A UNESCO World Heritage Site, a National Historic Landmark District, and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Old San Juan is the historic, colonial heart of all Puerto Rico real estate, and is the oldest European settlement in Puerto Rico. Old San Juan contains some of the best in Puerto Rico real estate and Puerto Rico luxury rentals, as well as some of the best nightlife, dining, and culture on the island.
Whether you are searching for Puerto Rico rentals or Puerto Rico luxury homes, Old San Juan is a stunning, historic neighborhood overflowing with Old World charm, and a worthy place to consider for your relocation to “La Isla Del Encanto”.
Location & Language
Only 20 minutes from San Juan International Airport and just 10 minutes from the beaches of Condado and Ocean Park, Old San Juan is an island, stretching out from Condado Lagoon (“Laguna del Condado”) in the west, across the Bay of San Juan (“Bahia de San Juan”) to the south, and protecting said bay from the mighty Atlantic Ocean to the north. The neighborhood is surrounded by 500-year-old Spanish battlements and fortresses protecting the cobblestoned city on three sides.
Founded in 1521, San Juan is the largest metropolitan city on the island and the capital of the United States territory of Puerto Rico. With nearly 2.2 million people living in the greater San Juan area, the historical neighborhood of Old San Juan has a population of just 7,000, nowhere near as dense as more populous areas of the capital. However, daily cruise ships docking at Old San Juan swell its historic cobblestone streets with over 1 million tourists every year.
Both English and Spanish are the official languages of the island. Those buying Puerto Rico real estate or Puerto Rico luxury rentals in Old San Juan will find nearly everyone speaks English in this tourist-heavy area.
Real Estate Prices in Old San Juan
Old San Juan boasts a stunning array of historic Puerto Rico luxury homes and historic Puerto Rico luxury rentals. Its cobblestone streets and vibrant colonial buildings in tropical paints make it easily the most charming and Old World neighborhood in all of Puerto Rico, and a very desirable location in the Puerto Rico real estate market.
The median listing price for Old San Juan, Puerto Rico real estate is $995,000 USD, making it one of San Juan’s most luxurious districts. Old San Juan is a historic district, home to both historic Puerto Rico luxury homes and Puerto Rico luxury rentals, with prices topping $4 million USD and expected to increase significantly in the near future based on recent trends. However, affordable condos can be found here starting at $200,000 USD. There are also affordable Old San Juan, Puerto Rico rentals available with apartments starting at $1200 per month, although these prices are expected to increase soon as well.
Shopping & Dining
Old San Juan is one of the best shopping and dining destinations in all of Puerto Rico. However, it is also one of the most touristy, especially near the cruise ship docks along the Bay of Puerto Rico on the southern edge of Old San Juan. However, great local destinations can be found throughout Old San Juan.
Wander any street in Old San Juan and you can stumble into a great place to shop. Art galleries such as Galería Botello and Obra Galería are fine places to shop for the best local artists in Puerto Rico. Upscale retailers such as Coach and Tommy Hilfiger can be found on Calle del Cristo. Everything from antiques to cigars to chic womenswear to casual beachwear can be found among the historic Puerto Rico luxury homes of Old San Juan.
Dining options abound in Old San Juan, from park-front food kiosks to upscale boutique restaurants. Calle de la Fortaleza is known as Old San Juan’s “restaurant row”, with a wide variety of cuisines and prices. The Parrot Club is an upscale Latin fusion restaurant with colorful décor and live Latin music nightly. Palio pairs local Puerto Rican cuisine with unbeatable views of San Juan Bay.
Nightlife & Entertainment
Old San Juan is one of the best neighborhoods in Puerto Rico for nightlife and culture. Barrachina is traditionally considered to be the birthplace of the piña colada, the signature cocktail of Puerto Rico. From trendy nightclubs in historic mansions to local dive bars with ocean views, it can all be found simply wandering the streets of Old San Juan.
La Factoria on Calle San Sebastián is the preeminent bar and nightclub of Old San Juan. It was recently voted one of the Top 50 Bars in the World for the fifth year in a row. La Factoria’s unmarked location leads to a labyrinthine interior with six separate bars, each with its own music and menu, all inside one historic colonial building.
