US Virgin Islands vs Puerto Rico – My Impressions:
I think you probably have enough pictures for a while, so today I thought I’d write about my impressions of US Virgin Islands vs Puerto Rico.
First, I have a confession to make: I did go to USVI with the thought, in the back of my mind, of checking it out as a potential place to move. But let me back up a bit..
You may remember when we started this journey to moving abroad, we considered several countries. We compared them on all sorts of criteria, like cost of living, people, government, climate, etc. When we finally made a decision, the plan was to spend 6 months to a year here, in Puerto Rico, and then go to Panama (which was our second choice) for a similar amount of time.
We were then, finally, going to decide on where to settle permanently. Well, we’re coming up on a year in Puerto Rico and we have no intentions on moving to Panama now. Why? Because we love it here in Luquillo!
However, we have heard so much about the US Virgin Islands, about how awesome it is, how everyone speaks English, and how things are so much better. So, when we visited a month ago, I thought: hell, why not look to see if we could move here.
So, now that you know my frame of reference, let me compare US Virgin Islands vs Puerto Rico and give you an idea of where we stand. In this post, I will give you a quick overview and will provide more details in future posts on each subject.
You know me, I like tables, so here is a quick comparison for you:
|Criteria||Puerto Rico||US Virgin Islands|
|Cost of Living||Average||Way above average – 1.5 x PR|
|Family access||Easy, cheap flight from States||Easy, expensive flight frm States|
|Modern amenities||Everything we need, incl. WiFi||Everything we need, incl. WiFi|
|Friendliness toward expats||Super friendly locals||Not-so-friendly locals|
|Culture||Latin flare||Island culture|
|Government||US territory||US territory|
OK, now that you have the gist, let me actually tell you my impressions.
US Virgin Islands are beautiful, no doubt – see my picture tour of St. Thomas and St. John. The scenery is simply amazing, if you’re into the tropical thing – like me. But so is Luquillo, see my post Luquillo Picture Tour.
So, the first thing I noticed was that there is a distinctively different atmosphere than in Puerto Rico. The culture and the feel have more of the typical “island vibe” and there is none of that Latin flare that I love so much. Instead, USVI felt to me more like Jamaica: cool, laid-back, but more intense than Puerto Rico.
Second thing I noticed was that the USVI are much cleaner. Puerto Rico occasionally suffers from trash problems and I noticed a distinct absence of trash in USVI. Not everywhere, of course, but in general, both St. Thomas and St. John (and especially St. John) seemed quite clean in comparison to Luquillo. The beaches in USVI looked darn right pristine compared to ours.
Third thing I noticed, and this is most important, was that USVI are much more expensive than Puerto Rico – like 1.5 times more expensive! When we visited, everything seemed like it was overpriced: gasoline, transportation, eating out, etc. For example, our daily breakfast cost us around $30 (for two), we can easily get that same breakfast for $15-20 here in Luquillo. St. John was even more expensive, in some cases double what we would normally pay here in Puerto Rico.
There was also a notable difference in how the locals treated tourist and expats. There was an edge to the local population that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It was almost as if they didn’t like us to be there and it was definitely a noticeable attitude. I mean people were polite when engaged nicely but there seemed to exist this “us vs. them” attitude that I really didn’t care for.
Our host in Red Hook told us that “they have no patience for us, so don’t bother”. Hmmm…. Coming from Puerto Rico, this was a bit of a shocker. At least in Luquillo, people could not be friendlier, kinder, and more compassionate – that’s one of the reason we love it here so much.
The last thing I want to note was that our town, Luquillo, is a small town (at least by USA standards), and everything here is very laid-back and relaxed. One thing that struck me immediately about both St. Thomas and St. John was that they were very “busy” – there was constant hustle and bustle and people everywhere. Considering that we visited during off-season, I can’t imagine what it would be like during the high-tourism, winter months.
Anyway, in short, I was happy that we got to visit these neighboring islands but there is no way I’d want to live there. I simply like Puerto Rico too much, even though we do have to learn Spanish – it’s part of its charm! Besides, I can have a hammock in either place!