Living in Puerto Rico

I have some questions about moving to and living in Puerto Rico. Ideally, I'd like to live in Europe, but it's so difficult to immigrate there as an American. So if moving to Europe doesn't work out, I'd like to move to Puerto Rico since I won't have to deal with immigration laws and becoming a citizen.

1. Is the Spanish they speak there more like the Spanish in Mexico or Spain? Is it completely different from either of those?
2. Are American degrees recognized there, or do they have a completely different degree system? Could I work there as a nurse with an American degree from the states?

First of all, please don't cosider Puerto Rico second best choice; you will mentally never be happy here or anywhere.
Spanish here is spanish with a Puerto rican flair: we are NOT mexicans. Do you know what jugo de china is? Better find out befor you arrive.
Second of all, since Puerto Rico is part of the USA why would you ask if the academic degrees are different?? Different than what? Europe?

Wow, thanks for the curteous response. Sorry I'm not an expert on Puerto Rico - that's why I came here, to obtain information about it. Clearly I know that Puerto Ricans are not Mexicans, all I wanted to know was if the Spanish they speak in Puerto Rico is closer to the Spanish they speak in Spain or the Spanish they speak in Mexico, as there are many dialects of Spanish. I wouldn't want to show up speaking the wrong dialect of Spanish and being barely comprehensible. And who are you to tell me not to move to Puerto Rico? Even though it's my second choice, clearly I still find it appealing if I'm pursuing moving there. I'd love to live in Europe but unfortunately it is nearly impossible. I'm not going to be happy what so ever living in the states; I'd much rather live in many other places than here, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm pretty much stuck here.

To work here as a nurse you will need to contact:

    Board of Nurse Examiners
    800 Roberto H. Todd Avenue
    Room 202, Stop 18
    Santurce, PR 00908

    Phone: (787) 725-7506
    FAX: (787) 725-7903

About the Spanish, according to my wife who is a Puerto Rican, 'our' Spanish is closer to the Spanish spoken in Spain.
But we have a lot of words and expressions that are typical for Puerto Rico. You'll get the grip once you're here. :)

I agree with Gary's wife about the Spanish being closer to the Castillian spoken in Spain. Having lived in both places, I noticed that more Spanish slang and idioms are used in PR than in other parts of the Caribbean, Central America or Mexico. Concerning so-called proper Spanish, Puerto Ricans really speak it excellently - much closer to so-called proper Spanish than other Spanish-speaking countries in the region. Puerto Ricans also speak Spanish very quickly, like they do in Spain but not like in Mexico. My Puerto Rican wife also agrees with this assessment. 

If you already are fluent in Spanish and are interested in getting even deeper into it's nuances and exploring the language at an even higher level (both proper and popular), then Puerto Rico is an excellent place to live.

If you do not speak fluent Spanish already, then by all means you can learn in Puerto Rico. That said, it is harder to learn Spanish in PR than in Panama, Colombia or Costa Rica for example, for at least four reasons that I can think of: (1) People in PR speak very quickly in Spanish so it's harder than usual to differentiate words, (2) The rhythm of Puerto Rican Spanish can throw-off beginners and intermediates because of the somewhat irregular spacing of pauses, preceded and followed by longer bursts of words (this is particularly true during TV news interviews), (3) So many people (you might say most people) speak English that they will quickly change to English when they notice that you are not fluent in Spanish, so you miss out on a lot of good practice scenarios that you would not in Central America, and (4) Puerto Rico has some of the most clever and intelligent expressions ("dichos" or "refranes") and they are probably harder for someone who is not fluent to follow in a conversation compared to the slang spoken elsewhere.

However, like I said, I know people who learned to speak Spanish well in PR so it can be done. (It will certainly be easier than trying to learn in Argentina.) Finally, you don't need to worry about learning the vosotros form so that is a plus. 

I suggested to another nurse in this forum that they check-out to see if there are any openings at the VA in Guaynabo (San Juan Metropolitan area). It's a nice hospital - better than many of the VAs in the States. Good luck!

Hi NomandLawyer, thank you so much for your informative response! I'm only going to be a college freshman this fall, and I'm planning on getting a master's degree in nursing and becoming a nurse practitioner. I'm planning on taking Spanish the whole time I'm in college (that is, if I decide I definitely want to move to Puerto Rico after college) and I've already taken 2 years of Spanish, so hopefully my Spanish will be pretty good once I'm done with college here. I also want to study abroad in Europe, and most likely in Spain so I can become even more fluent in Spanish, that's why I wanted to know what the dialect of Spanish they speak in Puerto Rico is like. So, thank you!

