4 Months Living in Puerto Rico...This is what I have learned so far

I wrote a post a couple months ago detailing my thoughts on Puerto Rico after having lived here for three weeks.  We are now four months into our stay here and I have more to add.  I guess, I want to point out that I think of expats who live here as being part of two different groups, a) those who come here for work either voluntarily or involuntarily (we are part of this group), and b) those who decide to move to the Caribbean to be by the beach, to enjoy life either in times of retirement or whatever the circumstances may be.  I would say that my observations are mostly targeted to those who are part of the first group, perhaps who have yet to arrive or who are planning on coming and just haven’t made up their mind yet.  I would say if there is one word to summarize Puerto Rico is would be: inefficient (a close second would be: corrupt).  Moreover, my friend gave me a great analogy of Puerto Rico the other day, and she compared it to a nice big slice of moist delicious chocolate cake…riddled on the inside with ants.  It truly is death by a thousand cuts here.  I couldn’t help but agree wholeheartedly. 

I like lists, I organize my life by lists and so I will list the pros and cons of living in Puerto Rico as an expat:

Pros

1.    The beaches, especially in the west and south are pretty awesome. 
2.    There are mountains!  I was really surprised when I drove over PR-52 to Ponce from San Juan and we went over a pass that really reminded me of being home in Montana (of course without the snow!)
3.    Puerto Rican food is really great, although I suspect it isn’t great if you are trying to lose weight.
4.    Generally, Puerto Rico has everything that you need or want from the mainland, although prices are a bit higher.
5.    For the most part you can use a credit card in most locations.
6.    Property taxes are much lower than in many places stateside (in my case, I am exempt for 5  years.)
7.    The roads are surprisingly good, well, better than Detroit anyway, but way worse than most places on the mainland.

