Moving to Puerto Rico (Including Job Opportunities & Taxes)

Thinking about making the move to Puerto Rico? If yes, you’ve got a lot of planning and preparation to do! While Puerto Rico is a part of the United States it’s not attached to the contiguous United States which means it’s a more challenging move to make. The good news is that you won’t need to worry about getting a passport or any sort of work applications because, as we mentioned, Puerto Rico is a part of the U.S. The best part about moving to Puerto Rico has to be the weather and the lovely people there. There are also quite a few opportunities for industrious people and the tax breaks are substantial. Let’s take a closer look!

moving to puerto rico: a guide including job opportunities, tax information, and a step-by-step process for moving brought to you by Southern Self Storage

Moving to The Island of Enchantment

As with any move, there’s a lot of planning to do when you move to Puerto Rico. Calling movers, packing up all your things, stopping utility services, and all the rest. It’s highly suggested that you start all your preparations at least two months ahead of time (if not more). Moving anywhere is an extremely stressful, complicated, and often frustrating situation. Moving to Puerto Rico adds to that because your goods will need to be transported part of the way by ship (More on this below.) If you’ve ever moved before you know what we mean. If you haven’t, being prepared is the best way to keep problems to a bare minimum.

Calling Moving Companies and Getting Estimates

If you plan to move all of your household goods and belongings to Puerto Rico with you, you’re going to need a moving company. Many people might ask “Can’t I just rent a truck and move my things myself?”, but the answer would be no because Puerto Rico isn’t attached to the contiguous United States. You have to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to get there. This forces you to “import” your household goods onto the island and only a mover with the right permits and equipment can do this.

If saving money on your move is something you want to do, you could always move your things yourself to a port in Florida so that your movers won’t charge you for moving them from, say, New Jersey, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Frankly, we don’t suggest this because all of your things should be packed and padded well so that they survive the trip in good shape and with minimal damage. If you decide to use a professional mover, here are a ton of excellent tips to help you save money, save time, and make sure your goods arrive in excellent condition:

  • Get at least three moving and storage estimates so that you can compare prices
  • Refuse any moving companies that want to give you a “phone estimate”. These are highly inaccurate. All of the moving company salespeople should come out to your home in person.
  • Let the moving company you choose pack all of your fragile household goods. It’s going to be a long trip and when your goods are on the ship they could get seriously damaged if they are not packed correctly
  • If you pack things yourself purchase quality moving and storage boxes. They are a specific, consistent size and shape for the different non-fragile items in most homes
  • Schedule to have all of your utilities and services disconnected
  • Start looking online for a place to stay when you initially arrive in Puerto Rico

About Moving Insurance

Moving insurance is a tricky thing. What we suggest is that you get more insurance than you need but take the highest deductible. The reason why is this; there will likely be a small amount of damage and you will just have to write that off. But, if (heaven forbid) everything you own is lost, having more insurance will mean that you get more money for all of your things. Taking a higher deductible will significantly lower your insurance cost, which means that you can get a lot more insurance for a lot less money. You’re risking a small amount of loss to get a much higher return if, say, the shipping container falls off the ship and is lost at sea. (It doesn’t happen often but it has happened.)

gorgeous view down a colorful street in puerto rico with balconies filled with flowers. view overlooks water

Why You Should Throw a Yard Sale

Here’s the thing; moving is expensive and moving to Puerto Rico is going to be more expensive because it involves putting your household goods on the ship. One thing you need to keep in mind about moving services is that they are based on weight. The more weight you have, the more you pay and vice versa. With that in mind, one of your goals should be to get rid of everything that you don’t need, use or want anymore, and one of the best ways to do that is by throwing a yard sale. Not only will you get rid of everything you don’t want and save money on your move, but you might also make a few extra bucks in the process.

If you finished your yard sale and still have things left over, one great suggestion is to post a “curb alert” on Craigslist. You’d be surprised how fast all of that leftover junk, old toys, clothing, and everything else is taken away. Plus, it’s 100% free to post on Craigslist and will save you from having to make a trip to your local garbage dump. By the way, you can read more about moving to Puerto Rico HERE.

