Puerto Rico has suffered from years of indifference from the US, yet the isla del encanto has much more to offer than you might realize and continues to inspire those that have the privilege to visit, live, or work here.
Puerto Rico has much more going for it than you might realize. Here we list our top five reasons to move to Puerto Rico, presented in no particular order:
1. The Weather
This is a no brainer. You should move to Puerto Rico for the fantastic weather.
There might not be anywhere in the world with better weather.
The Weather is Great All Year
Average summer temperatures are in the 80s and average winter temperatures are in the 70s.
The coldest I have ever felt the weather here was 71 degrees. That was 5 a.m. on a "cold" day in February. I shivered and wondered if I even had a long-sleeved shirt in the house. (I didn't.)
The hottest was in the low 90s — and that's rare.
The average temperature for San Juan in January is 82 degrees (average high) and 71 degrees (average low). In July these peak at 87 and 77.
The coldest it has been in San Juan since records began is 60 degrees.
It's Comfortably on the Warm Side
It does feel a lot warmer in the summer because the wind is warmer. Tradewinds — the same winds that brought Columbus here 500 years ago from Spain — blow from the northwest all year long.
That breeze on the coast in the winter is cool and refreshing. In the summer the wind is warm and the place feels much hotter.
If you don't like heat, Puerto Rico can be on the warm side for you. If you want to live in the low 70s you will air condition your home all year long.
Many Puerto Ricans live without any air conditioning at all. They leave their windows open all year round, day and night.
I did this for a while. In the summer it was uncomfortable, but it was great in the winter.
Another way to escape the heat, other than the beach, is to retreat into the mountains where it can be up to 10 degrees cooler.
It rains often, but not every day or on any schedule. Rain storms vary from tropical to light showers, and are usually brief. If you're going somewhere nice it's a good idea to take an umbrella because you never know when the sky might open and drop half an inch of rain on you.
It rains between 2 and 5 inches a month in the San Juan area. Much more in the rain forest in the mountains on the east side of the island (10 to 20 inches a month), and hardly at all in the south, near Ponce, where it rains less than 1 inch a month most of the year.
Of course, there's hurricanes. I don't think these are a deal breaker as long as you are prepared. After all, hurricanes can hit anywhere from Dallas to New York.
2. The Tax Incentives
You should consider moving to Puerto Rico for the amazing tax incentives.
This is a big one. We estimate there are three reasons people move to Puerto Rico other than to study or vacation: 1. Relocation for work (likely, but not necessarily, for the federal government). 2. For family reasons — you have family here you want to be near or look after. 3. For the tax incentives.
Zero Capital Gains and 4% Income Tax
If you move to Puerto Rico and do some basic paperwork, you could enjoy zero capital gains on your US-based income and as little as 4% total tax on your business, as well as a number of other benefits.
This is because of the unique political status of Puerto Rico, which is neither a state nor an independent country. As residents of an unincorporated territory, Puerto Ricans are US citizens but cannot vote in a presidential election and have no representation in the electoral college (unless they move to the mainland).
But the island does have autonomy over its own tax system and is one of the few places in the world Americans can legally minimize paying federal income tax.
To take advantage of any of the dozens of incentives, you apply for a decree for yourself or your company or both. Decrees are guaranteed by law for 15 years.
The aim of the tax incentives is to increase the prosperity of Puerto Rico by attracting skilled individuals and investment capital. Since 2012 they have attracted over 2,500 people to the island and generated billions in economic lift.
Act 60 Has Changed the Game
Act 60 was enacted in July 2019, taking over 70 incentives — some dating as far back as 1945— into one comprehensive code.
There are incentives for manufacturing, financial services such as PE funds, creative industries — including movies, tourism, and infrastructure. There are even incentives for young entrepreneurs and skilled professionals.
It can be hard to know where to start.
The old system was worse, though, because you didn't even know most of the incentives were there.
Now you can review everything in one simple (albeit 300-plus page) document, and you can apply for more online than ever before.
Luckily, we have done some of the lifting for you. You can get started by downloading a copy of Act 60 in English or by reviewing the summary of key chapters on our incentives page.
3. The Business Community
Move to Puerto Rico for the business community.
This one surprised me, but in retrospect, perhaps shouldn't have.
The Business Community in PR is the Best I Have Ever Been a Part Of
I have lived in London, Los Angeles, and the Middle East, and worked in San Francisco, New York, and Hong Kong. But Puerto Rico is my favorite business community. Hands down.
Community is about the people, and the people that have been gathering in Puerto Rico over the past several years include some very talented and interesting folk.
It's harder for me to generalize about the fantastic Puerto Rican friends I have met here because clearly the rest of the commonwealth includes a diverse mix of personalities who grew up here, rather than a small group of people who all chose to move here.
So while here I'll be talking mostly about the business community of those who have decided to pick up sticks and relocate, this does not diminish the amazing Puerto Ricans who have welcomed me to their island and their homes.
