Priced out of St Croix, looking at Puerto Rico instead.
My wife and I were planning on moving to St Croix in less than two years. We visited in March. We found a house we liked and started to buy it. It was at the limit of what we could afford and when the inspection was done there were issues that we could just not afford to fix so we declined. We continued our search hoping to find something as nice but less costly. We have come to the realization that we will not be able to afford a house that we would feel comfortable in without spending over 300K.
We have not been to Puerto Rico yet but plan on going in December and looking for a house. Looking on-line shows what looks to be some nice houses in the $150 - $200K range. We want to avoid traffic if possible and find a safe, quiet neighborhood to live in. We are thinking of the West end in general but we can be really flexible. We do want at least one shore scuba diving spot within a 30 minute drive. We don't speak Spanish but we are willing to give it a try. We may eventually wind up on St Croix.
Any suggestions? Have any of you lived on PR?
I have some friends who live there. Being biligual is a BIG plus. Take some spanish lessons for the next 2 years before you go. According to my firends, there are many bargans if you get away from the cities, but the urban sprawl is driving up prices in areas people can commute from. Remember, many Vi residents go to PR for shopping as the prices are very good and they have everything. I'd recommend the same as for moving here, do a PMV and see for yourself. Alot of my New York friends vacation there regularly and love it.
jeff, we lived on PR for several years - on the North West end - Aguadilla.
Definitely has everything that you mentioned. Wonderful beaches (Great shore diving around the sunken platforms at Crashboat Beach), good amenities, first class health care etc.
If you make an effort to give the Spanish lingo a try, everyone will be highly entertained and give you all the help you need. I learnt Spanish from scratch in about 2 years just by asking questions and chatting with anyone I could.
Housing is definitely cheaper, both rental or purchase. I would go on a fact finding trip and and look at Rincon and Aguadilla , Cabo Rojo among other areas.
Costa Rica is also the choice of many Americans. Great ocean front deals available. Check into it.
One thing to consider about Costa Rica or another foreign country. It's not US, and while it might be safe investing in real estate at the present time, will it be secure long term? If you have extra money, it's probably not a concern, but if you can't afford to buy on STX or etc., you are probably not in a position to lose your investment.
A few years ago here in AZ, many people had long term renewable leases on the indian reservation in the north country. Well the indians decided not to renew the leases and gave the people a couple of months to either move their houses, or vacate. tearing them down was NOT a option. People lost everything. Some tried leagle recourse to no avail.
You never know what could happen in a foreign country. I for one can't afford to lose my investment. Yes in the event of a natural disaster it might lose a lot of it's value, it would still be mine.
I have spent significant time in both PR and in Costa Rica, and maintain friendships in both places. In moving, Costa Rica was one of my first choices, however, since I did a vacation/extended PMV type thing in the late 90's, the price of real estate has escalated to where I personally could not touch it. Many S. Californians and Tri-Staters have retired there. I mean A LOT. Due to this, the cost of property has become disproportionately inflated.
I had also considered PR, and I am bilingual. The problem was that the person I was moving with is a) not a kid, and a foreign language is much harder to learn and b) needed to get a job ASAP, and would not be able to only speaking English. In short, that wouldn't work either, although it was definitely more affordable.
So we find ourselves in St. Croix. We did find a home that is very comfortable, though not elaborate. It did take 7 months of intense searching to find a good deal on a good house in a great Crucian neighborhood. Language was not a barrier for my room mate, so employment was easier. Much. After the 6 month period in which no one will hire you (as you might turn around and go home, I guess) he has had umpteen job offers. I am disabled, but am digging my niche now, and have every hope it will turn out fine.
I think the suggestion of learning Spanish (especially if you need to work) is an excellent one. If you anticipate needing it for work, I would suggest a total immersion approach rather than taking classes or a home course. Home courses are almost all taught in either a Mexican or Spain-Spanish way. You will never understand a thing on PR after taking those types of courses.
In many places on the stateside, one can find a free group to join that is a Spanish chat group. They will generally meet once a week, and speak of everything from Global Warming to Politics to food. All good terminology.
Best wishes to you. I also find PR absolutely beautiful and love the language. I hope to hear one day that you are bilingual and living happily near some pristine beach,
I also caution against Costa Rica based on the experience of a very good friend of mine who lived on STT for several years and then decided to go to CR. Her emails for the first year or so were literally glowing. She immersed herself in the local culture, learned the language (she was no Spring Chicken either, but considerably more so than!) and was doing very well there.
She had a little money put away and, after careful research, decided to invest in Costa Rica. Without getting into details, she subsequently lost everything (as did many Americans at the same time) when the government arbitrarily decided to keep the investment money and basically forced the investors to leave the country.
As a retirement opportunity for Americans it probably is a wonderful place to live but it's not a country under the US flag, it's political situation remains somewhat disturbed and one obviously needs to apply extreme caution in moving to any foreign territory where the laws to which you are accustomed will not prevail.
Just my two cents!
Thanks for all the advice. We will be staying with some friends in Guanica in December. I think we will be looking for something on the West/South West/North West side. We may buy a house at that time and rent it out until we move there. From December it may be a year or less before we move in. We will own our house so I hope we can get by on minimal income and both of us just working part time at least for a couple years. We may have to move closer to where work would be then but I hope to have picked up enough Spanish (I still have trouble with English;) to get a job that I like. Right now I work as a Sr Manufacturing Electrical Test Engineer. It pays the bills but I am ready for a career change not just a job change.
Now we need to figure out which realtors to go with and how many will we need to cover such an area.
Re: STX, did you consider moving here and renting instead of buying so you can take all the time you need to look for an affordable, comfortable place to buy? House availability can vary so much over time that looking only during a set period can artificially limiting your options. By living here as you look, you get three benefits:
1. you can get to look at what's available over time;
2. you'll be getting to know more about the variety of neighborhoods and environments on the different parts of STX , plus meet a bunch of people who may be able to point you to a FSBO or other good deal that, like some job openings and rental opportunities, get filled by the resident word of mouth network instead of ads, Realtor promotion, etc. and
3. you get to enjoy island life and make sure it's really the place that works for you while you home shop and before you invest in a home that may affect your ability to move elsewhere or liquidate your assets as quickly as you want/need to.
Not at all trying to discourage you from pursuing PR. (I go there regularly for medical care and adore the warm, friendly people we encounter (but hate having to tackle the highway between the airport and Santurce -- too much like my former commute from Arlington, VA into my DC office just down the street from the White House). Just though this might be an option to get you to your original choice -- of course, all these same advantages would apply to a move to PR, too.
Best wishes for landing somewhere you're very happy to be. Please keep us posted (literally, hee hee) on how things are working out for you.