Puerto Rico is located in the heart of the Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and roughly 1,000 miles from Miami, Florida. As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico rates as a convenient and very attractive retirement destination for many mainland Americans. While the island offers a unique culture and a tropical climate unmatched on the mainland, it also feels like home to most American visitors. Travel between the mainland and Puerto Rico is no different than traveling between any two U.S. states, as no passports or immigration papers are required. While Puerto Rico operates under its own legal system, the U.S. Constitution and most federal laws apply on the island, just like any U.S. state.
If you're looking for a tropical retirement destination without the hassle and expense that come with emigration to a foreign country, Puerto Rico is well worth a close look. While it's important to visit Puerto Rico to judge for yourself, a handful of cities stand out as top retirement destinations.
Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, is the island's largest city, with 400,000 residents as of the most recent census in 2011. It is located on the northeast coast of the island. While big-city life in San Juan is not for everyone, it should appeal to retirees looking for easy access to entertainment venues, good nightlife options, excellent restaurants, shopping and all the other things a bustling city has to offer. While some areas of the city are less safe than others, there are plenty of good living options in the San Juan center and in outlying neighborhoods.
Rincón, on the western coast of Puerto Rico, is widely known as the island's top surfing destination. You don't have to surf, however, to enjoy the relaxed beach town atmosphere and the tasteful beach houses at the shore's edge. The town features excellent restaurants and other conveniences built up to serve the regular stream of tourists looking for the perfect wave.
Humacao, on Puerto Rico's eastern coastline, is home to Palmas del Mar, the largest luxury resort on the island. While villas at the resort are available to purchase, the greater Humacao area has plenty of other housing options. Palmas del Mar boasts two world-class golf courses, 20 tennis courts, a spa, a marina, an equestrian center, a casino and a wide variety of dining options.
Cayey is in the mountains of central Puerto Rico at an elevation of nearly 1,500 feet, making it a great option for retirees seeking the cool mountain air. Temperatures typically range between 70 and 88 degrees in the summer and between 57 and 72 degrees in the winter. The 6,000-acre Carite Forest Reserve, known for its dwarf forest and excellent bird watching, is nearby. Cayey is also home to a branch of the University of Puerto Rico.
Ponce, Puerto Rico's second-largest city, is on the island's central southern coast. The city boasts a variety of cultural attractions, including music, art, history and anthropological museums, historic colonial buildings, and annual festivals throughout the year. Ponce is a good option for those who need easy access to quality health care options; there are four hospitals in the city, in addition to a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic.
Fajardo is on Puerto Rico's eastern coastline, north of Humacao. The city is renowned as the island's recreational boating capital, boasting one of the largest marinas in the Caribbean. If you're a boat owner or if you're interested in leasing a boat locally, there's no better city in Puerto Rico to call home. Fajardo is also home to miles of pristine beaches with some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving on the island.