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Dominican Republic

Living the dream

Living the dream

Postby Steph » Mon 3 Nov 2008 15:23 GMT

Hello there, so great to find such a useful forum on DR, it's been really helpful so far :)

My husband and I currently live in Glos, and to be honest, are plain fed up with life in the UK and yearn for a simpler life. We have seriously been considering a relocation to DR for about a year now and have finally decided it's now or never. Move while we are still young and foolish and still have the ability to work hard.

Our aim is to sell everything we own (which doesn't add up to much) and buy a business (seen a few beach bars that would suit) and rent somewhere while we settled into working and immersing ourselves in everything DR has to offer. We are a little concerned about money, don't get us wrong, we are not looking to earn a fortune, we just want to be able to get by. The only guaranteed income we will be receiving (it's just the two of us, no kids) until we get our business venture up and running is my husband's pension of £300 a month. Of course, we will have our limited savings but need to sink a lot of that into a bar and eventually somewhere to live. For me, I can live on beans and rice everyday but my husband is a worrier and he wants to get an idea of how far our money will go.

We aim to come out for a visit as soon as we have tied up a few ends here. We bought a "dodgy rum soaked" timeshare in Cabarete back in 2003, which we have never used. If we can, we will stay there for a few weeks while looking around for business opportunities and sussing out various neighborhoods. It would be fantastic to meet up with local reputable agents/solicitors and even local tradesmen, so we can be prepared to do business when we arrive for good. Any assistance would be so greatly appreciated, it's a scary process!

Steph
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Postby DRAddict » Sun 9 Nov 2008 20:35 GMT

Hello Steph,
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you - it has been so quiet on here recently that I have gotten out of the habit of visiting everyday!!

You can check my profile in other places so will not go deeply into that now. Came here from Buckinghamshire (aged 48 at time) with my 'girlfriend of 3 years' back in 1992. We LOVE it here & do not see ourselves ever returning to the UK to live or even packing up & leaving for another country! BUT, ....... it is NOT the simple life here & you WILL find the initial transition quite difficult unless you are prepared to accept the LOCAL culture - TOTALLY different to anywhere else I have ever visited/lived in.

First the BAD news -
1) forget the idea of a beach bar as a means of getting a reasonable return of your investment. Many have tried & many have failed, mainly because of the Dominican mindset I was hinting at before. Almost anyone who OWNS (there are many that think they own but do not really hence the capitals!!) a bar will generally be only to pleased to sell you theirs!!

2) £300 per month is NOT enough for two people to live on - you will need initially about £800/1000 & after about 6 months you can possibly get this down to £700 per month IF YOU ARE FRUGAL! You MIGHT be able to use SOME of your to create a further monthly income but that needs to be analysed very carefully once you know the possibilities & risks after visiting the country again.

3) Crime is on the increase & should be monitored carefully when choosing a place to live - do NOT buy a house for at LEAST the first 9 - 12 months whilst you INVESTIGATE ALL AREAS for suitability for YOUR needs. (Prices of property are likely to drop in 12/18 months anyway as many 'dreamers not prepared to WORK at living in the DR' might well be packing up & leaving the country!!

To get the bad picture (as well as the good) read this web page weekly

http://www.ginniebedggood.com

There is also my web page if you feel that way inclined http://www.casabush.org

Now the GOOD news.
Life here IS good. It IS a lot more relaxed & (generally) uncluttered than the UK. People have time for each other whether it be friends seen regularly, friends not seen for AGES & friends of friends of friends!! Also the person met in the street gets smiled at, spoken to or greeted like a long lost friend without being thought of as a 'Looney'!!

You CAN make a decent living here IF you have some unique qualities, have a unique service/product to offer or have a reputation of being a hard & reliable worker!! Think long & hard about what you LIKE to do (if money were not a serious criteria), what you feel comfortable at doing & whether you would prefer to work for yourself or FOR someone more experienced in Dominican ways. To start off with I would certainly recommend the latter - until you find your feet & can understand what is going on around you.