Cons

1.    I brought this up several months ago, but I am still astonished at how lawless the drivers are here.  For example, there is no such thing as slow drivers driving in the right lane and letting faster drivers pass on the left…nope, all sorts of drivers at varying speeds drive in any lane they want, thus creating even more roadway inefficiency.   Try getting through a four-way intersection with stop signs.  Nobody stops and it turns into one big mixing bowl of stupidity.  I just ask myself every time I see this if Puerto Ricans are really that stupid to all barge into the intersection at the same time, or is their “me first” mentality so pervasive that they are blind to how INEFFICIENT and time consuming their actions are.  Honestly, every regular traffic law you are used to in the real world doesn’t apply here.  It truly is the wild-west, and the traffic police rarely enforce any laws…they are too busy ripping off drug dealers.
2.    I am sad to say this, but do not trust any Puerto Rican contractors, meaning, do not pay a deposit or anything up front for work to be done.  You will be lucky for them to come back and actually do the work, let alone do it correctly.  And yes, I made this mistake.
3.    This place is so riddled with inefficiencies and stupidity it makes me sick to my stomach.  For example, in the real world if you move from state to state, you can generally go to the DMV and switch your divers license out without any problems, perhaps paying a small fee.  Not here.  You need to provide your social security card, proof of citizenship (which screwed my wife because she is naturalized and of course the movers lost one of our boxes and as it goes her certificate was in that box…learning point, don’t ship important documents like that!), get a doctor to certify you as good to drive, etc. 
4.    Getting license plates here is a royal pain in the butt as well…let’s just say I still have my stateside plate because I don’t have enough time to play their stupid, inefficient bureaucratic games.
5.    The taxes here are outrageous.  If you have a decent job they tax you at 3/!\ I AM A STUPID SPAMMER /!\ and then you have to deal with the 11.5% sales tax. 
6.    Try finding a parking spot at any shopping center.  It is nuts.  Thursday afternoon…and you can’t find a spot!  I guess that goes to the fact that there is such a high level of unemployment and most people here are on welfare, so what else are they going to do but go and spend tax payer dollars on big white watches, attend the movies, or eat out?
7.    Which brings me to the movie theaters…there is only one movie theater company, Caribbean Cinemas.  They only accept cash…hmm, considering how corrupt this place is, do you think it could be a front business for something illicit?  I don’t know, but all cash businesses raise red flags.  Oh, any when you go watch a movie, there is no such thing as the audience shutting the hell up and watching the film. 
8.    Ahh corruption.  This place is the poster boy of corruption.  The police are horrendously corrupt.  Read the newspapers, you will see what I mean.
9.    The power company, AEE, is a racket as well.  If you have seen it, the Palo Seco power plant on PR-165 near Levittown looks like a monstrosity that was top of the line in power production…in 1950!  Electricity is outrageously expensive, and in some areas (not really where I live), you lose power on a consistent basis. 
10.    The capability to deliver potable water is completely insufficient and inefficient, hence the water restrictions and rationing much of the Island just went through.  Stop spending (aka stealing) so much money on wasteful things (too numerous to delve into here) and upgrade the water distribution lines to avoid such things in the future.
11.    One the more annoying things about Puerto Rico is that many of the emergency vehicles drive around with their emergency lights on.  This has only desensitized the population and when there is a real emergency it is rare that the driving public actually moves out of the way of the emergency vehicle.
12.    Just our luck, we have had the misfortune to have had to go to two different emergency rooms.  The “doctors” (hahaha…right) strike me as being really incompetent, unless of course you are suffering from a gunshot wound, then the emergency doctors at Centro Medico are some of the best.   Not out of the realm of possibilities, but if you’re not in the drug trade, then I wouldn’t worry about getting shot too much.  I will tell of one experience at HIMU, the hospital near Caguas.  I had to take both of my toddler boys to the emergency room because we were sure one, or both of them, swallowed batteries.  When we arrived, they had this computer touch screen in the waiting room, and you had to enter their name, age, and the problem.  It was large enough so that the entire waiting room could see what you wrote…so much for medical privacy.  We then proceeded to wait in the hallway because the waiting room was to full.  Yep, right there on the hospital floor were no less than four or five cockroaches.  Then, we had to move from our spot in the hallway because water was dripping onto my sons head from the roof.  When we saw the doctor, 3 hours later, my boys did get x-rays, and the doctor broke the diagnosis to me by showing me an x-ray of a child’s stomach with several thumb tacks in the stomach.  I freaked out, and asked, is that my son?  The doctor was like, “no, no that is some other kid, I just wanted to show you how crazy this is.”  I was astonished, and then he broke it to me that my kids were just fine.   Then he made the following comment, “your kids like to put bad things in their mouths, perhaps they should put something good in their mouths like these (as he pulls out a pack of cigarettes.)”  I know he was just joking, those types of jokes by a doctor are just not appropriate, even more so at 3 am.
13.    Customer service here is absolutely horrible.  Do not expect to get the same level of service you are used to from the mainland, or even from the Congo if you happen to come from there.
14.    I can’t stress this enough, but every situation you find yourself in, the Puerto Rican mind set seems to follow one simple concept, “me first” no matter the situation, driving, pushing a shopping cart, everything.
15.   They think they are exempt from the 2nd Amendment here.  You have to register your weapon with the Police of Puerto Rico.  Hahaha, they are so incredibly corrupt, I would never tell them I have a gun in my house, because they probably would come and steal it and sell it to drug dealers.
16.    Finally, the culture, the unbelievably high level of corruption across all public sectors, the outrageous level of debt, the language barrier, all combine to make me the strongest believer that Puerto Rico should NEVER become a state within USA.  Here is my quandary though, I recognize there are thousands of honorable Puerto Rican veterans who fought for the USA, and no less than 5 have received the Medal of Honor, and so it hurts me to say that Puerto Rico should never be a state.   But I just cannot see any benefit to the USA for incorporating Puerto Rico as a state, and the status quo is just down right aggravating if you pay federal taxes (which I don’t anymore because Puerto Rican’s don’t pay federal taxes.)   I would truly love to see  how this place would do as an independent country.  My guess is it would be the next Dominican Republic at best, the next Haiti at worst within 25 years.

