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Old 01-29-2008, 07:30 PM
 
79 posts, read 306,417 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mythspell View Post
It would be great if we could read more comments on how people would feel IF you weren't going to have to live/work in the San Juan metro area. I'm thinking that would get rid of many of the negatives being associated with the island (e.g. theft, violence, insane traffic, high real estate prices, high insurance, etc.) For example, FLBOUND, if you weren't still working but were considering where to retire, and therefore could live anywhere else on the rest of the island, would you still pick Florida over Puerto Rico? Anyone who has experience with the rest of the island please feel free to post your comments also. I think it would be really helpful to get people's opinions once you factor out all the problems of the San Juan area.
Good question. Were I retired and had to choose between FL and PR I would live in PR, IF I were in good health and still self-sufficient. I would probably not live in the SJ area. Perhaps Rincon, which is beautiful and lots to do. Were I in poor health or needed certain services then I would stay stateside.

If the job that I was recently offered were in another part of the island, I would have much more seriously considered it.

I have to admit though, the prospect of finally living there was extremely exciting to me and for a time I really wanted to move there.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:50 PM
 
1,261 posts, read 5,688,006 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mythspell View Post
For example, FLBOUND, if you weren't still working but were considering where to retire, and therefore could live anywhere else on the rest of the island, would you still pick Florida over Puerto Rico? Anyone who has experience with the rest of the island please feel free to post your comments also. I think it would be really helpful to get people's opinions once you factor out all the problems of the San Juan area.
I grew up in PR and although I still have family there, when retirement time came around many of my family members relocated to Florida. I think FLBOUND's description of what you face living in the Island is right on target. Crime is everywhere and the services are much worse outside of San Juan. Waiting to see a doctor all day is quite common. Having to go to San Juan to seek specialized care or get a surgery is not uncommon. The power outages, water shortages, lack of phone service are a regular occurence. Public transportation is very limited outside of San Juan. Every time we visit, my husband and I pack a few stray dogs in our rental car and pay to have them spayed/neutered at our expense because animal shelters are almost non-existent and it's horrendous to see these animals so sick and hungry roaming around every corner. As much as we enjoy visiting, I can't imagine living under those conditions, particularly for senior citizens who may need special care.
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlv311 View Post
I grew up in PR and although I still have family there, when retirement time came around many of my family members relocated to Florida. I think FLBOUND's description of what you face living in the Island is right on target. Crime is everywhere and the services are much worse outside of San Juan. Waiting to see a doctor all day is quite common. Having to go to San Juan to seek specialized care or get a surgery is not uncommon. The power outages, water shortages, lack of phone service are a regular occurence. Public transportation is very limited outside of San Juan. Every time we visit, my husband and I pack a few stray dogs in our rental car and pay to have them spayed/neutered at our expense because animal shelters are almost non-existent and it's horrendous to see these animals so sick and hungry roaming around every corner. As much as we enjoy visiting, I can't imagine living under those conditions, particularly for senior citizens who may need special care.
Thanks for your reply. However, I'd like to follow-up on some of your points and seek additional input from you and others on them.

1. "Crime is everywhere" - I guess I can't argue with that on a literal basis since crime truly is everywhere, including everywhere in the U.S. and elsewhere. Using the Florida example, there is certainly plenty of crime in Florida but obviously there's a major difference between crime in Miami or Tampa versus crime in some small town well outside the big cities. Likewise, I have to believe there is a similar difference between San Juan and small towns elsewhere on the island. However, for you to make a point of saying crime is everywhere makes it sound as if you wouldn't feel safe anywhere on the island. So, do you really believe that crime is so bad "everywhere" in Puerto Rico that the whole place is worse than living anywhere in Florida for example? Just to clarify, the reason I keep using Florida as an example is a) because of FLBOUND and b) because a lot of people retire and relocate there.

2. "The power outages, water shortages, lack of phone service are a regular occurence." What do you categorize as "regular" and is this based on present-day experience or years past? The power outages, although I have no idea of the frequency, doesn't overly surprise me since I have seen enough real-estate listings of homes with backup generator hookups to believe it is an issue. That being said, if your retirement was going to be in a home with a backup generator then the occasional outage wouldn't be that big a deal - clearly this could be an issue if living in a condo or somewhere with no backup. The water and phone are a bit surprising. I presume the water outages must be a result of line breaks or equipment failures since all of the large purpose-made lakes must surely hold an adequate water supply. I guess how big of a problem this is depends on what you're used to - quite frankly, there are plenty of areas in the mainland U.S. with outdated water mains that experience at least one outage a month while they repair a line break. And being without phone service I find really surprising, especially with so many cell-phone towers around. Are you really saying there are "regular" periods with no landline AND no cell-phone service?

