Puerto Rico is a pretty safe country. In fact, this island nation, which is a US territory, has a lower crime rate than many mainland US cities. Nevertheless, some areas should still be avoided. That’s why knowing which Puerto Rican neighborhoods are the absolute safest will add to your peace of mind if you decide to live there. So what are those locations:
The safest places to live in Puerto Rico are:
- Rio Mar
- Rio Grande
- Bucana Barrio
- Palmas Del Mar
This article provides an overview of the eight safest places to live in Puerto Rico, and what they have to offer. But first, let’s look at safety in general.
Safety in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the US, making it especially popular amongst American travelers and retirees who decide to move to the island.
Millions of travelers visit Puerto Rico each year, and only a small number of them have ever had safety issues. However, if you consider moving to Puerto Rico, it’s essential to be informed about the safest areas for living.
The country previously had a bad reputation due to a high crime and murder rate. However, the situation looks completely different today.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program rates violent crimes in Puerto Rico as the 12th lowest among the 52 US jurisdictions. The country also has the lowest property crime rate of all 52 jurisdictions.
Even if you were to live in the capital city San Juan, which officially has the highest crime rates, you would most likely not experience any safety issues.
Ultimately, if you are considering moving to Puerto Rico, you should compare different communities, towns and cities to find the best area that suits your needs. Whether that’s a more luxurious, gated community, or a rural beachside town, Puerto Rican cities offer various safe lifestyles and amenities.
So let’s kick off this list.
The Safest Places To Live in Puerto Rico
With around 30,000 residents, Dorado is a city located in the northern region of the island nation, and it’s approximately a 40-minute drive from San Juan. It’s a coastal town with golden sand beaches that offer a relaxed lifestyle.
Dorado is a very safe city in Puerto Rico. It’s ideal for families and travelers that want to enjoy a bit of local culture, and it’s considered a hidden gem for visitors.
If you don’t want to live in the hustle and bustle of San Juan, but you still want to live close enough to take advantage of jobs, amenities and attractions, then Dorado is a great option. It’s one of the best places to live in Puerto Rico as it’s suitable for everyone–that includes singles, families and retirees.
Furthermore, Dorado is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and it’s still untouched by the tourism industry. Despite that, it has good infrastructure, English-speaking schools, as well as great restaurants, shopping, nightlife, a golf club, a water park and various additional amenities. It also has beautiful walking paths and bike paths.
However, safety has its price, and Dorado became one of the most expensive places to live on the island. This is a result of an increasing number of expats moving to the city.
For visitors on a budget, Rio Mar is a small, quiet and nice neighborhood located in the Eastern part of Puerto Rico, only 30 minutes from San Juan. It’s a beach resort with a small population, therefore crime is almost non-existent.
Moreover, Rio Mar is a very safe place because of its proximity to the El Yunque National Forest. This means that there are fewer ways to enter and exit the town, which adds to its safety.
Another advantage of Rio Mar is that it’s one of the more affordable locations on our list, as there aren’t many places to spend money. There’s not a plethora of night clubs or casinos and such for splurging. Nevertheless, there are some nice bars, restaurants and entertainment. Rio Mar is perfect for anyone on a budget looking for a relaxed, safe life close to the beach.
The town is also very walkable due to its compact size, and so you can survive easily without a car. Directly from your house, you can walk to the shops, restaurants, and even to the trails of the renowned National Park.
The crime rate in Puerto Rico’s Rio Mar is one of the lowest on the entire island. There is little drug use and almost no theft.
But despite its small size, you can see quite a large community of expats in Rio Mar. This factor also drives crime rates down.
Luquillo is a beach town located just a short ride away from San Juan. It’s between Fajardo, Río Grande and the Atlantic Ocean. Around 20,000 people live in Luquillo and its surrounding areas.
Also known as the Capital of the Sun, Luquillo is home to many beaches, diverse nature and wildlife. The local golden sand beach of Balneario de Luquillo is considered one of the best public beaches on the island.
Both locals and visitors enjoy the calm turquoise water and the scenic backdrop of the El Yunque rainforest.
The overall crime rate in Luquillo is 52.42 per 1,000 residents during a standard year, and the center of Luquillo is generally considered to be the safest part of town.
Vieques is one of the most rural destinations in Puerto Rico–in fact, it’s a whole separate island.
Yet, Vieques is only eight miles from the main island, which is easily reachable by ferry.
Vieques’ population is only 8,000 people, so you might also know all your neighbors personally. Therefore, this island is your best choice if you want something incredibly safe and off-the-beaten-path. You can enjoy empty beaches, untouched nature and some of the most friendly locals you’ll ever come across.
The island has 40 beaches total, some of which are listed among the top beaches in the Caribbean for their azure waters and white sands. Vieques is also ranked as the home of one of the top 25 beaches in the world, so you’ll have many locations to explore as well.
Rio Grande is one of the largest municipalities in Puerto Rico with a high level of safety. There you can see a mix of upscale resorts and restaurants, as well as lush nature and spectacular beaches. The municipality is located just a half-hour drive from the capital, and about 50,000 people live there.
The Rio Grande has it all: beaches, waterfalls, and the only subtropical rainforest in the US called El Yunque.
This rainforest is one of the major attractions of the region. It comprises 28,000 acres and it has hiking trails, tons of species of flora and fauna and incredible views.
The Rio Grande is also one of the best areas to live as an expat, as it’s close to the capital San Juan, and it has direct access to nature and beaches. And of course, it is super safe.