Sorry, you misunderstood: i just said don't settle for your second choice.  if you want europe, go for europe... there are many ways to skin a cat...  if you go any place as second choice, you might never be happy and it will never truly satisfy you...since you seem to be young i can tell you you will never regret anything if you give it your best try. you might regret something if you did not try at all!! 
Curious response about our Spanish being closer to Castillian: when I am in Spain (which used to be very often) as soon as I began speaking they asked me if I am BORIQUA (Puerto Rican): it's words and accent and idioms: you learn them by using them, not always by studying them since most of them are not in any book.  Not to worry, most people here speak English even if reluctantly. Also, there are LOTS of main-landers taking nursing and medical classes here on the island who speak NO Spanish what so ever. Books are all in English NOT Spanish. They do have to take a language proficiency test but after a while you get it.

Hi b344!
Ok, so I think, an in my humble opinion that moving here when you are younger (20-30's) is a better choice, as you do not come from the states with any kind of true, formulated, political baggage/sneering "America" is better mentality or sentiments.

You are still young enough to actually find, explore and integrate seamlessly into this or any culture and appreciate all the incredible beauty and possibilities it has to offer. I am 30 years old (moved here at 28) and have been coming to this island since I was born. I learned that accepting the way of life here was easier for me (cultural differences, pace of life/work) since I was completely open minded and accepting of how it works here.
That being said, I would see it as comparable to transitioning from the east coast, to the west coast (which I did) in the states. You understand the subtle nuances of the coastal culture, peoples, lifestyle and work mentality, and adapt.
It is a wonderful note, to those people who are ex pats living here, who are accepting of the changes which are obvious to the naked eye, and make every move to assimilate rather than to try to change.
To change is a very "American" and in some ways arrogant way of thinking. Not a Global perspective.
If you are a freshman in college ( congrats ps! :) take a summer vacay here, grab a friend, roomie or sorority sister if you have one, and live/ work here over the summer! Its sooo much fun! meet the people ( you will find you make friends the first day!) and keep some contacts.
The only problem you might encounter is convincing your parents to let you :)
As always, I suggest San Juan, simply because I live here and adore it! A lot of people from the states say it is a city, and I think, what city moves this slow, this relaxed where people walk around in bathing suites?? LOL

Maybe because I have lived in New York City, London, Paris, Milan and LA that i see no "city busy" aspect here.
Have fun love! be a freshman in college again..:)

Well I'am coming from Brooklyn NY,my name is DeShawn R. Strungys,Sosa Cuban-American my husband is Puerto-Rican-American/Czech we have been talking about for a long time he has friends that work in the US Army with him that move back to Puerto Rico,an his friend Jose Sanchez, tells us how beautiful the  country is plus my husband father was born there so he wants to come back to his grass roots. My husband Orias, use to speak fluent Spanish than he lost it moving constantly in the States both of us want to embrace our culture deeply living in New York, in Brooklyn, it some populace that speak Spanish but they develop a American ways no purity the attitudes just plain rude with some people being around African-Americans. So my family are getting very disenchanted with American life even though we were born here are fathers was born in the country and mine in Cuba. What me and my husband want to know how the economy is cost of living, education for 7 of our kids. Jobs especially the medical field my husband is going to graduated in Oct,11,2013 as a Surgical Technician me I'am going for medical assistant,nurse assistant,or get into Social Work Administration definitely I'am practicing to learn the dialect of speaking Spanish which I feel I am embracing my decease father James Robinson Sosa, spirit so I firmly adopt my culture that painfully took away from me from my mother side of the house they did not embrace my father culture or me for that matter for many years. We want to embrace are Spanish heritage have our children to know who they are. Can you please help me because we feel we live in a foreign land in the USA not are country. :)

Actually, "We're Moving Where", that was a pretty snotty answer. You did a pretty poor job of covering up your intolerance in your second reply of people who seem to know very little about the things that you imagine yourself to be a consummate expert on. People who know very little about moving to PR and it's ways and customs use the internet as a tool to educate themselves. When you know nothing or very little about something there is no such thing as a stupid question. Try not to make the uneducated or uninformed look foolish. It only serves to make you look that way. DeShawn, I am sorry that I have nothing to contribute to your questions. I don't speak Spanish. I did fine living on the island without it. It was trying at times but it worked out. I would strongly recommend that your children go to private school or home school them. I apologize for the rudeness you encountered. In the future please feel free to ask any question you like. Like I said, when learning something new there is no such thing as a stupid question. The only stupid question is the one that goes unasked. There are plenty of people on this forum who will be patient with you and try their best to provide honest and informative answers. Some of those people who are most helpful and intelligent would be people like Nomad Lawyer, Gary and Adolfo. There are others so please forgive me for not remembering you at the moment. I'm getting old. Good luck in your quest and please keep us posted.

