Puerto Rico welcomes more than four million tourists each yeari 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,ii 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,iii 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 several 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 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.
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:
In addition to these two advantages, U.S. citizens 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
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.
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.
You’ll also find a rich and unique culture in Puerto Rico, which combines influences from Spanish, African, Caribbean, and Taíno traditions. If you’re not familiar with the Taíno, this indigenous people inhabited Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands prior to European arrival.iv
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.
Areas you might consider include:
- San Juan – If you like the excitement of city life, Puerto Rico’s capital may be the right spot for you.
- Dorado – Beautiful beaches and a quieter, suburban feel make this area a top choice for many.
- Culebra – For those looking to get away from it all, this little island offers plenty of empty beaches to explore and very few tourists.
- Ponce – Puerto Rico’s second-largest city offers plenty of history and gorgeous architecture, earning its nickname, La Perla del Sur (The Pearl of the South).
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.viii
The biggest programs U.S. citizens take advantage of include:
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.
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. To establish what’s called “bona fide residence” in Puerto Rico, there are three tests you’ll need to pass:
- The presence test – Where were you physically present during the tax year?
- The tax home test – Where is the your main place of business, employment, or post of duty?
- The closer connection test – Do you have closer connections in a place other than Puerto Rico? (e.g. – Does your family live in Florida?)
For more information on meeting these three tests, head to the source: IRS Form 570, Section 1, Bona Fide Residence.
If you pass all three tests, you’ll establish bona fide residence, which means you’ll only pay Puerto Rico income tax. For many U.S. citizens, this 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.ix 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
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.x 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.
7. A Fairly Simple Moving Destination
While moving to Puerto Rico comes with more logistics than moving around the block, it’s only about a thousand miles beyond Miami, making it a relatively close destination to the continental U.S. Additionally, when you move with an experienced partner, they can make the move to Puerto Rico relatively easy for you.
Of course, one of the big differences between moving to Puerto Rico and moving within the continental U.S. is that your belongings will travel by boat. You can either choose to pack a full container of your belongings, or you can work with a moving company on what’s called a “less-than-container solution.” In this scenario, your belongings are often packed into wooden crates called “lift vans,” which are then loaded into a container bound for Puerto Rico.
When you’re preparing for a move like this, we recommend that you:
8. Warm, Tropical Weather Year-Round
When you move to Puerto Rico, you’ll leave winter behind. Puerto Rico enjoys steady, balmy weather all year round. Along the coasts, you’ll enjoy temperatures that range from around 75–81° F, with inland temperatures just a few degrees cooler. If you’ve lived most of your life in an area with seasonal weather, the first year you celebrate a warm December holiday season may feel a little strange. However, if you love warm weather and basking in the sun, Puerto Rico’s climate will make for a great change. You’ll also get the opportunity to join in Puerto Rico’s unique Christmas traditions, which include parrandas—a mix of caroling and a traveling holiday party. You’ll also want to note that Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is when the majority of the Christmas merry-making happens in Puerto Rico. Christmas Day is usually a much more low-key affair.
9. Job & Business Opportunities in Varied Industries
Although Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate is higher than the U.S. average, it’s been on a fairly steady decline over the last ten years. After reaching 16.5% in March 2011, the unemployment rate has gone as low as 7.6% in July 2019. In September 2021, it sits at 8.3%.xv
If you’re looking for a job in Puerto Rico or starting a business, knowing the largest industries in the territory might spark some ideas for your job search or
Above and beyond the stats, you may also be interested to know that Puerto Rico is a big hub for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronics, and chemicals.xvii Additionally, the territory continues to attract high-tech businesses, including bitcoin miners, through its favorable tax structure.
Ultimately, many entrepreneurs have been lured by the tax advantages and the lifestyle advantages Puerto Rico offers, which has inspired them to carve out their own path within the Island of Enchantment.
10. Reasonable Home Ownership Prices
If buying a home is in your future, Puerto Rico might be the right place to put down roots. Although the Zillow home value index for San Juan, PR, is a little higher than the U.S. average, it’s significantly lower than the U.S.’s other popular tropical destination—Hawaii.
Zillow Home Value Index
Even if you’re not in the market to buy, it’s worth at least exploring the option. As you look for housing in Puerto Rico, you may find that buying a house might result in a lower payment than monthly rent.
11. A Favorable Cost of Living for Many U.S. Residents
As we mentioned earlier, the island of Puerto Rico is a diverse one, so cost of living will vary depending on what part of the island you plan to live on. However, as compared to a number of locations in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico can offer many a lower cost of living. This is particularly true if you’re moving to Puerto Rico from an urban area. According to NerdWallet:
Living in Puerto Rico Is Less Expensive Than:
- Dallas, TX–The cost of living is 11% lower in San Juan, PR
- Portland, OR–The cost of living is 28% lower in San Juan, PR
- Los Angeles, CA–The cost of living is 34% lower in San Juan, PR
However, Living in Puerto Rico Is More Expensive Than:
- Tampa, FL–The cost of living is 8% higher in San Juan, PR
- Las Cruces, NM– The cost of living is 11% higher in San Juan, PR
- Memphis, TN–The cost of living is 21% higher in San Juan, PRxiv
One of your big expenses in Puerto Rico will be electricity. The current price for residential power is 20.18 cents/kWh, as compared to the U.S. average of 13.90 cents/kWh.xv However, compare that to the 40.03 cents/kWh that Virgin Islanders pay for power in the neighboring U.S. territory,xvi and Puerto Rico’s prices will feel like a bargain.
Additionally, as is the case on many islands, a large majority of the items you’ll purchase in Puerto Rico are imported. As a result, groceries can be expensive. However, Puerto Rico has more than 8,000 farms, and you can often get a better deal on local produce.
To get a better sense of how the cost of living in Puerto Rico stacks up with that of your current location, check out NerdWallet’s Cost of Living Calculator.
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.”
Need some help with your move to Puerto Rico? Our experts can help point you in the right direction. Just reach out to us to get started, and we’ll match you with one of our pros who can get you a free, no-obligation quote for your move to Puerto Rico. We can help you move your household goods, business equipment, cars and more!
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