Moving to Puerto Rico: Where to Live
Congratulations, you’ve decided to move to Puerto Rico for one of the tax incentives. Now you’re on to the next step of finding a home in Puerto Rico. Deciding which city and neighborhood is right for you is one of the top questions that new residents have before their move.
You know what you’re looking for, whether it’s a quiet safe neighborhood to raise your family or an active community with lots of dining and entertainment options. Finding it in Puerto Rico can be easy with the help of a reliable real estate agent and a little exploring. You may not find everything you’re used to “back home” but you will find tropical flavors everywhere you look.
We’ve put together a list of the top 5 areas that new Act 20 & 22 decree holders are moving to.
1. San Juan
The largest city on the island has a lot to offer. With the most restaurant options of any city, several cinemas and the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, San Juan’s urban lifestyle appeals to many. It has several neighborhoods that have unique characteristics and benefits:
- Old San Juan (OSJ): the top tourist destination on the island, with historic forts and colorful buildings. This small neighborhood has “old world charm” but can be frustrating to drive in and out of during traffic and has lots of tourists roaming the streets, especially when the cruise ships are in. However it’s very walkable and now has a convenient walking & biking path along the Atlantic coast.
- Puerto de Tierra: this area between OSJ and Condado is less populated, with a few condo buildings and almost no houses, and occasionally has some of the frustration of driving in and out since it has the same single access road as OSJ. But this is also a quieter area within the city that has a nice park and beach in walking distance as well as quick access to OSJ, Condado, and Miramar.
- Condado: probably the favorite among Act 20 & 22 residents in San Juan, this area has many attractions, including several beaches, lots of restaurants, convenient grocery shopping, and many condos with ocean views.
- Ocean Park: Just east of Condado this area is a bit more residential, with more homes available as well as condos. With more and more restaurants opening on Calle Loiza, this neighborhood has a lot to offer.
- Isla Verde: with the best urban beach in north America (USA Today 10Best reader’s choice 2016), Isla Verde is perfect for beach lovers. Although it’s technically in the municipality of Carolina, it feels like part of San Juan. The condo buildings are generally older so may not have the amenities you’re looking for but may also be more affordable than Condado or Ocean Park.
- Miramar: this may be a small neighborhood but it has several restaurants, a fine arts movie theater, grocery store, and several building with greats views of the lagoon.
- Santurce: South of Condado and Ocean Park, this neighborhood is a bit ‘grittier’, with more of a mix of residential and commercial establishments. It does have La Placita, a market square surrounded by bars and restaurants that comes alive every weekend.
- Hato Rey: this is the financial and business center of Puerto Rico. It’s fairly quiet after work hours so driving to restaurants, shopping, and entertainment is a must.
The top English language schools in San Juan are Robinson and St. John’s in Condado.
About 30-45 minutes drive (24 miles) west of San Juan, Dorado is a nice area with a quaint town for those who want to escape the busy atmosphere of San Juan but still be a short drive away. There are several gated communities in the Dorado area with a range of amenities and home values.
The Dorado Beach properties are a favorite among Act 20 & 22 participants who like the security, water park, restaurants, and golf course, as well as the luxury homes and condos they offer.
However, if you’re not looking for luxury real estate or direct beach access, there are still a number of other gated communities and properties that give you the benefits of living in Dorado.
The top English language schools in Dorado are TASIS and the Dorado Academy.
3. Palmas Del Mar
This gated community on the southeast shore of Puerto Rico encompasses a number of smaller gated communities, luxury homes and condos, a hotel, marina, beach, and golf course, among other things. Approximately 1 - 1.5 hours drive from San Juan/SJU airport, Palmas (AKA PDM) is more secluded than Dorado or Rio Mar and with so many amenities on site, you’ll feel like you don’t need to leave.
The Palmas Academy is the English school in this community.
4. Rio Mar
For those who really like seclusion there’s Rio Mar. Just 30 minutes east of San Juan this area is fairly quiet and residential. However what it lacks in restaurant variety and nightlife, it makes up for with more secluded beaches and quick access to El Yunque.
5. West Coast
This area, which includes a few smaller cities like Rincon, Aguadilla, and Aguada, has a more laid back vibe and welcoming atmosphere that ‘typical expats’ looking to escape the 9-5 routine enjoy. The surfing is world-class and the sunsets are gorgeous but there aren’t as many Act 20 &22’s living in this area so you may feel more disconnected.