The Real Puerto Rico
Dispelling Misconceptions About America’s Next Great Tech Hub
Conflating Puerto Rico with Small Town Caribbean Destinations
When I first heard some of my friends were moving to Puerto Rico in 2016, I chalked it up to an early retirement type move. Having spent some time in different Caribbean islands, what came to mind was nice beach resorts, a super small town feel & traveling a far distance from any other major population center.
After visiting Puerto Rico I have found all my assumptions to be wrong.
A Fast Growing Puerto Rico Tech Scene
First, Puerto Rico is NOT a “small town” type jurisdiction, but rather home to over 3 Million people. In fact the San Juan metro area is pretty much on par with Austin, Texas in size at 2.6 Million residents. As soon as I landed, I was invited to multiple meet ups, dinners, events and parties every single night.
The caliber of the crypto community here is just astounding. Imagine moving to a place where every person there is motivated, dedicated and passionate about the freedom that open public blockchains bring the world. By definition those that moved to Puerto Rico the past 5 years passed the bar of being willing to relocate their lives in order to live out their beliefs.
Puerto Rico Is For Builders
Second, far from retiring, the people I know moving to Puerto Rico are executives and builders actively deploying new blockchain tech, starting companies and hiring talent locally. In fact Puerto Rico is the #1 place my friends who used to live in New York or California have moved. Even more than Austin or Miami. Most of the brain power that built out the blockchain industry the last decade has largely left New York & Silicon Valley for PR.
Not So Far or Different Than The US Mainland
Third, as for distance, unlike some of the further flights from the US mainland to the southern Caribbean, Puerto Rico is only a 2 hours & 30 minute flight from Miami. Making it an easy trip to Miami for conferences, meetings, or to grab an international flight to anywhere else in the world.
In fact when moving to Puerto Rico, you may not feel like you have left the main land at all. Every major brand you would look for in a major city is in Puerto Rico. Costco, Best Buy, IKEA, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Rooms To Go, every fast food brand, on and on. Moving into and equipping a new house in Puerto Rico feels the same as in Austin or Miami.
Quality of Life Gains
Forth, when considering moving to Puerto Rico many people presume they will be down grading their life style. What I’ve found is the opposite. Most of the suburbs 20 minutes out of San Juan are pretty affordable, clean, have tons of amenities, and are family friendly.
Moving To Puerto Rico & Why Everyone Else Will Follow
Within a week of visiting Puerto Rico it was obvious that moving here made a lot of sense and so that’s exactly what our family did.
Since PR is a US territory there was no visa to apply for. You can just show up, get a car, rent or buy a place to live, open an office and get going in a matter of days. After making the decision to move I called my business partners and all three came down to PR the next week and made the decision to move the week after. We opened an office and started hiring people the next week after that. My parents visited the next week and decided to move down the week after that.
That’s an amazing gravity well. It really reminds me of Austin 10 years ago. The friendly local policies for investors and businesses to move to Puerto Rico are pulling in the smartest and fastest moving entrepreneurs in the United States today and the network effect is starting to compound.
I’m proud to live & work in Puerto Rico and only wish I moved down earlier.
The Bigger Vision For The Future
Will San Juan grow into the next Austin or Miami? Yes. Without a doubt.
In fact, that’s easy, PR’s assent the next 10 years is already fully in motion. The real estate boom, the population growth, the businesses moving in is all coming.
I think the opportunity is actually bigger than that. Not being a US state is starting to act in Puerto Rico’s favor and as regulation, debt & taxes increase at the US Federal level, the advantages of Puerto Rico become even more pronounced, as Puerto Rico exists outside the US federal tax system.
The people in the United States need a place of freedom they can go to and build their lives in. That place is now Puerto Rico.
This is a new Hong Kong level opportunity.
Bonus Section - Spanish, Hurricanes & Power Oh My
A lot people presume because Puerto Rico is Spanish speaking they won’t be able to navigate day to day life. In reality I’ve found almost everyone is functionally bi-lingual and in the professional categories of Real Estate, Technology, Banking, Accounting, and Legal everyone speaks English very well. When filling out forms there are English versions or you can just pay a vendor to file your forms for utilities, licenses and so forth.
As for Hurricanes its certainly a reality in August, September, October each year. However having lived in Louisiana and Texas I’m pretty comfortable with that reality and I don’t buy property at less than 10 feet of elevation for that reason. And for power its just a matter of planning. The community I live in has a huge generator and fuel for 90 days and home owners can put in similar systems or use solar / batteries which are cheap and common in PR.
If hurricanes are a deal breaker for you and you have the flexibility. Just plan to spend three month time in the US or Europe each summer and return for the November to July season each year.
To Michael Terpin & David Namdar who showed me the real Puerto Rico.