Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 08/02/15
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?
Western Europe and the Middle East
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?
All over, direct flights to the U.S. In 5 hours or less.
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?
Apartments and homes, spread about the city. Anywhere from 15-45 minute commute times. Very few yards.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
About 10% more than the U.S. for pantry items, significantly more for paper products and name brand cleaning supplies.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Paper products, cereal, laundry detergent.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
All food is available except some true Asian options (Indian and Thai are really lacking).
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
All of them! It's tropical, so roaches, lizards, ants, geckos, etc.
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?
Housekeepers to nannies run US$200-500 a month, depending.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
About U.S. pricing, many available with classes, etc. cross fit, yoga, etc.
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?
Credit cards are widely used. Concerns for identity theft are serious.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes, in a few denominations.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You need it to function well.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Absolutely it is difficult.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Affordable, yes. Safe, hmmmm. Many do not use them.
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?
No low profile cars. Many potholes and high speed bumps.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. From US$40-100 a month and usually solid and fast.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Anything you want from a cheap US$15 phone to iPhones are everywhere and affordable (the plan, not the phone itself. They are much more expensive here.)
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?
No. Vets and jpkennels are widely available at prices lower than the States.
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?
Theoretically, yes. You would need Spanish.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual - suit and tie. Depends on the office and the occasion.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
The city has frequent armed robberies, mugging gas, breaks ins, smash and grabs, etc. Road accidents and fatalities are common.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Many options with U.S. trained doctors. The system is a little confusing but care is available.
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?
Not great. Lots of respiratory issues, smog, trash burning.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
It's pretty bad as this is a tropical country and allergies are always flaring up.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Warm to terribly hot all the time.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Many, many, many. From preschool to high school.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
There are several schools with good programs.
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?
Preschools vary greatly, and run from US$200-500 a month.
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 large. If you are outgoing you can make the most of a huge scene.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Dinner, drinks, dancing, beach.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes to all of the above.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes. Many clubs, nightlife, and expat scene.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes, but it is very nuanced.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Ability to get back to the U.S. quickly, child friendly nature of everything
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
There are great off the beaten path hiking, beaches, etc.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Beaches, easy travel, fruit.
10. Can you save money?
If you don't eat out.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
That it is easy to be isolated and all the despite beaches, there is very little green space.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Many books about Trujillo, the Dominican American experience, etc.