Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 02/12/12

Personal Experiences from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 02/12/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes

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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?

Sacramento, California

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Husband in the foreign service.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Varies, personally I think the embassy could do better, as I have seen better and less expensive but I am happy with my house. Problem is sometimes you see families with kids in little apartments, and couples or single people in huge houses, they do not consider very much family size or that the couple has kids, is more about what is available when you come, but it all depends on the organization you are working with.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

very expensive more than we used to pay in US going to whole foods, and bad quality everything is in package and two or three fruits or veggies of the package are spoiled.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

more toys fro the kids, a little play structure no playgrounds and the ones that are are full of rocks, broken down, with drunk people living there and robbers ready to point a gun to you and your child.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

no decent food and expensive, i have not been in a restaurant that is really good, but there are decent places, us prices though.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

it is difficult and expensive but you can find it

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Yes there is dengue but is not bad.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

dpo

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Lots...but again I think Dominicans are lazy, so maids have this thing that they want you to hire two one to be nanny and cleaner and one to cook and do the laundry, if you are lucky enough to find one that does everything, she won't live she'll expect to leave at 4 or 5, so if you work you won't have any rest at night. Entitled, expecting a lot from you, and lazy, but I have one live in maid that is really good of course she does not iron or cook so there is other that comes to do that. But if you have big kids you should be ok, as the thing is that you can find one that does everything and leaves at 4, so if you have big kids you won't need extra help in the night.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes

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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?

no comments I use the ones at the Embassy

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Many

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

yes, do not get CLARO, let me repeat this, DO NOT GET CLARO, they are the worst. Get tricom or better yet if you have the money sky

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

To hire service and services a lot.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

all of them I have yet to see a ramp here

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

If you want to be robbed or have a hard time

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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?

SUV

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

yes, relatively cheap but service is terrible

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

no

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Pets:

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?

I don't think so

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I think so

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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?

yes, if you look, as there are not very qualified locals

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

dress up, dominicans dress up to check their emails and shop online.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Everybody carries guns here, you see from your car, the guys in motorcycles with the gun in their pants, there are armerias (gun stores everywhere) you can go buy guns, bullets, it is terrible. Robberies I was robbed at gun poin in a playground in an attempt to spend some time outside with my kid.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

be careful you need to try doctors to find good ones, but there are very good ones.

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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?

bad, your allergies will go crazy, expect lots of respiratory problems, and people smoke heavily and with no regard, so expect also lot of second hand smoking everywhere.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Weather is nice, mostly sunny and with a nice breeze

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Just have a little kid who goes to a local preschool

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

don;t know

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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?

yes

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

yes but are terrible, there is a gymboree, but the thing is that dominican workers are mostly very lazy, and distracted all the time in their cell phones even teachers,they are also very rude on kids like the teacher of swimming classes yells to my boy dying boy, I had to set him straight, but others moms specially dominicans don't think is wrong even dominican kids laugh at being told that,services are poor and that includes the limited things or activities that there are for kids, come packed with material to distract your kids at home.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

big, good international women club association get in touch with them

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2. Morale among expats:

medium

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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?

all you want, this is your place is you want to dance, have sex, get drunk, smoke, and get attention from locals and feel like a rock star.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

for singles i don't think so as many dominicans are just behind a visa, for couples yes because you can travel although is expensive, for families stay away.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

dont know

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

lot of machismo, lot of cruelty and exploration towards haitians and animals, no religiosity people is not religious here.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Nice trips although very expensive, weather.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

go to the zone colonial, jardin botanico, zoo and that's it.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Dominicans are not crafty the art work is done mainly by haitians or Ecuadorians, but I guess if you like Ambar or Larimar.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather

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11. Can you save money?

No way

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Oh God no

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

expectations for good service

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3. But don't forget your:

patience, things to do with your kids at home, a play structure if you can bring one, swimsuits as beach is the only thing will get you out of this city, and a wallet full of money this place is US expensive with the exception of daycare, services, and help

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Any Dominican Republic Guide

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Please don't think I am negative, I am talking as the mother or a toddler and as a person that knows good food. Now there are many positives, people are patient with kids in restaurants, help is not cheap but cheaper than in US and with patience and lots of training you can train your dominican helper, if you are not expecting great quality in food you might find food delicious here, if you like beach and don't mind spend half of your salary trying to get out with your family there are awesome beaches around.

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