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10 Tips for Living in the Dominican Republic

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Did you know that you have to have residency to drive a car after you've been in the Dominican Republic for 30 days? Did you know that call centers are a main source of jobs in the Dominican Republic? Continue reading to get advice for expats in the Dominican Republic.

Expats in the Dominican Republic - 10 Tips for Living in the Dominican Republic

What to Bring When Moving to the Dominican Republic

We asked expats what they wished that they had brought to the Dominican Republic. One expat in Santo Domingo answered, "I wish I had brought a tin opener, good knives and vitamins." Another expat said, "I wish I had brought my best friend... I wish I had brought more money... I wish I had brought better Spanish."

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Finding a Home in the Dominican Republic

"When you move to the DR, unless restricted by work, I would spend a couple of months in a few different areas as the country is so diverse. Once you have decided on the area then just put the word out that you are looking to rent and the potential landlords will find you. Do remember to take into account that access to electricity and water are not automatic, so you need to check their availability. The prices of property vary dramatically by area - the more touristy and closer to the sea, the higher the price," explained an expat in Santo Domingo.

"I live in a furnished rental. I would certainly say that this is the way for anyone to plan to come here first and stay for a year or so and see if they really like it. There are not a lot of expats yet in the neighborhood but I predict that there will be. It is the older elegant but sort of run down section of town, but one can walk to everything. It is a lot like NYC," shared one expat in the Dominican Republic.

Deciding Where to Live in the Dominican Republic

"I have lived in various parts of the country. The first place was a tourist resort on the Caribbean sea, where I went as my job as a scuba diving instructor was there. A small studio came with the job and after a month I moved into a rental apartment. Here you just put the word out you are looking and people come to you with their apartments. Now I live in a little Dominican town, chosen as it was far from tourists and hence much safer and much cheaper. Again just put the word out and found the house," advised an expat in Santo Domingo.

"I first came to a beach town but then found that for a single older intellectual woman, the capital was best. I took my time, found the pool, the library, the neighborhood I liked best, then the apartment, not the other way around," shared an expat in the Dominican Republic.

How to Meet People in the Dominican Republic

"Take some Spanish classes, join the Facebook group "The Santiago Healthy, Wealthy and Wise" go to meetup.com and join the santiago healthy wealthy and wise group. If you have a business join the Chamber of Commerce," suggested an expat in Santiago de los Caballeros. An expat in Luperon, "Ice fishing club, a club of boaters who meet weekly." Another expat in Santiago said, "I recommend people to take Spanish. It is a great place to meet people and you will be able to communicate with the locals." Another expat in Sosua explained, "First thing I do in any place is look for the Expat hangouts and sit and chat. I also look for a country/area specific website to make aquaintences. Works for me and I now have parties on 4th of July, US Thanksgiving and Easter Sunday to gather all the expats I can. I get from 125 to 175 people at my events 3 times a year."

Expat Health Insurance in the Dominican Republic

An expat in the Dominican Republic said, "medical insurance is available in the DR and is quite inexpensive compared to US insurance. Policies do have limits on total payouts and do not cover some pre-existing conditions. There are free public hospitals, but quality of care may be an issue. Hope this is helpful." Another expat added, "health care is definitely much less costly than in the US. My experience in an ER, for example, resulted in a total bill for everything of $170 in the DR compared to similar treatment in the US totaling over $12,000. I have heard similar stories from other expats for everything from gall bladder removal to heart bypass surgeries. Check around with others about which facilities or practitioners they recommend, as anywhere else the quality can vary." Please note that you must be under 65 to apply for a local plan.

If you are over 65, have a pre-existing condition not covered by a local plan, would like access to hospitals and doctors outside of DR, you may want to consider an expat health insurance plan.

Expats living in Dominican Rep interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Diversity in the Dominican Republic

"People from Santiago are diverse and are accepting of others," suggested an expat in Santiago de los Caballeros. "People are very accepting, and the community is very friendly and they like tourists," said an expat in Luperon. An expat in Santo Domingo said, "I found a lot of diversity in the city, in all areas. It reminds me a lot of NYC, with all kinds of people living and working together."

Finding a Job in the Dominican Republic

"It depends on where in DR you want to live and on what you want to do. If you want to live near tourist areas, then your best bet is big hotel chains like Barcelo and Hard Rock Hotel. If you need a job urgently, then stay in the city of Santo Domingo and work at one of the hundreds of call centers. They hire people on a regular basis, that is taking for granted that you are fluent in English," advised an expat living in the Dominican Republic. An expat in Santiago said, "Most common jobs would be teaching English or working in call center. Don't expect to make a lot of money here. The typical pay is between 80 and 100 pesos per hour. ($2 to $3 us dollars). It is not very expensive to live here, but at the same time, you won't make a lot of money either."

"Dominican Republic's economic principle is complete freedom of commerce, so it doesn't matter where you are from, you can set up a company for your business if you desire, or just buy every building you can afford," said an expat living in the Dominican Republic.

Obtaining Residency in the Dominican Republic

An immigration expert in the Dominican Republic provided a great list of reasons for obtaining residency:

You will need to obtain residency papers for the following reasons:

  1. If you want to legally work for someone else, (no strong company will hire you without papers), this doesn't mean you can't do informal jobs.
  2. You want to drive a car in DR. You drive license has a validity of 90 days, so you will need to get a Dominican Driving license, for this you need residency.
  3. Don't have to pay overstay fines at airport, which means you can come and go free of charge.
  4. Once you obtain Residency you are making time towards your new Dominican Nationality. (DR ACCEPTS MULTIPLE NATIONALITY, LIKE MOST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD)
  5. Cheaper health insurance.

