Buying a Property in Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands?


In my previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I have $50K in Emergency Funds. This includes the money I had set aside for the taxes bill in April of 2018.

I wanted to use the money in case the US Debt Ceiling Limited didn’t get lifted. It turned out, that it was attached to the hurricane relief fund. And nobody voted “No” to helping hurricane victims, right? That would be a politician lifestyles and future career sabotage.

Well, what now? That the stock market didn’t drop, not only it didn’t drop, but it’s at the highest price once more time.

I want to buy a property in Puerto Rico or in the US Virgin Islands. But I’m leaning toward Puerto Rico for the following reasons:

  1. Puerto Rico is going through some hardship. It owes its creditors $72B, and the US territory can’t declare bankruptcy because it’s not a US State. So, it can’t receive the same type of aids from the US Federal Government. That results in decrease public helps, public services, the property values has gone down down down. And people mortgages are in upside down. So, skilled workers left to go to the US mainland. I’d like to take advantage of the low property values right now.
  2. Puerto Rico is nice! It’s an island with a river. It has the rain forest, and it has the best snorkeling spots. This combination is a great winter destination. That is why we’ve been vacationing in Puerto Rico 3 times. I think I can spot one property for less than $100K less than 1 mile from the beach.
    • River means fresh water, means life. Compare to St. Thomas or St. John, they would have to gather the water from the rain, sort it somehow. The locals were telling me that eventhough they have the water plants, but the people couldn’t trust it, as they use the water to water the plants, and the plants die over time! Yikes!!
  3. Puerto Rico is still the US. Yes There are talks of Puerto Rico voted to be independence, but I think there is a bigger chance that it’d become the US 51th State.
  4. Economic Recovery is Inevitable and Eventual- Yes, I am optimistic that Puerto Rico will recover from the Economic slump. It’s the big brother Island among the Island in the Caribean – all the fruits, poultry, and other supplies for the small island that YOU and I are paying high price each year to vacate are coming from Puerto Rico. So, some smart people will scoop up these cheap houses and rent to some suckers and you and I. LOL 🙂


I’ll think of more reasons to invest and update this post. LOL 🙂 Now comes the truths: The cons of owning a Puerto Rico Property:

  1. Taxes – I did some research on taxes. All the internet posts are inconclusive, most of them are pretty discouraging. Sales taxes are at 12%. Property taxes for those who live on the island is $0 for property values <$150K. No mention of people like me who only wants to live there 3 months out of a year.
  2. Nobody knows when the recovery happens.
  3. Manage a property that is 2 flights away.
  4. Language barrier – neither Mr.W nor I speak Spanish.
  5. I could use $50K to rent 100 months in Puerto Rico or 8.3 years worth of rent at $500/mo. And not having to worry about the upkeep. With $50K if I put in a dividend portfiolio, I’d earn another 29 months. So it’s about 10 years worth of rents.

So, that takes me to What TYPES of Property should I buy?

Single family house, apartment (on a 2-5 units big house), Condo (from a big building), or Townhouse?

  1. I don’t like paying HOA – home owner associate fee – some HOA actually uses your money wisely to update the roof, clean up the yard, plant flowers, etc. Stuff that ideally would improve your property values and keep your investment “safe”.
  2. I don’t like being flooded. Or living in fear that another hurricane would blow off the roof, or I’d have to replace all the furniture because the house got flood, or collapse.
  3. Ideally, I like to own the land, the ground the house is sit on.
  4. Close proximity to the beach – this is vital, as if I want to rent or live in Puerto Rico fulltime, I don’t want to get stuck with nothing to do. I’m sure renters also wants beach access.
  5. Prefer in San Juan or Old San Juan – I spoke to my taxi driver, he’s a young 20s, when asking about living 45 mins drive from San Juan and he shakes his head, as if anything other than San Juan is a plague. Well, some American Expats might disagree with him, but I tend to agree with him. Living in San Juan, as a retiree, you’d have access to the hospital, better school (international school where they teach all the subjects in English). Frankly, I just want great access to grocery stores and amenities. I could always take a van camper trips, island hoping and such if I want seclusive. But Heck! you’re on the freaking island! how seclusive you want to be?? haha!!

With my price range of <$100,000, I don’t think I can get a house near the beach and not having to worry about flooding and such. I’m okay with a condos and suck up to pay condo fee.

Remember, I haven’t really buckle down on my search yet. I’m keeping my options open. But for now, I need to write this post so I can have something to go back when waging my option.

Otherwise, it’s still way cool to keep $50K in CASH. Take a vacation and spend $3K/2 people a year, not a problem. Mr.W is not too fond of the idea, but I think we can make this work once we call it off. Opportunities are everywhere, it’d just whether you want to seize the moment or not. The power is always in your hands.



Update 9/27/17

Factors that has been affecting Effort to Relief Hurricane Damage and Puerto Rico Economic Growth: The Jones’s Act.

Here’s Why Puerto Rico Was Denied The Same Shipping Waiver As …

The Jones Act is a shipping law which, briefly, mandates that any shipping of people or cargo between two U.S. ports must be done with an American ship to avoid tax and tariff penalties. It was passed shortly after World War I to help sustain the American shipbuilding industry after devastating losses in the war

The Law Strangling Puerto Rico – The New York Times

Jones–Shafroth Act – Wikipedia

Is this 1917 law suffocating Puerto Rico’s economy? | PBS NewsHour

**My thing is this act goes away, maybe a few hundreds or thousand of US small business will go away. The biggest benefactors: CHINESE. This would probably not helping Puerto in the longterm as some might have thought.

Here is a super angry post of how Puerto Rico feels. Maybe this would help Puerto Rico become a true State.

