Get ready to live in the DR. This post tells you what do you need to research and set up to start living in the DR. There are two major areas – work and home.
You need to already have a job or plan on finding one when you get here. Although I don’t recommend waiting till you get here. The Dominican Republic is not a big online community and is mostly a face to face type of communication so you need a physical resume.
Read my posts on jobs in the DR and also my post on working in the DR.
You can research home and or apartment rentals online and in English but it will definitely be more expensive plus you need to be here for the paperwork. Setting up a house takes a couple days even if you already know where you will live. I recommend having a friend or two at least go into neighborhoods close to where you will work or maybe at least close to a bus area and sending you photos of the area and the phone numbers. They could even ask to see to see the inside and send you photos. If they do this for you make sure it’s someone you trust and offer then a certain amount of money like $50 USD depending on how much you make them work. $50 is a lot of money here – I know a lot of people who rent apartments and homes for about $50 a month. Mine is $200 USD a month. See my post on what you need to do to rent a home here. NOTE you would want to see it yourself – don’t trust a local all the way they don’t know American standards – there may be 1 closet in a two bedroom house, some rooms with only one electrical outlet, odd positioning of the house, windows that open but only to a small alley, kitchen that doesn’t have any space for a stove….etc… Before I moved I asked about the area – is a neighborhood I could walk in (looking like an American and not a local), where will I park my car, how is the electricity here, how much does it cost, what did they think, how many rooms, bathrooms, closets, will a refrigerator fit in the kitchen and a stove, what floor is it for an apartment, how big is it, send me pictures of everything, and draw me a diagram with labels of the layout.
Before I moved I asked the person doing most of the work about the area – is a neighborhood I could walk in (looking like an American and not a local), how safe is it, where will I park my car, how is the electricity here, how much does it cost, what did they think, how many rooms, bathrooms, closets, will a refrigerator fit in the kitchen and a stove, what floor is it for an apartment, how big is it, send me pictures of everything, and draw me a diagram with labels of the layout.
TIP: Anything in US dollars are more expensive, also if it’s in English. If you ask for the price in pesos and tell them that you will get paid in pesos they most likely give you a price just a little less the USD. Colonial Zone or Gazcue are known expat and tourist areas. Piantini and Naco areas have a lot of English speaking but tend to be a little more expensive.
Please read my article on setting up your household in the DR.
Bring your old cell phone and keep your plan. I wouldn’t recommend canceling your cell phone plan before you move here and certainly not getting rid of your actual cell phone. It may take you a while to get a cell phone and or internet service or electricity in your home right away and you may need communication at least for a while.
Read my article on cell phones.
Consider buying a sim card like ChatSim which provides you unlimited access to chat text apps like WhatsApp (main communication app in the DR get it you need it) and even Facebook messenger without the need to use any mobile data no matter where in the DR you are at (well you need to be close to a cell phone tower). It only cost $15 a year for the service and you can buy multimedia credits so that you can get download photos, videos, and voice messages. These apps work perfectly on wifi without needing ChatSim but this way you also use them when you are not in a wifi area. When buying this you may want to consider a dual sim phone you can find good ones for about $60 USD. You don’t need it. You can use ChatSim in any phone that has a sim card (except Sprint they are not there yet) and you can buy any adapter to add a second sim card to your phone but it’s up to you. TIP: Search online for ChatSim coupon codes for a 1000 free credits (2000 credits are like $15 USD),
Also, consider buying MagicJack and activating before coming to the DR. If you buy it online it usually includes 1 year of service and free shipping all for $35. MagicJack gives you a US number and uses any wifi service (there is even a cell phone app) with a phone attached to.
Bring a surge protector – the power surges and you don’t want sensitive electronics like your laptop damaging. You could buy one in any hardware store (ferreteria) but why go through the trouble of finding a hardware store during open hours and buying one when you have one laying around and you would need one in day one. At least I did. Go ahead it’s small enough.
Bring a home phone if you have one. It’s cheaper and more reliable. Remember since electricity tends to not be reliable you may want one with a cord. You can get at least a super cheap one at any Goodwill store. I personally think that a 2 line corded phone (one for MagicJack) with speaker phone and mailboxes is the perfect home phone. If you add one with a Bluetooth feature or headset is even better. I bought a basic phone here first and it barely works so I ordered one online.
Finally, find out about travelers medical insurance – usually, regular insurance doesn’t cover you and your family in the Dominican Republic and although the companies here are required to provide basic life insurance it is just basic and may require lengthy paperwork and time. Get at least for a temporary time or at least know about the different options before you leave and then you can compare to what your employer provides here. Stock up on your basic medicines even over the counter. Although you may find acetaminophen here there are really no quality standards. You could be getting a placebo. I had a cold once and all the OTC cold medicines that I found (all) didn’t even touch my cold.On top of the fact that I didn’t recognize any brands or ingredients. Most people go to the doctor for very basic prescriptions. TIP if you are allergic to latex then bring a couple latex gloves with you, they don’t even ask if you are allergic to anything when doing a medical evaluation or drawing blood and even when I mentioned that I am allergic to latex to the technician getting ready to draw blood, she looked at me blankly and after a long pause, finally said, “And what do you want me to do” and I asked don’t you have other gloves not made out of latex?” she said no, I just asked her not to touch me for too long with her gloves (she didn’t listen but I took my allergy pills that I avoid).
Read my medical post.
If you have anything you want to add please leave a comment.