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For many elderly people, retirement in Puerto Rico far from idyllic

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    In this Nov. 14, 2013 photo, Mariano Perez Morales, 75, walks a sidewalk in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. Retirees are struggling with rising water, power and other utility prices, which the government hiked to trim a budget deficit projected to hit $820 million this year. The weak economy also has reduced pensions for retired Puerto Rican public workers. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)The Associated Press

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    People play a game of dominoes at a public park in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Retirees are struggling with rising water, power and other utility prices, which the government hiked to trim a budget deficit projected to hit $820 million this year. The weak economy also has reduced pensions for retired Puerto Rican public workers. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)The Associated Press

Maxi Fajardo smiles as she recalls moving to New York City from Puerto Rico in her late teens, falling in love, finding a job at the Chiclets factory and raising four children.

Her goal all along, like that of many Puerto Ricans, was to work in the United States and then retire to her sun-dappled island, living her final years worry-free surrounded by family and friends. "The dream is always to return to your country," said the elegant 82-year-old who settled in Puerto Rico in 1992 along with her husband Florencio, a former subway conductor.

Now she and her husband see their move as a mistake. An eight-year recession, run-away prices and the flight of doctors have convinced them it's time to join a growing number of Puerto Rican retirees heading back to the U.S. mainland.