Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic

GeoBlue International Health Insurance

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 24, 2021

Summary: With a population of 2.9 million, Santo Domingo is a city with which many expats, retirees and digital nomads have a love-hate relationship. It's a tropical city with a diverse population that some find appealing. But, people say the traffic, dangerous driving conditions and unfriendly locals can make life in Santo Domingo wear on you. Healthcare tip: If you're new to DR, be sure to purchase health insurance that covers medical evacuation for treatment outside of the country.

What do I need to know about living in Santo Domingo?

Live in Santo Domingo? Answer this Question

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Santo Domingo, 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.

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Need health insurance in Dominican Rep? 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.

How do I meet people in Santo Domingo?

Live in Santo Domingo? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Santo Domingo 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," remarked another 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," added another expat in Santo Domingo.

What is life like in Santo Domingo?

Live in Santo Domingo? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Santo Domingo 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!!," said another expat in 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," added another expat who made the move to Santo Domingo.

"I found that in the city, most people are just trying to make a living. Family is also very important. The weekends are meant for socializing," explained one expat living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Santo Domingo accepting of differences?

Live in Santo Domingo? Answer this Question

"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," added 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.

"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," mentioned another in Santo Domingo.

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 12 Best Places to Live in Italy, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and the Living in Panama Guide. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Get a quotes for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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Santo Domingo, Dominican RepGuide to Living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep

Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Santo Domingo

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Join our Dominican Rep forum to meet other people living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep.

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Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Santo Domingo.

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Expats and global nomads in Santo Domingo share their experiences with health insurance, healthcare in Dominican Rep, local hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care and more.

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Expats offer advice about everything you need to know before moving to Santo Domingo: what to bring (and what to leave behind), how to find housing and more.

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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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