Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 01/24/13

Personal Experiences from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 01/24/13

Background:

1. Your reason for living this city (e.g. corporate, government, military, student, educator, retiree, etc.):

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

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3. 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?

There are always easy connections to the US through Miami.

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4. How long have you lived here?

(The contributor was affiliated with the U.S. Embassy from 2008 to 2011, a fifth expat experience.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Varied individual houses and apartments. Traffic can lengthen commutes, 15 minutes to an hour.

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

US brands are more expensive. Local produce from markets costs less.

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

You can get anything, but US brands may be expensive.

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

All US type available. Better to try local options.

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

Mosquitoes, ants, roaches, etc.

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Daily Life:

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

Don't count on local mail.

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

Easily available and relatively cheap. You will need to speak Spanish and be clear on what/how you want done.

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

Lots of options.

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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?

Don't if you can avoid it. Many problems with people/machines picking up numbers and making charges.

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

Yes.

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

With cable, about US equivalent.

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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?

English is not widely spoken.

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

Accommodations with easy access are not common.

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Transportation:

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

Be careful with taxis and buses, but they are available.

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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?

Nothing too flashy. High clearance is better in the rainy season (streets will flood) or going off road.

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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, variations in speed/access, but reasonable price.

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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?

Most from US will not work in DR.

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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?

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

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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?

Not many. Some in English language schools.

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

Business, running to the casual side.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is high. Don't walk at night or wear jewelry or carry electronics that would attract criminals.

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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?

OK.

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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?

Moderate, but ocean breezes keep it pretty clear.

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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?

Tropical, warm, and sometimes wet.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our children attended Carol Morgan School. This has become a school for rich Dominican kids with Americans not always well accepted. Academics are okay to good, but social issues are generally ignored by the administration. This was our worst experience of five international schools we've attended.

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

Some accommodations, but more as an afterthought.

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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?

Lots of options.

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

Neighborhood clubs are a good option, or through schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Many expats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varied.

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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?

Lots of options.

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

We loved living there - except for issues with the school.

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

Dominican society is very macho and not openly accepting.

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

There are racial prejudices and women will get whistles/comments while walking etc.

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

Bahia de los Aquilas and other out-of-the-way beaches. Winter-league baseball games. Great music and dancing.

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

Plenty of beaches---cheap all-inclusives or 4WD only. Baseball. Rent a home in the mountains (Constanza) for the week. Waterfalls---do 27 Charcos. Learn to play dominoes and dance the Merengue and Bachata. Good local restaurants.

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

Enjoying the countryside.

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

Great beaches, but don't forget the mountains, too. Inexpensive help. Most of the entertainment options of a big city are available.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I might, but my kids wouldn't want to because of the school.

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

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3. But don't forget your:

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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