The Spanish depends on the area. In the metropolitan area I'd generalize that everyone understands English. I have a friend who's lived here for over 10 years who speaks very little Spanish. Real estate costs vary on location, farther out from the metropolitan area the cheaper the real estate. The real estate market suffered big time after the 2008 crash, things are still priced below what they were then. A walk-up 3 bedroom apartment in the metropolitan area, maybe around 1,500s.f. could go from around $200,000 to $300k. A high-rise building the same size apartment maybe starts around $400,000. These are apartments with nice finishes, granite tops, etc, "mid range". Around the coast in the metropolitan area the prices would be 2x up, around the coast outside the metro area the prices would not jump up. It's hard to give an accurate number, depends what one is looking for (location). Number of people from the states has to be pretty low, there are a lot in Rincon and the Virgin Islands. In the Isla Verde area, that's the in the Carolina municipality, right next to the airport, there are tons of apartment buildings next to the beach. I think a lot of people from the states have second homes or live there. It's a nice area, dense population, lots of places to eat, nightlife, hotels, beach, etc.
My girlfriend's parents grew up there and her grandparents still live there (along with some other extended family). They have said the crime has gotten worse, especially since the economy isn't doing as good, so you should stay near the tourist areas if you are an American that doesn't speak Spanish. If you have to deal with crime, its better to have to deal with it here, in the states, than with it in PR.
My main concern against recommending PR is crime. Don't know how it is in other areas and it seems all the tv news and newspapers like to publish is crime so sometimes it feels as though it's all there is. I don't go around strolling in dark alleys at night, though I would not do that anywhere on earth. Most of the crime is attributed to the drug trade. Unfortunately innocent bystanders get hurt when these clowns start playing with guns in public areas. A lot of kids playing with guns trying to live out Hollywood movies of mansions and exotic cars. As an island we're all coast, so ships with drugs can enter anywhere around the island making it hard to prevent. I've never been mugged or seen people firing up guns, but I don't go out much at night anymore though, lol. PR is a small place so anything that happens immediately gets reported by the news and so it kind of gets felt by everyone and unfortunately it's enough to make me uncomfortable. The crime rate has risen as the economy has worsened, last year was pretty bad, it's going down again but still probably averages out 1.5 persons getting killed every day, last year was 3 (around 1,024 murders total) I think. For the most part it's criminals killing themselves. This is all mostly in the metropolitan area, in the rest of the island not a whole lot happens.
So you live there, have never seen a crime except on the news, but recommend not living there because of crime? lol IMO, that's a terrible reason, and there are lots of good reasons to live in PR. FYI, there is crime in Florida too, check out some Miami news. Crime is everywhere.
I admit, our family also recommended not going out in in PR to quiet areas alone at night, but that is probably good advice for anywhere you go that is unfamiliar. Just do your part, be safe and smart, protect yourself and your family, and don't worry so much, as there's nothing else you can do.
You are absolutely right, lol. I was thinking about it and came to your same conclusion before reading your post while driving back from Costco this morning. I don't see the crime, ever, I only read about it. The crime was a quick mindless comment. In a perfect world or in a place with a population of 500 there would be 1 or 2 murders... put in 2 to 4 million more people and you will increase the probability of having stupid people running around.
After thinking about it my main issue is with living and WORKING here, working being the main problem. For some reason the average pay over here for the most part is well below the US average, we have the same minimum wage law though. Nonetheless the cost of living is the same. We have the same stores, Costco, Sams, Starbucks, Sears, Macys, CompUSA.... same fast food places, same restaurants, etc... it pretty much is USA in that regards. I just got back from Costco, everything cost the same as in the US but we earn 1/2 (not sure if it's that much less, but it's less) as much so thats not that great. Now a days a lot of stuff gets ordered online, Ebay, Amazon, in the US its free shipping, over here the shipping costs vary and can get quite expensive and a lot of places don't ship to "US Protectorates or Territories". Around 1/2 of the stores don't ship to PR and we pretty much don't buy anything from other countries so it limits the things we can do. Apple does not ship to PR, neither does the Google Store. There are no official stores over here, but there are "representatives". We have the same cars with a higher price tag because of the shipping. So in summary we buy all the same stuff, having less capital to do so. If one is successful in the stock market and has no need for an 8 to 5 job... well then there is no issue with work so, life is a lot better. Don't know how common $75k and over salaries are in the states. Over here probably around 18k - 22k is the salary for the vast majority of the island. College graduates 32k up to around 50k. There are of course also a lot of people around the 12k - 14k range (construction workers, etc.) and not so many people over 100k -250k.