3. As for the rest, nothing surprising there. Obviously public transport is limited (or non-existant) outside of any metropolitan area so that's no different than anywhere else. And for most people, this isn't an issue - especially if we're talking about people who have spent their working life in the mainland U.S. and are considering whether to retire in PR or not. Presumeably those people would have their own car anyway. I also think it's fairly easy to assume that anyone who isn't particularly healthy or anticipates needing special medical care probably wouldn't be considering a relocation to PR in the first place. That being said, a lot of people don't realize this but there has been a substantial flow of U.S. retirees over the past couple decades to areas in Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, etc. Again, these are undoubtedly healthy people with no anticipation of specialized medical needs. Nevertheless, unless those with direct experience are going to all start confirming that medical facilities in PR are horrible then I would have to think that as a retiree, I would feel far more comfortable in Puerto Rico than I would in Mexico, Panama, or Costa Rica. Would I feel as comfortable in Puerto Rico as the mainland U.S. - no, but if you're healthy with no specific medical concerns, I don't see writing off PR unless its medical infrastructure is worse than I can imagine would be allowed in a U.S. territory. Am I missing something here, is it really that bad? Because if it's just a matter of waiting all day to see a doctor or going to the big city for specialized care or surgery, again, that isn't much different than anywhere else.
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:37 AM
 
1,772 posts, read 4,072,424 times
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This touches close to home...I don't intend to come off doom and gloom about the prospects of living in PR, and I have disclosed I elected to leave, but I have to footstomp on the unique realities that make these "generalities" of quality of life particularly difficult when speaking of the island.

First let me de-couple metro San Juan and the rest of island. Outside of metro San Juan MSA, Ponce and Arecibo, the island is country, positively without a doubt rural. And I'm not talking about CONUS mid-western flat land rural, I'm talking about Appalachian poor. Forget median per capita income, the island is POOR. Anybody who has studied the history of the island should be aware that "barrios" isn't just some present-day pejorative for the 'hood, it's the way the island was developed; streches and streches of mountainous land populated by clusters of highly poor, once-agricultural families, left in the 20th century. This is not a character flaw, but a living reality that cannot and should not be minimized by a token retiree fixiated on the general beauty, weather comfort and overall "different feel" of your garden variety CARIBBEAN ISLAND. (It's SUPPOSED to be beautiful...that's not the point). We'll get back to living outside San Juan metro in a second, let's address some of the major points brought up before.

Crime is everywhere. Yes. The difference is that in the CONUS you can still enjoy your chosen lifestyle by simply shifting yourself along different areas and practicing common sense. In Puerto Rico you CANNOT escape it. You simply cannot. Everywhere you go you are at risk of being victimized. There are no "safe areas" in the whole San Juan metro area. Yes, there are gated communities; good luck eating, growing up, shopping, going to school, college and raising your kids (rinse and repeat) inside your gated community. You have to go outside, and you cannot escape the poverty and the subsequent crime and general riff raff everywhere you go.