This same immigration expert in the Dominican Republic explained the process, "You can get a a 90 day extension for your tourist card at the Dominican General Directorate of Migration. Their Address is Ave. 30 de Mayo, Esquina Héroes de Luperon, Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana. If you are planning on staying for more than 6 months, I recommend you get you start working towards your Permanent Settlement Residency. Dominican Immigration process is a three step administrative process, without any judging who gets it or not. If you do not have a criminal record, nor and infectious dangerous disease, you go through the process and you get your residency. The first one is good for one year, called provisional residency, then you go through the process again (after provisional residency has expired), and that is it, you have obtained permanent residency. The third step is nationality, which is good for voting and running for office."

Although residency gives you access to cheaper health insurance, expats

Schools in the Dominican Republic

"The best Schools are private (forget about public schools) Carol Morgan, Americas Bi cultural School, New Horizons, Dominico Americano. They are English language schools, and they cost more than most private schools in USA. Normal Spanish Private Schools are affordable, and some are excellent centery old schools like: Loyola, La Salle, Don Bosco, San Juan Bautista, Colegio Santo Domingo, and Calasanz. University most are excellent, but not Oxford. Best Universities are: UNIBE, PUCMM, Universidad Catolica de Santo Domingo, and INTEC. If there is a possibility your daughter will be going to University here, they get your immigration papers in order from the moment you get here, that way, she'll have Dominican Nationality by the time University Begins. University is very expensive here for foreigners, and very cheap for nationals," said an immigration expert in the Dominican Republic.

Driving in the Dominican Republic

"You can not drive a car until you are a resident, outside of your tourist visa 30 days, if you have a bump then you will be held in prison until the case is taken before the court, which it will be for sure, the only way to avoid this is to take out an insurance that secures you are held in a hotel rather than prison if an accident occurs. My advice is to simply not drive until you understand the country completely and how to deal with the police and the people. There are ways to handle police and natives you will learn in time. Buying a car will cost you 3 times the cost of that same car in the US or UK/Europe, cars are terribly expensive as is gas," warned an expat in the Dominican Republic.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Comments about this Article

guest
Jan 18, 2013 16:53

Can we live in Cabarete, long term, with out going through the residency process tribunals?

guest
Jan 21, 2013 16:17

Hi, i am Mariusz Lisicki from Poland. I love a woman from Dominicana..my sweet hearth :-) Please give me an advice and tell me what is the cheapest way to get electricity at home at Dominicana when normal electricity gone out ? I know that in some poor districts in San Cristobal is masacra, because they have electricity only per 2-3 hours per day. Give me please an advice what to do and how much money i need to have :-) Best Regards, Mariusz Lisicki. Dzi?kuj? :-) My email is mario110270@gmail.com

guest
Feb 13, 2013 08:44

Hello Betsy! Great article! My name is Aaron Jackson. I'm looking to move to the Dominican Republic in April. I will be moving with my wife and daughter. I am interested in moving to an area that is not expensive and not too touristy. This will be our first time moving out of the US. All the sites that I pull up for housing is in touristy areas. Can you direct me to a site where I can find inexpensive, nice 3-4 bedroom homes? My email is mrbeluci@gmail.com. Thank you for your time.

guest
Jul 14, 2013 14:13

Hi, Can I call you regarding questions I have about moving to Domica Republic. Anedwards08@hotmail.com

karenmmm
Mar 21, 2014 10:54

Purchased a home in gasque back in the mid 90s. We moved because the tap water was toxic, reported in the local papers to be full of fecal matter, etc. We of course only drank bottled water, but over time felt the effects. Aside from that, loved it there. Nice people, but a rather high COL. I never had any problems driving well past 30 days on my US license. One problem encountered when selling is that they had capitol controls, so good luck in getting your money out. I was able to transfer mine to another account though, so we were able to move to Costa Rica which was wonderful until they recently started double taxing expats on their out of country earnings.

Sereno
Apr 30, 2014 06:01

I don't see a date on the OP by Betsy but it must have been before Jan. 2013. She tells a lot of good information BUT the Dominican Republic can change laws faster then some people change their cloths. Immigration is one area that has changed, and continues to change, so I would recommend that you ask for current information in a post in the D.R. forum. Of course, some of us "old timers" will try to help with any current question that you have. Thanks and good luck. Sereno

guapodr
Feb 19, 2015 08:59

REFRAIN FROM SHOWING OFF ! Yes, i do mean, keep low profile, do not wear this shiny watch or gold chain of yours or even bright ring ! And, when going to restaurant or shopping mall, no need to get the big roll of money, be discreet and swift. Do not use cellphone walking or carry purse, handbag or even cellphone in hand. Those are tips from public safety officer who has lived in DR 4 years and plan to return for retirement !

Chicobenito
Dec 26, 2015 19:25

Hello Betty, Love your article, about the residency visa, would you have a trusty lawyer to refer? I know Guzman Arriza quick are pretty big in the DR. I do need to know someone in the country to vouch for me, and since i do not know anyone, for a small amount, +-600 usd, the lawyer could do it for me. Thanks.

Mantost
Aug 29, 2016 10:39

Updated to 2016 , Choosing the place to live may vary dramatically. Example of this regarding Santo Domingo. Its not the same living in a quite, secured neighborhood like Piantini than living in Evaristo, morales , Quisqueya or El Million. Which are dangerous.. If you are planning to spend a year or so in Dominican Republic i have a 226 mts2 5th floor apartament , furnished, for hire, 1,700 usa dollar, negotiable! Ask me if you're planning to go there. Tonyrojas2000 at gmail

First Published: Jun 19, 2012

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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.

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