Mistakes expats make in Puerto Rico

I bought a house in Puerto Rico. And didn't realize it costs 10000 to bring one car from new York. A 7000 dollar tax on one car. Plus a six feet by 7 feet shipping container 3400 dollars and can't fit much in it, so I'm still in new York trying to save money to get there. Plus told I might need a well there. Plus someone said I might need solar and we know that costs tens of thousands. Others said no don't need it, up to needing 50000 more in savings.  To ship an antique car and modern car for 14000 dollars. Didn't know be that much. 10000 for antique about 3500 for a honda

Hi Tseweam
Apparently you did not find this forum early enough or we would have advised you about all those issues and more.

Wells are fairly rare in PR and a big pain with the government. It is not likely you need one if the houses around you have non well water. You will need a cistern to put next to the house or on top of the house in order to ensure you have water when the service goes out which happens often.

You can get electricity just about anywhere, depending how far your house may be from the road, you may need to pay for 1 or more electric poles to bring the cables to your house, not just the property line.

You are also likely to need a generator, we loose electricity often. There are models that use regular gas, some use propane (preferred), and some use diesel (yuck).

You should only consider going solar if electricity is not available in your area or if the cost of electricity (22 cents per KWH) is too high and you are willing to put your money into the future. I am not aware of many that cn not get electricity from the pole.

Shipping cars is expensive, you have the actual shipping which starts around 1.200 and then the taxes on the vehicle. Hacienda (Treasury) catalogs the value of all cars way above the US prices, so this makes the taxes real high.

You may want to consider buying a junker in PR at first and latter buying a good car in the island when you know for sure that PR is for you.

Let us know what questions you have, we will try to guide you. Also we have a lot of information in the current threads that you may want to search thru and save time.

PS. Welcome to the forum and hopefully Puerto Rico soon.
Rey

Another disastrous mistake expats* make is relying on counterparties to honor contracts. Contracts are violated with abandon, which is why the PR economy is basically bifurcated into two strata: 1. business relationships based on clan membership (where membership in the clan is the security that the contract will be fulfilled, along with a kickback), 2. multinationals that have such great economic leverage that they can muscle their way to achieving their goals with other major companies without having to rely on contracts with strata 1 or the middle class.

Both of these strata strangle what should be a much larger and more prosperous PR middle-class in different ways. The middle-class service providers who are not clan members never flourish because they can't get a contract within the clan, or even if they do, performance of the contract is unreliable and remedies for enforcement effectively non-existent.

Likewise, the major corporations put the squeeze on middle-class service providers by maintaining a near-closed loop for contracting outside their strata and by undercutting middle-class service providers with their economic and political power.

Stable, prosperous and just societies are only possible where contracts are honored by everyone. This fault is fundamentally why PR will never achieve its full potential.

NomadLawyer :

Another disastrous mistake expats* make is relying on counterparties to honor contracts.

Curious observation.  This was my experience in the Middle East.  When entering into any verbal agreement, the parties would close by saying "In Shallah" or "God willing".  It's amazing how often God isn't willing.  Contracts between members of the same clan (a literal family clan) were usually reliable, but outside of that, most often they were not performed.

In Dubai, the meaning of "In Shallah" seemed to change, to something more along the lines of what my grandmother might have meant when she said "God willing".  That is, it was more of an expression of hope than one of powerlessness and irresponsibility.  No surprise that Dubai is much more successful than Iraq.

I haven't had the experience yet of contracts in PR.  I have been amused that real estate purchase agreements are effectively verbal agreements.  As a southerner, I assumed that meant that verbal agreements were pretty solid -- that a handshake was binding.

NomadLawyer :

Stable, prosperous and just societies are only possible where contracts are honored by everyone. This fault is fundamentally why PR will never achieve its full potential.

Agreed.  According to the World Justice Project:

Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease, and protects people from injustices large and small. It is the foundation for communities of peace, opportunity, and equity – underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.

