Retired couple in Puerto Rico retired Martin on a Day trip to Icacos Island
Retired, Nonnie & David in their garden near the rainforest.Right:
Martin on Icacos Island.

'winter home' or 'year round' retirement in Puerto Rico, USA.

While true that the cost of living in Puerto Rico is not as low as that of a third world country (there are no inexpensive maids, stateside food is quite high) but rents and property taxes are considerably lower, especially outside of San Juan. The tropical/semi tropical weather is fantastic. There is an ideal climate for everyone in the mountains, foothills and coastal plains of Puerto Rico AND NO PASSPORT IS NEEDED! There are no restrictions on American citizens owning property in Puerto Rico. Medicare is valid as well.

Climates in various towns in Puerto Rico

The mountain peaks surrounding the Jayuya valley
Jayuya. Elevation 440 Meters. surrounded by the Toro Negro Forest Reserve. DRNA. The nearby Lakes Matrullas & Guineo are the two highest lakes. Kayaking allowed. Nice camping facilities. Very cool nights. (6 endemic bird species)


Are you a 'snow bird'? then coastal is best. Can you tolerate 90 degrees in the coastal summer near the  beaches? If you want a winter retreat then your options should be closer to the beach..Did you like San Juan city life?   Do you need a particular type of friends.. hobbies etc...Do you want to find a party drinking crowd to socialize with? The condos at Rio Mar in the Rio Grande municipality offer a more social life.

Most importantly, is safety a big issue with you? PR is hardly a low crime island. Your safety depends upon your knowledge of local situations. SO earn what to do and what not.

A. If the ocean is an absolute priority you might want to spend a month in a highrise condo in Luquillo, with a rental car, to explore with.. 'Playa Azul' is by the sea and has a guard at the gate.. can walk to some things. great beach. just a little town but an easy drive to lots of things. ( Do NOT be fooled by false advertising and rent a condo in LOIZA. no, no!) In the hills above Luquillo you will find the best of all locations, cooler but with easy access to beaches.

B. Rincon on the far east end of PR has a lot of 'expats', big waves in the winter, a surfers paradise, has become gentrified and no longer inexpensive.

C. Old San Juan is great for walking and culture, no easy beach to get to.

D. Aibonito is the perfect climate ( in the mountains) but difficult to get to a beach, great, in fact terrific,  for gardening. Good health care, good shopping in nearby Cayey. Aibonito is probably the best choice for a mountain town.. second to that would be Adjuntas area, but more remote and not for older people.


All of these towns have surrounding areas with much higher elevations: (up to 4,000 ft.)
1. Aibonito... best climate, nicest town, reasonable access to San Juan. (1,982 ft.)
2. Barranquitas .. Also a 'get away' for San Juanjeros, (1,978 ft.),
3. Orocovis .. Reasonable access to San Juan (1,683 ft.)
4. Adjuntas.. great climate, nice town, easy access to Ponce. (1,647 ft.)
5. Jayuya... very remote, surrounded by forest no easy access to anywhere! (1,414 ft.)

Other good candidates: Cidra (1,388 ft.), Lares (1,047 ft.), Las Marias (955 ft.) and Utuado (466 ft.). and the city of Cayey (1,302 ft.)

Writes Angel: "Depending on location, you will also enjoy some, if not all, of the following advantages. The air is less likely to be polluted, as air currents will circulate air sooner at higher elevations than in a valley. Peace, quiet and privacy, very important for many retirees, yet within easy access to civilization (shopping, entertainment, airports, etc.). Dramatic views. From the central area, most any part of the island can be reached in a reasonably short time. Avoid overcrowded, overbuilt and over priced San Juan metropolitan area (and it's higher crime statistics)."

Life in Puerto Rico is most pleasant in the hills and mountains above the populated coastal areas, so that is what this page is about.

Surrounding the El Yunque Mountains: One of the most ideal areas east of San Juan is in the hills above Rio Grande, Luquillo and Fajardo and that is because of the easy access to San Juan on the new Expressway Route # 66 and easy access to beaches and boating. A little further east are the hills and mountains above Ceiba and Naguabo which are very beautiful as well.

In the Cordillera Central, above 1,000 feet elevation: Aibonito, Adjuntas, Baranquitas, Jayuya and Orocovis are cool, and surrounded by forest reserves. Maricao has the elevation as well but the town is nothing to speak of. There is no easy access to beaches from the central mountains. High in the mist-filled mountains of Puerto Rico, along the central cordillera west of the island’s center is a region of rich, volcanic soils and near perfect climate. The cool nights and warm sunny days are interrupted at times by afternoon showers. Las Marias and Lares are a bit lower. Aibonito and, Barranquitas are even higher and cooler but more highly populated ( & more expensive!) because they are closer to San Juan. Cayey is a city with more facilities and easier access.

