As in many Spanish influenced countries, time is organized differently from the United States but not always. Consequently, the idea of “on-time” or late varies with the situation. Sometimes the US idea of “on-time” is in effect and other times arriving late is actually “on-time.” If you go to the doctor for an appointment, it could be an all-day affair. However, sometimes the doctor follows a more specific time schedule. Social time is usually delayed time so that being an hour late to a party is probably on time. The entire idea of time can be deeply frustrating if you are not flexible about your schedule. Waiting in line at the grocery store, mall, bank, etc. can be frustrating because sometimes the line just stops moving (or creeping forward!) and people continue to wait patiently or just give up to come back another time. Also, it seems as if everyone who knows someone is allowed to take cuts!
Driving in Puerto Rico is another adjustment. The official rules are the same as the US but in practice, they differ. For example, right of way seems to be determined by the most assertive driver, the use of turn signals is sporadic and red lights are just a suggestion. Be careful. Everyone is required to have Puerto Rican insurance but that does not cover all accidents. If you are a pedestrian, you should know that all drivers will not always yield for you at crosswalks. Yet sometimes, drivers are incredibly patient and will wait for an extraordinary amount of time for someone to cross, drop off a passenger, or move a stalled vehicle. Speaking of accidents, US medical insurance will probably work in Puerto Rico but check with your company to be sure.
I came to Puerto Rico with the intention to integrate into this culture, appreciate the people and thrive in the lush environment. I attempt to improve my Spanish through daily interactions, take weekly painting classes in Old San Juan and walk along the beach every day. It’s an ideal setting for those who can adjust to the bumps along the way. Yes, it’s true that the cost of living is high but housing is relatively inexpensive. If you like eating out, you should expect to pay more than in the US because much of the food is imported. You have to be careful because certain crimes occur more often here than in the US but on the other hand others occur less frequently. I see my life here as intentionally balanced-out. I know that it’s not for everyone but I love living with Puerto Ricans on the “Enchanted Island” and would never want to live in a false Disney paradise.