Puerto Rico Adventure – Part 2: The Scouting Trip

If it all started 12 years ago (see Part 1 of our Puerto Rican Adventure, The Brainstorm), then the tipping point came last year when Julie and I decided to take a serious look at whether or not we wanted to move to PR…and where!

In Old San Juan
We’d traveled there three times by now and had toured quite a bit of the island. The roads are fine (if sometimes narrow and twisty in the mountains), and we’d circumnavigated this bit of paradise twice. 

So when travel restrictions eased in 2021, we decided to take a serious scouting trip and circle the island once more, this time with an eye on where we would land if we did indeed decide to move.

We’d already determined that San Juan was too congested for us. We’re not really big city people. And although Viejo San Juan has charm and so much to offer tourists, it’s a bit busy and crowded for us. Great place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there. Same with the urban areas surrounding the capital. Bayamón, Carolina…nice but not for us. 

A great view from a condo.
Our top priority was to live close to the beach. We have wonderful friends in Orocovis, the geographic center of the island. And the slightly cooler temperature associated with mountain living has its appeal. But ultimately, a front row spot at the ocean is where it’s at. 

We weren’t going to travel all the way from the wide open plains of Kansas to settle for a non-beachfront view!

Whenever we mentioned to our friends in PR that we were thinking about retiring to the island, invariably someone would ask if we’d live in or near Rincón. This famous surfing beach is on the west coast – a beautiful place. And we had a great visit there on our first trip in 2010. 

You see, a lot of “expats” live in the communities that dot the northwest section of the island – Aguadilla, Rincón, Mayagüez. So naturally, some Puerto Ricans assume this is where people from the USA go to live. Well, we’re not wanting to be expats. 

My understanding of the term expatriate is a person living somewhere other than his or her own country, and yet remaining a bit aloof from the locals. We want to embrace our new culture and become part of the community. Yes, we’ll likely end up in a condo community, but we don’t want to be separatists. 

Can't get enough of the beach!

In fact, I’m learning Spanish. Julie is already fairly fluent. We’ll order our breakfast sandwiches in Spanish. We’ll meet and greet, do business, and ask directions in Spanish. And we plan on finding a Spanish speaking congregation to worship with. (Primera Iglesia Bautista de Orocovis might be a bit too far for us to attend regularly.)

All of this figured in to where we would like to live. Smaller community, by the beach, not touristy or specifically catering to those from the mainland USA. And within budget! The goal: sell our house in Kansas and buy an equivalently priced condo that we could also rent out on occasion as an AirBnB for a bit of income.

With this in mind, last May we pointed out rental car west from San Juan and stayed a few nights at a number of ocean view properties in towns we hadn’t really visited before.

Places like (see the map for reference)... 

The Island of Puerto Rico.

...(1) Vega Baja (north) and (2) Isabela (northwest), (3) Cabo Rojo (southwest), (4) Guanica (south), (5) Humacao (east). On our way, we visited Ponce again, as well as our sister church in Orocovis. And we gave (6) Luquillo (northeast) another stay. This is where we came to the conclusion on our 30th Anniversary (our 2015 trip) that yes, indeed, we could live in a condo on the beach!

The lighthouse at Cabo Rojo.

After 5 or 6 different AirBnB experiences, though, we found ourselves leaning more and more to the first place we stayed – the Chalets de la Playa near Vega Baja. There’s a nature preserve and large lagoon and park nearby, as well as the beautiful beach, Playa Puerto Nuevo, which boasts a nice stretch of sand and offers safe swimming. 

The condo view we're considering at Chalets de la Playa.

Between the Chalets and the playa is a small but welcoming beachfront community with a couple of bakeries, kioskos, stores, and restaurants. Plus, we’ll only be a few minutes from a Walgreens and grocery store in the actual town of Vega Baja. And San Juan and the airport is only an hour away!

Maybe not the condos we were thinking of!
So that’s that. The scouting trip was a success! We think we know where we’re going to end up later this summer. Haven’t bought a condo yet. We’re still at the beginning of our transition – in the downsizing part of our adventure right now. 

In Part 3 (whenever I get to it), I’ll share all the little steps we’ve taken and are taking to make the dream a reality. And it’s not all beaches and sunshine, let me tell you! But we can see the beach already in our mind. And feel the sunshine. It’s only a matter of time. 

Thanks for joining us on our journey. Tell us about your transitions. Are you heading somewhere wonderful? Drop us a line or comment below. We love stories of change and adventure. Until next time!


Read all our posts in our Puerto Rico Adventure series...


  1. It's interesting how much of your journey mirrors ours. We need to connect in person! Or at least in a Zoom call! And you will be welcome to use our Cabo Rojo home as a base for exploration when we are not there.

    1. Love it! Yes, let's connect and vice versa, wherever we land, come on by and stay a few days! PS - Love your writing, Lisa. Your blog adventures are so much fun to read!


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