Living in Puerto Rico: 17 Things You Should Know Before Moving to the Island [2023] — Spanish and Go (2023)

Thinking about moving to Puerto Rico? Here are 17 things you should know before moving to la "isla del encanto" (The Island of Enchantment). Puerto Rico is a beautiful and vibrant destination that is increasingly capturing the attention of those looking to live in the caribbean. However, deciding to move to a new place should always come well-informed. To help, we came up with 17 important things to know before making the move.

My wife and I lived in Puerto Rico for about three years. We decided to live on the island for the warm weather, culture, connection with the US, geographic convenience, and potential tax savings. And while moving anywhere has its pros and cons, we’re still here despite some of the struggles that come with the territory — pun intended.

We wanted to share some of the things we wish we had known about Puerto Rico before moving here, so consider this a reflection on three years of living in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is full of beautiful places that you often can't find on a map. While there are a handful of touristy sights to see, many of the most beautiful landscapes and activities are far off the beaten path. Now that we have been here for two years, we've discovered a ton of things that people outside of Puerto Rico don't know about – like hidden waterfalls, secret infinity pools, incredible mountain views.

#2: Relentless Traffic

The next thing we wish we had known about is the traffic here. There are so many cars on this island that sometimes I think it might sink from all the weight. While many of the more rural areas don’t have traffic issues, in the metropolitan area of San Juan it can get insane. It’s something I didn't expect before we moved here.

#3: Car-eating Potholes

And with that with traffic also comes the potholes — some of which are frightening when they catch you off guard because it almost feels like you're in an accident! They can be incredibly jarring and really damage your car, so keep that in mind before you buy or rent a car here!

#4: The Food Is Bananas

Bananas and plantains are in everything here. We've tried banana soup, we've had a banana and plantain sandwiches, we've had tostones [fried plantain slices], we've had mofongo [a fried and mashed plantain-based dish]. There are so many things that you can make with plantains or bananas that we had no idea. There's a banana recipe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner here on the island. They are everywhere!

#5: Corruption

When we got in here on the island, we didn't expect corruption. Specifically, we are talking about expediters (people who take a small bribe in exchange to do things quicker). It’s very common here for things to move slowly — unless you know the right people or grease the right palms.

While most residents are perfectly law-abiding, a small minority of corrupt individuals take advantage of the situation here. It’s really disheartening, but something that I’ve found common in a lot of Spanish-speaking countries. Things move slowly without “motivation.”

#6: Crazy Bureaucracy

(Video) Don’t MOVE or COME to Puerto Rico, unless you can deal with these 10 things

Another thing we weren't expecting is the bureaucracy for getting anything done. Even something as simple as getting your driver's license here on the island can be extremely complicated. I can see why people are willing to pay a little bit more to an expediter to get things done faster!

They're going to ask you for your social security card, possibly even your birth certificate, and two forms of proof of residence, and they have to be recent documents. They also require a certified history of your driver's license or your driving history from your state. And ther’re a bunch of other hoops that you have to jump through too, including a physical exam. There is just a lot of red tape — no matter what you are trying to do!

#7: Xenophobia (Dislike of or Prejudice Against People From Other Countries)

We weren't expecting this when we got here, and maybe we feel it a little bit more because we have a YouTube channel, but the xenophobia here is noticeable. That doesn't mean that everybody is afraid of foreigners or has negative feelings about foreigners but there certainly are some people who do

I wasn't expecting it here since we've never felt anything like that in other places. But there seems to be a love/hate relationship here. Most people want tourists to come to the island and enjoy it and put money into their economy.

However, there's a minority who hate everything that has to do with America or Americans or anyone outside of Puerto Rico. They want to keep Puerto Rico for themselves.

I see it in Mexico too. People get mad when Americans move to Mexico and turn places like San Miguel de Allende into little gringo towns.

We also learned why many people refer to Puerto Rico as the oldest colony in the world: there's no voting representation for the island stateside. Residents cannot vote for President and they have no (voting) representative in Congress. You can say that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but it really feels like a colony in many ways.

