7 Best Places to Live in Puerto Rico and 3 Places to Avoid
Puerto Rico is a beautiful tropical location with an easygoing atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and tropical fruit available year-round, making it a great place to live.
Since 1917, Puerto Rico has been a part of the United States, making all its residents United States citizens. While free travel between the island and the mainland of the US was not open before that time, Americans have been moving to Puerto Rico to enjoy the island lifestyle ever since.
If you, like many, are thinking about relocating to Puerto Rico to enjoy some of its many benefits, make sure you know the seven best places to live in Puerto Rico as well as the three places to avoid. To learn more, continue reading below.
- Puerto Rico is a tropical island that boasts island lifestyles, warm, humid weather, tropical fruits, and beautiful beaches.
- The overall best place to live in Puerto Rico is Dorado.
- San Juan is the busiest, biggest, and most walkable city in Puerto Rico.
- Rio Mar is the second-most walkable city in Puerto Rico.
- Bucana Barrio is the safest and smallest city in Puerto Rico.
- Puerto Rico became part of the United States in 1917, allowing for open travel between the two places.
- Puerto Rico has an overall population of 3.2 million. This population has declined by 4.6% in one year.
- The median property value in Puerto Rico is around $110,800, making it a generally affordable place to purchase residential property.
- The median household income in Puerto Rico is roughly $20,000 per year.
- The Perla, Puerto Rico, is one of the more dangerous neighborhoods on the island.
The Most Favorable Areas to Live in Puerto Rico
While there are many beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico as well as both large and small cities, there are seven main areas that are the best for those moving directly from the United States. From great affordability and safety to bustling nightlife and art scenes, these cities are some of the best that Puerto Rico has to offer.
1. The City of Dorado, Puerto Rico
You may have heard of San Juan, Puerto Rico, but have you ever asked yourself what is the safest city in Puerto Rico? If so, Dorado might be one of your answers. Only 25 miles away from the big city of San Juan, Dorado is another large city that boasts some of the safest neighborhoods in Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, due to its high level of desire from expats moving to Puerto Rico, Dorado is a relatively expensive city. While not the most expensive on our list, the price is worth it as it comes with a guarantee of a safe neighborhood and large, luxurious estates.
Driving West out of San Juan, you will start to notice many suburban-style homes with large gates, guards, and even quite a few gated communities. This is the first sign of the safety that surrounds the city of Dorado.
Within Durado, there exists higher wealth than in other Puerto Rican cities, while poverty there is low. This is partially what leads to some of Puerto Rico’s lowest crime rates and highest levels of safety.
Dorado is an extremely liveable area because of its many points of beach access, ample shopping, and various additional amenities. It is very amenable to Americans coming to the island lifestyle for the first time and offers many beautiful natural areas, including walking paths and bike paths.
If you are asking yourself, Where do the wealthy live in Puerto Rico? The answer is Dorado due to the wonderful standard of living it offers.
Dorado has a great walkability rating that includes pedestrian-only pavilions, some bike lanes, and easy beach access year-round. While it is 25 miles away from San Juan, it offers walkable shops and nightlife that can be easily reached from its various gated community entrances.
The general crime rate in Dorado, Puerto Rico, is exceptionally low. With some of the lowest drug occurrences on the island and lower poverty, the theft rate is far below average when it comes to stolen cars and home break-ins.
Due to the moderate cost of living in Dorado, there are many Americans that have chosen to make the city their new home. With many American-style restaurants and several English-speaking schools, Dorado is a great place to get in touch with your large fellow expat community.
2. Nice and Relaxing Rio Mar, Puerto Rico
Are you wondering, what is the nice neighborhood in Puerto Rico? Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, is the second-best place to live in Puerto Rico on our list because it is so calm and quiet. Only 30 minutes from San Juan, you will feel like you have been transported to a tropical oasis.
Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, is one of the more affordable locations on our list because it boasts less nightlife and partying than other cities. This lowers the cost of living and allows it to be affordable to those looking for a quiet island lifestyle on a budget.
Rio Mar is a very safe place to live because it is considered a sleepy town. Since it is very close to El Yunque National Forest, there are fewer ways to enter and exit the town, making for a calm atmosphere and safe locale.
The liveability in Rio Mar depends mostly on the type of lifestyle you are seeking. If you are looking for a party town with a variety of bars that never close, Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, may not be the place for you.
If you are, on the other hand, looking for a chill place of beauty with some bars, restaurants, and entertainment, then Rio Mar might be the best place to live in Puerto Rico for your needs.
Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, is very walkable due to its high amount of walking trails and sidewalks. From the lush residential areas, you can walk to the shops, to restaurants, and even to the trailheads of the stunning National Park.
Due to its sleepy nature, the crime rate in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, is low. With one of the lowest crime rates on the entire island, Rio Mar has little drug use and almost no theft.
This is great for residents who prefer a more laid-back lifestyle without worry or the hustle and bustle of a bigger city with a higher rate of crime.
Where do expats live in Puerto Rico? They tend to live in Rio Mar. While there are few English-speaking schools in Rio Mar, the expat community in Rio Mar is quite large.
With Americans flocking to the green, vibrant properties overflowing with natural beauty, it will be easy to make expat friends in Rio Mar while living your new island lifestyle.
3. Puerto Rico’s Capital: San Juan
The third best place to live in Puerto Rico is San Juan. This beautiful capital city is one of the most vibrant, bustling, and energetic cities in all of Puerto Rico. With bars, nightlife, and tourism booming, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the perfect place to live for those seeking fun and excitement.
While you can find affordable living in San Juan, chances are that the accommodations will look closer to apartments or be smaller than homes and residencies outside of the large municipality.
Since many expats come to San Juan, the prices are competitive, especially to those who are not considered locals.
San Juan is a safe city to visit and live in, especially during the day. While cities always pose a slightly higher rate of crime than smaller and more idyllic towns, San Juan has only a moderate crime rate, with occurrences that tend to happen only after dark.
Are there bad areas of Puerto Rico? Yes, and one of them is a specific San Juan neighborhood. However, the safest neighborhoods in San Juan, Puerto Rico, include:
- Ocean Park
San Juan offers a great fast-paced style of living. It has almost any modern convenience that one can desire, including theatres, bars, nightlife, restaurants, music, shopping, exercise, and more.
With many options for housing, including lofts, condos, apartments, and single-story homes, there is something for everyone in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The many options for entertainment and leisure make San Juan, Puerto Rico, the most walkable city on our list of the seven best places to live in Puerto Rico.
The crime rate for San Juan, Puerto Rico, is moderate. Due to the big city’s large population, there are higher rates of poverty, drug use, and theft. San Juan, however, is largely a tourist town that is thankfully not commonly known for kidnappings.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, has one of the largest expat communities on our list despite its moderate crime rate. This is because it is the capital of San Juan and offers many amenities and English-speaking schools.
4. Isla Verde, Puerto Rico’s Beautiful Beaches
Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, is considered to have some of the most glorious beaches in the world. With clear, blue water and clean sand, it is no wonder that Isla Verda, which translates to ‘green island,’ is so popular among tourists and expats alike.
Isla Verge is only moderately affordable when it comes to purchasing land. While large acreages tend to be more expensive, the cost of owning property in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, comes mostly from the desirability of its pristine beaches.
Isla Verde is a relatively safe place to live when considering relocation to Puerto Rico. Safer than San Juan and slightly less safe than Dorado, Isla Verde is a quiet beach town that has its share of gated communities and well-lit streets.
The best part about living in Isla Verde is the water. Whether choosing a home with an ocean view or living directly beachside, the water is what draws people to Isla Verde from near and far and makes living there such a treat.
