Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 07/23/19

Background:

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

no, have lived in 3 cities outside US

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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?

US

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

diplomatic

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

New housing compound a bit better, service/construction-wise than housing on economy, but you live in a boring area with a bunch of colleagues. Maybe works best for those with little kids looking for playmates.

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

Groceries about 25% over US prices

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

Anything you can't get through DPO, such as liquids, very large items, etc.

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

This is one of the main downsides to this post. There is almost no exotic cuisine - Thai, Chinese, sushi, etc. You can get Mexican, sort of, but mostly it's Dominican and American fast food. That's it.

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

Insects are everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO is fast - about one week.

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

Maybe $500-600/month but really hard to find someone honest and trustworthy.

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

There are a few super-gyms in country. Not cheap but comparable to US prices.

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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?

Generally, yes.

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

You really need Spanish. Not much English even though the DR lives in the shadow of the US.

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

Yes., unfortunately

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Transportation:

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

No to local transport, which is private publicos and believe me, you don't want to get inside. Great metro but it doesn't go anywhere you need to go. Affordable taxis. However, everyone drives everywhere, for the most part.

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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, US prices

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Business dress at the Embassy

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Health & Safety:

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

DR is very dangerous. Members of the official community have endured burglaries and some have even been stabbed on the street. It's not the most dangerous Latin American country, but that's about the only thing you can say.

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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?

Most of the typical tropical diseases are present here.

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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?

Air is good to moderate.

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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?

Hot and humid - winter is pleasant. Summer oppressive.

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Schools & Children:

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

Local schools dominated by local kids who do not want to socialize with foreign kids. This is a challenge, depending on the kid.

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

You can learn to surf, dive, anything on the water.

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Expat Life:

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

It's a fairly small expat community, given how small the country and capital city are.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No way Jose.

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2. Do you have any other comments?

OK, you've been assigned to the DR. Not the best news, perhaps, but just make the best of it. It won't be your favorite tour, but maybe you can turn it into a positive. Enjoy the beach and try to survive the traffic.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 01/21/19

Background:

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

No. Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

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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?

The United States. There are several flight options available but expect to pay anywhere between $400 to $600 dollars just to get to Miami which is a two-hour flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years and counting.

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

Diplomatic Mission, U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

New embassy compound is located approximately five minutes from the embassy which is great for your commute but not for your social life. If you are single or have a relatively small family, expect to live in the apartments and not the larger standalone residences. Though the compound is new, folks are already complaining about the quality of work.

Several other families live throughout the city. The housing pool is not great in my opinion.

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

Supermarkets are plentiful and groceries will run approximately 25% higher than in the US (except local fruits).

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

You can get everything here.

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

Several U.S. fast food outlets are here: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc. Costs are about the same as in the U.S. There is a good selection of mid-range and upscale dining, too, though they all share the same menu (risotto with truffle, tuna tartar, pork belly, etc). Prices can be pretty high but are on par with what you'd pay in the US. Diplomats don't have to pay the 18% VAT, which is a huge plus.

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

All of them, as you are on a tropical island.

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Daily Life:

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

The DPO. Amazon orders take one to two weeks.

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

Readily available, but the quality of work and the integrity of the household help is an issue. I've heard it's normal for families to fire their staff due to integrity reasons (theft, lying, etc).

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

Private gyms (Gold's, Body Shop) and CrossFit, moderately priced, several offer diplomatic discounts.

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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?

Credit cards are widely accepted and a good option. ATMs are also fine but the embassy cashier will provide a better rate.

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

The country is primarily Catholic, and I have heard that there is at least one church with a service in English. There are various Protestant denominations that also probably have some English-language services. There is a Jewish temple that offers regular services as well.

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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?

Very few people speak English, so having the ability to speak basic Spanish is really important. That said, Dominican Spanish does not seem to be your typical Spanish, much less the Spanish you learnt at FSI. Good luck!

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

Yes, few buildings/streets have access for disabled persons.

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Transportation:

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

Most public transportation is not safe (mainly because of the risk of traffic accidents and crime). The metro is clean and fast, but has a limited route. Uber is now available though there have been reports of drivers requesting cash instead of using a credit card and denying service if the route is an inconvenience for them (e.g., the airport).

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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?

I recommend a high clearance vehicle due to the number of potholes and overall poor road conditions. Expect to be in at least one car accident during your tour here. These are the worst driversI have personally witnessed.

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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, easy to set up if you speak Spanish or have a local assist you. Speed is excellent, I pay approximately $80 dollars for a triple play package (100MBPS, phone, and cable).

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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?

Claro or Altice.

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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?

Plenty of decent vets although several families have had an animal die from various causes or gotten sick and not ever really sure why or how. There are plenty of street animals to choose from if you decide to help the local animal population.

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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 really. Salary scale seems too low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of places from pet facilities to elder homes and orphanages.

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

Suits for most government and office work. Dominicans seem to be all about appearances.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, as the Dominican Republic is rated critical for crime. Though safer than Central America or Venezuela, petty crime is a big concern. I've heard that several people from the embassy and other expats have been held up by gun point and robbed. It's also common for people on motorcycles to execute a robbery or cause "fake" accidents in an attempt to extort you for money. Do not walk anywhere nor flash your valuables. Unfortunately, sexual assaults are far too common here, especially at hotels/resorts, often committed by hotel employees.

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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?

Mosquito-borne illnesses (dengue, chikungunya, and zika). Tap water is not potable. High rate of STDs. Any serious health concerns will warrant a medevac to Miami.

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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?

Not terrible. Some smog in Santo Domingo because of the amount of vehicles, but less so on the weekends; everywhere else in the country is fine.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

People often complain of allergies.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Low morale at post. Santo Domingo is not a Caribbean paradise and it doesn't seem friendly here.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot, humid and often rainy for the six months of summer and mildly hot with much less rain for the six months of winter. Think Miami weather.

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Schools & Children:

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

Per a previous post: The schools, particularly Carol Morgan, are decent academically. Problem is social integration for middle/high school foreign students. It seems to be a constant complaint. While some older kids manage to break the barrier and befriend many local kids, most do not. So this might be of concern for parents of middle/high schoolers.

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

Not sure.

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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?

Not sure.

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

Not sure.

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Expat Life:

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

Large and mixed, over a million Dominicans living in the DR are U.S. citizens or LPRs, lots of Haitians, Venezuelans, Colombians, Russians, and Europeans as well.

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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?

Baseball games, the beach, restaurants, etc...

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

Yes, but if are a single male, you may have to exercise good judgement in relationships. Also, I've heard STDs are prevalent here, and abortion is illegal.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

No, I have not found it easy to make friends with locals. Some of the best advice I received here from a local was "nothing is free in the DR, everyone wants something".

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

Yes, but not perfect. There is a large LGBT community, but they are not completely out and open. It is a conservative country and there is still seems to be societal discrimination and rare police harassment of LGBT persons.

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

No religious prejudices. There seems to be racism towards Haitians. Machismo/gender violence seems to be a big issue in Dominican society.

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

Very few to be honest, as I would likely not return. Perhaps the weekend trips to a beach?

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

Colonial Zone, but leave Santo Domingo as often as possible. Bahia de las Aguilas is worth visiting once...

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

Nothing here is really worth taking home, in my opinion.

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

The weather, proximity to the US and the decent beaches though they are serioulsly overrated.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Don't be fooled into thinking Santo Domingo or the rest of the DR is like Punta Cana, if not, you might be surprised.

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

No. I've visited over 60 countries and this is by far my least favorite country that I've visited or lived in (and I've been to poorer countries, and two war zones). Living here has not been easy for me, and I have had a very hard time with the other drivers.

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

Common sense and manners...certainly leave behind your expectations of living in paradise.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience...

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

None.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Yes, personally, I would not consider bidding here again.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 11/18/16

Background:

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

No, I previously lived in Japan.

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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?

California, USA, 6-8 hours with a connection.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses (in Las Praderas and Cacicazgos, 20-45 min from embassy depending on traffic) and apartments (mostly in Piantini, also 20-45 min from embassy based on traffic). Houses tend to have strange layouts; apartments are modern and spacious.

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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; U.S. packaged goods are more expensive. Local produce is cheap. European goods (Spanish in particular) are relatively cheap and available.

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

.

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

Strong U.S. influence, so all of the standard U.S. chain restaurants and fast food. Very good Spanish restaurants; more limited Asian food options.

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

.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO, Amazon orders take 1-2 weeks.

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

Readily available and cheap (I paid ~$25 per day).

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

Big boxes, Crossfit, many other specialty gyms, all reasonably priced.

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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?

Yes and yes.

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

.

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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?

Easy to survive without any Spanish, but the city and country is much more interesting if you can converse with locals.

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

Yes, few buildings / streets have access for disabled persons.

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Transportation:

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

Most public transportation is not safe (mostly because of risk of traffic accidents). The metro is clean and fast, but has a limited route.

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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?

Big SUVs and trucks are nice to have in traffic (because little cars get out of the way). 4WD is only necessary for a few out of the way weekend spots. Your car will get dented and scratched in traffic.

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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, easy to set up, generally fast and reliable and cheap (I paid $40 per month for 10 MBPS + cable).

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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?

Local providers offer monthly plans or pay-as-you-go (I paid $30 per month for unlimited calls and data).

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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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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 volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Suits for most government and office work. People in general dress better than in the United States (collar shirt, long pants, and loafers is the typical casual outfit).

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty crime is a constant risk; do not walk with any visible valuables. Houses are more prone to break-ins than apartments.

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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?

Mosquito-borne illnesses (dengue, chikungunya, and zika). Tap water is not potable. There is good medical care at private clinics.

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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?

Some smog in Santo Domingo because of the traffic congestion, but less so on the weekends; everywhere else in the country is fine.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, but not oppressively so as there is almost always a breeze (75-90F year round); frequent, intense, but short-lived rain showers.

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

.

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Expat Life:

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

Large and mixed, over a million Dominicans living in the DR are U.S. citizens or LPRs, lots of Haitians, Venezuelans, Colombians, Russians, and Europeans as well.

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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?

Many nightlife and restaurant options; baseball games; day trips to beaches and mountains.

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

Yes / Yes / Yes; Santo Domingo can wear on you with the constant crush of people and traffic, but this country has all of the comforts of the United States with more freedom and great and easy to access outdoors.

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

Yes, but not perfect, there is a large LGBT community, but they are not completely out and open. It is a conservative country and there is still societal discrimination and rare police harassment of LGBT persons.

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

No religious discrimination or conflicts; machismo / gender violence is an issue in Dominican society, but does not directly affect treatment of expats.

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

Meeting happy and gregarious Dominicans; learning about the country's complex history and visiting historic sites; the music and dancing; the endless weekend road trips to hidden beaches, surf spots, mountain hikes, etc.

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

Steer clear of big resorts in Punta Cana. Hike in the high alpine forests of Armando Bermudez and visit the ingenios of Santo Domingo.

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

Yes, although most commercial stores are more expensive than the United States, there are some local handicrafts and beautiful larimar and ambar jewelry.

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

Great music and dancing, good Spanish food, fantastic weekend beach locations.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had read more history before arriving (Juan Bosch, Frank Moya Pons, Roberto Cassa).

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

Yes.

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

Careful, cautious driving habits.

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4. But don't forget your:

Water sports gear.

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

Nueba Yol the movie, Rene Fortunato documentaries, books by Juan Bosch and Frank Moya Pons.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 04/28/16

Background:

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 3 other foreign cities.

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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?

Just a 3 hour flight to New York.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2012-2015

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The new Embassy compound (moved in June 2014) means an unpleasant commute for almost everyone - not especially long, but unpleasant. Crossing JFK Ave is no fun. Over half the Embassy had far better commutes to the old Embassy.

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

Supermarkets are plentiful and groceries will run 25% higher than in the US (except local fruits).

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

Not much - you can get it all here.

If you have small kids, think about portable basketball hoop, inflatable pool, trampoline, etc. These larger items will be more expensive here.

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

There's nothing but US fast food joints here. A bit pricier than in the US.

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

well, just about any flying creature you can imagine. You'll get fewer mosquitoes if you live on the 6th floor or higher. I know someone who requested a higher floor apartment for that reason.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy folks use DPO and it arrives quite quickly.

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

Full-time, about US$500/month. Hard to get reliable help, but some families are quite pleased.

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

Lots of decent gyms at various price points.

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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?

Credit cards are widely accepted and a good option. ATMs are also fine but the Embassy cashier will provide a better rate.

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

Lots of lively Christian churches, modest Islamic congregation and a Jewish temple mostly run by lay-people.

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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?

Few people speak English. You really need some Spanish to get around.

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

Not many allowances for handicapped, unfortunately.

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Transportation:

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

Everyone uses Apollo taxi, and it works pretty well. Almost no foreigner, except Peace Corps types, endure public transportation. Santo Domingo does have a very nice (but limited) metro.

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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?

Most opt for a higher-clearance vehicle. 4-wheel drive is not necessary for 95% of foreigners, but high clearance helps. However, normal sedans are also fine, but if you already own a good sedan I'd probably bring it. If you do buy a car with the hope of later reselling, Toyotas and Hondas are the only ones that retain most of their value. US makes, much less so.

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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, US$30-50/month might cover it.

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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 really. Salary scale is too low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Given the rates of poverty, there are obviously great volunteer opportunities.

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

Given the DR's tropical nature, people tend to be more casual than in the US.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is an issue. For those who live in stand-alone houses, there's a real threat of break-ins. Apartments and gated communities don't have that concern, fortunately. Purse snatchings and other street crime can also happen. The DR is safer than Central America and Venezuela, but it's still unsafe.

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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?

Medical care is not obviously not on par with the US, so many people are medivac'd to Florida. The better doctos are US-educated.

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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 - nothing like China or India

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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 hot, humid and often rainy for the six months of summer and mildly hot with much less rain for the six months of winter

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Schools & Children:

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

The schools, particularly Carol Morgan, are decent academically. Problem is social integration for middle/high school foreign students. It's a constant complaint. While some older kids manage to break the barrier and befriend many Dominican kids, most do not. So this should be a concern for parents of middle/high schoolers.

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2. 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?

Yes, many options and price ranges.

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

Not a wide range, but kids can join soccer or baseball teams. Many kids learn water sports, including sailing, diving, snowboarding, etc.

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Expat Life:

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

Not a huge expat community. Other than the US, other embassies are small. A few companies send expats, but most don't.

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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?

Nightlife scene is not great. Mostly, you hang with friends and family.

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

For families with small kids, it can be a decent city. There are few playgrounds but the Embassy usually has a nice nucleus of young kids.

Families of older kids complain of the lack of cultural options and social life. Not much of an international community, and wealthy Dominican kids (many related to each other) keep to themselves.

Single women seem to team up together. Only a small number date Dominican men.

Single men encounter no problem dating Dominican women.

Couples with no kids seem to do pretty well.

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

A gay, political-appointee Ambassador and his husband have helped soften some homophobic attitudes. However, I wouldn't call this place tolerant.

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

Not toward US/Europeans of any race/color, but Dominicans obviously have an issue with Haitians.

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

Undoubtedly, long weekends at the beach.

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

Beach, beach and beach. (Did I mention the beach?)

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

The best art is from Haiti. Some of that stuff is really spectacular.

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

2 main advantages are proximity to the US and amazing beaches.

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10. Can you save money?

Probably. It obviously depends on your salary level, but the lack of consumer spending options probably helps curb spending.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How tough it would be for kids to integrate and make local friends

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

No.

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

Warm clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

swim gear

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Unfortunately, the move to the new Embassy caused an across-the-board drop in staff morale. The new Embassy has some advantages of a new building, but it has an alienating feel to it. Location just awful. Almost everyone I know preferred the old buildings, even in their dilapidated state. Diplomacy is now less fluid due to the long distance between the Embassy and contacts. OBO really dropped the ball on that one.

In the old Embassy, morale among staff ranged from high to low. Santo Domingo is one of Latin America's least exciting capital cities, but some people got the most out of its beach life. In the new Embassy, there is the added stress of unpleasant commutes, cubicle overload and an isolated workplace. So I would rate current morale "below average."

However, if you love beach/sea/baseball, this might be your place. If you get a job with upward or professional growth potential, might be worth it. If you're a tandem and both get a job, it's a no-brainer. If you need to be close to the US, or if you're consular-coned and want the invaluable experience of working in one of the world's most challenging sections, go for it.

However, for most FSOs, the DR is more of a fall-back bid. Beats Caracas, but few other South American posts.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 01/28/16

Background:

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

No, I have lived in Germany and Austria.

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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?