(Video) PUERTO RICO: 10 Most Common Tourist MISTAKES (2023 Travel Guide) (San Juan + More)

#8: Herbal Remedies

Puerto Rico is very liberal with its medical cannabis usage. There are lots of dispensaries around and it’s easy to get a medical cannabis card here. While many states are slowly decriminalizing and legalizing cannabis, we were not expecting just how liberal they would be about it here.

#9: Great Tax Benefits for Businesses

After moving our business here, we qualified for some decent tax benefits. Puerto Rico keeps taxes low on certain types of businesses to encourage economic development, making it a great hub to base yourself out of if you work remotely. While it’s not exactly a “tax haven,” it definitely has beneficial tax breaks for businesses like us!

#10: Passionate Patriotism

Another thing that we were not expecting is how patriotic Puerto Ricans are. We have never seen so many flags of a country at houses, stores, and everywhere in between! When we first moved here and started going places, we would always hear someone yelling "¡Soy Boriqua 'pa'que tu lo sepas!” which means “I’m Puerto Rican, just so you know!"

#11 Busy Shoppers

Another thing is that the stores are always full of people no matter what time of the day. The stores are always busy with shoppers. This can make it difficult to get what you’re looking for quickly as you navigate your way through the isles. Most people are not in a hurry in Puerto Rico, so expect long lines practically everywhere you go.

#12: Boundless Beautiful Beaches

One thing we never expected is how many beautiful beaches there are around the island now. Puerto Rico is an island so it's going to have a lot of beaches. Still, there are just so many gorgeous beaches that you can go out and discover for yourself. Frequently, there won't even be anyone there when you get there!

Some of our favorite beaches on the island include:

  • Playa Sucia in Cabo Rojo

  • Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo

  • Crash Boat in Aguadilla

    (Video) The IRS is Coming for Puerto Rico Act 60

  • Playita Inez in Arecibo

  • Playa Flamenco in Culebra

#14: Perfect Weather (If You Like It Hot)

The weather here is great pretty much year-round. The summer months get super hot, especially if you're not used to it, so it can be a little overwhelming if you’re not a fan of that kind of heat. How hot are we talking? The average temperature year-round is about 85ºF (29.4ºC).

We've always made sure that we found apartments to live in that are well ventilated, and we've never had to use air conditioning.

Of course, you also have to watch out for hurricane season, but that’s an issue all along the Eastern Seaboard of the US as well.

#15: Massive Wealth Gap

We noticed when we moved here that there was a massive gap. There's a growing divide between the rich and the poor, and you can see this in different neighborhoods, where some houses are enormous and others are entirely abandoned or maybe are even missing their roof.

There are still houses here that are damaged and still not repaired from Hurricane Maria in 2017, and many people don't have the resources to be able to fix their homes. While the continental US also has a wealth gap, this divide is much more visible here.

#16: Exotic Tropical Foods

Another thing we weren't expecting is the number of fruits and vegetables on the island. There are tons of different foods you get to try if you look around. There are many fruits that I had never heard of before, like jobos and the guama fruit (also known as the “ice cream bean”). There's also a ton of root vegetables that I'd never even heard of before too. If you’re a foodie or you love to cook, you’ll have an amazing time here — there is just so much new stuff to try!

#17: Variety Of Music

The last thing that we were not expecting when we moved to the island is the variety of tropical Caribbean music that you can hear here. The traditional music of Puerto Rico like bomba (which originated on slave plantations) and plena (a type of folk music). It’s a big part of the culture here. I honestly had never heard of bomba until we visited the island and went to some festivals here. It's something that people outside of Puerto Rico likely don't know about, which just adds more charm and magic to this little slice of paradise!


When looking for a place to live, keep in mind that every destination on earth has its advantages and disadvantages. Some things will surprise you in a good way, other things not so much. But hopefully, our take after two years here on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico helped you get some insight before you take the plunge into moving to “La Isla del Encanto.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Puerto Rico?

A: Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and a US territory.

Q: Is it easy to move to Puerto Rico?

A: Yes, it is easy to move to Puerto Rico as it is a US territory and US citizens do not require a passport to enter.

Q: What are the benefits of living in Puerto Rico?

A: Puerto Rico offers a lower cost of living compared to the mainland US, year-round tropical weather, and a rich culture.

Q: What is the cost of living in Puerto Rico?

A: The cost of living in Puerto Rico is generally lower than the mainland US, but varies across the island. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment can range from $500 to $1500.

