Moving to Puerto Rico: A Complete Guide for Relocation

Puerto Rico is full of fascinating towns, friendly locals, unique attractions, and stunning natural surroundings. It’s a country that inspires people with its extensive artistic, cultural, and historical traditions.

By moving to Puerto Rico, you can explore a world of vibrant Colonial flair, where fearless forts and castles coexist with jungle vines and untamed mountain ranges. It is a place that offers cultural heaven for new arrivals.

If this tropical environment of Puerto Rico is a charming place for you to relocate, then IMovingTo will ensure your international moving experience is entirely delightful.

Skyline of San Juan, Puerto Rico


Inside Puerto Rican Lifestyle – Cultural Insights

Combining native, Spanish, and African traditions, the culture of Puerto Rico is a vibrant combination of old and new. Around the Island, you may see expressions of that culture in art galleries, vibrant murals, dancing lessons, and energetic festivals that fill the streets.

Puerto Ricans are incredibly proud of their culture, traditions, and history. Their official languages are English and Spanish, but most of the population prefers to speak Spanish. Expats should use polite names like ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ or the person’s profession, like doctor or professor, when interacting in formal situations. Puerto Ricans are respectful people considering the rules of respect.

The two significant cornerstones of Puerto Rican society are respect and education. It’s common to hear family members and close friends speaking to one another directly, but always with respect. People who can express their feelings, especially love and caring, are highly appreciated by Puerto Ricans.

Cost of Living in Puerto Rico

Generally, Puerto Rico has much cheaper living expenses than the United States. Some commodities, including local foods, property taxes, transportation, and healthcare, are less expensive on the island. In contrast, imported goods, cars, and electricity tend to be pricier than in the United States.

You may expect to live well in Puerto Rico on about $2,000 per month. As an expat, you will also discover that a significant amount of your income will be spent on housing. Apartments are more prevalent and more affordable than standalone homes. Housing costs tend to be highest in urban areas and lowest in outer suburbs.  Additionally, living outside San Juan is usually less expensive than in the capital.

Prices may differ according to the source of the product or service; however, these number identifiers will enable you to understand the basic cost of living.

  • Three-course meal for 2 individuals in a mid-range restaurant: $60      
  • Monthly transport pass: $60
  • Cinema ticket: $8
  • 1 bedroom apartment in the city center: $809.89
  • 1 bedroom apartment outside of center: $512.07     
  • Basic utilities per month for a small apartment: $250

Vista Types & Residence Permits

Puerto Rico is a US territory without an official government. It is governed by US policy in international affairs, trade, customs administration, immigration and emigration, nationality and citizenship, etc. This implies that you will have to deal with the US immigration authorities to obtain your Puerto Rico visa.

If you are not on a traditional expat assignment, obtaining a residence and work permit for the US is notably difficult. The US Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Visa Wizard can assist you in determining the type of visa you require and the application process. However, you will still need to schedule an appointment for an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate near your location.

Foreign nationals may apply for any of the following categories of visas if they intend to live and work in Puerto Rico:

  • Temporary Employment Visa
  • Permanent Employment Visa
  • Exchange Visitor Visa for qualified teachers or professors
  • Temporary Visitors for Business
  • Media Visa

Residents of countries involved in the Visa Waiver Program and registered with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) are eligible to travel to Puerto Rico without a visa if their visit does not exceed 3 months.

How to Move Your Belongings to Puerto Rico?

For expats moving to Puerto Rico, various shipping companies offer door-to-door service. These specialists will handle every aspect of moving belongings until your goods are delivered to your new house without difficulty. Containers will arrive in Port San Juan for customs examination after arriving in Puerto Rico by sea on average for 24-25 days.

Consignments from the mainland are subject to excise taxes when moving to Puerto Rico for an extended period. You have a variety of options for shipping to Puerto Rico depending on what you own:

  • The US Postal Service sends packages to your home that are lighter in weight (up to 70lbs).
  • UPS sends both small packages (weighing up to 150 lbs) and cargo to Puerto Rico. While their charges are quite expensive, they are efficient.
  • Freight companies specialize in carrying large containers and varied items.

How to Move Your Pets?

The only approved method of importing your pet to Puerto Rico is by air via San Juan’s International Airport, where local veterinary officials will inspect the landing. Your pet will need to have a rabies vaccination between 6 months and 1 year before entering the country.

Remember that a Veterinary Certificate for Puerto Rico should be completed by a licensed veterinarian from your country of origin at least 30 days before your pet’s arrival.

When it comes to birds, they require a health certificate granted before consignment, which certifies that the birds have not been identified to have ornithosis or psittacosis.

Note that Puerto Rico has banned specific breeds of dogs like Pit Bulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Terriers.

How Do Expats Take Care of Their Finances in Puerto Rico?

There are multiple international and local banks located all around Puerto Rico.  The island is surrounded by ATMs, while smaller villages may have difficulty finding one.

