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Monserrate Balneario Luquillo Puerto Rico

To Move Or Not To Move – Beach or Mountains?

Beach or Mountains?

I write this post as I listen to the waves crashing against the shore through the open windows of our rental condo in beautiful Luquillo, Puerto Rico. If I want to see the waves, all I need to do is step out onto our patio. Ahh…. life is good!

We are quite happy to finally be settled in Puerto Rico. We are on the beach, love our town, and our location – however, recently we became confused.

Why? – you may ask.

Well, we were recently presented with an opportunity to rent a house in the mountains of a nearby town that was awesome, had an amazing mountain, farm feel and breathtaking views of the area (to sweeten the pie). So, now we are considering a move and are presented with this question:

What is better? Beach or mountains?

We asked this same question a couple of years ago, back when we visited Panama – it is a tough choice indeed. But now once again, we are faced with the same conundrum. This time though, it’s not a theoretical question, it’s for real!

How do we decide between these two great options?

We thought the best thing to do is to do what we do best – evaluate it logically. For us that means looking at all the pros and the cons of each option.
Beach in Luquillo Puerto Rico

A little background:

We originally planned on staying in different locations on the island for 3-6 months, to see how we like each one. We wanted to experience different things, like beach living, surfing towns, mountains, farms, etc. This way, we figured, we’d be sure to find exactly what we want.

We only accidentally found Luquillo via an ad on craigslist.com for the apartment we currently live in. We visited here before but only a quick stop to the famous Kioskos de Luquillo (Luquillo’s food kiosks).

Once we got here, we fell in love with this area instantly and decided that we should just settle here because after all, how could it possibly be better anywhere else?

But now, we have become confused, after seeing the amazing beauty of a 40-acre farm on the side of a mountain. So, let me go over our options one at a time…

Playa Azul Luquillo Living

Luquillo is a small ocean-side town that is quite beautiful and very friendly. It has some of the most amazing beaches in Puerto Rico – you can literally walk for miles in either direction and not run out of beach. It is a favorite spot for the local San Juan-ians to spend weekends on the beach during the summer months. There are lots and lots of condo rentals in the area and prices are relatively reasonable, although perhaps a little more expensive than other areas outside of San Juan.

play-azul4

Beach or Mountains: Beach Pros

  • Ocean and beach just outside
    • Awesome walks on the beach
    • Swimming, snorkeling, and boogie boarding any time we want
  • Close to everything – Luquillo is totally a walking town
    • Shopping
    • Restaurants
    • Medical facilities
  • High speed Internet access
    • Good for business – up to 18 Mbps down, 1.5 Mbps up
  • Community
    • Friendly neighbors
    • Large English-speaking community
    • Parties and social life

Beach or Mountains: Beach Cons

  • Public beaches are loud
    • Not much peace and quiet
  • Hurricanes and\or storms are rough on the beach
  • Salt water and salt air destroy electronics and cars
  • Housing is a little bit more expensive
  • Most rentals are “just a little bit beat up” (because of the salt air)
  • Theft is more of a problem as in any other tourist area

Mountain Farm in Ceiba

Now let me tell you about the farm… It is a working farm and they grow just about any type of fruit and local vegetable you can imagine: lemons, avocados, mangos, guava, breadfruit, and on and on and on. Some of them we’ve never seen or heard of before. There are 4 horses, 3 dogs, and 1 cat (plus I don’t know how many kittens) on the farm. It is lush, green, elevated, and the house has near 360-degree views of the area. There are 3 houses on the 40 acre property – the owners, care takers, and (possibly) ours.

ceiba-farm

Beach or Mountains: Farm Pros

  • Peaceful and secluded
    • Certainly conducive to work and relaxation
  • Amazing views of the mountains and the ocean
  • 10 minute drive to nearest beach
  • Cooler because of higher elevation
  • Much less salt to deal with, probably much better for all of our stuff
  • Cheaper – water is from a well and you don’t need as much A/C so utilities are lower
  • All the fresh fruit and vegetables we could possibly want.

Beach or Mountains: Farm Cons

  • Away from the amenities
    • Stores, hospitals, restaurants, beaches, social life are all at least 10 – 20 minutes away
  • Slower Internet speeds – 5 Mbps down 1 Mbps down
  • Only the owners of the farm and the care takers are anywhere in the immediate vicinity
    • So, much less social life. It could get lonely
  • Steep, steep drive up the mountain – kind of rough on the car
  • Toll road that cost $1/each way to get to-from town

So, how do we make this decision?

Looking at the pros and cons, it is a pretty evenly split. I didn’t assign any weights to the list because some of this is simply a “heart thing”. Tim is most definitely partial to the mountains and I am a beach bum all the way. This of course makes our decision even more difficult. We have to decide within the next couple of weeks because both our current landlord and our would-be landlord want an answer. So, we are considering doing the mountains for 6 months and see how it goes. Besides, we can always return to the beach, if we decide we don’t like it. But, we are still on the fence on this decision.

What do you all think? Where would you settle if you had the choice? Beach or mountains?

You may also like our posts on It’s Official We’re Moving To the MountainsMoving Back To The Beach, and 7 Things I Learned Living In The Rainforest Mountains.

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.

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31 comments

  1. Please no mater where you choose, try and spay and neuter all the stray cats. It may seem overwhelming at first but after a year you will notice a difference and the cats will be much happier.

    Jeff

  2. Joanna,

    I am Puerto Rican, and while I never lived on the beach, I imagine the novelty probably wears off after a certain period of time. I will warn you that the mountains may not be necessarily quiet; expect to hear barking dogs and loud cars anywhere you go. Puerto Ricans just have a much higher tolerance for noise than the average american. Not saying the mountains bad, just saying noise pretty comes with the territory in PR. Hope you enjoy it either way!

    • Hi Jaime,
      Thanks, that is good info. Someone else told us the same thing. In fact, we kind of knew that going in, if we want complete peace and quite PR is not the right place. Luckily though we like people, as long as the noise is not constant we are fine, just need some relief from it. Yesterday for example, it was noisy here on the beach from about 9am – 10pm, that was a bit much, I have to admit.
      Where in PR, do you live Jaime? Just curious.
      Joanna

      • Joanna,

        I moved to Alabama about three years ago, but I grew up in Trujillo Alto. If you have been to Trujillo Alto, you will know that it is quite urban in some areas and quite rural in others. I lived in the more urban area. I also spent some time in Mayaguez while going to school, where I lived in the mountain areas for my first year. Roosters in the morning took some getting used too, but otherwise not too much noise there.

  3. Hi Joanna and Tim,
    Tough decision. I’m partial to the beach scene but when it comes to being practical it sounds like the mountains offer even more than beach living can. But no matter where you live it sounds like you aren’t far from the water.

    Perhaps the biggest downside for living in the mountain is the internet speed and a very quiet social life. However, the social life is likely to change the longer you live in SJ. I don’t know the two of you real well but from what I have seen, you both seem to attract fun loving people. So my bet is local friends will travel to visit you.

    Love your blog and photos.
    Denise (Kerry’s partner)

    • Hi Denise,
      Thanks for commenting. Yeah, I have to tell you that things are getting louder and louder here on the beach, especially on the weekends. We are told that it will get much worse for Easter and all summer, oh we shell see. Right now it’s early morning and beautiful.
      Wish us luck.
      Joanna

  4. Hi guys:
    I’d certainly pick the mountains, particularly near El Yunque. We’re in San Juan (not by choice) and I’d give anything to be out of the city. I try and visit the rainforest on a regular basis to get a much needed dose of nature and tranquility – something that seems harder to find on the beach.