Taking the 8 to 5 job out of the equation and living trading the stock market making enough money PR gets a lot better. It's not a South American country were people earn $5 dollars a day cheap though, if that is what one is looking for. It's kind of the US in an island in the Caribbean. If what one is looking for is a place to have a nice boat and be able to sail to nearby islands practically all year round, PR is a place for that. I've been here my entire life and the boating trips to the Virgin Islands (USVI & BVI) never gets old. If I could get away from the 8 to 5, buy a nice boat and take monthly trips down to the islands I would be incredibly happy. Lots of reefs for scuba diving and many small beaches scattered all around. During the non vacation days you could have these small beaches in the islands all to yourself. Completely get away from everything and sit under the sun sipping whatever you like to drink till the sun starts to set, then take the boat to one of the shallow protected areas for sleeping. At night there are no city lights so you can see the entire night sky. Next day wake up and go island hopping again. If that is what we are talking about retiring then 100% yes, you can do that here. If we are looking to do this cheaply... then no, not PR. Don't have to be a millionaire though, 100k a year would more than suffice.
In maps.google.com turn on photos (panoramio), go to the east side of the island and keep moving east. First is the island Culebra, then St. Thomas & St. Johns. After that Tortola and the easy sailing ends in Virgin Gorda (means Fat Virgin in Spanish). In Virgin Gorda there is a beach called "The Baths"; that place is stunning. It's on the lower west coast on the tip.
If we are going to be taking trips down these islands quite often then PR is awesome, lol, if we are staying inside the metro area, San Juan, yuck.
Here's a nice little patch of sand called Palominito next to the island Palomino, it's where Jack Sparrow left Blackbeards daughter at the end of the last Pirates of the Caribbean.
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Last edited by rmejia; October 6th, 2012 at 11:49 AM.
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Puerto Rico for me is about retirement, not work. I personally like the idea of having some Americanized-retail establishments available in the city as needed, but I'd also like to be a bit separated from them. In Panama or Costa Rica, I was looking at living in the mountains to get the better climate and put some distance between me and the main cities.
Not sure if Puerto Rico has a "mountain" region But climate is definitely at the top of my list. Air conditioning is a requirement for me, but I like the idea of having a range of 60F - 80F. I don't want to live right on the beach where humidity and inclimate weather are worse. I will have a big pool in the back yard anyway and prefer privacy over beach.
I still need to find some good realtors and get a better idea of the Puerto Rico real estate cost vs Panama and Costa Rica.
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The central part of the island is a mountain range. It's cooler in the mountains, not sure how much though. Right now it's 87F in San Juan, though the Weather Channel app says it feels like 95F, lol... it does feel hot. PR is VERY humid, it rains here over half the year during which time it is 100% humidity. I have my a/c on... cannot live without it. Air conditioning everywhere. 60F to 80F sounds nice... I think it stays above 80F here for the most part. Might get down to the high 70's in "winter". In the mountains it will be lower.
The central mountainous regions is rural. People in that region will not speak a lot of English if any. The infrastructure will be limited. Internet would probably have to be by antenna, for a slower more expensive internet. The sanitary system might be septic tanks. Roads might get narrow. This is deep in the mountains though. The higher up and farther away. It gets to that level progressively the farther away from the coast which is where most people reside.
PR is quite small, around 100x35 miles so the mountain area is small. Costa Rica has a much bigger mountainous region. Comparing the size, PR is 3,515 sq mi, CR is 19,653 sq. mi.