The Dominican Republic Is The Caribbean At Its Best And Most Affordable

The Caribbean At Its Best And Most Affordable

Of all the islands in the Caribbean Sea, why the Dominican Republic?

Because this is the best of the Caribbean—white-sand beaches that stretch for miles, emerald sea to the horizon, and palm trees swaying slowly in the breeze. The Dominican Republic has everything you expect from a Caribbean island… except the price tags. This place stands out among all its competition because of its very affordable cost of living.

If you want white-sand beaches, you could go to the Turks and Caicos and spend a couple of million dollars on a condo that you could barely afford to visit… or you could come here. You could still spend a couple of million dollars on a villa, if you wanted. That level of luxury is available here, if that’s what you’re looking for.

However, the good news for all those of us who don’t have a couple of million dollars to spend is that, here in the Dominican Republic, you can also buy a really nice apartment on the beach for as little as US$100,000. In some parts of this country, you could be in a one-bedroom on the beach for as little as US$50,000.

Plus, here in the Dominican Republic, you don’t have to wait for the expat amenities to be brought in; they’re already here. While Americans have only recently begun to appreciate what this country has to offer, Europeans have been spending their time and money here for decades. They’ve developed an infrastructure of services and amenities to support the lifestyle they want. Now all this infrastructure is available for you. This is especially true in Las Terrenas, where I’m living.

For me, Las Terrenas is the best of the Dominican Republic. I’d go so far as to say that it’s the best of the Caribbean. I’d describe this town as Robinson Crusoe meets the French Riviera.

Las Terrenas was discovered by French holiday-goers 30-odd years ago. At the time, this was a completely undiscovered, undeveloped, unspoiled outpost in the Caribbean. In many ways, it still is. We only got electricity in 1998.

Las Terrenas has grown over the past three decades, sure, but not as you might expect and nothing like other parts of this country. Punta Cana, for example, seems to be trying to compete with the likes of Cancun. Las Terrenas is another kind of place altogether.

In Las Terrenas, you can build only as high as the tallest palm tree. Our beach line is free of high-rises and condo towers, and those of us living there are keen to keep it that way.

Property values in Las Terrenas took a hit in 2008 and stayed down for several years. However, the market is returning. Property sales were up 25% in 2014 over 2013 and are up another 25% the first half of this year versus the first half of last year. This is due mostly to the fast-growing interest from Americans, who are finally discovering that this place is a bona-fide Caribbean paradise that is also, thanks to the falloff in values post-2008, a bargain. This increasing demand is doing what you’d expect it to do—it’s revitalizing the market and pushing prices up. This is definitely the time to be buying.

When my wife and I decided we want to move to the Caribbean 10 years ago, we visited many different islands. I mean, we traveled to a lot of them. We chose the Dominican Republic because we could afford it. We could barely afford to visit the others. There was no way we could have afforded to move to them.

The cost of living in Las Terrenas has risen over the past 10 years but not dramatically. It’s still possible to enjoy a good local meal for about 100 pesos. That’s US$2.50. Las Terrenas is also a place where you can enjoy a much higher standard of living, if your budget allows for it. The chef at one of our restaurants is Michelin-starred and was the private chef for Mitterrand when he was president of France. A gourmet meal at this restaurant costs about US$40—which is a bargain considering what you’re buying.

The government has set an agenda with regards to Las Terrenas. They want to develop this coast as the St. Tropez of the Caribbean. This isn’t France, but, when you see Las Terrenas, I think you’ll understand.

Doug Barker

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