Northern California, pretty long trip with a couple of connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years: 2014-2016

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We live in a brand new, modern 12 story apartment building in the center of the city. I love our place, it is spacious with nice appliances and a beautiful ocean view. People who live in single family homes are usually in older buildings. The homes are large but dark inside to combat the heat. Most are walled-in for security. My commute time to the embassy is about 15 minutes in the early morning (I start at 7) but can be 45 minutes or longer getting home. And it's only about 5 miles! Traffic here is one of the main complaints that everyone has. Everyone suffers from the noise issue, it's hard to escape. Housing is scattered about throughout the city in the "nicer" neighborhoods (still are not that nice in my opinion).

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

Availability is good, you will find a lot of familiar U.S. products at grocery stores like Nacional, Jumbo and Bravo, where everyone shops. Prices are about the same as in the U.S. but if you don't have to pay taxes that is a nice bonus. Produce selection is limited and lot of items are not fresh, it takes about a week for products to arrive from Miami, so keep that in mind. It's recommended to bleach things that you aren't going to cook, or use some kind of produce wash.

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

Rugs because your home will have hard-surface floors. Otherwise you can order pretty much anything you want from Amazon or find it locally. We bought rugs at IKEA.

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

Tons of U.S. fast food outlets are here - McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc. Costs are about the same as in the U.S. There is a good selection of mid-range and upscale dining, too. Prices can be pretty high but mostly are on par with what you'd pay in the US. Diplomats don't have to pay the 18% VAT, which is really nice. There is a good website I use to look at the menus of various restaurants and see if they have delivery, etc. menu.com.do

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

Mosquitoes. Several people I know have contracted dengue and it is pretty awful. Now Zika might be in the country. Bring repellent and mosquito nets, and use them.

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Daily Life:

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

Local mail is unreliable, most people use some kind of parcel service. We have the DPO at the embassy.

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

Very available, low cost - we pay about US$350 for our full-time helper (nanny-housekeeper). Some families employ drivers, which is necessary if you have multiple kids and one vehicle. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, many employees are lazy and under-educated and in our experience you have to really spell out everything you want them to do. It has been very challenging to find good help but we basically settled for someone because she shows up on time, can read and write, is available to babysit at night on occasion, and because we couldn't find anyone better.

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

Yes, plenty. There are private clubs that offer diplomatic discounts and they are really affordable, otherwise private gyms like Gold's and Body Shop are popular and prices are similar to in the U.S.

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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?

We use credit cards at the grocery store and other major stores but have had our card skimmed at a major pharmacy (twice!), so you never know. ATMs, we use to get cash from major banks and get reimbursed by our credit union for the fees. This is a cash-based society in many ways - don't get in a taxi without cash, they don't accept credit cards.

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

Very few people speak English, so having the ability to speak basic Spanish is really important.

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

Yes. It is very difficult to go for a walk in one's neighborhood with a stroller, so I can't imagine having to get around in a wheelchair. The streets and sidewalks are awful, they all have huge gutters to accommodate the rainwater, and this makes crossing streets really tough.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable yes, safe, no. These environments are notorious for theft or worse.

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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?

Most people would recommend a sports utility vehicle. We also had "defensas" - big bumpers - installed on our Honda CRV and it was a great investment. Probably saved us thousands in body and paint work because almost everyone will get into some kind of fender bender or worse.

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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, there is a range of costs but I think you can expect to pay upward of $60/month with Claro or Orange. Pretty reliable.

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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?

Claro or Orange.

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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?

No. Yes.

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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 that I know of; wages here are very low so it wouldn't even be worth it to find a job locally.

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

At work, varies somewhere between business formal and casual. Suits are always acceptable, many ladies wear dresses and skirts too.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, this is a high crime area and I know quite a few people who have been robbed. Thieves look to steal smart phones and anything of value they can re-sell. Like in any city, you have to be vigilant, lock your doors, don't leave valuables in your car, etc. Most people avoid walking so they won't be a target for the motorcycle drivers who are known to knock people down and steal purses, wallets, phones, etc., sometimes at gunpoint. You might think you're in a relaxed, Caribbean atmosphere, but the security threat is real.

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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?

Tropical diseases and concerns from the non-potable water. Medical care seems decent, lots of specialists, doctor's offices seem relatively modern. The hospitals, I have heard, are not great. I would want to go back to U.S. if I had to be hospitalized. Prescription meds are available without a prescription and are cheap. I'm talking about antibiotics, not painkillers (which are controlled and you do need a prescription). A doctor's office visit typically costs RD$2,500 which is about US$50.

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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?

Worse than you might think, lots of exhaust from vehicles and I don't think they have any sort of standards. When you clean your floors and see lots of black dust, you'll know the pollution seeps into your house/apartment as well.

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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?

Sunny and hot. Rainy season is in the summer but there are downpours regularly at other times. Threats of hurricanes but no problems in the time I've been here. December and January are the most pleasant times of year, weather-wise. Gets down in the low 70s F at night which is wonderful. Otherwise, it's so hot and humid you want to avoid being outside most of the year.

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Schools & Children:

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

My child attends a bilingual preschool, there are several of these types of schools available. Most kids go to Carol Morgan or St. George. There are a lot of private, bilingual schools and I think most people are happy with the options available.

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

Not sure, as far as I know there may not be many options for special-needs children but it would depend on the disability.

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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?

Yes. We pay something like US$2,000 a year for preschool, which seems reasonable.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large expat community, there are lots of diplomatic missions here as well as US and World Bank and other NGO offices. Lots of expats complain about life here when they get together, but expats are also a valuable source of information about the city/country, too.

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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?

Lots of restaurants, places to go dancing, bars, etc.

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

Probably better for singles or couples without kids. There are not a lot of things for small children to do. Few parks, and the security situation coupled with the heat and mosquitoes means you need to find indoor activities for little ones. There are some indoor play places but it gets repetitive after a while. Friends who are single seem to go out a lot and enjoy the nightlife, travel opportunities, etc. Some people really like it here, and have requested to extend their tour, others can't stand it, and some think it's so-so. Just depends on your expectations, your lifestyle and what you are looking for.

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

There are probably better and worse places.

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

Prejudice against Haitian immigrants who come to the country for work opportunities. Freedom of religion exists, not really any issues there. As far as gender prejudices, this is a male-dominated society and machismo certainly is a thing, but many women work and it doesn't seem to be a major issue.

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

Getaways to some of the higher-end resort areas like Casa de Campo, Cap Cana, and Club Hemingway.

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

Getting out of the city is what most people would recommend. There is not much worth seeing in Santo Domingo. One visit to the Colonial Zone will pretty much do it.

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

Nothing here is really worth taking home, in my opinion.

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

Abundant and cheap tropical fruit all year! Sunshine all the time, proximity to beach resorts and eco-tourism adventures, pretty good restaurants in the capital (most with food delivery which is super convenient), modern U.S.-like supermarkets with lots of American brands and imported products, very nice upscale shopping malls.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't spend it all trying to escape Santo Domingo every weekend!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I would have known about the noise, traffic situation, etc. so that I could have put another city at the top of my bid list.

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

Nope. I would have opted for another location if I had known.

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

Expectations that you will be living in a peaceful Caribbean paradise. Santo Domingo is a noisy, crowded (with cars, mostly) dirty (people just throw trash and garbage on the sidewalk, in the street, in the gutters, etc.) big city (2 million people).

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, mosquito repellent

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

Junot Diaz, Julia Alvarez

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Be prepared for really shocking traffic situations. Yes, you will sit in traffic a lot and it takes forever to go just a few miles, but it's more about the way people drive - any civilization vanishes the minute they get behind the wheel. Lots of honking, lots of getting cut off, no attention to lane markings, etc. I am surprised every single day that I make it home without getting in an accident. And I don't drive...I take taxis everywhere. I am too scared to get behind the wheel myself. The DR ranks number 1 in the world for traffic fatalities per capita and if you're here to experience the roads, you are not surprised at all.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 01/19/16

Background:

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

No, have lived in the Middle East and Central Africa

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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 D.C., connections through New York and Florida. Several flight options. Tickets are not cheap.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

Embassy Community

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

An embassy compound is in the works for 3/4 of the community I believe. Most people were not happy with their housing. Not many with yard space, too many bad apartments that also seemed unsafe if there were ever a major earthquake. Overall housing is some of the worst we have seen.

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

Almost everything is available here. Because it is an island costs are 25% or more expensive although local produce, beans, rice, meats are same costs as in the States.

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

Rugs, boogie boards, SUP boards and other beach items.

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

Almost every fast food restaurants you can think of. Many other American chains as well and a ton of local restaurants.

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

Ants, roaches and mosquitoes. We knew too many people with dengue fever which can be very serious. Rats in the streets due to the large piles of trash everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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

Never had "great' help as the few we employed at various times had attitudes and expected way more than they would get from other expats or Dominicans. There are a few good ones out there but many are lazy and never hesitate to ask for everything. We paid about US$300 a month for 3 days a week which did not include cooking, shopping or anything more than laundry and cleaning the bare minimum.

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

Yes, lots. US$50 a month and more.

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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?

We used our credit cards all the time with no issues. If you use your ATM at a bank you should be fine.

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

Catholic and I believe Mormon and there is a Jewish temple as well.

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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?

A lot if you don't want to feel depressed and discouraged to going out. Dominican Spanish is a difficult language to understand.... it is not like the Spanish you learn online or even at FSI. The more you know, the better tour you will have.

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

Yes, the sidewalks are not good and walking around the city is not easy; it's often dangerous due to reckless drivers and motos.

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Transportation:

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

Apollo taxi and a few other transport services (we used JET) are embassy approved. You can get around locally for about $6 a ride.

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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?

SUV

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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 anywhere from US$75 and higher.

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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?

CLARO, Orange and Tricom are all decent.

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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?

No and plenty of decent vets although we have known too many people that had an animal die from various causes or gotten sick and not ever really sure why or how. We had an animal but I would discourage anyone from bringing theirs here. They are plenty of street animals to choose from if you decide to help the local animal population.

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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?

Probably but you must speak the language.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of places from pet facilities to elder homes and orphanages.

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

Business casual and people tend to dress up when they go out.

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Health & Safety:

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

Several people from the embassy and other expats have been held up by gun point and robbed. It's also common for people on motos to cause commotion and rob as well as cause "fake" accidents to attempt to get money.

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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?

Dengue and other mosquito born diseases. Medical care is not like the states but is "ok". Some places better than others.

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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?

Stinky, smog but not too heavy. People with allergies feel it worse than others.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

You will definitely experience issues so know ahead of time. Have your meds.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dec - Feb tend to be the best with low humidity and temps around mid 80's to low 90's F. Summers through October are hot and humid. I could never could figure out the rainy season as it was inconsistent the entire time.

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Schools & Children:

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

Several options available but if your children don't have much or any Spanish and you don't want full immersion, Carol Morgan School is the best option. The school is decent but the athletics department (or lack there of) was a huge letdown. We were given very misleading information prior to arrival from the CLO and the school. Academics seem to be fine. The population is largely wealthy Dominicans. Overall, our children were happy and were not mistreated by the kids that have grown up in the school.

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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?

Several available and new ones seem to be popping up. Costs similar to the states.

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

Other than soccer or activities for young kids I would say no.

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Expat Life:

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

Large expat community but overall poor morale, not just among the Americans.

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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?

Drink and eat.

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

The younger single people seem the happiest. Most of the people I know had a really hard time adjusting here and some never did.

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

With the current Ambassador and his husband, the current embassy seems to be a great place for those who are gay. The Ambassador has gone the extra step to welcome the GLAD community. I believe the overall expat community is good for gay and lesbian expats.

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

There are mainly prejudices against the Haitians and lower class Dominicans.

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

Weekend trips out of the city.

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

Get out of the city so you don't lose your mind. In the city there is eating, drinking, Colonial Zone, the Malecon boardwalk, movie theaters that play in English, bowling alley, roller rink, malls and indoor kids parks. Diving outside of the city is good and inexpensive although there is not much to see as far as wildlife and color.

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

Nothing worth spending it on.

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

The weather is nice, hot and humid in the summer months. Good beaches within 1-3 hours of the city. Can't think of any other positives.

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10. Can you save money?

We didn't save a dime because of traveling outside of the city, entertaining guests and kids activities.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How miserable the embassy community was.

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

Not a chance.

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

Expectations of everything. I can't fully explain why this tour was so difficult but I can tell you we were one of many, many that would say the same.

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4. But don't forget your:

Swim suits.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 08/10/15

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. 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.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Embassy

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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.

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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.

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

Rugs.

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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.

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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.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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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.

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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.

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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?

Accepted everywhere....just be cautious and check your accounts.

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

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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?

Lots!

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

I would say yes.

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Transportation:

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.

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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?

SUV's.

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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. 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.

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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?

Decent cell phone planes here. Bring an unlocked phone so you don't have to buy one here.

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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?

I don't believe so.

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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?

I am not sure....if you speak spanish I am assumming there it.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Business casual.

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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.

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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?

Medical are is pretty decent and cheaper than U.S.

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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?

Smog, smoke...not horrible but not the best.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

I believe so.

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

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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

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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.

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

Yes.

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

Against the Haitians.

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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.

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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.

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

Cigars

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

Nice beaches, and pretty decent weather.

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10. Can you save money?

Sure. If you don't go out.

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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.

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

Not a chance

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

Way of thinking things in a logical way and definitely your driving etiquette.

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4. But don't forget your:

PATIENCE!!

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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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! =)

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 08/02/15

Background:

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

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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.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.25 years

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

Government

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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.

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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.

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

Paper products, cereal, laundry detergent.

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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).

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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.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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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.

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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.

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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?

Credit cards are widely used. Concerns for identity theft are serious.

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

Yes, in a few denominations.

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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 need it to function well.

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

Absolutely it is difficult.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable, yes. Safe, hmmmm. Many do not use them.

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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?

No low profile cars. Many potholes and high speed bumps.

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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. From US$40-100 a month and usually solid and fast.

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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?

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.)

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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?

No. Vets and jpkennels are widely available at prices lower than the States.

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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?

Theoretically, yes. You would need Spanish.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Anything!

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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.

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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.

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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?

Many options with U.S. trained doctors. The system is a little confusing but care is available.

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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?

Not great. Lots of respiratory issues, smog, trash burning.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

There are several schools with good programs.

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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?

Preschools vary greatly, and run from US$200-500 a month.

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

Yes. Plentiful.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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.

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

Yes to all of the above.

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

Yes. Many clubs, nightlife, and expat scene.

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

Yes, but it is very nuanced.

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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

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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.

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

Beaches, easy travel, fruit.

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10. Can you save money?

If you don't eat out.

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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.

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

Nope.

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

Road rules.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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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.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 08/25/14

Background:

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

This is my 4th expat experience with the government.

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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?

DC area; it takes about 6-7 hours to get to Santo Domingo either through NY's JFK, NJ's Newark Airport, Atlanta or FL (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando).

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3. How long have you lived here?

2011-2014.

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

Government assignment with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are large homes and high-rises with comfortable square footage ranging from 1,500-3,500 sqft, in the affluent areas of the city (Los Cacicazgos, Bella Vista, Evaristo Morales, Naco, Piantini). Commute times are relatively easy early in the morning (prior to 7am) but if you wait until 7:30-8:00am, a commute of 10 minutes will turn into 60 minutes.

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

You can get any American product but usually pay about 20% more.

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

Everything as most things have an additonal cost of about 25%.

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

You get all the fast foods that are available in the States. There are many specialty and common restaurants that run the gamut from steaks, seafood, European, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc. Prices vary from US$50 - $200/couple.

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

Mosquitos and ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the DPO at the Embassy. FedEx, UPS and DHL are available but costly. PO Boxes are relative inexpensive as you get charged per weight and the box is located in Florida.

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

Domestic help is plentiful but it's best to have them start on the low side of the salary scale and work their way up as they prove their abiltity to perform tasks appropriately and you are sure that they are not stealing from you. Starting salaries for a live-in maid for 5 1/2 days per week is between US$200-$250 per month.

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

Yes, they are plentiful but more expensive than the U.S.

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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?

Use credit cards sparingly and only at reputable establishments (such as resorts). Pay cash whenever possible.

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

There are many.

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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 need at least a conversational level in order to engage in any haggling of items. Not many people in the city speak English in the local establishments, but you have to have a minimal level in order to get around.

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

Yes, the sidewalks are not properly maintained and many are cracked, broken and have gapping holes.

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Transportation:

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

Local trains are safe and clean but are limited to where in the city they can take you. Public transportation of buses and/or taxis are not recommended due to the potential threat of victimization from crime, health or groping for women.