After a Century of American Citizenship, Puerto Ricans Have Little to …


Are you considering buying in the Caribbean? Would you consider Puerto Rico? What do you think about the housing market there, do you think it’s continue to deteriorate?


  1. I considered (and researched) Antigua several years ago but kept coming back to the issue of cost to rebuild following a hurricane and lost income until tourism rebounded.

    On PR, I’ve visited but unless BK is available I’m afraid the problems will only worsen. Consider the unemployment and crime rates for starters. Costs for imported staples is a little higher. If no BK available the economy will be in limbo for years and our president has stated no bail out will be provided. I’m always happy to visit but would invest elsewhere.

    • Ability to file for bankruptcy is a HUGE thing. I agree with you 100% on this.

      As far as crime rate goes. I feel like Condado, and Old San Juan, gated community, sky rise condos are okay. Tourist areas is pretty good.

      People on the island are genuinely nice. I haven’t been scammed, robbed or intimidated by the Puerto Rican. I like it more each time I visit.

      If I’m the governor of Puerto Rico:
      1. School would be taught in English – That empowered people to have access to more book in English. Make “international school” from School for the Elite to School for everyone. Now that people can speak English, they can go to the States and work or travel as they please.
      2. Make incentive for Young US school teachers to come and change it. Like Louisiana for New Orleans or Michigan did for Detroit.
      3. Make more vocational colleges and would be taught in English. Invite American to come to go to school here. Make Puerto Rico to be the education hub for vocational school. So many skilled workers has left the Island.
      4. Import raw materials, and make use of empty buildings, creating the middle class again. Once more time, as it would be cheaper to ship from Puerto Rico to the sister islands than from China. 100%!!

      The rest will follow through. People follow the money. LOL 🙂

      Puerto Rican are Americans. Americans are resilient. I’m sure Puerto Rico will recover from the slump.

      The question is, where is the bottom? Can I find my ideal beach front property in town for cheap? hehehe I can just dream. Otherwise, I do what you do, spend the money and visit.

  2. I’m on the fence on investing in Puerto Rico with unemployment and crime as they are right now. The foreseeable future of the economy is uncertain…to be generous. Where can I find more updated info?

    • I’ve been searching on Zillow, nothing is “cheap”, like in the prime area like Old San Juan and Condado. On top of that, it seems like the price has gone up or steadily higher.

      Maybe the Puerto Rican are richer than what you think.

      The new report 2 days ago that Puerto Rico is closing ~ 300 schools. As the schools are only filling up 60% capacity.

      People has fled to the US mainland for jobs. Leaving behind “family home”. They have money so they don’t need to sell these “family homes” for $50K – $500K. Just saying!

      Taxes and austerity measure need to be implemented. Some sort of State-hood might help the territory, but just looking at the pure perspective of retirement place – near water, warm weather, relatively cheap real estate, choose to live where Americans are living, … 60 mins flight from US mainland. All the perks… Puerto Rico is still really ideal place to be in.

      I’d take Puerto Rico over USVI.

      I have no clue where to find new info on Puerto Rico. I might update this article from time to time.

      But I was looking at a 4000 sqft house in the Midwest and almost pull the trigger for $60K hhahah… before my brother calling “stupid” once more time.. hahha 🙂

      • Yes, just saw the thing about the 300 schools. Sounds like and awfully lot of schools…I wonder what’s gonna happen with all the buildings. Please keep us updated if you find anything else! Thank you.

  3. Hi! Thank you for this article. I am considering a get way tropical location as well so everything written has been resonating with me. if anyone has an update, I am curious. Slow to pull the trigger on PR but it is very tempting.

  4. If you get connected with a good local Realtor there are great opportunities to take. I purchased a house Feb 2018, a SFR in a gated community in a town called Hatillo PR. This was a foreclosure, paid $115k. It is 1,600 sq ft, 4bed 2.5 bath. I put about $20k on cosmetic improvements and it looks like new. The complex had direct access to the ocean. The complex is well maintain with a swimming pool, tennis court and basketball court. It is close some of the most beautiful beaches in PR. Close to stores, movie theaters, malls and only 1hr 15 min from San Juan. Don’t wait too long, like in the US on 2008, the RE market will recover an you all will be regretting not taking the chance.
    In regard to the crime, you have a higher chance to get kill or robbed in Loa Angeles than in PR. Stop watching the news, everything is overblown and is making American paranoid. The Puertorican people are one of the most welcoming people you can ever meet, they make you feel at home. Go visit and make your own mind. Take care and happy house hunting

  5. Market is great for buyers. As regretfully is for some homeowners, after October, when the moratorium giving on foreclosures due to HMaria, ended. 2019 will be the perfect time to buy.

    Also, Laws 20 and 22 have become more flexible for US investors moving to the Island.

    Puerto Rico’s Act 22 gives you a zero percent tax rate on capital gains on assets acquired after you move to Puerto Rico.

    Puerto Rico’s Act 20 gives you a 4% corporate tax rate on any Puerto Rico sourced business income earned inside an Act 20 company. Puerto Rico sourced business income is earnings and profits from work performed in the territory.

    I do have exclusive listings on resale and reo properties. Rincon, Isabela, Luquillo, Fajardo, Loiza and Rio Grande are great second home and short term rental spots ($1000 to $3000 a month for str, depending on season). Dont limit yourself to San Juan and Isla Verde, which are more costly.

    Property Tax regularly costs from $800-$1200 a year for most properties.
    Criminality is limited to some metro areas.
    HOA may go from $80 to $160.00 in walk ups
    There are great properties administrators at 10-20% of rental fee.

    It’s a feasible opportunity: for long, short term rentals and second homes; and best of all, you can get these properties with conventional loans, including FNMA and FreddieMac, as they are available in PR!!!

    Best of lucks!

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