Most people wonder about how living in Puerto Rico really is. They think of the weather, the beaches, the beautiful women, but have you ever wondered about the real things that you need to know about living in Puerto Rico? Maybe you are moving and don’t know what to expect regarding the local culture? Well I decided to write 5 things you NEED to know about living in Puerto Rico. Believe me, these are things that you must know and accept in order to live here with a bit less stress!
1. NOT EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH. Make sure you brush up on that high school Spanish and learn at least the basics because quite often you will find yourself with someone that does not speak English. The first language here is Spanish, then English is taught as a second language, some people never use it or not practice it enough to remember it or to feel comfortable using it, so expect to need to speak Spanish often, especially on emergency situations, you should read my 9-1-1 experience.
2. THE WEATHER IS ALMOST PERFECT! I mean if warm weather is your thing. Especially in the months of December through March, it is very difficult to beat the weather we get. There is little rain, nice breeze, and it is less humid. It’s something that you need to experience. Tropical beautifulness, during those months, the weather is flat out amazing. The rest of the time the weather is still very nice, as in warm, but humidity increases, showers and thunderstorms become more frequent and occasionally in the early summer we get periods of Saharan Dust, which makes the sky hazy, and of course the remote chance of a tropical cyclone. Regardless of what inclement weather we may have, it is usually short in duration and you should expect 300+ days per year of beach weather. If you would like to know more about the local climatology, please read my page on the Climate in Puerto Rico.
3. WE ARE ON ISLAND TIME. Let me be clear, things will SLOW DOWN significantly. Things will not get done at the time they said they will. It is not uncommon for offices to open later then they are supposed to and to close earlier than they are supposed to. This goes with anything, even doctors! Do not expect things to be on time, because they won’t be. If you got invited to a party at 3 PM, expect people to show up at 6 PM, if the party was supposed to end at 7 PM then expect it to end at around 10 PM or later. I am NOT exaggerating. It’s interesting when I go to kid’s birthday parties, if the kid is from the US, the party will start and end at the scheduled time, if the party is from a family from Puerto Rico, it may or maynot start on time but it will definitely NOT end on time. Just the other day I went to a party that was supposed to be from 1 PM to 4 PM, well we left at 7 PM, because the place closed. So, don’t expect things to be on time. I wrote something about island time a few months ago, you can read it here if you wish.
4. WE ARE NOT KNOWN FOR OUR AMAZING DRIVING! Let’s just say that driving here is a bit aggressive. People consider driving as how to get from point A to point B, the quicker the better! So you will get people who honk the horn less than a second after the light turned green, you’ll get people driving on the shoulder of the roads, some will go straight on the left-turn only lane or turn left on the lane that’s supposed to be used to go straight. If the light is red but there’s no one coming, some people will just run the red light, and if the light JUST turned red, that means that 2 or 3 more cars can still go. The Speed limit is merely a suggestion, and the STOP sign is more like a yield sign, if that, sometimes it means nothing. Plus much much more! Driving here may remind you of playing the Mario Kart game (not exaggerating). You’ll get used to it though, some people may start to prefer this form of driving, I’m to the point now that whenever I visit family in the U.S. I get annoyed at the *driving Miss Daisy* type of driving. Of course our driving laws are pretty much identical as those in the U.S. the difference is that they rarely get enforced. More on this topic on the post I named Basics of Driving in Puerto Rico.
5. THIS IS NOT THE U.S.A.! Let me say that again, this is NOT the United States. If you move here expecting or wishing that Puerto Rico were like the U.S. but with warm weather, you will be VERY disappointed. Puerto Rico has a different culture, different set of laws and different people overall. What’s acceptable here may not be acceptable in the U.S. or in other parts of the world. There are definite idiosyncrasies here, but that doesn’t mean that Puerto Rico or its people are any less than anyplace or anyone else. I hear it all the time, “I do this because in the states……” and all I have to say that it’s great they do that over there, but we are not there, we may do this thing differently, deal with it. So in a nutshell, Puerto Rico is NOT for the uptight. You will be living in a different place with a different culture. Expect things to be different, not everything will make sense, it is what it is.
Just like these things I just mentioned there are many more amazing, as in positive things I can say about Puerto Rico, there are also a few other not-as-positive things I can say. But we’ll leave that for another post.
You come here with an open mind and you will live in paradise.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the 5 things you need to know about living in Puerto Rico!