Table of Contents
- Moving requirements for US citizens
- Monthly expenses in the Dominican Republic
- Renting or buying a place?
- Personal car vs public transportation
- Healthcare in Dominican Republic
- Final thoughts
The Dominican Republic might seem like the perfect vacation destination but, what if you wanted to relocate there? This beautiful Caribbean country has a lot to offer and the cost of living is not outrageous if you know what to expect and prepare yourself the right way. The national language in the Dominican Republic is Spanish so, before deciding to move to this beautiful country, consider getting familiar with the language as well.
The main concerns when you are planning to move overseas are always the budget as well as the healthcare system. Questions regarding the possibilities you will have in the new country will play a significant role in your relocating decision. I put together a complex guide to help you have all the information you need regarding the cost of living in the Dominican Republic.
Moving requirements for US citizens
American citizens who want to relocate to the Dominican Republic, have several routes to do that. First of all, it is important to know that American citizens that move to the Dominican Republic with a business visa or a tourist card, they still have to apply for a stay permit if they remain in the country for more than two months. This is a mandatory condition to be able to relocate in the Dominican Republic.
To receive a residence permit you will have to submit an application along with several papers such as a visa form, a passport style picture, a valid passport, a medical certificate, criminal record, birth certificate and a copy of your national ID. All these documents will have to be translated in Spanish and legalized.
An interesting aspect that is required when you apply for a visa in the Dominican Republic is that you will have to use the help of a national of this country that can guarantee for you. This means that this person will sign a paper that says they will cover all the mandatory costs that you are not able to cover in the Dominican Republic.
To these documents, you might need to add a few others, especially if you are married or divorced or you have children. It is important to check the website of the Dominican Republic consulate in your state before considering relocating strategies.
Monthly expenses in the Dominican Republic
Before we dive into details about your optimum budget in the Dominican Republic, let’s see all the expenses you might need to be prepared for each month here. Not all of these expenses will apply to you so, take into account your situation.
Keep in mind that the following costs are average. Depending on the area you live in as well as the quality of the products and services you need to purchase, these prices might be cheaper or more expensive.
|Complete meal at an average restaurant||$7|
|Beer 16 oz||$2|
|Water 11 oz||$0.50|
|Chicken Breasts, 2lbs||$5|
|Electricity, water, cooling, garbage, heating||$63|
|Dress chain store||$50|
|City center, 1 bedroom apartment||$331|
|Outside of city center area, 1 bedroom apartment||$183|
|City center, 3 bedroom apartment||$672|
|Free time activities:|
|Fitness club subscription||$29|
|Tennis court 1 hour rent||$15|
|Total per person: $529/month without the rent|
The cost of living, as well as the conditions you live in, will differ according to what city in the Dominican Republic you choose to settle down to. Here are the best places to live in this country and what you should consider if you choose one of them!
If you want to retire in the Dominican Republic, Las Terrenas might be one of the best locations to choose. Here you will find residents from many corners of the world from French, Poland, Germany, the U.K. but also other countries. The wide variety of residents enforces a wide diversity in the local market as well. Here, you will find international products in supermarkets as well as other products in different stores.
The prices for all types of services and products are a bit cheaper than in other cities of the Dominican Republic but without a significant difference. However, it is important to note that you could purchase a nice apartment here for about $100.000 and even less. If you are not planning to live in your apartment, you can also rent it as there is always a request for that.
The coastline in the area of Las Terrenas is not packed with buildings and hotels so you will find it to be similar to an ongoing vacation.
Keep in mind that this area is in constant development so, the way it looks now, might not be the same way it will look ten years from now.
Santiago de los Caballeros
Santiago de los Caballeros is a much bigger city than Las Terrenas, with over 600.000 inhabitants. Here you will find better utilities but also at slightly higher costs than in smaller towns. Santiago offers you all the possibilities you might be looking for in urban life and it is ideal if you want to move here with your family. This location is also more noisy and crowded compared to others. The prices here will be higher in the northern side compared to the south, as this is also the more developed area of the city.
The North Coast is an attractive area in the Dominican Republic full of villages and small towns right on the beach. Just like in Las Terrenas, here you will find many international residents and the supermarkets are full of products from all over the world as well. Puerta Plata is one of the best towns to move to in this area as it is highly developed compared to the others and it even has an international airport.
In terms of prices, the North Coast has products and services that cover the entire range from cheat to medium and high. Puerta Plata is one of the pricier cities but you can also find smaller villagers with reduced costs.
If you are looking to experience the entire urban life and all its opportunities in the Dominican Republic, the capital, Santo Domingo is your best choice. The costs of renting here will be the highest you will find in the Dominican Republic which can get over $600 per month for a city center, three bedroom apartment. The same difference will be in the cost of living considering food, utilities, and your free time. So, in Santo Domingo, you are looking at the pricier side of the cost of living but also you get to enjoy a lot more possibilities.
Including the suburbs, Santo Domingo has around three million inhabitants which make this city more crowded than others as well. If you are planning to relocate to Santo Domingo, you will have to look at a good residential area such as Anacaona, Mirador del Sur, Vista, Paraiso, Cacicazgos or Naco.
The best place in the Mountains in the Dominican Republic is Jarabacoa. For those who love outdoor activities and want to avoid an urban, agitated life, this small town is ideal. The cost of living here is in the middle range compared to other Dominican Republic cities. Being a vacation destination and a popular touristic destination, Jarabacoa has both expensive resorts and cheap accommodation as well as products and services of all types of prices. The temperatures here vary from 60 degrees F in the winter months to mid-70s F in the summer so you will not have to worry about excessive heat.
