Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Relocating to Puerto Rico - the why and the how

Photo of Puerto Rico's West coast courtesy of The Blog of Joy

When I was working working - not retirement working, like now - and was taking a new assignment away from home, I did not make my own living arrangements in a new, most often totally unknown, or at least fairly unknown, place. It was done by a relocation department, to which I would submit my desired specifications and they would try to follow them as closely as they could.

When I retired and was relocating for the fun of it, I submitted to myself my own specifications concerning part of the world, climate, fun of living (natural beauty, cultural richness, political climate, presence - or absence - of other expats, etc) cost of living, access to health care, relative safety, immigration friendliness and any other factors I considered important. Then I did my own research trying to follow my own specifications - what was not always easy, because I could be a demanding customer ;-)

Working retirement, or retirement working to me is a combination of an interesting work and a fun place to live in while doing it. Since, typical for a former workaholic, I get fairly quickly bored with periods of all fun and no work, I switch between a leisure retirement and working retirement, and, looking for a new assignment, choose first where I would want to be, then research who is there, whom I might want to work with and - if I find interesting potential clients/employers, I send them an " I might be available at a price you might be able to afford" letter, with a list of my - verifiable - credentials (stressing results I have achieved for similar organizations) and a suggestion how those credentials could be applied to them and with what potential results.

It might seem cocky, even arrogant, I know, but I am retired, I want to work for fun not for money, and thus can afford to be cocky... and so far this approach brings me desired results.
And when I make a choice of an assignment and 'sign on the dotted line', then the working retirement relocation process begins.
Its logistics differ somewhat from the logistics of a corporate relocation.

First, in a working retirement relocation, you yourself are the relocation department - however inexperienced and/or unskilled you are at it. The organization might help you to some extent in looking for a suitable lodging and otherwise navigating living arrangement, but they have neither the resources, nor the experience of a corporate relocation department - and - usually - neither do you. So a probability of making a mistake is larger, sometimes exponentially larger.

Second, in a regular relocation, the corporation that relocates you usually assumes all the costs: of packing, shipping, settling in a new place etc., etc. They also often offer a cost of living adjustment. And if the assignment is supposed to last for a shorter period than a year, they'd let you keep your current tax home - and your current home (for which you pay from your salary, as usual), offering you a temporary lodging, transportation and compensation for extra expenses overseas in a form of - nontaxable, if kept within certain parameters - per diems. ( On the other hand, you usually take the corporate assignment for either money or glory - or both - not so much for the fun of it.)

None of that is usually (though there are exceptions) available for working retirement assignments and you need to figure out how much ordinary - taxable - compensation - will be enough to cover your extra expenses (or at least some of it) in exchange for the fun of working on a challenging assignment in a tempting, exotic place.

OK, so I did my math, specified my usual: 'I'd like a place with a view, preferably of water, surrounded by nature as far as possible' adding here a location appropriate wish: 'close to a nice, sandy beach'.

For Puerto Rico, which lacks even the most rudimentary forms of public transportation, in order to allow me to figure out whether to ship my car or lease or buy a car there (see post: Stay away... or pay) an additional requirement for the initial lodging was 'in a walking distance - of employment - or you pick me up and drop me of every day I need to work from your office'.

And now - with the help from my new employer - I found it. An apartment ( no idea how large or how nice, but judging by its relative price level in comparison to other lodgings there, it should be nice) in a large villa, divided into three one bedroom apartments. All three were available, since the tourist season has not started yet, so I took the largest ( the price differential was not much: down in $50 increments from the largest to the smallest). It has a limited ocean view - between the two houses across the street, about 50 yards from the nearest beach.

The apartment - I was told - has all basic furniture and equipment: a bed, a sofa, a table with chairs, refrigerator, stove, even some cooking and dining essentials. It also has a wireless internet and fans. It does not have air conditiong, which might not be a problem during dry winter season, but would either require me to move come May (if not sooner) and - it does not allow pets :-(( . However, the owner assured me that, for a longtime lease after an initial three months period I signed for, he will be willing to consider both adding an ac and allowing my cats.

Oh, well, so the cats need to stay for a while under the guardianship of my daughter, and I'll have to try 'going native' living without an ac for a while, but I have a place to live, while I will be figuring out whether I like my new employer and the job, for how long they might need me, if I like Puerto Rico (tropics, Caribbean) to want to live there even on a leisure retirement.

OK, so the basics are - theoretically - in place. I will be arriving in Puerto Rico in less than three weeks - and - once there - will keep you informed how the assumptions met the reality. It's got to be fun, don't you think?


Anonymous said...

I am due to relocate to Puerto Rico soon.
Will keep an eye on your blog.


Minerva said...

You are welcome, Telmo. And thanks for introducing me to your blog and global Puerto Rico web page. It sounds like a very good idea and a needed initiative. Perhaps an ad for it in Coqui of Rincon would help? After all Rincon is the expats mecca - at least at this time of the year.

Joe said...

I hope you finally got your AC!