During our travels to find the perfect spot for retirement, I’ve paid special attention to the infrastructure. When I say infrastructure, I mean things like power, water, transportation, roads, etc.
Our trip to Puerto Rico was no different, I paid close attention the quality of all of the above. This is because I want to make sure we are comfortable if we settle there. Don’t get me wrong, I like to camp and rough it occasionally but, frankly, I don’t want to do it as a way of life.
So, I’ve been doing my homework and thought I’d share my observations on four important infrastructures on the island:
- Internet (we are geeks after all)
I hope you find these findings helpful if you’re thinking about moving or retiring in Puerto Rico.
Infrastructure in Puerto Rico: Power
A lot of folks warned us about the frequent power outages on the island before we went, so I knew it would be something I would have to look into.
When we were there though, we did not experience a single flicker – hardly surprising since we were far from roughing it among the resorts in Isla Verde. However, during our travels around the island, I talked to some locals and learned that while the outages do happen, they generally happen away from the larger towns and they also tend to be short and fairly localized.
According to the people we talked to about this, the outages usually range from a few minutes to an hour or so. I asked what they do when outages happen and a lot of them said they just go outside and enjoy being in Puerto Rico or go to bed early.
Others said they would go shopping since stores often have A/C in Puerto Rico (especially if it was hot during the day), visit friends who have power, or take in a movie to kill the time while they wait on the power to come back on at home.
The way around such short outages, of course, is to get a generator if you can afford one – not super convenient, but workable.
The most worrisome thing about the power situation in Puerto Rico to me is not the current number of power outages but that the island has only one provider (PREPA) and they seem to be in financial trouble. This makes me wonder if the inconvenient but shortish power outages may start getting more frequent and longer as PREPA goes further into debt.
Not to mention, increases to the already high price for electricity on the island. Currently the cost of power is around $0.24/kWh whereas the average for the continental US is about $0.14/kWh
Infrastructure in Puerto Rico: Water
Both Joanna and I freely drank the water in San Juan, Carolina, Naguabo, and Fajardo without a problem during our time there. Like the power, we had heard there were outages all the time so, when we had a chance we asked about it.
Turns out, it doesn’t happen that often unless you’re way out in the boonies. Or, at least, that’s what the folks we talked to said.
We took a tour out to the Luminescent bay in Fajardo one night with a trio of folks from New Jersey. By pure coincidence, our shuttle driver was raised in New Jersey, so he was very talkative the whole trip out and back.
One of the things he told us about was the local water competitions where they judge the drinking water from many of the municipalities on the island. We had never heard of such a thing but, it turns out that one of the water filtration plants in PR placed 4th best tasting water in the whole US.
So, I don’t think we’ll need to worry too much about water if we move there but, of course, it will depend on where on the island we end up.
We currently live in South Eastern Michigan and, let me tell you, the roads here SUCK. I mean really suck, some potholes are so big that you can easily throw the wheel alignment off on your car.
As far as Puerto Rico goes, there was a recent report stating that there were 31 bridges on the island considered fracture critical. This means that while they MAY be safe at the moment, they are really close to being worn out and unsafe. The next storm, accident, or earthquake could put them over the edge.
Sounds scary but there are about 7750(ish) bridges in the rest of the US in the same shape so, I don’t know if they are any less safe than they are anywhere else.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that while we drove around the island, I found the pavement to be somewhat potholed and cracked but not nearly as bad as around here in Michigan. Our friends from NJ said the same thing, and we all wished the roads in our home states were as good as Puerto Rico’s.
Infrastructure in Puerto Rico: Internet
This one is a fast moving target. Just like everywhere else, the ISP’s are always expanding coverage and services. There are several on the island but for now, according to the half dozen or so people I asked, it looks like Liberty Cable was the favorite on the north/west side of the island for home service. Most people said they were getting 3MB service for around $40/month.
This seems a little high but at least it is available. Where I live, the same service is about $30/month.
If you’re on the west or south side of the island the best provider may differ. Unfortunately, none of the people I talked to could tell me who was best if you were around Rincon or Ponce.
If you want DSL, Claro is, apparently, the island-wide provider. Claro being in PR doesn’t surprise me since it’s pretty much ubiquitous in Latin America.
Most of the folks I talked to said that no matter which service you get, it isn’t very consistent and you’ll be lucky to get the advertised speed. Though DSL tends to be better than Cable in this regard (which makes sense form a technology point of view).
Infrastructure in Puerto Rico: Conclusion
I know there are other types of infrastructure that are important when you’re moving to a new area such as medical facilities and mass transport. We’ll cover things like that in future posts.
In the meantime, I hope you found this informative and helpful. If you have questions, please let me know.