Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 02/11/08
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?
No - I've lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Manilla, Philippines, Damascus, Syria, Santiago de Chile, Chile, and New York, New York
2. How long have you lived here?
Almost four years.
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
I am affiliated with the Government, working for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
I usually take Iberia from Amsterdam. The Madrid airport is so much better than Charles de Gauille in Paris. And Air France is below par.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Apartments are preferred due to security and maintenance issues. Owners of houses promise to do all the work but after a short while it's a nightmare
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Higher than in Europe and the U.S.
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 the typical American fast food joints. There are some good restaurants that are more expensive than Europe (no Indian restaurants but excellent Chinese).
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Diplomatic mail. Goods from example Amazon through Buisness Mail.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Cheap but the quality is questionable.
3. 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 problem in general, just a void using them in restaurants.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Yes, it is pretty reasonable. Cable is about US$25.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Spanish is an absolute must.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Many. A person without a disabilies almost breaks his leggs daily.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
Right-hand, at least you are supposed to.
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes, taxis are fine. The others I would not recommend.
3. 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 for your own safety.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. I pay for broadband about US$80.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
1. 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. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
Unhealthy. Buses and generators emit an enormous amount of black smoke.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
No not really. There are very good dentists and doctors here.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Good. Fantastic climate most of the year.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Carol Morgen - my son had a great time there and had no problem going to University in the Netherlands.
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?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Bad. Everything is irritating. Traffic is a nightmare and getting anything repaired is impossible.
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?
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
From what I have heard, yes.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
If you like gold and the beach - this is the place. Otherwise it's quite boring.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Never. I'm glad I'll be posted to Rio this summer.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Your sense of humour.
3. But don't forget your:
Good spirits - you'll need it.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
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?
If you're posted to Santo Domingo I wish you all the best.