Pros and cons of living in the Dominican Republic in 2023
Undoubtedly, we all know the Dominican Republic as a country where people go to get the best experience in the Caribbean. But one week’s trip is not always enough to understand how life works in this country and what problems residents face. After all, behind the paradise beaches, there is a reality that is hidden for you during your vacation in Punta Cana. That is why we have decided to tell you about the main pros and cons of living in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic overview
So, in order to acquaint you better with the current real situation in the country, we decided to split this topic into several sub-points. Therefore, it will allow you to find out more interesting facts about the Dominican Republic.
The economy of the DR
Well, we should say that the Dominican Republic has experienced significant economic growth, which makes it the largest economy in the Caribbean. Moreover, it ranks among the top 10 best economies in Latin America.
So, what helped the country become one of the fastest-growing economies in the region? Of course, it is tourism, mining, agriculture, free-trade zones, foreign investments. Here we should mention that tourism and free-trade zone earnings are the fastest-growing export sectors, and the service sector is the leading sphere in the Dominican Republic.
It is worth noting that such rapid growth occurred specifically before the pandemic, since many processes stopped after it. Nevertheless, everything is gradually resuming now, especially tourism.
What is life like in the Dominican Republic?
Probably, as you might guess, life in the Dominican Republic is not only about beaches and relaxation. Here people live an ordinary life like all of us, they may not see the ocean at all, since not everyone lives near the coast.
First of all, we want to point to salaries, and as we can see, average salaries in the Dominican Republic are an order of magnitude lower if we compare with the United States. So, the average salary is about 19 000 Dominican Pesos (DP) per month, which is about the US $330.
Moreover, most of the population still lives in rural areas. Also, rural life in the northern part of the country differs from the southeastern sugar plantations and other areas, and life in the vibrant capital of Santo Domingo also differs from the more calm life in small towns.
But many foreigners also come to live here for a long period, or even to get citizenship later. And the reason for this is usually their love for the climate, nature, the opportunity to go in for water sports, and the Caribbean vibe of this place. That is why we can see more and more foreign businesses appear here each year.
How to make a living in the Dominican Republic?
Well, as we have already mentioned, the Dominican wages are way lower compared to what most tourists are used to. When the average salary is about US $330, the lowest average salary is about the US $87. Hence, we can conclude that earning lots of money will be incredibly difficult, especially for an expatriate.
Nevertheless, doctors, lawyers, teachers of private schools get more, and it is about US $1 600. Doctors, lawyers, teachers of private schools receive more, the amount is in the range of $1 000-$2 500 US dollars per month. And this salary is considered high for the Dominican Republic.
Many people come here to open their own business, but not always everything goes the way we would like it to be. The economy in the Dominican Republic is still not at a high enough level, so businesses are often at risk. Working here, you will see that the prices are lower than in many countries.
But, in our opinion, the best option is to earn money elsewhere and come here to rest and enjoy your money, then you will feel as comfortable as possible, being able to afford a lot. Also, it would be the perfect option if your job allows you to work remotely, so you could live here.
Where do the rich people live in the DR?
First of all, we would like to mark Santo Domingo as the wealthiest city in the Dominican Republic. It is also the capital and the largest cultural and economic center of the country. As we can see, despite some social inequality in the Dominican Republic, there are exclusive sectors where rich, successful people live.
Without fear of being wrong, we can say that there are the most luxurious neighborhoods in Santo Domingo such as Los Cacicazgos or Bella Vista. In these areas, the price per m2 exceeds US$ 3 000, recall that a person with a high-income level can receive such a large amount for the Dominicans per month.
In addition, many people prefer to live near the coast, among such areas as Punta Cana, Cap Cana, and others. But, most likely, they choose the location of their villas away from the crowds of tourists. The popular option is accommodation that is located on the territory of the golf club.
Pros of living in the Dominican Republic
As you probably already know, the Dominican Republic is warm all year round. The tropical climate also gives you humidity, sending warm rains from time to time. Moreover, the average daytime air temperature is about 78.8 °F (26 °C), and the water temperature is about 80.6 °F (27 °C).