See, some people up here actually mistify and novelize this reality; "lechón asa'o en la carretera", (roasted pig on the side of the road) "pinchos en el kiosko de luquillo" (skewers on the luquillo beach huts) ad nauseam. That's good and great but there is a price for that. These people are struggling, they lack the work ethic people take for granted up in the states (and believe me in Louisiana work ethic is an afterthought, for full disclosure), people are not moderately educated therefore they tend to be rude and riff-raffy. This is everywhere you go, whether it is eating pinchos on the side of the road or eating at the local chili's in San Juan. Car jackings are a fact of life. For Christ sake you don't even have to leave the "tourist" areas to figure this out. Go to the airport and they have a section of the multi-level parking reserved for just Mitsubishi Monteros, because for years they have been the favorite vehicle to steal in the island. Yep, only in Puerto Rico... Murders are through the roof, but it has been highlighted before they are mostly drug related. Fair enough. In the states you just stay away from the drug cores. In PR you cannot. Every light you stop at after sundown is a potential car jacking opportunity or a stray bullet through the temple that wasn't meant for you. I'm sorry, but that's the reality. Could I replicate those odds in East St. Louis after sundown? Of course. But I can escape that center easily in the CONUS, in PR you have to accept that risk as the opportunity cost of living in the caribbean. Going to pubs at night, you are in effect dancing right next to drug pushers and mid-level gang officers, and it is not uncommon to have shootings in public places; incidents that rattle the community several times a year and make decent people down there cringe, but reality that can only be avoided by 1) leaving the island or 2) altering your lifestyle to the point where you cannot enjoy yourself. I sit and stare in awe at teenagers at the mall up here after after dark, laughing and enjoying themselves and thinking to myself "wow, their parents don't even know how lucky they are their kids can reasonably be outside at night". I did my stint of #2 until my window opened for #1. So no, it's not just "crime is everywhere" and therefore similar to the CONUS, it's quite restrictive to freedom of lifestyle and much different than the choices in the mainland. So yes, anywhere in Florida is better than PR for crime, all else being equal. Miami does not apply, as it IS part of Cuba and PR for that matter, I'm not being facetious, demographically I can't even tell I'm not back in San Juan when I've been in south Dade. But I digress.

Regarding infrastructure, yes utilities are a mess down there. You can get away with less ocurrences the closer you get to downtown San Juan, but outside the metro area they are a fact of life. You laugh at the thought a "couple times a month"... haha, try a couple of hours every single day like clockwork. I'm not even talking about rationing, which happens every other year, I'm talking about general outages of both power and water. Example, my mother's extended family in the municipality of Morovis (you get brownie points if you can drive to it without getting lost in the mountain at least once). Water pump from the "downtown" core didn't have enough pressure to pump uphill to all the end points so they only had the benefit of "surges". Translation, can't do laundry in the mornings. That's rural PR for ya. Not in generalities, but in individual reality. Good luck retiring there. This is TODAY, as of a couple of hours ago, talking to my mother on the cell phone and her complaining they were going to outright buy her sister a water cistern no questions asked and put it on her roof because of the ridiculousness of being a US citizen in 2008 and not having running water. As to electrical power, they have gotten better as far as fair weather continuous service, but when it rains, yep, here we go. The fact that CAT (as in caterpillar, the industrial equipment manufacturer) bolted-down type generators are a common landscaping feature in middle class PR homes has already been acknowledged, so no need to elaborate on it.

Healthcare. Third-world outside of San Juan, period. You need critical care? You're getting an ambulance to San Juan, good luck with the traffic jam. God strike me down if I'm lying but in PR, people don't stop or sidestep their cars for emergency vehicles. They just stare at you, blast off obscenities and chase the ambulance in rush hour through the pocket they make. Things like MRIs are not readily accessible to the general population in all regional hospitals (Mayaguez, Manati, Aguadilla, Ponce, Humacao being the main regional support to San Juan metro hospitals) and for trauma care, buddy you're going to San Juan, make sure you got toll money. I was visiting my family, g/f in tow, for Xmas 2004. My grandmother has a stroke right there, I call 911 and I get a busy signal. I still remember my father's eyes of desperation in what seems so unreal for a western world society. I had to put her collapsing foaming at the mouth body in the family car along with my sobbing father and drive her myself in what best can be described as a stunt scene from the movies; running red lights, driving on the curb because people wouldn't let me pass, running the gate arm at the hospital against traffic, the whole nine. I do not wish to repeat the pain and anger I felt that day but I think it has earned me the right to call out primary care in the island for what it is: banana republic level. So yes a retiree can theoretically live in rural PR but you are bounded by the services only available in metro San Juan, that's a fact of life.

Regarding doctor's wait, agreed. It's not so much the lack of work ethic in PR (which is true), it's more due to the combination of 1) a drag-your-feet culture (between federal days, local state days and religious holidays, the avg state employee in PR has a working month off in a year, so fiscally they only work 11 months..yet there's no private industry to speak of to support the lack of productivity) and 2) the overuse of medical services by a largely indigent population. Translation, yep you have to take the day off and show up at 6:30am, no lie. At any rate, yes, the medical infrastructure is worse than imaginable outside of the metro area.