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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?

SUV for the high clearance and flooding that occassionaly occur after it rains. You can pretty much find all American made parts as well as Japanese and Europeans but at a much higher cost than the U.S.

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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, I pay about US$135/per month for phone, internet and cable with DVR.

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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?

There are three major carriers (Orange, Claro, Tricom) here and all have relative decent prices for montly payments. You can also bring an unlocked phone (such as an iPhone) and just purchase a sim card.

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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?

No quarantine as long as all the vaccines and paperwork are in order. Vets and Kennels are good.

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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?

Mainly as school teachers, but otherwise they are few and the salaries are very low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

All types.

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

Business and business casual with the local flair of Chacabanas.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime rates are high amongst Dominicans and in particular the greater metropolitan area of Santo Domingo. Most incidents are crimes of opportunity and expats are not specifically targeted. Just like any major metropolis, security awareness should always be employed when walking around the city.

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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?

Mold and respiratory issues are a problem due to the high humidity especially in the summer. Private hospitals can give adequate care but for anything serious the U.S. is best.

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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 as the Caribbean breeze keeps the pollution moving out of the city.

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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?

Mid-80's F year round with high humidity in the summer. Hurricane season goes from June 1st to November 30th with the bulk of the island being hit by torrential rains are in the August/September timeframe.

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Schools & Children:

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

My children went to the Carol Morgan School and had a wonderful experience. My son graduated from HS and it was a memorable experience for him as he played on the school basketball team. There are an additonal eight other schools that meet the stringent U.S. standards.

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

The higher costly schools make efforts to accomadate special needs but don't have a robust program.

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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?

Yes, they are plentiful.

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

Yes, schools and organization are active in many Olympic type sports (swimming, volleyball, track & field, martial arts, archery, etc.).

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Expat Life:

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

Expat size is huge but many are of Dominican descent and morale appears high.

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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?

Restaurants, cultural events, concerts, operas, theaters.

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

Absolutely. Each category can find a niche in Dominican society.

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

It is not widely accepted, but most recently it has become more tolerable due to U.S. Ambassador's stance on human rights issues. LGBT organizations have become more vocal and have exposed themselves to Dominican society, making the international community take notice.

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

Dominicans have issues with Haitians due to their history as a shared island nation. For the most part, they are tolerant of all others.

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

The ability to play golf year round at very inexpensive prices as compared to the U.S. The beach resorts are only a 2.5 - 3 hour drive on a well paved highway to the east of the country (Punta Cana). The resorts run the gamut from relatively ok to luxurious ameneties.

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

The Colonial Zone has a rich tradition as it is the first city discovered in the Americas by Christopher Columbus and where the first Cathedral was implemented. Many ruins and architecture from 500 years ago can still be seen and touched.

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

Amber and Larimar.

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

Tourism, golf, beaches, scuba diving snorkling, fishing, eco-tourism, weather, mountains, etc.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, even if you chose to go out.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I whish I knew how to play golf prior to coming here.

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

Absolutely!

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

Attitude, winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, appetite, dancing shoes, golf clubs, scuba gear, shorts, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, swimwear.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Tropico de Sangre
- based on true events of the muders of the Mirabal sisters at the hands of the dictator Trulillo.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 07/14/13

Background:

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

This is perhaps my fifth expat experience, but my first with the US Foreign Service.

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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?

Our home base is the DC area. Unfortunately, you can't fly direct -- a stop in Miami, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, or other city is required.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived here for two years.

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

Foreign Service officer.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are currently apartments, homes in gated communities, and stand-alone homes. I'm not sure what housing will be like after the embassy moves to the northern part of town. We live in a gorgeous 3br apartment with views of the ocean. For people with a young family, I would recommend asking for a house in a gated community, because there are not a lot of playspaces for kids and that will allow them to play outside.

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

Groceries are about 20% more expensive but you can find most anything you want.

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

We buy almost all clothing and shoes and linens in the U.S. I tried to buy shoes here but the quality was terrible.

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

There are lots of fast food restaurants and they have play areas for kids, so we eat much more fast food than we used to.
There is good Mexican, Italian, American, Chinese, French, and other European types. We really miss Thai, Vietnamese and Indian food.

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

Mosquitoes during rainy season, but not too bad.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the DPO.

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

Domestic help is very affordable. We pay between $300-400 monthly each for our driver and housekeeper.

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

Yes, there are some nice gyms.

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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?

We only use credit cards at the large hotels and Price Smart (like Costco). I don't recommend using ATMs anywhere. We cash checks at the embassy.

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

It's hard to get around without some Spanish.

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

It is not a very disability-friendly city.

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Transportation:

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

There is a subway system that appears safe. The embassy authorizes the use of only one taxi system and it's about $4 per ride. I have taken Caribe Tours (like Greyhound) across the country and it's fine. The embassy does not authorize traveling around town in the public taxis or buses.

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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?

We recommend a car with high clearance and 4-wheel drive to everyone. During the rainy season, if you go to any beaches, you may need the 4-wheel drive. City streets flood during storms, so it's important to have the clearance.

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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, we have very good internet. It costs about $80/month for internet and TV.

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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?

I don't think so.

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

People do not wear shorts or workout attire in public (unless they are working out). Women should bring lightweight pants, skirts, and capris for daily use. In general, people dress up more than Americans do. You can never be overdressed if going to an event with Dominicans. Women should bring some cocktail dresses. Men can wear a guayabera shirt at many events and can get one made/buy one here.
At the consular section, suits are not required, although I wear one often. I recommend that women bring lightweight sleeveless tops that can be worn under their suit jackets.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is considered a high crime post, but we have not experienced any issues. One of the advantages to living in an apartment is feeling more secure. We know people who have been robbed, and it's just important to pay attention to your surroundings, even in touristy areas. Although nothing terrible has happened during our 2 years, I am never quite at ease when outside my home.

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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?

We found a great U.S.-trained pediatrician that many families use. Most people go home for anything medically important.

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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?

There is some pollution in Santo Domingo, but it's not extreme. People with asthma and other respiratory issues are cleared to come here.

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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?

There is a hot/rainy season from about March/April-Oct. It's probably 90 degrees and sunny, but it rains frequently. Hurricane season is June-Nov. "Winter" is around Nov-March, and it is delightfully cooler (around 70-80?) in the city. The funny thing is that they don't heat pools here, so the resort pools are chilly at that time of year. It's almost always sunny. I thought the weather was amazing; my husband doesn't like heat and hated it. To each his/her own.

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Schools & Children:

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

We placed our school-aged son in a private bilingual school that only a few families use. It is more middle class than the traditional schools used (Carol Morgan and St. George). We had a very good experience there, although he didn't make as many friends as he might have. His Spanish is terrific after 2 years there.

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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?

We sent our daughter to a Montessori, Spanish-only preschool. We had a wonderful experience there and she really bonded with her teachers. Her Spanish is great, too. Most people seem happy with the preschools here and moderately pleased with the other schools.

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

It has been somewhat challenging for us to find good quality sports programs. I think Carol Morgan and St. George have some, but our school did not. We joined Club Naco, which has 3 pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, etc. for a great monthly rate for diplomats. They do have some sports programs but they are not high quality. It can be hard to find quality swimming programs.

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Expat Life:

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

It's pretty large and Americans are by far the largest group. I work in the consular section and don't know a lot of the people who work in the rest of the embassy. It's been hard to get to know people from other countries, although I think the Diplomatic Women's Club allows for a lot of socializing. Many spouses have enjoyed that club.

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2. Morale among expats:

I think it varies. I love this post and think it's a fabulous assignment, especially for 20% hardship. Some people have a negative attitude about this country. There are certainly issues, but I think the pros FAR outweigh the cons.

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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?

Families get together on the weekends and go away together. The ambassador's pool, playground, tennis courts are open for family use. You can spend time with other embassy people or do your own thing- there is plenty to do.

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

I think it's great for all. Singles and couples can explore and enjoy the nightlife...families can spend weekends at the beach and pool.

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

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

The best part has definitely been the ability to just jump in our car and be at a beach town/resort in 2-3 hours. There is a huge range of prices here so you can pay as much or as little as you want. You can find isolated beaches where you are the only one there, or bustling beaches with lots to do. You can stay at a boutique hotel, a beautiful villa, a huge resort, you name it. The mountains are beautiful too and there is a lot to do in Santo Domingo as well.

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

There is a lot to do! There are day trip beaches about 45 min away and resort areas about 2-3 hours away. The mountain towns have whitewater rafting, hiking, waterfalls, etc. A lot of people learn to scuba dive here. There are surfing and other watersports on the north coast. Dominicans spend a lot of time at rivers and there are a lot of "balnearios" or bathing places that are fun. You can jump down "27 waterfalls" on the north coast. Santo Domingo has malls, a beautiful Colonial Zone, restaurants, etc. You can travel all around the island safely.

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

Larimar (beautiful blue mineral found only here), amber, coffee,

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

I think there are so many advantages to this country! The beautiful weather (sun all year around, though it's hot), beautiful beaches and mountains, affordable and safe travel, outdoor activities, and more.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, definitely. We go away about once a month and still save.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES! It is a beautiful, friendly country with great opportunities for travel. If you are a beach person, it doesn't get any better than this.

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

winter clothes and bad attitude.

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3. But don't forget your:

adventurous attitude, willingness to travel, swim suits, cover up (you will be hanging out at the pool with your boss!), flip flops, beach bag, goggles, snorkeling equipment.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 04/30/13

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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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?

Ohio. It takes about seven hours with a connection through New York or New Jersey.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost one year.

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

Foreign Service Officer.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

A mix of houses and apartments. We are a family of four and we have an apartment with three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. The apartment is nice, but it doesn't have any outdoor space.

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

You can buy most things at the major grocery stores, but U.S. products tend to cost quite a bit more than they would back home.

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

We are glad that we shipped paper products, detergent, good shampoos and conditioners. Sometimes I have my family send me cereals that we can't find here or that are ridiculously expensive here. I would bring a good supply of shoes for everyone in the family. Shoes are expensive here and are often of lesser quality than what you would find in the US.

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

Pretty much everything is available in terms of fast food (except for Chipotle): decent Italian, Spanish, and Middle Eastern food. There are a couple of Japanese restaurants. Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian places are very difficult to find.

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

Mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch.

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

About $300 per month for a full-time housekeeper.

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

Yes. People seem to like the Body Shop.

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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?

I use the ATM at the embassy and limit credit card usage.

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

The country is primarily Catholic, and I have heard that there is at least one church with a service in English. There are various Protestant denominations that also probably have some English-language services. There is a Jewish temple that offers regular services as well.

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

We read English-language papers on the internet. We have basic cable that includes a few English language channels. It is about $70 per month for our cable and internet.

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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?

It would be difficult to live here without knowing any Spanish. English is not widely spoken outside of the resorts.

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

It would be difficult to walk most anywhere. There are no ramps and there are often large holes in the sidewalks.

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Transportation:

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

Apollo taxi is affordable (about $4-$5 in the city) and safe. There is a new subway, but I have never taken it. Buses look very crowded.

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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?

We have a Subaru Outback and it has been fine.

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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. About $70 per month for cable and internet. We can usually watch Netflix via the internet.

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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?

They seem to have a wide variety of phones here. Some people have brought IPhones from the US.

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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?

No.

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

Several vets are available.

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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 really. There seem to be some jobs at the international schools, and there are some people who telecommute. Most spouses and members of household work for the embassy.

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

Business casual at work. Shorts are not as common here for adults as they are in the US. Women tend to dress up even when they are only going to the grocery store.

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Health & Safety:

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

We haven't had any problems, but we are cautious. We don't walk outside at night and don't wear nice jewelry or carry around anything that might attract attention.

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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?

Okay, but I would go to Miami for anything serious.

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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 to unhealthy in Santo Domingo. Good in the mountains.

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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?

Mostly sunny and in the 80s. Some rain, but it usually doesn't rain all day. Temperatures are lower in the mountains.

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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 kids attend St. George School. It is a bilingual pre-K-12 school. We have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader and they have been happy there. I have also heard good things about the Community for Learning School. Carol Morgan School has the nicest facilities. Some families really seem to like it there. Others have not had a positive experience.

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

I believe that Carol Morgan is willing to work with students that have special needs. I am not sure about the other schools.

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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?

There are a variety of options. Most people seem pretty happy with the choices.

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

Yes, mainly through the 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?

There is a decent-sized expat community.

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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?

Plenty of informal gatherings.

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3. Morale among expats:

Varies. Based on some of the prior reports, there are clearly some people who are unhappy. Most of the people that I know seem to like it here.

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

Good for all.

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

There are gay couples who work at the embassy and they seem pretty happy. It is not as gay friendly as some places, but people are generally tolerant here.

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

There is some prejudice against Haitians.

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

Weekend trips to the beaches and the mountains.

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

Go to the beach, go camping in the mountains, walk around the Colonial Zone, go kayaking, learn to surf. There are plenty of outdoor activities.

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

Larimar and Amber.

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

Great weather. Amazing beaches. Nice people.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, unless you go away every weekend.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, I wish that I could stay longer.

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

expectations that things will always run smoothly and on time.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen and swimsuits.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sanky Panky .

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

Anything by Julia Alvarez or Junot Diaz.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I guess it all depends on your perspective. There certainly inconveniences associated with living here, but for me, the positive aspects of living here far outweigh the negative ones.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 04/29/13

Background:

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

No, I have lived in several countries, both developed and developing.

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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?

California. There are several connections, and it is a full-day trip. Flying out of Santo Domingo, you will always have to connect through Miami, Atlanta, or New York. Expect layovers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

I am a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is a mixed bag. The housing pool is full of properties that are in poor condition. You are very lucky if you end up in one of the nice homes or apartments. The housing pool is also very small, and many people end up in temporary housing for extended periods of time. This is very inconvenient if you're hoping to receive your HHE.

Another issue is the commute to the embassy. Many houses are not located near the embassy, and traffic is horrendous. The typical commute time in the morning from our house is 30 minutes to an hour. However, the embassy will be moving to a new location in 2014, and commutes for most people will end up being over 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?

You can find almost everything here, but it will cost much more than it would in the U.S. --- and it may or may not be in stock for long periods of time.

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

Laundry detergent, any specific products you are particularly attached to (in bulk), a comfortable couch because you will likely spend most of your time in your home avoiding the dangers of the city.

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

Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's.



There are also some chains like Chilis, Fridays, Tony Roma, Hooters, Outback Steakhouse, and Haagen Dazs.



Restaurants: there are many Italian restaurants and a few Spanish restaurants. Dominican food is fairly bland. Choices for international cuisine such as Indian, Thai, Mexican, etc. are very limited to non-existent.

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

Mosquitoes, ants, and sandflies. Small ants are a large problem in the home. We keep all of our food in the refrigerator to prevent ants from getting into it.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Inexpensive - $250-$300/mo. But the work ethic here is terrible. We suggest starting the employee at a lower rate and on a trial basis. Design a schedule of specific chores and how they should be completed. Create incentives for good work by increasing pay over time as the employee exhibits quality work. Managing domestic help can be a headache--more than in the rest of the developing world.

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

Yes. They are not up to U.S. standards but the new embassy compound should have a decent gym.

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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?

Avoid using them when possible, but it's safe to use them for things like hotel reservations at the nicer resorts. ATMs are available, but we use the embassy cashier.

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

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

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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?

You need to speak Spanish because almost no one speaks English. I should also note that Dominican Spanish is very different from textbook Spanish and is very difficult to understand.

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

The country is not equipped for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

No.

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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?

SUV. Flooding is common during the rainy season, so you want good ground clearance.

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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. There are two basic providers: Claro and Tricom. Tricom is smaller and has better customer service. Claro is a nightmare. Expect to wait in long lines to receive service or pay your bills. Both of these companies take some time to set up service in the home.
There are frequent internet outages, but we can stream video with no problems when it's up and running. We pay around $50/month, but most people pay more because they have cable and other services included.

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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?

You can bring your unlocked phone here and purchase a local SIM card. You can also buy a cell phone here, but they are much more expensive.

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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?

No.

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

We have a great vet. The name of her clinic is Best Friends Vet Clinic.

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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?

Regular business attire.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes! Santo Domingo is a dangerous city, and the crime rates are rising. In addition to high homicide rates, armed robbery is very common. Several people from the embassy community have been robbed at gunpoint during our year here. Friends have also had wheels stolen off their cars and dogs stolen out of their yards. In general, crime is a big problem.

One of the biggest dangers in Santo Domingo is the reckless driving. Drivers do not follow any of the rules, and road rage is not uncommon.

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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?

