How to retire in Puerto Rico



Puerto Rico has Caribbean beaches, a historic vibe, and a vibrant culture. Perhaps the biggest draw for American retirees is that …

Puerto Rico has Caribbean beaches, a historic vibe, and a vibrant culture. Perhaps the biggest draw to American retirees is that it’s easy to move to Puerto Rico. Here’s what you need to know about retiring in Puerto Rico.

Moving to Puerto Rico for retirement

Applying for residency can be one of the biggest headaches and expense of moving abroad. However, Puerto Rico is a US territory, so no residence permit is required for Americans to live or retire in Puerto Rico.

To establish your residence in Puerto Rico, you must spend 183 days per year to make it your tax household. You will also need to take steps to make it clear to the IRS that Puerto Rico is your home port. You can do this by obtaining a local driver’s license or by changing your electoral registration in Puerto Rico.

[SEE: 10 Affordable Places to Retire on the Water.]

Why retire in Puerto Rico

This island has all the assets of a tropical paradise. Puerto Rico is bathed in sunshine and surrounded by beautiful beaches, some with surfable waves and others lined with palm trees and completely relaxed.

Puerto Rico has a long and rich history, full of stories of conquistadors, conquests, pirate attacks and revolts. Christopher Columbus claimed the island for Spain in 1493. Rich in gold, sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, the Spanish heavily fortified San Juan to protect the island, and it was the main military outpost of Spain in the Caribbean for years.

Much of the island’s rich history can be experienced today in Old San Juan, one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial cities in the Americas. This old town is framed by cobbled streets and colorful colonial houses that date back hundreds of years, as well as forts and castles built by Spain. Puerto Rico became American territory in 1917.

Puerto Rico is easily accessible

Puerto Rico benefits from proximity to the continental United States. Just over 1,000 miles separate the continental United States from Puerto Rico. You can fly to Puerto Rico in less than three hours for as little as $ 100 round trip. Puerto Rico is home to many American Continental-style amenities, including shopping malls, schools, and golf courses.

Expats in Puerto Rico

Retirees will have no trouble settling in Puerto Rico. The island is a retreat haven and home to large, active and well-established retiree communities across the Americas. Most retirees settle around San Juan and the seaside neighborhoods east of the city, although pockets of expats can be found around the island.

English holds official language status alongside Spanish in Puerto Rico. In urban and tourist areas you can get by without speaking Spanish, but outside of these areas it will make your life easier if you know at least a little Spanish.

[See: Retirement Spots With Year-Round Nice Weather.]

Where to retire in Puerto Rico

San Juan. Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, is where you’ll find the largest expat community and the best access to amenities. San Juan has an energetic lifestyle, with a vibrant bar, restaurant, and nightlife. Old San Juan, with its Spanish colonial architecture, is particularly charming.

Dorado. Located 25 miles north of San Juan, Dorado offers a more relaxed pace of life. Dorado is more expensive than the average Puerto Rican city, but has upscale neighborhoods with American-style homes in gated communities and golf courses.

Rincón. Rincon is a laid back area about two and a half hours from San Juan. Located on the westernmost tip of the island, Rincon is famous for its magnificent sunsets. Lacking major hotels, this town is perfect for those looking for a more local lifestyle on the beach.

Cayey. Cayey is located in the central mountain range at an elevation of 1,500 feet above sea level, and temperatures are cooler than in other parts of the island. Surrounded by densely forested peaks and valleys, Cayey is a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

The cost of living in Puerto Rico

The cost of living in Puerto Rico is not as low as in the Dominican Republic or other Latin American destinations. However, Puerto Rico is cheaper than living in the Americas and considerably cheaper than other comparable Caribbean Island destinations, such as the neighboring British Virgin Islands or St. Barths.

The biggest savings will come from rent, which can be 50% lower in Puerto Rico than it is in the Americas. Daily expenses and groceries are affordable if you stick to local produce rather than imported goods. Puerto Rico uses the US dollar, which makes banking and financial transactions easier for Americans.

[See: The Best Affordable Places to Retire Overseas in 2021.]

Healthcare in Puerto Rico

US retirees can use their health insurance benefits in Puerto Rico. Coverage is the same as anywhere else in the United States. This is a significant advantage over retiring in another country, where you generally cannot access Medicare. You will find the biggest and the best hospitals in the country in the main cities. If you are not yet eligible for Medicare, private insurance is available.

The challenges of retirement in Puerto Rico

Retirement in Puerto Rico has a few drawbacks. Poverty is a problem and a significant portion of the population lives below the poverty line. Crime can also be a problem in some areas. Puerto Rico is sensitive to natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, which can cause significant damage to property and infrastructure.

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