Moving to Puerto Rico on a limited income

This is my first post in the forums and I am looking for advice on moving to Puerto Rico on, at least for the short term, limited funds. I’m a psychologist in private practice in the mainland US, but am recently divorced with no savings to speak of. Currently I’m working on developing my distance/teletherapy practice to make my employment more portable.
I’m familiar with the island and have visited a number of times- more on the west coast.
I have a small dog and a cat- both therapy animals in my practice.
Would it be possible to to live in Puerto Rico on $2,000-$3000 a month, at least at first, as I rebuild my practice in the new location? Would it be difficult to find good, affordable housing given that I have pets? I tend to think about living on the west coast because it is more familiar to me, but I’m not opposed to other parts of the island.
I will have to make a trip or 2 to explore places to live- this also has to be on a budget as the divorce had quite a negative impact on me financially. The more I can learn about the best options ahead of time the better! I speak a fair bit of Spanish, but am not fluent. I would hope to be fluent enough within a year or two, to be able to see Spanish speaking clients as well as English speakers. Initially I would have to see only English speakers in addition to my distance practice.
I realize that I have quite a few questions mixed in here- I have a lot on my mind. lol

Welcome to the forum.  Let's see.....

The short answer is that most Puerto Rican families live on less than $2000/month.  The question is whether you can live like most Puerto Rican families.  A quick look at clasificados for rentals in the West show numerous listings for female roomates, for under $200/month.  This may be a good way to practice your Spanish.  Alternatively, there are modest apartments for about $500.  Bear in mind none of these will be glamorous. 

There will be significant costs to relocation.  You have mentioned the cost of trips to secure housing.  Finding transportation will also be costly.  Shipping a car is expensive, as are rentals on the island.  Public transportation is virtually non-existent. 

Finally, the economy of Puerto Rico is in decline, and without fluency in Spanish, finding employment, even self-employment will be difficult.  If you end up needing part-time work to make ends meet, this will be a challenge.  If you want to start your own business, the regulatory environment is labyrinthine. 

For someone without an income, a move to Puerto Rico is a terribly risky proposition.  In my case, my wife and I plan to retire there in four years when we become "empty-nesters".  We will live on the amount that you contemplate, but without housing costs, and with a significant reserve.

I guess the last bit of advice --  If you do decide to make this move, reserve an amount necessary to "escape" back to the mainland.

Yes it is possible but it depends on your life style.
You should be able to find an apartment for around 400-500 a month plus utilities on the side. Air conditioning will raise your cost so use it only for  sleeping.
You would need to signup for medical insurance programs here as out of pocket medical expenses are hard on the people and would reduce your practice.
You will need a license to practice on the island also.

Propane stove is better than electric, electricity is double what is in the states.

