Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 11/10/10
Personal Experiences from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
no, lived in europe for several tours
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
DC, 500USD flight to SDO
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
housing is average to below average.families get houses and they are generally better than the apartments.singles get apartments that range in size and quality.all housing has a lot of issues with plumbing and general poor conditions.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
more expensive here since everything is imported
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
almost all big american chains are available
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
just eat rice and beans for 2 years.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
about 200-300 per month 2x a week.not sure about live in maids
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
yes, two big gyms bodyshop and golds
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
i had my credit card hacked within two months of being here
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
you will be frustrated if you dont speak spanish
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
apolo taxi is the only reliable and honest company
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
they say SUV, but a car will suffice
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
yes, expensive about 75-100 dollars per month
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
orange or claro are the two big companies
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
yes, good english speaking vets available
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
formal. shirt and tie, suits not necessary
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
street crime is a problem. several people have been mugged from the mission
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
dengue, malaria and other fun illnesses
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
poor, pollution is horrible here, especially the exhaust from the cars.noise pollution is also bad as dominicans feel the need to beep constantly.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
good schools, but the dominican elite go to these schools and are clicky and a bit nasty. its hard for the kids to make friends from what they say.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
very small outside of the embassy.a few south americans and a few europeans.very few americans
2. Morale among expats:
i'd say low to average.people seem to be indifferent or absolutely hate it due to the (mis) management of the embassy, the chaotic city, and the dominicans who think they are entitled to everything
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
nightlife is good if you enjoy drinking presidente and listening to the same 15-20 reggaeton songs over and over.its gets old after about 2 months.other forms of entertainment like ballet, theatre, and live music is not that prevalent.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
i'd say its better for families.they interact less with the extremely abrasive dominican society.domincans are very friendly, but not the smartest of people... they love to party but you arent going to have a lot of deep conversations. nearly all men cheat and the women are annoyingly passive. not much of an expat population, small amount of europeans here.making shallow friends is easy, but they rarely have anything of interest to say besides partying
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
domincans are very racist toward dark colored people like haitians and dark skinned indivduals.more importantly, they are classist, the rich keep the poor down and dont interact with them at all.unfortunately, 90% of the country is poor, so its hard to find your niche
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Ecotourism, there are amazing things to see and do around the country.you have to get out there and take advantage.otherwise, you will go crazy with the chaotic life in santo domingo
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
beaches, ecotourism.there are several small companies popping up that offer fun tours of the countryside
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
dont bother, buy the same thing on amazon for 30% less.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
good restaurants, movie theatres, the weather, shopping (more expensive than the states)
11. Can you save money?
if you are careful.a dinner for 2 will run the same in the states about 75-100 with some wine.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
no, the management section has a notorious reputation of being very incompetent. everything is a fight, nobody is proactive, and there is a general lack of caring. it takes repeated follow up emails to verify that things get done. expect to live in a hotel for 2-3 months because they rarely have housing ready. getting services like internet, phone, repairs to your house, outages, and paying bills is a laborious and frustrating process. also, this is not punta cana, its a big trash filled typical 3rd world dump of a capital. flights are expensive back home, about 400-600USD. embassy is divided into 8 compounds, so its hard to interact with others.as mentioned before, dominicans are some of the rudest, most arrogant, and incompetent people i have ever met.its makes developing meaningful relationships and friendships nearly impossible.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
sunblock, snorkels, fins, beach stuff
4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
read up on trafficking issues such as child prostitution, haitian statelessness, drug trafficking, government corruption, and other nefarious activities
6. Do you have any other comments?
take advantage of the AMAZING beaches and natural wonders and forget about santo domingo.sometimes im out of the city every weekend of the month.