After extensive Preparation (read about it here), we are Loving Living in Puerto Rico! Here is a recap, as we pass the three month milestone in PR.
Long Term Rental on a House
Working with the realtor before arrival really paid off! The first house we looked at was everything we wanted, in our price range, and it was almost perfect! We viewed several other properties, and decided to make an offer on the first house. We provided current credit scores and reports with our application. Security deposit, plus first month and last month rent were paid with a local check (opening PR checking accounts were part of our six month preparation steps). Our house was partially furnished, so we could move in right away, but there would be extra expense to purchase more furniture.
Exactly one week after arrival on the Island, we moved into our new home! Our realtor states over and over that this is not typical. You never know what properties will be available. I pushed everyone to get our house quickly, two weeks would have made the process easier.
We took a quick trip back to Phoenix to pack and ship more stuff, and to bring our dog to the Island. He is now a 2 month resident and loving his new home! Our house has plenty of grass in his fenced dog run and back yard (pet friendly and grass yard were housing requirements).
Utilities; Water, Electric, and Internet all fully functional in the house! Switching water and electric was pretty easy, and both complete within a couple days of move-in. The internet company had to come out to trench our yard and run new cable, since our house had never had internet before. It took a whopping five days for Internet to be up and running (including time to trench and lay new cable).
Furniture Purchase; This is why I say our house was almost perfect, it had a guest bed, dining table and chairs. We had the extra expense of buying furniture for our rental house. Not something we specifically budgeted for, but we knew it was a risk and prepared – just in case. We purchased furniture for the Master bed room, two offices, patio set, and living room. Our house it still not fully furnished, but we can add more stuff gradually.
IKEA, Sears, and most stores are about 10-15% more expensive than prices on the US mainland. Home Depot and CostCo are closer to the same price in PR as mainland, with only certain items not available in PR, or at a higher cost. IKEA does not carry any stock in the Carolina, PR store, and all items are ordered for home or in store delivery several days later (depending on item). Many websites consider PR a separate entity, so online shopping is at Sears.com.pr/ and Ikea.pr even Google has a separate display for Google Puerto Rico.
We researched buying new versus ship for many items. Most large, heavy items like the bed, couch, TV, and office furniture made more sense to buy new on the Island, even at a slight premium. Small kitchen items were cheaper to ship what we already owned in Phoenix via USPS (the less expensive shipping option). Purchasing First Class airfare allowed us to check multiple bags for our return flight to the Island. The difference between flying economy class and First Class was less expensive than shipping those same bags via USPS!
Bought a Used Car and Car Insurance; Buying a car in the US mainland (many times) prepared me to buy a car in PR. It is the same wait and negotiate process in PR as the US mainland, and it was much easier without a trade-in. The paperwork is in Spanish so bring an interpreter or use the Google Translate app on your smartphone to read the documents, if you do not read Spanish. The car title is processed and provided later, or so we are told – we bought our car 5 weeks ago and are still waiting for the title.
Obtained Puerto Rico Driver’s License – That is a whole other story!
Switch Health Insurance to Puerto Rico’s local Blue Cross Blue Shield (Triple – S Salud); better coverage, lower co-pays, lower deductible, includes dental and vision for the same price as my BCBS plan in Arizona.
I found a local Primary Care Physician and local Walgreen’s pharmacy that accepts my health insurance.
I caught a cold that turned into Bronchitis, so I was able to try out my new insurance right away. The insurance listing for available Doctors and medical offices was filled with outdated and incorrect information. I wasted 2 days calling incorrect phone numbers listed, and finally driving to a couple locations from the website that were also wrong (one was a residential neighborhood). A friend in the neighborhood recommended a nearby Doctor, and he was able to treat me the same day. The most difficult part of my medical treatment was actually locating the Doctor!
My Doctor’s office (and I am told this is very common) does not accept credit cards. The only payment method for co-pay is cash or personal check. I did not have either with me, and my new Doctor was understanding and allowed me to pay with a check later that week.
Road trips and Exploration – Due to my Bronchitis, Scuba diving and other high-energy adventures were skipped. We still had plenty of times for short (easy) hikes, Museum visit, Food Truck Festival, and exploring our local neighborhood.
I am sure there will be struggles and challenges, granted right now we are in the Honeymoon phase with our new Island, and I will share it all here. So stay tuned for more adventures of Living in Puerto Rico!