Of possible interest to expats, the WJP produces an annual Rule of Law Index ranking countries of the world.  It does not rank PR (or Switzerland Nomad) but I think patterns shown are interesting:

https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-wor … 016-report

Selected rankings:

1.    Denmark
10.  United Kingdom
12.  Canada
18.  United States

25.  Costa Rica

62.  Panama

71.  Colombia

80.  China
86.  Iran
91.  Ecuador
92.  Russia

One thing I worry. ABout. Surviving on disability. Pay since jobs hard to find there plus I work as a horticulturist. Which in new York city is sucky pay. But can live on 3300 dollars a month with a paid off home in punta santigio. Puerto rico

Most families of 3 in PR live on around 1500 a month. That includes paying rent or mortgage.

many don't have rent/mortgage, because they're living in the family house, for generations.

I live off that, with a family of three, and $650/rent per month!

Its the cost of moving leaving the house empty.how long. Can it. Left empty because of getting there. A tiny container from unpack. Just for clothes books and tools 3500 dollars. Plus clothes are expensive here average retail price for for a t shirt is between 30 and 60 dollars. Average price for a hoodie is 70 dollars. Shorts ts 40 dollars in new york. Plus garage on house is open carport. Wouldn't think be safe put antique car in there. So I got an empty house. Do many people buy and not move into them for a while. Or will car be fine without a garage door and half a wall on one side.garages there don't have doors or a full wall. Here in new York garages fully enclosed. For some reason there they are left open. No locks I guess it must be safe to leave a car exposed for everyone to see

Most times it is safe to leave car exposed at a car port in an occupied home because there is people and dogs that will bark. Still a lot of houses have protection for the car port. Not enclosed is because of heat. A lot of times the car port is used to trow parties. The car port usually connect to the kitchen door.
Leaving a car alone or a house alone for long periods of time is noticed and invite a break in.

ok can I do without the wall for a while . hoping for dec come bought house in april. biggest cost is the 1930 ford model a car at 10000 dollaRS WITH a 7000 import tax estimate a Honda insight at 3500 with a 1100 tax. plus a container for 3500 for clothes books and tools no furniture or applainces  would need a freezer  dryer lawn tools  carpet paint shed . shed kits got so expensive at 4000 dollars for basic 10 feet by 12 feet kits. what happened to selling metal or plastic sheds? thinking what items could wait on in order to get down there then 2000 dollars for compost soil is bad. nothing is going to grow in sand. how many homes there need top soil or can they use whats there what ever soil home has. bringing the Honda isn't bad. its the other car. do most homes have a separate freezers? or do you not really need one? ok you mean if garage was completely enclosed in cement it would become oven inside and overheat the car sitting inside. and hoping only a fan is needed all year round no ac. meant sheds cost that in new York. can you find any for less any type of shed. I must get there soon as possible. for now neighbors watching the house

in new York you cant live on that. just average rent here is 2500 to 3000 a month as average mortage the same. I don't have a mortage here and I struggle to live on 3300 a month. biggest killer here is average property taxes are about 10000 dollars a year plus 2000 dollars to insurance one car. my friend pays 35000 dollars a year in property taxes alone. but I know some things cheaper there. my friend trying to tell that my money goes furer there vs living on long island new York. I be glad wont be paying for the heat there vs here. hoping can do without air conditioning too. here I wont use it. its so expensive. and use windows as ac. keep open all year

Tseweam :

in new York you cant live on that. just average rent here is 2500 to 3000 a month as average mortage the same. I don't have a mortage here and I struggle to live on 3300 a month. biggest killer here is average property taxes are about 10000 dollars a year plus 2000 dollars to insurance one car. my friend pays 35000 dollars a year in property taxes alone. but I know some things cheaper there. my friend trying to tell that my money goes furer there vs living on long island new York. I be glad wont be paying for the heat there vs here. hoping can do without air conditioning too. here I wont use it. its so expensive. and use windows as ac. keep open all year

