Moving to Puerto Rico
Expats moving to Puerto Rico will enjoy the country’s tropical climate and favorable weather all year round. However, Puerto Rico has a high cost of living, particularly the prices of housing that are almost at par with housing prices in Los Angeles and Miami. Puerto Rico is considered to have a high-income economy, which is mainly driven by the manufacturing sector.
Puerto Rico, an unincorporated US territory, was a major retirement destination for American and European expats. 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. A house in the Virgin Islands, another US territory, is worth USD $299,000.
The island-state is a top vacation choice for Western holiday goers, especially Americans. Visitors from Asia and neighbouring Latin American nations also regular tourists in Puerto Rico’s historical sites and pristine beaches. About 4.2 million people arrived in the island last year, up from 4 million in 2011. Tourism contributes an average of $1.8 billion to the Puerto Rican economy annually, as well as jobs for locals and foreigners.
Expats moving to Puerto Rico can expect the same healthcare services as in the US. The US territory has well-equipped hospital and clinics, qualified specialists and private health insurers. An American expat living on the island noted that insured patients have to pay minimal co-pay per visit or medication instead of the usual regular premiums. Private insurers also charge a fraction of the cost in mainland US. Medical fees, including doctor’s fees and lab costs, are paid before any service is extended.
Non-US expats moving to Puerto Rico are subjected to US laws. Thus, visa applications are coursed through US immigration authorities. Nationals of countries without a visa waiver privilege may stay in Puerto Rico, on a non-immigrant status, for a maximum of 90 days. They may not engage in any income-generating activity in this period. Foreigners planning on working in the US territory may apply for any of the following visa types:
- Temporary Employment Visa
- Permanent Employment Visa
- Exchange Visitor Visa (for qualified teachers, professors and other exchange participants in approved programmes)
- Temporary Visitors for Business
- Media Visa
- Trade Treaty (for qualified executives and specialists of companies from treaty countries)
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