The cost of living in Puerto Rico is, on the whole, somewhat lower than that of the mainland US. However, it's still by no means cheap. In Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2024, San Juan ranked 48th out of 226 expat destinations, placing it on par with large cities worldwide such as Edinburgh, Scotland and Barcelona, Catalonia in Spain.

Cost of accommodation in Puerto Rico

Expats will find that a large portion of their salary goes towards accommodation in Puerto Rico. Apartments are the most common and are cheaper than freestanding houses. As with most places, housing is priciest in city centres and tends to be lower in outlying suburbs. In addition, smaller cities outside San Juan are generally cheaper than living in the capital.

Cost of transport in Puerto Rico

There is a metro transport system that services parts of San Juan and a bus route that services the rest of the capital. Where available, these forms of public transport are cheap and reasonably effective. With the use of these, taxis or ride-hailing services, expats can get around the capital without a car.

Outside of San Juan, expats generally drive cars. Buying a car in Puerto Rico is expensive, and driving can be perilous; road conditions and adherence to traffic laws can be spotty.

Cost of groceries in Puerto Rico

Many foodstuffs available in supermarkets are imported from the mainland USA and go for more than expats might expect. The price of milk, eggs and similar local goods is regulated but high. Price-conscious expats should shop from local markets to get the most bang for their buck.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Puerto Rico

When it comes to entertainment, Puerto Rico offers a wide variety of activities, from its pristine beaches to salsa dancing nights in San Juan. Cinemas, theatre performances and local events are fairly priced, with ticket prices often a bit lower than one might encounter in major cities on the mainland US. The rich cultural heritage of the island ensures that there's always a local festival or event taking place, especially on weekends, which might sometimes come with a nominal entry fee.

As for dining, Puerto Rico boasts a rich culinary landscape, blending Taino, Spanish and African influences. While upscale restaurants, particularly in high-tourist areas, can be on the pricier side, there are plenty of mid-range and budget-friendly options available.

Local eateries and family-owned restaurants usually offer delicious traditional dishes like mofongo, tostones or arroz con gandules at more affordable rates than the chic dining establishments in urban areas. It's advisable for expats and visitors to explore beyond the touristy zones to discover culinary gems that are both wallet-friendly and authentic.

Cost of education in Puerto Rico

The cost of education in Puerto Rico will vary greatly depending on whether parents send their child to a public or private school. Public schools are free to attend, but the language barrier can be challenging to overcome for non-Spanish-speaking families. Private schools are more likely to teach bilingually or in English. While these schools typically offer exceptional facilities and teaching standards, tuition at these schools is pricey. 

Cost of healthcare in Puerto Rico

Most expats opt to use private healthcare in Puerto Rico. The cost of this is much less than one would expect, though it's essential to be adequately insured. Health insurance in Puerto Rico is well known for being comprehensive yet affordable. 

Cost of living in Puerto Rico chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for San Juan in August 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreUSD 2,900
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreUSD 2,100
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreUSD 2,300
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreUSD 1,400
Food and drink
Dozen eggsUSD 6
Milk (1 litre)USD 2.89
Rice (1kg)USD 2.29
Loaf of white breadUSD 3.46
Chicken breasts (1kg)USD 3.70
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)USD 11
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantUSD 80
Big Mac mealUSD 9
Coca-Cola (330ml)USD 1.77
CappuccinoUSD 3.48
Bottle of beer (local)USD 2.68
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)USD 0.42
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)USD 39
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)USD 260
Taxi rate/kmUSD 2
City-centre public transport fareUSD 1.50
Gasoline (per litre)USD 1.08

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