Living in the Dominican Republic
Last updated on Feb 10, 2022
Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Dominican Rep. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.
What do I need to know about living in the Dominican Republic?If you live in the Dominican Republic, newcomers to the Dominican Republic would love to hear your answer to this question.
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to the Dominican Republic, they said:
"Be prepared to adjust. Be prepared to be frustrated and to want to smack your head into the wall. But also be prepared to find the small joys here!! The people are remarkably friendly and helpful. There are many many good people but that takes time to get to know who they are. You won't find them in your first few months here!!!!! After 11 years I am still learning so much. I live in a typical middle class Dominican neighborhood! I am the only expat and I love my life here. 11 years of business and consulting and I pretty much know how to get things done..... but every single day I learn something new!!!," remarked another expat living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep.
"Only come if you are retired, and have at least $3,000.00 USD per month to spend on expenses, and enough reserve cash to return to your country for medical treatment if you need because the medical system here is a total disaster. Also purchase Medi-Vac Insurance to be 100% certain you can be air lifted and repatriated in case of medical emergency. Do not move to this city, if you cannot deal with pollution and noise, rude people, constant traffic jams, crazy drivers. Only move here as a temporary stop in order to find your way into the more peacful interior town of Jarabacoa. If you are not retired, stay away if you are looking for work, unless you want to earn $400.00 USD each month," added another expat in Santo Domingo.
How do I meet people in the Dominican Republic?
When we asked people living in the Dominican Republic about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"Any expat groups, spanish lessons at a qualified school. Join a dance group, a walking group and kind of group that gets you out meeting others," explained one expat living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep.
"Sign up for a course in speaking Spanish at the Dominican Americano School, located on Antonio de la Maza in the block below Ave Abraham Lincoln. There you will meet Dominicans who are enrolled to learn English, giving you both something in common. Many who are there are willing to tell you about their culture and give you the do's and don'ts as to how best to avoid trouble and where to go socially. Other places are the bigger Malls and supermarkets and the Metro which is the new subway line," said another expat in Santo Domingo.
What is life like in the Dominican Republic?
When we asked people living in the Dominican Republic what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"The culture revolves around home and community, it is one of the things I love about this country. It can make living here and getting things done a challenge. Embrace it as much as you can and learn to go with the flow when needed, and learn when to put your foot down!!," remarked another expat who made the move to Santo Domingo.
"Yes! Just like most major cities. People are up early going to work or school. The proiorities in Santo Domingo are ME FIRST!! People here have total disregard for traffic laws and signals. If you are being helped by a customer service person at a bank or store, people will interupt and start talking to the service person as if you are not even there. If you are waiting in line, people will walk right up next to you and jump the line, thinking nothing is wrong with this," explained one expat living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in the Dominican Republic accepting of differences?
"Absolutely diverse, very different from where I am from. While the country is predominantly catholic - that doesn't stop a lot of "other" activity. The DR is racially divided, economically divided and very much a culture of who you know or who you are related to. It can make work and business difficult at the very least. Are they accepting of differences - not really but you learn to work around that," remarked another expat who made the move to Santo Domingo.
"Yes they are diverse. No, they are not as accepting of people who are different. I noticed there is racisim among Dominicans. The Dominicans who are light skinned in complection have this air of aristocrocy about themselves, as it relates to dealing with dark skinned Dominicans. Light skinned Dominicans are perceived to be well off financially and the dark ones are the poor and uneducated people. This is not true, but this is the normal thinking among Dominicans. If you are Anglo/White, you are considered wealthy. If you are American Black or White, that trumps any Dominican in social and economic status," explained one expat living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
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- 7 Healthcare & Health Insurance Tips for Expats in the Dominican Republic
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- 2022 Guide to Moving to Dominican Rep