Those are huge numbers, take a look at the post I did for a budget and make changes to fit your situation.
3k income is plenty money in PR. You can find many rental units in the 500-900 a month and even lower in the country side. It all depends on your life style. While for me entertainment, like going to movies, a drink and dinner is fine around 150 to 250 a month you may need 1k.  It all depends on your life stile.
I can live just fine in PR with just 2k

Tseweam :

ok can I do without the wall for a while . hoping for dec come bought house in april. biggest cost is the 1930 ford model a car at 10000 dollaRS WITH a 7000 import tax estimate a Honda insight at 3500 with a 1100 tax. plus a container for 3500 for clothes books and tools no furniture or applainces  would need a freezer  dryer lawn tools  carpet paint shed . shed kits got so expensive at 4000 dollars for basic 10 feet by 12 feet kits. what happened to selling metal or plastic sheds? thinking what items could wait on in order to get down there then 2000 dollars for compost soil is bad. nothing is going to grow in sand. how many homes there need top soil or can they use whats there what ever soil home has. bringing the Honda isn't bad. its the other car. do most homes have a separate freezers? or do you not really need one? ok you mean if garage was completely enclosed in cement it would become oven inside and overheat the car sitting inside. and hoping only a fan is needed all year round no ac. meant sheds cost that in new York. can you find any for less any type of shed. I must get there soon as possible. for now neighbors watching the house

You must be in love with those vehicles to be bringing them. The dirt of the houses typically is good enough but adding a little top soil does not hurt or maybe some manure. If you live in an area with basically sand very few things are going to grow yes.
Sheds are not too secured, they can be broken into easily, I would keep good tools inside .
Fishermen tend to have a chest freezer, must people do not buy in super large quantities to need two freezers and a trip to restock is not that time consuming.
The heat I referred to is the effect on people. We throw parties in the car ports for the breeze, if they are enclosed people are just sweating and not enjoying the party, when we party there is a lot of music and dancing.  Using the car port keeps the house clean, the friends cooler and the car port is easy to just hose down after the party and everything is nice and clean in the house.

Thank you for all of your comments, pro and con! I am moving to Puerto Rico from Chile, which has more downsides and few of the upsides of PR. My Spanish is still elementary, and I know there's a few years to go before it becomes familiar enough for me to really use. Chileans slur their words and use a lot of slang that no other South American country does. I agree that Argentinos sound great, and so far Guatamalans are the clearest I've heard. I visited Puerto Rico last year and am looking forward to visiting again. Nos vemos!

Good luck, Mongo. I don't think you'll find the "pino" in PR to be as good as in Chile.

The flags are very similar, however.

That's been my experience with speaking Spanish, people don't like my accent or my not knowing a word and will switch to English immediately.  I feel just embarrassed then, and will speak English from then on.  I have kind of stopped trying as people expect me to speak in English anyways and don't give me a chance.

Bryson74 :

I have kind of stopped trying as people expect me to speak in English anyways and don't give me a chance.

Yeah, same happens to me. They look at me and think "Gringo!" and if they can they start speaking English. I never met a local who started to talk Dutch (my mother tongue) to me though, that would be fun. :D
Now out the boonies where I live there are many who don't speak English so I get a chance to practice my Spanish every now and then.

I will speak Spanish with you unless we start talking IT, I am not used to technical terms in Spanish.

I found PR to be a good place to refine my Spanish after having gone through the grueling general learning elsewhere. People almost always spoke with me in Spanish. However, I did notice that it isn't an easy place to learn Spanish because, as noted above, so many people are basically native English speakers.

Panama, on the other hand, was a great place for me to learn Spanish because so few people spoke English, Panamanians are generally nice people to speak to, their timing is not too slow or too fast, and their accent is quite neutral.

Thinking your going to get goood health care.

After moving here from Arizona, and bringing a lot of things that I never needed, and got destroyed by the weather anyway, my best advice would be to sell as much as you can there, before coming here, come here with cash from your sold items, then by what you need here,  Cut the cost of shipping things here and buy them once you get here.

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