In sum, I know I am harsh on Puerto Rico, and I am probably biased considering my line of work, but I think any honest person would recognize the elements of truth to everything I mentioned above, both pros and cons.
 
Regards

The first issue I see in your post is that you were forced to moved to Puerto Rico, that is not a good start. Most people that move to the island do so voluntarily, so they have a different attitude about coming in and accepting the good with the bad.

The government is inefficient, I grant you that, and things are more complicated that they need to be because of the divisions that exist. Instead of having one office where they take your picture, check your eyes, take written test and practical tests a lot of that is done separately and in different offices. A better example is transporting a vehicle to the island.

As to corrupt police, that is everywhere, not just in the island, and yes sometimes they rip off the drug smugglers which is why a lot of issues between police and drug smugglers end us in shootings.

What you call the "Me First syndrome", that is everywhere, many killings in the mainland due to road rage, 3-7 people walking side by side at a snail pace in public areas and sidewalks, while people that need to get places have to put up with that and be late, it is ALL over in the mainland.

Doctors don't always have the time or the nice bedside manners anywhere in the world, specially if they are overworked and under payed. You said it yourself, the emergency waiting area was over crowded. But they did check your kids, gave them an X-ray and are still alive.

Anywhere where there is high population and low wages you are going to find fairly bad roads, specially country roads, any roads with 3 or 4 numbers are country roads and less likely to be properly maintain.

From previous posts you talked about the issues you had with a couple of non-brand pharmacies, some of that is because they are not efficient. On several occasions in the US I have gone to CVS and called my prescription refill 1 day before going to CVS and still find that the stuff is not ready and I have to wait for 30 minutes or come back another day because they don't have the pills. Later after arriving at the house they call me that they found the pill and I have to make a second trip to get them. So it is not just the island, in the mainland they have issues also.

Taxes are outrageous, Yes, but most people in PR make less than you so they pay less.

Shopping centers are very crowded so less parking, it is not because they are in welfare, it is because they have no money to go places and the air conditioner in the mall is free and they know what to eat and where to eat cheap. Like most americans, Puerto Ricans like to charge up their credit cards cause they want to live like they see in the movies. But that is not unique of PR.

A lot of what you said is close to 100% true, but is how you look at it, you can not change it. A lot of what you stated happens in the mainland also.
Maybe you can get lucky and find another job in the mainland/civilization.

Well said Rey! This post reeks of American privilege and many of the points, while based in truth, could be said of any large city in the U.S. Driving in San Francisco VERY different from driving in the suburbs and pot holes are EVERYWHERE! Dr.'s with poor bedside manner also runs rampant here on the mainland. Crowded parking lots- I have parking lot rage every time I go to the grocery store and welfare isn't the issue...there are just a lot of people and I don't like being bothered with crowds. Police corruption? OK...please don't act like that isn't in the news DAILY! The bottom line is mindset. Either you are going to learn to embrace the differences and adjust accordingly or like Rey said, maybe you need to rethink living on the island and find a place to work and live that makes you feel more comfortable. Just my opinion.

Are Puerto Ricans not American?   Either way, the point of my post was to point out my experiences so far...you all seem to ignore the pros that I posted.  Also, and this is very important, all of the problems I wrote about are in fact present on the mainland, BUT here in Puerto Rico these problems are to the extreme.  I moved here from Detroit, and that place is the American Baghdad, and the police had problems there, BUT they are angels compared to the Police of Puerto Rico.  In fact, police corruption here is in the news at least every week...and it is in fact the most corrupt department in the USA.  Google "operation Guard Shack" and then tell me that anything remotely close to that has happened on the mainland...ever. 

