Home / All / Puerto Rico vs Panama Comparison Matrix and Some Extras
Puerto Rico vs Panama

Puerto Rico vs Panama Comparison Matrix and Some Extras

Puerto Rico vs Panama

We’ve been researching moving to Puerto Rico for a few months now. We learned a ton. Some things we already suspected and some things were a complete shock. But the most unexpected thing we learned was that there is a whole category of benefits to moving to Puerto Rico that we had not foreseen.

You may remember our comparison of Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama as early retirement abroad destinations, see post Overall Country Comparison for Cost of Living. Using the same matrix, we now want to add Puerto Rico to the mix.

So, we’ll take our top country from the last comparison – Panama – and compare it to Puerto Rico. I think you will find our research results interesting. We will compare the countries, as before, according to our scoring system, see post Retirement Country Scoring System. But we will also get into the more intangible things we found, that were not reflected in our original matrix.

 Puerto Rico vs Panama matrix:

Category Weight Panama
(1-5)
PAN Score Puerto Rico(1-5) PR Score
Stable government 20%

Scoring Sun 5

1

Scoring Sun 5

1
Low cost of living 20%

3.5Sun 3.5

0.75

2.5Sun 2.5

0.5
Perfect climate 15%

Scoring Sun 5

0.75

Scoring Sun 5

0.75
Proximity to family 10%

4Scoring sun 4

0.4

Scoring Sun 5

0.5
Medical/Healthcare 15%

5 Scoring Sun 5

0.75

Scoring Sun 5

0.75
Modern amenities 10%

5
Scoring Sun 5

0.5

Scoring Sun 5

0.5
Friendliness to expats 5%

4.5Scoring Sun 4.5

0.225

Scoring Sun 5

0.25
Religion & culture 5%
Total Score:  100% 4.375 4.25

 

So, that’s the comparison using our original matrix and you can see that Panama comes out slightly ahead of Puerto Rico. This is mainly because the cost of living in Puerto Rico is quite a bit higher than in Panama. Well, mainly the cost of food and utilities is higher but cost of housing is either the same or even cheaper.

Notice, that we are still leaving the Religion and culture section blank because we plan on addressing those separately.

But, let us also consider the “not-so-tangibles” that sort of throw this matrix off.

Immigration/visas – if you’re a U.S citizen, there is no immigration and visas for moving to Puerto Rico. So…. +1 for PR.

Lack of Federal income taxes – you don’t have to pay Federal income taxes in Puerto Rico, see post Taxes in Puerto Rico – The New Tax Haven?. In fact, PR is the only place in the world where U.S. nationals do not have to pay this tax. +1 for PR.

Local flights – there is no customs or other international flight hassles to Puerto Rico. Another +1 for PR.

Low business income taxes – 4% business income tax in Puerto Rico, see this great article from Forbes on the topic of taxes: Hate Taxes? Move to Tax-free Puerto Rico Stay American, Avoid IRS+1 for PR.

Car\transport – Puerto Rico is a car island, there is really very little public transportation available, so one pretty much needs a car, see post Driving in Puerto Rico. We consider this a negative, so… – 1 for PR.

Poor economy – this one is either a positive or a negative, depending on your point of view. It’s not a secret that the economy in Puerto Rico is in pretty rough shape. We see this is a positive because, as they say in finances, you want to buy low and sell high. Getting moved to PR now, would be like buying low. So… +1 for PR.

All in all, after accounting for these extra factors, we think Puerto Rico comes up as a winner in this game. Yep, the cost of living is higher, and yep you need a car but we believe that the other intangibles really weigh in heavily and put Puerto Rico squarely at the top of our list for countries to move abroad.

What do you think?

Joanna-

About Joanna Rolston

is a Polish American living in Arizona with her husband Tim. She is a founding partner of JTR Tech and she is proud to be a professional geek. She had dreamt of living abroad for many years. So, she and Tim created AbroadDreams.com to document the process of making their dream of moving abroad come true. They spent 2 years in Puerto Rico and several months in Spain and Poland. Now they are exploring the American Southwest.

Check Also

wild horses of Arizona

Here Horsey, Horsey, Horse. Admiring Wild Horses of Arizona

As I’m writing this, Tim reminds me that today is the Kentucky Derby. I suppose, …

4 comments

  1. Hi Joanna,
    Under the “weather” heading you gave both Panama and PR 5 stars; however, I would suggest that Panama is ‘ahead’ in that category, since they are not in a hurricane ‘belt’ as PR is. PR’s hurricane season runs from June to November. Panama also has no other major ‘threats’ such as ‘quakes, tornadoes, or typhoons.

    Love your research and ‘reports’!
    Mignon

    • Hi Mignon,
      Thanks for commenting. Yeah, I agree that Panama doesn’t have a hurricane season but hurricanes in PR are pretty rare and category 4-5 and even rarer. A hurricane passes in the vicinity of the island, on average, every 11 years. Only one Category 5 hurricane has struck the island since 1851 and it was 1928. Also, there are areas in Puerto Rico, like the central mountain regions that essentially don’t need to worry about the hurricanes. I gave PR a 5 for the weather because of its diverse climatic regions: anything from dessert to rainforest, and hence something for every one.

      Joanna-

  2. I came across your site recently as we have been researching Costa Rica, Panama, USVI, and PR. Your site is tailor made for us and has added to some of the ease of our own research! So thank you for that! We are heavily leaning towards PR based on many of the same reasons you list. The tax incentives have tipped the scales for us as I have spoken with people about it and it is such a great benefit added to the change in lifestyle of moving to the Carribbean. The benefits of staying in the US (ease of transition, protection of law, and no need to deal with residency costs and hassles is huge in our minds). My fiance is a US citizen but was raised in Brazil and she is most concerned with residency in a different country as she is all too familiar with legal issues and property rights issues that can arise in a foreign country that we take for granted. Corruption can crop up also.

    Thanks for the great info! Maybe we will see you sometime in PR:) as our plan is to move early 2015!
    Brian

    • Hi Brian,
      Thanks for commenting. That’s great! I’m glad to hear that others, like us, see the potential of PR. It was funny because earlier this week, we saw our financial adviser and when we told him about our research into PR he got very excited. He apparently has also been researching it and knew all about the benefits. He 100% validated our plan. We’re very happy to have his endorsement, in this exciting and somewhat scary journey.
      Joanna-