Q: Do I need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico?

A: No, US citizens do not require a passport to travel to Puerto Rico as it is a US territory.

Q: What language is spoken in Puerto Rico?

A: Spanish is the primary language spoken in Puerto Rico, but English is also widely spoken, especially in urban areas and tourist regions.

Q: How is the healthcare system in Puerto Rico?

A: Puerto Rico’s healthcare system is a mix of public and private providers. Most doctors and hospitals accept US health insurance, but quality of care can vary.

Q: What education options are available in Puerto Rico?

A: Puerto Rico offers both public and private schools, as well as international schools for expats. Private schools may offer bilingual education in Spanish and English.

Q: Are there moving companies that specialize in Puerto Rico?

A: Yes, there are moving companies that specialize in moving to and from Puerto Rico. It is recommended to research and compare multiple companies before choosing one.

Q: How can I make new friends when moving to Puerto Rico?

A: Joining local social clubs or organizations, attending community events and festivals, and participating in group activities like sports or fitness classes are great ways to make new friends on the island. There are many WhatsApp groups for anything from hiking to cryptocurrency.

(Video) SHOCKING Reasons You Should NEVER Move To Puerto Rico!

(Video) 50 Things You MUST Know BEFORE Traveling To Puerto Rico | WATCH THIS BEFORE YOU GO!


What do I need to know before moving to Puerto Rico? ›

Important Facts You Need to Know Before Moving to Puerto Rico
  • You Don't Need a Passport. ...
  • Puerto Rico's Tax Benefits Come with Strict Requirements. ...
  • Getting a Puerto Rico Driver's License is Not Easy. ...
  • They Use Cash more than Credit Cards in Puerto Rico. ...
  • Knowing Spanish Can Be Very Helpful, but isn't Required.
Sep 29, 2022

What is it like for Americans to live in Puerto Rico? ›

Climate in Puerto Rico

Expats moving to Puerto Rico will find themselves living on an island that offers beautiful mountainous scenery, tropical beaches and a relaxed lifestyle. It's also a great spot for travel to nearby islands, with southern areas of the US and northern parts of South America also easily accessible.

How much money do I need to move to Puerto Rico? ›

Cost of Living in Puerto Rico

Before you move to Puerto Rico, you have to consider the cost of living in PR. On average, a single person will need $2,000 USD a month to live comfortably in Puerto Rico. Here is a breakdown of some common costs across the island of Puerto Rico (Of course, prices vary by city.

How many days do you have to live in Puerto Rico to avoid taxes? ›

You must become a resident of Puerto Rico, and you must reside there for at least 183 days a year, or meet one of several other tests that are less clear cut.

How long can a US citizen stay in Puerto Rico? ›

An approved ESTA for Puerto Rico allows a stay of 90 days with each entry for tourism, transit, or business purposes, and is valid for a total of 2 years from issue, meaning there is no need to re-apply for every trip to US territories.

Where do the most Americans live in Puerto Rico? ›

Relocating to Puerto Rico

Most expats settle in Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, or in the south in Ponce, its second-largest city. Carros Públicos (public cars) allow you to travel all over the island and reach even remote areas.

Can I live in Puerto Rico with a US passport? ›

If you're a U.S. citizen, this means an easy transition for you. No need for work permits or visas if you decide to relocate. In other words, living in Puerto Rico is almost like living abroad, but without either the paperwork hassle or the immigration concerns.

Can a US citizen live permanently in Puerto Rico? ›

Because Puerto Rico is a territory of the US, no special visas or work permits are necessary for US citizens. Think of it as an extension of the US with beautiful beaches and a Caribbean vibe with none of the paperwork and red tape hassle of moving to a foreign country.

What are Puerto Ricans mixed with? ›

As a result, Puerto Rican bloodlines and culture evolved through a mixing of the Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno and Carib Indian races that shared the island. Today, many Puerto Rican towns retain their Taíno names, such as Utuado, Mayagüez and Caguas.

What are Puerto Ricans known for? ›

Eventually they inter-married with the poor Spanish farmers and became known as jíbaros. Because of industrialization and migration to the cities, few jíbaros remain. Puerto Ricans are known for their warm hospitality, often considered very friendly and expressive to strangers. Greetings are often cordial and genuine.