Regards

Again, mindset is all I said. And while Puerto Ricans are Americans, you, yourself just pointed out many differences from the way we on the mainland think and that is what I was referring to as "American privilege". It is well documented that we go other places and because they don't think, live, act like we do, we take issue with it. Honestly, you can't compare Puerto Rico to the mainland because it isn't physically connected to the mainland. Case in point, visit Hawaii. Many of the things you pointed out are very similar there. Island living is not mainland living. They are different and that's just what it is.

You're right, I have no qualms with your point.  I just think, in the financial context that Puerto Rico finds itself, it will never get over that hump and accelerate into first world status if it doesn't address many of the problems I pointed out, and many others, but that requires a fundamental change in the mind set here...and doing what is right politically.  But as you know, politics is part of everything here, and it is very unlikely that the politicians will fix Puerto Rico's problems.  So that just leaves the people to fix them, which brings us full circle to the prevalent mind set here. If they don't change as a people, become more efficient, hold the government accountable in a real way, crush all forms of corruption, then I just don't see this place ever getting back on its feet.  Just my opinion. :)  BTW, did you look up operation guard shack?

Wow!  I'm moving there in about three weeks, very discouraging, I hope I can adapt, and make the best of my move, I'm a little scared now.

Not yet. I will look it up when I get home.

First, I have to say, I am not in Puerto Rico anymore, sadly!  I love PR!  I lived in Rincon. I chose not to have a car and I worked from home.  Definitely, pay is low and taxes are high.  The price for milk is outrageous.  i don't fully understand, but that has been fixed by the U.S.???  maybe someone on this forum can explain that.

I do not like cars.  i rent if I need to go somewhere, so that makes a huge difference, but my experience was that the people of Puerto Rico are the kindest most helpful people I have ever met!  I had people offering to help me everywhere I went.  Lines were longer in stores, but when you got to your turn, your were the number one priority in the customer service reps eyes.  I never had a bad experience there.  I had people drive out of their way to give me directions, help me find places, find food, etc. 

I hate driving wherever I go, but I noticed that there were two types of drivers: 1) really fast, not paying attention, either young or tourist or 2) very slow, from the farm or old!  Some people would pass the slow drivers and get into a bike lane, which was annoying, but that happens in the States.  I never experienced the phenomenon of allowing you to turn left and pull into traffic until I moved to PR.  No one in the States ever did that.  In fact, my experience is that drivers on the mainland are much more aggressive and rude.  It really is a me first mentality on the mainland.  But, Rey is right, you moved for work.  I moved there knowing I would live a slower life.  I don't care about going to the theater or driving on highways.  I prefer to hike around mountains or run on trails and go to the beach.  My children and I biked everywhere there.  I am sure it is different in San Juan.  I only drove there a little bit.

I do agree, however, about the ambulances.  I even had ambulance drivers laugh and honk when I moved over for them.  People stop paying attention after a while.  The rule is they are supposed to turn on the siren if it is a real emergency.  But you can't always hear that.

It's funny, when they announced the bankruptcy, I asked a lot of people who lived there, "How do you feel?"  Most shrugged and said, I live my life. I do what I have to do to survive.  There's a sense of almost being separate from the politics (maybe different in San Juan).  People survive and they do so by helping each other.  There is a lot of welfare, underground payments in cash, but very very hard working people, and high rates of unemployment.  Many of the people I met survive in very different ways than in the U.S., but I certainly respect it.  My heart is definitely still there for sure.

My advice..if you can...ha ha...and this is to anyone I know, get a bike instead!  It's not always feasible, especially if your children are small, but it slows things down a lot.

Great perspective.  I guess I should have prefaced my original post by saying that I am primarily talking about the San Juan metro area.   And you're right, your experiences are a lot different than those of us who moved here for work and are required to drive a lot.  I betcha I would love this place too if I had your experiences !!

Regards

Read operation guard shark. No, I have not seen corruption of this magnitude documented in one place however, what I read wouldn't deter my decision to move to P.R. My experience growing up black in America makes me view "corruption" VERY differently. I encourage you to let go of some of your "mainland" ways (See how I let go of American? LOL) so that you can appreciate the good the island has to offer.

