Puerto Rico welcomes more than four million tourists each year who are attracted by its white-sand beaches, natural beauty, rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious food.

But what about making Puerto Rico your home?

For the first time in 15 years, the population of Puerto Rico increased in 2019, indicating both that more people are moving to the island—and more are staying. After Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in 2017, the island saw a population decline of around 130,000, with many people leaving for the continental U.S.

However, now that the island has recovered significantly from the devastation, many are rediscovering Puerto Rico as a place to call home.

What’s drawing people to the Island of Enchantment? We’ll explore six reasons so compelling that they may even convince you to pack up and go.

1. An Easy Transition for U.S. Citizens

Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898 when the U.S. acquired it at the end of the Spanish-American war. (It also happens to be the most populated U.S. territory!) If you’re an American citizen, this makes for an easy transition to the island because you won’t need any 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 immigration concerns.

Because it’s a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico also uses the U.S. dollar, which makes banking and finances simple. Additionally, U.S. residents will also appreciate these two conveniences:

  • Cell Phones: If you’re with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint, your cell phone will work the same way it did in the continental U.S.—with no roaming charges. This makes it effortless to stay in touch with friends and family at home, and they’ll be able to call you with ease, too.
  • USPS: The USPS treats Puerto Rico the same as any other domestic destination, so you can mail items to Puerto Rico just as you would to any other state at no extra cost. The only difference you might encounter is with Media Mail. Whereas this service might take a week or two within the continental 48, it can take weeks when Puerto Rico is the origin or destination. Ultimately, you’re better off using Priority Mail or First Class service when mailing items. Note: UPS and FedEx consider Puerto Rico an international destination, so you’ll find the USPS to be the most economical option most of the time.

In addition to these two advantages, Americans will find many of the comforts of home in Puerto Rico. The highways across the island are relatively well-maintained, just like you’d find in the U.S. Additionally, if you need a fast-food fix, you’ll find McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Subway on the island. Puerto Rico even has Costco and Sam’s Club locations, as well as large, modern malls for you to stroll.

However, even though life in Puerto Rico may share some similarities with the continental U.S., you’ll also have the opportunity to live your life a little differently.

2. A Chance to Dive into the Caribbean Lifestyle

puerto rico street colorful

Those pristine beaches lined with palm trees that you’ve seen on postcards from the Caribbean? They’re waiting for you in Puerto Rico. So is world-class surfing on the north shore, over 20 forest preserves, a 29,000-acre tropical rainforest and much, much more. And because you’re living live at Latitude 18, you’ll enjoy warm, sunny weather year-round, cooled by tradewinds in the winter months.

Additionally, Puerto Rico has a strong boating culture, with the nearby Spanish Virgin Islands of Vieques and Culebra just waiting to be explored. If you’ve got your sea legs, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are a little over 60 miles to the east, offering a wealth of tiny islands and cays to cruise.

If you’ve ever dreamed of living on a tropical island, Puerto Rico may just be paradise for you. You’ll also have a great time getting to know the rich and fascinating Puerto Rican culture.

3. A Friendly, Lively Local Culture to Enjoy

Those who have moved to Puerto Rico have reported that they’ve felt very welcomed by the island’s residents. Unlike other areas where it might take time to make new friends (“Seattle Freeze,” anyone?), many have found it easy to integrate socially in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico also sports an active art scene, as well as a thriving culinary culture with unique dishes you won’t find anywhere else. Dig into some lechón (whole roasted pig), mofongo (a unique dish made from a base of fried, mashed green plantains) or a tripleta (a three-meat sandwich) and you’ll still only be scratching the surface of all the gastronomic wonders that Puerto Rico has to offer.

Keep in mind, too, that Puerto Rico is a fairly large island—about 100 miles across—with distinct regions that each offer something different. So life in laid-back Rincón can be very different than the lavish lifestyle offered in Palmas del Mar. With so much diversity, you’re bound to find the right one to suit you.

And, if you play it right, you might even have a little extra cash to fund the lifestyle of your choice.

4. Tax Benefits and Grants for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

Many who consider moving to the island are already aware of the tax benefits they can enjoy if they move their businesses to Puerto Rico. In fact, more than 1,500 people from the continental U.S. have flocked to the island since 2012, when the island began promoting its tax benefits.

The biggest programs U.S. citizens take advantage of include:

  • Act 20, which offers a low 4% corporate income tax rate for companies who relocate, as well as a 100% exemption on distributions from earnings and profits, among other benefits.
  • Act 22, which targets high-net-worth individuals by promising 0% tax on interest, dividends, and capital gains earned while living in Puerto Rico.

Note: The island takes the residency requirement for these laws very seriously. There are three tests you’ll need to pass: 1) the presence test, 2) the tax home test and 3) the closer connection test. For example, if your spouse does not relocate with you, you won’t pass the third test. However, as your reward, you’ll also no longer be subject to U.S. federal income tax. Instead, you’ll only pay Puerto Rico income tax, which can represent significant savings. Make sure you consult with a professional if you plan to reap these rewards to ensure you pass these tests with flying colors.

Finally, in addition to tax benefits, you could also benefit from the grants and other assistance available for startups. Parallel 18 is an organization that offers grants of $40,000 for startups in Puerto Rico, with opportunities for follow-up funding of as much as $75,000. As with the tax laws, Parallel 18 requires that one founder who’s empowered to make business decisions live on the island. If you’ve been dreaming of kickstarting your own business, this might be the head start you’ve been looking for.

And if entrepreneurship is your thing, you’ll also find a like-minded community waiting for you.

5. A Welcoming Community and, Increasingly, a Tech Hub

orange building door puerto rico

The tax incentives, as well as Puerto Rico’s central location, have made the island an increasingly appealing place to live for entrepreneurs and business owners, particularly in the tech field. Most notably, a group of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs headed to the island after Hurricane Maria.vi Bolstered by the government’s interest in investing in tech and infrastructure across the island, business owners have flocked to Puerto Rico.

The active business community in Puerto Rico hosts events that run the gamut from formal conferences on blockchain technology to informal networking mixers. If you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug—and love to chat with others who share your enthusiasm—you might find the perfect community in Puerto Rico.

And if business (or pleasure) takes you somewhere else, you’ll find it easy to use Puerto Rico as your jumping-off point.

6. Quick and Easy Access to Other Destinations

Unlike some other Caribbean destinations, Puerto Rico is pretty accessible. The island has two major airports: Luis Muñoz Marin Airport (SJU) outside of San Juan and Rafael Hernandez Airport (BQN) on the west coast. Luis Muñoz Marin is an international airport with direct flights to locations in the continental U.S., South America and the Caribbean (among others). Miami International Airport is less than three hours away, and a flight to New York is just over four, offering you easy access to a whole other slew of connections.

So while the transformative power of the Puerto Rican culture may mean that you feel like you’re far from home, it’s easy to connect with other destinations quickly for business—or hop to new parts unknown for fun.

Making Puerto Rico Your New Home

If you find the allure of the Caribbean calling, Puerto Rico may just be your very own Island of Enchantment. With a number of advantages to its name, plus an easy transition for U.S. citizens, Puerto Rico offers a great deal to those who make the move. And, if you decide to bring your business with you, you can establish yourself quickly on the island and settle in easily to the new place you’ll call “home.”

 

 

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