Top Retirement Option In The Caribbean

Top Retirement Option In The Caribbean

The Dominican Republic is an internationally popular all-inclusive resort destination that sees big volumes of tourists every year, thanks to its miles of sandy beaches and balmy temperatures. It’s also, though, our top Caribbean choice for the would-be foreign retiree.

As Editorial Assistant Rebecca Tyre reports, following her recent scouting trip to this country.

“Even though this is a tourist hot spot, you can live inexpensively in the Dominican Republic. For the price of a one-week, all-inclusive vacation at a resort, you could live for a month in your own apartment. Life in the DR may not be as cheap as, say, in Ecuador, but it is certainly more affordable than living in the United States or Canada.

“The Samana Peninsula, on the northeast coast of this country, is our recommended region for the expat retiree thinking about settling in the DR. This is not only one of the most beautiful areas of the country, it’s also home to an established expat community, meaning there are grocery stores, clinics, restaurants, and clothing shops catering to foreign residents.

“You can rent a comfortable apartment in Samana for about US$500 or a house for about US$1,100 per month.

“If you invest in a house of your own, you won’t have the cost of rent, but you will have property taxes (1% of the value of the property over US$140,000). If you invest in an apartment or condominium, you’ll also need to budget HOA fees (of about US$200 per month). Homeowners insurance is a good idea; for this budget about US$50 per month.

“You can get around Samana easily and very affordably using public transportation. Moto-taxis are cheap, and you’re able to hail one on any street corner. Mini-buses run from one end of the country to the other and cost just a few dollars to nearly anywhere.

“Owning a car can be expensive, and driving in this country is not for the timid. You’re in for a wild ride until you become accustomed to the way DR locals behave when they get behind the wheel of a car.

“Everyone cooks with gas. A tank of butane cooking gas costs US$12 and should last about a month. That same gas can also be used to heat your water if you decide to install a hot water heater. Many expats do, mostly because that’s what we’re used to. Locals don’t heat their water, and, the truth is, you probably wouldn’t miss hot water if you didn’t invest in a heater. The Dominican Republic is hot and sticky, and a lukewarm shower can be welcome.

“Neither do most locals have air conditioning, but you’re going to want it. Budget about US$200 per month for electricity. (Without air conditioning, your monthly electric bill could be as little as US$30.)

“A cellular telephone, cable television, and Internet service will set you back approximately US$160 a month in total, including regular international calls, English-language cable programming, and reliable high-speed Internet.

“Budget US$150 per month if you want a live-in maid to help with household chores and cooking. You’ll pay a little more for a maid who works full time but goes home each night. You could hire someone to come in and help out a few days a week for US$15 per visit.

“Other than rent, food will be your biggest budget expense living in the Dominican Republic. If you stick to locally produced brands and food items, your monthly spend should be in the neighborhood of US$300. If you require U.S. brands and specialty meats and cheeses, you could spend double that amount each month. If you are willing to eat like a local and dine mostly on fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and local meat, you could spend much less.

“For occasional dinners at a local restaurant, movie rentals, drinks with friends, and other entertainment, budget about US$200 each month. If you have a taste for fine wines and five-star restaurants, you’ll be able to indulge it here…and then, of course, your monthly entertainment figure would increase.

“On the other hand, you’ll find many pleasant ways to spend your days in the Dominican Republic that are free or nearly free. Pack a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine and enjoy it on one of this many white-sand beaches this country is famous for. Or spend an afternoon hiking through one of the national parks.

“I’m quoting average figures for living a modest expat-standard life. You could live in the DR for less. Pay attention to how the locals live. Where do they shop for their groceries? What do they buy for dinner? How do they get around town? In the Dominican Republic, as anywhere, you can reduce your cost of living significantly by going local.”

More info: Cost of Living in the Dominican Republic

Kathleen Peddicord

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