I can somewhat relate to hct408's experiences.  My wife is active duty military and we were assigned here.  As a military family, sometimes you have to do things and go places based on the needs of the service.

We've been moving around for the past 20 years with the military and everywhere you go, there are positives, negatives, challenges, and opportunities.  There are things that I really like about PR - the people (their zest for life and love of family is amazing and inspiring), our community, fresh mangos right outside our door, friends, etc.  Yet their are things I REALLY dislike about PR (namely the stray animal situation, and the San Juan metro area - I am not much into living in major metropolitan areas).

In a couple of months our tour here will be complete.  I must say that we are looking forward to getting back to the mainland and starting a new adventure (I miss the change of seasons, my winter activities, friends, and family).  I have made some lifelong friends here, and for that I am grateful.

Don't get me wrong, ther are plenty of good things here, it is just the bad outweigh the good.  And, writing about my frustrations about this place is therapeutic...and if I can help someone avoid the same mistakes and problems I gaced, then great.

I feel the same about the friends and people trekrider.  We will definitely be visiting...but, I too, like seasons.  Yes, hct408, San Juan is poo unless you have a lot of cash!!  To keep up with the constraints of getting to work, supporting a family, etc, it would be too much for me!!  I was lucky in my visit to San Juan that we stayed in one very nice downtown area, but I knew that was just one slice of it.  Good luck!!

Try this:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next
Amen

I won't take away from your experience because they are yours and I hope it turns around for you...or you are able to get the heck out of dodge!  :top:

I'm retired from New York love it here !!!! Roads are way better than New York especially after the winters !! Without getting into a big long thing all the things he stated are everywhere in the World and in a lot of places much worse ! If you want to look for the bad and negative you will find it if you want to be positive and look for good you will find it also !! I'm happy here with no regrets whatsoever...

When life gives you lots of lemons, you make and drink your lemonate (with Splenda so you dont get fat).
Dont let it sour you, it can sour not only your life but also the life of your kids, wife and affect your work.
Do what you can with what you got. Dont get ulcers. Dont be like Grumpy, be like Happy or Doc with his wisdom.

I have been here for 1 1/2 years and I agree with the Poster 100%!!!!

I'm sorry you had to read that just before making the move.
But it is all in the way you look at the island, if you are expecting mainland life or Island life.
I know I used to think like the other post then I decided to embrace the differences, cultural and other wise.
Relax and be Happy you live on an Island!!

Living where you are is difficult.  Life on the west side is much easier.  We have been here 2 years, and while there are things we dislike, the pros outweigh the cons.  The people of Puerto Rico are some of the nicest you will ever meet.  They are very family oriented, which is a breath of fresh air.  Most kids go to their grandparents houses or a relatives after school.  Unlike what we've seen in the states.  The driving is tricky, but you get used to it.  And don't think the police are too busy being corrupt to give out tickets; I already got one.  This place isn't perfect, but you should try to see the beauty of it.  It takes a good year to adjust to life here.  I suggest you take a trip to the west side and enjoy a mojito on the beach.  Maybe that will help give you a more positive perspective.  If not, it may be time to relocate.

After spending several years in the Army and traveling to many of the different states, I thought it was due time for me to travel oversees, so I wrote a very long letter to the Army about why it was due time for me to go to Okinawa. This is because I wanted to experience a really different culture. Well, the Army agreed with me, that it was time to go Overseas.

However instead of sending me to Okinawa or some other Asian country, the Army in all its wisdom, send me my papers to Germany. MAN, I WAS PISSED.

When I got there I found many soldiers crying their eyes out that they wanted to return to their Mom back in there states. Most of the time when they were off duty they drank heavily and mope and cry.

My being angry left me rather quickly and I set to make the best of it. It was an opportunity to see several European countries and their culture. There were also a lot of good looking ladies outside of the base.