How About Extremely Important Stuff?

There are several things that you should not let the moving company ship to Puerto Rico for you. The reason is simple; you won’t have them for a few weeks at least and, if something happens to the truck or ship, you won’t ever have them again. Yes, the chance of this happening is small but there is still a chance. Here’s a list of all the things we suggest you take yourself to Puerto Rico:

  • Medicine
  • Diplomas
  • Birth Certificates
  • Insurance Paperwork
  • Passports (even though you don’t need them to enter Puerto Rico, they’re still important)
  • Retirement paperwork like 401(k), IRA, etc.
  • Clothing for at least 2 weeks

Renting a Self-Storage Unit Stateside

Let’s say that you’re moving to Puerto Rico but only for a few years, maybe for a job or other opportunity. In a case like this, you might not want to move all of your household goods Puerto Rico. You might not need it when you were down there or you might not want to put it through the rigors and risks of moving. If that’s the case, renting a self-storage unit stateside is a good solution. We recommend a climate-controlled unit so that your household goods stay protected from changes in heat, cold, and humidity while you’re away.

balconies on a pink colorful building in puerto rico

Should You Learn Spanish before you Leave to Puerto Rico?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. If you’re going to start a business on your own, knowing Spanish will be very helpful indeed. That being said, many people in Puerto Rico already speak Spanish since it’s a part of the United States. No offense to anyone in Puerto Rico but, In most cases, the more educated a person is the more likely that they will speak English.

If you have children that are still in school, you should know that they will be taught lessons in Spanish unless you send them to school where they teach in English. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as being bilingual in today’s business and social world is a plus. Also, the truth is that Spanish is a relatively easy language to learn with specific, set rules, and many words that are very similar to their English counterpart.

Arriving in Puerto Rico

If you don’t have a home or apartment in Puerto Rico yet, you should start searching for one ASAP! You can certainly search after you arrive, but a hotel could become expensive if your movers are delayed. We also suggest that you rent a self-storage unit in case your goods arrive early and you haven’t found an apartment or home yet. A self-storage unit is usually much cheaper than having the moving company store your stuff for you. Also, it gives you access to your things while you’re waiting to find a new place to live.

Finding a Home or Apartment in Puerto Rico

A good suggestion would be to look online a few weeks before you leave the contiguous United States to try and find a home or apartment in Puerto Rico. If you don’t you might end up spending several days or even weeks in a hotel while you try to find one. While we don’t suggest purchasing a home before you arrive if you’ve already looked online and have found of a few homes that meet your price range (and are located where you want to be) your search will be shortened significantly. Not staying long? We have plenty of information about purchasing vacation homes in Puerto Rico too!

a view down a colorful alleyway in puerto rico

What’s the Weather Like in Puerto Rico?

The weather is one of the best reasons to move to Puerto Rico. It’s got a tropical climate that rarely drops below 70 and has an average of around 85 all year long. They have sun there practically every day of the year! Although it does rain on and off during their rainy season. The beaches? Spectacular! The ocean? Around 80 throughout the year and delicious! If working in short sleeve shirts, shorts, and deck shoes is your idea of heaven, Puerto Rico is going to be a dream for you. 

Yes, the humidity can be a little oppressive at times but, like anywhere in the Caribbean, most places have air-conditioning indoors. Plus, there’s always a light breeze blowing to keep your cool, and the nights there are especially wonderful with millions of stars sparkling in the sky. You can read more about the weather in Puerto Rico HERE.

view colorful apartments and homes off the coast of puerto rico

Some Things that You Should Avoid In Puerto Rico

You’ll be glad to know that Puerto Rico has a low crime rate throughout the island. Some paces, however, are a little bit more “rough around the edges”, so to speak, than others. For safety’s sake, you will probably want to avoid them.

