Experience-based advice on navigating the island of riches
You have landed in San Juan, with a suitcase (okay, BlockWallet) full of money. You smell the opportunity in the humid air entering through the doors. Scenic houses, perfect beaches and exotic people from all over. A 6 month vacation, financially justified by the dramatic savings in federal income tax.
Mountains and warm beaches in the New York time zone? Unheard of.
But wait… do you know how where to find that property, or a realtor competent enough to sell it to you? Do you know where to get a car? Can you feed yourself? If this is your first time at SJU, chances are you won’t be getting out of the airport without some knowhow and a PCR test.
You cannot buy ANY food after 8pm (9 in San Juan), the rental car outlets have week stretches without a single available vehicle, realtors exist only for the seller, Zillow information is worthless, and spoiler alert, that bribery thing that got you by in Mexico won’t work here. Oh and keep your mask handy because they have a stronger than expected stigma about that.
None of these things stopped me from falling in love with the California-ish west coast including Rincon, the New Orleans-ish southern coastal city of Ponce (pronounced pon-si), the beautiful and untouched mountains near Utado, or the up-and-coming east coast from San Juan to Luquillo to Las Palmas. YES, there is more here than Dorado! It is basically a micro-mainland in terms of locale-culture.
Lets cover a few quick things:
For real estate, follow Diane Cohn. Her article is 7 years old as of this writing but is still right on. Things do not change quickly in the tropics.
For taxation, make sure you know what you stand to gain by making the move. You will need to spend 5 months and 1 day on-island, and a maximum of 1 additional month internationally, plus buy a property within 2 years to take advantage of ACT-22.
In my case, any capital gains would now be taxed at a total-tax rate of 4% and income would be taxed at a new total-tax rate of 14%. Not bad! But again, unless you are a very stealthy sailor, you will be on that island for a minimum of 5 months kicking it with Jake Paul, Joel Comm and the other self-exiled millionaires.
Where are things going?
My guess is that tourist attractions and entertainment will develop in the mountains and cities like Ponce. Many people will want entertainment and supply will rise to meet the occasion.
Real estate will become more scarce as there isn’t any construction happening right now.
Then again, the potential for PR to become a state in a few years does put a pivot risk on the tax situation, so be ever agile and let your life plans never be so concrete as an island casa.
More coming soon!