To NomadLawyer, Gregg; informed me about how knowledgeable you are in Puerto Rico. I want ask your opinion my husband and I are very large family with 7 kids in tow 4 girls and 3 boys between the ages of 15-4 months old Gregg, told me to send to private school or home  school them because I research that private schools are expansive. Than the cost of living is like New York, in a way housing running between for a 4 bedroom $800-2000 dollars and the economy is rough and it is dangerous in some parts is that true. Is Puerto-Rico is like the America's and does it have walfare,different agencies to start out to get established in? Because in the USA, the economy is like in a recession in a way is it really bad on the island. Can you please give me some idea one last question I read on the some sites that people are getting murdered,rape,etc because the law enforcement are not responsive at all. I have been reading how bad it is and expansive it is hardly no jobs is that true. My husband is studying to be Surgical technician/Scrub technician and I am considering to study in as a medical assistant or maybe a social worker to find job security especially raising 7 children taken one day at time to grasp my roots learning to speak Spanish, that was taken from me most of my life on my mother side that is a long story itself. My husband use to speak fluently since he was in the Army for 14 years he lost his tongue only speaks English. Please help me and our family.:D

Cubanldy39 :

Please help me and our family.:D

The best advice anybody can give you is NOT to move to another country where you don't speak the language.
No way to get a job; there's no welfare other than foodstamps.

Actually, I don't believe you are for real....

I would check into alot of things before making a move to Puerto Rico.My daughter and I have been coming here annually for 15 years and finally made the move to live here.We brought with us my 16 year old grandaughter,who is in 10th grade.First of all, the jobs available are very limited,and rate of pay is scarey.My daughter (who worked at a large college in Boston)has literally sent out over 100 resumes,and not recieved a single call back.My grandaughters school is literally 2 years behind academically,the books are over 10 years old,and has not had a full day of classes(teachers  just dont show up)so far this year.When the kids dont have a class for whatever reason,they are free to roam the neighborhood,visit the fast food places,or stroll the beaches,all during school hours.The medical profession,is at least 50 years behind the states,the equipment,the offices,and the attitude of the Doctors and nurses is so unprofessional that it is mind boggling.All this is quite upsetting, we left everything behind to start a nes life here and are now getting ready to go back and start all over again.Its not the native people, we3 love the people of Puerto Rico,and most would do anything they could to help out.Its dealing with anything business,school,or medically,make you you see beyond the beauty of the island.The economy here is scarey for an outsider,but, it must be even moreso for the people who are lifetime residents.There are NO jobs!And if your child has dreams of recieving a good education,you might be smarter to stay where you are,or look elsewhere.

Hey Gary. Como esta?. I hope the family is well. Tell your beautiful Puerto Rican wife I said hello.

GreggK :

Hey Gary. Como esta?. I hope the family is well. Tell your beautiful Puerto Rican wife I said hello.

Doing good, Gregg, thanks. Hi to your own beautiful Puerto Rican wife. :D

There appear to be some extremely helpful people in this forum, so I figured this is as good a place as any to ask a few questions. My boyfriend and I are considering a move to PR - Dorado, specifically. He is a golf professional and would be moving to accept a job at a high-end golf course. I am fortunate enough to work from home as a marketing consultant in the golf industry and would continue to do so upon moving, so employment isn't an issue. I'm just curious, as a 30 year old American who hasn't traveled abroad much (besides Great Britain, my boyfriend is originally from Wales)is it tough to assimilate to life in PR? I consider myself very open minded and adaptable, but that's easy on your own turf, I realize I would be an outsider there. Can anyone tell me more about Dorado, the people, the lifestyle, recreation, etc? We're huge foodies and look forward very much to local cuisine, but also love Thai, Japanese, Indian and many ethnic foods - is there access to these foods there? We both have cars, is it necessary to ship both, how do most people get around? Obviously we will visit and spend some time there before deciding, but I'm doing as much research as possible in the meantime. Sometimes hearing it from people who have "been there, done that" is much more helpful than anything found on the internet. Any information you have to offer is appreciated! Thank you!

More people will find your post if you start a new thread (i.e. topic) with it rather than posting it as a response to an existing thread.Give it a go.

Thanks...will do!

The Spanish here is neither Mexican or Spain it is Puerto Rican which is similar to both countries. As far as your nursing degree goes they would welcome you with open arms BUT be ready for a very big difference in patient care here in PR. Believe me it is nothing like in the States. We love it here and live in a small beach front town of Luquillo which is south west of San Juan. I tell people who ask about PR and I tell them it is just like living in the States. Most everybody speaks spanish and as you said no Passport etc.

