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General Discussion => Post-FIRE => Topic started by: Libertea on January 29, 2017, 12:44:17 PM

Title: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Libertea on January 29, 2017, 12:44:17 PM
I know several of you have slow traveled or moved to Latin America, but curious if anyone is living in Puerto Rico post-FI.  If so, how is that going?  How difficult do you think it would be to adjust to life in PR versus in Latin America for a US citizen who is bilingual in Spanish and English but has no family or other ties to PR?
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: jim555 on January 29, 2017, 07:03:11 PM
Seems like a good place to escape the winter.  No special immigration requirements for US citizens. 
Waiting for someone to chime in.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Libertea on January 29, 2017, 07:23:39 PM
I know, me too.  I can't imagine we don't have a single post-FIRE person in PR on this site!

Other possibly interesting things I've learned from my own reading:
- employment in PR is not subject to US income tax since it's a territory, and interest/dividends are also not taxed
- PR residents cannot vote in US elections, but they have their own
- many residents from the mainland suggest moving to the western part of the island rather than to San Juan
- the same sense of "island time" holds here just like it does in Latin America, which is something that time-sensitive mainlanders need to be aware of
- medical care is better than much of the rest of the Caribbean, and apparently much cheaper than on the mainland (and Obamacare-approved insurance is not required for residents)
- COL is about 15-20% cheaper overall than for the mainland, although this will obviously vary depending on where you're talking about (and interestingly, electricity is more expensive even though most other items, including gas, are cheaper)
- the schools are not particularly good, and most mainland transplants send their kids to private schools
- English and Spanish are both the official languages, and it is possible to get by without knowing Spanish, although obviously speaking Spanish will make life in PR much easier
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Metric Mouse on January 29, 2017, 07:44:09 PM
I wonder if the debt crisis there is affecting any of the residents? If the government becomes unable to pay for basic services, things could get hairy quickly.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: spokey doke on January 30, 2017, 12:31:18 PM
Looks like a number of pretty great upsides...I wonder if there are similar tax deals in other territories
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Peony on January 30, 2017, 12:41:19 PM
This will probably only be minimally helpful, but I recently asked an acquaintance who's Puerto Rican (a nice art professor) if he thought it was a good place to consider retiring and he replied, absolutely not. Then he proceeded to tell me stories about carjackings and other scary things that have happened recently to people he knows. I hope someone will come on here and refute this, as I'd like to think that conditions there are not actually that bad.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: FIRE me on January 30, 2017, 03:42:05 PM
Interesting thread. I have given passing consideration to relocation, and Puerto Rico is one place that I had overlooked.

Based on statistics readily available on Google, I think that crime is a big problem there in the cities. And some sites claim the cost of living is higher than average compared to the mainland, but nothing like a HCOL area like the Bay Area. Not at all surprising, considering it is an island.

Anyway, here's a couple of sites with PR crime stats:

https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/caribbean/puerto-rico/is-puerto-rico-safe-how-to-avoid-the-darker-side-of-paradise

http://www.pr51st.com/puerto-ricos-crime-rate-improves/
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Roothy on January 30, 2017, 04:06:59 PM
following

Huge advantage to me is that it has a VA hospital in San Juan.  My husband receives all his care through the VA.

I spent some time in Tobago recently and it was paradise. But man, if you get sick or injured....
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: flyingaway on January 30, 2017, 05:58:28 PM
I had vacationed three times in Puerto Rico and never felt unsafe there. I did feel unsafe in certain areas of DC, Baltimore, and Chicago.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Metric Mouse on January 31, 2017, 10:00:08 AM
following

Huge advantage to me is that it has a VA hospital in San Juan.  My husband receives all his care through the VA.

I spent some time in Tobago recently and it was paradise. But man, if you get sick or injured....
Medical care can get expensive anywhere. Definately have to have a plan for it, no matter where one retires to.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Blueskies123 on January 31, 2017, 10:28:19 AM
If it so nice why have millions jumped ship and move to NY and Miami?
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: PathtoFIRE on January 31, 2017, 11:38:19 AM
there is one poster who moved to PR, don't know that it was necessarily a full retirement though

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/off-topic/puerto-rico-taxpayer-subsidized-hedge-funds/msg1069754/#msg1069754
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Eric on January 31, 2017, 02:30:15 PM
If it so nice why have millions jumped ship and move to NY and Miami?

