One of the first things I tend to think of when I’m writing these blog posts (Monday is the new Sunday for my writing schedule fyi) is where am I? This past year I’ve been traveling so much that an extended period in one city (or even country) has been rare. It feels strange to be here in San Juan with no trips planned (outside of Christmas in Michigan) for the rest of the year, but I’m really liking it. With a few months left I’m sure I’ll inevitably go somewhere, but there isn’t an internal need to constantly be in motion. It probably helps that some of my family and friends have trips planned to visit though.
I’ve been thinking more about community lately. I never felt at home growing up in small-town Michigan, I always felt like I was a small fish in a small pond. There was some semblance of a community, but I didn’t care about it. I wanted to grow, and I knew that involved me moving somewhere else with more going on.
I have always had strong opinions about where to live (of course completely changing my mind later), and had pretty good success influencing people to move to these places (for better and worse). The two cities where I spent most of my adult years have been Chicago and Los Angeles. Although I helped friends to move to these places, I always had one foot out of the door, ready to take off the moment different opportunities came up.
I can’t say I’m going to permanently settle down here in Puerto Rico, but for the indefinite time being it’s really good. It’s like a long-term relationship: not everything is perfect all of the time, but after some life experience you can realize it’s really good overall, and to change would only be different, not better. Things can change here quickly with potential hurricanes and backlash from the recent bankruptcy, but I’m optimistic.
With that disclaimer I would love to get more of my friends living here! If you read this that most likely means you haha. Here are my main selling points:
- (US citizens) Act 22: No capital gains tax, and a flat 5% tax on normal wages! It does require a $5,000 a year local charitable donation, and some money plus paperwork to get setup, but after that you no longer have to file a US Federal Income tax return as long as you live here half the year (and it can be even less if you want to work the system).
- It is not cheap like Mexico (a lot of people have this idea of Mexico because it’s Spanish speaking, but it’s very different), but the rentals are much cheaper than LA/Chicago/SF/NYC. You can get more bedrooms in a much nicer place for what you are currently paying, or a similar standard of living for 25% off or so. This is for San Juan only, the rest of the island is actually Mexico cheap.
- The people are extremely friendly, both the locals and expats. Little acts of kindness happen almost everyday that I try not to take for granted. The expat group is small, educated/successful, and inviting. It’s pretty integrated too, not a typical “us vs the locals” group that is the norm in other countries.
- Warm weather and great (warm water!) beaches plus hikes. I go in the water every week, I have no clue why I haven’t spent more time in the ocean during my life.
- “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi). This island is so malleable right now. This ties into my main thing about theme about community, but one year after the hurricane this island is rebuilding and can be rebuilt into anything.
At the risk of sounding cheesy going off my last point I really do think that San Juan can be sculpted into an even better place to live. Not through fake and whimsical ideas that some of the local crypto bros spout off after taking a bong hit, but through simply bringing more successful people here who would enjoy the things I listed above.
I personally meet new people almost every week who have moved here to primarily reduce/not pay income taxes. They’re mostly 30’s/40’s successful business couples (usually tech) who want to live off their investments. There’s also a lot of crypto/digital nomad people (I don’t consider myself part of that, but so clearly am) that come here, and I enjoy their entrepreneurial energy.
San Juan is big enough that you’re not stuck with the same 2 restaurants/nothing late-night/etc., but small enough that you can easily Uber everywhere, and run into people you met around town. I’m by no means a Bitcoin evangelist, although locals here are curious about it as a massive influx of crypto people moved here to skip taxes, and I’ve helped some people set-up accounts/educate them about what it is. The island is starting from scratch economically and structurally (bankruptcy plus hurricane), and the government/locals are on board to try new things.
I don’t know if the island is going to become some type of Cryptotopia, but I think it could be a haven for general entrepreneurship (that can be done remotely, which is a lot of businesses now).
Friends of mine (and other cool people who read this blog): I primarily would like you here selfishly for your company, but I would also enlist your help in re-shaping the island. It really just takes moving here and voting with your money. The organic food restaurants/specialty coffee/good gyms will thrive and continue to sprout up as we patronize them. People here also don’t know about different career paths they can take up if they are willing to grind. It’s hard to know something exists until you have role models/someone you know doing it successfully. I’ve helped locals who were into programming but stuck on what resources to learn specific topics/how to get remote work. Little things like giving practical business advice to locals will help bring the island up too.
We can hike/swim/train/work/build our net worth on a beautiful island with happy people. It’s also cheap and easy to get to South America, the east coast of the US, and from New York pretty much anywhere. Not to mention all of the islands here in the Caribbean…
That’s the end of my Puerto Rico marketing spiel. Lot of great people here, but would be that much better with more of my friends. If you can’t make the move you are always welcome to visit as you know!
With that I feel like an obligatory pic from a park on the island: