When it comes to the cost of living in Puerto Rico, the US expats relocating to the country for work earn more than locals. For example, a median salary for locals is around $23,172 per year, while expats earn $54,800, which is a little bit less than an average yearly income in the United States. However, whether life in Puerto Rico is cheap or not, we’ll leave that for you to judge. After all, it depends on how much you spend and your lifestyle in general.
But be ready to pay for some food items and services more than in the USA. For example, energy bills are usually higher here. Some food products also cost more than what you are used to. Nevertheless, if you are among the top earners that can make up to $100,000 annually, then you’ll live almost like a king.
But what if you are an average family or an international student who is worried about living costs in a new country? So you are moving to San Juan or Ponce and want to know how much you will spend on accommodation and other things and plan your budget accordingly.
Here is a helpful guide on essential expenses in Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan or its second-largest city in the south, Ponce.
Renting an Apartment
Rent prices are not necessarily exorbitant in San Juan. Of course, they vary from area to area, but eventually, you will be able to get a one-bedroom apartment for around $570, according to Numbeo.com. While a three-bedroom decent flat in the city’s downtown will cost you about $1000, the same size home in suburbs will be only $803.
Among utility expenses, the energy cost is the highest, especially electricity. Numbeo.com suggests that a monthly utility bill (including electricity) is $207.03 for 85m2, compared to $168.45 in the US – still a significant difference, mostly because of the electricity price.
Internet service for unlimited data and Cable/ADSL is around $63. One minute of prepaid mobile tariff, excluding discounts and plans, is $0.15.
Getting around in Puerto Rico is not going to drive you crazy. On the contrary, it’s pretty easy. The local bus line offers a few routes. For example, a one-way ticket on the “Tren Urbano” costs $1.50, and a monthly pass costs $39.24.
However, the surest way to save on the living cost in Puerto Rico is riding a bike, which has become extremely popular. Bikes are part of modern eco-friendly cities. Even more, cyclists can get the Bici-Tren pass to take a bicycle on the train.
As for taxes, they are everywhere. The set rate is $1.45 per 1km and may range if you need to get to a more remote region. But you should always bargain with the taxi driver to get the best deal.
If you own a car, 1 liter of gasoline will cost $0.82, and renting a car for an hour is around $20.
Groceries are not cheap in San Juan as well as throughout Puerto Rico. Many fresh foods in supermarkets are expensive because they are imported from the USA. Dairy products are especially pricy. For example, 1 liter of milk in Puerto Rico costs $1.70, while the US price is $0.87. However, rice and bread are much cheaper.
- Loaf of fresh white bread – $2.39
- Rice (1lb) – $2.06
- Eggs (12) – $2.84
- Local cheese (1lb) – $7.53
- Chicken fillets (1lb) – $8.40
- Beef round (1lb) – $9.57
- Apples (1lb) – $5.58
- Banana (1lb) – $2.07
- Apples (1 lb) – $5.58
- Oranges – $3.94
- Tomato – $4.42
- Potato – $3.14
- Onion (1kg) – $2.74
- Lettuce (1 head) – $2.54
- Water (1.5 liter) – $1.68
- Bottle of wine – $12.00
- Local beer (0.5 liters) – $1.93
- Cigarettes – $10.00
The price of lettuce here is the highest in all of the US, at $2.54 a head, while the median price across the US is 1.67.
Puerto Rico boasts a fabulous food scene. Plenty of wonderful restaurants combine cuisines with flavors and spices from different traditions, such as Mexican, African, and the Americas. Street food is also very delicious and diverse. This means that you can enjoy a meal from $7 to $12 in a mid-range restaurant or eat out in a high-ending restaurant for $50.
Clothing and Shoes
San Juan has shopping malls where you will buy clothes and shoes easily. However, the prices are a bit higher than in the USA. For instance, you’ll be able to buy a pair of Levis Jeans for $44 and a nice dress in H&M for $45. One pair of Nike running shoes will cost $83 and a men’s leather business shoes around $90.
Sport and Leisure
The cost of living in Puerto Rico also hinges on what you want to do for sport and leisure. The cheapest leisure activity is the cinema, with one ticket costing $8. The monthly price for a fitness club for one person is around $37, and one hour of tennis court rent will cost about $20.
If you are moving to Puerto Rico with kids, you first want to know if you can find childcare and how much it will cost.
A monthly fee in a full-day kindergarten will cost around $350.
Yet, it’s essential to keep in mind that providers set a childcare cost so that it may vary. Plus, some charge an hourly rate without additional charges for food, while others may incur extra fees for food and nappies.
We recommend that expats buy private healthcare insurance in Puerto Rico because public healthcare is a headache due to extreme waiting times. Also, unlike common perception, private health coverage isn’t expensive, and the quality of service is the same as in the USA.
School-age children can be enrolled in a public school, but they should be able to converse in Spanish. Otherwise, the best bet is a private school or an international school. You should be ready to pay between $2,000 to $7,000 annually for the international school in Puerto Rico.
Summary of Cost of Living in Puerto Rico
Regarding the cost of living in Puerto Rico, setting realistic goals and a budget is important. Prices will vary based on where you live. For example, renting outside downtown close to Old San Juan is cheaper than living in a luxury apartment by the beach.
Generally, the Puerto Rico indices on cost are lower than in the United States. This refers to consumer, rent, restaurant, and groceries prices.