What should I bring?
What you bring with you when moving to Santo Domingo depends on a variety of factors. Will you have a house or an apartment? Have you seen your housing situation yet? Are you moving here with a job? If so, does your employer provide furnished housing and a car? Will you have an exoneration (tax exemption)? How you answer these and other questions will determine what to bring with you to Santo Domingo.
Whether or not you have an exoneration is perhaps the most decisive factor. Most imported items cost more in Santo Domingo, so if you already have the essentials for setting up house, by all means, bring them with you. Do remember to carry any important papers personally with you, including medical records, your resume (CV), photographs for applications and so on. Even with exoneration, your shipment could very well be delayed in customs.
If you are limited by space or cost, then bring only what you feel is most important to your needs and lifestyle. Keep in mind that although it may cost a little more, you can buy or have made almost anything you need once you are here.
The electric current in Santo Domingo is the same as in the United States, 110-120 volts. Generally, rented homes do not come with major appliances such as washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and ovens. Unless you have an exemption, or your employer is paying for the customs charges, seriously consider buying your appliances here. Purchasing these items here plugs you into the service network provided by the most reputable stores for their clients. Keep in mind that the guarantee on items purchased abroad will probably not be honored by a local distributor.
Choose a gas range to an electrical one so that you can use it during power outages. Avoid state-of-the-art electronic devices that may be difficult to repair here.
There are several other appliances you should consider bringing. High humidity is a constant factor in Santo Domingo life. Air-conditioners will make you more comfortable (except when you have to pay the electricity bill) and will protect your clothes, furniture, and books from mildew or other damage. This is one appliance which is expensive on the local market.
Keep in mind that air-conditioning equipment can be purchased locally from electrical appliance stores or complete house units can be purchased locally, too. A dehumidifier may also be helpful, particularly for people with sinus trouble. Standing or ceiling fans keep the air circulating and the bugs away. These are easily found in the Dominican Republic.
Bring surge protectors or a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) unit to protect your electronic equipment from sudden changes in the power supply (which generally occur daily). Of course, if you are coming from Europe, you will need converters to be able to use your electrical equipment.
Bring your toolbox! Nails and other hardware are readily available, but electric tools like drills are expensive. If you have rechargeable ones, then you will be able to use them even if the power is out (assuming they were charged when there was power).
If you already have gardening equipment, consider shipping it. Gardeners usually have their own, but yours is probably in better shape.
Because of frequent power outages in the city, you may want to bring either a diesel generator or a small inverter to provide electricity when the power is out. Although some generators can be noisy, expertise in this area has led to the installation of clean and unintrusive power plants.
Inverters are powered by batteries that you can purchase in Santo Domingo. An inverter will go on almost instantly when the power fails, and will provide enough energy to run the lights and a few appliances until the power returns. Obviously, you should first find out if your housing will already be equipped with one or the other of these alternatives before going to the expense of purchasing and shipping anything.
City supermarkets stock a large variety of imports. Check the major ones before bringing in those special food items you feel you cannot live without. Do not bring liquids, however. One broken bottle or loose lid, and your entire shipment could be ruined. These days almost everything can be found in Santo Domingo, even gourmet and ethnic foods which are becoming more readily available. If you can visit the city before moving here, or send an ďadvance manĒ of sorts such as a spouse or friend, you will have a better idea of what is available and what you will need.
It is a good idea to stock up on any medicines or pharmaceutical supplies that you use regularly. They may not be available here. Later, by consulting with a Dominican doctor, you may find a locally-sold substitute for them. If you are travelling with pets, bring a supply of any medications they take regularly to tide you over prior to establishing contact with a local vet.
Only consider bringing in your automobile if:
You are a diplomat and enjoy an exoneration.
Your company provides you with an exoneration.
Your car is at least three years in your possession (registration proves this) and you have already gotten you residency papers.
If not, the hassle at Customs and the high taxes you will pay do not make any savings you may get worth it.
If you have the option of bringing a vehicle, the best choice is a SUV, such as a jeep or pick up that rides high above the ground. Streets flood during very heavy rains, and there are often large holes and bumps that can do serious damage to a small car. Four wheel drive will also give you access to remote, hard-to-reach areas out of the city that you may want to visit. These vehicles also have a high resale value here.
If you do not have an exoneration, nor cannot afford to buy a new car, consider buying your car here. It is a buyer's market for used cars, while new car prices reflect the high taxes required at customs.
The clothes you bring should be lightweight and loose-fitting, made of natural fabrics that breathe. However, you should also pack light jackets or sweaters to wear in places with too much air conditioning or to carry with you if you travel to the mountains. You will need a light blanket/comforter during the winter months.
Bring dressy clothes for going out at night. Santo Domingo is a formal city by night and there should be plenty of occasions to dress up.
Raincoats are too hot for a tropical climateó a large, strong umbrella is more suitable for the rainy season; these are readily available in Santo Domingo.
If you expect to mail gifts home, bring a supply of padded envelopes. They do not exist in the Dominican Republic.
If you are moving here with children, it may be a good idea to bring their clothes, toys, and bicycles. You may find these items to be more expensive in Santo Domingo; however, donít forget that there are discount stores here, too!
It is impossible to anticipate all of your needs when moving to a new country. Only you know what your special needs are and what you would hate to live without. Keep in mind that almost anything you overlook can either be purchased here or sent for by international courier service mail.