While there are fewer shops, restaurants, bars, and art galleries in Isla Verde than in many other Puerto Rican cities, it is still considered quite walkable. Beach pathways and sidewalks offer safe and reliable walking to grocery stores and areas of interest.
What is the safest city in Puerto Rico? Isla Verde is one of them. Since the city is less bustling and has fewer residents, it helps ensure theft and drug use rates are very low. The highest source of crime in Isla Verde includes vandalism of private property, and even this is seldom.
There is not a large expat community in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, but some can be found there enjoying the pristine and clear waters. Expat community gatherings sometimes occur in Isla Verde in the form of beach picnics and parties with the other locals.
5. The Quaint Bucana Barrio, Puerto Rico
Bucana Barrio is very small, with a population of only 3,000 people. This makes it both very quiet and calm, as well as a wonderful place to either come to retire or raise a young family. With the low cost of living and many employment opportunities, Bucana Barrio is an expat’s dream come true.
Living in Bucana Barrio is very affordable. This is due to its small-town atmosphere and very rural-feeling lifestyle. With full-family homes sitting at the lower end of the spectrum, it makes living on an island affordable for almost anyone.
What is the safest city in Puerto Rico? Bucana Barrio is considered to be in Puerto Rico’s top 7. This is part of what led this quaint place to appear on our list.
Since there are so few people that live in the area, there is no reason for an outsider to come and create trouble. There are few vagrants and nearly no drug use.
Bucana Barrio is liable for those who enjoy solitude. While safe and affordable, this Puerto Rican paradise can sometimes feel lacking in bars, restaurants, and excitement. The best thing to do in Bucana Barrio is sit back with a beverage in hand and enjoy the serene beauty and tropical weather.
Walkability is a bit of an issue in Bucana Barrio, Puerto Rico since there are not many places available to walk to. There are ample sidewalks and paths, although they are seldom used except for strolls and exercise. They aren’t ideal for anyone looking to get around within a specific timeframe.
The crime rate in Bucana Barrio is exceptionally low. It is patrolled by safety guards, and the few residents that do live there keep a close-knit community that engages in regular meetings and a neighborhood watch program.
There is a small expat community in Bucana Barrio due to its size. While perfect for retiring or raising children on a thrifty budget, those looking for a large expat community should seek an area with a larger population.
6. Cayey, Puerto Rico’s Mild Weather
Cayey, Puerto Rico, is number 6 when it comes to the best places to live in Puerto Rico. This is partially due to its mild weather and its proximity to the beautiful Carite Forest Reserve. Cayey, Puerto Rico, is perfect for anyone who loves spending ample time in nature.
If you are asking yourself, where do the wealthy live in Puerto Rico? The answer is Cayey. That is due to its exceptionally mild weather compared to the rest of the territory – and it’s loved by wealthy expats.
Cayey is safe because it borders a forest reserve. This forest reserve separated Cayey, Puerto Rico, from many main roads that would otherwise invite vagrants to pass by. The streets are well-lit at night, and a neighborhood watch looks over the town whenever possible.
Cayey, Puerto Rico, is number 6 on the list of the 7 best places to live in Puerto Rico because it is known for offering a high quality of life. With excellent nearby hiking trails and cooler weather, it is often a great relief from the otherwise hot and humid climates of Puerto Rico.
When it comes to shops, grocery stores, and restaurants, Cayey is not the most walkable place to live. It is on an elevation of 1500 feet and is the perfect walking town for those who love to stroll through forested green areas.
The crime rate in Cayey, Puerto Rico, is low due in part to the relatively small population. There are not many people that pass through this calm town, and the only crime typically witnessed is minor theft or vandalism.
Where do expats live in Puerto Rico? They tend to live in places like Cayey. Since many Americans are not used to the hot and humid tropics of Puerto Rico. Thankfully, they can find a welcome reprieve from the extreme weather conditions in this lovely little mountainous place.
