great and will be very helpful to us. While I am sure the traffic in LA and NYC are worse,  Atlanta traffic over the last few years has grown steadily worse. It looks like you reside in Condado.  What are the areas there.  Could we get an oceanview in a safe area for $700 per month? What do yo think of Ocean Park?  I have also heard that Verizon cell service does not work on the island, have you had any experience with that?  Thanks again for your comments

Hi Ann,  you're welcome....
Dump VERIZON asap...doesn't work at all here .  sprint, at&t, tmobile all good.
You can get service at Costco which has lots of benefits and service.
CONDADO is a great area: lots to do and see.
$700 is a little low. You can get a studio for about $800. A One bedroom starts at $1100 give or take.
ST.marys, torre del mar, condado del mar, las olas all ocean front condos that rent.. ocean park is nice a bit more residential...need a car for sure.

San Juan's traffic is worse than Atlanta's, Boston's or NYC's (subjective, I know). Guaynabo is a geographically large area and highly populated. Do you know if your son will be working closer to the eastern boundary of Guaynabo with San Juan or more to the west? Knowing that will help answer your questions about where to rent. For example, if he's farther east, towards, San Jaun, then living in Condado would be reasonable.

The problem with living in Condado and working in Guaynabo is that every once in awhile there is a traffic jam in Condado-Santurce that is so awful it will cause absolute stand-still gridlock for several hours even on side streets. Simply living in Guaynabo itself would be much better but you will have to go without ocean views.

Whats another close city/town to Guyanabo (metro office park) that has a suburban like feel(screened in windows, controlled access, less noise) that is not as expensive?

You are not going to find many places with screened windows....just not used here a lot.
i live in condado and work in both Guayanabo and Hato Rey ....for the 3-4followup times a year there are bad traffic jams out of condado...i'll take the ocean.
By the way Guyanabo is a very large geographic area with many different types and prices of housing....if you are working in metro office park and live in Los Filtros area dor example, it could take you 30 minutes or more to get and you are still in guyanabo!
You can also look in catano, rio hondo area and bayamnon BUT you are going with rush hour traffic in the morning..not against it as you would be living in condado.

Hello Wende
Could you give me the name of the realtor that you recommended.  I can't find your emails.  If you want to send email my address is annm[at] We have decided to live in Dorado.

lisa penfield 787 638 3333

she is an independant broker.  The realtors here tend to show you only their listings... she will get you into all!

good luck. 

Thanks Wende  I will give her a call

Wende, I have learned a lot from your post.  Thanks, My family is visiting PR in July of 2012 to decide if we will move to this area.  Your information has been helpful. Are there many homeschool children in the Dorado area?  I have an Aspergers child and currently homeschool but would consider a private school if we move.


Anyone know anything abut the Los prados urbanos community in Caguas ? Looks really nice.

brianvm :

Anyone know anything abut the Los prados urbanos community in Caguas ? Looks really nice.

In one of your other posts you said that you were going to work near Buchanan. Los prados is about a half an hour's drive from the Metropolitan area. Double that during rush hour. Double that if it rains heavily. You will spend between 2 and 3 hours of every day sitting in traffic. If that's OK with you then living in Caguas is an OK alternative.


Yes the area is. However if you want to move that far out from San Juan you may want to also look at some of the small towns like Gurabo or Cidra.

To all,

Spanish is often the first language that you will hear people speaking there. However everyone knows and speaks perfect English. Many aspects of Puerto Rico are just like any state in the U.S. If possible visit first and see the island as well as the neighborhoods that you are looking at for yourself. Puerto Rico is known for having an above average crime rate though whenever I go to visit family there I do not find crime a problem. It is mostly relating to the drug trade as PR is in the middle of the path to the U.S. Also there are a lot of immigration problems with people trying to come illegally from other islands. However this is isolated and similar problems can be seen in the U.S. Overall I think it is a great move and would do so myself if my company allowed me.


And I forgot to add the farther south on the Freeway you live the more traffic you will face. Rush hour there as many have said is bad. before moving experience it for yourself. There is HOV as you probably know though that doesn't make a difference. The time in traffic is not worth it!

motodroid :

However everyone knows and speaks perfect English.

You must be talking of another place than Puerto Rico.
If you'd give me a dollar for everybody on this island that does not speak perfect English here I'd be a millionaire!

Hi Wende,

Where in Dorado are you guys, is it a gated community and what are the prices for rent there like? Would you post or send me the website to the school you recommend, is it bilingual or just English or Spanish?

I'm from Puerto Rico but moved to the states for school at 19 and now considering to move back with my wife and 3 kids so they can experience my family and hopefully learn the language. My main concern with the move is my wife as she's American with no Spanish whatsoever other than the not so good words I tend to say here and there, it sounds the area where you live would give her the surroundings to interact with others in English until she learns some Spanish. 

Any help/comments would be appreciated.


