Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 08/19/08

Personal Experiences from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 08/19/08

Background:

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

No.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Close to U.S., but flights have become more expensive.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Gated communities have the best of both worlds (safety and housing space) for those who can get housing in one. There are some great houses with pools, but not enough of them for everyone. Commute is 15-45 minutes.

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

Everything is available here, but is about 25% more expensive than the U.S.

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

Beach, tennis, golf, and baseball equipment.

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

Plenty of fast food, but otherwise dining is so-so. Good steakhouses, but not much else.

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Daily Life:

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

APO available.

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

Widely available. US$250/month for a full-time maid.

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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?

ATMs are OK, credit cards are not.

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

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

Yes. Reasonable cost.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by with a few dozen key phrases. Some English spoken here.

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

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

Safe and affordable.

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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?

An SUV or other car with high clearance is best, given the many pot holes -- especially outside the city.

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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. Reasonable cost.

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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?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage.

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Pets:

1. 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?

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

At work, same as a typical U.S. office. In public, casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. Some say unhealthy, but I haven't had a problem.

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

Typical for Latin America. Safer in gated communities and apartments.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dengue fever has become a problem. There are some good doctors here and a fair few specialists -- it all depends on your comfort level with a foreign doctor.

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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?

Very good overall. Good 6 months a year (fall/spring), great 3 months (winter), and bad 3 months (summer).

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Medium to large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. The DR is developing country in every sense -- economically, socially, in terms of education, work ethic, etc. Some people don't mind that and really enjoy the beach, good weather, and baseball. Singles don't mind the crime and health issues as much as families do, plus they get to enjoy the nightlife more.

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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 nightlife, or so the single people tell me.

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

Singles enjoy the nightlife. Families have more mixed morale, often depending on housing.

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

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

African-Americans face some problems.

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

Beach activities, tennis, golf, and baseball. Decent beach 1 hour away, excellent beach 2.5 hours away. Good weather 9 months of year (summer is very hot).

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

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9. 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?

Maybe.

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

Sanity when driving. Driving conditions are very bad and unlike anything I've ever seen, even in developing countries. Not a good way to start and end each workday.

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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?

Vargas Llosa, Feast of the Goat. Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies.

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

Vargas Llosa, Feast of the Goat. Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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