I don't think this negative protrayal should cause indignation and a sense that a more balanced reality MUST be instead the truth. How about finding indignation in the assertion that a location could be so "great" to visit but not good enough to live in. That right there should be the most glaring evidence that things are not right down there to say the least.
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:23 PM
 
Location: The Circle City. Sometimes NE of Bagdad.
19,574 posts, read 20,355,352 times
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hindsight2020,
I couldn't have said it any better. You said what I had been thinking. I spent a year in Ponce and I was so thankfull when the company said I didn't have to go back.

Yes, there were some good times and many friends were made, but the scary and sad times outweighed them.
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Old 01-31-2008, 05:09 PM
 
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Ditto to Hindsight2020's response. To answer your questions, I'm basing my comments on my experience living there and visiting annually as well as from what I hear from my family who still lives there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mythspell View Post
So, do you really believe that crime is so bad "everywhere" in Puerto Rico that the whole place is worse than living anywhere in Florida for example?
Crime is pretty rampant in Puerto Rico. If it wasn't that bad we wouldn't have a daily paper specializing on the crimes (El Vocero). People used to say "If you squeeze it, it will bleed." Of course, I'm basing my comments on my experience living in a city outside of San Juan metro area. My family lives in what is considered a middle class neighborhood. My mom alone has had 7 break-ins into her home during the past 20 years. Insignificant items (e.g., water hose, clothes on the backyard clothesline, Christmas decorations, etc.) are easily stolen from front and back yards. Christmas Mass is no longer celebrated at midnight to avoid the assaults some senior citizens suffered on their walk back home. Yet, even with Christmas Eve Mass at 7:00 pm, we still have several people who face "stolen car" within the two hours they were there. Have you had an opportunity to drive around middle class neighborhoods in the Island? Have you noticed how many homes have iron gates in the front and back (some even on the windows)? That's the primary "security system" for most people for a reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mythspell View Post
What do you categorize as "regular" and is this based on present-day experience or years past? Are you really saying there are "regular" periods with no landline AND no cell-phone service?
By regular, I mean weekly for power or water. My family members don't have generators or water cisterns in their homes so obviously the outages are a regular occurence. We all joke because we have either not had water or power the day of every one of our cousins' weddings so bad hair day and no showers have been part of the "special day." Generators are not that prevalent even among businesses outside of the San Juan metro area. I can't tell you how often we are at the Mall and with the exception of Walmart, everyone has to postpone shopping until power comes back. It's the way of life. The lack of phone service is not as frequently for landlines; however, when it happens, you can easily wait 2-3 weeks for repairs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mythspell View Post
Is it really that bad? Because if it's just a matter of waiting all day to see a doctor or going to the big city for specialized care or surgery, again, that isn't much different than anywhere else.
Getting a busy signal when calling 911 is not uncommon. If you suffer from a medical condition or have a medical emergency, you do not want to go to a hospital outside of San Juan. How bad is it that a person dies from appendicitis because the hospital "lost" the first set of X-rays taken at the ER and by the time they realize it, it is too late? Or that a young woman almost dies after delivering her baby because the entire medical staff fails to notice that she is allergic to latex. I know many people who were never diagnosed of a condition until visiting a specialist in San Juan. And, of course, given the demand for specialists and hospitals in San Juan, you have to take a number and wait, making it too late for some.

It pains me to acknowledge these sad realities.
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:01 PM
 
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I think the island creates disincentives for hard work.

Most public employees' in Puerto Rico work 7.5 hour days, get 30 working days off (almost six weeks) a year, 28 territorial and federal holidays, 30 days off with pay for National Guard or Reserve training, 2 months with pay for maternity leave, 18 days off for sick leave, and 4 to 5 days bereavement or personal leave. So they don't normally work 11 months, but actually much less. They get overtime or compensatory time after 7.5 hours a day or 37.5 hours a week. Government payroll eats up about 80% of the territory's budget

Small business have to pay double time for overtime after 8 hours a day or 40 in a week.

The territory also has a penalty for success with a 33% income tax rate for singles at the "high" $25,000 bracket ($50,000 for married filing jointly). And yes, they have deductions. Unfortunately, those deductions are a fraction of the federal. If one adds the current 7% sales tax on everything and the 20 to 35% excise tax on vehicles, the island should have money to spare. But, politicians on a spending frenzy always claim it's broke.

