Live Where Others Vacation
Written by Frank Lopez and Hector Vasquez and originally published in the February/March 2017 issue of La Isla Reader.
Why not live where others vacation?
Sounds like a dream to many. However, now more than ever, it is a reality attainable by not only the wealthy, but the common person as well. The Northwest of Puerto Rico is the ideal place to realize your dream of living in an eternal vacation. It is blessed with unsurpassed natural beauty, historical and cultural attractions, and some of the warmest and friendliest people on the planet. Northwest Puerto Rico, also known as the Porta del Sol area, is famous for its surfing beaches as it is home to an array of surf breaks that can accommodate all levels of experience or expertise. It has historically been a destination mostly frequented by worldwide visitors from the surfing community since the Surfing World Championships were held in Rincon in 1968. According to a study conducted by Duke University, the surf tourism industriy generates millions of dollars annually to the local economy. Nevertheless, there are beaches for all types of watersports and activities, which include kite surfing and Stand up Paddle Boarding, as well as fishing and diving.
Countless world class beaches are just the beginning. There are forests, rivers, waterfalls. There are offshore islands such as Mona and Desecheo, the former often referred to as “the Galapagos of the Atlantic”. There are historical sites, museums, sanctuaries, and retreats. There are horse and hiking trails, there is music, sports, festivals, dancing, and yes, there is the FOOD!
The Northwest of Puerto Rico is experiencing a gastronomical boom. Quality restaurants are being established at an astronomical rate. Culinary professionals from the island and abroad are arriving in the area with the hope of living where others vacation. There is an eclectic selection of eateries ranging from sidewalk huts to five star restaurants and serving everything from traditional Puerto Rican Food, known as “ Comida Criolla” to more specialized international flavors such, as Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Mediterranean, BBQ, and more. A great deal of these restaurants use locally and organically grown food products that one may also find at the numerous farmers’ markets throughout the area. Just recently, an article in the New York Times mentioned the Northwest of Puerto Rico as a must visit on everyone’s travel list, highlighting the astonishing beauty of the area and the excellence in culinary experience. The Northwest of Puerto Rico is unarguably a world class travel destination.
But enough with the romanticism! As a matter of practicality, the Porta del Sol zone counts with a very user friendly airport with direct flights from Newark, JFK, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale to the Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla (BQN). It is small enough to have only one gate and terminal, but has a runway that can accommodate the largest of planes. In fact, our runaway used to be able to hold B-52 bombers during the Cold War, and was also the fourth alternate landing runway for the fabled Space Shuttle.
Major roads facilitate travel between municipalities wherein you can then navigate through lush country roads or beach front boulevards. While your GPS may sometimes get confused, you can always count on a friendly local, eager to show you a safe passage to your destination.
The Porta del Sol area gives off an small town feel, a slower pace, a feel from the past with the advantages and access to modern necessities. There qualified professionals of all types, medical facilities, pharmacies, stores, and more. It is a place where modern professionalism blends with traditional values. A place with a strong sense of community and great respect for the environment.
The real estate closing process in Puerto Rico is somewhat similar to that in the continental United States, which is on average 30 to 45 days from escrow. There are professional and certified, inspectors, appraisers, surveyors available to buyers should they wish to require their services. There is even title insurance available. Property taxes are minimal in comparison to the United States, and in many cases, completely exempt from payment depending on the assessed value, as there are qualified exemptions that are available local residents and now to also to foreigners. There are tax incentives which have been created by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico such as Act 20 and 22.These program were created as an incentive to bring foreign investment to the island by way of allowing out of State residents to claim substantial tax bereaks back in their State of residence as long as they purchase a residential property in which they reside at least 183 days of the year. Should you not want to live full time in Puerto Rico, many properties in the NW are highly rentable on both short and long term basis, marketed through such sites as AirBnB.com, Homeaway.com and VRBO.com, among others. The advent of this business model has allowed for additional income to many vacation property owners seeking to mitigate carrying costs involved in maintaining and paying for their properties while they are not using them. Property management is offered by several Real Estate companies which are duly licensed to provide this service. It is highly recommended that you hire a licensed professional for these property management purposes, as it is required by law that they be licensed to do so.
Yoni Ben-Yosef, a New York resident and frequent visitor to the NW sums it best: “the processed seemed so easy, I couldn't believe it. What really pushed me over the edge was that it is a buyers market. I crunched some numbers and realized I could totally live in paradise. Fast forward a few months and I now am a proud owner of a charming little house in Isabela. The process was seamless, I have a harder timing calling the gym to cancel my membership”. Another newcomer to our island is Daniel Anton, a New Jersey native who moved here recently with his wife Allison, chasing that Caribbean life dream while enjoying excellent tax benefits. Dan is an Act 22 recipient and states: “Act 22 provides me with a unique opportunity to receive tax exempt status on passive income obtained from investments. This has allowed me to maximize my profit gains while simultaneously reinvesting in Puerto Rico by way of real estate. Its has been a win/win proposition for me as well as the local economy because I have a much larger pool of disposable income at my fingertips, so I can continue to hire local contractors for my new ventures as they come along”. Dan and Allison recently purchased a beautiful home in Borinquen ward overlooking the Aguadilla bay and have easily transitioned into becoming active members of our local community.
Puerto Rico has made news recently in regards to its’ floundering economy and financial hard times. Even though the published news may seem alarming to most, some of the mass hysteria is certainly unwarranted. Real estate prices have certainly dipped across the island, but the local area, particularly Aguadilla and Isabela, have remained at worst, flat lined, in relation to property values for the rest of the island. Buoyed by the presence of various multinational corporations such as Hewlett Packard, Honeywell and Lufthansa, this area has a varied cross section of industries business interests that help sustain a strong local micro economy. Aeronautical start-up companies such as Infotech and Axxon have flocked to our area incentivized by aggressive government tax breaks, also providing a boon to the areas of our market by way of real estate purchases and a robust rental market.
It will not be difficult to own a little piece piece of paradise in the Northwest of Puerto Rico. We at F. L. Realty can help you find a property that suits you, whatever your needs may be. Please give us a call, send us an email or drop by our office.