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is Puerto Rico for Everyboy

Is Puerto Rico For Everybody?

Me: What day is it?
Tim: I think it’s Wednesday
Me: OH. I thought it was Monday

This is a common conversation in our household. I am losing track of the days and can’t believe that we are in our eighth month of living in Puerto Rico – where in the world did the time go?

I don’t think it’s a secret that I fell in love with this enchanted island. I love it here. I spent half of my adult life dreaming of living in the Caribbean, where the sun shines and I can wear shorts every day.

So, for me, living in Puerto Rico is living the dream. But…

Is Living In Puerto Rico for Everybody?

We have had lots of visitors from the States (mostly family but some friends too) that wanted to see what our new life is like. Most of these them loved it here – some almost as much as we do – but not everyone.

Our last set of visitors was not so thrilled with Puerto Rico. In fact, I think they kind of hated it. This to me was absolutely shocking – how can you not love it here?!

The weather is perfect, the people are amazing, the fresh fruit is awesome, and the cost of living is low – what more could you want? See my post 15 Reasons To Move To Puerto Rico. It turns out that, like everything else, it is a matter of personal taste and expectations.

Here are some of the complaints we heard from this last visit:

1. It is too humid here – yes, we are an island and yes, it is humid, especially in the summer months, i.e. our rainy season. Right now, for example, the temperature is 88 degrees and humidity is 76%. But wait a minute, I just checked Michigan which was our home for the past 20 years (and where our visitors came from) and the humidity there is 70% today, so not that much different. It is, however, considerably cooler in Michigan because they are approaching fall.

2. There are people working outside when I’m trying to sleep on Monday morning at 9AM. They woke me up – yes, because this is a town where people work and live. Sorry, we are not a resort.


3. I doesn’t feel safe here – I think this is a result of confusing poverty with danger. This is a poor island (although that is relative depending on your experience). When you come here from the mainland and see some of the abandoned buildings, you can easily think that you are in a dangerous place. Actually, outside of a few, well-known, dangerous areas, Puerto Rico is pretty safe. Don’t get me wrong, theft is common here and if you act like a victim, you can have your shit stolen but that is about it. Hell, in Costa Rica, theft of anything worth less $500 was not considered illegal, so I don’t know but, I think I’ll take Puerto Rico.

4. This sucks, I can’t even get lunch on the beach. I expected there to be some food stands or restaurants on the beach – Luquillo is part of the Northeastern Ecological Corridor, and so our beaches are protected. This means that there are no restaurants allowed directly on the beach. Culturally, Puerto Ricans bring their food with them to the beach (coolers, grills, etc.), so that is why you don’t find a lot of vendors on the beach – especially during the week.

5. There is nothing to do here but I don’t want to rent a car – well, I don’t know if I should even answer this one..

6. This town is too big . I thought this was going be like a private beach with nobody around – we are a town. Our beaches are not private, in fact, all beaches in Puerto Rico are public. Disney doesn’t own an island here.

7. This _____(fill in the blank) is not as nice as in ____(fill in place), on my last cruise to the Caribbean. [Complaints ranged from anything about the food to cleanliness of the beach and everything else in-between.] – again, we’re not a resort and we don’t cater to our guests’ every whim.. We do have cruises that come to Puerto Rico and I am sure they also get the royal treatment but you are unlikely to find it in a small town.

Holy mother of ..!


I was really having a hard time with these complaints. Then I realized that the problem really is the expectations. If you expect a resort or a cruise-type experience, where everything is served for you and all you have to do is show up and enjoy, Puerto Rico may not the place for you – and especially not Luquillo.

If your only experience in the Caribbean is on a cruise ship or an all-inclusive resort, where you are taken to private beaches and served gourmet meals, please understand that this is not real life. Not in Puerto Rico and not anywhere else you are visiting – unless of course, you are wealthy, in which case you can make your whole life like a cruise.