MOLD! There is a serious mold problem in most of the homes and apartments. This has caused health problems for many of the embassy staff and their families. The GSO and facilities maintenance section have been unable to manage this problem.

Stomach viruses and bacterial infections are very common here. Food is not prepared in a clean environment in most restaurants.

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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?

Bad and very unhealthy. There are no regulations on car exhaust, so you're breathing black smoke fumes anytime you're in the city.

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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?

The weather is great if you like it warm. It stays in the 80s-90s.

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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?

View All Answers


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

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Expat Life:

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

Unknown.

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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?

Limited. It's dangerous to go out, especially at night. However, you can find some entertainment in the malls, including movie theaters and restaurants.

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3. Morale among expats:

Middle of the road. We do not particularly like it here, and most people who have been here for a while are eager to leave. There have been a lot of curtailments.

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

It is better for couples and families than for singles. There are not a lot of safe venues for singles to get out and meet people outside of the embassy community.

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

As in many Latin American countries, there is a stigma associated with homosexuality. However, for most embassy people this is not an issue because they spend their time in tourist settings and diplomatic settings in which this kind of discrimination is not problematic. This has not affected individuals in their work.

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

Dominicans discriminate against Haitians and blacks. There is also some gender bias.

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

Cabarete beach, Las Terrenas beach, and Punta Cana beach. Water activities: surfing, catamaran, and snorkeling.

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

There are some malls that are fun to walk around and some restaurants that offer decent food, although with a limited choice of cousines. The only thing we have enjoyed about our time in the DR has been getting out of the city and enjoying the beaches. We try to leave the city and head to the beaches at least 2-3 times a month.

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

Tourism.

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

Getting out of the city and enjoying the beaches. Most beaches that we enjoy are about a 3 to 4.5 hour drive. Easy for long weekends.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, absolutely.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. Absolutely not.

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

winter gear, sense of urgency, obedience to traffic laws, work ethic, and sense of security.

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3. But don't forget your:

swim suit, sunglasses, snorkel gear, home entertainment system, bug spray, sunscreen, fluoride, and many DVDs/Blu Rays.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 06/09/12

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. 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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For the embassy, this will all change will the move to a new facility in 2014. They're building a Little America.

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

If you get the diplomatic tax exemption, you might pay 25-30 percent more than in the U.S. Great selection of groceries, though.

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

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

More U.S. fast food than in my hometown.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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

Lots of flying adversaries, especially in the summertime.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Not a great work ethic, but affordable. Might cost you $300 or so per month.

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

All over the place. Body Shop is awesome.

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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?

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

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

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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?

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

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Transportation:

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

There is one taxi company, Apolo, that everyone seems to use. The cost is US$4 for just about anywhere. Good service.

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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?

While it is not a necessity, I like a bit more clearance for the potholes and speed bumps. You see a lot of small SUVs in the embassy lot. However, anything works.

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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?

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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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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?

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

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Health & Safety:

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

As in any Latin American country, crime is a concern. Much better here than Venezuela or anywhere in Central America, but you still have to take precautions.

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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?

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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?

Good, by developing world standards. It helps that we're close to the sea. You can see the stars most nights.

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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?

Six months of hot and humid in the summer, six months of warm and pleasant in the winter. Evenings are generally fine for eating/drinking outside. You can swim year-round.

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Schools & Children:

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

Carol Morgan is a fairly solid institution, on a par with an above-average school in the U.S. Like in many Latin American societies, integration can be tricky since these schools are dominated by rich locals who want to send their kids to college in the U.S. So 80 percent of the students are affluent Dominican kids who are not dying to meet new kids. Some foreign kids find their niche quite well, while others take much longer. This is a challenge to prepare your kids for--versus an international school with a truly diverse student body in, say, Africa or Asia.

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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?

Many options. Parents seem pleased.

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

Tennis, riding, golf, and any water sport would be the best options.

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

Of the expats, 70% seem to like it and 30% seem to hate it. This might say more about the person than the post, however.

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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?

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

Single men obviously have no trouble dating. For single women, it's more challenging, but some do find Dominican males they enjoy being with. Regarding families: if you have young kids, the challenge is lack of playgrounds and green space. You really have to get out of town on the weekends and let them enjoy the beaches. Every hotel has a club to join, so that helps for activities like swimming. And of course, the weather is good year-round.

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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?

That might depend on your attitude. Dominicans aren't exactly "progressive," but they are nice people.

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

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

The most affordable beaches in the Caribbean. The worst beach in the DR compares with the better beaches in Florida. The better beaches are spectacular. Every price range from US$40/night up.

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

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

Good supermarkets, travel to amazing and affordable beaches, mountains, pleasant weather.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, because you can travel by car rather than plane for outings.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 06/04/12

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. 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?

Numerous flights available to Miami, NY, NJ, ATL, Boston. It's easy to get to the States.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2009-2011.

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

First overseas experience with US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Commute time and the quality of housing are Variable. The commute was the most despised thing in the DR. Commute time ranges from 10 mins walking to 45 mins driving.

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

Many US-style supermarkets and most things are available. Sometimes at a little more than US prices, but the COLA covers it. There's also Pricemart, a Costco-esque place that is pretty good.

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

Specialty spices. Good cheese.

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

Many American fast food places. If you like fried chicken this is the place for you as it's very popular.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Not a lot of veggie options. You could find Morningstar fake sausage patties for $7 a box. Tofu is pretty common.

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

Malaria.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Cheap and plentiful. Don't expect inspired cooking though.

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

The GSO compound has a small gym. Local gyms are available, but everyone tries to go between 5-7pm so traffic getting there is terrible.

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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?

Not recommended. Write a check at the embassy and pay cash.

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

Not sure.

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

Not really. Yes...recommend paying in advance with Tricom to save money and save numerous trips to pay your bills.

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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?

It's pretty hard to get around without Spanish. Few Dominicans know English outside the Zona Colonial and those that do are probably going to try to hustle you.

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

Many, though probably not impossible.

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Transportation:

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

Wouldn't use them.

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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?

Everyone thinks an SUV is needed here. Americans and locals alike. If you are feeling insecure and want to look rich you should bring one. Otherwise a standard sedan is fine. On Dominican roads, size wins so the bigger your vehicle the more right you have to the road. The government has invested a lot of $ in roads connecting the capital to the major tourist destinations. There are a few places (Villa Pajon) and some beaches where a 4x4 is needed but, invariably someone else will have an SUV to use. In 20 years of driving I was never in an accident until I got the DR. Twice I was hit, but I was not at fault. The second time the woman who hit me literally had no front bumper. And she hit me from the back/side when traffic was going ~2 mph. Needless to see she was not a good driver. That's how most people are.

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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?

Yeah...not very fast and $40/month.

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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?

Not really.

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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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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 a lot.

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

Generally business suits. Complimented with gold chains if you want to look like a local.

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Health & Safety:

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

Don't go running with your iPod in public places.

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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?

Pretty good for dentists. Cleaning, check-up, and xray for US$30.

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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?

Pretty good. The DR isn't very industrialized.

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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. Never THAT hot, but rarely cool. Unless you go to the mountains. Which you should do.

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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?

View All Answers


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

Unsure.

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Expat Life:

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

Smallish and young outside the embassy.

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2. Morale among expats:

Decent if you stay away from the negative people. At times the traffic and local attitude can get you down -- particularly if you work in the consulate. Best to keep in perspective that you can easily go to beaches, mountains, diving, and the US cheaply.

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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?

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

Families seem to hang out a lot together. Singles can do the beaches and bars. Restaurants are ok, but never great. If you want to date locals...well you should keep in mind the average Dominican makes it to 6th grade.

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

There was one park that was known as a gay hangout in the Zona Colonial when I was there. The papers made a big deal about it, which isn't surprising in a super macho country like the DR. No one ever caused trouble there and it was just homophobic reporting. There are a couple gay bars. In general, not an open place though.

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

African-Americans occasionally faced problems getting into clubs.

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

Don't miss going to Villa Pajon near Constanza. Cool, fresh air, green grass, no car horns, no loud music. You'll think you are in another country. My biggest regret was only going there once.

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

Beaches, cheap rum and beer, easy access to the US, lots of sunshine.

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

Rum. Cigars.

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

Beaches, cheap rum and beer, easy access to the US, lots of sunshine, diving, snorkeling, resorts. There's enough to keep you busy for two years.

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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?

One tour is enough.

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

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, patience, and dancing shoes.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sanky Panky the Movie. Especially if you are doing consular work.

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


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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 03/13/12

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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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?

CT, direct flights from Boston and NYC, about 4.5 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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

Trailing spouse, U.S. Foreign Service.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing pool is split between apartments and houses. Commutes can be a short walk or a 45-minute drive. Traffic is a nightmare here, and negatively impacts commute times. We live about 4 miles from the Embassy, and at 6:45 a.m. it takes 9 minutes to arrive, but at 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. it can take over 45 minutes. The New Embassy Compound is being built north of the city, and housing will be centered around it. Completion is estimated to be in 2014.This should alleviate the commuting issue, but will isolate the Embassy community from the commercial centers of the city a bit.

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

Groceries are readily available at about a 15% premium. Imported goods are widely available, but definitely more expensive. Household staples tend to be in good supply at all times, but some of the specialty ingredients can be a bit dodgy. When I find rare ingredients in the store, I usually buy a 4-month supply, because you never know...Amazon and Netgrocer can supplement your grocery needs quite nicely. Fresh fruits and produce are abundant in the supermarkets, but you can get better prices at the open markets and on the side of the street. Sadly, it is almost impossible to find fresh asparagus. This is tragic. Meats vary wildly in quality, but there are 2 or 3 decent butchers in the city. Seafood is abundant (tropical island, et al.).

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

A set of tires, specialty flours (bread, semolina, maseca), a LOT more spray-on sunblock.

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

Most major U.S. fast food is available here. Costs are about 10% higher, and I wish I could say it wasn't as good... but alas it is. Many fast food restaurants have large, indoor playscapes, and provide a safe, air-conditioned place for kids to play. Hey, at least they're working off the calories, right?Dominican food overall is fair-to-middling. There are some restaurants in the city that try really hard, but just don't have the same flavor profile you'd expect. Outside of the city you can find fabulous French, German, and Italian food in the beach towns.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I have not encountered organic foods other than in the extremely-overpriced "organic" section at the supermarket. The selection is not great. Again, Amazon/Netgrocer is your friend. If you're a vegetarian, there are a lot of veggie options. Gluten can be avoided with a somewhat higher degree of difficulty.

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

Mosquitoes and dengue are a risk, especially in the city. Malaria can still be found out in the country. Cockroaches can be a problem in the rainy season (they're big, too).

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch here. DPO is quick most of the time, i.e. 7-10 days for Amazon, 4-6 days for Zappos, never more than 14 days for anything else. Pouch can take up to 3 weeks to arrive.

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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 and cheap-ish. Average salary for live-in housekeeper is about $250/mo. Work ethic is definitely below our expectations, but mostly acceptable. Expect to train your employee for a little while before s/he "gets it".Also expect to re-train a few times in your stay here, as they tend to slack off as time goes by.

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

The embassy has a small gym and a pool open to the Mission community. There are many gyms and athletic clubs all over the city.

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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?

I have never used an ATM here, but I know people who have. I use credit cards in established businesses and carefully review my statement each month. Credit card/ATM fraud are real issues here. Be prepared to operate on a cash economy.

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

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

English newspapers are available online only. You can get English-language TV from most of the providers here (they all have a selection of U.S. networks), and costs are about $50/mo. for the premium packages. Also look into a good VPN to stream Netflix, Hulu, Amamzon Prime, etc.

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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?

You need to be strong in Spanish. Almost no one here speaks English. Dominican Spanish is also much harder than Castellano and South American Spanish, so expect a learning cure even if you're solid.

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

Anyone with mobility issues would have extreme issues getting around this city and country. Sidewalks are crumbling and littered with trash and debris, many buildings do not have elevators, and attitude towards people with disabilities can verge on the sub-human level.

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Transportation:

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

There is one taxi service that is RSO-vetted... Apolo Taxi. The Metro is apparently safe and cheap, but covers a limited corridor now. Another branch is opening soon. We are told to not use any form of public transportation, as they are not safe.

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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?

The streets are not well-maintained, and sometimes non-existent outside of the city. Even in the city the roads suck. I highly recommend an SUV here, the bigger the better. Roads flood often, and ground clearance can become an issue. Also, the rule of the road is "the biggest car wins".Having a larger SUV will make your life a little easier in traffic and outside of the city. We have a Toyota FJ Cruiser, and it's perfect for this post.

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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?

Available, our 6Mb down/1.5Mb up plan is about $90/mo. but worth it. There are cheaper options.

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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?

Get a cheap throw-away one here. Less to be stolen if you're mugged. If you must have the latest/greatest iPhone/Blackberry/Android phone, be sure you can unlock/jailbreak/root it before coming. The services to do that here are unreliable and expensive. Claro and Orange are the 2 biggest carriers, and have affordable plans. Expect to pay about $20/mo. for 250 minutes.

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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?

No. It's a RD$500 fee to clear customs for each pet ($12).

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

There are good vets and kennels here. Ask other pet owners for recommendations.

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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?

There are no jobs for expats on the local economy for anything that would be considered a decent wage. The opportunities in the Mission are few and far between as well, and post HR has some issues they're struggling with (on-boarding times, first paychecks).Salaries are also ridiculously low in the Mission. Think grad-student levels and attitude (i.e. captive audience and slave wages).

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

Suits are the norm on the visa line and in the more public-facing positions. Guyaberas and business-casual are acceptable as well. Purchase light suits and clothing... the heat can be brutal. Think linen and silk.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty theft is an ongoing issue. Car break-ins happen frequently, muggings do too. Violence has increased in the last several months with reports of random killings on highways and in the city in order to rob people. Drugs are moving in, and some of the Mexican cartels are beginning to transit through here, plus there are the Dominican and Puerto Rican cartels operating. If you're smart and take necessary precautions, none of this will be an issue.

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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?

Dengue, cholera, malaria are all real concerns. HIV is prevalent here too. Medical care runs the gamut from medieval to excellent. Post has a good list of doctors, and medivacs are only 1.5 hours to Miami for emergencies. Post Medical office could use some help, but I hope that changes when it turns over.

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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?

The pollution in Santo Domingo is unhealthy. My wife and son suffer from allergies and are miserable 8-10 months of the year, and I am a former smoker who feels like he smoked a pack of cigarettes every time I'm outside for more than 30 minutes. Outside of the city, the air quality is fine, as tradewinds blow almost year-round. Luckily an escape from the pollution of the city is only a 30-minute drive east of the city in Guyacanes, the closest nice beach.

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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?

Rainy (Mar. to Dec.) and dry (Dec. to Mar.) seasons, hot and humid most of the year. Expect temps in the mid-80s during dry season, and in the mid-90s with unbearable humidity in the rainy season. Air conditioning is a must. Hurricanes are also a very real risk from June to December.

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Schools & Children:

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

We use a local Montessori school and have been extremely happy with it. The main Embassy school (Carol Morgan) has its share of issues. I'm not in a position to comment on them. There are other options, however.

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

I have no experience with this, but I would assume not many, based on how physically- and mentally-disabled people are treated in Dominican society.

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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?

As stated above, our local Montessori has been amazing. Our son was 2 1/2 when he started, with no Spanish.2 of his teachers spoke Spanish and English, and he adjusted relatively quickly. This year he's in an all-Spanish environment, and thriving. Many different members of the Embassy community have differing opinions, my suggestion is to ask around and take all advice with a grain of salt.

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

This is difficult to answer...We have found that all of the options are geared towards kids who are 7 and older. Some of the clubs have activities for younger kids, but they are heavily split across gender lines (i.e. karate for boys and gymnastics for girls).

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Expat Life:

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

Large mission, ~250 strong. A good number of U.S. citizens here too (~250,000 according to ACS).You can hang with only Americans if you like... I don't recommend that.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low to fair. There are a lot of problems in this city and this mission. I hope that the new Embassy and migration of the housing pool will alleviate some of the problems, but for now this place can be pretty dismal at times.

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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?

You can be as social or reclusive as you want. It's up to you.

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

The singles and young, childless couples I know all have a great time. There is a huge amount of nightlife, and no scarcity of singles and other couple to mingle with. There are also myriad opportunities for travel around the island, with as much or as little social element as you desire. Those of us with families lament the lack of secure green space in the city. There are no parks or playgrounds that the RSO has deemed safe enough to play, and many times the parks are littered with trash, and playground equipment is in varying degrees of disrepair. The Mission is building a playground at the Chancery, and there are several private clubs with playgrounds in the city. We belong to Club Naco (they have a diplomatic rate with no inscription fee), and they have all kinds of activities for kids, as well as a playground, 2 pools, and a safe environment.