What is Puerto Rican most known for? ›

The Island's most famous nature reserve is El Yunque, the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Spanning 28,000 acres and home to more than 240 types of trees, you'll also find 25 waterfalls, unique bird species like the Puerto Rican parrot, and native species like the coquí frog.

What is the average electric bill in Puerto Rico? ›

ElectricityPuerto RicoUnited States
Residential23.60 cents/kWh15.96 cents/kWh
Commercial26.38 cents/kWh12.77 cents/kWh
Industrial23.90 cents/kWh8.15 cents/kWh

Does Puerto Rico tax Social Security benefits? ›

Social security contributions

Puerto Rico is covered under the US social security system; consequently, Puerto Rico employers and employees are subject to the US Social Security and Medicare taxes requirements. See the Other taxes section in the United States Individual tax summary for more information.

Do I have to pay taxes if I move to Puerto Rico? ›

Therefore, if an individual relocates to Puerto Rico, the move does not result in an expatriation tax. Further, U.S. citizens and resident aliens living in Puerto Rico are generally subject to U.S. tax on worldwide income.

What is Rule 75 in Puerto Rico? ›

Under Law 75, once the principal establishes a distribution agreement with the distributor, the principal cannot withdraw from the contract without just cause.

Does Puerto Rico report to IRS? ›

Bona fide residents of Puerto Rico generally do not report income received from sources within Puerto Rico on their U.S. income tax return. However, they should report all income received from sources outside Puerto Rico on their U.S. income tax return.

How often do you pay property tax in Puerto Rico? ›

As a reminder, property taxes in Puerto Rico are paid twice a year, with the first installment due at the end of June and the second at the end of January.

Can you drink tap water in Puerto Rico? ›

Both the CDC and World Health Organization say that Puerto Rico's drinking water is generally safe to drink. Travel advisors expand on that, pointing out that as a territory of the United States Puerto Rico must meet the same standards for drinking water as the States do.

What is the legal drinking age in Puerto Rico? ›

There is some similarity between DUI-related laws in Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland, but there are also differences. For example, the legal drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18, and for those 18–20 years of age, BAC levels must be lower than . 02. g/dL.

What is the longest a non US citizen can stay in the US? ›

If you enter the United States on a visa waiver, your stay is limited to 90 days. A B-2 tourist visa, on the other hand, allows you to remain for up to six months. With a B-2 visa, you can apply to extend your stay longer.

What is the prettiest town in Puerto Rico? ›

What is the nicest town in Puerto Rico? There are multiple nice towns around Puerto Rico to visit and live in, including San Juan, Ponce, Lajas, Cabo Rojo, Maunabo, Isabela, Aguadilla, and Aguada.

What is the nicest part of Puerto Rico? ›

The most beautiful parts of Puerto Rico include Old San Juan, Ponce, and Arecibo for history lovers. Cities like Manatí, Isabela, Aguadilla, Rincón, Cabo Rojo, Vieques, and Culebra sport the most beautiful natural landscapes and beaches.

What city in the US has the most Puerto Ricans? ›

The Northeast
  • New York. New York City has the largest population of Puerto Ricans in the country outside Puerto Rico itself, followed by Philadelphia. ...
  • Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, one-third of Puerto Ricans reside in Philadelphia. ...
  • New Jersey. ...
  • Connecticut. ...
  • Massachusetts. ...
  • Rhode Island. ...
  • Florida. ...
  • Virginia.

Can I fly to Puerto Rico with my US driver's license? ›

United States citizens traveling from within the USA do not need a passport to enter Puerto Rico as it is a non-incorporated territory. Travelers can use a government-issued photo ID like a driver's license to travel to Puerto Rico.

Can I bring my guns to Puerto Rico? ›

Puerto Rico Concealed Carry Reciprocity With Other States

The Puerto Rico gun law indicates that Puerto Rico honors permits from all states, enclaves, possessions or territories of the United States of America.

Are there no property taxes in Puerto Rico? ›

Puerto Rico real property is subject to an annual real property tax.

Why do homes in Puerto Rico have bars on windows? ›

The bars were popular in the tropical parts of Spain because they allowed better ventilation and were cheaper than glass. They also kept the home safe. As Spain colonized the Caribbean they took the architecture with them, including the ornate iron bars.