Puerto Rico is real, with real people, real problems and no all-inclusive accommodations. Oh sure, we have ritzy resorts here too, where you will get the champagne treatment but do not expect it on a beer budget. There is nothing wrong with cruises or all-inclusive resorts, if that’s your thing, but you cannot expect the same from staying in a small condo in a small town in Puerto Rico.

So, why then do I love it here so much?

clean beach - Puerto Rico for everybody

Perhaps because I have tried all-inclusive resorts and didn’t like them. I have always preferred to travel “like a native”. To get the experience and the feel for the place I am visiting. I always chose budget accommodations, in local BnBs, haciendas, and inns preferring to spend my money on the experience: activities, food, and sightseeing. But, of course, this is my preference and it is not for everybody.

Hense, I learned a valuable lesson – Puerto Rico is not for everybody.

Comparing to the rest of U.S., it is a poor island with lots of economic problems. It is culturally different from the mainland in many, many aspects. So, even though it is part of U.S., it feels like a foreign country.

However, if you set your expectations right and are willing to look beyond the differences, and focus on the beauty around you, I think you will find one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean here in Puerto Rico: amazing beaches, surfing, food, people, weather, forests, mountains, and more.

For us, it is home now and, whether or not we settle here forever, it now holds a special place in our hearts and we will always be back.


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. Haha, that is too funny! We’ve vacationed for 3 weeks in Jamaica and traveled all over the island and when we got back to “civilization” (haha) where the cruise ships came in, we were exposed to some nasty snotty Americans. They got off the ship and prompting parked themselves next to us on the beach because we were the only white people there at that point. Then I overheard them talking disgracefully of Jamaica and the people. Just awful! Why even get off the boat?

    • Totally agree! I don’t understand. If people want to have the comforts of home on vacation, why not just stay home. Part of the fun of visiting other countries is to experience the difference in culture, life, etc.

  2. I just chuckled imaging your conversation a few years from now:
    “Hon, I think it is 2019, but which month?”
    “I dunno. July? It looks like summer.”
    “Well, it looks like summer all year long…”
    “Good point. But didn’t we just celebrate Independence Day?”
    “No, I’m pretty sure it was Emancipation Day.”
    “Whatever. Who cares.”

    • Ha ha. You laugh but we have friends this actually happened to. When we visited, they couldn’t remember what month it was. I think we keep track of months because we still work but if we didn’t, why bother?

  3. Haha! So true. I love Puerto Rico and can’t imagine people NOT liking it. But I have heard some people say they wouldn’t even want to visit for some of the reasons you listed. Luckily none of them have been our own guests. Yikes.

    Re: private beaches. I am not entirely sure but I think El Conquistador has a pretty heavy lock down on Palomino Island and call it their private island.

    • Hi Cassie,
      I think you’re right, I think El Conquistador does have a private island but I don’t think they can deny anyone access. But that’s a champagne price 🙂 resort.


  4. Where on earth did you find these malcontents?? I guess there are enough of them around. It is probably safe to assume that you would not host them anymore? I wouldn’t. I hate spoiled, snotty people. There are legitimate reasons to be wary of moving to Puerto Rico, but no restaurants on the beach?? Holy crap. I do like Mexican all-inclusive resorts and we indulge once a year for 10 days, when the Michigan winter gets to us – just to relax and unwind. But I also like different vacation – soaking up a place’s culture and vibe, which often means forgoing many pleasures associated with relaxing holidays. Like you, I dreamed of being a traveler rather than tourist, and the best way to do that is to immerse yourself in your surroundings, be a part of it. You are extremely fortunate to be able to live that life.

    • Hi Vlad,
      Yep, I totally agree. I am extremely grateful and feel blessed to be living this life. We too had traveled to Mexico for many years (12+) on vacations. Cozumel was our favorite but we’ve been all over. We never did all-inclusive there though. We had a couple small inns in town that we absolutely loved. We got to know some of the locals too, so it was nice to go back and see friends. Cozumel east side has some of my favorite beaches in the whole world and the weekend (used to be just Sunday but I guess it’s Sat now too) music and dancing in the Plaza was the best!
      Viva Cozumel!

  5. Great post