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Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Bay Area, CA
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Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Hi: So grateful for any advice. My husband, 13-year old son and I are moving abroad permanently (from California), mostly just as a happy adventure and to get more time to connect, slow down and be. Have narrowed it down to Culebra or Vieques (lower on list TCI or BVI). Would be hugely grateful for advice from any expats that are living in either place (or have lived in TCI or BVI and could give contrast):

• Which one is better to live on permanently, V or C, and why? We realize that Culebra doesn't have much to do (downside) and have heard that Vieques could be a party-town (how much and would alcohol be more available to a teen here than in the States?)

- Quality of Schools on the islands

• Attitude toward Americans: Friendly? (mostly concerned for our 13 year old son)

• Safety if had cottage on the beach

• Beachfront rentals, right smack on beach – affordable? Available?

- Cottage/Home purchase price and – is there such a thing as a breezy little beachfront cottage that can be purchased still, or are they mega-mansions?

• Alcoholism, drugs etc.

• Is the ferry between Culebra and Vieques expected to happen?

• What side of street do cars drive on? Can keep car?

- Can we bring the family dog (fully vaccinated, etc.)

Super Grateful, thanks!

Armonk, New York
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1. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

First - visit before you think to seriously about either. Second - same thing.

Vieques is possible, Culebra probably not. The latter is very small and isolated with, IMO, a very closed community. Vieques has a significant "expat" community and would be a possible place to land.

The Vieques real estate market is hot, with a lot of buying and selling - especially for the rental market. Listings are on most major realty sites. On the beach, as anywhere, is $$$$. The drinking age in PR is 18 and rarely enforced. I cannot comment specifically on these islands.

PR is America - you drive on the right, not like those lefties on the British Isles :-) Cars bought or brought onto PR are subject to a 25% excise and 7% sales tax on value.

No problem bringing your dog, but be aware. There is a horrible stray dog problem on the islands so I would not let my dog run wild. Many locals do not think of dogs the same way we mainlanders do so there is a lot of abuse.

El Yunque National...
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2. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Wow.....I think you really need to do a lot more research. Come for a visit, maybe an extended visit, just to see if island life is for you.

In PR we drive on the right, same as States. USVI they drive on the left.

I moved to PR and that was hard enough. Moving with a 13 year old to small island.....I wouldn't do it. Life on an island is really so much harder than it sounds like you are imagining it. Then make it a small island....forget it. Totally not a place I would move a kid. Socially it would be awful for them. Unless you happen to be Puerto Rican and speak fluent PR Spanish.

Schools suck, lots of drugs. Good private bi-lingual schools are available on PR, but they are pricey and your kid would have to get there somehow.

No ferry between C and V, and not in the plans either.

Beach front rentals, not really available on either Vieques or Culebra. Not any/many mega mansions. Check real estate companies for the islands for sale prices/houses. Things are selling because PR is still in a huge recession, tons of unemployment and people leaving for the States for opportunities.

Yes, you can have a car, but really need to rely on the crappy ferry service to PR to get most supplies.

It might be just what you want, but I think you need to do more research before doing anything. Maybe rent for a month or two during the summer to try it?

San Juan, Puerto...
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3. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Have you ever visited either island? Do you speak spanish?

Only thing you really need to know is that there will only be a handful of public schools in either island. Our public schools are simply not that great and they are not bilingual. So moving there with a teenager is simply not possible. So the rest of your questions do not matter.

Caguas, Puerto Rico
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4. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

I would reconsider Rincón as an alternative location than Culebra or Vieques. You could rent a beachfront apartment and your son could have access to more bilingual schools. Plus Rincón is filled with expats, and has that real relax, free spirit vibe. Many sports like surfing, body boarding , and snorkeling for your teen.

IMO Rincón is a welcoming town to newbies, while Culebra and Vieques have a more "local family only" vibe. Don't get me wrong, people there are welcoming and friendly but you will be seen as an outsider.

usa
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5. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

That is a major life changing experience. You need to think this through carefully. To truly have an enriching experience, it would be best to be fluent in Spanish, especially on these islands. As some people speak a little English, most do not or will not. North Americans are viewed as outsiders for the most part.

The public school system in PR is substandard. About 40% of the students do not graduate. Most people who really care about their children's schooling send them to private schools.

Medical care on those two island are also substandard. Most people travel to the main island to Metro San Juan for specialized care. It is very time consuming. Medical emergencies can be an issue to contend with.

Housing is expensive for what you get and most properties are not beach front on both islands. Anything with an ocean view is going to be expensive.

Crime is a problem in Vieques, i.e, break-ins, thefts, illegal drugs and murder (mostly as a result of illegal drug activity). Culebra hasn't been affected by drugs and murders so far. Since most of the population is unemployed or underemployed, alcoholism is a problem too.

I agree with the poster above in recommending Rincon instead. It has the Caribbean low-key feel and yet has a sizeable ex-pat community that would make the transition easier.

Edited: 11:26 pm, March 23, 2014
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6. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

I have several friends on Vieques. I like both islands. Not a good idea for a teen, I'd think.

One friend went to an old ladies funeral on his street. After that they became part of the community. You will break the ice eventually. Islands can get mighty small. And many PR's are extremely rude to American's. They will lie and try to cheat you and most can't be trusted. For example, a fellow tried to charge me for a mooring I was using--these are free and he claimed to own it, but had no idea how corroded and unsafe it was--these are free in the harbor to bring in business. Another fellow was screaming at me for no reason. Another did the same to my friend on another occassion. It is some sort of macho thing. Do you want to be hated? Expect it from a small percentage.

San Juan, Puerto...
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7. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Night_sailor, in these times of economic uncertainty, anywhere you go there will always be someone trying to con you out of some cash, especially if you go around not knowing how things work and expecting to get helped...so your experiences had nothing to do with being an American but (most likely) with your attitude. PRicans tend to be extremely helpful, but they are loud and usually don't respect personal space, so you need to adjust to the culture.

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8. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Definitely check into Rincon, as suggested in 2 posts above. It has the Carribean vibe and relax atmosphere you get from a small island and at the same time you get all the infrastructure of a large island. Everyone is extremely friendly. There is a large community from the states. There is a very low crime rate. You will fall in love with Rincon.

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9. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Nytiparis I really like reading your posts. I've never used this app before but was wondering if there was a way to email you through it. I gave some questions about rincon and you seem to know a lot. Any way we could chat through this site thee than on someone forum?

San Juan, Puerto...
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10. Re: Family of 3 making permanent move, to Culebra or Vieques

Jennadora, we all try our best to be helpful. You can PM members through the website, but the app does not have that capability. However, I think it is always better to post your questions in the forum, as you will get different points of view, plus you will be helping fellow travelers.

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