The cost of living in Puerto Rico for a professional family is about 13 percent more expensive than it is in more than 300 urban and rural areas in the U.S. mainland, according to the findings of the Cost of Living Index.
Puerto Rico recently began participating in the methodology introduced in 1968 by Virginia-based Council for Community and Economic Research, known as the C2ER, and adopted by the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute as a way to provide data about the island’s economy and society for the first time.
“The Cost of Living Index, which for the first time will disclose [data] for the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo metropolitan statistical area, which covers almost half of the island, is a unique tool that will fill one of the most important gaps for our economy and our society at a time when migration has again become an outlet,” said Mario Marazzi-Santiago, executive director of the Institute.
In terms of living expenses, Puerto Rico’s statistical area placed 41 out of 325 urban and rural areas with the highest cost standards, behind large cities such as New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Hartford, Portland, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Marazzi-Santiago said it is important to note that the cost of living index does not measure the expenses incurred by the typical family, but rather by about 20 percent of homes made up by three people — a couple and one child — where both adults have college degrees and at least one has a high-ranking professional job.
More than 70,000 people are leaving the island each year, which moved the Institute to have available the most comparable information possible to the cost of living they will face upon establishing themselves stateside, he said.
“It is important that before Puerto Ricans get on a plane to the United States, we have scientific information to evaluate jobs,” he said. “At the same time, as part of our agenda to open up to globalization through transparency, it is essential that foreign companies have a tool to know the costs they will incurr when they relocate their professional and managerial to Puerto Rico,” Marazzi-Santiago added.
As part of its research, the Institute gathers data on prices for 57 goods sold in Puerto Rico, which it remits on a quarterly basis to the C2ER for comparison.
Among the first round of findings, the Institute revealed that the price for staples such as margarine and lettuce were among the highest, while soft drinks and doctor’s visits were on the lower end of the scale, when compared to 325 stateside urban and rural areas. Healthcare costs were 44 percent lower than the average, the data showed.
Meanwhile, prices at the supermarket were 23 percent higher on average in Puerto Rico, vs, the stateside areas. Rates for utilities, spearheaded by electricity costs, ranked Puerto Rico as the fourth highest in the nation behind Fairbanks, Alaska, Honolulu, Hawaii and Hilo, Hawaii.
The Cost of Living index will be published quarterly.