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Old 07-16-2020, 09:19 PM
 
3 posts, read 1,401 times
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Hello everyone!

I've been reading everything I could find online about moving to Puerto Rico and just wanted to get input on my situation. I am considering a move in ~3 years & PR is one of the places I am thinking about. I haven't been there yet, but I plan to visit when COVID pipes down, of course I realize it's ridiculous to think of moving to a place I've never been, but the cabin fever is real apparently

Some details: I'm a civil engineer working in utility planning/management, & my SO works in IT for classrooms at a university. Wouldn't be bringing any kids although I do plan on becoming a foster-to-adopt parent. We're both learning Spanish, pretty beginner for now but we'd be pretty strong by the time we moved. One or both of us would get a job before we moved or we wouldn't move. Depending on our income & obviously a long "trial period" we have strongly considered buying a duplex (wherever we end up) and renting out half.

I assume San Juan has the largest quantity of job opportunities, but are there other areas we should look at as well for engineering & IT/higher education? Any neighborhoods we should visit? I'm not interested in a gated community I don't think. I understand a car is a necessity & I'd be fine with driving to work but I would prefer a walk-able neighborhood. I'd like to be able to walk (within a mile or so) to the grocery, get coffee, food, and ideally some nice scenery and/or a bookstore or library. Is that realistic? We've also gotten into riding bikes/longboards/roller skates lately. We love the beach and hiking. In my ideal world I'd like to be able to put in a little garden or raised beds.

We've considered FL as well, but to be honest the politics of FL really puts me off. Is PR socially conservative? Would you consider the population to be homophobic? I read about the bill not including LGBT-discrimination last year.

Random additional question: I saw an article that implied that PR penalizes solar panel users? If we bought property I would definitely want to invest in solar panels (I could likely set them up myself) unless they somehow make it not worthwhile?

Any thoughts on the job market for those industries & the situation in general?

Thanks for any and all advice. Whether or not it makes it to my short list of moving, I want to visit this beautiful place.
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Old 07-18-2020, 08:59 AM
 
2,368 posts, read 639,753 times
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I don't live there - been there many times - so the locals can answer some of your more specific questions - but I can offer a few points:


Good News:
1. Your Spanish will help you, the better it gets - but it is NOT essential for most day to day things.
2. It's a beautiful place - bigger than you think - you'll need a lonnnng time to see it all.
3. Sunshine.


Bad news:
1. Unemployment is high, and getting higher. Not totally sure you would find a job there right now.
2. Infrastructure may not be what you're used to. Regular brownouts/blackouts, long waits for things like cable, etc.
3. Hurricanes.


Both good and bad:


1. Island Time. It's a real thing. You'll be the one adapting.



San Juan is where most of the people are, that's for sure, but don't be afraid to try some of the other corners of the island. A car will be essential - and traffic is a nightmare (depending, again, on what you're used to). For instance, a daily commute into San Juan is not practical. Millions do it (it seems like) - but it's just not practical.
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Old 07-18-2020, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Pereira, Colombia
1,414 posts, read 2,350,382 times
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Your fields of work MIGHT land you jobs there. Prepare for a huge cut in pay compared to anything on the Mainland though. If you actually make it there and land a job, you can check back with us about tips on how to live in a way that costs far less than how most live on the Mainland. It can be hard to know how at first, but it´s definitely possible. For two years I took a similar "student budget" that I had in for undergrad Louisiana to grad school with me in PR, and I was living like a king in comparison.

I have a friend who is a civil engineer, graduated from UPR-Mayaguez, went to grad school in Oregon and ended up coming back to San Juan to live and work. From what I gather his job is now to research and propose projects for bike lanes and other eco-friendly infrastructure projects across the island. You´ll only really see said projects in San Juan for now. Living without a car in SJ won´t be fun, but it´s not impossible either. Trying to do that anywhere else on the island will result in dropping so much on Ubers and taxis that you might as well do like the locals and buy a used Korean/Japanese compact beater and call it a day. I shipped my car there from Florida, and I had no regrets doing it.

