New members of the Puerto Rico forum, introduce yourselves here - 2019

Hi all,

Newbie on the Puerto Rico forum? Don't know how to start?

This thread is for you ;)

We invite you to introduce yourself on this topic, to share with us your expat story if you are already living in the country,
or to tell us more on your expat projects in Puerto Rico if you are planning to move there.

It will enable us to help you better but above all to wish you a warm welcome.

Welcome on board!

Hello everyone! I am a new member and have been reading a lot of great information here. My husband and I are from the US (Philadelphia area) and will be coming to PR 2/8-2/18. Originally, this was meant to be a vacation however, after much consideration we have decided to look for a property to purchase. We are not quite retirement age but we believe that now might be a great time to purchase an investment/vacation property and perhaps move permanently in a few years. We have been to Puerto Rico pre-hurricane (2014) at which time we stayed in Condado, Old San Juan, and a cabin in El Yunque. This time we will be at Wyndham Rio Mar and are very interested in property in that area and to the east. I have looked at a dizzying amount of property for sale on Zillow, Classificados, Point2 and various agent websites. Most inquiries did not generate a response. One agent (Rincon area) e-mailed back and said that we need to be pre-approved before seeing anything. She said she could help with that, but I'm unsure about giving out sensitive information to someone I have never even spoken to. We don't speak Spanish (only know a few words). Also, since we still actively work on the mainland, we are unable to fly down at a moments notice or rent anything for any length of time. We don't want to rush into anything but we don't want to "miss the boat" either. I am feeling frazzled and not sure what to do next as we only have 4 days until we arrive. Any advice at this point would be greatly appreciated!

I would suggest you take a vacation. Rushing works against you in Real Estate, specially in PR.

As to being pre-approved, you do that with the bank, call them on the phone and get your approval.
You need to decide on at most two towns where you want to live and concentrate on that.

Most realtors will not give you the time of day for several reasons:
a) Almost no agent will take you out to view properties until you are pre-approved.
b) You come and go and not buy, they don't want to waste their time
c) What you are looking for is not always available and you are not around and when the property is available.
d) Not all Agents are proficient with English
e) Seller agents only handle their own properties, when they run our of their properties, you need a different seller agent. You may need to contact 20 seller agents to get 3-5 that will work with you.
f) You could use a Buyer agent (important ONLY 1) but most will not talk to you for the above reason, but specially for the short time you are in the island. A Buyer agent has to contact 20 - 30 seller agents to get you 10 properties to go see. It is very time consuming and they don't like wasting their time for no gain.
g) A Buyer agent would also be very concerned about spending time with you if you are also talking to other agents, they want exclusivity since they are doing all this work for you.

Realtors prefer to deal with somebody already living in the island, that can take the time to view several properties over weeks and months. There is nothing like boots on the ground.

Also in most cases getting a mortgage after putting an offer is a multi-month affair. They have a lot of steps and paperwork requirements. You both have to be ready to jump on a plane quickly when the bank decides to do the closing.

OH, I forgot another reason why they wont talk to you, FOCUS. If you have several areas of the island and or several towns, they understand you are unfocused and unlikely to commit to one property. It is also costly to drive you around the island to go see properties when they know in a few days you will be gone again without purchasing. Few will do that, they want you focused on 1 or 2 close by towns and a realistic idea of what you want. Coming to the island like a kid at a candy shop wastes your time and the time of the Agent, not productive at all.
Rey

Thank you Rey, for such a detailed response. Everything you said makes sense. We plan on locking down a location when we are there, but was still hoping to at least have some ducks in a row before we get there. We have started an application with Banko Popular but I'm having trouble finding other lenders to compare rates with.

lgodwin :

Thank you Rey, for such a detailed response. Everything you said makes sense. We plan on locking down a location when we are there, but was still hoping to at least have some ducks in a row before we get there. We have started an application with Banco Popular but I'm having trouble finding other lenders to compare rates with.

First Bank PR
Oriental Bank
Santander

Only Banco Popular has branches in the US.
Santander has no relation with the one in the US as I been told.

The amount of time you will be in PR (4 days) leaves very little time to contact most Realtors and go see property. You may get lucky if you are pre-approved, but not likely. Need line up things at least a week before you come. (Island Time).