Thank you both for your quick and realistic  responses. That’s the sort of help I’m looking for.
So a few things to clarify:
-I’m working on my distance practice- seeing clients by phone or video conferencing, so that I would be coming to Puerto Rico with an income and do not plan to look for a job there. I’m very aware of how difficult it is to find employment on the island. I would come over and be “seeing “ clients on the mainland in the states where I’m licensed.
- I do plan to obtain a license to practice in Puerto Rico and have (finally!) found the contact information for PR licensing online.
- I would also certainly get on the insurance panels there and I understand that the island has different insurance than the mainland US.
Initially I could only see English speakers and only when I am confident in my Spanish fluency would I then begin seeing Spanish speakers as well. I can get by and casually talk with people in Spanish, but therapy obviously requires a high level of ability to speak and understand the language. Given the Spanish I speak already and being a quick language learner I’m sure it wouldn’t take me that long to get there. I’m excited about this part of it since being fully bilingual has been a lifelong goal.
-I’m much more familiar with Puerto Rican culture and lifestyle than most non-Spanish US mainlanders- my best friend from age 5 through my teen years was Puerto Rican and I spent some extended periods with her and her family in the projects in NYC. I’ve also had many Puerto Rican friends, coworkers, and clients, over the years.
I’ve been to the island 8-10 times and traveled around by car but spent time mainly in Rincon, but I’ve visited San Juan, Mayaguez, Cabo Rojo, Isabella, driven through the mountains, etc.
I totally get what you’re saying about most P.R. families living on an income even lower than the low figures I was asking about and the question of how that would be for me. I had my first child when I was 18 and was quite poor. I know what that’s like and I don’t want or expect to return to that low a standard of living!
-I would hope and expect to have more income than $2-3K monthly and I am working on building up a “cushion “ for myself to support me through the move and related expenses.
Also would definitely have a back up plan and the ability to move back to the states if that was necessary for any reason.
-I don’t plan to bring a car over. It just seems easier to get one on the island once I’m there.
- Similarly, I’d prefer not to come with a lot of possessions, and would rather find a furnished place, including possibly a roommate or similar situation.
- I wonder though if it would be hard to find a situation living with someone else/others with my 2 pets- a dog and a cat? My dog is very, very well trained and well behaved, as is the cat, but the dog is really amazing to the point that he is often welcome in places where other dogs are not.
-I don’t need to live in anyplace fancy- just not depressing or run down, etc. I was thinking that finding an initial rental/shared living situation for the first 6 months to a year, and then from there finding a place I want to live long term, might be a good idea.
- I also want to get to know people and make friends and I’m hopeful that this will be easier in P.R. than it is here in New England. Puerto Ricans are definitely more friendly than in the culture here, at least from what I’ve experienced so far.
A huge part of my decision, other than loving P.R., is healthcare and health insurance. As a self employed person it costs me almost $900 a month for health insurance, and the policy isn’t even that good. From my research so far, health insurance would cost half this price for me in P.R., and with better coverage.
Anyway, I’m grateful for any advice and guidance that those of you who know the island better have to offer.
It will  probably be a year before I’m ready to take action towards moving. Right now I’m trying to figure out when I can get away and visit P.R. again to do some in person research on where I might want to live that’s both affordable enough, pet friendly, and comfortable for me.
I know this is a really long post. Thanks!!!

Sounds like you understand the situation clearly and are planning appropriately, so congratulations are in order, we do get a lot of Dreamers, but you seem to have your feet well planted unlike them.

We are here to try to answer your questions so don’t be shy.

Thanks Rey! My biggest preoccupation is finding out how small an income I could live on without it being awful, lol. Right now my income is decent but living expenses here are huge, especially home heating and healthcare. Moving to P.R. would initially cause a significant drop in income, but over the longer term I would be fine. It will just take a while to build up my practice even with having distance therapy clients prior to the move. More motivation to achieve Spanish fluency! I do well with Puerto Rican and other Spanish clients, both because the culture is a good match for me and I think because I’m warmer and more casual than most Anglo therapists .
1) What do you think is an acceptable minimum monthly income to have in mind in order to get by initially. Again, I don’t need a fancy or luxurious lifestyle at all. I’m willing to live with less for a while.
2) Do you think I’ll have any difficulty finding a decent living situation for myself with my 2 pets? They’re extremely well behaved as I said and they are therapy animals.
Thank you again for the kind welcome!
Paige

I don't see any reason you couldn't get by for $2,000/month as a single person. With enough searching you can find an entire house for $600-$700/month (Granted, you'd need to be outside of Rincón to make that happen). Utilities are a few hundred. Food, gas, incidentals are doable for under $1,000 easily. If you have $3k, you'll be even more comfortable. It sounds like you're realistic in your expectations, so I'd expect you to have zero issues with the move.

Thank you Kev, it’s encouraging to hear this. I hope it won’t be too difficult to find a place that pets are allowed? I like the west coast and I wouldn’t mind living At the start of the hills.  versus right by the beach . Definitely considering Aguadilla! I see the benefits of being in a town too. Don’t want to be too far away from things or from other people. Making friends is going to be important for me. Definitely will volunteer cleaning up trash and with animal rescue.

Check out Mayaguez, too. That's where we've settled and we really like it here - Up in the hills, away from the beach and the noise. We love it.

Are you in a neighborhood there? I’ve only been to the city center in Mayaguez and driven on the main road there from Rincon, so I probably don’t have a full sense of what the possibilities are nearby.

I live on a dead end road. My nearest neighbor is an acre away and there are only 3 houses past me on the dead end road (3 before me). A nice creek 100 yards away from us. We're not the neighborhood type. We LOVE our location. And we've lived in Aguadilla, loved it too. But where we are now is where we belong :)

I literally never hear traffic - That's how far we are from the nearest major road. And yet only 7 minutes from Mayaguez town center. There are pockets of quiet areas, you just have to find them :)

That sounds great- not so different from my living situation here in the states- rural, but only a short drive into a town.

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