If you're considering retiring in Puerto Rico, take time to explore some of the cities and towns that dot this small but diverse island before deciding where to settle. Its best communities have a relaxed vibe, a safe environment, plenty of restaurants and stores, convenient services, good medical care and a variety of housing possibilities. (For more on planning retirement in Puerto Rico, see Retire in Puerto Rico with $200,000 of Savings, Plan Your Retirement Abroad and What Does Retirement Abroad Cost?)
Here's a sampler of the options:San Juan
The sprawling city of San Juan has many appealing neighborhoods, and some you can't set foot in safely. If you have no objection to tourists, try Old San Juan for its lovely Spanish architecture and narrow cobbled streets. Miramar is an upscale residential enclave that boasts two marinas. Condado, an exemplar of chic in the Jazz Age, is experiencing its latest revival. Ocean Park claims the prettiest beach in San Juan and has many suburban-style homes along tree-lined streets.Guaynabo
Often lumped in with San Juan, the adjacent seaside city of Guaynabo was the site of Puerto Rico's first Spanish colony, settled in 1508 and governed by Juan Ponce de Leon. It is now known for its good shops and restaurants, modern medical facilities and gated communities. A bonus for residents is the many festivals staged there year-round.Palmas del Mar
On the east coast of Puerto Rico, Palmas del Mar has become a favorite among those relocating from the U.S. mainland. It actually is part of the city of Humacao, but has earned a reputation as a destination in its own right among tourists as well as residents. This giant gated resort community encompasses two golf courses, tennis courts and a riding center, not to mention a wide choice of ocean-front homes.Mayaguez
Among the towns straggling along Puerto Rico's west coast, Mayaguez and the smaller towns of Rincón and Cabo Rojo all are attractive options. If you're looking for a more relaxed environment, beach-front living and an eco-friendly lifestyle, you can find it here.Cayey
Substantially lower home prices and a cooler climate can be found less than 40 miles from San Juan in Cayey, a small city in the central mountains of Puerto Rico. Surrounded by tobacco fields, sugar plantations and chicken farms, Cayey boasts a small college and a branch of the University of Puerto Rico.Culebra
If you want country living in a tropical paradise setting, try Culebra, an island 17 miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland and 12 miles west of St. Thomas. Most of the island and the islets that surround it have been designated as a nature preserve and are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, while most of the 2,000 human inhabitants live in the capital, Dewey. A twice-daily ferry service and a small airport provide access to the rest of the world.The Bottom Line
If you crave big-city life, San Juan is your only choice in Puerto Rico, and there are plenty of attractive options within the urban sprawl. Elsewhere on the island, you'll find many small but livable towns and resort communities. You don't have to worry about being too isolated: The whole island is only 100 miles across by about 35 miles wide.
For more, see 4 Tips for Retiring in Puerto Rico. You may also want to look at The World's Lowest Cost of Living for Retirement.
For other Latino retirement destinations abroad to consider (some less expensive than Puerto Rico), see Retire in Colombia With $200,000 of Savings? 4 Reasons Why Americans Retire in Colombia, What Does It Cost to Retire in Ecuador? and 4 Reasons Why Americans Retire in Ecuador