What's it like to live in San Juan, PR?

Natasha Escalera

Profile written by local expert:

Natasha Escalera

Formally established in 1521, San Juan is the oldest continuously occupied European-settled metropolitan area within U.S. jurisdiction. The capital of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is also the island's primary metropolitan area and home to a number of its main tourist attractions.

The metro area radiates outward from Old San Juan, including areas to the east of the historic neighborhood. Encompassing two 16th-century military forts, a recently renovated boardwalk, a cruise port, multiple hotels and casinos, and cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and restaurants, Old San Juan exudes touristy charm. Those who can afford to purchase homes in upscale neighborhoods like Miramar, Santa Teresita and Ocean Park have easy access to the coast and the metro area's entertainment options. The Condado area is full of high-end nightclubs, hotel bars and restaurants that can make any night a Friday night.

Both English and Spanish are the official languages of Puerto Rico, and many San Juan residents are bilingual. This has helped foster a strong tourism industry with many residents finding jobs in the hospitality sector.

Though San Juan is still recovering after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, and many residents have left the island while reconstruction occurs, it began welcoming tourists again in early 2018. 


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

San Juan, Puerto Rico is ranked:

#125 in Best Places to Live

#89 in Best Places to Retire

#1 in Most Expensive Places to Live

#1 in Most Dangerous Places




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

San Juan, PR Quick Stats

  • 2,193,264

    Metro Population

  • $29,820

    Average Annual Salary

  • 86.6° / 75.4°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 39.9

    Median Age

  • N/A

    Median Home Price

  • 56.4 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 7.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $502

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 31.2 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in San Juan, PR?

Old San Juan's cobblestone streets draw those looking to shop, dine and sightsee. The San Juan National Historic Site, which overlooks the sea from its cliffside perch in the historic district, is comprised of two colonial-era forts and draws history buffs in droves.

Meanwhile, in order to cater to residents, the local government and businesses hold special events around Old San Juan and the bay, including concerts, food festivals and cultural events.

Residents who enjoy the outdoors head out of the metro area to play a round of golf in Dorado or to hike in the El Yunque National Forest. On long weekends, locals head over to the west and southwest coasts to enjoy the beaches, which boast the calmer waters of the Caribbean Sea. Others catch ferries to the tiny islands of Vieques and Culebra to lounge on their acclaimed shorelines.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in San Juan, PR

What's the cost of living in San Juan, PR?

San Juan has lower rents than most mainland metro areas (though neighborhoods near the coast tend to have more expensive housing). However, the island's dependency on imported petroleum puts the average energy bill roughly $300 higher than what Americans pay on the mainland, and grocery items are more than 20 percent pricier than in the continental U.S.

Due to hurricane damage, the island's foreclosure and delinquency rate is sky-high. According to the housing secretary of Puerto Rico, roughly 250,000 homes were majorly damaged by the hurricane and more than a million households have applied for FEMA disaster aid.

Value Index

Index Score: 2.5 /10

How we calculate this.

San Juan offer a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in San Juan, PR.

What's the weather like in San Juan, PR?

Sea breezes keep the heat at bay. Hurricanes are always a possibility when living in the Caribbean, as the stormy season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30. The island will sometimes experience large amounts of rain and flooding.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

5.0 in


5.9 in


5.5 in


6.4 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around San Juan, PR?

You will need a car to get around San Juan. While most of the Old San Juan and Condado areas are walkable and bike-friendly, the majority of the metro area is too spread out to navigate on foot.

The Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (AMA) provides public bus service throughout the metro area, but service can be slow. There's also a light rail system that traverses roughly 10 miles of central San Juan, meaning coverage is fairly limited.

Taxi services are mostly used as transport to the San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, which is only about 8 miles east of Old San Juan. Direct flights to and from mainland destinations such as Miami, Atlanta, New York City and Boston and around the Caribbean are provided by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and a variety of international airlines.

Commuting in San Juan, PR

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

31.2 minutes

4.8 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in San Juan, PR?

San Juan is a popular retirement destination for people from all over the world. As a result, the area's population skews slightly older. But San Juan draws a variety of different demographics. Job opportunities and a buzzing nightlife attract many young professionals from other parts of Puerto Rico, while nearly a third of households are comprised of families with children.

Given San Juan's history as a Spanish colony, it should come as no surprise that Catholicism holds strong here. In fact, up until 1850, Roman Catholicism was the only religion residents were allowed to practice. Several Catholic holidays are still fervently observed, including the Epiphany, which is celebrated in early January.

There are two leading political parties in Puerto Rico: the Popular Democratic Party (which supports the island's commonwealth status) and the New Progressive Party (which lobbies for U.S. statehood). Puerto Ricans are not permitted to vote in general U.S. elections.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

More single people in San Juan than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.