The same reason why people leave any place - better jobs.  Luckily that's sort of irrelevant after you retire.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Libertea on January 31, 2017, 03:31:34 PM
If it so nice why have millions jumped ship and move to NY and Miami?

The same reason why people leave any place - better jobs.  Luckily that's sort of irrelevant after you retire.
Haha, this.  Unemployment is apparently quite high, but that obviously doesn't matter if you're FIRE.  Alternatively, it could be a possibility for people who work remotely.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: FIRE me on January 31, 2017, 09:25:51 PM
I know several of you have slow traveled or moved to Latin America, but curious if anyone is living in Puerto Rico post-FI.  If so, how is that going?  How difficult do you think it would be to adjust to life in PR versus in Latin America for a US citizen who is bilingual in Spanish and English but has no family or other ties to PR?

Here is a blog by a Colorado couple who retired in their 30's and moved to Puerto Rico.

http://www.lifetransplanet.com/

http://www.lifetransplanet.com/why-puerto-rico/

 http://www.lifetransplanet.com/2014/02/18/cost-living-puerto-rico/
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Metric Mouse on February 02, 2017, 12:03:03 AM
I know several of you have slow traveled or moved to Latin America, but curious if anyone is living in Puerto Rico post-FI.  If so, how is that going?  How difficult do you think it would be to adjust to life in PR versus in Latin America for a US citizen who is bilingual in Spanish and English but has no family or other ties to PR?

Here is a blog by a Colorado couple who retired in their 30's and moved to Puerto Rico.

http://www.lifetransplanet.com/

http://www.lifetransplanet.com/why-puerto-rico/

 http://www.lifetransplanet.com/2014/02/18/cost-living-puerto-rico/
Wow, that's an amazing blog! They seem like they're really living their dream - amazing.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: CanuckExpat on February 02, 2017, 12:35:22 AM
A side bonus relevant to some people, I've been mulling over is for US Permanent Residents.
Unlike a citizen, US permanent residents can't move abroad without risking their green cards, so Puerto Rico opens up a Caribbean option that might not exist otherwise.

(Someone correct me if I'm wrong that living in a US territory satisfies US residency requirements).
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: redrocker on February 04, 2017, 08:59:35 PM
I know several of you have slow traveled or moved to Latin America, but curious if anyone is living in Puerto Rico post-FI.  If so, how is that going?  How difficult do you think it would be to adjust to life in PR versus in Latin America for a US citizen who is bilingual in Spanish and English but has no family or other ties to PR?

While I don't live there and haven't considered living there, I did spend a few weeks there recently, mostly on the eastern side. Curious if you've been there? As with anytime someone proposes relocating to a different country, standard advice is go visit for a prolonged period.

Part of the time I was there, I was staying in a friend's condo and got to know his neighbors (who turned out to be very opinionated). To hear the stories they told, the island is "hanging by a thread" economically and folks are "fleeing" in droves. I don't know of anything first hand to substantiate those claims but they did tie all these dire predictions to the economic crisis the island is facing that is indeed real. So I had that in the back of my mind during my visit (recall some of the more outlandish scenarios that were predicted for Y2K, that's about the intensity of the tales I heard).

I hope you like rum (I do). Because that's the drink du jour.

Sales taxes are ridiculous. I could see that if employment is suffering and pay is less than stateside then the sales tax alone could be crippling. Could be taken in stride for a smart FI person though.

Personally, I'm a foodie, and while the cuisine was good, it gets old having different variations of mashed/fried plantain and other fried things. Not a lot of fresh veggies like you might expect considering the long growing season.

Infrastructure is definitely Latin American from what I saw. Seems like there's some pollution the island is still learning to deal with/balance the development side of things (for instance, the bioluminescent bays weren't looking too good).

