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Puerto Rico has least expensive rent market in US

By on August 25, 2017

SAN JUAN – Compared to the 50 states, Puerto Rico is the least expensive jurisdictions when renting an apartment. This was verified by the “Out of Reach 2017” study, which takes a look at the high rental costs in the United States.

(iStock photo)

Renting in Puerto Rico

The manager of Reality Realty, Milton Serrano, told tCaribbean Business that the number of people looking to rent property in Puerto Rico has increased. Among the reasons, the real estate broker stressed there are many people who have yet to decide whether to move from the island.

“When we talk about rentals…we are seeing more families, whether professionals, couples or families, looking for housing for rent. That does not mean that rent prices are increasing; [the number of] people looking to rent is increasing,” Serrano said.

Although the study states that the average rental price for a room on the island is $421 or $504 for two rooms, Puerto Rican real estate agent Zairy Ramos clarified that these rents can only be found outside the metropolitan area.

“There still are many people with the ability to pay $1,000 rents,” said the owner of Marquesa Management Puerto Rico stressing that the market is stable despite the fiscal crisis. “The Condado and Isla Verde area is not far [off] from Miami and other coastal areas” in terms of pricing, she added.

Ramos estimated that rent in areas such as Isla Verde and Condado can range from $900 to $1,000 for one room, while a three-room apartment could fo for $3,500. In Guaynabo, Serrano said it could range from $800 to $1,200.

States with largest Puerto Rican diaspora

In the case of Florida, with an $8.10 an hour minimum wage, “Out of Reach” estimates that the price of a two-room apartment exceeds $1,000 a month, while the minimum hourly income required to afford it–without using more than 30% of the earner’s budget–is $20.68.

According to the study, in Texas, with the federal minimum of $7.25, as in Puerto Rico, a two-room apartments average $956 a month. In Pennsylvania, wich also uses the federal minimum, the estimated cost for a two-bedroom property could go for $971 or higher.

The picture changes in New York, where rent for one room can be $1,243, while for two rooms, it increases to $1,460 and $3,895 in areas like Manhattan. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, which has an $11 minimum wage, two rooms go for $1,424.

Factors to Consider

Beyond the cost of rent, Caribbean Business consulted with experts who indicated that it is of utmost importance that people consider other factors before packing for a better future, such as the cost of living, taxes and insurance.

CPA Héctor Carrasquillo, of Carrasquillo CPA Group, said the U.S. rents increase 5% to 10% annually, while finding a property is getting harder.

“The first thing one has to look for is where they are going to move, because property rents vary a lot from one place to another,” Carrasquillo said. “The person has to do a [careful] analysis about where [they are] going and with what budget.”

Meanwhile, CPA Luis Rodríguez said rent and quality of life depend on the cost of goods and services of each state. As an example, he noted that the minimum wage in Massachusetts “might be enough, but those $11 in New York, you don’t even have to research that.”

Both accountants agreed it is more feasible to live in Puerto Rico with the minimum than in many states, because factors such as the cost of living greatly increase expenses. “With the minimum wage in New York you can’t do anything, but here you could,” Rodríguez said.

“The people who can move from Puerto Rico are those who have a profession, because if you earn the minimum [on the island], moving [stateside] to earn the minimum is still the same. I believe that people who have a technical profession can do well,” Rodríguez said.

Among the professionals most likely to do well stateside, Rodríguez said were teachers, doctors and engineers. The 2015 Migrant Profile, released by the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute, reveals that 1,888 to 4,506 teachers left the island that year.

According to the Community Survey prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 285,530 Puerto Ricans left the island between 2011 and 2015. The main reason for emigrating for 80% of the men and 60% of the women between 2010 and 2012 was to “work or look for work.”

Rent for two rooms, according to the “Out of Reach 2017” study:

  • Puerto Rico: $504
  • Florida: $1,075
  • Texas: $956
  • Pennsylvania: $971
  • Nueva York: $1,460
  • Massachusetts: $1,424

Higher prices in US squeezing both renters and would-be homeowners

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