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

Latin culture is not overly accepting of homosexuals, but discrimination is not that apparent in everyday life. There is talk of banning gay marriage via a constitutional amendment, but as of this date, the D.R. is still a huge destination for gay couples and gay weddings.

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

Haitians are actively discriminated against, and therefore some very dark-skinned Afro-Americans may experience this. Asians (especially the Chinese) do not have the best reputation here either. Women can be objectified by Latin men, but this is no different from anywhere else in Latin America. Just about every religion exists here in the D.R., but Christianity and Roman Catholicism especially are the norm.

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

Almost all of our trips to the beaches have been wonderful. We prefer to stay away from the all-inclusives (there are literally hundreds of those), and hit the small beach-front condos and villas. We also took a drive through the agricultural region (Constanza and Jarabacoa) and the mountains which was fabulous. The Embassy community is large, and tends to band together.

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

Beaches, cigar factories, coffee and chocolate plantations, history, whale watching (Jan. to Apr.), fishing, sailing/boating, off-roading, horseback riding, hiking, trekking, rum, surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, eco-tourism, etc. There's a lot to do once you get out of the city.

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

Beach vacations, excellent rum (Barceló), cigars, crafts.

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

This is a tropical island, with all the benefits and hardships associated with that category. It is possible to save money, as labor and local goods are exceedingly cheap, but if you want to get out of the city (and trust me, you do), it can get expensive, as you start paying "Gringo prices".The beaches here are exceedingly beautiful, there are mountains in the middle of the island which give a break from the tropical heat (think 15 degrees cooler most of the time), and the island is close to the U.S. if you just need to get away for a weekend or so.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes. The differential/COLA makes it possible to do so, but you have to forgo some adventures.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but definitely only for a 2-year tour. It'd be a tax on my sanity to spend a third year here.

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

Winter clothes, expectations of customer service, American punctuality.

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3. But don't forget your:

Spanish dictionary, sunscreen, sense of adventure.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 02/22/12

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

Colorado. Connection through Miami. Total flight time takes about seven hours, not including layovers which can be long when going to the West coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Foreign Service Officer.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is mixed with apartments and houses with yards. Most of the apartments are within walking distance to the embassy, most of the houses are a 20-40 minute commute. Generally the apartments and houses are very nice with tile floors, detailed woodwork, modern kitchens and good closet space.

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

Groceries are more expensive than in the US, unless you're buying rice or tropical fruit. It's an island, so almost everything has to be imported!

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

More summer clothes! Good quality clothes are expensive here, and shopping choices are limited. Many locals with the resources to do it prefer to fly to Miami for shopping than buying on the local economy.

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

Yes, they have lots of American chains here and many unique local restaurants. The have Chilis, Outback, McDonalds, KFC, BurgerKing, Tony Romas, etc. Prices are comparable to the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Limited, but the grocery chain "Bravo" carries some items.

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

Mosquitoes, they are worse in the summertime.

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Daily Life:

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

We have a DPO address or via the pouch.

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

Very available, costs about $250-$300 per month for full-time help.

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

Yes, readily available, many 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?

Not safe, don't do it. This is a cash economy.

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

Yes, there are a few options but I'm only familiar with the Episcopalian service in a small church here, it is good but very small.

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

No newspapers, but some limited TV channels.

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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?

Spanish is a must, although some locals speak limited English.

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

Very difficult. Sidewalk and road conditions are poor with lots of potholes.

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Transportation:

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

Some of the taxis are safe, you have to take the right ones. They will cost about $5 to almost anywhere in town. I wouldn't take the buses. There aren't any trains here.

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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?

SUVs are best because of road quality, but you would be fine in a sedan too. Toyotas and Hondas are common here.

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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, good internet access at reasonable costs. We pay around $100 per month for cable/internet/phone package.

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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?

Claro and Orange are the two large companies here, both have reliable service.

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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?

No.

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

Good and readily available.

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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?

Some, but there are more people wanting work than there are available positions.

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

Business casual at work. Dominicans like to get dressed up, they are pretty fashion conscious.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime here is a problem, but it could be worse. There have been some problems with break-ins and muggings. You must use street smarts here, and if you do, then you'll likely be fine. If you expect to be able to jog in the park after dark, you will find your lifestyle crimped here.

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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?

Medical care is adequate, but for more complex issues most people fly to Miami. Dengue is a concern, you need bug spray here.

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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 to good.

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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?

70-80 degrees year round. Gets a little humid in the summertime, but not unbearable.

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Schools & Children:

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

The Carol Morgan school is supposed to be good. People also have their kids in St. Georges and New Horizons. They schools here are generally good.

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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?

Good, inexpensive, and readily available. We have our kids in a bilingual preschool, and they love it!

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

Yes, lots via the 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?

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. Families really seem happy here. Some (but not all) of the singles and childless couples are pretty unhappy. It's partly what you make of it. If you want a cultured, urban experience, this is not the place for you. If you enjoy excursions or a slower pace, you will be happy here.

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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?

There are malls, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, etc. There is a good variety of choices here, but again, this is not NYC or anything.

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

This is an AWESOME post for families. There are tons of kids at post, and families here tend to be very pleased with quality of life. Singles and childless couples seem to get bored at times....although there is a decent variety of bars and restaurants, this is admittedly not NYC.

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

There seems to be a good deal of homophobia here, but there is a small active community from what I know.

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

This is a racially mixed country with many different shades of skin color and a general acceptance of varying races. With that said, there is some prejudice here against Haitians and very dark skinned folks are often assumed to be Haitian.

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

The beaches here are amazing! The weather is great year-round, albeit a bit hot in the summer. The proximity of excursions makes it easy to get away for quick weekend trips.

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

Lots of great excursions to beaches and mountains. Inside the city there is the zoo, aquarium, museums, small shopping malls, and the historic colonial zone.

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

Larimar and amber jewelry. Rum. Artisan items.

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

Quick and easy access to outdoor activities. Beaches, mountains, waterfalls, hiking, rafting, horseback riding, scuba, deep sea fishing, etc. This country has it all, and it's all within a 2-3 hour drive from Santo Domingo.

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11. Can you save money?

If you don't explore the country much you can save money. But you will get bored quick staying in Santo Domingo all the time.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely! I wish they would let me extend my tour here, but they won't let me! This place is great!!

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

Winter clothes!

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen!

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 02/12/12

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

Sacramento, California

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year

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

Husband in the foreign service.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Varies, personally I think the embassy could do better, as I have seen better and less expensive but I am happy with my house. Problem is sometimes you see families with kids in little apartments, and couples or single people in huge houses, they do not consider very much family size or that the couple has kids, is more about what is available when you come, but it all depends on the organization you are working with.

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

very expensive more than we used to pay in US going to whole foods, and bad quality everything is in package and two or three fruits or veggies of the package are spoiled.

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

more toys fro the kids, a little play structure no playgrounds and the ones that are are full of rocks, broken down, with drunk people living there and robbers ready to point a gun to you and your child.

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

no decent food and expensive, i have not been in a restaurant that is really good, but there are decent places, us prices though.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

it is difficult and expensive but you can find it

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

Yes there is dengue but is not bad.

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Daily Life:

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

dpo

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

Lots...but again I think Dominicans are lazy, so maids have this thing that they want you to hire two one to be nanny and cleaner and one to cook and do the laundry, if you are lucky enough to find one that does everything, she won't live she'll expect to leave at 4 or 5, so if you work you won't have any rest at night. Entitled, expecting a lot from you, and lazy, but I have one live in maid that is really good of course she does not iron or cook so there is other that comes to do that. But if you have big kids you should be ok, as the thing is that you can find one that does everything and leaves at 4, so if you have big kids you won't need extra help in the night.

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

yes

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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?

no comments I use the ones at the Embassy

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

Many

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

yes, do not get CLARO, let me repeat this, DO NOT GET CLARO, they are the worst. Get tricom or better yet if you have the money sky

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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?

To hire service and services a lot.

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

all of them I have yet to see a ramp here

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Transportation:

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

If you want to be robbed or have a hard time

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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?

SUV

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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, relatively cheap but service is terrible

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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?

no

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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?

I don't think so

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

I think so

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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?

yes, if you look, as there are not very qualified locals

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

dress up, dominicans dress up to check their emails and shop online.

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Health & Safety:

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

Everybody carries guns here, you see from your car, the guys in motorcycles with the gun in their pants, there are armerias (gun stores everywhere) you can go buy guns, bullets, it is terrible. Robberies I was robbed at gun poin in a playground in an attempt to spend some time outside with my kid.

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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?

be careful you need to try doctors to find good ones, but there are very good ones.

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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?

bad, your allergies will go crazy, expect lots of respiratory problems, and people smoke heavily and with no regard, so expect also lot of second hand smoking everywhere.

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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?

Weather is nice, mostly sunny and with a nice breeze

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Schools & Children:

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

Just have a little kid who goes to a local preschool

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

don;t know

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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?

yes

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

yes but are terrible, there is a gymboree, but the thing is that dominican workers are mostly very lazy, and distracted all the time in their cell phones even teachers,they are also very rude on kids like the teacher of swimming classes yells to my boy dying boy, I had to set him straight, but others moms specially dominicans don't think is wrong even dominican kids laugh at being told that,services are poor and that includes the limited things or activities that there are for kids, come packed with material to distract your kids at home.

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Expat Life:

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

big, good international women club association get in touch with them

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2. Morale among expats:

medium

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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?

all you want, this is your place is you want to dance, have sex, get drunk, smoke, and get attention from locals and feel like a rock star.

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

for singles i don't think so as many dominicans are just behind a visa, for couples yes because you can travel although is expensive, for families stay away.

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

dont know

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

lot of machismo, lot of cruelty and exploration towards haitians and animals, no religiosity people is not religious here.

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

Nice trips although very expensive, weather.

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

go to the zone colonial, jardin botanico, zoo and that's it.

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

Dominicans are not crafty the art work is done mainly by haitians or Ecuadorians, but I guess if you like Ambar or Larimar.

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

Weather

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11. Can you save money?

No way

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Oh God no

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

expectations for good service

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3. But don't forget your:

patience, things to do with your kids at home, a play structure if you can bring one, swimsuits as beach is the only thing will get you out of this city, and a wallet full of money this place is US expensive with the exception of daycare, services, and help

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

Any Dominican Republic Guide

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Please don't think I am negative, I am talking as the mother or a toddler and as a person that knows good food. Now there are many positives, people are patient with kids in restaurants, help is not cheap but cheaper than in US and with patience and lots of training you can train your dominican helper, if you are not expecting great quality in food you might find food delicious here, if you like beach and don't mind spend half of your salary trying to get out with your family there are awesome beaches around.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 10/05/11

Background:

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

No, Lima, Peru

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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?

Boulder CO, 7 hours to Miami, then 5 hours to Santo Domingo

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3. How long have you lived here?

10 months

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

Spouse of an FSO

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses are nice, apartments are nicer, commute depends where is your house. If you are North of 27 of Febrero. it will take a while to get to the embassy. South of 27, not to bad.

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

Pricier than the US if you want us products. Rice is cheap. Some fruits also. But we spend a lot more in groseries than we did in the states

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

Tires

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

Everything. US prices

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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

Mosquitoes, Ants

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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

Cheap

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

Yes. the embassy has a small gym

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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?

Do not use your c/c here. Or use only one and check your statement frequently

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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?

Yes - 40 US month

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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?

some

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

Depends, ramps are almost non-existent

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Transportation:

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

Not safe

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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?

SUV - Toyota, Honda, Suzuky

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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 - 40 US month

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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?

Claro

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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?

No.

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

HUGE TICK PROBLEM in any kennel, from the really expensive ones to the real cheap ones. If your dog goes to a kennel it will get ticks.

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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?

no

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

Work:BussinessPublic: Anything

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Health & Safety:

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

yes, roberies

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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?

Dengue. If you need surgeries you will be medevac'd.

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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 to unhealthy

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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?

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Schools & Children:

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

New Horizons, is good.

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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?

New Horizons, is good.

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

Yes, at school

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

low

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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?

good

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

Good for singles, couples w/o kids. Is not a kids friendly country, there are parks and playgrounds, but they are in very bad condition

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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?

Yes, cat-calling to females. They don't like Haitians.

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

Great resorts

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

Resorts

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

Beer - Presidente.

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

Beaches

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11. Can you save money?

Maybe, if you don't leave Santo domingo, or if you eat just beans and rice everyday you will same even more.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Car - sell it for your US purchase price.

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3. But don't forget your:

Deet, sunblock.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sugar

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 06/21/11

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. 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?

If you fly from D.C., there is a stop (San Jan, Miami, Atlanta). Coming from NY or NJ, there are direct flights. To go to the west coast is a full day of travel and usually at least 2 stops. Those flights are VERY pricey.

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3. How long have you lived here?

13 months

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

U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is a mixed bag. There are nice apartments (though there are seismic issues) and decent houses. The Embassy does not really take into account family size or preferences when assigning housing. Things break quite often but if you are persistent, you can get them repaired within a week or so (you have to be VERY persistent). Be prepared for water shortages (all houses have a cistern) and power outages (everyone has a generator). We've had our water cut off 4 or 5 times but you can usually call a water truck to remedy the situation. Everyone is placed in at least a 3 bed/3 bath home. The commute can be an issue if you are far away from the embassy (traffic is awful here).

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

You can get almost anything here. It can be funny to see what the stores decide to import. I've seen random lean cuisines, tofu, and artisan cheeses. However, you really have to check the expiration dates and don't be surprised if a dairy product has not been properly refrigerated. Things like oil, rice, and local products are cheap but expect Washington D.C. prices for many imported products. DR is random, I've even seen 7th Generation toilet bowl cleaner for sale here...it really depends on what the stores decide to import at any given time.

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

Brown sugar, specific hair products, any special over the counter meds, a UPS to protect electronics, clothes.

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

Almost EVERY fast food restaurant is here, though no Starbucks yet. Santo Domingo does have McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, Quiznos, and many pizza places (including Dominoes, Papa John's and Pizza Hut). There are a ton of Chinese restaurants, some Mexican, Korean, and a great Chilean sandwich shop. You can get almost anything delivered. There isn't really any Indian or Thai food. One of the best things about the DR is the colmado. Colmados are a cross between a neighborhood bar and a convenience store. They deliver anything (beer, toilet paper, eggs, ice) and locals hang out there playing dominoes and drinking rum.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Most big stores (Jumbo, Nacional) have a selection of specialty products. However, it depends on what they import so don't expect the same selection every time. A 4 pack of Gardenburgers will run you $7-$10.

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

Dengue is a problem here. Mosquitoes are everywhere and it's hard to prevent them from getting inside (windows and doors in our house have huge gaps--houses are designed without air conditioning in mind). There are also a lot of ants inside and outside.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO/pouch

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

Domestic help is cheap and the quality is generally good. A housekeeper that cleans twice a week runs between $15-$20 per day.

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

Yes, the Embassy has a small gym. Many people use "the body shop". I think it's fairly expensive but some places offer discounts.

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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?

Be VERY careful. I only use a credit card when grocery shopping and I check my statement frequently. Quite a few people have had their cards used fraudulently. ATMs should only be used at major banks (Scotia bank is good).

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

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

The cable companies have some US channels from NY (ABC, NBC, CBS), you have to pay for a lot of useless channels in order to get ESPN, CNN, etc. I pay around $100 USD for internet and cable in two rooms. The service isn't great, there are frequent outages. The customer service is AWFUL/nonexistent.

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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?

You need Spanish! It's ok to have imperfect Spanish as Dominicans are patient but I think it would be very difficult to live here without any Spanish. You need it to order in a restaurant, buy groceries, pay bills, and communicate in general.

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

It would be very difficult. The U.S. Embassy barely has ADA acceptable facilities. Sidewalks (where there are sidewalks) are in horrible condition. There are elevators but given the electricity situation in this country, I try to avoid them.

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Transportation:

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

The only taxi company that is considered safe is Apolo. There are a ton of no-name taxis and public cars but they are not very safe. We are not supposed to take the buses or metro. The metro is new and I've heard it it nice, the route is very limited at this time.

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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?

You need a car here. Most people bring a SUV. The roads are poor, potholes are everywhere. There are some rough roads on the way out of Santo Domingo as well. You can easily sell your car for the purchase price at the end of your tour. Cars sold here are more expensive. The most popular car brands are Toyota, Nissan, and Honda.

