Frequently Asked Questions About Puerto Rico

Frequently Asked Questions About Puerto Rico

Below are some of the most common questions we hear from people considering Puerto Rico as a relocation destination. Contact us for more details, and for a free consultation about your unique situation.


Doesn’t Puerto Rico Have a High Crime Rate?

Puerto Rico’s issue has more to do with public relations than actual crime! This image is partly formed by cultural stereotypes and political history.

Like everywhere else, Puerto Rico’s crime rate varies depending upon what area you happen to be in. Its metropolitan areas tend to be higher, especially in less wealthy parts of town. However, it can be argued that the crime in the cities is comparable to US cities. For example, Puerto Rico’s murder rate is half that of Washington DC and Detroit. If Puerto Rico were ranked for safety as if it were a State, it would be 19th in the list.

For those who are relocating and want an extra degree of protection, there are a number of gated community options that are extremely safe.


What is the Food Like in Puerto Rico?

The local cuisine is Spanish with Caribbean accents. It is heavy in meat, particularly pork, and moderately spicy, though typically less spicy than what you might find in other parts of Latin America. As in many “island” cuisines, sweet and coconut flavors can be found in many dishes. Plantains are a major staple.

Dining out, we have found that while many fine options exist in Puerto Rico, good restaurants featuring Asian cuisines, in particular, are rare.

Grocery stores are plentiful, and the locally grown food is inexpensive. For organic food, and other items that are not produced on-island, you may have to go to specialty stores, where the prices are higher.


Is it Safe to Drink the Water?

The tap water is considered safe to drink in Puerto Rico, as the sanitation standards are the same here as in the States.


Is it Necessary to Learn Spanish to Live in Puerto Rico?

The great news is that it is not necessary to learn Spanish to relocate to Puerto Rico!

Both Spanish and English are official languages in Puerto Rico. Most government forms and official sites, as well as most menus and other things you might need to read, are available in English. Also, most service providers and customer service representatives are either fluent in both English and Spanish, or at least know enough English to get by.

However, you will almost definitely encounter some people who speak little to no English. For these encounters, it can be helpful to learn at least a little conversational Spanish, though we have never yet encountered a situation when it was absolutely necessary. Puerto Ricans are generally very friendly and accommodating of a limited Spanish vocabulary; rather than being judgmental or impatient, as some cultures can be in this type of situation, the folks in Puerto Rico usually appear to us to graciously appreciate whatever genuine effort you can make.


What is the Cost of Living in Puerto Rico?

The cost of living varies depending upon the area in which you live. Gated communities tend to be more expensive for real estate, and the dining and entertainment in those areas are also pricier. However, people who move to more expensive areas in Puerto Rico may well have lived incomparably expensive areas prior. There are many areas to live which are still desirable and safe, but affordable.

Gas tends to be just slightly more expensive in Puerto Rico than in the States. (Also note that it is sold in liters rather than gallons, which can be confusing at first.) Electricity is currently about twice the price; however, there is never a need to heat your living space here, and while you may choose to run your air conditioner more, fuel efficient inverter air conditioners are common in most modern homes.

Food can be more expensive, particularly if you prefer to buy organic products, as there is currently very little organic farming happening in Puerto Rico. Other items that must be imported may cost more as well.

Here is a cost of living comparison tool which may give you a good idea of what you might expect, based on an average price for living in Puerto Rico, compared to wherever you may be moving from.


What would happen if Puerto Rico Became a State?

If Puerto Rico became a US State, its residents would become subject to US federal tax. This almost completely eliminates the benefits of the tax incentive Acts, as the low Puerto Rico tax would then become a state tax, owed in addition to what must be paid to the IRS.

It should be noted, however, that the people of Puerto Rico have declined Statehood, by public referendum, on more than one occasion in the past. Many Puerto Ricans are proud of their independence; Puerto Rico competes as its own country in the Olympic Games. Also, with so many of the population living in poverty, few are eager to accept the additional tax burden for many that would come with Statehood. Finally, it appears to us that many Puerto Ricans are savvy about the prospects for economic recovery, growth, and prosperity made possible by the Commonwealth’s unique legal status. Though Statehood may be inevitable at some point in the farther future, we judge it to be unlikely in the near term.

We Can Help

Our company helps people like you take advantage of Puerto Rico’s excellent tax incentives!  We can help you determine which tax incentives are right for you, help you plan your residency and relocation strategy, and simplify the entire process for you.

Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure

Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure

Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure

Puerto Rico offers all of the conveniences you are likely used to if visiting or relocating from any developed nation. If you are contemplating a relocation, please contact us if you have questions or would like a free consultation.


Roads in Puerto Rico

Major highways and tollways are as excellent as any found in the fifty States. The Puerto Rico highway and local road system is substantial and offers good coverage of all parts of the island. Some roads are not repaired and maintained as frequently as in many parts of the States but are still quite usable.


Electricity in Puerto Rico

There is currently only one power company in Puerto Rico – PREPA, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. PREPA is owned by the Puerto Rico government and is the only company authorized by the government to do this type of business. Dealing with PREPA can be a bit of an ordeal at times, and our concierge service can help manage this for you if you require it.

Electricity prices are a bit higher in Puerto Rico, as much as double the prices in the States, though you might find that your usage is different due to no need for artificial heat.

In some parts of Puerto Rico, electric outages occur from time to time. These are generally only for a few minutes to a few hours, but, especially in some urban areas, can be inconvenient. You can easily mitigate this risk by outfitting your home with a backup generator (or securing a residence that already has one, which is not uncommon). Additionally, it is very easy to find small power backups that offer 1-4 hours of energy for a few devices.


Water Quality

Tap water is safe to drink in Puerto Rico. As with anywhere else in the States, there are still components that can modify the flavor, and we prefer to have a filter on our tap (as we also did before relocating to Puerto Rico).

In some metropolitan residences, water shortages can occur – this varies a lot depending on the area in which you plan to live. When you are looking for a place to live in Puerto Rico, it is good to ask if the house or building has a water cistern to store a backup water supply to avoid inconvenience during these temporary shortage situations.


High-Speed Internet

High-speed internet is available in all metropolitan areas as well as smaller towns. Many find that their internet on the island is faster and more reliable than on the mainland! Prices are comparable to most areas in the States.


Cell Phone Coverage

Cell coverage is strong throughout the island. AT&T is by far the largest provider, and signals are strong in most metro areas, ranging to most rural areas as well. Claro is the largest local provider. T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon users will have coverage although the quality of coverage is not equal.



This, unfortunately, is not always reliable in Puerto Rico. If you are used to navigating by allowing a GPS device or the map application on your cell phone to tell you where you are and reroute you if you turn the wrong direction, you may have to change your habits here. GPS is fine to get overall directions and show the overall map of where you are looking to travel. However, updates are slow, and GPS sometimes gets confused in mid-trip and re-routes the trip inaccurately. It is best to look at the overall map rather than relying on turn-by-turn instructions based on GPS being able to locate your location at any moment.

Addresses are also not always accurately entered in GPS in Puerto Rico. Some GPS applications will be confused by Puerto Rico addresses as they are listed on websites and other listings, and will attempt to be helpful by giving directions to the address that most closely seems to match the one entered. It is important to make sure that the destination your GPS app has found for you is the same one you told it to find!


Puerto Rico road system

We Can Help

Our company helps people like you take advantage of Puerto Rico’s excellent tax incentives!  We can help you determine which tax incentives are right for you, help you plan your residency and relocation strategy, and simplify the entire process for you.

Contact us for a free initial consultation.

What You Need to Know About Puerto Rico’s Goverment

What You Need to Know About Puerto Rico’s Goverment


With the new PROMESA law, changes are in progress. PROMESA gives power for oversight of the Puerto Rico government to a 7-member, bi-partisan board appointed by the United States Congress. This page will be updated as new information is released.

Here is an article with details on the current PROMESA board appointees.


Puerto Rico’s Commonwealth Status

As a Commonwealth of the United States, Puerto Rico is part of the US but does not have the same status as a state. Citizens of Puerto Rico are citizens of the US and are entitled to a US passport. Any citizen of a country with travel rights to the US can travel freely to the US.

Puerto Rico is self-governing for internal matters and established its own constitution in 1952. Its chief of state is the President of the United States, and Puerto Rico itself is under the protection of the US military. Puerto Rico elects a Governor as its head of state, governing all internal affairs. US citizens who are residents of Puerto Rico may not vote in US presidential elections, and Puerto Rico does not have elected representation in either house of the US Congress, although a single resident commissioner from Puerto Rico has a voice, but cannot vote.

Puerto Rico corporate entities are considered foreign corporations according to US laws, a distinction that is important when considering your strategy if you are considering relocating. Contact us to discuss more how this may impact you.