Thanks to the link below from the PR bloggers, I'll be rethinking my previous commitment to visit a lot of other Caribbean islands before going back. I admit that I took the relative stability and safety of the island for granted as I was coming from the mainland and haven't been elsewhere in Latin America for nearly 5 years.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Libertea on February 05, 2017, 02:15:08 PM
Thanks, red, I have been to PR before, but not in quite a while.  As I mentioned, several sites I was reading suggested looking on the west side of the island rather than in San Juan or the east side.  And yes, it does seem that high unemployment is an issue for many, although obviously that wouldn't apply for a person who was FIRE and not planning to be employed!  As for the rum, I almost never drink alcohol, so as long as there is potable water available, I'm good. ;-)

I definitely would go stay for a few months first before making any permanent changes in location.  If nothing else, I'd want to have a chance to try a few different towns and look around at various options.  I'd also consider maybe doing more of a snowbird thing (meaning spending the winters in PR and the summers elsewhere), because I'd imagine that hurricane season could be pretty miserable if it was an active year....
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: bwall on February 14, 2017, 09:00:03 AM
Just saw this thread.

I can generally answer some of the topics that have popped up:

1) Crime. It's a problem, but as in the USA it is all concentrated in the 'bad' areas. It seems that everyone here knows someone who was shot and killed in the last ten years. I've heard of zero stories like that in the USA. Usually the victim is out late at night, young, and/or in a bad area. I tend to do none of these so I do feel safe. FWIW; it's legal to not stop at stop signs or stop lights after 10:30 p.m.

2) Costs: We left San Diego and think this place is expensive. I'm sure there are cheaper areas on the island, but we haven't really found them.

3) Language: You can get by with only English and bits of Spanish for basic interactions. Obviously, the more Spanish you know the richer your experience will be.

4) People: Very friendly, but it takes a long, long time to build meaning relationships. Welcome to Latin America!

5) Services: Welcome to Latin America! Either you love it, or you don't.

6) Weather: It's summer all year round. Major PITA for me. YMMV. We're going to Europe for the summer to escape.

7) Economics: We're on a small island, and it shows. Good jobs are limited and it's hard to develop the economy b/c.... we're on a small island. I've never been to Hawaii, but I imagine some of the limitations may be similar.

I moved to PR last April and I'd be happy to answer any questions about life here.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: FIRE me on February 16, 2017, 08:35:37 PM
Just saw this thread.

I can generally answer some of the topics that have popped up:

1) Crime. It's a problem, but as in the USA it is all concentrated in the 'bad' areas. It seems that everyone here knows someone who was shot and killed in the last ten years. I've heard of zero stories like that in the USA. Usually the victim is out late at night, young, and/or in a bad area. I tend to do none of these so I do feel safe. FWIW; it's legal to not stop at stop signs or stop lights after 10:30 p.m.

2) Costs: We left San Diego and think this place is expensive. I'm sure there are cheaper areas on the island, but we haven't really found them.

3) Language: You can get by with only English and bits of Spanish for basic interactions. Obviously, the more Spanish you know the richer your experience will be.

4) People: Very friendly, but it takes a long, long time to build meaning relationships. Welcome to Latin America!

5) Services: Welcome to Latin America! Either you love it, or you don't.

6) Weather: It's summer all year round. Major PITA for me. YMMV. We're going to Europe for the summer to escape.

7) Economics: We're on a small island, and it shows. Good jobs are limited and it's hard to develop the economy b/c.... we're on a small island. I've never been to Hawaii, but I imagine some of the limitations may be similar.

I moved to PR last April and I'd be happy to answer any questions about life here.

#4. Even in small towns and rural areas?

#5. I have no idea what you mean by that. Are services great, slow, lacking, friendly, or? Could you be less cryptic, please?

Overall, how do you like it?

What town, city, or area are you located?
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: bwall on February 17, 2017, 10:17:46 AM
#4: I can't speak for everyone on the entire island, of course. Everyone's experience is different, but the families here are very tight knit. As a result, even though the people are extremely friendly, they may not think to include you when planning events.  YMMV

#5: By your question, I assume you've never been to Latin America? It's different than English-speaking parts of North America. Some people love it, some people hate it. Broadly speaking, the standard of customer service in Latin America is not at the level most English speakers would consider acceptable in their home country. Imagine the Cable Guy service at every level: electricity, water, phone, DMV, banking, shopping, medical care, police and even commission only real estate agents. EVERYWHERE.

For example: I bought a new car and it took me 6 months (!!!) to get the title. Did the dealership drop the ball? Or did DMV? Each blames the other. At the end of the day it doesn't matter.