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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. it can be spotty but it's fast. Expect to pay $50 USD per month for internet alone.

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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?

You can use Claro/Codetel or Orange. A lot of people have blackberries. My plan is one of the cheapest and I pay around $14 USD per month. You should expect to pay a lot more for a data plan. The Embassy does not issue phones to all officers.

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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?

No, you just need a health certificate.

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

Pretty good. Kennels and vets are much cheaper than in the States. You have to be careful about where you board your pet (sometimes it's worth it to pay a little more). You can find vets that speak English and are excellent.

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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?

It depends on your job. I think teachers would have a lot of opportunities. You would definitely need Spanish and the pay would be very low compared to the U.S. or Europe.

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

No one wears shorts. People at work wear suits or business casual. Women dress provocatively and the motto seems to be "the tighter the better, the higher the heels, the better". The younger men like to rock the bedazzled jeans.

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Health & Safety:

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

There is a lot of crime here, this is a poor country and many people carry guns. I have not been a victim but I know people who have. It's important to be careful. For example, don't go running alone with an i-pod, always lock your doors and use your alarm, don't use unmarked taxis...it's probably similar to most places. I generally feel safe here. My advice is to be very careful driving to Santo Domingo from the airport, there are lots of robberies around the airport.

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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?

It seems to be ok. The dentists are good and I've had blood work done twice, no complaints. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses are paid extremely low wages here. The labor laws (or lack there of) lead to very overworked staff at medical centers.

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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?

Air quality in the city is not great. The breeze helps but Santo Domingo is very polluted. They often burn garbage and the thought of cars having any sort of emissions regulations is a joke.

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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?

It is hot and humid from March until October-ish. Hurricane season lasts from June to the end of November. It rains a lot in the summer and is pleasant from November-February. The humidity takes some getting used to but no real complaints. Some parts of the country can get cooler but you don't need winter clothing.

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Schools & Children:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

I've heard that there is baseball, gymnastics, and swimming.

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Expat Life:

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

It's hard to tell. There are a ton of dual nationals and a lot of Europeans retire here.

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2. Morale among expats:

It varies. Some people absolutely hate it here. It can be a struggle to get services and the traffic is horrible. The "me-first" attitude can get to you. However, there are a lot of things to do and it's a pretty nice place to live.

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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?

There are lots of bars, restaurants, clubs, and sports teams. Dominicans are very friendly.

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

Yes. The families I know are pretty happy living here. My single friends also enjoy it. There are some great restaurants, bars, and great weekend getaways. If you like to dance, this is your country. Just be careful, a lot of people are just looking for that visa.

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

I think it would be tough, there are some same-sex couples in the Embassy community but I don't think it's accepted in this country. I think dating could be difficult. That being said, I'm sure it's better than a lot of countries.

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

Yes, there is a huge issue with Haitians in the DR. You will hear a lot of rhetoric about Haitians crossing the border to give birth, stealing jobs, living illegally, etc. This is also a very male-dominated society. Men frequently father many children with many different women, it's considered not only acceptable, but the norm. You don't see many women in powerful positions in the government or the private sector.

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

Getting out of Santo Domingo is important. We have enjoyed visiting different parts of the country. You can find some nice hotels and those vacations have been great.

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

beaches, hiking, rafting, there are a lot of options! Las Terrenas is great, Pedernales has cacti on the beach!

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

Presidente or Brugal...

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

Beaches! This country has amazing beaches and other nice outdoor activities. Dominicans are very friendly and we've made some great friends here. The weather is pretty nice. It can get really humid and there are hurricanes but the "winter" is perfect.

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11. Can you save money?

It depends. If you eat out a lot, travel frequently, or only have one income, no. However, if you really try or have a good paying job, you can easily save money.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, it's been a good experience. It can be frustrating but it could be worse.

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

Sweaters, rum, and expectations that Santo Domingo looks like Punta Cana.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen (it's pricey here), bug spray, Spanish, and patience.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sugar, in the time of the butterflies, Sanky Panky

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

In the time of the butterflies, the brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao, the feast of the goat

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 05/21/11

Background:

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

Second expat experience but first time on Official Business

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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 6-7 hour trip with a layover in Miami

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3. How long have you lived here?

10 months

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

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses seem to be nice sizes for people with families and I've heard that folks in apartments consider their places spacious too. Our place is fantastic and although we have had problems with falling ceilings due to humidity, I don't have any complaints. People are placed in various locations - some within walking distance from the Embassy. Commutes range from 10 minutes to 1 hour during rush hour.

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

Full disclosure: We don't buy boxed/frozen food so I can't comment on those prices. Fruit/veggies are cheaper than in the U.S. usally but more expensive than Guatemala, Peru, and Ecuador. (e.g. 1 avocado is $1). We buy at the grocery store on Sale day every week b/c it's cheaper than the market. Household supplies are more expensive here if you want to use the same brands as in the U.S. so I order lots from Walmart (free or 97 cents shipping straight to DPO) or Amazon.

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

Children's raincoats, large carpets for these hard floors...not much b/c I can get pretty much everything online.

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

One of the worst things about Santo Domingo (to me) is the fact that it is full of fast [junk] food places. I can walk to Baskin Robbins, a yogurt place, 2 local pizza places, McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Dominos, and Pizza Hut from my house. They also have Taco Bell, Wendys, a 24 hot dog place and so much more. I don't eat there so can't comment on price but it reminds me of the South Side of Chicago. There are lots of Italian restaurants, a handful of Lebanese places, and several seafood places too. All but the Lebanese places are unnecessarily expensive in my opinion - $40-$60 for two.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Can't seem to find organic produce on a regular basis and I've looked hard. There is a grocery store with organic packaged food and the prices make Whole Foods look like a discount grocery chain. There are a couple of places to buy meat substitutes (Asian restaurant that sells frozen food and little shop near the Embassy). I've seen a gluten-free store but haven't made it inside yet.

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

Mosquitoes carry dengue fever in the city, sand flies (but not all year round), of course cockroaches exist but nothing a little borax can't handle to make them disappear

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and Pouch

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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 with wide range of skills. The cost is between $250-$350 month for a live-out housekeeper/nanny/cook.

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

Yes, but they seem to be priced just like they are in the U.S.

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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?

We mostly write checks at the embassy and don't use the ATMs unless they are in places that are secure. Credit card fraud is rampant here.

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

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

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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?

Lots, although surprisingly many Dominicans speak English.

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

Sidewalks are not even and easily walkable.

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Transportation:

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

We're not allowed to take the buses. Haven't used the metro. 2 taxi companies are approved for our use and they are about $4-$5/trip.

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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?

Small SUVs seem best but many Dominicans drive large SUVs and bogard their way through traffic. Anything will do.

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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 available and about $70/month including phone. Pretty reliable.

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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?

All phone plans seems to work well.

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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?

I can't imagine.

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

Business casual to Business

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is relatively high - purse/jewelry snatching by guys on motorcycles; narcotrafficking that doesn't typically affect USG personnel, opportunistic crimes

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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?

Dengue fever, allergies, cholera, parasites. Medical care is okay although I would never want to be hospitalized here.

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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?

Air quality is unhealthy in Santo Domingo but I usually don't notice it until in afternoon rush hour traffic while getting nauseous in the car due to the strong fumes

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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?

Hot and humid during several months, hot and rainy from July - October, warm and perfect from November/December to February

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Schools & Children:

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

Carol Morgan is backed by the Embassy and is considered a good school. We used an alternate school, as many other families have done, and I would not recommend it (El Dominico Americano) to anyone who wants an organized environment for their children.

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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?

There are many preschool options that range from the traditional style with rote learning and worksheets to Reggio Emilio, Multiple Intelligence, and "montessori" based schools. We love the school our child attends. After age 2 though it is difficult to find a quality preschool that teaches in Spanish - they are all English speaking.

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

Yes

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Expat Life:

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

Small - medium. I really can't answer this question since I don't mingle much.

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2. Morale among expats:

Moderate to good. I know people that don't like the place and others that really like it.

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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?

There are many opportunities to socialize within the USG community and outside. There are movie theaters, live theater, concerts, tons of restaurants, and tons of malls.

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

I imagine it is great for singles and really good for couples and families with young children. For families that have teens and want to immerse them in a culture of respect and decency, it may not be the best choice.

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

I haven't heard anything but I've seem some openly gay guys.

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

Absolutely. To be black, brown, or anything other than white-looking or light-skinned is negative. Dominicans (in general but not all) have a problem with Hatians and anyone that looks Hatian (which includes almost half of their population).Females are taught that their bodies and faces are most important and sexuality should be flaunted - even from a very young age.

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

Close proximity to clean beaches (45 minutes away), free folkloric musical and dance performances

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

Open-air concerts and cultural performances in the Colonial Zone, visit beaches 45 minutes away, walk on the Malecon at night with the kids, visit the aquarium, Los Tres Ojos

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

Ambar or Larimar but is that really unique?

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

Warm weather all year round, lots of cultural events like live music and theater

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11. Can you save money?

Doesn't seem like it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Umm, NO.

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

Driving manners, expectation that people will simply be courteous, and jackets/coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

Positive attitude, flip flops, beach towel, dancing shoes

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The rudeness, bad attitudes, and value system of Dominicans just rubs me the wrong way. That said, I'm sure that as soon as my attitude changes, I will be able to enjoy the country more. I love the way merengue and bachata music and dancing are a big part of the culture.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 11/10/10

Background:

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

no, lived in europe for several tours

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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?

DC, 500USD flight to SDO

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

diplomatic posting

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

housing is average to below average.families get houses and they are generally better than the apartments.singles get apartments that range in size and quality.all housing has a lot of issues with plumbing and general poor conditions.

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

more expensive here since everything is imported

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

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

almost all big american chains are available

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

just eat rice and beans for 2 years.

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

mosquitoes

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Daily Life:

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

dpo

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

about 200-300 per month 2x a week.not sure about live in maids

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

yes, two big gyms bodyshop and golds

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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?

i had my credit card hacked within two months of being here

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

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

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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?

you will be frustrated if you dont speak spanish

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

a lot

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Transportation:

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

apolo taxi is the only reliable and honest company

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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?

they say SUV, but a car will suffice

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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, expensive about 75-100 dollars per month

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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?

orange or claro are the two big companies

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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?

View All Answers


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

yes, good english speaking vets available

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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?

no

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

formal. shirt and tie, suits not necessary

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Health & Safety:

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

street crime is a problem. several people have been mugged from the mission

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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?

dengue, malaria and other fun illnesses

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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?

poor, pollution is horrible here, especially the exhaust from the cars.noise pollution is also bad as dominicans feel the need to beep constantly.

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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?

amazing.

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Schools & Children:

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

good schools, but the dominican elite go to these schools and are clicky and a bit nasty. its hard for the kids to make friends from what they say.

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

yes

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Expat Life:

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

very small outside of the embassy.a few south americans and a few europeans.very few americans

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2. Morale among expats:

i'd say low to average.people seem to be indifferent or absolutely hate it due to the (mis) management of the embassy, the chaotic city, and the dominicans who think they are entitled to everything

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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?

nightlife is good if you enjoy drinking presidente and listening to the same 15-20 reggaeton songs over and over.its gets old after about 2 months.other forms of entertainment like ballet, theatre, and live music is not that prevalent.

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

i'd say its better for families.they interact less with the extremely abrasive dominican society.domincans are very friendly, but not the smartest of people... they love to party but you arent going to have a lot of deep conversations. nearly all men cheat and the women are annoyingly passive. not much of an expat population, small amount of europeans here.making shallow friends is easy, but they rarely have anything of interest to say besides partying

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

no

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

domincans are very racist toward dark colored people like haitians and dark skinned indivduals.more importantly, they are classist, the rich keep the poor down and dont interact with them at all.unfortunately, 90% of the country is poor, so its hard to find your niche

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

Ecotourism, there are amazing things to see and do around the country.you have to get out there and take advantage.otherwise, you will go crazy with the chaotic life in santo domingo

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

beaches, ecotourism.there are several small companies popping up that offer fun tours of the countryside

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

dont bother, buy the same thing on amazon for 30% less.

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

good restaurants, movie theatres, the weather, shopping (more expensive than the states)

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11. Can you save money?

if you are careful.a dinner for 2 will run the same in the states about 75-100 with some wine.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

no, the management section has a notorious reputation of being very incompetent. everything is a fight, nobody is proactive, and there is a general lack of caring. it takes repeated follow up emails to verify that things get done. expect to live in a hotel for 2-3 months because they rarely have housing ready. getting services like internet, phone, repairs to your house, outages, and paying bills is a laborious and frustrating process. also, this is not punta cana, its a big trash filled typical 3rd world dump of a capital. flights are expensive back home, about 400-600USD. embassy is divided into 8 compounds, so its hard to interact with others.as mentioned before, dominicans are some of the rudest, most arrogant, and incompetent people i have ever met.its makes developing meaningful relationships and friendships nearly impossible.

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

winter clothes

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3. But don't forget your:

sunblock, snorkels, fins, beach stuff

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

read up on trafficking issues such as child prostitution, haitian statelessness, drug trafficking, government corruption, and other nefarious activities

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6. Do you have any other comments?

take advantage of the AMAZING beaches and natural wonders and forget about santo domingo.sometimes im out of the city every weekend of the month.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 08/11/10

Background:

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

No. Frankfurt, Germany.

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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.5 hour trip via Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year. Summer 2009 - Summer 2010.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is a serious issue in Santo Domingo. To summarize, if you live close to where you work, it will be a small apartment. If you live farther out, you will have a house. I suggest living closer to your workplace, since traffic is terrible. A 3 mile drive could take you upwards of 1.5 hours.

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

Typical U.S. groceries are available, but normally cost about 25% more than in the U.S.

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

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

Most U.S. fast food chains are in the D.R., but are priced at a premium. For example, a quarter pounder combo at McDonalds will cost you about 8 dollars. As for decent restaurants, several are in Santo Domingo, but again are priced at a premium. For example, at a normal Italian restaurant, a family of 4 can expect to pay about $70, without drinks.

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

Since the island never cools off, insects never die. Ants are a constant problem, as are mosquitoes. While I would not suggest that someone brings their bug nets, a good insect repellant is critical.

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Daily Life:

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

View All Answers


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

Domestic help is very available and relatively inexpensive.

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

There are gyms, but due to traffic conditions, they are very hard to get to.

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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?

Do NOT use your credit card in the DR, and be very careful with your ATM card. Literally everyone that I know has had their card number stolen.

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

Several churches offer either dual-language or English language services.

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

There are not any English-language newspapers, but several English television channels are available through cable TV. Television normally cost about 35 – 40 USD per month.

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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?

You HAVE to speak Spanish in order to function in daily life. Outside of major hotels, no one speaks English.

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

You do NOT want to go to the Dominican Republic if you have physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

No trains on the island. Buses are not safe for use. As for taxis, I suggest only using Apollo taxi. They are wonderful, and reasonable.

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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?

I suggest bringing a 4x4 SUV.Driving conditions in the D.R. are terrible, and the average driver only respects more metal. I would absolutely NOT recommend a nice car. Either way, you will have a wreck within the first 4 months of driving in the D.R.

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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?

DSL and Cable internet are available, but both are expensive.

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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?

I recommend a prepaid phone. Basically at every traffic light people will be trying to sell additional units for prepaid phone services, so it is easy to purchase them.

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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?

No need for quarantine.

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

Santo Domingo has several good vets, but during my stay my family could not find a good kennel.

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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?

Jobs are available, but only if you want to earn about 200 USD per month and/or do menial tasks.

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

People typically dress very formally. Women often wear formal dresses and for men, suites.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is a serious problem in the Dominican Republic. Our maid was robbed at knife point only 2 block from the U.S. Embassy in broad daylight. This is absolutely a place where you should do everything in a group, and even then, do not go to remote locations.

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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?

Quality medical care is available for basic issues, but for anything more complicated, most people fly to Miami. As for health issues, Malaria and Dengue (aka. Bone break fever) are both common. While Malaria is more common in rural areas, Dengue can be found ANYWHERE.TB, HIV, and Syphilis are also VERY common.

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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?

In Santo Domingo, air quality depends on how much traffic is around you…which most of the time is a lot. Water pollution is a completely different topic. Since Santo Domingo does not have a sewage treatment plant, waste flows directly into the ocean. Due to that, it is not safe to drink tap water (anywhere in the country), nor swim close to the city.

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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?

Realistically Santo Domingo only has two seasons, hot and hotter, with varying degrees of humidity. Also, the island is normally subject to hurricanes.