Bucana Barrio is a suburb of the municipality of Ponce, located 73 km to the South West of the capital. With a small population of just 2,625, it’s one of the best and safest places to live in Puerto Rico.
Living in Bucana Barrio means you’ll see a suburban and rural mix with access to the beach. Most residents own their homes, making this area one of the safest in the country. Many young professionals live in Bucana Barrio, making up good demographic.
Bucana Barrio is considered to be in Puerto Rico’s top 7 safest places. Hence, the crime rate in this city is exceptionally low.
With such a small population, Bucana Barrio is very quiet, calm and downright beautiful. Since there are so few people that live in this area, there is no reason to worry.
And to make matters even better, it has a lower cost of living than much of the rest of the country. The only potential downside is that Bucana Barrio isn’t rich in entertainment, and the number of bars and restaurants is limited.
Rincon is a popular beach town and municipality of Puerto Rico, located in the Western Coastal Valley. At around two hours driving distance from San Juan, the city is known as one of the best surfing destinations in the country.
Currently, around 15,000 people live in Rincon, including many expats. In fact, it is slowly becoming a top destination in Puerto Rico for travelers, expats and digital nomads alike.
You can enjoy a laid-back way of life in Rincon with plenty of things to do, as well as a high level of safety without relying on gated communities or a constant police presence. This city offers all kinds of activities, from the cultural to the historical, to the adventurous and even a culinary scene.
Palmas Del Mar
Palmas del Mar is the ultimate safest place to live in Puerto Rico. It’s a small town located in the southeast municipality of Humacao with a population of just about 2,192.
35 miles away south of busy San Juan, and you are in the tropical and luxury paradise here.
Living in Palmas del Mar offers residents an urban-suburban mix, where most residents and many families own their homes.
Palmas del Mar includes over 25 different neighborhoods, including single-family homes, estates and villas. Within the town you can find:
- the palmas academy
- private school
- a country club
- golf courses
- 16 restaurants
- country club with spa
- beach club
- security with strict-access control 24 hours a day
- a full-service marina
- yacht club
This place has one of the largest resort communities on the island. All your security worries will go away if you move to Palmas del Mar. The city has its own entrance gates (open to residents and non-residents), which will protect you from most of the crime issues. In terms of housing, there are several condos and housing communities to choose from.
Is it dangerous to live in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is a safe country to visit and to live in. Overall, Puerto Rico is a safe place, especially when comparing it with its neighbors, e.g., Dominican Republic, Haiti, or Cuba. However, like any other densely-populated large urban area in the world, Puerto Rico has its share of crime.
Therefore, when it comes to crime, despite being a US territory, it isn’t always 100% safe. There are a few things travelers and expats should know. First of all, the most common crime committed against travelers is petty theft or pickpocketing, you most likely won’t be involved in any serious troubles.
Hence, just keep your eyes open and watch out for your belongings. Among the locals, the most common crime is often related to drugs.
With that said, some parts of San Juan and other large cities can be particularly dangerous, but overall you will be fine anywhere in the country when taking simple precautions.
- avoiding walking alone at night
- knowing which neighborhoods are less safe
- not exposing money, expensive belongings, or jewelry
Moreover, learning the language can help you in a difficult situation. So, if you become a victim of crime, being able to communicate with the police is essential.
Police outside of major tourist areas might not speak English, and while many locals are bilingual, Spanish is still the dominant language. You also should always carry your valid personal ID.
Puerto Rico has a fairly high homicide rate. However, this shouldn’t affect ordinary people, as it’s almost entirely related to gang violence and drugs. Puerto Rico isn’t much more dangerous than any other US city. Therefore, if you feel safe in the US, you’ll feel safe in Puerto Rico, too.
Furthermore, in 2014 Puerto Rico’s murder rate plummeted by 26% due to new anti-crime plans, making it the lowest number of homicides on the island in 15 years.
And despite all of it, Puerto Ricans are friendly and helpful to all tourists who come to the island. There is a crime in Puerto Rico, as in most countries in the world. Just take the necessary precautions.
Here are some statistics from Numbeo.com about crime rates in Puerto Rico:
|Level of crime||High|
|Crime increasing in the past 3 years||High|
|Worries home broken and things stolen||Moderate|
|Worries being mugged or robbed||High|
|Worries car stolen||Moderate|
|Worries being insulted||Moderate|
|Worries being insulted||Moderate|
|Problem people using or dealing drugs||High|
|Problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft||High|
|Problem violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery||High|
|Problem corruption and bribery||High|
Overall safety in Puerto Rico
- Safety walking alone during daylight – Moderate
- Safety walking alone during the night – Low
Other danger types in Puerto Rico
Another safety risk in Puerto Rico is its weather. It’s unlikely you will ever deal with disasters there, but hurricanes and earthquakes do hit Puerto Rico. Other nature-based dangers include strong currents when you’re out swimming. That being said, Puerto Rico still is one of the safest Caribbean islands.
Natural disasters, unfortunately, happen in Puerto Rico and particularly hurricanes. The last big one was called Maria and caused many problems in 2017. The hurricane season is from June to November, so you might want to leave the country during that time.
Otherwise, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and take any warnings seriously. If a major hurricane strikes, you will probably lose power, so it’s a good idea to buy a generator to power your fridge and other essential appliances.
Earthquakes are an additional threat to the otherwise peaceful life on this Caribbean island. All areas of Puerto Rico can experience strong earthquakes, although the island’s west coast is the most affected.
If you are from the West Coast of the US, you’re probably already familiar with how to deal with earthquakes. Otherwise, inform yourself about necessary protection measures.
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