I paid someone $150 to go with me to the DMV to get my drivers' license. It took us 30 minutes instead of *all day*. She had the connections and could waltz in and out with me.

Bankers do not return my phone calls for hours. Though I guess this is better than in Mexico, where it takes days. And that's probably better than other countries, where they never return phone calls.

Real estate agents on expensive sales listings in English haven't returned my phone calls.

Setting up electricity or water takes the locals all day. We haven't had to do this yet, but this is what everyone says.

We hear stories of hours wait at the doctors or dentist, though we have had good experiences.

One upside to this mentality: nobody gets upset when you double park and the cops rarely give $15 tickets for illegally parking.

Overall it's like anywhere; positives and negatives. For us, the positives outweigh the negatives. We live in Old San Juan, within walking distance of the two old Spanish forts.

BTW: I saw that you are in Louisville.  I grew up in Hart Co, KY.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: redrocker on February 17, 2017, 11:45:38 AM
2) Costs: We left San Diego and think this place is expensive. I'm sure there are cheaper areas on the island, but we haven't really found them.

We live in Old San Juan, within walking distance of the two old Spanish forts.

You're in the trendiest location of the island. Even still, I'm surprised you find it as expensive to San Diego. My experience was, as it is in virtually every country, if you're inflexible in what you consume, you're going to pay less for certain things (locally sourced - ie plantains and rum) and more for others (imports - most everything besides plaintains and rum).
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: bwall on February 17, 2017, 12:21:00 PM
Plantians and rum....this probably sustained many generations across the Caribbean.... I don't think I'll become an aficionado of either, though.

Some things we chose to pay extra for, such as housing. But, with other things, it'd be nice if they weren't so expensive; milk; $6 gallon (!), wine 2x the cost in California and not as good due to the heat, beans, rice, spaghetti, are all 30-60% more than in CA. Fruits and veggies are all imported via Florida, so they aren't as fresh as in Florida but they are more expensive. I guess we are still in the 're-setting the norms and expectations' stage of relocating. Fortunately, we can afford what we chose to consume but I wonder how the locals do it.

As a side note, all coffee sold here is from PR as is the milk. I'm not sure if it's a law, but it have no other explanation.

Gas is cheaper here than in CA, but we didn't drive much in CA, so no real savings there.

I expected the local agriculture sector to be larger here than it is. I've asked around as to why that is, but I haven't gotten a satisfactory answer.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: MsSindy on February 17, 2017, 12:59:17 PM
Our plans are for snowbirding in PR for 4 - 8 weeks - trading off with Tucson every other year.  We've been visiting PR every year for the past 15 years and obviously, love it.  BUT, we are only visiting for a week at a time.  Personally, an island is too small for me to live permanently.  We've always stayed in Condado, which is just outside of Old San Juan - very trendy and pretty expensive.  Even so, we use AirBnB, cook in the condo most times and visit the local off-the-beaten path restaurants for cheaper meals.  Fairly inexpensive vacation for what we get.

We've chatted with various folks who have relocated there. For perspective, one was a 20-something cute girl from CA, actively learning Spanish, bubbly personality - had no problems fitting in and was doing 'shout-outs' and waves to various people walking by as we were chatting with her.  And she had only been there about 4 months. 

We had met another guy from Boston, mid-40s, white IT consultant - he found it much harder to connect with anyone, even to make general friends.  I think this is true anywhere you go.  When I was younger, I found it naturally easier to meet people and 'hang out', as I get older it's tougher as people have their own lives and what not.  Throw in a tight-knit culture and language complications and it gets even tougher.

Although I do understand that there is an active Expat population in Rincon - it also has a much different vibe than OSJ, more of a laid back surfer town.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Libertea on February 17, 2017, 06:41:01 PM
Thanks for the input, bwall.  Are you FIRE or working?  How did you end up in PR?
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: bwall on February 18, 2017, 05:57:21 AM
I'm FI, but not RE by choice. I'm very fortunate in that work is very easy and not too stressful, yet very lucrative. I've set a RE date of mid 2018, but we'll see how that works out.