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Schools & Children:

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

My children went to Carol Morgan school. I can honestly say, with agreement from the majority of the U.S. Embassy community, Carol Morgan school is awful. Do NOT send your children there. The kids that attend Carol Morgan are completely out of control. Additionally, it is NOT an international school. The vast majority of the children are local kids, and have know each other since kindergarten. The reason that this is a problem is that new students are not able to make friends and break into the “clicks” that have existed for years.

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

You do not want to bring children here that have special needs. The schools and the society in general, do NOT accommodate.

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

Not really.

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Expat Life:

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

The English-speaking expat community is relatively small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Due to the high crime rate, morale is low.

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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?

If you are independently wealthy, the Dominican Republic offers a lot of social opportunities.

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

This is NOT a family-friendly post. It would probably be fine for singles or couples, but not for school-age children.

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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?

In general people with darker completions are discriminated against. Also the D.R. is also a male-oriented society.

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

My wife developed a close relationship with the Damas Diplomaticas, a charity organization that assists about 2000 orphans throughout the country.

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

The beaches are nice, but VERY expensive.

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

Rum. Forget the cigars, the best ones are for export only…but you can find excellent rum.

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

I honestly do not know of ANY advantages to living in the Dominican Republic. Your touring opportunities are limited to visiting the various resorts, which are VERY expensive. The island is extremely expensive. Almost everything is imported, and thus will cost you about 1.5 times as much as in Washington D.C.Additionally, a cheap resort is about $ 100 per person per night. For a family of 4, that is $400 per night…cost prohibitive. As for weather, the winters are quite nice. It drops down to about 75 degrees F at night. The summers are a completely different story. It is extremely hot and humid.

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11. Can you save money?

Not a chance. Everything is MUCH more expensive here than even in Washington DC.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not a chance.

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

Camping gear. The Dominican Republic is not safe enough to feel comfortable camping.

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3. But don't forget your:

Extra cash. You will need it.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sanky Panky.

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 06/29/10

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

It is about a 2-hour flight from Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

8 months.

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

US State Dept.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Our house is some distance from the consulate...but if we leave early enough in the morning we can get there in 15 minutes. But like any major city, if we wait till "rush hour' (which is frequent here) it can take over an hour. There are plenty of homes, apartments, etc. that are actually very nice.

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

You can buy pretty much anything you need here. The American products cost at least twice what you would pay in the States. They have a Price Mart here which is very similar to Costco....and a Ferreteria Americana, which is HUGE and is like a Home Depot but on a large scale. it has a food court, baby-items dept, pharmacy, full-scale furniture area with room displays -- somewhat like what Macy's would have and with very nice furniture.....and we recently got an IKEA.

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

We planned ahead and shipped everything we needed. If you are partial to certain brands of shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc. you should bring them with you. We have found that something here can have the same brand as in the States, but it is often an inferior product with a higher price.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken......which we don't eat at. Our family is not too excited about Dominican food, so we prefer to make our meals at home.

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

The mosquito problem is huge....there is no escaping them. Bring lots of deet. We also have lots of moths that we can't seem to get rid of (in our home).

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO.

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

Very available.....people are poor and need jobs. We pay our live-in maid approximately $300 US dollars a month. We are going to hire a second one to work Sundays. Most ladies get paid approximately $15 dollars a day.

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

We live near "the Body Shop" which is a pretty large and is a nice, modern facility with nice equipment. It is expensive.

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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?

We are advised not to use them. Occasionally, we use our American Express card, which we hear is safer to use. There is a lot of fraud here. We tend to just use cash.

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

We go to the Epiphany Church, which has an English service.

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

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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?

Spanish is very necessary. But beware that Dominicans are hard to understand. If you are with the State Dept. and you have your kids at Carol Morgan School, then you can get by with English. However, if you should want to ask someone directions, or ask for something at the grocery store, or call up the company that provides you internet or tv because there is an issue, you will need some Spanish.

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

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Transportation:

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

We are advised to just use Apolo Taxi, and you can get just about anywhere in the city for 150 pesos, which is about 5 dollars. Most taxis don't have working seat belts, and the drivers tend to be crazy, zooming in and out of traffic....so it is quite a game of chance just using one. At least our vehicle has seat belts...that helps. I wouldn't use one of the local taxis, although people say you should try it just for the experience. I pass them all the time, though and the people are crammed in them like sardines -- often with arms dangling out of the windows for lack of room. So couple that with no a/c and the pick pockets who frequently use them, and it is an experience I will gladly pass on.

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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?

4-wheel drive/SUV This place has lots of pot-holes.....MAJOR pot-holes and MAJOR dips in the roads....(I call them rivers...not dips) and man-hole covers are stolen (so that they can be sold for scrap metal) which can cause major damage to your vehicle if you run into a missing one. We were walking down a sidewalk with our kids once, and it's a good thing we were paying attention, because we could have lost one of our kids very easily down one of those holes.

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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?

It is available and you can expect to pay the same amount as in the States.

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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?

You need one. Life is full of unexpected experiences, and Santo Domingo is no exception. There is no 911 here, nor policemen around that you can count on to help you, or for that matter good samaritans. You are on your own around here, and having a cell phone is a necessity. There are many service providers, and if you have a contract you can expect to pay the same amount that you would pay in the States. We just get the phone cards, and because we don't use the cell much, it only costs about $20 a month.

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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?

No.

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

There is good quality pet care available. PetLand is a nice one, and there is also an animal hospital/vet in Arroyo Hondo.

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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?

The State Dept. has decent-paying jobs for family members. Schools seem to hire quite a few expats.

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

My husband needs to wear a dress shirt and tie to work. As far as in public, Dominicans don't wear shorts, so you will stand out as an American if you wear them (children wear them, though). Dominican ladies tend to dress up and wear very high heels and lots of jewelry. Outer appearance is very important in their culture, not just what you wear, but also how your home looks. When our grass gets a little high, we often get recommendations for gardeners.....which I find funny.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is a very poor country, and I would say a high percentage of people would love nothing more than to break into your car/home and steal from you. You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings. We had our taxi followed by the typical 2 men on a motorcycle....one does the driving, the other snatches the purse, bag, sunglasses, cell phone or whatever else appeals to their eye. I had read from our security report that the would-be attackers like the element of surprise, so my family and I stared them down and they sped off. Many people have things stolen right off of them in the street. There was one incident (that I heard of personally) where the person refused to give up her belongings and was shot.

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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?

Our one experience in an emergency room clinic (considered a nice one) was scary at best. The sheets were dirty, and they prepared the needle outside of your sight, so we weren't sure if the needle was clean. So we had them do it again in front of us. I wouldn't trust hand washing. We get most of our basic needs met at the embassy health unit, which we are pleased with.

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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?

Unhealthy. Make sure you drive around using the recycled air in your vehicle, because there is black exhaust spewing out of all the cars around you as you drive.

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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?

Typical tropical weather: hot & humid. Right now it is the rainy season, and having lived in Miami for 12 years and Seattle for 10 years, I would compare it to the constant rain of Seattle but with the hot humidity of Miami. I much preferred living in Miami, where there would be a huge downpour followed by beautiful sunshine. Here, we have spent weeks where it is dark & rainy most of the day. It sure makes it hard to enjoy time with the kids....we can't play tennis, swim, go to the beaches, etc....so it's lots of indoor movies and bowling.

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Schools & Children:

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

We had our children at Carol Morgan, but because of the distance from our house and our desire for them to learn more Spanish, we are switching schools next year.

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

Our 2 older children need gifted services which the schools here do not provide. Fortunately, the State Dept. provides special funding for this, and we are hiring a tutor to teach them at their grade level.

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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?

My 3-year-old attends a preschool (about 5 minutes from our home) which speaks primarily English. We are switching him to another school next year that will teach him more Spanish. The problem is that the bigger, nicer facilities have families there with parents who can afford it.....for those parents it is very important that their kids learn English. This is great for them, but not so great for our English-speaking kids. So it has been a struggle to find good quality schools that will still give them some Spanish language.

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

Yes. They are available through the schools, and those would be in English. Any other local programs would be taught in Spanish.

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

We have met quite a few State Dept. employees who can't wait to get out of here. The driving is very stressful....people drive wherever they feel like going, even the wrong way down one-way roads and 2-way roads. If there is a big long line of cars, they will drive down into oncoming traffic to get to the intersection ahead of everyone else. They will often not stop at red lights, they weave in and out of traffic and will use as many lanes as possible to get ahead of everyone else. Two lanes can very easily become five. They stop to pick up or drop off people in the middle of a lane of traffic. There is no such thing as "oh, let me pull of to the side of the road to drop you off", just as there is no "side of the road". You can just be driving along, and someone will stop in front of you to buy a mango or a phone card, and you have to go around them -- which could cause you to have an accident, because the other lanes are also filled with swerving traffic. If you are someone who has a problem with lack of patience, this place will drive you nuts -- as it has many of my friends.

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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?

We attend various embassy functions, and we do quite a bit of entertaining at home.

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

We are a family of 6, and I would not consider it a good city for families. It is not like in the States where a family could just go and play at a park. We don't do that here....only because it wouldn't be enjoyable for us to be constantly looking over our shoulder for dangerous situations and watching over our stuff. Our kids have bikes but nowhere to ride them, unless we drive to the school property where there are security guards. In the States, our kids could ride up and down the sidewalk of our neighborhood freely or walk to the neighbor's house to play, etc. ....you can't do that here. I try to make it as fun as possible for the kids. We have a trampoline, we rent movies, we go bowling, we go to the mall, we go to the zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, movie theatre.....and almost every weekend we escape from the city and go to the beach.

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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?

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

The weekend beach trips with the family, and meeting some wonderful expat families outside of the State Dept.

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

The Colonial Zone is neat.

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

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

It's got some great beaches, but unfortunately you have to drive a couple of hours to get to a clean one.

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11. Can you save money?

Food is very expensive to buy at the grocery store and at restaurants. So, I think if you just eat rice, beans and local fruits and veggies you can do pretty well. We like American products, though, so we pay for them and it's expensive. The all-inclusive resorts are about $150 a person per night (children pay half). All of the services (cell, tv, internet, gyms, etc.) have American prices, so it is hard to save money in that respect.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. It has been a good post for us, despite the stress. We enjoy the climate and have met some nice people. We have a nice home, and the embassy provides water delivery and a generator, bars on the house for safety, Dominican watchmen (guards) that come and walk around our property every half hour, and screens on our windows to protect against mosquitoes. So we feel pretty safe, and not having to deal with power outages makes life a bit easier.

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

kid's bikes, roller skates, etc. as there are no sidewalks or safe roads to ride them on.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen and sun protection clothing/hats etc. Most of the floors are tile, so some good rugs come in handy.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 05/13/09

Background:

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

Our third overseas experience after Dar El Salam and Athens.

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2. How long have you lived here?

4 years.

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

Diplomatic spouse.

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

From the east coast most US carriers go to Miami and then SD. Delta, American, US Air.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

OK housing for US Embassy people -- lots of large houses with gates. Some people still live in highrises.

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

Very expensive.

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

Books to homeschool my kids.

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

The usual suspects as far as fast food. More expensive than in the states.

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

Mosquitoes and cockroaches.

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Daily Life:

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

APO works well, but oodly enough, letters from the States also show up at our house address by Dominican post.

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

Mid-range on both.

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

Some, but be sure to read the fine print.

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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?

There are many scams and rip-offs. Be sure to protect yourself. Use an ATM in a mall, if possible, or in a bank in the middle of the day --don't use an ATM at night.

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

NIce churches and cathedrals.

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

Not really, but you can get the Hearald Tribune and Miami papers in certain places.

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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?

It really helps to know Spanish. Your kids will suffer unless they can learn or know Spanish quickly. CMS is a Spanish-speaking school for all intents and purposes.

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

Many, the walks and streets are awful. Biking is terrible.

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Transportation:

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

No. Taxis might be okay. Try to get a driver and stick with him.

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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?

Four-wheel drive -- for the mountains and roads, also for the floods in 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. About 50 USD per month.

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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?

Plentiful and cheap.

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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 really.

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

Dress is casual. Most Dominicans step out of the barrio but manage to look good after they do.

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Health & Safety:

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

It is only poor during rush hour in the city.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

Lots of secutiry concerns. Burglary, strong arm robberies, drive by robberies and all other kinds of crime that is spilling over from the Dominican community onto foreigners.

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

Lots of health concerns: dengue fever, malaria, parasites, fungi. Medical care at the embassy is great. Locally there are some good clinics and doctors.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Great weather year 'round. Average temperature of 81 degrees F. There is a rainy season and a hot season.

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Schools & Children:

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

The only true international school is Carol Morgan. There are many problems from preschool to highschool. Poor administration and consistent mismanagement are the norm for this school. The headmaster is entrenched in the school and community and probably should have left a long time ago; he is way past his prime. There are many personal issues among the administration (and also staff) that make the school a snakepit of issues for parents. This year's opening of a new media center and library will help with resources -- but at the same time, poor hires and "stuffing the ballot box" for the board elections continue the same old issues. Embassy community members are second- or third-class citizens at this school.

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

I understand that CMS has some services, but without a doubt, except for the library, the Special Needs and ESL departments of CMS are the worst people to deal with. They are an odd collection of misfits and poor hires, and their incompetence and ineptitude make any dealings with them difficult.

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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?

Stay with a local provider. There are great daycare facilities, particulalry without the low quality of teacher that staffs this area at CMS. Plus, you have a real chance for your son or daughter to learn Spanish at a local daycare.

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

Some facilities, but again: at school it can be a bad experience for gringo kids.

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Expat Life:

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

Large. Mostly Americans.

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2. Morale among expats:

Poor to middling. If the school was better it would be better.

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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?

House parties and nightclubs.

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

It is only ok. At school your kids will not get the opportunities because rich Dominican kids' parents will make sure your kids are miserable from sports. And other after-school activities at CMS are very expensive.

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

Obviously it offers something. Publicly, dominicans are against homosexuality, but privately it exists. The headmaster of CMS is openly gay.

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

Yes, if you are African American be prepared to experience Jim Crow.

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

Travel to beaches, hike in the mountains. Visit with Dominicans who are very friendly.

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

Rum.

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9. Can you save money?

NO, sorry.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No way.

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

anything of value and your sense that your kids will meet wonderfull little Dominican kids.

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3. But don't forget your:

diving gear.

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 11/24/08

Background:

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

Lived here as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3.5 years.

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

Teacher at Carol Morgan School.

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

A quick jump to Miami.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

If you're a Carol Morgan teacher, the housing is fair to midland. It's apartment living. A few places have issues with mildew and mold, and to make a change one must complain loudly and often. Most people are pretty content with where they live, however, and the commute is awesome. (I can walk, others take school transportation or drive 5 or 10 minutes).

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

High, like the States when the economy was stronger.

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

Shipping is too much trouble for me to deal with. I try to deal as little with customs as possible.

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

McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, Baskin' Robins, Hagen Daas, King Donut for the major chains; there are also a couple of good Mexican, Mediterranean and Italian restaurants, plus a few good Chinese and sushi joints. If you want Thai or Indian food, the Asian stores have the ingredients, plus bottled sauces.

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Daily Life:

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

CPS: this is a costly service, but it's reliable. The regular mail works for letters and cards, but nice things get stolen in customs.

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

Plenty available, pretty affordable. Most teachers have a maid twice a week and pay around US$100 a month. People with young kids have full-time nannies and pay more like US$200-300 a month, depending on needs and generosity.

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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?

Some issues, but none that have deterred me from using them.

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

Yes, Christian.

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

People use DR1.com's translations of the local paper.

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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?

Some Spanish is helpful, but one can get by without.

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

A person with physical disabilities would need to take cabs everywhere or drive, and they'd need a strong assistant (and strong Dominican men abound) to carry them up stairs.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, but this is not always necessary.

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

Taxis aren't that affordable but are safe and plentiful, government buses can be uncomfortably full but safe, small busses are not so safe and super-jam-packed, public cars are an experience everyone should undergo at least twice, and the new subway system is great but doesn't go anywhere I go. (They're building a phase two soon, so that will change).

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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?

People have every kind of vehicle in the city, but I prefer a jeep-type here because of all the potholes and floods.

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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, if a higher-cost company is used, it's reliable.

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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?

Get one, because calling cell phones from a home phone is super expensive, and everyone else has a cell pone. Though it's a little more expensive, opt for the better service of Claro (it's Verizon).

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

Skype.

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Pets:

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

Yes, Pet Land has great vet care.

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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 really. Good paying jobs are best secured in the States before arriving here.

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

At CMS, the local teachers wear a lot of polo shirts. We Americans wear the same clothes we wore in the States.