Aibonito ( & Barranquitas). Towns with the highest elevation! Aibonito's main industry is chicken farming, followed by flowers, tobacco, coffee and cattle. The climate is considerably cooler than Puerto Rico's coastal towns. Aibonito is located at a relative high elevation (its main plaza is the highest in the island at 2,401 ft [731 m] above sea level), which makes its climate cooler than most of Puerto Rico's towns. Aibonito holds the record for the lowest temperature in Puerto Rico. That is 39 °F (4 °C) on March 9, 1917. It's proximity to San Juan makes Aibonito a weekend retreat for many San Juaneros ( along with Barranquitas). Climate in Aibonito. The first Catholic church in Aibonito was built in 1825. The name Aibonito comes from the Taino word 'Jatibonuco' which literally means 'Great People of the Sacred High Waters". Down the mountain ( on road#14) are the Coamo hot springs.)

Aibonito has a remarkably even temperature and less rain than the rain forest. Really the most ideal climate..

Adjuntas Adjuntas produces coffee, bananas, oranges and other fruits. Adjuntas is nicknamed "the Switzerland of Puerto Rico", because of its relatively chilly weather. Good highway connection down to Ponce and coastal areas. There is a lot going on in Adjuntas. Nearby Lago Garzas generates electricity. Good fishing of Largemouth bass, also bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, white catfish & Threadfin shad. Just south of Adjuntas. Access off # 518. Small hotel in Adjuntas 2 blocks from the plaza is a nice place to stay. Climate in Adjuntas. A little more about Adjuntas and Lake Matrullas.

Adjuntas has a greater varience in temperature ie. higher highs and lower lows.

Jayuya. Jayuya lies along the rugged northern border of Toro Negro Forest Reserve (7,000 acres include Puerto Rico's highest peak). . Long winding roads to coastal areas make the journey to Jayuya a tedious one. You will find the people of Jayuya more relaxed and friendly than those in the coastal areas. Between Jayuya and Orocovis one of Puerto Rico's highest lakes, Lago Matrullas offers very good fishing of largemouth bass, Bluegill sunfish & catfish. Access is off # 564 (#590).

Orocovis. “El Pueblo Corazón,” that is, The Town at the Heart of Puerto Rico is in the exact middle of Puerto Rico with easier access from San Juan that Jayuya or Adjuntas, yet still remote.  Bar Restaurant La Sombra ( famous for its unique sausage) is located on Rd. 156,  Km 2.8 on the road from Orocovis to Barranquitas.  Tel. 787-375-6846. Agriculture is the backbone of the area’s economy. The town was originally founded in 1825, deep in the heart of the Cordillera Central Mountains, in the region once ruled by a taíno chief, or cacique, known as Orocovix. To this day Orocovis continues to contribute to Puerto Rican culture. The folk art tradition of wood-carved saints, dating from the Spanish conquest can still be found in Orocovis. One of the foremost authorities on this art, Celestino Avilés, founded the Museo Orocoveño, known locally as the Museo de la Familia Avilés, where visitors can see his carvings. Celestino’s “santos” are unpainted wood-carved saints.

Cayey. The city has been actively growing since the 1990s. It has experienced significant growth in commerce, and many major retailers, such as Wal-Mart have opened stores in this city. A new coliseum and hospital facilities have also been built. The north south expressway goes right by it, easy access to San Juan. Unfortunately there are a lot of drugs and related problems in this small city, but not more than in the coastal areas. Climate in Cayey.

Coamo. why put Coamo here. It is very hot, not near a good beach but .... the hot springs are so rejuvenating for anyone with aching bones. The drive down rd #14 is straight to Coamo from Aibonito.

