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Economic Crisis And Life In Puerto Rico

The Reality Of The Economic Crisis And Life In Puerto Rico From A New Resident Prospective

What It’s Really Like – Economic Crisis And Life In Puerto Rico:

– Warning, this is a rant post –

We have lots of well-meaning friends and family sending us online articles about Puerto Rico, asking, “Did you know this?”

The economic crisis has been in the forefront of all the news media for the past six months. Headlines like these are common:

  • Puerto Rico Economy In The Dump
  • Puerto Rico, The Next Greece
  • Despair and Anger as Puerto Ricans Cope With Debt Crisis

Consequently, we often (and I mean a lot!) get asked: “what are you going to do now?”

I just want to answer everyone all at once and save some time:

OF COURSE WE KNOW THIS! WE LIVE HERE! – in fact, we knew it before we moved here.


WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING! This does not change our plan at all.

Sorry everyone, but I have to say this: we did our research for two years before we moved here; so, don’t you think we knew about the state of the economy in Puerto Rico?

The only reason that this island’s economy is in the forefront of all the media now is because all the fiscal budgets were due, while the government here tried to raise taxes. This reminded everyone that USA has an orphan child – Puerto Rico – that it has been neglecting.

Well, that, and perhaps one other thing – as my friend Jose likes to say: “the politicians have ran out of money to steal, so now they are crying wolf.”

Here is the reality folks:

No one here, on the island, has shriveled up in the corner and stopped living because of the economy and higher taxes.

I read an article in New York Times quoting some “poor” baker on the day the tax increase went into effect; he was saying that he doesn’t get much business anymore and how everyone is depressed on the island – I call Bullshit! This is simply a publicly stunt.

I have personally tested this theory on that very day. Tim and I drove over to Walmart (which is hugely popular here) and looked at the parking lot and guess what? It was completely full! Then we went inside, and it was…guess what?…. business as usual, lots of people and long lines. Just like any other day that we have been there.

The weekend after the tax was implemented, we went to the local mall. We got there at 10 minutes before open time and people were already lining up for the doors to unlock. When we went in, the parking lot was nearly 1/3 full, when we came out a few hours later, there were no spots open to park! Totally full!

So, this hype about people not spending, is simply not true. Life goes on and Puerto Rico has a consumer society, so even the 4.5% tax increase does not slow it down much.

Now to address the issue of our own plans:

Have you ever heard the saying: “buy low, sell high”?

Well, as far as we are concerned, this is Puerto Rico’s low. It may last for a while but what better time to be here, boots on the ground, than right now and right before things swing back high again?

Besides, our plan has always been to create a location-independent life, so that no matter where we end up, we do not have to worry much about the local economy.

We may stay in Puerto Rico forever or we may not… who knows. We are not done exploring yet. We are thinking about taking a long trip to Europe next year to see how we like Spain – and why not? (oh, in case you didn’t know, their economy sucks too).

But seriously, to the news media and our friends and family: ENOUGH ALREADY!

Life here is going on as usual and the negative publicity does not reflect the reality.

As far as all the locals we know (both Puerto Ricans and gringos), no one here is happy about the higher taxes (and some are even angry about it) but everyone acknowledges that life goes on.

Remember that mall trip I told you about? Well, I did go and I did spend money. I bought a bunch of clothes.

Was I happy that I had to spend an extra $4 dollars on tax? NO, I was not.

But, it certainly is not going to prevent me from buying a $0.75 donut the next time I’m in a bakery or saying good morning to people, as mentioned in that NYT article

COME ON!! Really?!

Puerto Rican people are strong and they find a way to adapt, change, and thrive in the face of adversity. If they don’t, then they move to USA in search of better luck. This has been the way for many years.

End of rant –


About Joanna

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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  1. I truly love your website and I feel like finally someone who understands how my wife and I feel about Puerto Rico and living here!

    Google: “Luquillo Taxi”

    Best Regards,
    Shawn H.

    • Hi Shawn,
      Thanks for the kind words. We are working on a site resign, so stay tuned because this site is about to undergo a serious facelift 🙂
      We would love to meet you and your wife!
      We are new to the area and look forward to meeting like-minded people.

      Joanna –

  2. I thank you Joanna for your post. We are very resilient and for the most part, we have a good attitude. “No hay mal que por bien no venga”, something good will come out of this mess.

    What is your website for the Surface? I just purchased one with windows 8RT and I’m having a lot of frustration with it.

  3. That’s quite a rant! 🙂 Lesson 1: the media distorts and exaggerates (as if we did not know it already). Lesson 2: people are incredibly adaptive. I remember Poland in the 80’s, when shelves in the grocery stores were full of just one item: vinegar. Nothing else to buy! Yet, even then, life went on. It might have been actually better in some respect, because people would help one another. (If, by some stroke of incredible luck, I scored 10 rolls of toilet paper, I would share them with family and neighbors.)
    In any case, please stock up on guns and ammo – you never know.
    Just kidding. 🙂
    I am sure that some people who send you these articles are genuinely concerned about you. Others would like to see you come back to the States with your tails between your legs. After all, not many of us have the luxury (or courage) of choosing permanent vacation on a beautiful island as their way of life, so it may lead to resentment. Ecce homo.

    • Hi Vlad,
      Thanks for this reminder and insights. You are absolutely right. It’s also really good to remember life in Poland – things can always be worse.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Puerto Rico is perfect (no place is), and there is a fair share of problems here, but we truly love it. The media is being absolutely ridiculous though. They do this with everything. You probably know that we also run a big tech blog about MS Surfaces – when we started that 2.5yrs ago, the media hated the Surfaces too. They said the devices were crap and they were like vultures, once one reported negatively about them, everyone did. We strongly disagreed and, now, our blog gets 10,000+ views per day. Hmmm, maybe we just like the underdog 🙂