I came to PR on Act 20 & Act 22. These are tax breaks designed to jump start the local economy. They favor a small company and/or individual and not a large corporation.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: FIRE me on February 18, 2017, 10:04:47 AM
#4: I can't speak for everyone on the entire island, of course. Everyone's experience is different, but the families here are very tight knit. As a result, even though the people are extremely friendly, they may not think to include you when planning events.  YMMV

#5: By your question, I assume you've never been to Latin America? It's different than English-speaking parts of North America. Some people love it, some people hate it. Broadly speaking, the standard of customer service in Latin America is not at the level most English speakers would consider acceptable in their home country. Imagine the Cable Guy service at every level: electricity, water, phone, DMV, banking, shopping, medical care, police and even commission only real estate agents. EVERYWHERE.

For example: I bought a new car and it took me 6 months (!!!) to get the title. Did the dealership drop the ball? Or did DMV? Each blames the other. At the end of the day it doesn't matter.

I paid someone $150 to go with me to the DMV to get my drivers' license. It took us 30 minutes instead of *all day*. She had the connections and could waltz in and out with me.

Bankers do not return my phone calls for hours. Though I guess this is better than in Mexico, where it takes days. And that's probably better than other countries, where they never return phone calls.

Real estate agents on expensive sales listings in English haven't returned my phone calls.

Setting up electricity or water takes the locals all day. We haven't had to do this yet, but this is what everyone says.

We hear stories of hours wait at the doctors or dentist, though we have had good experiences.

One upside to this mentality: nobody gets upset when you double park and the cops rarely give $15 tickets for illegally parking.

Overall it's like anywhere; positives and negatives. For us, the positives outweigh the negatives. We live in Old San Juan, within walking distance of the two old Spanish forts.

BTW: I saw that you are in Louisville.  I grew up in Hart Co, KY.

I've never been to Latin America. I'd heard that life in general can be slower, but just as the same is said about rural areas of the US, I assumed that there is wide variation.

And I never would have thought to extend that to paid services. The experiences you describe would make me, if not crazy, at the least very frustrated.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: Arktinkerer on February 18, 2017, 06:26:33 PM
Pros/Cons for using PR for a base for a traveler?  The tax situation sounds good.  What do you have to do to establish/keep residence there? 
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: bwall on February 20, 2017, 05:12:22 AM
It depends on the type of travel you are interested in. What are your criteria?

Residency depends mainly on having a US passport and being here at least 183 days per year. Any US citizen can come here and live and work as in the USA, just as Puerto Ricans can go to the USA and live and work. Puerto Ricans have had US passports since the beginning of US passports.
Title: Re: Anyone (Especially US Citizens) Retired to Puerto Rico?
Post by: GreenSheep on February 22, 2017, 04:04:05 PM
I haven't retired to PR, but I can chime in a little bit. I lived on St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is not far from PR. They sort of consider PR "the big city," and if you don't want to go as far as Miami, it's where you go for medical care, shopping, etc. that you can't get on St. Croix.

One thing I noticed while living there for a year was that, although I enjoyed the beaches, little restaurants, time with friends, etc., I felt a little bit trapped. Rock fever, they call it. You can't go more than about an hour from your home (obviously farther on PR, but same idea) without getting on a plane. There's only so much island to explore before you run out of island. On PR you do have the advantage of having a large airport (most flights to STX go through PR), but you're still looking at shelling out some money for a flight any time you want to go anywhere, even if it's just hopping over to the next island.

The comments about the culture sound very much like St. Croix. Island time really is a thing, and if you're not on vacation, it can get to you. As noted, sometimes it works in your favor. The cashier who is making you wait while having a long conversation with the person in front of you will also have a long and friendly conversation with you. If you're retired, that might be a nice way to live. If you're racing around to get things done on your day off like I always seemed to be when these things happened, then it's not quite as pleasant. Just something to keep in mind. On the other hand, if you want to have a little side hustle or post-retirement mini-job, people might very much appreciate your mainland standards of promptness, etc.

Before I moved to St. Croix, everyone recommended that I do a PMV (Pre-Move Visit) of at least a month, during which time you live in a place with a kitchen (assuming you don't plan to eat every meal out once you move there), drive some routes you would commonly take if you lived there (post office, bank, etc.), shop at the grocery store, etc. Sure, enjoy the beaches and stuff, but don't treat the entire month like a vacation. Treat it like a research project to see if you'll truly enjoy living there. I did it, and it helped. I probably would have continued to live there beyond that first year if my job hadn't been the worst job ever.