Can a Puerto Rican get Spanish citizenship? ›

Puerto Ricans do, in fact, qualify for Spanish citizenship after two years of residency. Puerto Rican citizens are considered Ibero American citizens despite having a United States passport, and therefore can apply for Spanish nationality after two years of legal and continuous residence in Spain.

Can Puerto Ricans live in the US without a visa? ›

Visa Requirements for Puerto Rican Citizens

Under an act of the US congress, anyone born in Puerto Rico is a citizen of the United States by birth and Puerto Ricans can move freely between the island and the mainland.

How difficult is it to move to Puerto Rico? ›

With Puerto Rico being a United States territory since 1898, you are likely to have an easy transition if you are moving from the United States to Puerto Rico. There is no need for work permits or visas. Living in Puerto Rico is similar to living abroad without pesky paperwork or other immigration concerns.

How many months do you have to live in Puerto Rico to be a resident? ›

The term 'resident individual' means an individual who is domiciled in Puerto Rico. It should be presumed that an individual is a resident of Puerto Rico if they have been present in Puerto Rico for a period of 183 days during the calendar year.

Can I move to Puerto Rico without knowing Spanish? ›

Most people in Puerto Rico are bilingual, to a varying degree. Many Puerto Ricans travel to and from the U.S. for work and family, and English and U.S. culture is ubiquitous. We know plenty of people who live in Puerto Rico without being able to speak Spanish and are able to manage just fine!

Can Puerto Ricans move freely? ›

As citizens, the people of Puerto Rico can move throughout the 50 states just as any other Americans can—legally, this is considered internal migration, not immigration.

Why are people moving out of Puerto Rico? ›

Achieving economic stability is typically the main reason that many Puerto Ricans migrate to the U.S. mainland. At the same time, thousands return to Puerto Rico annually, describing their homecoming as "a dream come true."

Do retirees pay taxes in Puerto Rico? ›

Taxes in Puerto Rico

Retiring in Puerto Rico becomes an even more attractive option when you consider the generous tax policy known as the Individual Investors Act. Under this act, residents of Puerto Rico are exempt from paying island or federal income taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains.

Can I collect Social Security if I live in Puerto Rico? ›

The answer is yes, eligible US citizens can continue receiving Social Security payments if they live in a country where the US can send checks.

What is residency salary in Puerto Rico? ›

Medical Residency Salary in San Juan, PR
Annual SalaryHourly Wage
Top Earners$91,819$44
75th Percentile$52,368$25
25th Percentile$24,089$12

What city in Puerto Rico speaks the most English? ›

Culebra. Flamenco Beach on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra has the most English speakers in Puerto Rico. This island is actually closer to the British Virgin Islands than to the main island and is a former U.S. Naval base.

What is your nationality if you live in Puerto Rico? ›

All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after January 13, 1941, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, are citizens of the United States at birth.

What is the quality of life in Puerto Rico? ›

Puerto Rico offers a quality of life similar to the mainland United States, but with the added benefit of a breathtaking tropical island landscape, year-round sunshine, a wealth of outdoor adventures and aquatic activities, rich cultural experiences, diverse dining and entertainment options, and an opulent resort ...


(Mariah Monetize)
2. Top 10 Caribbean Islands to Retire Comfortably Under $1,500 Monthly in 2022
(Caribbean Lifestyle by J-irie)
3. Don’t move or come to Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 unless…
(Ana Santapau)
4. 8 Reasons Why Americans LEAVE Costa Rica [Why I Left]
(Traveling with Kristin)
5. 15 Pros + Cons of Living in Puerto Rico
6. Ultimate Puerto Rico Travel Guide (7-10 days) | Best Beaches, Bioluminescent Kayaking, and More


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Last Updated: 03/08/2023

Views: 5788

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Birthday: 1993-03-26

Address: 917 Hyun Views, Rogahnmouth, KY 91013-8827

Phone: +5938540192553

Job: Administration Developer

Hobby: Embroidery, Horseback riding, Juggling, Urban exploration, Skiing, Cycling, Handball

Introduction: My name is Fr. Dewey Fisher, I am a powerful, open, faithful, combative, spotless, faithful, fair person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.