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Old 11-12-2019, 02:34 PM
23 posts, read 14,805 times
Reputation: 57


Hello to the forum my first post here....

I am from the US, have lived in Ecuador the last 5 years and am thinking about moving a little closer to home. I am curious given what just passed with the Department of Education (Julia) what attitudes of the Puerto Rican people might be to someone who wants to come and live in the culture.

If one lives outside of San Juan and other tourist hotspots what can one expect to pay for a 2 Br apartment in a quiet area?

Any help or pointers on where to look for prices on rents and other costs would be appreciated. Using a site like Numbeo.com paints Puerto Rico as a place thats very expensive. I have a hard time believing that residents pay the same rates for things like rent as do people in the tourist areas.

Any help or suggestions are much appreciated.

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Old 11-13-2019, 06:22 AM
Location: New Orleans
1,554 posts, read 3,034,218 times
Reputation: 1960
Puerto Rico can be expensive, but in reality if you look a little it´s really much cheaper than the Mainland...let me explain...

First of all, where were you living in Ecuador? I´ve been to Guayaquil and all along the coast, and at least in Guaya I noticed a pretty good deal of Americanized businesses, lots of fast food, etc., at least way more than here in Colombia. Well Puerto Rico is full of Mainland chains also...it seems like on every interstate exit in any little pueblo the first thing you see is a Walgreen´s and a Burger King. A lot of Mainland low-income tastes and habits are the norm for everyone on the island...fast food, Rent a Center furniture places, payday loans, etc. Crap chains like Applebee´s can be all the rage for young people, I don´t get it really...but I guess it´s something different for them.

Take it for what it is, it´s part of the landscape. You have these options available to you, but if you dig deeper you will find that you can go cheaper than that. To really save money, get used to taking all out cash and utilizing the local/informal economy as much as possible. The plazas del mercado are more what we´re used to in South America, if you give yourself time you can find delicious fruits and veggies at a very cheap price. Often you´ll find trucks on the side of the road selling produce, and there are always cheap local places to eat at lunchtime, some on the side of the road and others are inside of bakeries and supermarkets...the portions are MASSIVE. Honestly there´s no reason for you to not save half for dinner and maybe add some veggies from home for more balance...meat and rice and beans are great, but you´ll notice the island has a big obesity problem...don´t fall into that trap, try to control those portions and add more colorful foods to your plate. The seafood is delicious, but to get fresh fillets and shellfish you often need to take a ride to the coastal towns...pork and chicken are much more commonly eaten.

Insurance in general is much cheaper. There is something call the marbete for your car, which is the minimum coverage you need to legally drive there, provided by the government. I don´t remember how much it was, but it´s much cheaper than the Mainland...if you were wondering if you needed a car in Puerto Rico, the answer is a resounding YES. Maybe you could do without one in San Juan, but it still wouldn´t be fun. Medical care on the island is much cheaper than the US, but there´s going to be a lot more waiting and from what I hear there is quite the exodus of medical professionals, so I´m not sure if the savings are worth it in the end.

Where could you end up paying far more than the Mainland? Well your electric bill will cost an arm and a leg if you run the air conditioning for any period of time...get used to box fans and sweating a little. It really wasn´t a big deal for me after a while. Obviously things like appliances and some foods from the US are going to be more expensive, but I don´t think the differences in prices are out of this world.

This website is the best, it´s more trustworthy than Craigslist: https://www.clasificadosonline.com/

As you can see, rent is cheap cheap in many places. I highly recommend landing somewhere on the West Coast. I loved living in San Germán, and I was tied to there because I went to grad school at Inter. Up and down that side of the coast though is all paradise. Cabo Rojo, Rincón, Aguadilla, Aguada, Isabela among others are all wonderful places.

I don´t think the average Puerto Rican has any sort of chip on their shoulder in regards to gringos, remember there are more Boricuas living Stateside than on the island itself. In the last 10-15 years the island has taken in more Mainlanders and become more diverse in terms of immigration. Your Spanish level will very much dictate how your experience goes I guess. I got to Puerto Rico in 2011 with basically nothing, my Spanish sucked. I stuck with it and after several months there I starting moving towards an intermediate level, but I quickly hit a wall. Why? Well trying to "make you feel comfortable" many Puerto Ricans will just answer gringos in English if they hear any sort of accent whatsoever or if said gringo doesn´t flow in a native way. Sometimes it seemed like a passive-aggressive intentional snubbing, especially in the Metro Area, but other times you can tell people are just thinking they´re being polite. Since I´ve been living in Colombia I´m at the advanced level now and I lost my gringo accent...well I went back to visit last year and voila, no one answers me in English anymore. Either way you´ll be good, but to really feel most accepted by the locals you´ll have to come with it in terms of your Spanish fluency.

Let me know if you have any more questions...I still have some of the kindest, warmest friends in the world living on that little island. Sometimes I wish I could live there again.

Last edited by aab7855; 11-13-2019 at 06:31 AM..
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Old 11-13-2019, 07:10 AM
23 posts, read 14,805 times
Reputation: 57
Hi aab7855
Thanks very much for the great answer, this is the type of information I wanted. I am considering the island for a number of reasons, one being that I am a techie and an amateur radio operator. Here in Ecuador we pay anywhere between 60 and 140% on imported electronic items depending on what they are--one reason I am considering another place to live.

US chain stores and restaurants..... We to a limited extent have that here in Ecuador more and more in medium and larger cities....McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken yadayadayada. I cook at home, dont eat in any of them and maybe eat out once a month partly from a budget standpoint and partly because public market food is much healthier. I live in Cotacachi, before Ibarra, before that Quito. I also have traveled pretty extensively here, in Colombia and Peru.

I have read the stories about the electric problems particularly since the storms and the electrical system damage. I lived in Mexico for 10 years, Veracruz for 9 of that so am used to heat. Electricity was more expensive in Mexico than it is here in Ecuador.

Thanks for the website. I will spend some time looking at that and get back with other questions I may have. Again your information is exactly what I was looking for, from someone with experience on the ground living in a place. If you would not mind sharing. I am curious about where in Colombia you are. I have visited there and have thought about moving back and still am considering it in my decision process.

Again many thanks for the great information.


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Old 11-13-2019, 08:23 AM
4,022 posts, read 1,876,931 times
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I don't live in Puerto Rico, but I have been there at least 50 times in the last 20 years, all corners of the island.

Regarding fast food and so forth - and chain restaurants - and stores - you can - for this one feature only - and with respect to the readers- consider Puerto Rico a 51st state. Whatever you find on the mainland, it's there, probably some notable exceptions somewhere, but not overall.

You need a car - I don't think there's a good way out of that one.

Regarding ham radio - I do that too - I just take the gear in my luggage - because I'm a visitor. If you were going to make a hefty purchase, maybe save it for the next time you visit the mainland and carry it back. Not because of import fees, but because of shipping costs and sales tax. I never shopped on the island - maybe there's a store - there are at least a dozen repeaters, but my Spanish isn't good enough to use them!

Power situation - well, it hasn't been grand for a long, long time. It's not any better now. Maybe it will improve with some "daylight" on the problems.

I have never had any problem of any kind there, gringo or otherwise. Many folks have gone out of their way to help me. In any city or culture, there are always A-holes, but that's not the norm. There are a lifetime of things to do there. Biggest problem you'll ever have is traffic while hurrying to the airport. Count on it!
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