Residents of Puerto Rico who earn their income by work done in Puerto Rico (or investments made while formally residing in Puerto Rico) are not subject to tax by the IRS; instead, US citizens in Puerto Rico pay tax to Hacienda, the Puerto Rico internal revenue organization.


Puerto Rico’s Legislative and Judicial Systems

With few exceptions, Puerto Rico is subject to all Federal laws and regulations put in place by the US government. Most relevant US agencies have representation within Puerto Rico.

The island is divided into 78 municipalities, each of which is governed by a mayor and municipal assembly. The senior legislative bodies consist of the 27-member Puerto Rico Senate and the 51-member Chamber of Representatives. All of these political positions are put in place by popular election and last for a term of 4 years.

Puerto Rico’s judicial system is directed by its Supreme Court, which consists of 7 judges appointed by the Governor. The system includes a Court of Appeals, a Superior Court, a District Court, and Municipal Court.


Puerto Rico’s Government Agencies

Here is a partial list of government agencies and offices you may find to be a helpful reference:

  • AT: Land Administration (Department of Economic Development)
  • DDEC: Department of Economic Development and Commerce
  • DH: Department of Finance
  • DTRH: Department of Labor and Human Resources
  • Hacienda: Treasury Department
  • JR: Review Board and Use Permits
  • La Fortaleza: Governor’s Office
  • PRIDCO: Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (Department of Economic Development)
  • Promoexport: Trade and Export Company of Puerto Rico (Department of Economic Development)
  • OCIF: Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions
  • OGPe: Permit Management Office
  • OIGPe: Office of Inspector General Permit
  • OITE: Office of Industrial Tax Exemption

[Please note that the acronyms commonly used as names of agencies, by both English and Spanish speakers, reflect the original Spanish-language full names of the agencies. The acronyms listed above are what is commonly used by all; the full English-language names listed are the official translations of the full Spanish-language names of the agencies.]

Official directory of government agencies (note that this site is in Spanish – if you are not fluent, the Google translate feature will be your friend here)
Hacienda official site (also in Spanish)

We Can Help

Our company helps people like you take advantage of Puerto Rico’s excellent tax incentives!  We can help you determine which tax incentives are right for you, help you plan your residency and relocation strategy, and simplify the entire process for you.

Contact us for a free initial consultation.

What You Should Know About Puerto Rico’s Employment Laws

What You Should Know About Puerto Rico’s Employment Laws

Employee management can be more complex in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico labor laws can be said to favor the employee. We have also heard from a number of sources that lower wage, non-exempt employees commonly know the employment laws well and hold employers accountable to them. If you will be managing employees of your own, you must become familiar with these laws, especially if you are required to maintain a certain number of employees to remain compliant with a tax exemption grant.

Because management of employees can be complex, our company offers business management services to oversee your human resources needs. We assist our clients in hiring and management of employees, as needed.

Below are some important notes (though this is not intended to be comprehensive).


Employment is not “at will:

It can be more difficult to release an employee in Puerto Rico.  If you wish to terminate an employee due to their performance, it must be for just cause, and you must be able to show documentation of disciplinary actions taken over time to remedy the situation.  It is also possible to lay off an employee because their position has truly been eliminated for demonstrable, valid business reasons.

In addition, it is possible for an employee to be hired for only a pre-defined length of time or to have an initial probation period of up to 90 days.  These types of arrangements would need to be explicitly stated in the employment contract and cannot continue indefinitely.

Firing someone without just cause can result in owing severance compensation based on years of service.


Paid Time Off

Puerto Rico requires employers to pay for time off in situations not required in the mainland US.

Mandatory paid maternity leave: Employees are entitled by law to 8 weeks paid maternity leave. Paid leave rights also apply to miscarriages, abortions, and adoptions of children 5 years or younger. The Working Mother’s Act also protects employees from pregnancy discrimination.

Vacation leave: All non-exempt employees are entitled to 1.25 days of paid vacation leave for each month in which they work at least 115 hours, though they aren’t entitled to take this leave until it has accrued for an entire year. Employers owe employees payment for vacation time not taken upon termination.

Sick leave: Non-exempt employees are also entitled to accrue one day of sick leave for each month in which they work at least 115 hours.

Paid Christmas Bonuses

Puerto Rico employees are legally entitled to a bonus in December of 6% of the first $10,000 of the employee’s annual wages.