So the first thing I did, was find me a girl, she took me everywhere in Germany and also to France, and Spain. I HAD A BLAST!!!

I spend 2 years there and loved it, I even learned some of the language, enough to get by.

So it is a matter of your attitude, you can look at it like an opportunity or a hell hole.

I completely agree with everything the poster said. However, since we are here for a couple of years for work and then onto hopefully a new expat assignment overseas, I don't let it drag me down. Every morning I walk the dogs on the beach and marvel at the beauty, and then shake my head at the fact that with everything it has to offer, PR cannot seem to get itself out of its own misery with the level of corruption everywhere.  I love being here and appreciate the good and the bad, as it all makes life here interesting! Last job was in the middle east and when I tell people it's easier to live there than here they are shocked... but it's true. 

My family loves making up mottos... our motto for PR, esp if you are coming from the mainland, is "Lower your expectations... then lower them some more" and then you will be pleasantly surprised! Don't look at it like going to a 51st state that is an island... look at it as a sister island to DR/Haiti.

All you haters gonna hate - so don't take this the wrong way - I am happy to be here and out exploring the island every chance I get! And the whole rest of the island is better than San Juan!

Johnny,

     I wholeheartedly agree with your post.  People that come here for a job or to be with a partner who has a job here, just have to suck it up and deal with it.

     I have been here for 16 months and love it. I was one of those people who dreaded the thought of coming here- would I get used to it, would I miss NY, my kids and grandkids too much, how would I deal with life here since I am so used to NY life???? Well I have happily adjusted to life here and granted, I miss some of the things that NY has to offer but not the cold or snow. I shocked myself on how easily I made the transition. I speak the language so it is easier and I don't have to worry about a job or stuff like that but I just love it here.

     As much as I love my NY and I will always call that my hometown, Quebradilla is my new hometown. It has welcomed me with open arms and I am very content to live here from now on. If I want to see snow, I can always get on the web when it is snowing in NY and be happy with that.  Here we have the fresh air and open land that we didn't in NY and welcome any guests that come to see us.

     Make the best of your life here, for tomorrow it may be gone.

Tonie

I love living here. Yes corruption is wild, same in DC, me first attitude,  drive how ever, but....it's beautiful n most ppl are friendly n honest. If your having difficulty with the spainsh language,  learn some after all it's their language.  Slower pace,  need lots of patience here,  had both knees replaced, excellent Dr. N care at Ryders. It's an adjustment living here but just go with the flow n enjoy.

If you are accustomed to US stateside standards, you will be disappointed and/or depressed.  When the masses are less educated, more government dependent, it is to be expected. 

One thing Ive learned is to lower your expectations, then lower them some more.  Plan for things to take 2-3x what they would in the states.

As a warning .We have seen protection deities through red lights all the time no matter what time of the day . Well the other day it's was after 9 and I decided to go they a red light .No one was insight accept a car going in the opposite direction way in the distance .Well that car ended up being as police officer. Who decided to pull me over .To say the least. I got a $250 ticket . So I guess if you feel unsafe and are alone don't go hrough a red light unless you want to chance a $250.  I don't understand how anyone in Puerto Rico can afford a ticket so expensive.  The next day I was driving with my husband .It was still light out and in less then 1 hr. 3 people went through red light and this is when there was plenty of cars on the road . I really think the cop was harassing me because I am not Spanish

From my understanding going through a red light is allowed after midnight. I am not sure at what time it is legal in the morning. $250 seems steep for running a red light. It must be standard and I do not think you were singled out for not speaking Spanish but since there are more main landers living in the Rincon area there could be resentment coming up. I think it could be that way in Vieques. I have not experienced it on the South Coast.

I wasn't in Rincon when I got the tickets.  I was in the boonies of utuado

Red lights can be treated as a stop sign from 12am to 5 or 6am.  Otherwise you can get ticketed.  Be informed if you are going to drive on Puerto Rico.  This is not the United States.