The SUN shines almost every day of the year - maybe about 60 days per annum have NO sun, 90 have partial sun loss (normally afternoons!!)

Golf is relatively cheap when you have found your way around too :P :lol:

Okay, that will do you to start off with, get back with further questions when you feel like it but certainly AFTER you have read the main website mentioned above. We can then talk about meeting up when you come over for your next visit - we live 45 minutes from Cabarete, 30 minutes from Sosua & 10 minutes from Playa Dorada hotel complex!

Good luck regardless of what decisions you make ~ Grahame.
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Postby Steph » Mon 10 Nov 2008 15:16 GMT

Hello Grahame, thanks for the response.

Many thanks for the links - funnily enough I already have those sites in my favorites and have used them for research, very informative and candid, yet we are not put off! A shame about the bar idea, it would have suited us, I guess we need to re-think that one! Just out of interest, would you mind elaborating on the "owning" part - that's got me intrigued. We have been thinking about what else we can do and a few years ago we ran a domesticated cleaning company that also involved a turn-around service for holiday homes, maybe that is something we could think about doing once there. On the other hand, maybe buying a home and also a property to rent out is the way to go.

Have to say I am quite shocked at the amount of money needed each month, that sum is what we currently pay for our mortgage and bills each month in Blighty lol. We were hoping for a slightly easier life and to leave some of the trappings of our culture behind us, sadly it looks like following us to our dream location. That said, I'm grateful for this warning on cost of living, forewarned is for-armed as they say :)

This has opened my eyes a lot, I thought I had done a lot of research and genuinely thought £300 would pay our food and utilities each month - just goes to show, you can NEVER do enough research!

With regards to the crime rate in DR, I think we can live with that, I was recently reading some crime statisitcs and the problem of burglaries and petty crime seems to be a fact of life throughout the Caribbean. Having been victims of petty crime and even fraud here in the UK, it's something you accept but oh boy does it toughen you up! We are not about to lapse into a false sense of security in our new "laid back" lifestyle lol. Can I ask you what the police attitude to reporting crime is like? Are they eager to help or indifferent?

We certainly aim to rent somewhere small for several months before deciding on where to buy or build our home but what is key for us is to be a part of the local community. Gated communities or ex-pat conclaves are not for us but we appreciate why others would prefer this. I'm not saying we don't want to be involved with our fellow ex-pats - far from it we can't wait to meet new friends! However, we hope to count many Dominicans as new friends too.

Lastly, I would like to continue with my kick-boxing or take up another martial art - are there many clubs around?

I have many more questions Grahame, but will need to spend some time putting them in order, I've soaked up so much information already that my brain is about to explode!

Thanks again for your response, glad you checked in!

Kind regards

Steph
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Postby DRAddict » Tue 11 Nov 2008 06:36 GMT

Okay Steph, ..... here goes with a QUICK reply (it now being 01.54 our time).
Firstly from 'She who Must be Obeyed' did you get her book & read THAT?? (Yup, Ginnie is the one I moved out here with!!) If so, what did you think of it because she has been asked to write another one & she wants to improve as she continues her new career ......... writing!!

Just to clear up any confusion, the monthly outgoings figure I gave was for EVERYTHING - utilities, food, car expenses, apartment/condo/house rent/ basic health insurance/taxes (if you have to) etc. Can two people really live for that amount in the UK still??

By 'Ownership' of property/bar I mant a lot of people have purchased property/businesses that they THINK they own but the legal titles are still somewhat 'cloudy'. Lawyers here have been known to pull fast deals with their clients which the 'owners' don't find out about until they want to sell & find "Oooops pardon, the real owner of the land never signed XYZ document & therefore it really still belongs to him"!! In some cases, buers have had the 'sellers' lawyer handle both contracts (for cheapness, convenience & speed etc) only to find out too late that the lawyer got extra commission for making a mistake (not often retrievable under Dominican Law) which allows the original seller to move the new buyer on without compensation! Dangerous waters when dealing with some lawyers here!