Exempt employees: The July 2016 FLSA rule change that doubled the minimum salary for employees defined as exempt from overtime does not apply in Puerto Rico.  The minimum annual salary for exempt employees in Puerto Rico currently remains at $23,660, but this matter is subject to a review underway by the Comptroller General of the United States.

We Can Help

Our company helps people like you take advantage of Puerto Rico’s excellent tax incentives!  We can help you determine which tax incentives are right for you, help you plan your residency and relocation strategy, and simplify the entire process for you.

Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Puerto Rico’s Economy: Land of Opportunity

Puerto Rico’s Economy: Land of Opportunity

Puerto Ricos Economy

Most of what has been covered in the news lately is Puerto Rico’s debt, and there is no doubt that this is a serious issue. Currently, the new PROMESA board is at work to determine the plan to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt, and plan what changes may go with it to ensure ongoing accountability.

What is not included in these news reports is the stunning opportunities for new business growth that the island and all its many advantages make possible. In addition to incredible, world-class tax incentives, Puerto Rico is also attractive in other ways. These opportunities are very likely to continue since they are part of the means for improving the economy long-term. (There have been no signs that the recent passage of the PROMESA bill by the US Congress will negatively impact the ability or intention of the Puerto Rican government to continue to incentivize economic growth and recovery through the excellent legal tax advantages that it currently makes available to its legal residents.)

Beneficial for Businesses

Puerto Rico is a great place to do business for many industries. A number of fortune 100 companies have established operations here, including 10 of the world’s top 20 pharma and biotech companies; 2 Fortune 1000 companies are even headquartered in Puerto Rico. And out of 174 active Foreign Trade Zones, Puerto Rico ranks 13th in imports and 11th in exports (report reference from 2012).


  • Puerto Rico’s tax incentives are world class!
  • All needed infrastructure is in place.
  • The tax incentives are creating an entrepreneurial environment, where it is easy to meet potential business partners.
  • For many people, Puerto Rico’s weather, beaches, and beautiful places to live make it a very desirable place to relocate, so some employees and business partners may be easy to convince.
  • PR has a bilingual population.
  • One of the best engineering schools in the country is located in Mayaguez, and US companies heavily recruit all types of Puerto Rico STEM graduates.
  • Puerto Rico is very accessible by air travel, with many non-stop flights daily from New York and other major US cities.


Puerto Rico Has the Most Developed Economy in Latin America

Puerto Rico’s annual gross domestic product is about $100 billion. The economy is already strong in the following sectors:

  • Manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Electronics
  • Processed foods
  • Clothing
  • Textiles
  • Service
  • Tourism

Technology is a growing industry, and some predict it may be the next big wave.

Future Plans for Economic Development

Puerto Rico is currently still losing some of its most highly educated residents to higher paying jobs in other locations. Many of the plans to improve the economy involve creating additional and more substantial jobs locally, to retain top talent on the island. Attracting more business to Puerto Rico naturally also impacts the economy indirectly by creating more services jobs to support these businesses and new residents relocating to Puerto Rico.

The PR government’s plans include encouraging growth in Manufacturing, Services, and Tourism businesses. Act 73 (the Economic Development Incentives Act) and Act 20 (the Export Services Act), have been put in place to attract new businesses of these types to the island, to create new jobs for Puerto Rican residents, and to boost the local economy. The Tourism Development Act has been put in place to offer tax credits and exemptions for businesses constructing and operating tourism endeavors.

Puerto Rico is fortunate to be located in an advantageous geographic position along the Mona Passage, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Panama Canal. Puerto Rico’s Port of the Americas is designed as a modern, containerized import/export and transshipment cargo facility. Located in Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, on the southern coast, it is also very near to Mercedita International Airport (PSE).

With Act 214, Puerto Rico embraces innovation via the Science, Technology, and Research Trust. The Trust provides access to grants for projects involving technology commercialization, research, and the creation of science and technology jobs.

Plans are also underway to transform the former Roosevelt Roads Navy base into a diverse community including tourist attractions, residential properties, schools, and hospitals.

Read more about these and several other plans in progress to stimulate Puerto Rico’s economy in the official government report. Feel free to contact us with any questions.


Puerto Rico government report on current economic indicators

We Can Help

Our company helps people like you take advantage of Puerto Rico’s excellent tax incentives!  We can help you determine which tax incentives are right for you, help you plan your residency and relocation strategy, and simplify the entire process for you.

Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Thank you for signing up!