Mayaguez on the west coast of the island may have a few opportunities thanks to UPR-M, which is a science and engineering powerhouse. I have to assume that some organizations have latched on to the resources available via the university. Aguadilla has (or had?) companies like Hewlett-Packard and Honeywell employing people on the island as well. I personally would never live in the Metro Area (San Juan and its neighboring municipalities), but alas, most college-educated Puerto Ricans have to move there to make a living wage and stay on the island.

Puerto Rico in many ways is fairly left of center, and I´m quite sure if it were a state it would be solidly Democratic. You have all types of people though. I´d say it´s one of the LEAST homophobic places in Latin America, but it´s not perfect either. You wouldn´t fear for your safety as a gay person or anything, but you´d still contend with old-school Catholics and new-school Protestants (evangelicals, pentacostals, etc.) who probably at worst would give you uncomfortable looks every now and then. Sadly, I assume you deal with this from time to time already, right?

I encourage you to learn as much Spanish as possible, but also remember that there´s no shortage of English in Puerto Rico either. At least in the beginning if you´re unable to do more, just make sure that you have an arsenal of pleasantries ready to communicate with in Spanish, and other small but crucial ways of showing respect to the local culture, which is as "American" as it isn´t. During my time there as well as on subsequent visits, I´ve been amazed of some of the brusque disregard that Mainlanders have in terms of not even making any sort of effort at all. The locals don´t seem to outwardly show any disdain over it, but I just wonder what they think at the end of the day.

I´m not sure about the solar panel thing. Solar-powered water heaters are VERY common there, always have been. I know people who were totally set up with solar before the hurricane, so they were in good shape when everyone else was floundering.

Best of luck! If I could have stayed there I would have!

Last edited by aab7855; 07-18-2020 at 12:01 PM..
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Old 07-18-2020, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Huntsville Area
1,952 posts, read 747,625 times
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We too have been to Puerto Rico many times. The weather there is about as good as it gets in this world.

I always get a kick out of P/R. Give'em a cooler, and citizens are selling water at red lights. Give'em a canopy and a gas grill, and they're a roadside restaurant. Puerto Ricans have a way of getting by--very entrepreneural.

But P/R is also a high crime place. Virtually every house has burglar bars on the windows and security storm doors. They even have burglar bars on their carports.

I agree about a car being needed, and most would take a used car over on a ferry. New vehicles on the island are 2x the cost of in The States. It's a pretty big island, but very few good roads go into the inside of the island.

You should really take vacation and go down there for a week. We stayed in a cabin (Casita) on a small farm south of Arecibo, and toured the island by car. It was quite an eye opener. You also have St Croix and St Thomas close by that are also U.S. territories.
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Old 07-18-2020, 12:07 PM
 
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Our daughter got a research grant at UPR-Mayaguez one summer, so we spent some time there. Vacationing there for a week and living there are two completely different things. Most of PR is basically a 2nd world country. Most folks are busy trying to figure out how to make a living without working. An old friend of mine has family and some real estate in PR. His brother tried to start a mango plantation. He never got off the ground because he couldn’t find anybody to work for him, despite the fact that there are a dozen hustlers selling tap water in reused water bottles on every city street corner. Infrastructure is very poor, and petty crime is rampant. That said, the country is wild and beautiful, and the people are friendly, especially if you speak decent Spanish. You might love it, but be sure you have a viable exit plan.
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Old 07-18-2020, 04:08 PM
Status: "177th Anniversary of Freedom!" (set 16 days ago)
 
6,747 posts, read 9,493,425 times
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2nd world country? What?
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Old 07-18-2020, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Pereira, Colombia
1,414 posts, read 2,350,382 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AntonioR View Post
2nd world country? What?
I'm sure what the poster is trying to say is that the level of development isn't quite on par with the Mainland, and that the poverty you see is more easy to find than in the CONUS.
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Old 07-18-2020, 06:07 PM
 
3 posts, read 1,401 times
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Thank you so much for all the replies!

