The Dominican Republic is fast becoming a popular destination for expats, with many lured to this idyllic Caribbean island by the tropical climate, inexpensive properties and high rates of return on investments.
Living in the Dominican Republic as an expat
When planning a move to the Dominican Republic, expats should prepare themselves for a slower pace of life and anticipate having to deal with lots of bureaucratic delays. Power cuts are frequent and road conditions are not always good. That said, foreigners can’t help but be captivated by the beauty of this geographically diverse country.
A popular retirement destination, the Dominican Republic is frequently chosen by expats looking to live out their golden years in sunshine. That said, the island also has plenty of employment opportunities. Those who come to the island for work often take up jobs at embassies, NGOs, international schools and Free-Zone factories. Most expats are based in the capital, Santo Domingo, or close to the coastal towns of Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete.
Expats living in the Dominican Republic often choose to stay in gated housing complexes. These self-contained communities offer certain home comforts such as international supermarkets stocking imported goods and restaurant chains. Thanks to an abundance of land and relaxed building regulations, housing on the island is also cheap.
Public transport in the Dominican Republic is reasonably accessible. The island offers a metro system, taxis, public cars (referred to as ‘carros publicos’), motorcycle transport, ‘guaguas’ (minibuses or vans) and cross-country buses. Expats can also choose to have a private car, as the island has highways connecting its major cities. Domestic flights are also available.
Public healthcare is available on the island, but the quality of care is generally fairly low. Good private hospitals are available and tend to be the first choice for most expats, as standards are likely to be closer to what they'd get in their home country. We also recommend expats have good health insurance for emergencies, especially if evacuation to a country with better healthcare is necessary.
Cost of living in the Dominican Republic
Living in the Dominican Republic is relatively cheap, with the island being listed at 173rd out of 209 on Mercer’s Cost of Living survey. With cheap housing and cheap food, expats can live comfortably here.
Expat families and children
Although cheap public schooling is an option, the quality of education is often low. Expat children in the Dominican Republic are often sent to either a bilingual private school or one of the country’s few international schools. Though these are usually pricey, expats tend to get quite a bang for their buck, as many schools teach foreign curricula such as the American and British systems, as well as the International Baccalaureate.
From the white sandy beaches and Caribbean seas to the rolling green hills of Pico Duarte, the scenery in the Dominican Republic is breathtaking and offers perfect getaways for weekend breaks. The cities also offer countless cafes and restaurants to tempt and expat’s tastebuds with the local flavours.
Climate in the Dominican Republic
Expats can enjoy a typical tropical climate here, with temperatures of 68-77˚F (20‐25˚C) in the winter months (December to February), and 77-80˚F (25‐27˚C) in the warmer months (June to August and September to November).
The Dominican Republic may not be the easiest of expat destinations, but those who embark on their journey with an open mind and a sense of adventure will find a country with warm locals and plenty of opportunities. With a low cost of living and a range of wonderful sights to see, expats can settle in well and be able to make the most of this Latin American island.
Population: 10.8 million
Capital city: Santo Domingo
Neighbouring countries: Located in the Greater Antilles archipelago, the Dominican Republic occupies most of the island of Hispaniola, with Haiti occupying a section of the western side of the island. Puerto Rico is located to the east of the Dominican Republic, across the Caribbean Sea.
Geography: The Dominican Republic is a mountainous island with multiple major mountain ranges interspersed with various plains and valleys. The island is bound by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south.
Political system: Unitary presidential republic
Major religions: Christianity
Main languages: Spanish
Money: The local currency is the Dominican Peso (DOP), subdivided into 100 ‘centavos’. ATMs can be easily found across the island and opening a local bank account is a simple process.
Tipping: 10 percent
Electricity: 110V, 50Hz. Plugs are Type A and B as used in the United States.
Internet domain: .do
International dialling code: +1 809
Emergency contacts: 911
Transport and driving: Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Santo Domingo has a metro system and there are buses throughout the country, but most expats prefer to drive.