Think before you buy. There is a glut of properties and few buyers. If you buy and later want to sell you are likely going to loose money in the deasl and may need to wait a year or more before it is sold.

You are in the driver seat, be picky, specially about the location. Visit the property around 8 pm to see how the place is, day time activity is not the same as night time.

If you decide to make an offer, you do that with NO MONEY. The realtor then presents your offer, if accepted then you get your lawyer to draw the purchase agreement with any conditions you need such as house inspection, everything in working order, a time frame that the offer is valid and passing appraisal. No bank is going to loan you if the appraisal is too low.

If you want. to make an offer I suggest you arrange a second visit to the property, this time with a critical view, look for defect, electric problems, mold, leaks on the roof or attempts to hide them. Depending on what you see you may want to lower the amount you were going to offer or walk away.

Do not use the lawyer for the seller or realtor, bet your own or have the bank recommend one. Let your lawyer hold the money, not the realtor, it should be put into escrow. Be represented, yes the bank has a lawyer but that lawyer is looking for the good of the bank, you need one to look out for you.

Keep a poker face around the seller, the seller agent, do not show any form of enthusiasm, that is when they start playing hardball on you. A little frown, show of disgust at some of the features of the house, indifference of others, puts you in a better bargaining position. Remember the seller agent is working for the owner, but prefers a lower price than loosing the sale, so they will presure the owner to agree if you are smart about it.

Prices are likely bloated by 10% or more. Offer less than asking price, there is little competion if any for the property. Make sure you know how long it been in the market, the longer the less you offer. Most houses in PR are in the market for a year or so before they sell. If there is a history of previous asking price take a look at it. You want to pay the least possible, do not compare to Mainland prices. PR is a buyers market, US is a Sellers market. In PR you control the negotiations, if they become difficult walk away and tell them to call you if they change their mind.

Places like Rincon or Metro area you will have very little room to negotiate, but in most other areas YOU DO. In the Rincon area the prices are over bloated but there are plenty of people from the mainland willing to buy there.

A lot of houses in PR were not designed to have any hot water, check on that, open the hot water, ask where the water heater is. If the plumbing for hot water is not there and you need it for showers, baths, dishwasher and laundy, check and check well. Two faucets do not necesarly mean one is hot, both may be cold. Retrofitting for hot water means breaking walls to run the tubing. Know what you are getting yourself into before you make an offer.

If the offer expires or does not pass the house inspection, or the appraisal by the bank is too low, you have the right to cancel the whole thing and get your down payment back provided all those were conditions on the offer, so it is important they are conditions in the written offer. Otherwise they get to keep your money!!!!

There are hot water heaters that connect to where the shower head is, those are electric, so they waste electricity, it needs an electric plug close by. And while that may do for the shower, it does nothing for the rest of the bathroom or the rest of the house.

Wow! Fantastic information. I have owned several homes and know what to look for here, but I do realize things are different there. We will actually be there for 10 days and because of another expat.com member, our mortgage pre approval should be wrapped up in the next day or two. We are primarily looking for a condo as a long term investment property so I'm hoping the hot water situation you speak of will not be an issue? Also, if you know of a reputable lawyer, could you kindly send the contact information my way? Thanks a million for all the info!

lgodwin :

Wow! Fantastic information. I have owned several homes and know what to look for here, but I do realize things are different there. We will actually be there for 10 days and because of another expat.com member, our mortgage pre approval should be wrapped up in the next day or two. We are primarily looking for a condo as a long term investment property so I'm hoping the hot water situation you speak of will not be an issue? Also, if you know of a reputable lawyer, could you kindly send the contact information my way? Thanks a million for all the info!

On a condo the hot water issues should not exist.
If you plan to use the place for rental (Airbnb, Homeaway), you will need to check with the Condo council and read the rules well. A lot of condos are starting to prohibit rental for less than 6 months at a time. Also maybe speaking to some of the people that live there will give you an idea of crime, problem people and the Condo HOA also asking the dwellers about other condos being used for Airbnb may give you an idea if it is well received or not.

Good Afternoon!
We are very new to Puerto Rico but excited to make her our home. We sailed over from Dominican Republic 2 months ago and are currently living aboard in Palmas Del Mar. We’re in the process of finding jobs, a vehicle, and getting our daughter into school this coming Fall. A lot of changes happening for us, as we have not worked for a few years. We are slowly learning Spanish and my Husband can get by pretty well.
I stumbled upon this awesome sight while looking for English speaking employment. Any insight or recommendations would be much appreciated! ⛵️ Cheers!