The major banks in Puerto Rico offer online account opening options. To verify your identification documents, certain banks may still ask you to visit a branch to verify your identification documents. A minimum deposit, identification, and proof of address. Even though a specific bank may ask for it, expats are not required to have a social security number to open a bank account.

It is noteworthy that only Puerto Rican citizens can open traditional bank accounts in Puerto Rican banks, while non-residents are eligible to open a Puerto Rican offshore account.

There are several banks on the island, with the following 5 being the largest:

  • Banco Popular: 125 branches
  • Oriental: 52 branches
  • First Bank: 73 branches
  • Santander: 26 branches
  • Scotiabank: 20 branches

Best Places to Live in Puerto Rico

San Juan

With over 395,000 residents, San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is the most populated area.  Moving to San Juan won’t disappoint with its breathtaking beaches, vibrant nightlife, and cultural and outdoor activities diversity.

San Juan serves as a hub for tourists throughout the entire region and a significant commercial and industrial powerhouse. Nowadays, it is one of Puerto Rico’s leading production centers, especially for textile, pharmaceutical, industrial, and electronic goods.


Ponce, the second-largest city in Puerto Rico, is referred to both as the “Museum City” and the “Pearl of the South” due to its historical and cultural landmarks. It is a desirable place to reside since it has a bustling historic core as well as several attractions and objects of interest.

Before the 1950s, when the city started to broaden its financial infrastructure, Ponce’s primary source of income was the sugar cane industry. At that point, the city started to build its financial system. Nowadays, Ponce is a major center for manufacturing, retail, agriculture, and services. 

Things You Should Take Care of Before Relocation

  • Puerto Ricans place a strong emphasis on family. Almost every activity is family-friendly, whether a day at the beach, a trip to the museum, attending a local festival, or having dinner.

One of Puerto Rico’s greatest treasures is friendly, helpful, and constantly cheerful locals who are always happy to help you integrate with the environment.

  • In Puerto Rico,  Individuals can obtain health insurance from the private sector. Healthcare insurance is significantly less expensive than in the US.

The healthcare system on the island is similar to that in the US, with hospitals, medical centers, and doctors having abilities on an equal level with US medical professionals.

  • Puerto Rico’s population is 90% educated, and the public schools are excellent. Families who can afford finances send their children to private schools with a religious emphasis. Although English is also taught in both public and private schools, Spanish is the primary language.


  • Even though the water is reliable and safe to drink, most people in Puerto Rico either filter their water or use bottled water. Water costs vary monthly based on usage, just like power. The average price of bottled water in Puerto Rico is $1.59.

Is it Safe to Move To Puerto Rico?

When deciding to relocate to Puerto Rico, it is essential to consider that there is a chance of natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.


Notably, accommodation areas are not typically found in the regions that frequently experience flooding and damage. However,  if hurricanes or tropical storms worry you, it is advisable to avoid the hurricane season, which lasts from June to November.

Pros & Cons of Moving to Puerto Rico


Natural beauty

The main island of Puerto Rico is united by a variety of smaller islands, all of which have stunning sand beaches, beautiful mountains, and clean water. Puerto Rico’s natural beauty is one of its main attractions for both foreigners and locals.


Everyone can find something to enjoy in Puerto Rico, whether they desire to relax on the beach, go hiking in the mountains, or swim in the ocean.

Overall weather condition

Puerto Rico is a wonderful place to get away from the cold.


The whole year is sunny in Puerto Rico. July usually has a temperature of 16C. It may be surprising. However, with average temperatures of 26C, January is the hottest month. If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico from a colder location, be ready for some adjusting as temperatures often rise beyond 30C in January.

High quality of life

Particularly in comparison to other nations in the region, Puerto Rico has a high standard of living. The cost of living on the island is relatively inexpensive, and many facilities and services are offered.


For instance, Puerto Rico features some of Latin America’s top hospitals and has a comprehensive educational system available in both public and private schools.


Hurricane season

Because Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean, it is prone to experience hurricanes, which generally happen between June and November.


One of the most destructive storms in recent memory, Hurricane Maria, devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017 and left behind extensive damage.


It’s advisable to ensure that you have a hurricane strategy in an emergency and that your house is adequately insured.

Poor public transportation

Puerto Rico’s public transportation isn’t well organized, as there aren’t enough public buses or railways.


Despite there being some public transportation options in San Juan, they are not very reliable. Accordingly, it’s important to plan ahead and have a backup strategy if you intend to rely on public transportation.


If you intend to relocate to Puerto Rico, it is advisable to own a car, as if you don’t have a car, it could be challenging to commute between preferred locations.

Final Thoughts

Puerto Rico is indeed a preferred moving option for expats who want to experience a tropical environment, rich cultural diversity, and stunning natural surroundings.

If you belong to the ranks of people who are fascinated by the unique features of Puerto Rico and want to seek new adventures in this country, then IMovingTo will guide you to overcome any difficulties associated with the moving process.

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