I am not so much concerned about cost of living IF we found jobs (and we wouldn’t move there without), before being an engineer I survived for years in the service industry and have been pretty strict to not allow much lifestyle inflation to occur since. I live an overall simple life & prefer it that way, but I’m sure I will take all the specific tips I can get if that time should ever come. I may just be naive to the reality.

@aab, your friends job sounds amazing, hopefully more of those types of jobs take hold. I definitely plan to have a car but I’d like to live somewhere where I could get somewhere without it.

Yes, the amount of people I see online posting about how unhappy they are in PR when it seems like they honestly thought the culture difference would be like moving from Kansas City to Indianapolis actually makes me SMH. It’s one thing to end up unhappy in a place, but I’d certainly like to experience the culture difference first.

Looks like PR is still cautiously on our list & definitely high on the list to visit. I welcome any other comments of course.
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Old 07-19-2020, 01:20 PM
 
1,429 posts, read 1,598,746 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aab7855 View Post
I'm sure what the poster is trying to say is that the level of development isn't quite on par with the Mainland, and that the poverty you see is more easy to find than in the CONUS.
I guess my description is a little bit of hyperbole, but it’s the best I could come up with without going into a whole litany. I’ve discussed this with my Puerto Rican friends, and they don’t disagree. If anything, they’re more critical than I am; they live here for a reason. Fair to say, Puerto Rico is a beautiful, interesting place, but should you move there, you’ll definitely know you’re not in Kansas anymore.
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Old 07-19-2020, 08:21 PM
Status: "177th Anniversary of Freedom!" (set 16 days ago)
 
6,747 posts, read 9,493,425 times
Reputation: 5195
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdavidthrow View Post
Thank you so much for all the replies!

I am not so much concerned about cost of living IF we found jobs (and we wouldn’t move there without), before being an engineer I survived for years in the service industry and have been pretty strict to not allow much lifestyle inflation to occur since. I live an overall simple life & prefer it that way, but I’m sure I will take all the specific tips I can get if that time should ever come. I may just be naive to the reality.

@aab, your friends job sounds amazing, hopefully more of those types of jobs take hold. I definitely plan to have a car but I’d like to live somewhere where I could get somewhere without it.

Yes, the amount of people I see online posting about how unhappy they are in PR when it seems like they honestly thought the culture difference would be like moving from Kansas City to Indianapolis actually makes me SMH. It’s one thing to end up unhappy in a place, but I’d certainly like to experience the culture difference first.

Looks like PR is still cautiously on our list & definitely high on the list to visit. I welcome any other comments of course.
Don't give the complainers a greater weight than they deserve on your decision. Remember that complainers have a habit of being the most vocal of the bunch and they seem to come out in droves online. PR isn't the only place with these types. They need to vent their frustrations and online offers the perfect opportunity to do that. Meanwhile, plenty of people happy with their decision to move somewhere else are too busy living their lives to be spreading their complaints online. If anything, the complainers serve a purpose for the people with better experience, who tend to be most of the movers, and that is that they scare many would be movers. The end result is that they help keep a sort of secret that way, as people get an overall wrong impression of the lifestyle they could have in a place and instead they go by what the complainers say. Everything the complainers say isn't incorrect, but much is nothing more than exaggerations.

Quite frankly, to those are also added people that love to complain. There's not much to do about that, because even when they can move somewhere else, they choose not to despite constantly complaining about the place. Sometimes its a mystery. It turns out that they aren't unhappy of the place and that is why they never move away, but they love to complain about it. They get a psychological "kick" from doing just that and moreso if they can see the reactions in others.

Last edited by AntonioR; 07-19-2020 at 08:32 PM..
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