    • Hi Dan,
      Thanks for commenting. Where in SJ are you located? We actually thought that living in Old SJ would be kind of cool but I bet that’s not quiet either 🙂
      We are feeling like we need to make a decision soon. The beach is very quiet in peaceful in the mornings, before everyone else shows up but you’re right, it’s much busier in the afternoon and very busy on the weekends. Tough decision.
      Joanna

      • We lived in Old San Juan for 9 months, but that didn’t workout out – there was WAY TOO MUCH noise and some significant safety issues with our building. We are now living in Bayamon. Not exactly quiet, but it is much safer in our housing development.
        Best of luck with your decision making process!!

        • Thanks Dan. We are fortunate in that we can choose to live anywhere on the island. I.e, no driving to-from work any more. It sounds like you may be limited to the SJ area? We are not planning on living there any time soon but perhaps as some point we may give it a try. It depends on what our other experiences are like.
          Joanna-

          • Hi Joanna:
            Yes – we are limited to the SJ area. My wife is active duty military and we are assigned here. We’re half-way through our tour, and to be honest, we are looking forward to heading back home.
            Old San Juan is an incredible place to visit and photograph. There’s lots of history, GREAT coffee, fantastic restaurants, and all kinds of interesting things going on. When you visit, check the cruise ship schedules online – I think Fridays are usually the day where there’s no ships in. A couple of ships in and the population can increase by many thousands!
            All my best,
            Dan

  5. Mountains would be my choice since I already know what it’s like living on one, and as far as the view we have at our finca it’s pretty close to a million dollar one in my eyes. Much more peaceful no people or neighbors to contend with. The people who I have met living up in the mountains seem very friendly and knowable about the land and plant life and are always willing to help you out. Less crime also, although there are draw backs like not being close to stores or medical facilities and you have to learn to be independent and a bit of a MacGyver up here. I have looked at beach property and I must admit it would be nice to live on the beach with an ocean view, but from what I have seen a lot of maintenance would be required to a home because of the salt air. Besides it’s only a 25 minute ride for us to go to a beach anyway. Come and visit us we are about an hour or so drive from Luquillo. {Marin Alto Patillas}

    • Hi Rick,
      We would love to see your finca! How do you deal with the loudness of the coquis? Everyone says that they are unbearable on the farms but we’ve only heard them a few times and to me they seem kind of cool. What do you think?
      Joanna

      • I actually like the sound of the Coquis to me it’s relaxing to hear them. Its only one of the many jungle noises you hear at night. Have you guys stayed overnight in the mountains yet? You may want to try that first before you decide to make the move to a mountain home. I know some people when they come up to our finca freak out. They think a chupacabra will come and get them. Ha Ha. Leaving for PR tomorrow to meet up with my wife Mary Jane, like I said you guys are welcome to come up to check it out. You can message me on Facebook!

        • Hi Rick,
          Funny you should ask that, we have not spent the night but we were at the mountains last into the night last night. We totally loved it! Including the sounds of Coquis, Owls, and other birds. They are loud but super calming.
          We actually had another opportunity presented to us last night for living in the mountains for 6 months, this one on only 4 acres and in Luquillo, so we wouldn’t need to leave the community we love here. We are very, very close to deciding to do it, pending final verifications of Internet connectivity, etc.
          Wish us luck!
          Joanna-

  6. I echo the sentiments of other commenters. It doesn’t sound like you have a bad choice either way. Since you are renting, it makes it a little easier of a choice since you wanted variety anyway. If you were to buy, it would possibly be a harder choice, but I think since either one is temporary to try out the mountains and then return to the beach 3-6 months later if you like. We love where we live which is near the beach (2 minutes drive) but not right on it, we have the secluded farm feeling with acreage but we are in a neighborhood community (Joan, you will love Rincón, that’s where we live). Every place has its pros and cons, but anything can be undone if the cons seem too much.

    As for the tolls, you should check around and see if there is another path. Generally there is a smaller (more congested) roadway you can take instead of the toll road.