7. The Vibrant Ponce, Puerto Rico
What is the nice neighborhood in Puerto Rico? Ponce makes the list of the seven best places to live in Puerto Rico. Located on the central southern coast, it is considered a beloved historical center of Puerto Rico.
Because it has so much going on, Ponce is only moderately affordable. Most of the housing available is only for rent and consists of apartments and condos. The bright side is that all of the buildings boast historic charm and elegance.
Ponce, Puerto Rico, is a safe place to live most of the year. With paved roads and sidewalks as well as 24/7 security in the main plazas, many residents choose to walk the city in the daytime and at night.
Live music, culture exhibitions, and a dazzling art scene make Ponce, Puerto Rico, very liveable and lands it as number 7 on our best places to live in Puerto Rico list. Catch a live local band, check out the art galleries, and peruse the museums on your weekends.
Ponce, Puerto Rico, is rated highly walkable because of the many bars and restaurants that exist alongside galleries and museums. While not as many as in larger metropolitan areas, there are paved sidewalks and pedestrian pathways to get to most places.
The crime rate in Ponce, Puerto Rico, is moderate. There is common theft during the high tourist seasons and during times of large festivals. In addition, there is occasionally minor vandalism to homes or cars.
There is a small expat community in Ponce, Puerto Rico, most of the year. However, this changes during cultural events and festivals when part-time expat residents from larger cities like San Juan take extended stays in Ponce.
Places in Puerto Rico to Avoid Living
Whenever moving to a new place, it is important to understand the neighborhoods to avoid. What are the bad areas of Puerto Rico? Make sure you don’t go out of your way to visit the La Perla or Louis Lloren Torres neighborhoods in San Juan and make sure to only see Santruce during the day.
1. Skip La Perla, Puerto Rico
La Perla, Puerto Rico, is next to Old City and is considered the most dangerous part of the territory. Consider avoiding it both during the day and at night due to its high levels of gang violence, kidnappings, theft, and gun violence.
2. San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Louis Lloren Torres
While San Juan, Puerto Rico, is typically pretty safe, try to avoid the neighborhood of Louis Lloren Torres. This neighborhood is infamous for gang wars and recreational drug trafficking. Carjacking is also high in Louis Lloren Torres.
3. Visit Santurce, Puerto Rico During Daylight
What are the bad areas of Puerto Rico? Santurce, Puerto Rico, can be a nice area to visit during the day; at night, it is less safe. After dark, Santurce is considered a bad area by some due to the drug use and rowdy homeless population.
Updated for 2023
As of 2023, Puerto Rico has a crime index of 61.82, making it one of the top 25 most criminal destinations in the world. Statistics show the crime rate increased over the past three years. For comparison, the United States has a crime index of 49.11 in 2023, though it’s also experienced a high increase in the recent past.
However, staying aware of your surroundings and picking a quality location from the list above can help you stay safe if you move to Puerto Rico. There are also several benefits to moving.
Since Puerto Rico is a United States territory, it’s not difficult to plan your international move. You don’t need to have a visa or work permit to stay there; just show your US driver’s license or government-issued ID. You’ll want to consider hiring international movers if you’re taking a lot of belongings and furniture, though.
You can even use your Medicare card in Puerto Rico since it’s part of the United States. However, you can get private insurance for a much lower rate than in the US, with lower co-pays for the same quality of care.
The cost of living is lower than you’d encounter in many states, especially if you purchase a home. There are tax benefits to owning property in Puerto Rico, so use the information above to make an informed decision about where to settle when you move to this land of sunshine and fresh starts.
Puerto Rico is a wonderful place to live with a vibrant culture, exciting nightlife, amazing food, and serene beaches.
With affordable living, typically great real estate prices, accessible walkability, options for safe neighborhoods, and a thriving expat community, it is a great place to relocate to.
Live in a beautiful part of Puerto Rico or see any places we missed? Let us know in the comments below.