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Health & Safety:

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

High, but being next to an ocean and having two major parks (called the lungs of the city) help the air quality considerably.

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

Personal and home robberies--the regular 3rd world deal.

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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?

Amebas abound. People are always complaining of stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea. Most people get dengue at some point. I'm a raw foodist, so maybe that's why I only get mild colds. ; )

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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?

Warm most of the year, hot in the summer, chilly for a couple of weeks in the winter.

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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 school is 90% wealthy Dominican, and that's rough in the upper-elementary, middle and high school where there are strong cliques. Even in the 2nd grade kids might tease if your 7 year-old doesn't have a cell phone. In the elementary school where I work, Dominicans mostly play with Dominicans, the Asian kids hang together, Columbians, Mexicans, etc. play together, and American embassy children play with each other. The school is good, and although not highly academic, there does exist an AP program. Ivy-bound students go to boarding schools in the States.

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

It's a great program for students with mild learning disabilities. Anything more than that and it's a struggle.

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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?

The school starts at Pre-K, daycare is available and decent if you're selective.

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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:

Low to high--there is a honeymoon stage for most, but when contract or post is up, most people are ready to go.

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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?

There's a night life here, some decent clubs, teachers entertain in homes. There are a lot of teachers with young children right now.

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

Single men seem to love the Dominican females who are all too eager to score a green card; single women need to beware of Dominican males--they're charming, and the smart ones know how to hide their machismo until marriage. Not all Dominican men cheat (only most), but almost all Dominican men are chauvinists at heart.

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

I can only speak of the lesbian community, as my friend has a blast here. The community is small but active; there's O'Hara's, a lesbian bar run by a woman named Scarlet, a dance club and probably more that I'm not aware of. As for gay men, I only know couples, so I'm not sure about the single's scene.

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

There aren't any religious prejudices--this place has tons of religions, and Dominicans might choose more than one if it'll get them things like a job or a better school for their kids. Wealthy Dominicans tend to be white, poor Haitians tend to be black, so the lighter one is the higher the status, the darker, the less. All that really doesn't effect an ex-pat much, unless you look middle-eastern. Then they'll call you Al-Quida, but in a good-natured way.

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

There're malls with movie theaters, some theater, some art, places to dance, bars and "colmados" are fun places to meet Dominicans and practice your Spanish.

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

There're masks and things, and if you know where to look, you can find really good art.

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9. Can you save money?

I save money because I rarely go out. Most teachers tutor in the afternoons in order to try and save the dollar portion of their salary.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I might want to visit people I've come to love here. Surfers like to come back, though.

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

Love of good customer service.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and fun.

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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:

Nueve Yol.

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you're a teacher and speak Spanish, try to get to know the Dominicans that don't have kids at the school. The maintenance workers and their families, for example, are wonderful, fun-loving people who will take good care of you if you visit their homes. Try to visit your maid's house. (Just remember to put on the bug spray before you go or you'll enjoy none of it).

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 10/19/08

Background:

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

No. Europe, Latin America, and Middle East.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Over a year.

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

Foreign Service.

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

Through Atlanta, Georgia from the US.Flight is around 2 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Single houses, housing compounds and apartments. Some houses and apartments have pools. Most of the housing--apartments and houses--seems to have routine problems that tend to take time before they"re fixed. Housing is located all throughout the city. Most people deal with "long" commutes. By this I mean anywhere from an average of 30 min. to 1 hour depending on the time of day, but what makes it seem "long" is the traffic itself and the Dominican mentality of driving--which is dangerous because it is counter to common sense and motivated by a self-centered attitude rather than safety.

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

Groceries were expensive to begin with, and I"ve seen prices go up since being here while our COLA and differential have gone down. Can't explain why it has.

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

We brought snorkel equipment and food goods that were not as expensive as here, but in general you can buy most things here (at a higher price, though) or order it over the internet using APO or pouch.

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

Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald"s, Baskin Robbins, Haagen Daz, Cinnabon plus local ones. A number of decent restaurants available at a price (not outrageous, but definitely not cheap).

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Daily Life:

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

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

Plentiful. It will cost between US$200-300 a month for full time help depending on how much advantage of cheap labor you feel is okay to do. Let it be known that living here is expensive and those who labor very cheaply live in sad conditions and don"t have advantage of educational opportunities that those who make a "livable wage" do.

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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?

Generally safe, but there was a rash of numbers getting stolen early last summer when a company servicing the machines at businesses had some employees stealing the numbers. The problem seems to be resolved at this time.

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

I do know there are Christian churches available in English or with translation. The CLO has been sending out a list in each newsletter.

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

Cable yes, paper I know of online,(www. DominicanToday.com), but have never seen it in print. Typical 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?

As is typical, the more you know the better. But, one *can* get by with little language ability.

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

Many of us without physical disabilities have problems getting around in this city! Or, if you don't have any now, be careful not to get any here from walking in the streets. Walking can be hazardous with unmarked holes in the pavement. I've known this to happen to several people that have been laid up because of falling while walking on the street/ sidewalk.

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Transportation:

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

All over the road if you're Dominican. Otherwise, it is usually best to stay to the right.

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

Not really because of the condition of the vehicle, the way it is driven, and the crowding on the buses. Affordable, yes.

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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?

Most cars can be driven here, but certain cars can be hard to find parts for--it just depends if that car is here or not (i.e. a brand may be here and easy to find parts for one model, but not another b/c it is not sold or found here).However, it is surprising what the Dominicans can get to run here. I have never seen cars put together with so many parts and held together with what looks like rust. They are definitely good at recycling car parts and getting things to run!As far as terrain, an SUV is good because of the many, many potholes and where you can take it--say to remote beaches or into the mountains. Local restrictions (they drive about anything here) or carjackings don"t seem to be a major problem that I am aware of.

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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--decent service at typical 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?

Claro and Orange are the biggest competitors here and usually are just fine and reasonably priced.

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

Skype, Vonage, etc.

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Pets:

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

Not sure of kennels but I know of a couple of good vets available.

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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?

There are jobs, but I've been told the pay is low.

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

Dressy casual with an emphasis on staying cool. Dominicans like to dress up more--especially in social situations. Women wear tight jeans, high heels, low-cut blouses, jewlery, and regularly have their hair and nails done at the salon.

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Health & Safety:

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

Unhealthy air because of unregulated car exhaust, constant use of diesel generators, etc. Pollution in environment causes problems with rats, cockroaches, polluted water sources, sicknesses, etc.

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

Yes. Break-ins, muggings, steeling, even abduction (not common, but personally known of)are all real and a problem here. The embassy considered getting rid of residential guards, but due to the concerns of the community has reversed that decision. How long, though, I have no knowledge of.

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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?

Parasites, Dengue Fever, infections, injuries from falls/accidents, etc. can be concerns. Medical care is available and may be decent, but fortunately medivacing to the States is possible b/c of proximity when sufficient care is not available.

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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?

Hot in spring and summer, rainy and muggy in fall, mostly pleasant in winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are no real "international schools" here. The schools that are as near to an international school are geared towards Dominicans learning in English with a consideration for American culture. My experience with the schools is that the only "acceptable" school academically is the Carol Morgan School. If you have a child with special needs, though, be very careful in choosing this school. Also, be very aware that the school has had issues with social difficulties between Dominicans and Americans/foreigners that go there on "scholarship" (i.e. paid for by the embassy).Also, there is a great emphasis on the materialism as Dominican parents tend to use money as the answer to celebrating, creating projects, helping or spending time with their kids, etc. You will be nickle and dimed--or in this case, dollared and pesoed right and left.

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

See above about schools. They will "accomodate" your child in the sense that they will do what they can. Whether or not that is sufficient for your child"s progress is another question. I have not had good success in this area.

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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?

Yes--it seems to be very available and I've known people who seem to have had good experiences with it.

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Expat Life:

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

Large-ish, but not huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

That's another story. You'll find the whole spectrum with the bulk settling with being frustrated and tired with the Dominican mindset that seems to have filtered into the Embassy ability to support its community. But, non-embassy-related ex-pats seem to fall the same way on the spectrum.

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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?

It all depends on you. Dominicans like to party, so it exists. Expats would probably socialize more, but traffic puts a definite damper on wanting to go out after fighting it to and from work.

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

Like many places, it depends on what you want. All could potentially have a great time here, but people from all of these categories seem to struggle because of some of the difficulties here and the lack of support for those things.

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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?

Race and gender. The darker your skin the more potential for prejudice as a number of Dominicans tend to be prejudiced against the Haitians that usually are darker skinned. This has trickled down into some of the Dominican children"s attitudes seen in the socialization of kids at school (i.e. at Carol Morgan School among some of the darker-skinned expats).As far as gender goes--machismo exists here. If you"re a female, expect to be stared at like a piece of meat if you venture to walk outside, and if you're driving in a car don't be surprised if a boy young enough to be your son or old enough to be your father or grandfather makes passes at you. And, don"t think that just because you have a man with you that this will not happen.

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

Many things to do. All sorts of nature-related activities (of course the beach, ocean, etc., but also hiking, camping, birdwatching, etc.). Also, some shopping, eating out (though not cheaply), movies, bowling, concerts, parties, etc.

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

Typical tourist things like cigars, rum, cheap paintings, jewlery, etc. Nothing incredibally expensive, though.

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9. Can you save money?

I'd be impressed if you could. Most families and couples have had to resort to both spouses working just to cover costs.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I don't regret this life-learning experience, but I never want to live here again. Ever. I'm still deciding if I'd even come visit again. . . i.e. if it's worth all the other baggage that you have to put up with. The way I see it, there are too many other places in this world to explore now that I"ve been here.

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

Desire for things to function efficiently, practically, and safely.

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3. But don't forget your:

Stress-management books, pills, exercises, mantras or whatever you use to deal with daily life here.

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Consider all the former post reports and weigh them all seriously in your decision to come here. This post is totally do-able, but the lack of support and constant battle of re-inventing the wheel on a consistent basis can be wearing at best and infuriating or more at worst. The Dominican culture even drives Dominicans crazy. Add to that lack of support and it makes for a difficult living circumstance over time.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 08/21/08

Background:

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

Caracas, Mexico City, Rome, Salamanca, Buenos Aires, Venice, Palermo.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Now just a year but I've followed the country closely since 1989.

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

Press Officer at the U.S. Embassy.

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

4 hours from NYC direct flight, cannot fly direct from DC (go through Miami or San Juan).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Varies greatly. Some folks have great houses, others not so great. General move is to apartments so families with many kids might have problems here.

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

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

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

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Daily Life:

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

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

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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?

Dangerous.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis 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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate/Unhealthy.

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

Frequent house break-ins, muggings. Muggings are generally non-violent. Credit card fraud is high.

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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?

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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?

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Schools & Children:

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

Very good schools, especially Carol Morgan. Problem is bringing in kids who are above 15. Very cliquey.

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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?

Some good programs here. Very reliable, inexpensive childcare available.

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

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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?

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

Great for everyone but large families because of potential housing problems.

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

Sure.

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

Some racial prejudice against dark skinned persons owing to complex socio-economic, cultural, and historical factors, particularly in relation to Haiti and Haitians.

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

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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?

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Sorry, gotta go! This is an AWESOME city/country. Many people love it, some hate it. I love it.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. 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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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 06/08/08

Background:

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

I've done several tours, including tours in developing countries.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Over 2 years.

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

I am a Foreign Serivce Officer.

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

Roughly 2 hours through Miami, but avoid Miami if at all possible. Connections through San Juan are much better.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The Embassy seems to be shifting from houses to apartments as an economic measure (though some apartments lack constant power). Typical commute is between 30 and 45 minutes -- to travel 6 miles. Double it if it's raining, which it does frequently. There is no one more self-important than a Dominican driver behind the wheel of his car -- and since everyone feels the same way, expect massive tie-ups, blocked intersections, and complete disregard for traffic laws and common sense practices to make your drive into work hell.

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

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

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

Major fast-food chains are here and decent resturants are available but expensive - service is abysmal.

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Daily Life:

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

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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 and cheap, but they have little idea what they're doing, frequently have little experience with applicances (e.g., washing machine) and, based on personal experience and the experience of my friends, tend to steal whatever they can. Local laws make you pay salary and benefits if you fire for cause, even for theft, unless you can sucessfully press a court case.

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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 only to be used in hotels or banks because of high potential for theft and fraud. Credit card use is officially discouraged, though we still use them to avoid carrying cash.

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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?

All major networks available on cable. Cable roughly US$30/month.

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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?

One must have a working-level knowledge of Spanish. That said, people are generally happy to try to figure out what you're trying to say - they appeciate the effort.

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

Grave difficulties, based on lack of ramps and other necessary accomodations.

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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?

There are no trains, apart from the new multi-billion dollar subway (not yet running).Taxis are available, but may or may not be safe depending on upkeep of car and driver. Buses are crowded and not very safe.

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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?

Strongly suggest a Toyota SUV for parts and resale. Should take some sort of SUV, as roads are poorly maintained and often flood.

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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, both cable and ADSL. Varying costs based on speed. A mid-level ADSL plan is roughly US$45/month.

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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?

You'll need one. Get a contract, as the cards to recharge the phone don't seem to last the right amount of time. Some phone cards sold on the street are counterfeit.

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

VOIP phones.

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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?

It is an exceptionally tough job market and Spanish-fluency is a must. You will not receive a salary offer near what you're used to.

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

The dark suit is alive and well for men at work. Skirt & blouse or dress for women at work. Shorts are rarely seen -- especially on women.

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Health & Safety:

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

Very, very unhealthy. Aside from the tremendous pollution - cars, industry, burning and/or widely scattered trash, mold is a significant health concern. The city of Haina, located quite close to the capital, has been noted by CNN to be one of the 5 most polluted cities in the world (largely by contamination from lead).

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

Significant concerns. Violent street crime is on the rise.

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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?

Tropical diseases are real - nearly 1/2 of the Embassy has had dengue fever (some multiple times), malaria is at the border and at the eastern resorts, both ameobias and parasites are prevalent and easily acquired, pollution is taxing if you've got more than slight pulmonary restriction. Don't get into a major car crash - trauma facilities are rudimentary. There are a number of good doctors and dentists - ask around for personal references after arrival.

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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?

86F and sunny generally, with a pronounced rainy period. Very humid.

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Schools & Children:

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

Schools are fine, from an educational standpoint. As society is classist, Dominican children can be vicious and/or exclusionary with children of expats.

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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?

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2. Morale among expats:

Very low at the Embassy, not much better in the general community.

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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?

Seems to revolve around dinners and parties with friends. There are a few nice clubs though.

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

All in all, it appears about equal for families, singles, and couples. Perhaps a bit better for singles - as others have suggested, quite easy to make a new friend, especially as a single.

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

Strong Catholic tradition, Evangelical movement, and machismo make it interesting to say the least for gay men.

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

Classism is noteworthy and racial discrimination is obvious -- Embassy has placed 2 nightclubs off-limits for refusing to serve Embassy personnel.

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

Diving, tennis, golf, beach resorts.

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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?

This is, perhaps, the only saving grace. Or at least it was until the hardship differential was cut down to 15%.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I could not in good faith recommend coming to this post.

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

Expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

Paxil and valium.

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

You can enjoy it here if you just shut everything out and think happy thoughts, but the combination of grinding poverty, corruption, and misplaced governmental priorities make it hard to take if you try to make a difference.

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 02/11/08

Background:

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

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2. How long have you lived here?

Almost four years.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

Valium.

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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).

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Daily Life:

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.

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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.

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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?

No problem in general, just a void using them in restaurants.

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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, it is pretty reasonable. Cable is about US$25.

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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?

Spanish is an absolute must.

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

Many. A person without a disabilies almost breaks his leggs daily.

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Transportation:

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

Right-hand, at least you are supposed to.

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

Yes, taxis are fine. The others I would not recommend.

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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?

SUV for your own safety.

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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. I pay for broadband about US$80.

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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?

Skype.

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Pets:

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

Good.

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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?

No.

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

Formal.

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Health & Safety:

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

Unhealthy. Buses and generators emit an enormous amount of black smoke.

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

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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?

No not really. There are very good dentists and doctors here.

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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?

Good. Fantastic climate most of the year.

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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.

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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?

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Bad. Everything is irritating. Traffic is a nightmare and getting anything repaired is impossible.

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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?

Minimum.

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

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

From what I have heard, yes.

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

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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.

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

Rum.

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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?

Never. I'm glad I'll be posted to Rio this summer.

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

Your sense of humour.

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3. But don't forget your:

Good spirits - you'll need it.

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you're posted to Santo Domingo I wish you all the best.

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