No doubt, the Dominican Republic is best known for its stunning white-sandy beaches with turquoise water. Tropical forests and mountains impress tourists from the first seconds. In our opinion, the most amazing thing is that there always remains a piece of unknown, untouched nature, which is now rarely found anywhere else. That is why it is always interesting to explore something new and unusual here.
It would probably be a crime not to mention the stunning beaches of this country when talking about its advantages. Moreover, this is the most common reason why tourists are so eager to get to this paradise in the Caribbean.
4. Low prices
Well, of course, it always depends, but we should say that living in the Dominican Republic is way cheaper compared to most countries in Europe or the USA.
5. No visa required
So, the need for a visa depends on the country you come from. The citizens from countries such as the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and a list of European countries do not need a visa to enter. They are allowed to stay with a tourist card for up to 30 days.
6. Easy to extend your stay
Tourists can stay without a visa for up to 30 days. And if you forget to extend your stay, you will be required to pay just a fine. Additionally, we should note that the prices for extending the stay are not exorbitant at all.
7. Amount of activities
Living in the Dominican Republic, you will definitely not be bored. The locals themselves are friendly and cheerful. Moreover, it is the best place to do water sports or golf.
8. Dominican cuisine
Without a doubt, if the food is bad somewhere, there is nothing to stay in a place like this. Fortunately, this is definitely not about the Dominican Republic. There is a huge variation in meals with blends of herbs and crops with beef, pork, cheese, oregano, saffron. Also, do not forget about the amazing seafood right at local restaurants on the ocean shore. Be sure that traditional Dominican food is a fusion that will make your mouth water.
Well, there is no surprise that Dominican coffee ranked as one of the best in the world. And there are many specific areas where this coffee is grown. Moreover, arabica beans are grown here the most. Therefore, you can be sure that your morning Dominican coffee will energize you for the whole day.
For sure, the Dominican Republic is known for its high-quality rum exports. The taste of it is smooth enough, because of the natural process of distillation and aging, that is why rum has its unique flavor. Additionally, a good and relatively inexpensive rum can also be an alternative here.
Cons of living in the Dominican Republic
As we have already mentioned, it is possible to get paid enough money to live comfortably. But this “enough” applies only to the Dominican Republic. The reason for this is that in most cases, with a regular position, you will earn several times less there than in the USA or Europe.
2. Driving and traffic jams
We cannot fail to mention this, as in big cities such as Santo Domingo it is always noisy and there are big traffic jams all the time. In addition, locals in the Dominican Republic are very dangerous to drive. They rarely have the rules we are used to, more often than not, they simply do not follow them. In addition, there are a lot of motorcycles that go fast and usually without traffic rules. So, if you are not an experienced driver, then you should not get behind the wheel first, it is better to hire a private transfer.
3. Corruption and bureaucracy
This is still a problem in the Dominican Republic. There is a fairly high level of corruption in the country. As well as bribes, which we do not recommend giving, and it is better to contact the police directly. Additionally, much time is wasted due to bureaucracy because some bills have to be paid in person.
Well, this topic is especially relevant in rural areas, because there are fewer medical services and the quality of health care is declining. But we should also mention that there is free treatment in public hospitals. Nevertheless, foreigners prefer to visit some private clinics, which are typically unaffordable for locals who do not have health insurance.
Pros and cons retiring the Dominican Republic
Having touched upon the topic of the life of foreigners in the Dominican Republic, we cannot fail to mention retirement. So, this practice is quite popular among foreign retirees. They move here to live a measured, eventful life under the warm Caribbean sun. Additionally, the big advantage is that retiring abroad can help you extend your retirement savings.
So, if you want to retire in the Dominican Republic, you can enter with a tourist card, and then you will need to apply for a visa. Do not be afraid of it since it is easy and quick enough to get it, and the Dominican government offers a special retirement visa. One of the main points of applying for a visa is to have an income per month of at least US $1 500.