For culture, the Teatro Tapia is the oldest theatre in San Juan and an historic architectural gem, where stage productions are still performed to this day. You can also visit Casa Blanca, the colonial home of the Ponce de León family, the descendants of the founder of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de León. San Juan Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches in the Caribbean. La Fortaleza is the oldest continually occupied governor’s residence in the Americas. There are also a plethora of great art and history museums throughout Old San Juan’s Puerto Rico luxury real estate market.
The dominant features of the Old San Juan skyline are the 500 year-old Spanish colonial fortifications ringing the neighborhood on three sides. These forts, in use through World War II, are today run by the National Park Service of the United States and are designated as a National Historic Site. Running the ocean-swept lawns and ramparts of the 27-acre Castillo San Cristóbal, the largest fortification ever built by Spain in the New World, makes for great exercise. And climbing the high turrets and tide level staircases of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro), right on the entrance to the Bay of Puerto Rico, is fun outdoor exercise for all ages.
Watersport rentals, sailing opportunities, and sunset cruises take off from the Port of Old San Juan. But the quintessential outdoor activity of Old San Juan is simply to stroll the cobblestone streets, stopping in for a refreshing piña colada or a bowl of mofongo, one of the island’s signature dishes. Stroll down Calle Fortaleza for Old San Juan’s famous “umbrella street”, beneath hundreds of colorful umbrellas hanging between balconies. For the nearest beaches, head across the short bridge to the upscale enclave of Condado, with wide, Vanderbilt-approved beaches hailed around the world as the “Caribbean Riviera”.
Weather & Hurricanes
Old San Juan’s average temperature matches that of greater San Juan, at between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. However, being on both the ocean and the bay, Old San Juan often feels cooler, due to the near-constant sea breezes.
Hurricane season lasts from June to November in Puerto Rico. When looking at Puerto Rico real estate, make sure that your future home is as prepared as possible to withstand these devastating storms. From Puerto Rico rentals to Puerto Rico luxury homes, PRelocate’s hurricane advice for homebuyers is essential reading.
Public transportation options are limited in the tiny colonial streets of Old San Juan, making cars a necessity. However, Uber is extremely common in the area, taking passengers from Old San Juan to anywhere in greater San Juan and points beyond. Old San Juan is one of the safest and most policed residential neighborhoods for Puerto Rico luxury homes and luxury rentals. However, the colorful but seedy La Perla area, along the Atlantic coast outside the traditional gates of Old San Juan, may not be safe for night walking.
The greater San Juan area has terrific private schools, with solid track records of graduates matriculating into mainland U.S. higher education institutions. All offer students a bilingual education in both English and Spanish. Though there are not any schooling options in the small, tourist-heavy neighborhood of Old San Juan, the nearby Santurce neighborhood boasts more than 20 private schools, including the Gersh Academy for autistic learners in Ocean Park.
The St. John’s School and the Robinson School are just 5 minutes from Old San Juan in ritzy, beachfront Condado. St. John’s is frequently ranked as the best private school in Puerto Rico, and students from both institutions have gone on to Yale, Harvard, MIT, and more.
There are plenty of educational opportunities in greater Santurce, including International Baccalaureate schools, Catholic schools, and traditional K-12 charter schools, whether steps from the best in Puerto Rico luxury homes or more affordable Puerto Rico rentals.
Puerto Rico’s income tax laws make it extremely attractive to business owners and investors, both internationally and in the mainland United States. Act 60 allows Puerto Rico residents to pay zero taxes on passive income and allows relocated corporations or local companies to pay just 4% income tax.
PRelocate’s Real Estate Brokerage Services
If you’re looking to purchase or rent real estate in Old San Juan or other similar areas of Puerto Rico, PRelocate can help. We’re a licensed real estate brokerage firm (license C-21696) with experience and extensive knowledge of the Puerto Rico real estate market. Our team is professional, responsive, friendly, and experienced, and with both native English- and Spanish-speaking staff, we can help you break down any language barriers you might encounter. We can save you time and effort by helping you find the right Puerto Rico property for you quickly and easily. In the meantime, you can view current real estate rental and for sale listings.
For more information on real estate and to learn how to benefit from Act 60, contact PRelocate today.
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