SKMariquita :

Good Afternoon!
We are very new to Puerto Rico but excited to make her our home. We sailed over from Dominican Republic 2 months ago and are currently living aboard in Palmas Del Mar. We’re in the process of finding jobs, a vehicle, and getting our daughter into school this coming Fall. A lot of changes happening for us, as we have not worked for a few years. We are slowly learning Spanish and my Husband can get by pretty well.
I stumbled upon this awesome sight while looking for English speaking employment. Any insight or recommendations would be much appreciated! ⛵️ Cheers!

Welcome to the Forum and Puerto Rico.
As to jobs, While the average unemployment in the mainland is around 3.8%, the unemployment rate in PR averages around 15%.

Also I must warn you that PR jobs pay about 1/2 to 1/3 (most common) of what the same job pays in the states.

So it is not going to be easy, Spanish may be a problem also as most jobs either require Spanish or both Spanish and English. Your customers, coworkers, and boss ability to communicate with you is likely to determine how strict this will be.

Any income received from most jobs in PR would be subject to PR taxes which is rather high. The top rate I believe is 3/!\ I AM A STUPID SPAMMER /!\ which applies to income of 60K plus 1 dollar, so taxes in PR are a lot higher than Federal tax which you are also likely to have to pay on income  received from sources other than PR. On top of that we have an 11.5% sales tax called IVU and Electricity is on average double what is in the states. Electricity and water both have additional charges to help pay some of their Deb. PR will nickel and dime you.

Average income for a family of 3 is around 20k a year.

I do not recommend that people that need a job in PR economy come to PR. I know several expats that took over a year to finally find a job and several that gave up after ruining their finances and credit.
Rey

Greetings!
My husband and I are planning for retirement in about 4 years. We own a small piece of land in the mountains of Utuado and are researching the feasibility of building a house where we can retire to. We still have to research tax implications for us. I've read up on some info offered here but still will need to speak with a tax professional.
We're planning to go for our first post Maria visit to check out the area our land is in and to visit family. At that time, we'll probably try to get an idea of housing prices and requirements.
Thanks for accepting me into your forum.

Bbiwbkacq :

Greetings!
My husband and I are planning for retirement in about 4 years. We own a small piece of land in the mountains of Utuado and are researching the feasibility of building a house where we can retire to. We still have to research tax implications for us. I've read up on some info offered here but still will need to speak with a tax professional.
We're planning to go for our first post Maria visit to check out the area our land is in and to visit family. At that time, we'll probably try to get an idea of housing prices and requirements.
Thanks for accepting me into your forum.

Welcome to the forum, feel free to ask questions.
Good Luck on your move 4 years from now.
I would suggest you plan on building in 3 years or even 4. There is a lot of activity now and into 2020 causing prices of materials and labor to raise.

Absolutely please listen to Rey - It took us 6 months to complete the transaction with MANY curveballs.
Dot your T's and cross all I's.

Find out where you want to buy first. and then build or find your dream house.

Good luck, Have fun !

Wow Igodwin.  Your situation sounds so similar to mine! In  my 40's.  Live in MD. Looking to purchase before retiring.  Work full-time.  Can't travel on a whim. Having a difficult time navigating the process... Would you mind sharing the name of the person who is helping you with pre-approval?
PS- Thanks Ray for all the valuable information.

Hi, I’m Joyce. I moved to PR about 3 years ago. My partner is originally from PR and I have been able to rely a lot on his family for support in adjusting to my new home. We also have a son. Im temporarily visiting Pittsburgh to get some healthcare needs addressed, and to do some recovering from the hurricane. My partner is still in PR. I plan to return with our son near the end of the school year, along with a visit in April. We lived in Añasco, and since we have been gone my partner moved to Aguada (which is where he was born and raised.)

JoyceMeghan :

Hi, I’m Joyce. I moved to PR about 3 years ago. My partner is originally from PR and I have been able to rely a lot on his family for support in adjusting to my new home. We also have a son. Im temporarily visiting Pittsburgh to get some healthcare needs addressed, and to do some recovering from the hurricane. My partner is still in PR. I plan to return with our son near the end of the school year, along with a visit in April. We lived in Añasco, and since we have been gone my partner moved to Aguada (which is where he was born and raised.)

