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The ins and outs of living in Puerto Rico

5 things you NEED to know about living in Puerto Rico

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Palmas del Mar in Humacao, PR.

Palmas del Mar in Humacao, PR.

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!

Jay-Webmaster

Author: Jay-Webmaster

Jay is an Atmospheric Physicist and Massage Therapist who was born and raised in Puerto Rico but went to college in the US before moving back to Puerto Rico. Creator of NewToPuertoRico.com and the new forum NewToPuertoRico.com/forum

6 Comments

  1. Hello Jay;

    Thank you for this great site!

    I’m considering a job offer of $46K/yr, but I counteroffer $56K. My question is how would I do(will be a family of 3) living near the San Juan Airport with either salary?

    John

    • Jay-Webmaster

      I’ll be very honest. I think you may be without too much hardship if you have little or no debt, kids are in public school and your expenses are fairly low. Depending on which side of the airport you will live, the monthly rent will be higher or lower. The cost of living in PR is rather high, income tax is pretty high as well and the sales tax is currently 11.5%.

      I mean, you can live ok with that salary but after putting your kids in private schools (which I recommend), after paying $300+ monthly on the electric bill, rent, groceries, etc. Things may become difficult at times. It should be manageable, but it may take a lot of planning and penny pinching, which again, can be done. I would consider putting my kids in a private school but I can’t afford it so I homeschool (there are many other reasons for deciding to homeschool), so maybe homeschooling your children should be considered?

      So, I think you should be able to be OK, assuming little to no debt and other things. Be mindful of the expenses and realize that things are expensive here. I personally have become a very handy person thanks to YouTube, saving me hundreds of dollars each time my car or other things need repair. Couponing is not that popular here and it could be a flat out nuisance because each coupon needs to be approved by the supervisor and some stores don’t even accept coupons.

      Expect to have to make adjustments and then make the adjustments. If you live by the airport you will also live by the beach, and that’s fun! =)

  2. Love your website – all of it! Will be following it closely for the next couple of years. It started as sort of a joke with my husband about retiring to Puerto Rico as we both lived in Ohio all our lives. This would be a big step out of our comfort zone, but the more I read, the more we may fit. We’re both artists, however, I also work full-time (hence the two more years or so). We’ll definitely visit before a final decision, but it’s very much a possibility. I look forward to learning more from you in the near future! Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Oh thank you for the nice words Diana! I would love you to make the big move!

      I actually have a co-worker that is from Cleveland! He’s a huge Browns/Cavaliers/Indians and Buckeyes fan! So tell your husband that he will have no trouble following his sports teams from here! LOL =)

      Let me know if there is any particular area of PR that interests you the most and simply feel free to contact me if you have any questions whatsoever!

      Looking forward to hearing from you in the future!

      Take Care!

      Jay

  3. Jay
    Love the blog…
    Would love to leave NYC and try Condado area… I can teach there and live a stress free life… NY is not cutting it anymore!
    Need a change…

    Family lives in Ponce but I love walking and Condado is my favorite spot..
    Any suggestions on Apts to rent? I would love to teach at the private schools..
    Thanks and have a great day!

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Enid!

      I too like Condado quite a bit! You can walk to many places and it has many good places to eat. I really like that area.

      Have you seen our Apartments in Puerto Rico page?

      It has a few links that may help you start looking for an apartment in that area. If you are very serious about coming here and have a set date and all those things, send me an email either to the webmaster email account or through our Facebook page. I met an agent that told me she works with rental property as well, so she may be able to help. I’ll give you her contact info if you want.

      There are so many apartments in Condado that it is hard to recommend one over the other, it really depends on a number of factors such as how close to the beaches you want to be, close to the urban farmer’s market, etc. There are private schools right in the Condado area but also some other ones nearby, so maybe you will find something right there!

      Take Care!

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