In general, those that chose to move here are:
- Successful. Most people who are coming for incentives are looking for a reason. The community spans all stages: those who are just starting their businesses, those who are currently in the midst of growing them, and those that have sold and received some type of capital gain. The common thread is people here have generally mastered something.
- Entrepreneurial. Similar to the previous point, the majority of people that move here currently run or have run their own businesses. These include traders, consultants, fund managers, media personalities, blockchain pioneers, music industry veterans, retailers, brand owners, marketing professionals, and technologists. There's a lot of collective experience and a lot of business diversity.
- Interesting: Anyone who is willing to defy conventional wisdom and move to an island in the middle of the Caribbean is pretty cool in my book. With the diversity of backgrounds from occupation to life stage to place of origin, there are a lot of very interesting people to mingle with, which brings me to my next point...
- Open-minded: To find Puerto Rico at this stage in the game you have to be curious and open. Few people know about the opportunities and even less are prepared to do something about it. If you've already done the research and you've actually come out here to check it out, you're already part of an elite group of the curious and adventurous. People here are from every political persuasion, race, background and religion or life philosophy, and the great part is most of us don't care — in fact, quite the opposite. It's our diversity that makes this place great.
- Friendly: Perhaps successful, entrepreneurial, open-minded people are always friendly. Either way, the community is still small enough that if you respect other people and are a decent human being, you'll make a lot of friends here quickly. Everyone you meet in the network has been on the same path you are on at some point, so there's a lot of common ground and I have found a lot of mutual respect.
All of this is a great recipe for the kind of people I want to be around all the time, and the kind of people I want my kids to learn from.
4. The Outdoors
The Puerto Rico countryside is simply amazing.
272 Miles of Beaches
There are 300 beaches in Puerto Rico, stretching over 270 miles. Whether you want to socialize or walk on a pristine beach alone for a couple of miles, you have plenty of choice.
Río Camuy Cave System
The Río Camuy is the third-longest underground river in the world. Flowing through the limestone rock in the northwest region of the island, it has carved out 10 miles of caves with over 220 known caverns and a possible 800 as-yet-undiscovered.
The central mountains dominate the middle of the island, rising to heights of 3,000 feet above sea level. Among other things, they are home to the longest zipline in the world in Toro Verde, at almost 1.4 miles long.
El Yunque National Forest
The only tropical rain forest in US territory, and run by the US national forest system. It's home to spectacular waterfalls, hiking trails and two observation towers.
Not strictly a natural wonder, but built in amazing terrain. The Arecibo Observatory was the largest single-aperture telescope in the world for 50 years until 2016, with a 1,000-foot dish. This radio telescope is a key tool in the SETI program. It was the dish used in the final scenes of James Bond's Goldeneye, and in the move Contact. It was built in a giant sinkhole in a karst region of the island, chosen for its unique topography.
Phosphorescent plankton that make the water glow make swimming in the ocean feel like a trip through the stars. There are only a small handful of bioluminescent bays in the world, where the plankton gather in such concentrations that the phenomenon is truly remarkable. Puerto Rico has not one but two bays, with Mosquito Bay off the coast of Vieques Island touted by some as the best in the world.
Puerto Rico Trench
The second-deepest ocean trench in the world and the deepest point of the Atlantic Ocean, the Puerto Rico trench runs east to west a few miles off the north coast of Puerto Rico.
5. The History and Culture
Last, but by no means least, Puerto Rico has a rich history predating the rest of America by a couple of hundred years.
The island was discovered by Europeans on Columbus' second voyage, and before that was home to the Taíno and Arawak peoples. Of course, there was plenty of history before Columbus, but records are scant as the Taíno people left no structures or written historical record other than some amazing petroglyphs that can be found all over the island.
It's Twice as Old as the US
San Juan was permanently settled in 1508, over 500 years ago and a hundred years before Jamestown was established. That's approximately 268 years before the 13 US colonies declared independence.
To put that into perspective, the founding of San Juan was further back in time to the founding fathers than the founding fathers are to us today.
Basically, Puerto Rico has twice the history of the US.
The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist) in San Juan was originally built in 1521 and is the oldest building in American territory, and the second-oldest European building in the new world. In fact, Puerto Rico is home to the five oldest buildings on American soil, not including pre-columbian structures such as the Pueblo villages in New Mexico and Utah.
San Juan was a key base in the pirate era. Puerto Rico is the land of rum (home of Bacardi, Don Q, Palo Viejo, Ron del Barrilito, and Ron Llave), previous plaything of the Rockerfellas and other US magnates, and the birthplace of salsa dancing and the piña colada.
Puerto Rico is not perfect, but it's remarkable on so many levels, and definitely massively underrated and misunderstood.
Even after living here for three years I am always learning something new and surprising.
What have I missed? Please let me know in the comments.