Welcome to the forum

Hello!  My name is Heather and my family and I are currently considering PR for retirement.  My husband is active duty and can retire next year if we have a good plan. 

We spent 3 years in Portugal (my daughter was born there) and absolutely loved it but are not considering retiring in Europe as our parents are starting to have some health issues and we want to be close (within 3 or 4 hours) to the US especially since they are west coast. 

We have a 2 and a 13yo.  My primary goal is for them (and myself) is to learn to speak Spanish.  This is very important to me for many reasons.  While there are ways to learn a language on the mainland, I think connecting to the culture is very important. 

We currently homeschool, and would like to travel to Central and Latin America as well as elsewhere in the Caribbean.  I am also open to learning more about bilingual schools.

  We are really looking to grow roots though so I might be asking a lot of questions!  Thank you and looking forward to learning.

HeatherC477 :

Hello!  My name is Heather and my family and I are currently considering PR for retirement.  My husband is active duty and can retire next year if we have a good plan. 

We spent 3 years in Portugal (my daughter was born there) and absolutely loved it but are not considering retiring in Europe as our parents are starting to have some health issues and we want to be close (within 3 or 4 hours) to the US especially since they are west coast. 

We have a 2 and a 13yo.  My primary goal is for them (and myself) is to learn to speak Spanish.  This is very important to me for many reasons.  While there are ways to learn a language on the mainland, I think connecting to the culture is very important. 

We currently homeschool, and would like to travel to Central and Latin America as well as elsewhere in the Caribbean.  I am also open to learning more about bilingual schools.

  We are really looking to grow roots though so I might be asking a lot of questions!  Thank you and looking forward to learning.

Good news, you will not need a passport, you be dealing with American Dollars, same federal laws, easy access to the mainland and flights everywhere, VA hospitals in PR, military base with PX privileges, base car purchases, Spanish everywhere to immerse yourself and the kids in if you do not isolate yourself in mostly English communities, cheap real estate both rental and purchase of property, Probably only Federal tax, no state tax, very low property taxes. Beaches all over, scuba, boating, river pools all over the island.

Some negatives: Vegetables come by boat so they are not as fresh, variety of vegetables is sub standard given that the masses are not as in love with vegetables, IVU (consumer tax) is 11.5% on most things you purchase. On average most food is 20% more. Milk is $6.00 a gallon, but other items are very close to mainland prices. Electricity is about twice the cost as the US and creeping upward probably to same price as Hawaii in the next 10 years.

Hi All,

I'm a brand new member.  My wife, 3 daughters and myself are playing with the idea of a life change and PR is on the top of our list.  We are just in the initial phases of thinking this whole process out.  My daughters are 15, 13 and 10.  I own/operate a Electrical Contracting business out of NYC.  We have done well raising the girls and living life.  Every year operating out of the NYC seems to just get tougher, more requirements/restrictions for us.  Traffic has made it impossible to move our vehicles around the city.  This list of complaints can go on for days.  I'm also seeing this trend affecting many of my friends/colleagues that own service based businesses out of NYC area. 

So this has spearheaded the discussions with my wife and myself.  We recently spent another great week in the San Juan area and had a wonderful time.  I realize visiting a place for time off and then moving are 2 different worlds.

I think we are planning another trip in early may and would tour some schools etc.

I would also like any advice on if people have relocated that were in the construction industry etc.

I have done projects down the the USVI so I can understand the "Island Time" thing.

Anyway I look forward to hearing from the members and glad to have come across the forum.

Dannyboy,

IMO

A good electrical contractor should not have too much difficulty getting work.  However, the wage scales here will be much lower that NYC.

Why don't you check with some of the electrical contractors here about work.  Also, Spanish would be very helpful.

Hi Danny, Welcome to the forum and Puerto Rico soon.

Not sure if you want to move your business or sell it. Either way, getting the permits here take time.

PR has 78 towns, each with their own uniqueness so there are plenty of places to choose from. I think you should get to know the island more before deciding to take the plunge.

Somewhere around the Metro area is probably a good choice due to the larger number of potential customers.