Writes Nancy: "When I was thinking about having a surgery in PR I had all the preliminary tests in Cayey at the hospital there. It is an excellent hospital as well as all the doctors and staff. I loved the climate there as well -- nice and cool. The highways to get there from San Juan as well as from Fajardo around the mountains away from San Juan was a nice easy ride, also. I even rented a car and drove it myself sometimes. Cayey has a TJ Maxx which I loved. I would not mind living in that climate, and I highly recommend the hospital. They gave me great service and even remembered me, but then why wouldn't they remember a gringa with red hair -- and, you know, my sweet smile!!! "

Writes Suzanne ( who lives in Jayuya on her coffee farm): Jayuya is nestled in the Cordillera Central mountain range, surrounded by the three highest peaks on the island - Cerro Punta, Cerro Tres Picachos, and Cerro Morales. It is known for its Taino Indian petroglyphs, old fashioned Jibaro traditions, and for the coffee grown there. With a population of only around 17,000, shopping, restaurants, and other resources are limited. But it's a friendly, pretty, and clean pueblo. People still ride horseback in Jayuya; flowers & fauna abound; and some of the roads can be downright scary. Small farms/fincas are everywhere, with housing ranging from modern & fancy to rural and "rustico". Land prices run the gamut from overpriced to cheap, but one has to be diligent to find a "clean" title. The weather is near perfect, with temperatures averaging 10 degrees lower than on the coastline. But be forewarned, Jayuya gets a lot of rain. Facebook page: Finca del Seto Coffee.

Lares. A city adorned with Spanish-era style churches and small downtown area stores, Lares is a breezy area that is about 1.5 hours from San Juan by car.

. Maricao is the second-least populous municipality of Puerto Rico and the town itself is hardly even worth visiting. I am amazed that the Catholic church has solid steel doors bolted from the inside!

Utuado. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries Utuado's population grew as coffee gained in importance and growers saw the need for high altitudes and mountainous terrain to produce the best coffee beans. People not only migrated from the Puerto Rican coastal towns but also from Ireland (Founder Sebastian de Morfi = Sebastian Murphy), Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands of Majorca and Minorca, all seeking the riches that coffee had to offer. Utuado has easy highway access to coastal PR and Arecibo shopping. Several very large lakes provide good fishing. Unfortunately there are a lot of drugs and related problems in the town itself. Climate in Utuado.

Coolest Mountain Cities & Towns in Puerto Rico.

Aibonito pop. 26,500. . .Density: 324.6 per sq km. . Elevation: 600 M. . . Per Capita Income: $7,000

Orocovis pop. 24,000. . .Density: 145.5 per sq km. . Elevation: 503 M. . . Per Capita Income: $4,637
Adjuntas pop. 19,150. . Density: 200 per sq km. . . .Elevation: 500 M. . . Per Capita Income: $4,975

Cayey pop. 47,370. . . . .Density: 364.3 per sq km. . Elevation: 400 M. . . Per Capita Income: $7,027
Cidra pop. 49,000. . . . . Density: 454.8 per sq km. . Elevation: 430 M. . . Per Capita Income: $7,877
Jayuya pop. 17,300. . . . Density: 169.6 per sq. km. .Elevation: 440 M. . . Per Capita Income: $5,156
Maricao pop. 6,300. . . . Density: 67.0 per sq km. . . . Elevation: 431 M. . . Per Capita Income: $5,224

Lares pop. 33,000. . . . . Density: 214.5 per sq km. . .Elevation: 335 M. . . Per Capita Income: $4,634
Las Marias pop. 10,000 ..Density . 88.0 per sq. km.....Elevation: 300 M . . , Per Capita Income. $5,066

Puerto Rico Relief map mpuntain towns
Relief map of Puerto Rico. The coastal blue areas indicate the areas possibly inundated by rising sea levels. The green indicates the mountains of Puerto Rico. .

Vieques and Culebra Islands
have a great number of retirees from North America and the most ideal beaches, but no mountains and very hot summers.


annual rainfall puerto rico mountain towns
Annual Rainfall, Puerto Rico

A word of caution! Inheritance laws are very different in Puerto Rico. Don't even think of buying land that does not have a clear title and make sure you purchase title insurance! Use a lawyer, but make sure you get the title insurance!

A friend writes: PR is an inheritance paradise, as there are no taxes upon death. None whatsoever. In the US you have to liquidate the estate in order to pay capital gains and other taxes. Here you don’t. Checking this I am not sure this is still true).

Upon death of one of one of the parents, the surviving parent inherits 50 % of the estate , and ALL the children the other 50 %.

But it is also true that if parents leave a will, and it is a legal will, parents can leave 1/3 of their estate to whomever they want (it is called tercio libre). This could include a favored child or an employee. One can get very creative down here.

If laws are followed, and a will in existence, there is no reason a estate can be settled in less than 6 months. I have seen it with both of my grandparents, both of whom left wills and relatively large estates.

Land for sale in Puerto Rico.

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