Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 06/09/12
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?
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?
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?
For the embassy, this will all change will the move to a new facility in 2014. They're building a Little America.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
If you get the diplomatic tax exemption, you might pay 25-30 percent more than in the U.S. Great selection of groceries, though.
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?
More U.S. fast food than in my hometown.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lots of flying adversaries, especially in the summertime.
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?
Not a great work ethic, but affordable. Might cost you $300 or so per month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
All over the place. Body Shop is awesome.
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?
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?
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
There is one taxi company, Apolo, that everyone seems to use. The cost is US$4 for just about anywhere. Good service.
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?
While it is not a necessity, I like a bit more clearance for the potholes and speed bumps. You see a lot of small SUVs in the embassy lot. However, anything works.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
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)?
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?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
As in any Latin American country, crime is a concern. Much better here than Venezuela or anywhere in Central America, but you still have to take precautions.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
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?
Good, by developing world standards. It helps that we're close to the sea. You can see the stars most nights.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Six months of hot and humid in the summer, six months of warm and pleasant in the winter. Evenings are generally fine for eating/drinking outside. You can swim year-round.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Carol Morgan is a fairly solid institution, on a par with an above-average school in the U.S. Like in many Latin American societies, integration can be tricky since these schools are dominated by rich locals who want to send their kids to college in the U.S. So 80 percent of the students are affluent Dominican kids who are not dying to meet new kids. Some foreign kids find their niche quite well, while others take much longer. This is a challenge to prepare your kids for--versus an international school with a truly diverse student body in, say, Africa or Asia.
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?
Many options. Parents seem pleased.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Tennis, riding, golf, and any water sport would be the best options.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Of the expats, 70% seem to like it and 30% seem to hate it. This might say more about the person than the post, however.
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?
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Single men obviously have no trouble dating. For single women, it's more challenging, but some do find Dominican males they enjoy being with. Regarding families: if you have young kids, the challenge is lack of playgrounds and green space. You really have to get out of town on the weekends and let them enjoy the beaches. Every hotel has a club to join, so that helps for activities like swimming. And of course, the weather is good year-round.
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?
That might depend on your attitude. Dominicans aren't exactly "progressive," but they are nice people.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
The most affordable beaches in the Caribbean. The worst beach in the DR compares with the better beaches in Florida. The better beaches are spectacular. Every price range from US$40/night up.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Good supermarkets, travel to amazing and affordable beaches, mountains, pleasant weather.
11. Can you save money?
Yes, because you can travel by car rather than plane for outings.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?