Essential guide to moving to the Dominican Republic

Essential guide to moving to the Dominican Republic

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated August 7, 2023

Are you looking to live the island life or escape your snowy home state? Moving to the Dominican Republic might be the answer! Sun and beaches await you on this Caribbean island and, as an added bonus, you will have the chance to use (and improve) your Spanish language skills. 

This guide will review life in the Dominican Republic, how you can move there and some of the best places to live if you make the leap! 

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Is the Dominican Republic a good place to live?

The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean Sea, not far from the coastlines of Central and South America. It shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. The island has a tropical climate, with a rainy season between May and November and a hurricane season from August to October.  

The cost of living in the Dominican Republic

The cost of living in the Dominican Republic depends on where you want to live. As with most places in the world, cities will likely be more expensive than small towns. However, on average, the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is about 50% less than what a single person would spend to live in New York City and 40% less than what a single person would spend to live in Vancouver, Canada. 

Do I need to speak Spanish to live in the Dominican Republic?

If you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll want to start taking classes right now. Mainly used in touristic contexts, English is typically only spoken at beach resorts. If you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in the culture and community of the Dominican Republic, learning Spanish will make it easier to communicate and fit in.

Is the Dominican Republic safe?

The Dominican Republic has high-income inequality, which means that you will notice some very rich people, as well as people with very little resources.

Holiday resort areas are generally considered safe for foreigners, but the US State Department has stated that foreigners should exercise caution in the Dominican Republic due to relatively high rates of violent crimes such as homicide and armed robbery. 

Education and healthcare in the Dominican Republic

If you are planning to move with your family and will be sending your children to school, you’ll want to research all the options. There are private international schools that may be a good option for your family. Instruction is usually in both English and Spanish. 

When it comes to healthcare, a private system is probably the way to go for any US or Canadian citizen moving to the Dominican Republic. The public healthcare system will likely not meet the standards a foreigner from those countries might expect. For example, in public hospitals in the Dominican Republic, families are responsible for providing all medical supplies, including food, toilet paper, pillows and sheets. 

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How to move to the Dominican Republic

In order to move to the Dominican Republic and stay longer than what a tourism permit allows, US and Canadian citizens will need a temporary residence visa. There are five types of visas: 

  1. Temporary residency visa: Ideal for people who are immediate relatives (including by marriage) of citizens or permanent residents of the Dominican Republic. You will need to submit proof of the relationship. 
  2. Retired or pensioned residence visa: As the name suggests, this visa is for retired people. You must have a minimum monthly pension of $1,500, plus an additional $250 for each dependent who moved with you. You will need to show proof. 
  3. Investment residence visa: This visa is for people with investments of at least $200,000 in real estate or other companies in the Dominican Republic. Again, proof is required.
  4. Management and staff visa: If you are employed by a foreign company that operates in the Dominican Republic, this is the visa for you. You will need to show proof of employment. 
  5. Renter residence visa: This visa is available to anyone who has a permanent income of at least $2,000 per month from a foreign company or organization. They can be remote workers or people who live off investment income. Of course, proof is required. 

Before you submit an application for your permit, be sure to gather all the requested documentation and proof. Bear in mind that visas are generally valid for one year. After five years, you can apply for a permanent residence visa. 

Review all the requirements on the government’s website

The best place to live in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has over 800 miles of coastline with beautiful beaches. Some popular beaches include Bávaro Beach in Punta Cana, Kite Beach in Cabarete and Playa Grande in Rio San Juan. 

For nature lovers, Parque Nacional Los Tres Ojos (Three Eyes National Park) in Santo Domingo is a great option to explore within the city limits of the capital. Don’t forget to visit the Zona Colonial (Colonial Zone) in Santo Domingo or ride the Teleferico Puerto Plata, the Silver Port Cable Car in Puerto Plata. 

If you’re looking for the comforts of a large city with the beauty of the beach, you can’t go wrong with the capital city of Santo Domingo. If you’re looking for a more relaxed, rural lifestyle, Juan Dolio or La Romana on the south coast are good options. 

Island life

Are you planning an international move to a Spanish-speaking country, but moving to Spain feels too far? Consider moving to the Dominican Republic. It’s geographically close to the US state of Florida and you’ll enjoy a relaxed lifestyle with great tropical weather. Just be aware that learning Spanish will be important. Sign up for a Spanish class and do some research on life in the Dominican Republic. 

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez
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