Folks who would normally not pay federal taxes must pay the territory a nice cut, and those who would pay federal taxes pay substantially more to the island than they would federal. Yet I must stress, the territory always has a deficit which shows in the poor conditions of its roads, schools, parks, etc.
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Old 02-07-2008, 01:20 PM
 
15 posts, read 70,805 times
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Thumbs up In my opinion...

Quote:
Originally Posted by x183 View Post
Ok, for all the Native Puerto Ricans out there, and anyone else who would like to chime in too, living there (PR), or not....

I have a chance to move to PR for my job. I make 45k here in the Middle of the U.S. If I go to PR for my company- the pay goes to 120k +. I like where I am, but PR is intriguing (yes- I have been there many times, but only in nice hotels, and for short durations.). I also have the benefit of being able to live anywhere I want on the Island.

Is it worth my while? Or will I regret going there?

Thanks in advance.
_______********_________
Hi, I am from Puerto Rico and I had the opportunity to studied there (Bachelor and Master degrees) and in USA; plus I worked for a while there, in a large American Pharmaceutical Company. But now live in Kentucky (since 4 years ago) and let me tell you something the change and the differences is huge. I really like KY a lot. I really like changes, so I can say that I adjust very quickly. In other hand, my husband moved to PR from KY (on 2002) for one year and a half, he worked in another large American Medical Devices Company and he did not adjust to the change quickly, took him about 6 months. Both we are Engineers, so our salary combined was a big chunk of change, when we moved back to KY we lost about 25-30% of our individual salaries. So, does not surprise me the big jump in your potential salary; for professional and adventurous people the Island is the place to be and a paradise to rest. Good food, good bars and good people (well, people not behind the steering wheels)!

KY like other states in the Midwest is a very lay back State and PR is a very fast moving Island. Everybody is in a big rush; the traffic is very aggressive like in LA, Chicago, Boston or NY City, but I think 5 times worst; is crazy the people don't follow traffic rules and they will flip you off for any move you make on the road. But you will get use to it and then you will become more aggressive toward the traffic. Oh, I almost forgot, the rush hour in San Juan and Metro area is from sunrise to sunset and I mean it.

We try to visit PR every six months, because my family still living there. And every time is like a new experience for us, we feel very welcome until we try to get out of the airport and cross the island to get to my hometown (uhf! is like driving to hell). Opps, sorry about that. After all this pros and cons, we love the Island and we always look forward to visit the next year or the next time. When we go there we go to the beach everyday, we like to surf, to dive, to do some snorkeling and we rent small boat a go to the mangroves and cays. Really, is a good place so if you go there for a while probably you will like it as much my husband does now.

I would like to know the area that you would be established or worked. So I can give you some hints or opinions. Remember these are just my kind and honest opinion.
Good Luck, YLW
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Old 02-07-2008, 01:24 PM
 
15 posts, read 70,805 times
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Thumbs up Stray Dogs...I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlv311 View Post
I grew up in PR and although I still have family there, when retirement time came around many of my family members relocated to Florida. I think FLBOUND's description of what you face living in the Island is right on target. Crime is everywhere and the services are much worse outside of San Juan. Waiting to see a doctor all day is quite common. Having to go to San Juan to seek specialized care or get a surgery is not uncommon. The power outages, water shortages, lack of phone service are a regular occurence. Public transportation is very limited outside of San Juan. Every time we visit, my husband and I pack a few stray dogs in our rental car and pay to have them spayed/neutered at our expense because animal shelters are almost non-existent and it's horrendous to see these animals so sick and hungry roaming around every corner. As much as we enjoy visiting, I can't imagine living under those conditions, particularly for senior citizens who may need special care.
Yes, this is real and I forgot to mention about the stray dogs is very bad down there! The situation will destroy your heart if your an animal lover like us. Good comments!.
YLW
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Old 02-07-2008, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Maine
398 posts, read 1,187,433 times
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It seems like the driving has improved tremendously since they started increasing the fines! The first time I visited PR I thought we would surely be killed by the crazy drivers. Shortly before we visited last March they had increased the fines for driving violations, and the police were everywhere. We were just there last month and it still seemed better than it was, but my in-laws live in Maunabo so we didn't spend a whole lot of time on the highways.
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