10 Things to Consider Before Moving to the Dominican Republic!

Summary: Full Service Realty D.R. offer tips for newcomers and others considering a move to DR. Expert advice about the best places to live in DR, Cost of Living, Health Insurance, Safety, Driving, Renting vs. Buying, Electricity, Going Green and more.

1. Cost of Living – Can You Survive in the Dominican Republic on $1,000 a Month?

When one client asked me if you can you survive in DR on $1,000 a month I promptly answered, If you live like a local you can do it. Eating beans and rice as a daily meal with cheap meat from the local butcher shop and buying fresh produce from a colmado * a small corner market.

I like living like a local but would still need another $500 – $1,000 for my sinful endeavors LOL. Meaning its how you choose to spend your leisure time and how sustainable are those choices.  Will you pay top dollar for drinks at a beachside café or cart your own cooler well stocked and park your caboose in the sand? Is this going to be a daily routine or once a week endeavor. The reality is it is your choice how much you want to spend and on what.  

Here is a real life example.  My mother rents an upscale Luxury apartment for 1000 $USD per month and it is a nice 2 bedroom 2 ½ bath place in Uvero Alto. After testing the waters for a year, she decided to sell everything and create her retirement plan here. Why? Because the quality of life here is unmatched if you are a tropical climate lover. Year-round temperature averages 85, Caribbean waters, fresh fruits, amazing beaches, the list goes on and on. But there’s real money in the DR also. You can easily spend 5K per month on various luxuries, but for her and myself we are quite comfortable right around 3K. It really all depends were you live and what your lifestyle is. You can buy an apartment for as little as 40K, 200K or up to 1.5M depending were you want to be. www.fullservicerealtydr.net

Overall, I love the DR. And I love living like a cross between an expat and as a local with some modifications, (maybe because I am entrepreneur).

If you also have the entrepreneurial spirit you might find this guide useful. https://www.godominicanrepublic.com/?s=investment+guide

I do not spend a lot of time in front of the television, I genuinely enjoy cultural experiences and traveling all over the country. I find new places and spend time trying to interact with the locals. For example, the best meal I had recently was not at the Applebee’s or Hard Rock Cafe that my Dominican friend dragged me to, but at a local stand on the side of the road with grilled chicken, some pigeon peas and rice with drinks. Me and my fiancé spent about 7 usd for the meal.” And it was delicious and fresh no preservatives.  I have my special places I have discovered over the years and frequent them as much as possible.  There is an idea for my next blog!! Listing those out with a map and menu recommendations!!

2. Healthcare in Dominican Republic

“Private hospitals differ one from the other. Most are good and some are excellent. You can get almost all kinds of care in private hospitals and good quality care in private clinics. There are many private facilities in Punta Cana and Santo Domingo! You must purchase private insurance here. Public medical care is available but it is not the same, it is seriously inferior. Most [medicines] are available without a prescription with the exception of serious pain killers!” 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. Shop around and decide for yourself who you like.  

3. What to Bring When You Move to the Dominican Republic

“I wish I had brought a tin opener, good knives and more swim trunks. I should have left my nicer clothes and shoes at home — and my jewelry,” said my mother. “I wish I had brought my best friend. I wish I had brought more money. I wish I had brought better Spanish.” “I wish I’d brought cooking utensils, spices for cooking, American Cable TV. There’s nothing I wish I’d left behind,” she also added. This really differs for everyone.  Which again prompts the idea to try it on for size before committing completely.  I just knew right away I wanted something entirely different than what I was experiencing back in the U.S.  Many now see that choice as visionary given the issues that are currently plaguing the country now.  The adjustment varies for everyone. So what is highly recommended is to stay for at 3 months or up to six before deciding if you are ready to live here permanently.

4. My Top 5 Best Places to Live in the Eastern Region/Touristic Zones of Dominican Republic

I will highlight 5 places that are typically recommend to most expat people moving to D.R.

  1. Punta Cana Village is on the eastern point of the island and only 5 minutes from the International Airport. Many businesses are located in this zone as well as some very nice recreational activities such as beaches and the marina.  Golf courses are a given.. https://puntacanavillage.com/lifestyle
  1. Downtown Punta Cana/ Bavaro where there is shopping, restaurants, water parks, church, cafes, etc. A real taste of small city life right outside your door.. The beach is about 10 min drive from this area. https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=https://downtownpuntacana.com/&prev=search
  1. Los Corales a lively expat zone with many condos and small villas nestled next to the beach access points which are shared with several hotel groups. https://visitpuntacana.org/playa-los-corales/ Cortecito Beach is just north of Los Corales and is just a bit more economical than the previous location in terms of living expenses. https://visitpuntacana.org/playa-el-cortecito/
  1. Cocotal is a gated golf community with club house and restaurants. It is home to approximately 10 thousand people living inside the gates. Villas, condos, homes, a small business center and many amenities are just outside your door including shuttle service to the nearby beach. https://www.godominicanrepublic.com/poi/golf/punta-cana/cocotal-golf-country-club/
  1. Now we have Casa de Campois one of the most expensive places to live in DR. Located on the southeast coast, Casa de Campo has an upscale, country club feel.  With a list of amenities that are suited for lifestyles of the rich and famous. Click on this blog link to learn more.  https://blog.fullservicerealtydr.net/casa-de-campo-luxury-retreat-rich-famous/

These are just a few of the best places to live in DR. I do not wish to exclude all the others but one must consolidate a list as a starting point.

