When we embarked on our move to the Dominican Republic, it seemed like almost everyone we knew had an array of concerns on our behalf.
“It’s too dangerous! It’s a third world country! You are going to get mugged!”
Varying degrees of panic were being spouted from all directions.
Since relocating, I have been asked so many questions and have been told so many things about life in the Caribbean that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not one for nonsense to be left unaddressed, I was prompted to clear up a few of the most common misconceptions – and share a couple of truths as well.
1. It’s too dangerous for a foreigner to live outside of a resort.
False. The Dominican Republic is full of friendly, helpful people. Before we moved here, when I’d say where we were headed, I’d be presented with faces of confusion over my decision, and then told that it was way too dangerous for a “gringa” like me to be outside of the resorts. I was told I would get mugged, kidnapped, sick – everything scary you can think of and believe me, it put me on high alert. When I got here though, I realized it’s just like living anywhere else. Yes, there is crime here, but there’s crime in my home state and every other part of the world as well.
2. Medical care isn’t up to par.
False. My fiance and I both have medical insurance here. Quite honestly, it’s better than the plans I ever had in the states and far less money. There are doctors and private hospitals here that are just as good as in the United States, if not better. The prices are substantially lower for sometimes better care and treatment. There are also many doctors who speak fluent English here, so if you’re worried that your Spanish speaking isn’t medically-fluent yet, you’ll still be taken care of.
Bonus: There are also extremely reputable veterinarians for your fur babies!
3. You don’t need to speak Spanish.
False. Unless you’re in a tourist area, speaking only English will not get you far. It is a Spanish-speaking country, so it is best to learn as much as you can before moving to the Dominican Republic. It will not only make life a whole lot easier, but it will also show respect for your new country.
4. There is only one ethnicity here.
False. Many Dominicans are a mix of Taino, Afro-Caribbean, and Spanish/European. They are not one ethnicity or race, but rather a people of varying descents.
5. You can’t drink the water.
True. I have heard mixed reviews about whether or not you can drink the tap water here, but I wouldn’t chance it. It is safest to stick to bottled and purified water, especially with a foreign gut.
6. The country is not developed.
False. The Dominican Republic is the fastest growing Latin American economy right now. In Santo Domingo, there are high rise apartment buildings, many shopping malls and plazas, gourmet restaurants, fast food drive-thrus, pharmacy drive-thrus, and beautifully manicured parks. Santo Domingo is much like any other metropolitan city in scope and services.
7. The climate is HOT year-round.
False. While this may be true in certain parts of the Caribbean, there are areas in the Dominican Republic that go as low as 9° Celsius (48° Fahrenheit) at night. During the days, it can be 13° Celsius (55.5° Fahrenheit) in those same areas. In Constanza, D.R., it can sometimes go below freezing at night.
8. The cost of living is extremely low.
This one is a mix of true and false, in my opinion. While costs such as rent/housing, medical care, and food are low, most other goods come at a much higher price. You are on an island, which means that everything has to be shipped and imported in. With importation, you pay a premium of taxes and fees for almost everything. For instance, cars and electronics are much more expensive here than they are in the states.
9. Driving is sketchy.
This one is definitely true. People don’t use signals, they don’t use lanes, and they often don’t even have working lights on their cars. It can be extremely risky while driving here – but only if you let it. I find that if you take your time while driving and are cautious of the other drivers around you, you can definitely manage it (even if you have as much unease about it as I do).
10. Dominicans give the best blowouts.
Ladies, rejoice! This is absolutely true. The best part is that you can walk into a salon and get a blowout for substantially less money than in the states. I’m talking less than a coffee date at your local shop. WIN.
11. We just lay on the beach all day.
False. Sadly, people still have to get up and go to work everyday just like the rest of the world. Although, when living in the Caribbean, every weekend can feel like a vacation, if you choose to embrace it.
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What’s the craziest myth you have heard about living on your island? And perhaps a surprising truth as well?