Remember Goldilocks? She stumbled into the Three Bears’ home and tried each of their meals, chairs, and beds to see which one was “just right.”
That’s how Bill Piatt describes the experience he and his wife Anne have had as they’ve worked to find their “just right” new home overseas.
Bill shared his entertaining story with a crowded room of curious potential expats on the first day of last week’s Live and Invest in the Dominican Republic Conference in Santo Domingo.
The couple was living in a lovely lake home in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. They had a great life, but they didn’t enjoy Virginia winters.
So they began looking for a tropical paradise where they could escape for part of each year during retirement.
In fact, Bill was already retired from his Chief Informational Officer role. Anne was still working for the same company as a staff nurse. The plan was for Anne to continue working until the couple was ready to launch the next phase of their lives.
But where in the world could they find a second home that met all their criteria?
Like the blonde fairy tale character, Bill and Anne tested several places. They spent at least one month in each of seven different countries, considering each in the context of their list of specific criteria.
Bill and Anne both enjoy being active, so they wanted a place where they could engage in outdoor activities but not have to pay hundreds of dollars for commercial excursions.
Also important to them were quality grocery stores, a diverse cultural atmosphere, no cruise ship ports, and a place where they could participate and become part of the community, not just take pretty pictures.
After being disappointed by several promising locations, Bill remembered that he had a ticket on Delta Airlines that he was unable to use from an earlier trip. He went online and searched “Delta destinations.” Up popped Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
By this time Anne was weary of travel, so Bill set out to take a look at the DR on his own.
Bill arrived in Santo Domingo and jumped on a bus to Las Terrenas, where he booked a room in a hostel. Next he rented a bicycle and road all around the eclectic beach town. Within three days he was so excited that he began sending photos back home to Anne.
Even though she thought he was crazy, Anne agreed to return with Bill to see Las Terrenas for herself. Within 48 hours, she was hooked.
Las Terrenas is located on the Samaná Peninsula, which boasts more palm trees per mile than any other Caribbean location. Many attendees in the room with us for last week’s conference asked about the possibility of hurricanes and severe weather. The presence of so many tall, healthy palm trees is proof that the weather is not severe in Las Terrenas.
Another benefit of Las Terrenas is the tranquility of the beaches. Jet skis are not allowed, but paddleboards, kitesurfing, and kayaking are welcome. No noise from motorized water vehicles is one reason Bill refers to his second home as “a place where the living is easy.”
Fast-forward a year and the Piatts are now happy second-home owners with a stunning villa in a small, secure Las Terrenas community. They are just steps from the beach, walking distance to a great variety of restaurants, and, most important, they are becoming part of a welcoming community. As a former Peace Corps volunteer, Bill is dedicated to giving back to the local society.
As Bill told the crowd last week, “Everybody is welcome in Las Terrenas, all the time. You can show up at a party and tell the host, ‘Larry told me I could come,’ and you will be treated as if you were personally invited from the start.
“There are many full- and part-time residents roaming around Las Terrenas, both foreign and Dominican.” Bill continued. “It’s a great mix of well-educated people from Europe, the United States, and the DR, many of whom set up businesses in Las Terrenas because they prefer it to living and working in the capital city Santo Domingo.”
Bill encouraged anyone who visits Las Terrenas to patronize the local small businesses, which are usually family operated.
Bill and Anne are enjoying a comfortable lifestyle in Las Terrenas on US$2,000 per month. They have a small bungalow on their property that they rent out for US$75 per night. During the high season, their bungalow is fully booked. They earn more in rental income during these months than they need to live on the island.
With only 40,000 people in this beachside community, it’s easy to get to know your neighbors, local restaurateurs, and shop owners and to make friends. About 25% of the residents in Las Terrenas are expats. Half that group is French, another 20% is Italian, and the remaining 30% is a mixture of North Americans, Germans, Dutch, Russians, and more.
Bill and Anne still have their home in Virginia, which they operate as a bed and breakfast when they are in the States.
“I find beach town living in Las Terrenas to be the perfect complement to country living in Virginia,” Bill says with a big smile.
LIOS Conference Insider in the Dominican Republic