Ehmmm..  Luquillo is east-southeast of San Juan. :)

"I tell people who ask about PR and I tell them it is just like living in the States. Most everybody speaks spanish and as you said no Passport etc."

Just like living in the states????
Hi Gary. Glad to see you know your compass. :)

Hi I am interested in moving there but first I am planning a trip to see how expats live. I am a single woman in good health and love to fish,boating, cards, golf and fun friends. I am basically free to live anywhere I want and just would like to do something different while I am still healthy. I have heard PR is the place I should consider. How do you feel about someone single moving there?  Where should I start? Altamaria

Altamaria, the best start would be to start a new topic. That will give you more responses..

Old San Juan is worth checking out. There's live music outside once a week, plenty of places to rent that have great character (although there are water shortages), and a terrific sense of being somewhere special. Also, you wouldn't need a car (parking in OSJ is a nightmare anyway). There would be plenty of opportunities for socializing.

The local lengua is nothing like Castillian Spanish I learned in school. Having spoken to many bilinguals, from Spain, Mexico and even the few honest Ricans, the pronunciation in PR is atrocious and (like the way they drive, like mahem on steroids) you will be happy to know that many speak some English. If anything their idea of Spanish sounds more like French: Como ta?.

I thought the same thing about their Spanish sounding like French or some other accent. Interesting you bring that up, a group of my friends and I were discussing this just last week.

I am a single woman who moved to Puerto Rico.  If you want to, just do it.

It is my dream to live in PR. I have been visiting 2x a year for almost ten years. I have become serious about the dream. I'm starting duolingo to learn Spanish, as I only took Latin in school. I'm a 44 yr old EMT and 911 dispatcher, so I know that I will not find work in my field. My plan is to start a small farm and bnb. Eventually a food truck. Learning the language will be vital for me. I've made some friends in my travels there. I love the area of Guanica, Lajas, Playa Santa and Cabo Rojo. I love reading the feedback everyone posts. I find myself nodding along when it is mentioned about respecting the traditions, culture, pace, family, driving and having a working knowledge of day to day life. I appreciate reading every post and response on here. Thank you.

Emtgates :

It is my dream to live in PR. I have been visiting 2x a year for almost ten years. I have become serious about the dream. I'm starting duolingo to learn Spanish, as I only took Latin in school. I'm a 44 yr old EMT and 911 dispatcher, so I know that I will not find work in my field. My plan is to start a small farm and bnb. Eventually a food truck. Learning the language will be vital for me. I've made some friends in my travels there. I love the area of Guanica, Lajas, Playa Santa and Cabo Rojo. I love reading the feedback everyone posts. I find myself nodding along when it is mentioned about respecting the traditions, culture, pace, family, driving and having a working knowledge of day to day life. I appreciate reading every post and response on here. Thank you.

I highly recommend Fluenz Spanish (Latin America) see site:
My wife uses it. Each lesson is like 5-10 minutes allocating 1/2 hour each day will take you a long way. It is conversational in nature, it starts with a restaurant setting where you start ordering drinks and food for you and your friends, and asking questions, but it is very comprehensive and soon you move out of that sitting into more advance subjects of conversation. You can repeat each lesson as much as you can, which is important to ensure your ear becomes tuned to it and your pronunciation improves.

Unlike other courses that teach you words and conjugation of verbs, this course get you interacting with people quickly but covers all the verbs and conjugations and the different conversations develop under different conditions. You will learn to understand it, to speak it, read it and write it, so it is very comprehensive.

Read the reviews on the site, also look it up in Amazon and read the reviews there also. I think you will agree that it is a great course. As a navite speaker, I see the advances my wife is taking with the course and how well she pronounces the words, I wish this course existed when I left PR for the states and I was learning English.

You can use it on your phone, tablet and computer (Windows and Mac) or all of them. You can even use it on a computer browser, so it needs not be your own computer.

Thank you! I appreciate your response!

I can also recommend Duolingo (an app) and Collins Learn Spanish with Paul Noble on Audible.  Both were helpful to me

Thank you! Language will definitely be my biggest challenge.

PS. PR Spanish is different, you can take the Latin America one or the one from Spain. Either one will work there are few differences. Each country has its own local flavor but the proper Spanish is the same regardless of country, that is why there is the "Royal Academy of Spanish", to ensure the language remains as pure as possible. Note that not all Spanish you hear in Mexico, Argentina, Puerto Rico or even Spain is proper, they all have slangs and colloquialism the same happens in English.

I know the dialect is different. Between my travels and my local PR friends here in Pittsburgh, I realize that. I work on an ambulance here and we have alot of people from Guatemala, Brazil and other Spanish/  Portuguese speaking counties. The dialects are crazy different. I just don't want to lose my personality or sense of humor while learning the language. I want to learn it for life.

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