  • Louis Lloren Torres in San Juan
  • The neighborhoods of La Perla (next to Old City)
  • Puerta de Tierra
  • ‘Caserios’ (Housing projects)
  • El Castillo San Felipe del Morro
  • Public Buses (but only at night)

One thing to remember in Puerto Rico is that, if you ever have an emergency, you can simply dial 911 just like in the rest of the United States. You can read more about places to live in Puerto Rico HERE.

What Job Opportunities does Puerto Rico Offer?

Many! Besides the obvious jobs in tourism and trade, Puerto Rico has several other thriving industries. Medical supplies, construction, and, due to the recent hurricanes, reconstruction jobs are everywhere. Some of the top industries in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, include:

  • Waste management and remediation services
  • Accommodation and food services
  • Healthcare and social assistance
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Electronics
  • Petrochemicals
  • Processed foods
  • Real Estate
  • Finance and Insurance

Like anywhere in the contiguous United States it’s always a good idea to have experience and skills as well as a college or university degree. Anything that you have of this nature you should document before you go to Puerto Rico so that, if needed, you can prove everything to a new employer.

Like everything else we’ve been talking about, it always helps to plan and, if possible, find employment before you leave for Puerto Rico. This is especially true for younger folks who don’t have a lot of savings to rely on. The last thing you want is to arrive in Puerto Rico and have to use up all of your savings while you search for a new job. You can read more about Job Opportunities in Puerto Rico HERE.

What About Starting a Busines in Puerto Rico?

Of course, nothing says that you need to get a typical job when you arrive in Puerto Rico. If you’re an entrepreneur who’s got money to invest in a new business, there’s plenty of opportunity in the Land of Enchantment. Below are some of the top businesses that you could start in Puerto Rico:

  • A restaurant or bar
  • A guest house or Airbnb
  • Anything related to Tourism
  • And Import & Export business
  • An Insurance and Insurance Consulting firm
  • A Real Estate Consulting firm
  • A Grocery store

Just as it’s easier to move to Puerto Rico because it’s part of the United States, opening a business in Puerto Rico is just as easy as it is in the U.S. Yes, there are the normal challenges that you face when opening a new business but there are no special permits that you need (beyond the normal permits, of course) and securing financing is very similar.

One excellent recommendation is that you rent a self-storage unit in Puerto Rico. As your goods start arriving, you have a safe and easily accessible place to store them. Southern Self-Storage has several locations around the island that offer both regular and climate-controlled self-storage units of several different sizes. Call one of their self-storage experts at your convenience for more information. You can read more about making money in Puerto Rico HERE.

What Are the Taxes Like in Puerto Rico?

Become a legitimate resident of Puerto Rico and you can reduce your income tax bill significantly (although it’s suggested that you talk to a tax expert). And when we say significantly we’re talking about a 4% income tax rate, a 0% dividend rate, and a 0% capital gains tax rate.

Even better, since Puerto Rico is part of the United States, there’s no need to give up citizenship. Giving up citizenship is not only risky but also extremely expensive. Puerto Rico also has two Acts on its side, Act 20 and Act 22. These are the Export Services Act and the Individual Investors Act, respectively. Act 22 exempts local taxes on all passive income generated by anyone that resides full-time in Puerto Rico. (Again, see a tax specialist to be sure what you qualify for.)

In short, several tax incentives make moving to Puerto Rico an even better opportunity than it already is. Puerto Rico is one of the few places in the world where American citizens can retain their citizenship and not pay federal income taxes. The United States government set up many tax breaks to allow for reconstruction on the island because of all the damage that was done to Puerto Rico in the last few years. It’s an entrepreneur’s dream, truly. You can read more about taxes in Puerto Rico HERE.

In Closing

As you can see there is a lot to like about moving to Puerto Rico. The weather, the people, and the tax breaks are very appealing. Yes, the move there will be a bit of a challenge! It might take longer than a move anywhere else in the United States. If you follow the tips in this article you should be able to arrive in Puerto Rico smiling.

There are a lot of opportunities for energetic, optimistic, and high energy people in Puerto Rico, no doubt. It truly is the Land of Enchantment and, once you’ve arrived, you might never want to leave.

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