Hi Guys,

Thx for the response.  We are definitely planning a couple of trips down to have a look around, schools, neighborhoods etc.  We are leaning towards the area of Condado.  We would rent something before buying.  Also my sister in law would move into our place in NYC as we transition before we sell as a safety net etc. 

My Spanish is so/so.  I use it here in NYC or when we have traveled to Latin countries.  But that would be one of the fun things for myself and the family.. 

As far as the business I wouldn't really look to relocate as we have a strong customer base in Tri-State.  I would probably work out something with a partner.  Then try to build a new customer base in PR.  I know this would probably be a hurdle and as mentioned the rates are going to be lower than what we have here in NYC.  I'm hoping the costs of doing business would be lower in PR to offset that.

Again thank you for the advice so far and I'm sure we will be coming back to the forum for advice/research.

Hello,
My first post on this forum.
My family(son-14,daughter-11,wife-...)and I are planning to move to PR this year.My wife is a PR born and raised but most of her life lived in the states.Kids and I are struggling with Spanish language.Planning to move to Arroyo (small quiet town in the southeast of the island).Ideally we would like to move by the begging of the school year.

Darius D :

Hello,
My first post on this forum.
My family(son-14,daughter-11,wife-...)and I are planning to move to PR this year.My wife is a PR born and raised but most of her life lived in the states.Kids and I are struggling with Spanish language.Planning to move to Arroyo (small quiet town in the southeast of the island).Ideally we would like to move by the begging of the school year.

Hi,
Welcome to the Forum and Puerto Rico soon.

Hey guys, we’re planning on going back to the island this summer and I’m trying to find a couple guys I met a couple years ago. After the hurricane the numbers I had for them no longer work. They were living in “los naranjos” and I assume they still are. Anyone on here know people in that neighborhood?

I should clarify.  Los Naranjos in Vega Baja.

Hi everyone!  Happy to be posting  here!

My wife and I have a five year plan to move to Puerto Rico from the bi-polar Nebraska climate, and we're starting to narrow down the areas in which we want to live. We've been leaning toward Ceiba due to the proximity to beaches, ferry terminal, and SJU, although we're really pretty open to other areas. We'll be moving with our (currently) four-year-old daughter, so we'll be looking for a family friendly area that is close to a beach.

I work remotely, and my wife is a medical social worker considering doing remote counseling, so a strong internet presence is probably the biggest requirement for us next to location (beach) and family friendliness/safety.

We're not opposed to living on a specific area of the island as long as it fits our requirements. We've got plenty of time to scope out locations!  We'll be making our second trip to PR in May, and already planning a third for the first part of 2020 to introduce our daughter to the beauty of the Caribbean!

TL;DR - We're looking for a family friendly, internet-strong area near the water on Puerto Rico that we can move to within five years.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to more conversation!

Mike

mikecarnesvo :

Hi everyone!  Happy to be posting  here!

My wife and I have a five year plan to move to Puerto Rico from the bi-polar Nebraska climate, and we're starting to narrow down the areas in which we want to live. We've been leaning toward Ceiba due to the proximity to beaches, ferry terminal, and SJU, although we're really pretty open to other areas. We'll be moving with our (currently) four-year-old daughter, so we'll be looking for a family friendly area that is close to a beach.

I work remotely, and my wife is a medical social worker considering doing remote counseling, so a strong internet presence is probably the biggest requirement for us next to location (beach) and family friendliness/safety.

We're not opposed to living on a specific area of the island as long as it fits our requirements. We've got plenty of time to scope out locations!  We'll be making our second trip to PR in May, and already planning a third for the first part of 2020 to introduce our daughter to the beauty of the Caribbean!

TL;DR - We're looking for a family friendly, internet-strong area near the water on Puerto Rico that we can move to within five years.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to more conversation!

Mike

Hi Mike,
Welcome to the forum and hopefully Puerto Rico soon.
I can not tell you much about schools, so I will leave that to others.
As you have stated, the East Coast is the gateway to Viequez, Culebra and the Virgin Island. If you are interested in boating, this is the place for you as it provides the most places to travel.
There are many different Internet service providers in PR. The areas of Fajardo and Ceiba has Liberty (most desirable), Claro (btw 1 month ago it was running new fiber in the actual town, however most areas receive around 10 megabits from claro when not using fiber), there is also Aeronet and satelite internet service), there may be more. in the mountains you may or may not have but two options (Aeronet and Satelite service) these services are metered, you get around 25 megabits but are limited to 25 or 50 Gigs during any 30 day period, this may be ok or not for you, viewing movies thru these services may use up those gigs in just 10 days, resulting in significant slow down of the service (0.5 to 1.0 megabits). You also have the ability to use your phone data plan to allow your computers to reach the Internet.