I am glad to hear you are going to be renting (once you have taken some time in your time-share place) for a few months. You need to look round & find the best place for YOU & then find the correct price, reliable lawyer, Good to EXCELLENT advice in that locality & then negotiate, negotiate & NEGOTIATE to a price you think you can get no lower!!

Whilst looking for a place to live (rent OR buy) you should investigate the opportunities of what you would LIKE to do. If you put yourself in front of enough possible employers & talk about THEIR businesses with a concern & knowledge/new ideas, something will 'Come Up' that you could start at. It is then very much a matter of learning quickly & seeing other & better opprotunities which you will 'just slide in to'!!

So far your responses have been 'Music to my ears'. So often we get people coming in who want to live in conclaves of Brits & Americans where even the beggars speak English!! Integration is (in my humble opinion) the only way to go. Learn Spanish, feel the culture & get influential Dominican friends & then the crime problem (although not as bad as some make out - we try to be honest in a way that sometimes outs people off) reduces to nearly zilch.

Yes the police DO take note of reported crime & sometimes act on them. Again, with the right contacts you will find a greater desire to be seen as being helpful. Having a cheerful & empathic attitude to Dominicans also helps enormously!! Hopefully you will soon see the sense of PRE planning most decisions you make here - DAMAGE CONTROL goes a long way to avoiding unwanted visitors at your house/apartment. That said, corruption within the police force AND judiciary is still a big problem & you have to learn how to blow with the wind & stop the 'PROBLEMS arising in the first place!

A GOOD friend of mine in Santiago is a National referree for Judo comptitions & runs a Tai Kwan-Do/Judo school. What he doesn't know about Martial Arts in the DR can be written on to one fingernail!! I'll introduce you to him when you come over!!

I think that covers this epistle Steph - let me (or Ginnie) know what you thought of the book ~ Grahame.
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Postby governor52 » Tue 11 Nov 2008 18:35 GMT

Hello Steph
Though you might like to hear from another fellow Brit. and one who moved here more recently than Grahame. I took early retirement at 55 and my wife and I sold up in the UK and moved here in August of last year. We encountered many of the problems that Grahame has mentioned but although he has given excellent advice things are not always so cut and dried. We were going to rent for a year, as advised, but we found the perfect property within three weeks and took the plunge and bought.
An awful lot of things have happened to us in the year+ we have been here. Things have changed and moved on. The exchange rate has weakened (important if you are on a pension) and crime has increased (although still relatively little). I can certainly vouch for healthcare here as I had to have a triple heart bypass in May. If you would like more information direct about how we have survived please contact me direct kenfisher52@hotmail.com
Ken
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Postby DRAddict » Wed 12 Nov 2008 03:47 GMT

Ken!!!!!!!
How lovely to see you posting again - it has been a Long Time!!

Does my advice REALLY come over as making things "Cut & Dried"?? I'll have to look into that & amend accordingly when I find myself doing it. As you say, things are fluid & plan 'B', 'C' & 'D' need to be in place before setting out on plan 'A'!! As you have most like seen already Steph, Ken was asking questions about 15 months ago - the dialogue is below in Mad.Les's thread about coming to retire here! If you have NOT already read that, it might be a good idea to as there is info in there relevant to your questions, some of which put Mad Les off, some of it encouraged (I hope) Ken & Sue to move here.

Is the upstairs apartment open for lodgers now Ken? If 'YES' & you want/need some short term lodgers let me know & I'll keep it in mind when people ask me for rental places. You are beautifully situated for the beach (& golf course!!!). By the way, in case you hadn't heard this yet, Dr Jim Bailes moved to be a neighbour of yours recently. He is excellent for bone crunching & manipulations I am told but better still, he is a General Practitioner who is licenced to treat patients in the DR!!

Sorry to hijack your thread for that bit of chat Steph - Ken & I seemed to loose touch & I needed to pass on my 'Hi's to him & Sue. ~ Grahame.
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