Cons of Living in the DR
as an expat
By Colleen Valerio
Are you interested in moving to the Dominican Republic or buying a property, but every source online seems to be only about beaches or sunsets? What elements are challenging when it comes to adapting to a new culture? We want to talk about those not so enjoyable elements about Dominican Society.
The DR is a developing country; it’s not a third-world country anymore, not by a long shot. But there is no perfect place, and we do encounter some challenges, one of them is driving. In Italy, driving is crazy too. Coming from such a North American environment, where everybody follows the rules and lights matter and you turn your signal light on.
It’s been 14 years and I’m still driving along with my husband going seriously, like what did you just do?! That would be for me, the biggest one. People don’t follow the rules. There are too many motorcycles, a lot of traffic. There are options if you don’t drive like the public transportation system. There’s a bunch of different ways of getting around here and inexpensively. Some owners that don’t drive have their cab driver on speed dial, who picks them up right at their house door. I just wish they would just follow the rule and, oh… the horn is your friend!
There’s something called “guagua”. We stand out on the road and a little, twelve or twenty-four-seater van drives up, and you just hop on, and takes you however far you want to go. Also, “carritos” are a dollar to drive from Sosua to Puerto Plata; these are actual cars that everybody kind of piles in; I wouldn’t recommend that.
For Casa Linda owners, we’re really lucky because we have a shuttle bus. The shuttle is on a schedule, it drives between Sosua and Cabarete all day every day. It goes to the grocery store, goes to the beach. There are lots of ways of getting around if you don’t want to drive.
This is such a tourist-based country, obviously tourists like clean streets, and whenever there is still a component here where they’ll be on the back of their motorcycle eating out of their Styrofoam container and huck it off the side, and just drives me crazy. On the bright side, I find that it’s getting better and there’s all this, governmental awareness.
If you’re out for dinner in the evening, you will notice at the end of one street called Pedro Clisante… There is prostitution. You will see the ladies of the evening, wandering around, not in your face and never to bother, but you will notice it. It’s a bit of a surprise to those of us that come from countries, where it’s certainly not legal. It isn’t something that is part of our life here, it’s just something you’ll notice in one part of one area of town.
So, it’s not a downside or negative, but one of the things I will caution people about is, this is different. This isn’t your home country as much as we always say. It’s like home only warmer because it really is. There are still cultural differences. It’s Spanish, you know, the waiters speak perfect English, almost everywhere we go. You don’t need to learn Spanish, which is too bad for me because, after all these years, I still speak terrible Spanish.
This is a different country; you have to be patient and realize that it’s not going to be exactly the same. If it was the same and you wanted that you’d stay. Here it’s warm and it’s lovely but it’s a slower pace. It’s the mañana mañana! The guys are going to show up to paint your pool: he says he’s coming at 1 pm, he might show up at 4:00. A whole different way, and it’s made me slow down.
At first, I had to be on it but I’ve changed especially when they love you and your family. One time our housekeeper which is like family brought this big root that even had the dirt off the end and she’s like put this in a pot and boil this for my husband’s kidney stones, and I said, wait a minute, what is this? She was no, trust me, and turned all purple, he drank it and felt better.
That’s a different way of life and you get flexible and easy going and you don’t stress about too much down here. We’re supposed to be talking about the negatives, but somehow, we’re talking about what we think is positive. I remember years and years ago, we decided to go for a drive or so we thought, we’ll meet up somewhere on this road. It was an hour and a half later on this dirt road, and we’re lost like crazy.
Then, this guy was standing on the side of the road and my husband’s Italian. So he gets up and he tries to talk Italian to the guy and like finally says, in English, are you lost? He was like the only English teacher within a 500-mile radius. He got in the car (which you would never do in Canada) and drove us back. He said, “Thanks a lot; I was kind of going to come down here anyway, so see you later”. I was like that was weird. But you know what? Those are real stories. And everybody that lives here has a story like that.
If you are planning for retirement or seek a home base with a lower cost of living, it’s time to check out the Dominican Republic! 🌴 Learn more about Dominican features and amenities through our video series “Buying Real Estate in the Dominican Republic”.
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Colleen Valerio, Marketing Director
Originally from western Canada, Colleen came to the DR over 15-years ago. She has been helping buyers find their tropical dream homes ever since.