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Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Moving to the Dominican Republic

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 01, 2023

Summary: Expats and digital nomads move to the Dominican Republic for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and low cost of living. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in the Dominican Republic are Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, and Punta Cana. People looking for a place to live in the Dominican Republic can find a variety of options, from renting an apartment or house to staying in a hotel or resort. Additionally, there are many online resources available to help expats and digital nomads find a place to live in the Dominican Republic.

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What do I need to know before moving to the Dominican Republic?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to the Dominican Republic, they said:

"Before moving to the Dominican Republic it is important to familiarize yourself with the local customs and culture. The official language is Spanish so good knowledge of the language is important. Getting a visa can be complicated but is usually necessary. Be aware of your surroundings and the potential for petty crime, but the Dominican Republic is generally a safe country. Vaccinations are recommended before travelling to the country. Be prepared for tropical weather and organise your flight, accommodation and insurance in advance. Bring essential documents such as a passport, driver’s license, and any relevant paperwork. Additionally, research the cost of living in the area you are moving to, as prices can vary widely. Finally, if viewing property be sure to seek qualified legal advice," remarked another expat in Dominican Rep.

"I advise you to visit the better area of town which is called Piantini and Naco. They are very cosmopolitan areas, located in District National Santo Domingo along ave Winston Churchill. Ask Apolo Taxi which I discovered to be the most safe and trusted Taxi, to take you to the Blue Mall on Ave Winston Churchill. Also Go to The Acropolis which is a few blocks from the Blue Mall on the same street. Walk the neighborhood for three blocks in each direction from Ave Winston Churchill and you will see many buildings with condo's for sale(vende) or rent ( alquiliar). There is a Holiday Inn Hotel located 5 minutes from this area on Ave Abraham Lincoln. Both malls have resteraunts and movies. Your supermarket is across the street from the mall. there are at least six banks betwee the two malls along with resteraunts and Pharmacies. Everything you can walk to, if you get your apartment there. Plus the area is quiet and secure. You will not have the loud Dominican music playing 24 hours a day. it is a normal tranquile neighborhood. A 3bedroom unfurnished can cost US$800.00 a month. I recommend you do not fall for the fully furnished apt. ads. If you do, make sure you sign a month to month lease. This will protect you from the bad feeling of living in a place with someone's old trashy furniture and having to put up with it until the lease expires. Also be sure to make certain that your deposit is not listed on the contract as a security deposit. Make sure it is listed as your last months rent. Visit the area for a week on each visit. If you decide to live in a Dominican area with the Bodega's and places that sell beer this is good if you are 27 years old, but if you are retired you will dread the day you did this. Trust me. Banking you should open a checking account and only deposit enough for your rent and utilities each month. The banks constantly suspend your account for no apparent reason. Keep the lion's share of your cash in the bank of your country and use your debit card to take money out," said another expat in Santo Domingo.

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How do I find a place to live in the Dominican Republic?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"There are a variety of ways to find a place to live in the Dominican Republic. Property websites such as Encuentra24.com and RepDominicana.com offer a good selection of properties for rent or sale throughout the country. Social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Craigslist can also be used to search for available housing. Additionally, local and international newspapers, as well as real estate agents in the country, can offer insight into where and what type of property is for sale or rent. Lastly, those looking for long-term housing should consider getting in touch with the local tourist office which can provide details on rental and relocation services," added another expat who made the move to Dominican Rep.

"I chose my neighborhood because it is located within walking distance of the Sea and one half block from the Metro/Subway. I found my apartment through a website named Sublet.com," explained one expat living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in the Dominican Republic?

"In the Dominican Republic, most expat homes or apartments are modern with air conditioning and usually have a terrace or balcony. The home or apartment complexes generally provide amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms and playgrounds. In addition, most expats choose to live in secure and gated communities. Apartments tend to be of a good size with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and have a range of features such as high speed internet, cable TV, and in-unit laundry. Finally, expat homes or apartments are typically furnished and can include appliances and kitchen supplies," remarked another expat in Dominican Rep.

"I live in a furnished 2 bedroom apartment. This is typical of the expats I have met. My next door neighnor have lived in their unit for ten years. They are from Canada/Germany," said another expat in Santo Domingo.

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What is the average cost of housing in the Dominican Republic?

If you are thinking about moving to the Dominican Republic, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The average cost of housing in the Dominican Republic varies depending on the location and type of housing. Generally, rent prices tend to be lower than in many other countries while the cost of buying property is comparable to neighboring countries," said another expat in Dominican Rep.

"I live in Boca Chica and rent a 3 bedroom for $440/month. It's on a very good well so no water bill. Electricity here is iffy, but the last 3 or 4 months have been great with no major outages," remarked another expat who made the move to Santo Domingo.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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Should I buy or rent a home in the Dominican Republic?

If you have not spent a lot of time in the Dominican Republic, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"Whether to buy or rent a home in the Dominican Republic is a personal decision that ultimately depends on your individual circumstances, budget, and long-term goals. Buying a home in the Dominican Republic may provide an attractive investment opportunity and provide you with greater control over your living environment. Additionally, you can look forward to having a home that you can call your own and enjoy for many years. On the other hand, renting a home allows for greater flexibility with no long-term commitment and is usually the more affordable option for those who don’t plan on staying in the country for an extended period of time. Ultimately, it is important to weigh both options carefully and decide which one best fits your needs and goals," said another expat in Dominican Rep.

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What should I pack when moving to the Dominican Republic?

We asked people living in the Dominican Republic to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"Clothes suitable for warm weather and casual settings, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, money belt, electrical adapters, over-the-counter medications, first-aid kit, insect repellent, hat and sunglasses, digital camera, passport and other important documents, phone and laptop chargers, umbrella or raincoat, toiletries, flashlight," replied a member in Dominican Rep.

"I wish I'd brought Cooking utensels, Spices for cooking, American Cable TV. There's nothing I wish I'd left behind," commented one expat who made the move to Santo Domingo.

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What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in the Dominican Republic?

We asked people in the Dominican Republic if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"Being disrespectful in public, speaking too loudly or using offensive language are all considered faux pas in the Dominican Republic. Additionally, it is considered inappropriate to take photos of people without their permission and should be avoided, particularly when visiting religious sites or ceremonies. It is worthwhile to show respect to one's elders, so people should greet people who are seniors with a handshake or a nod. While many Dominicans are friendly and relaxed, public displays of affection should still be kept to a minimum. Finally, dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites," remarked another expat who made the move to Dominican Rep.

"In the Dominican Republic, it is important to greet people with a handshake and good eye contact. Public displays of affection between lovers such as kissing, hugging, and hand-holding should be avoided. It is also considered rude to talk about money or the political situation. It is important to respect religious practices and customs, such as no eating during Lent. Avoid any comments that may be taken as offensive, especially regarding skin color or national identity. Finally, dress conservatively when visiting places such as churches, and avoid wearing revealing or inappropriate clothing," explained one expat living in Dominican Rep.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame 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.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

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