Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 08/10/15
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?
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?
Washington, DC....about a 4 hour flight total...not bad.
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?
A huge disappointment. There are apartments and houses. If you don't have kids, they tend to stick you in an apartment. There is some housing close to the Embassy and the commute time with back roads can be as little as 15 minutes. Some of the houses are further out and the commute is a nightmare. Not only do you deal with traffic but you also deal with stupid, careless drivers, bikes and motorcycles.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Higher than the US..maybe 20% more depending on what you shop for.
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?
All kinds of fast food restaurants here. You have McDonald's, Papa Johns, KFC..pretty much everything.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Roaches and ants. I was able to fix the ant problem but the roaches never 100% go away...especially when it rains.
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?
For a part time, (2x a week) it can be anywhere from US$200 and up. Average costs is 600 pesos a day plus transportation. 600 pesos is roughly US$13. Anything can be negotiated. The people in the embassy tend to pay higher and the housekeepers do less. If you find a good housekeeper here who can cook AND clean, you are lucky.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes. There is one at the Embassy. There is a Golds Gym, Body Shop...all about U.S. prices.
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?
Accepted everywhere....just be cautious and check your accounts.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I would say yes.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Apollo is the recommended taxi service here. Very affordable. Don't take the buses or random taxis unless you want to be squished in a cab with 20 other people.
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?
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. Average U.S. costs. Just be prepared for daily power outages. Yes, there is a generator but you have to wait for everything to boot up again. It can be frustrating but you get use to it.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Decent cell phone planes here. Bring an unlocked phone so you don't have to buy one 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?
I don't believe so.
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?
I am not sure....if you speak spanish I am assumming there it.
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?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Tons. Cell phone snatching, thefts...just think of high crime in any U.S. city. Be alert and don't be too flashy.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical are is pretty decent and cheaper than U.S.
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?
Smog, smoke...not horrible but not the best.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
I know many people who have allergies here. Bring your Claritin.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It is usually in the 90's F and humid every day. Typical tropical weather.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Carol Morgan is a really good school.
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?
I believe so.
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?
It seems like everyone is just counting down the time until they leave but they make the best of it. There are worst places and you can have some good times here. You just have to change your thinking.
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?
Beach, drink, scuba dive, snorkel
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I don't know about good but its ok for all. You can always find something to do.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Against the Haitians.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
I can't see there are any highlights. It is always good to get out of the city and explore the rest of the country....but highlights...none.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Get out of the city and head to the beach. There is great scuba diving here as well.
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?
Nice beaches, and pretty decent weather.
10. Can you save money?
Sure. If you don't go out.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
That I was not going to be living in a beautiful tropical place by the beach but in a crowded dirty city.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Not a chance
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Way of thinking things in a logical way and definitely your driving etiquette.
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?
6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
7. Do you have any other comments?
This isn't a horrible post but it isn't the best. Have an open mind and try your best to get out of the city as much as possible. There are some beautiful beaches. You will need that to de-stress from the city. Have patience. You will need it, trust me. Nothing will make sense and once you grasp that, things get easier. The 24/7 delivery of beer and alcohol will get you through your tour here! =)