La Romana and Casa de Campo
Both La Romana and Casa de Campo are more high-end residential places with many ex-pats living here. You will find private beaches, gulf classes, and fancy villas here, which make the area one of the expensive options in the Dominican Republic. If you are looking to buy a house in this region, you are looking at prices that start from $500 000 and can get way into the millions. However, La Romana comes with a more affordable cost of living compared to Casa de Campo. It is one of the favorite getaway areas for those who live in the capital of Santo Domingo.
Renting or buying a place?
One of the main decisions you will have to make when you want to move to the Dominican Republic is whether to rent or buy a place here. While the final decision will be completely subjective according to your needs and financial possibilities, there are still certain aspects you need to take into account.
Give yourself time to explore the region
If you are only tackling the idea of moving to the Dominican Republic, it might be wiser to look for renting a place rather than jump into purchasing a property. You will have to get used to a new system, using a different language, and starting a new life altogether. These are significant aspects to cover before you set some roots in a new place.
When you rent a place, you will have to choose the number of months for your contract. Most commonly, this period is one year so, you can decide to rent the first year and consider investing in a property after this phase if you still want to stay in the country.
The possibilities of buying a property will depend on the city you want to live in
The prices on both renting and buying a property will vary according to the region of the country and the area of the city you want to live in. For instance, if you choose a place downtown, you can expect to pay over $300 rent for a one-bedroom apartment. At the same time, this price will increase if you want to stay in high-end areas such as Casa de Campo or the capital.
If you choose a less fancy area such as a beach village or small town, you can buy a decent property for less than $100.000. Rent will also be cheaper in such places so, if you want to move to the Dominican Republic while you are on a tight budget, this is always an option.
Thinking long term can change your final decision as well
Before you invest in a property in the Dominican Republic, it will help you to decide how long you are going to live here in the first place. The general rule says that if you plan on living less than five years in a country, you should consider renting. However, if you think you will be staying more or even settling down here, investing in a property might be the better option for you.
Tips for renting in the Dominican Republic
It is important to know that the majority of leases in this country are negotiable. So, if you see a price that you are not comfortable with, don’t hesitate to talk to the owner and try to get some dollars out of it!
When you rent a place in this country, regardless of the city you want to live in, you will have to cover a three months deposit. At the same time, if you find the place you want to rent through a broker, they will most likely get one month worth of rent as a fee too.
Each apartment complex comes with its set of facilities such as a pool or a gym and the fee to join those might be anywhere between $100 and $500 per month as well. It will also be wise to set a part of your monthly budget aside for potential repairs as you will most likely be responsible for such aspects too when you are renting.
Tips for buying a property in the Dominican Republic
If you have your heart set on purchasing a property, you have to think long-term. The advantage of purchasing an apartment or a house in this country is that if you decide to not live in it, you can always rent it out with no trouble.
The Dominican Republic is more than welcoming towards foreign buyers. The country offers a 50% exemption of the property tax to foreign buyers as well as exemption from income taxes regardless of where they come from.
When you have your mindset on a property, it will help you a lot to hire a solicitor that can check if all the taxes are paid on that property and all the papers are according to the law. You will have to make a 10% payment of the property value to reserve it until you buy it entirely.
You will need cash to pay for your property as this is the common form accepted in the Dominican Republic, but getting a mortgage is not unheard of in this country. So, if you don’t have all the cash, you can always take the mortgage route as well. Interest ranges between 7% and 9% when you do the mortgage through a local bank. Also, the bank will loan you up to 70% of the value of the property that you have to purchase.
Personal car vs public transportation
Another important decision you will have to make is buying a car or relying on public transportation. This decision will depend greatly on the area that you live in as well as your lifestyle.
If you live in an urban area such as the capital, you will have all the public transportation you need to go around the city without feeling the pressure of investing in a car. However, if you want to travel around the country, you might find it more comfortable to rely on your car rather than buses and trains. But even in this case, a personal vehicle is not a must but rather a luxury asset.
In the Dominican Republic, you can move around very well using the means of public transportation. So, this decision will be a matter of personal comfort and a matter of your budget possibilities. If you want to purchase a car, and you have the means to do so, you will save plenty of time when you are traveling around the country.
With a one-way ticket in town can be around $0.50 and a monthly pass, not more than $30, you will find it convenient to rely on public transportation as well. On the other hand, gas costs are not higher than in other places either, with $4.40 on average per gallon.
If you are going to invest in a car, besides the initial investment, you will also have to consider your regular maintenance for your vehicle, which adds to your yearly budget. The prices for your car’s maintenance will vary according to the type of car you purchase and the types of problems you face with it.
There is also the option to ship your car from your country of origin to the Dominican Republic. Doing so will add to the relocation costs and, you will have to make sure you have the means to maintain it as well.
Healthcare in Dominican Republic
Once you have decided to relocate to a new country, the healthcare system is one of the main aspects you have to pay attention to as well. Since the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is cheaper than in USA, you will be glad to find out that you can access healthcare services and insurance at affordable prices.
Choosing a health insurance plan in the Dominican Republic can range from $700 to $1500 for a couple. These plans will cover essential health check ups such as doctor visits, potential hospital stays, as well as dental procedures and emergency services.
Most American health insurance companies will not offer coverage for Americans that move to other countries. So, you will have sign a contract with a local health insurance company after you relocate to Dominican Republic.
Moving to the Dominican Republic is a significant decision in your life and, if you are going to relocate with your family, you will have to make sure you can cover the cost of living for all of you. This guide will help you get a fair idea about what you can expect in terms of monthly expenses as you live in the Dominican Republic.
Take into account your personal needs and preferences and these might influence the average cost of living significantly. The Dominican Republic is the type of country that will make your life feel like a continuous vacation. You might fall in love with this place faster than you expect and you will find it very easy to call it your new home.
Enjoy your new life in the Dominican Republic and don’t worry about any financial surprises!