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Expat Advice: Dream vs. Reality of Expat Life in San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States

Submitted by Talltom

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An expat shares a brief report about his expectations going into a move to Puerto Rico, and the realities that actually awaited him there.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.

I dreamed of swimming in warm water, meeting friendly people, and living cheaply. I was motivated to move by very promising tax incentives being offered by Puerto Rico.

How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?

My above expectations above have been generally met except it is more expensive than I expected (85% of all food/goods are imported, primarily from U.S.).

Puerto Ricans consider themselves much more their own country than a U.S. state so don't expect this to be like any state you have ever visited but much more like Mexico (except without the cheap prices).

How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?

I have tried to help the community by volunteering and find the locals generally not open to new ideas unless it is their own.

Puerto Rico is poorly run. Most locals want an external financial review board to take over the running of the island as they have completely lost faith in the existing government. I would agree.

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Comments about this Report

dliss62
May 24, 2016 17:25

I lived in PR for 3 years and was happy to leave! Hardly anything works right and it is a nightmare trying to get normal things (ie; driver license, repairs, doctor, ect) done. PR is a happy place with plenty of partying and terrific If you are going on vacation, but living there is another story. people are very nationalistic and take great pride of their "country", but do not take pride in doing things properly and this is very frustrating to foreigners. I'd rather live in other Latin American countries where the cost of living is much cheaper. No surprise why PR is currently in such a big mess!

d2snow
Mar 8, 2017 18:02

I lived in PR for several years when my parents moved there. Couldn't wait to leave! As someone else stated, getting things done is a nightmare - corruption is rampant. Paying elec/phone, etc. via checks is not common as they misplace all your payments. Cust. Svc. is non-existent; lots of shady characters who want to scam you at every turn because you're a gringo (and I speak fluent Spanish!) Lots of poverty in the more rural areas. Sad.

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