I would love to hear more about your experience in Dorado, and at Tasis. Where did you move from? The crime data on PR is quite daunting, and and I have read it is primarily in the projects revolving around crime.  I worry that it seeps out into the better areas at some point. What has been your experience there, and what do you find is your lifestlye/routine there?

We have 3 young children, and your experience at the school, and the safety of the family are the most important to us.

I love it here.  so do my kids.  we live in Dorado.  My kids go to Tasis.  Its an English speaking school from ppk -12th.  All kids must take Spanish.  In dorado we feel very safe.  Our neighborhood is awesome!  Its like being on vacation everyday.  Lots to do.  loads of expats and locals.  Most doctors live in our neighborhood, which is a huge plus when seeking medical attention!  Hope it helps.   if you have any questions, call me
787 619 0341

I highly recommend Dorado!  We are an expat family, kids ages 16, 13 and 8.  All attend Tasis.  Most believe is better than Baldwin.  My husband works in Guaynabo.  People will say the traffic is too bad, but it's about a 30 minute commute.  We live in a beach side community, mostly doctors and expats.  ricky martin and chi chi rodriguez are our neighbors.  They also just built the only 7 star ritz carlton reserve in our neighborhood.  Its like living in a resort.  4 golf course, private beach, amazing restaurants, kids waterparks.  We love it.  Very safe.  Most  people speak English.  I can't say enough.  Its amazing here!  We initially looked at Guaynabo.  Found it crowded, rent higher and didn't feel safe for the kids to explore.  The only negatives in dorado, are you have to drive into san juan for malls, shopping etc....

call anytime with questions....
787 619 0341

we live in dorado beach east.  its amazing!  other properties are sabanera, and paseos.  all good.  I don't have much time, but call me if you have questions, I also have a friend who is a realtor....

787 619 0341

lisa penfield, realtor
787 638 3333

good luck in Bogota. you are right, Puerto Rico is NOT paradise but having lived and visited Bogota VERY briefly, i think you will be wishing you were back in PR with all it's bumps and warts it's still the USA!! ;-)
BTW, I knew Stefano very well.....tragic;-( God speed.

Hi So you come to puerto rico and you are not learning spanish the main language in here,and then in usa people complain that hispanics have to speak english I don't get it. You are lucky you

Yes, I am learning Spanish, I have taken 2 classes and try each day.  My kids are also learning the language in school.  It is also my understanding that in PR, all students take English in school.  So, I have been fortunate that many Puerto Ricans speak English, when my Spanish is progressing.  lucky me!


Good evening, I'm Puertorican and lived in Connecticut when I was a child.  For most of my professional life I've worked for US based pharmaceutical companies in PR, which means we've had a good share of expats amongst us.  I can honestly say, I've never experienced racism or prejudice from any expat, American, Canadian, Korean, Indian, Mexican, African-American... You name it! They, in turn, have been received with open arms for the most part.  Most of them grasped our culture.. the few that couldn't deal with Puerto Rico, or any aspect of it, went back to their place of origin in a beat.

...and yes, lucky for the English-speaking friends that most everyone in this Island can speak English and some of us are totally bilingual.  I can understand Marisol's frustration about the language because truthfully, if we go to the 'States', we have to speak English and when we have visitors, we still have to speak English! Kind of odd, right?

Anyhow, I respect and accept everyone for the human being they represent... What I avoid are evil people and those are all around, and not necessarily boxed into a country.

So, if you have decided to live in Puerto Rico, learn the language, our culture (we're lively, happy, passionate people), stay safe and enjoy our Island! :idontagree:

PR is a lovely island!  I've lived here 4 years with my family.  We have 3 children (my oldest has aspergers)  he's in a mainstream private international school.  the bad news is, that there is NO assistance through the private school system.  because he is high functioning and in the mainstream schools, they don't offer any IEP or counseling.  Its one of my biggest frustrations living here. 

I do have friends who home school.  Be happy to give you their info. 

check out this web site too!

Hello fellow Expats!  There's only 2 places I'd live in PR.  Dorado & Guanica.  On extreme opposite sides of the Island.  Dorado is my close to the city Oasis.  I love it here.  Guanica is the laid back coastal town that I would like to retire to in 30 years.

Ok so where does a Bilingual Gringo find work in this economy?  Who are the Expat managers who are the movers and shakers?  Who needs a handyman/gardener?  I find myself out of work again because a company was sold out from under the team. I want to stay living in Puerto Rico but the job situation is forcing me to dust of stateside contacts and even look in South America.  Who knows someone looking for someone?  I have good references, solid work ethic, a well rounded experience track record, and an honest desire to work.  Please let me know if anyone knows of any opportunities.
I am ready to get back to work Pronto!

what area of work?  Background?

i agree w gary  Maybe in Dorado but anywhere else I would say that 50% of people speak "spanglish"

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