Cost of Living in Puerto Rico



A recent article published in Huffington Post reported that the cost of living in Puerto Rico is hitting unsustainable levels for most residents. Lower- and middle-class residents are taking much of the brunt. Economists blame new taxes and increases in water and sewer rates for the rising consumer prices. Gustavo Velez, a prominent Puerto Rican economist, said: "It's like a Catch-22. The big question is whether the economy is capable of absorbing the impact of these taxes. It's a question we cannot yet answer".

The unincorporated US territory was a major retirement destination for expats from the US mainland and Europe. Despite the recent surge in prices, Puerto Rico is still relatively cheaper than most First-World destinations. The average price of a real estate property in the island is USD $195,000 compared to USD $320,000 in California and USD $325,000 in New York. For those who prefer to rent, the average monthly rent for a 85 square metre apartment in the capital San Juan is USD $1,340.

A household of two would need to set aside about USD $200 each month for utilities (electricity, water, heating and gas). Recent news, however, revealed that monthly water bills and gas prices had more than doubled. Most expats hire domestic help, maids and gardeners, to do cleaning, cooking and errands to the local market. The hourly rate for a house help is about USD $10 – USD $11.

Purchasing an automobile in Puerto Rico is more cost-efficient in the long-run than taking public transport. A litre of gas is worth a little over USD $9 while a taxi trip for 8 kilometre costs USD $34. Expats who travel through buses and trains spend USD $50 for a monthly public transport ticket.

Entertainment can cost a lot especially near expat communities. A basic dinner for two in a neighbourhood restaurant costs USD $45 while movie tickets are for USD $7 each. A glass of cocktail drink costs $8; a cup of cappuccino is for USD $4. A pack of Marlboro cigarettes costs $6. For fitness options, the monthly gym membership in a first-class district costs USD $40.

This year, the Puerto Rican economy is expected to contract as much as 2% as the island faces massive public debt and a two-digit unemployment rate. Many locals have left the country for better opportunities abroad. Wendy Cordova, a middle-aged widow, said: "Everything keeps going up, and people are still making the same salary. We're going from bad to worse".



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Cost of Living Abroad

Expat Services in Puerto Rico