The following statement advises you how I recommend you begin.  “I would just come initially, if possible, for a six-month period, and then go back. Take your time, find your favorite beach, explore the local expat hangouts, hang in the neighborhood you like best, then locate the perfect apartment or villa, not the other way around.”

5. Safety in the Dominican Republic

Quite simple advice: Never walk alone and do not walk the downtown streets at night. As one man from NYC commented I would not do it there or in Newark or Trenton; do not wear a lot of bling or drive a Ferrari… you would be a target. Just like in any major city ANYWHERE; cops get paid poorly, so when they stop you, ask if they are hungry and slip them 100 pesos ($2) and you are good to go. Yes, corrupt if you will, but I will take them over a NYC cop with macho attitude any day,” explained one expat in a discussion about safety in DR on the Dominican Republic Forum.

“I have 10 years living here locally. I have never been a victim of crime and am regularly out after dark stopping by the local bars and chicken stands that are all over the touristic zones and local cities. But life is not all rosy glasses. Do not present yourself as a target. I don’t wear flashy jewelry, or you might get robbed (Grab and Run). I personally never had experienced these things, but they do happen. I feel safer here than I do in many US cities for what that is worth.

6. Driving in the Dominican Republic

Most expats living in urban areas like Santo Domingo will agree that driving in the Dominican Republic is challenging. I personally drove a scooter for 7 years, before finally buying a car. You must be careful and understand your skills as a vehicle operator knowing full well most do not have the consciousness many from north America have due to lack of education and cultural differences. I can affirm as did one other expat, “They do drive like maniacs on their motorcycles but it’s their life they are playing with, get something with 4 wheels and doors and you will be fine.” Another expat added, “Traffic fatalities are high due to a lack of enforcement of drunk driving laws and more motorcycles on the roads than cars. I would avoid driving at night and riding motorcycles except perhaps in rural areas.” “Focus when you drive as the moto-conchos (motorcycle taxis) drive aggressively. Most driving deaths are these guys,”. Another warned, “Be careful driving. Street signs and traffic signals are seen only as suggestions and many people ignore them.”

7. Buying vs. Renting in Dominican Republic

“I would not buy anything for at least 6 months, until you decide that you really like it and until you have seen the entire country. I lived in a furnished rental my first 8 years. 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. Much lower. My two bedroom upscale condo located on the beach with balconies and loft with roof access is $1000 a month. This includes pool, gym, common areas and beach cabanas. To buy apartments here cost around $150k to 400k depending on your taste.  However you may just be ready to buy but be sure you know what your getting into and use a professional service to assist you in the process. 

8. How to Find a Rental Property in DR

“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. I ended up in this touristic zone because the assimilation process and the access to like minded expats was amazing. 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 consider 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. To rent a standard 3-bedroom house in an expat area is around 600-1500 US$ a month. If you live in a gated community it is more. A similar property in a purely Dominican town or village is around 300 US$ a month.

9. Electricity and Backup Power

Going green is not just a choice but also to SAVE green and better to ensure that we and our guests are not only comfortable but safe. I live in a nice area with almost 24/7 power for the last several years. The years before it was 3/4 the time. My energy bill over the years has gone from US $100 per month to over $300 per month. My first inverter/battery system was small and used as back-up during black- Recharging the batteries takes a lot of electricity and costs a lot of $$$. Plan ahead and IMHO an inverter system is your first consideration and even more so if you put in solar. Size the inverter and battery banks to meet your needs plus a little more. Look at the options. Get a known quality brand. Do your research.”

10. How to Adapt to Expat Life Dominican Republic

The people that do best here, have a sense of adventure, common sense, and willingness to adapt to local conditions. I think some knowledge of Spanish is a big help but not mandatory.  Personally, I do not understand expats who continually complain about the DR. Seriously, you do not have to live here. Moving is stressful, you need at least a year to start to acclimate. The key is to embrace the culture, the people, do not act like a tourist and don’t act like you are better than the locals. You are there in THEIR country. Like anywhere else, be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts. Patience is the answer and if you do not have that then this is probably not the place for you to consider moving to. Learning Spanish makes Your Transition Much Easier but is not a deal breaker by any means.

“It is helpful to study Spanish as it makes the transition much easier,”. Various combinations of just 200 new words, will provide you with enough vocabulary to be understood in most situations.

Finally, each one of these 10 highlights could be expanded on immensely.  Here is what the team at Full Service Realty D.R. provides – EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE gained over 10 years living and working in this region.  We know what it means to struggle with little things and our value proposition is the following.  When you work with our team we will help you minimize the learning curve most people encounter their first couple of years. That is our true commitment to those we take on as clients and ultimately nurture into friendships.  




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