I really don't get why ALL the time people on this forum act like living in the Metro Area is more difficult in comparison to living on the West Coast. I have lived on the West Coast, San Juan, and Dorado. In my opinion the challenges or problems that exist in PR are relatively the same no matter where you live on the island. Such as: You might get stuck in traffic trying to get to work, or have to stand in line forever, or wait for hours at the Dr.  No matter where you live in PR these things and others are basically the same…and yes it does help to accept things the way they are and enjoy it..

In my experience I actually found it harder to live on the West Coast and I prefer the Metro Area.  Some reasons: you have to drive on the #2 all the time…everything is really spread out and there is a lot of traffic too.  I had to drive 20 minutes just to get to the store.  You end up having to drive to other towns over an hour way to get certain things done all the time.  Shopping seems harder to find the things you need. The airport is more expensive in Aguadilla than San Juan. Healthcare is way better in the Metro Area. Oh and I really didn't feel like there where as many fun or Cultural things to do.  Sure rent or properties can be cheaper on the West Coast but it is possible to find affordable places to live everywhere on the island if you take the time to look. The Beach is great on this side of the island too and I live right by it. When I first moved to PR 15 years ago I was a poor college student and I managed to survive just fine in the Metro Area. I just really get tired of everyone constantly knocking the Metro area and acting like Rincon is the "Mecca".  It’s not the only nice place to live. Overall I think it’s more about the lifestyle one has versus where one lives in the island. Definitely of course I do agree life is more challenging here if you are working and raising a Family versus being retired.  Also the choices that one makes can make a big difference in quality of life. Such as choosing to live close to your Work so you won’t be stuck in Traffic every day.  Overall quality of life is relatively the same everywhere.  Puerto Rico is Puerto Rico. Some people prefer to live in the city, some in urbanizations, and some in the Mountains…to each his own. 
P.S.
Just want to point something out…Puerto Ricans don't call the US the Mainland!  I have never heard that until I came to this forum! I continuously read the US being called the “Mainland” every day on this forum. Here Puerto Rico is called the Mainland. Puerto is the Mainland in relation to Vieques and Culebra. The proper term to refer to the US is to say "Stateside."

I think we can call it the "mainland", if we want. Try not to be offended... it's just easier than saying;  Estados Unidos, of which we are a part, and many are taught, growing up, that this is a country, while it is not. I have lived in the South, and on the West coast... I like the country, and am rarely stuck in traffic. I'm 9 min drive to the beaches, Econo, Edward's food mart, and so forth... when I do have to go to a Dr. it's at the Veterans Administration, in Mayaguez, and I rarely have to wait, as they are punctual in their appointments.   

I've been to SJ many times, (New York too; another place I could NEVER live!), being a country boy, I'd rather live in Rincon, Las Marias, or many other places, in the interior... anywhere with more green, and less people.  Alright, I'll say "Stateside", if you'll call PR "Territory-side".

Many  people here, in Territory-side, like where we are, no matter where that is... some complain, about traffic, about lines, about many things... life in general... but here we remain, in our respective communities. Enjoy where you are, because it is where YOU want to be, and forgive those of us, who LOVE where WE live. With a population of just under 10k, Rincon is my kinda place; I rent a 3br 2ba place, on six acres, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Church without walls, the American Legion, Edward's Food Mart... great helpful people, especially my landlord! I step outside my house, and I know there is a God! MrKyptn has his own slice of paradise, a place I'd love to see one day soon!

Saludos!

I'm not offended...just trying to point that out for others trying to integrate here it might not always go over very well.

Well that's exactly my point. Everyone should enjoy where they are at and everyone has different taste...I don’t have a problem with you all loving Rincon and your place sounds awesome. It’s just San Juan is not as bad as people make it sound all the time on this forum.   When I lived in San Juan it was great and I loved it.  I walked everywhere, and I had a lot of fun.  Now I live in Dorado and well I also feel like I have my own slice of Paradise here!