    • Hi Cassie,
      We have yet to make it out to your side of the island. We were planning on moving there after our first 3 months here but we totally fell in love with Luquillo and now can’t image living far away from it. I’m sure the same thing can be said for Rincon and other places on the island – it’s just beautiful everywhere here 🙂

      We did find an alternate route to the toll but it ads quite a bit of driving time because it goes through town. So, we’re still thinking. It sounds like you guys have the best of both worlds: piece and quiet and very close to beach. Is the beach swim-able?
      Joanna-

  7. My husband and I are having the same discussion. We’ve just survived the Boston winter and see ourselves moving in 1-2 years. He’s in love with the mountains and being away from it all….and I love the beach and don’t want to feel too isolated. We’re looking at the high hills over Rincon as an option. Visiting there next month. One other funny thing to keep in mind is the noise. On either end of things….possible noise from neighbors and cars near the beach. And then then deafening jungle noise of the coqui! I love your blog and can’t wait to see what you choose.

    • Hi Joan,
      Thanks for commenting. That’s so funny, it sounds like we are not alone in this struggle. Good for you for making a decision to make a change. We are on the other side of PR from Rincon. How long will you be there? If you feel like it and have time, look us up and we could meet up. Oh and believe me, we know about the noise. Puerto Rico is not a quiet island. In fact, I think Puerto Ricans celebrate just about every holiday that exists. In fact we were just at a huge St. Patrick’s Day party and there was plenty of loud music, laughter, and camaraderie – we love it here!
      Joanna-

  8. Kendra Shultz Hamman

    Hi Joanna, you and I are old friends from Ann Arbor. 🙂 I enjoy your posts and journey. I do have an opinion; though it may seem indifferent to you? I once faced my own mortality. A “turning point” for my spiritual journey: I looked at my life and wondered if “this was it?” I made the decision to NOT have any regrets (at the end of the day). If you do not move to the mountain, may you have regrets? You can always make a new decision to move back to the beach…if you find you miss it.

    So, as a friend who said I wanted to do everything I ever wanted to- in 5 years- and if I live, find another 5 years to do everything….I say, take a leap of faith! And have no regrets. All things can be revised at a later date if you decide to do so. Nothing is permanent; but have no regrets 🙂

    Fondly, Kendra

    • Hi Kendra!
      Thanks for commenting. That is excellent advise! You are right, I think if we don’t move, we may always wonder if we should have. Our biggest problem with the mountains is that it is away from our town and we LOVE our town. So, we’ll have to think on it some more. There are mountains here in Luquillo as well, so perhaps we should look around and see if there is anything closer.
      Joanna-

  9. Mountains- the beaches are disgusting with trash, campers (we are talking tents, cars, BBQs, stereo cars, fires, alcohol, sick animals) from May/June until Late August. If you haven’t been in PR for those months beware!

    • Hi Katrina,
      Thanks for the advise. We have not been in Luquillo for those months but we have been here in other areas in June. We’ve been warned that it will get very busy during those months, and that’s why we’re looking at other places.
      One advantage we have here is that our mayor lives in the building next door to us, so he makes sure the city keeps the beach clean 🙂

      Joanna-

  10. We too are talking mountains/farm option. We live in Mi. And we are done with winters here. We are planning our move in the next 2 years. For now we are doing all the research now. It seems like the pros and cons for both when compared are pretty even. Where you save $$ you spend it elsewhere. Please keep us updated.

    • Hi Amanda,
      We too were from Michigan! Michigan winters suck! We’re so glad we escaped it this year. It took us about 2 years to plan this out as well, so good luck to you guys. Stay in touch…

      Joanna-

  11. Hmm…which one had guest rooms? Of course, this doesn’t help you; but it definitely helps me! 🙂

  12. To me it’s a no-brainer, since you are not seeing this as a lifelong choice. You owe it to yourselves to give the mountains a try. You can always return to the beach living in 6 months, but who knows – maybe you will discover a better paradise.

    • Good advise Vlad! I think we are leaning that way as well, but the toll thing sort of threw us and so we’re still wavering. We have made some friends here on the beach but many of them are leaving for the summer and coming back Nov-Dec, so perhaps that won’t be such an issue. We are about to go look at another condo here on the beach, just to make sure we cover our basis and are totally sure.

      PS. Hope you got my email response and we get to see in you PR soon!