I live in Ceiba.

You should make several trips to PR and study different towns and communities. We recommend that people rent for 6 months to a year before making a decision so that they can do a good search  of the location that meets all your needs.

Please let us know if you have additional questions.

We had Liberty before Maria.  It was frequently down in my area (NW part)

We are now using Directv with internet, works well for us. 😎

Good afternoon.  I am retired and looking to become an expat very soon. I have a house that I want to purchase asap. I am in dire need of a bank with a real estate attorney.  I was told that I needed this because I will be applying for a mortgage.  The seller and I are on the same page.  I just need a purchase contract in order to start the mortgage process.  I have been preapproved for a loan.  I am excited to move to Rincon.  Any help with my situation to speed up this process is appreciated!! I volunteer here feeding the homeless, sorting donations and the like.  I Iook forward to making my  contribution in Rincon.  Thanks in advance!!!

Good morning.. I am Kimmi and planning to move to Aguadilla with 2 kids ( 4 years and 1 year) this July. I will live in PR hopefully for 2 years and the goal is to learn spanish and the culture also to enjoy the place. My husband will not come with us due to work, but he will be visiting. My concern is the safety with kids regading the neighborhood. I preferred gated community but not many listed on classificados. We are on budget, so definitely not looking for luxury place, just normal safe place.We do not really mind either apartment or house, also do not mind if it is small ( but need to have at least 2 bedrooms for the kids)
If anyone can share experience regarding housing in aguadilla or borinquen, i really appreciate this. I actually prefer to stay near the Ramey base.
Also what is best internet service in aguadilla. I was thinking to use safety monitoring system ( such as Arlo) which will use internet connection, but still looking at other option too such as ADT etc.
Thank you.

kimmi83 :

Good morning.. I am Kimmi and planning to move to Aguadilla with 2 kids ( 4 years and 1 year) this July. I will live in PR hopefully for 2 years and the goal is to learn spanish and the culture also to enjoy the place. My husband will not come with us due to work, but he will be visiting. My concern is the safety with kids regading the neighborhood. I preferred gated community but not many listed on classificados. We are on budget, so definitely not looking for luxury place, just normal safe place.We do not really mind either apartment or house, also do not mind if it is small ( but need to have at least 2 bedrooms for the kids)
If anyone can share experience regarding housing in aguadilla or borinquen, i really appreciate this. I actually prefer to stay near the Ramey base.
Also what is best internet service in aguadilla. I was thinking to use safety monitoring system ( such as Arlo) which will use internet connection, but still looking at other option too such as ADT etc.
Thank you.

Aguadilla is fairly safe, I would worry little about the safety of the kids, main thing would be playing in the streets, that can be very unsafe.

As to housing I would recommend either a house or apartment, it depends if you want to plant and have a yard for your kids or not. A condo may also offer you a pool to cool off.

You should be able to find a long term rental unit 2 br for around 500 a month plus utilities. However most apartments and houses are rented with zero furniture and often with no stove or refrigerator so be prepared for that expense.

PS. Forget gated communities, that is unnecessary.

Thank you Rey :)

Anyone know of a place on the island where you could rent a canoe or small boat like a dingy?

Please before you sign a lease make sure you are ablento get liberty internet. They are reliable. Dont get claro, net huges,etc
Remember Many times with apartments, condos etc you wont be able to havr a generator and most of those places dint havr water backup.  You can get a house with 2 to 3 bedrooms for about $500 to $700 a month
I would suggests isabela over aguadilla
Also puerto rico has limited public transportation and you wont find it outside san juan.

Sandra, I'm moving to PR Saturday. I was born and raised there. When I was a kid there were "carros publicos" that traversed the entire island. Not sure what the situation is now as I left more than 30 years ago. They worked during business hours. Late hours you could find a taxi at a much higher cost.

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