I started saying mainland for this blog, since people keep pointing out that we are part of the USA. I did that because of the relation between Hawaii and the other 48 states is similar to PR in that it is part of but apart.
In the island I grew up saying "Estados Unidos".
I grew up in Santurce and Hato Rey, so to me the San Juan area is fine, just busy and a bit chaotic, but fine to live.
I do prefer the country side, Las Piedras, Juncos, Fajardo, Ceiba, Naguabo and Humacao. It is more relaxed than the metro area and I can be in San Juan in less than an hour.

I have to say that people here are not gratuitously rude the way they can be stateside. Maybe about 1 case in 50 for acting in a professional capacity but not speaking Spanish fluently. Now compare that with someone doing ANYthing most elsewhere in the US and not speaking English well. It's practically an invitation for abuse or calls to the INS.

Also, sometimes the relative flexibility is beneficial. When we moved, we transferred ALL our money by check, not realizing checks coming into the island take two weeks to clear rather than two days. We bounced a couple checks before we realized it. When we explained the situation to the bank, they graciously removed all but one fee. Back stateside in a large bank, it would have been many more fees (usually one for every time the check is presented, which is usually every couple days), fees on top of the fees, and a shrug about company policy from the bank.

We call ourselves Puertorriqueños, or Boricuas Mainlanders we call Americanos.
Contrary to some here that keep repeating that we are citizents, yes we are but we have a distiction between being a citizen and being american. We are Boricuas and citizens. We typically leave the island for either jobs or education. We prefer a slow family life and enjoyment of the island and beaches.
Most parents teach their kids to be respectfull, but like everywhere, friends and situations can make some rude.  Spanish or not, we like to be helpful.
By the way, wife is in Mexico city on the way to Cabo. Due to a mess with the airline, she had to go to a Hilton hotel to spend the night then continue her journey. Hilton Hotel people do not speak English. Several other people she had to talk to were not friendly but rude. She said she likes PR people a lot better.

We as a people know we are americans also but we chose to ignore that fact unless we are living in a state.

I lived in Alaska (which is of course a state) for many years.  There people will say they are going to the "lower forty eight" when going south to the mainland.    It's  similar in that the locals see themselves as "part of but separate" from the rest of the country. 

I never once encountered anyone (non native) who considered themselves an expat in Alaska.   In Alaska you are either "Native" meaning an American Indian or "Non Native" if you are white or some other racial group, regardless of birth place; i.e. a white person born in Alaska is considered a non native.

In PR I may or may not be an actual "expat", but one thing is sure, I will be warm and happy!

Puerto Rico seems  like it has a more distinct culture than what I know of as Alaska. I also think that the American influence in Hawaii seems more prominent than the Hawaiian culture so this is why I think a person can feel more like an expat in Puerto Rico than Alaska or Hawaii. I am very much part of the Puerto Rican agricultural community which is very different from the agricultural community in North Carolina. I do not refer to myself as an expat or Puerto Rican or Americano. It is more of a connection with the land that keeps me connected to Puerto Rico and that could be more of a Taino thing like being connected to the US mainland by way of the American Indian connection to the land rather than who owns what. My place in Puerto Rico is a bit out of the box as far as relationships go and this is very much of who I am as an artist who is making his place in a world defined  with as many concepts as there are human beings and some concepts  being bigger than others.

Remember that a lot of our culture is about taino, spain and african. We spend a lot of time as part of spain.  Longer than with US.
Future generations may feel american in the future as times goes by and my bones turn to dust
So it is going to take a while.

Interesting perspectives - thanks for your viewpoints.   The Native American community in the the areas I have lived in and had experience with also share some similar perspectives, i e the tribal members of the Navajo Nation are US citizens but also tribal members of a tribe that has a special nation to nation relationship with the USA.  So they have a distinct national / tribal / cultural identity yet are part of the fabric of America.

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