Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

small apartment buildings in Santo Domingo

A City of Many Firsts In The New World

Santo Domingo, the first capital of the Americas and the present day capital of the Dominican Republic, is the largest metropolitan city in the Caribbean with a population of approximately 3 million and an area a little over 40 square miles.  The original capital was destroyed by a hurricane in the early 1500’s and was relocated to its current location on the banks of the Ozama river which has proven beneficial to the city’s economic growth and development.  The city was devastated by yet another hurricane in 1930 which left the city in need of serious repair.  After this rebuilding, it was named Ciudad Trujillo after Dictator Rafael Trujillo, who was later assassinated in 1961.  The city went back to its original name.

There is a sizable immigrant community in Santo Domingo made up in large part of Haitians who have crossed the border of the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic in search of jobs and opportunities.  Recent years have seen an influx of other immigrants from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.  U.S. born Dominicans are also returning to their parents’ home country and bringing with them the experiences and skills learned abroad.

The middle class in Santo Domingo is growing rapidly however there is still a high percentage of people living in poverty in the growing capital and across the nation.

Santo Domingo has both an elevated and a subterranean metro system.  This transportation system is still under construction and according to plans should have a total of six lines when completed.  In the city, taxis, be they car or motorcycle, are common forms of transportation.  The capital city has two international airports.

The Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, a vibrant neighborhood with colorful buildings and cobblestone streets, is a popular spot for locals and tourists and has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as the oldest settlement of the New World.  Zona Colonial is the main tourist attraction in Santo Domingo with its old buildings dating back farther than anything back in the United States.  In the Zona Colonial lies the Monasterio de San Francisco, a monastery built in 1508 which was, over the years, ruined by pirates and natural disasters.  The ruins are now used as a backdrop for social and cultural events which draw quite the crowds.

The Port of Santo Domingo has seen its fair share of drama with pirates and weather causing havoc but since its inception it was a crucial port in the Caribbean.  Recently, millions of dollars have been invested in the Port of Santo Domingo, at the mouth of the Ozama River, to unite it with the Zona Colonial and create a world-class hub attracting cruise ships and yachts.

Santo Domingo has become a hotspot for call centers in the area due to its close ties and proximity to the United States.  Salaries are not particularly high by U.S. standards but still provide a decent amount of jobs in the city. 

The island’s capital is just a quick 30-60 minute drive away from breath-taking Caribbean beaches  with postcard-worthy crystal clear water and white sand.  A day spent in Boca Chica or Juan Dolio beaches could be a great way to relax, have a great meal and recharge before heading back to the busy city.  Once you get there though, you may want to spend the night…or the whole weekend.

Santo Domingo is a large city with deep historical roots and an ever-evolving modern infrastructure with most everything you would expect to find in a capital.  Shopping malls, restaurants and bars, universities, movie theaters, a national theater and symphony all offering the amenities people living in a city crave but, keep I mind, it is still located on an island.  You should expect things to take a little longer than you would prefer, expect the day to day pace to be a little bit slower.  Patience is a virtue, remember the reasons why you chose this haven in the first place and take advantage of all it has to offer.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Rent DOP 30,000
Electricity (with a/c) DOP 2,755
Water DOP 230
Transportation DOP 3,000
Telephone (includes internet and cable) DOP 2,400
Groceries DOP 20,000
Entertainment DOP 11,850
Total DOP 70,235
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