How Growing up in Phoenix Prepared Me for Living in Puerto Rico

We recently moved to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  I was a little nervous about the culture shock of leaving our hot, dry desert city and adjusting to small town, island life.  It sounds weird, but it turns out growing up in Phoenix has actually prepared me for living in Puerto Rico.  GrowingupPHX

Here are 10 ways growing up in Phoenix, Arizona prepared me for living in Puerto Rico:

Close connection to foreign countries. 

It is faster to drive to Mexico from Phoenix than any state in the US, Mexico is Arizona’s neighbor to the South.  Likewise, Puerto Rico’s closest neighbors are definitely not the US mainland (Hello Dominican Republic and British Virgin Islands)

Everyone is (a little) Bilingual

Anyone who grew up in Arizona speaks at least a little Spanish. I even attended a bilingual elementary school for English as Second Language (ESL program).  Everyone speaks a little English in Puerto Rico.  Many people are fully bilingual in both Arizona and Puerto Rico.   Admittedly, Arizona Spanglish is a different dialect that the Puerto Rican Spanish, but it is a good foundation to build upon.  Plus I was always really good at charades, so I can act out many difficult phrases.

There are more Snowbirds than Local Residents half the year

Winters in Phoenix are overrun by people from the Mid-west desperately trying to escape the cold and warm up.  Since arriving in January, we have seen the population dwindle as the snowbirds leave the island for summer.  I just cannot escape snowbirds!

Stupidly High Sales tax

Visitors and residents from low sales tax states are often shocked at the total price after sales tax in Puerto Rico – it can really screw up your budget and trip planning!  Many cities in Arizona are right around 9% sales tax, Phoenix is at 8.6% and Puerto Rico recently surpassed this at 11% sales tax.  The stupidly high sales tax hurts less when you are already used to it.

No Daylight Savings Time

Neither Arizona nor Puerto Rico have any need to save daylight, or are silly enough to change the clocks twice a year.  Seriously, how is DST still a thing?

Lizards and Crawly Critters

The Phoenix desert is crawling with poisonous and venomous critters.  There are plenty of geckos and lizards in Puerto Rico, but none of the animals or insects in Puerto Rico are poisonous!  It is a relief to see all of the various new wildlife everyday knowing that none of them are dangerous in Puerto Rico.

Flash Floods

Phoenix has a hot, dry desert climate with very little rain, except for summer monsoon season and winter rain storms.  These two rainy seasons bring high humidity (30-50% humidity) and lots of rain in a very short period of time, resulting in flash floods. The rainy season of Puerto Rico is officially April through November, with plenty of rain the other months of the year.  As I sit outside writing this, 5 minutes ago it was sunny and blue sky, minutes later it is pouring rain.  Rain can come suddenly , and hit hard in both Phoenix and Puerto Rico.

Sunshine Year Round

Phoenix is the Valley of the Sun, with over 300 days of sunshine every year.  Puerto Rico easily matches those sunny days.  Sunblock is part of my everyday routine, and I never leave the house without SPF 30 or more!

Same Wardrobe

My wardrobe in Phoenix is dominated by shorts, sandals, and “summer” dresses that I wear year round.  Not only did I not buy any new clothes to move to Puerto Rico, I was able to reduce my overflowing closet prior to the move.  My Phoenix clothes are my same everyday clothes for Puerto Rico.

Same Activities

My favorite activities in Phoenix are hiking, swimming, outdoor food events, spa treatments, museums and art.  These are also my favorite activities in Puerto Rico! I have more options for swimming, and I now get the added bonus of SCUBA diving!

There are certainly adjustments to be made living in Puerto Rico, and these 10 things have made the transition much easier than I thought!

16 thoughts on “How Growing up in Phoenix Prepared Me for Living in Puerto Rico”

  1. Great post! I lived in the Phoenix area for over 20 years, and will probably head back there eventually. I loved seeing your comparisons. I’ve never been to Puerto Rico. Are you still living there after the hurricane? I have a cousin that lived there for a while and worked as a chef on a sailboat.

  2. I am so glad you moved to Puerto Rico, however, I have never been there myself. I do have some friends there and they tell me its awesome! Also, how did moving to Puerto Rico make you feel? And which one do you prefer; Puerto Rico or Arizona?

    1. Both Phoenix and Puerto Rico are pretty amazing. We choose to move to Puerto Rico for the new opportunities, low cost of living, and beaches. Now I cannot imagine living anywhere else, I love it here!

  3. ha snowbirds. I love it. I have never heard them called that before. But then again, Ontario usually sees our people leave in their old age, I guess you are the one inheriting them.
    I’m happy that you are able to leave you home and still find it so similar. Makes the move so much smoother. congrats

  4. How exciting that you’ve moved to Puerto Rico! I visited a couple of years ago and will always remember how hospitable the people were and how beautiful the environment was! It’s always kinda comforting to know that you can find similarities between your old home and new, and I hope you manage to find many more things that will surprise you! (:

  5. It’s so interesting to see how you find the good into your moving even tho, it seems that there are quite differences between those two places! Your top 10 is quite good and I’m so eager to know more! x

  6. Lived in the desert in Las Vegas for a number of years before the road became our home which is much like Phoenix. The Puerto Rico area has always been of interest to us as a place we might some day retire to with it being so close to the U.S. Seems like we might already be prepared as you were for everything but the sales tax. Asia has spoiled us with that area since the only places that charge any are some hotels.

  7. Wow, it is pretty adventurous to make a move to Puerto Rico. I spent a couple of weeks there as my wife was on there for business. We stayed in San Juan. It was amazing, I proposed there! The 11% sales tax is a shocker!

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