moving to puerto rico with kids
Depending on their age and dispositions, moving to a new and unfamiliar place like Puerto Rico can be very stressful for children. Our oldest is sociable and thrives on interaction with others, so after the initial excitement of the move wore off, he was in a bit of a funk because he missed his friends. Our youngest didn’t seem to be affected initially because he had his games and books. However, over time he started missing the change of the seasons, and other fond memories he had of our home in San Antonio. Now he’s gone so far as to make the outrageous claim that he HATES the beach! Although the amount of fun he has when actually at a beach, would seem to contradict his bold assertion. 😉
Before the move, we tried to “sell” the boys on Puerto Rico, explaining our reasons and highlighting all the positives. Inevitably though, when they think back with fondness on the “good ol’ days”, there is a slight twinge of bitterness as the realization sets in that, ultimately, this move was not their choice.
One unintended but cool result of this “awakening,” however, is that they now fully grasp that the world is their oyster; that they can live WHEREVER they want when they grow up. They’ve had fun scouring maps and reading about different places around the world. For the moment, Desmond is leaning toward Colorado and Waylon is interested in Oregon. It makes no sense to Holly and me, but they both miss winter!
I want to highlight two of the decisions we made that made the transition a bit more challenging for our boys. You may want to do things differently, or at least be aware of our experience if you are also planning to move to Puerto Rico with children.
We moved into a condo building where most of the other owners live in the states
Having lived in a suburban neighborhood for the better part of my adult life, I’m really enjoying living in a condo now. I was completely burned out on yard and house maintenance, so it’s nice to have a break from it. That said, the boys miss having their own yard. They are slowly getting comfortable exploring the grounds and some of the wooded areas around our condo, so this may become less of an issue as they get older. Nevertheless, for young children, it’s hard to beat a private, closed-in backyard where they can play outside safely.
Another perhaps bigger challenge is that there are no other children living in this condo full-time. The owners do bring their kids and grandkids down when they visit, but obviously, it would be a lot better if other kids lived here year-round. We suspected this was not ideal going in, but our decision was heavily influenced by the incredible deal we got on this condo. If at all possible, we definitely recommend moving into a neighborhood where other families live full-time, if you have children.
We homeschool (see update below)
We are huge advocates for homeschooling, or more specifically, unschooling. Giving kids the space to explore and learn on their own increases their self-confidence and empowers them to assume control over the direction their life takes. It’s what we did in Texas, so it made sense to continue when we moved here.
Unfortunately, our experience has been that it’s more difficult to homeschool here versus in Texas. Part of the reason is that we already had a circle of friends, some of whom homeschooled as well, so our boys had plenty of interaction. When we moved here, we had no friends and there were no established homeschool groups in the area so we were isolated. This made it more difficult for them to make friends and learn the language since time with other children is not built-in their daily schedule. To compensate, we’ve tried to get them involved in extra-curricular activities where they meet other kids, such as a martial arts class at the Rincon athletic center and horse class.
(UPDATE 5/12/2019: Since this post was written a couple of small private schools have opened in Rincón: Arts and Beyond Learning Center which is geared more for younger kids and Casa Esquela for older. Further, a really nice community of those of us with children has started blossom here in the last year as well. Now, the boys (as well as Holly and I ) are building a new circle of friends with multiple activities happening every week.)
It’s human nature to always view the grass on the other side of the fence as greener. Therefore, we try to make it point to teach our boys to actively counter this tendency. Personally, Holly and I love it here and hope that we NEVER take the beautiful sunsets and access we have to the ocean for granted. And as much as the boys occasionally complain, especially our youngest, I believe that wherever life takes them, they will always look back on their time here with fondness. Who knows, they may never leave!
(Update 5/12/2019: In the last year, the boys have taken to surfing and skateboarding at the Rincón Skatepark regularly. They do still miss the cold winters but now say they wouldn’t want to live somewhere they can’t surf, even the guy who once “hated” the beach! 😉 )