So, this point may be a disadvantage for some, but the condition to have such an amount in the account will provide you with a comfortable stay in the country. Moreover, there are some problems with the Dominican three-tier healthcare system. The reason of it that most people end up paying out-of-pocket for medical supplies and services regardless of which tier they have access to.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is the Dominican Republic a good place to live?
Without a doubt, the answer to this question depends on your own goals and preferences. If you do not like cold weather, Dominican Republic is the best option since it is warm here all year round, so you can forget about jackets and scarves while here. Additionally, if you have chosen the Dominican Republic as your vacation destination or long-term stay while working remotely, this is also the perfect option.
2. What is the nicest part of the Dominican Republic?
We are convinced that there are many places in the Dominican Republic that are stunning in their beauty. In addition, there are areas that are still unspoiled and wild, so there is always something to explore endlessly. Despite this, some areas have already formed that are loved by everyone and for which every year a lot of tourists come here. We would like to highlight Punta Cana – the best place for your holiday paradise, and Santo Domingo – for cultural enrichment and sightseeing.
3. How safe is it to live in the Dominican Republic?
Well, the Dominican Republic is considered one of the safest countries in the Caribbean. Despite this, crime still exists, especially outside the resort towns. Probably a higher level of crime in Santo Domingo, because it is a capital with crowds of people. Punta Cana is the safest place in the country because most of the areas are secure and well guarded.
So, if you are not one of those who go to unknown places for dangerous adventures – you have nothing to worry about since it is safe in the protected areas. Nevertheless, we do not recommend you walk alone in places unknown to you at night, and always keep an eye open on your expensive belongings.
4. Is Punta Cana safer than Mexico?
Both Punta Cana and Cancun are considered safe. As you may already know, these are tourist towns, so they are well guarded. That is why, the safety level in these cities is higher than in any other city in these countries.
5. How long can I live in the Dominican Republic?
It depends on your status. Well, without a visa, you can stay up to 30 days just with a tourist card in the Dominican Republic. And after this period you need to leave or extend your stay. It also happens when people do not extend their stay, or they just forget about it. But, fortunately, it is not so strict here, no one will immediately expel you.
So, if you overdue the allotted time, you naturally have to face fines or fees. You will have to pay a fine in the office of the Direccion General de Migracion. The price will depend on the length of your stay. For example, from 1 day to 3 months of your overstay, you will pay about US $44. Finally, it is also possible to obtain citizenship in the Dominican Republic, but this process is rather lengthy and complicated.
6. Can a US citizen live in the Dominican Republic?
Well, a citizen of the United States of America can stay without a visa for up to 30 days. After the end of this period, you need to apply for a visa. Obtaining citizenship is also possible, but it is not an easy process.
7. Is healthcare free in the Dominican Republic?
Well, the Dominican Republic has a three-tier healthcare system. The government pays for the first one and guarantees free healthcare for citizens. The second tier is actually paid for by employers and their employees. The third tier is paid for by people whose income is bigger than the national average, and it is also partially subsidized by the government.
8. How much money do you need to live comfortably in the Dominican Republic?
In our opinion, to live comfortably enough in the Dominican Republic, you need at least a budget of US $1 000 per month.
9. Is American money worth more in the Dominican Republic?
Based on the fact that in the United States people earn several times more than in the Dominican Republic, you can afford way more here. This means that by living in the US for the salary you receive there, you will feel more comfortable spending money in the Dominican Republic. The reason is that the prices are lower here, as are the salaries of local residents.
10. How much money to bring to the Dominican Republic?
Of course, this is all individual, as some spend a lot of money on the trip, while others do not go outside the hotel and spend nothing. All in all, we would recommend taking around US $250 per person. And you can spend this money on entertainment and excursions. Trust us, activities in the Dominican Republic are definitely worth their money, so do not miss this opportunity, because they will give you unforgettable emotions.
11. What can you buy with 50 Dominican Pesos?
Well, 50 Dominican Pesos is less than US $1. For example, for this money, you can buy a bus ticket, a 1.5-liter bottle of water, and milk will cost you about US $1.
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