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  1. #1
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    Default Moving to the DR, our story

    Hi!

    Ok, so you want to have a life here in the D.R..
    This is a Tropical Island, one that has a beautiful atmosphere, from it's gorgeous beaches which go for hundreds of miles, the paradise like weather that is almost constant year round, to the native women.

    I’m sure there are many stories, here’s ours.

    I am from LI, NY, Ex- U.S. Navy, Nuclear Bubblehead. Was out and working back in Long Island, when I met my wife.
    My wife, Mechi is from the Dominican Republic, Hiana. Moved to NY, when she was 13. After becoming a U.S. Citizen and living there for 15+ years, we met, married, and work sends me to the DR, Free trade Zone in Hiana. Yeah we still can’t get over it.

    We are very fortunate that she has a lot of family here, I do not want to think about what it would of cost me, to get set up with-out their help. We own a house in the Capital, that the family was renting out for us, befor we knew, we were coming here to live. When we got here, we learned that the rental laws are VERY different from the States. So after living at the Embajador Hotel for are first 3 months, the company was anxious for us to find a place to live. Her family found us a real nice house in Hiana, Barrio China. Which took about 3 months to get it Americanized (Invertors, water pumps+ heater, cable, DSL internet). We been here a year now, I work, 3 miles from home, and a lot of her family is within that radius, so it has worked out real well for us.

    This is our story.

    You have to realize that their monetary system is in PESO'S, and that 1 peso is a dollar for them.
    Then there is our US DOLLAR, which is what I get paid in, weekly.
    Then comes the conversion part, on average our 1 US dollar is exchanged for 22 of their dollars.
    So I get roughly $2200 pesos to every $ 100 US dollars.
    When I first got here it was 16 pesos to 1 dollar. It varies weekly.

    Now you need to know about the fact that an exceptionally good salary for a Dominican is about
    $ 50,000. pesos @ month, or in US dollars $ 2272. US dollars @ month. A Senior Bank V.P. might earn that.
    My Brother In-law, who runs a fully robotic, cement block production plant, 8 employees= 320,000 blocks @ day, in San Christobal, earns around that. He works VERY LONG hours, 6 days a week.
    My other Brother In-law, a branch manager for Banco Popular, in San Christobal makes about $ 30,000. pesos @ Month and works the same kind of hours.

    For most of the country, an average good salary is $ 20,000. pesos @ month, OR $ 909. US dollars @ month.
    The rest, in between $ 5000. to $ 20,000. Pesos @ Month. That is for the people who work, not the ( I won the lottery ) jobs, handed out to government party people.
    And that some of the country live in wooden shacks, with illegal electrical hook-ups ( because they cant afford to pay for electric), and that most of those house's do not have indoor plumbing. The rest in concrete block houses.

    Now here comes Johnny Gringo, with money like water. The electric from the power companies goes out daily from 4 to 6 hours on average, not to bad during the day, but a bitch at night. People with money have very nice built house's equipped with automatic back-up generators, and indoor plumbing , I have Hot Water heater in my house because I installed it, and plumbed it through-out the house from the Kitchen to the Bathroom. My Neighbors call my place Little America, Because no-matter what I have electric 24/7.

    We had traveled to the DR for work about 10 times befor this. 2 years prior, to coming for work, we bought a brand new house, 4200 sq ft, under construction in the El Million area of the Capital. We were still living in NY, after the house was finished, and we got a call from the family that *some one*, had broke into the house and stole all of the doors, and bathroom fixtures. Note-* I still think it was the contractor, he happened to have ANOTHER set of doors and fixtures, he was going to use on another house he was building*. After having the every thing reinstalled, the family made arrangements to have a, Dominican Watchman, at the house 24/7. After about 3 months and some discussions with the family, it was agreed that it would be better to rent the house out.

    When we arrived here to live, we figured we would stay at the hotel, while after telling the family who was renting the house that we wanted to move in.
    WELL after waiting about 2 months, we were told that the family who was in the house, was not going to move out. It seems our family used a lawyer that they trusted ( He rented the house a for a WHOPPING, $ 8,000. pesos @ month!!!). And if we wanted the house back befor the contract was up, I would have to pony up a serious cash offer, to buy them off. If I made too much trouble, that they could stop paying rent ( HA!) and probably stay there for about 2 to 3 years befor legally getting them out. I was informed if I took the legal way, that I would probably get my house back completely stripped and trashed, on top of the waiting game.
    I will tell you, it was our own fault, that we were absolutely ignorant on this part.

    Now you have to picture ( My AWAKINING) .
    I am living at the El Embajador for 2 month’s now, and the company is asking how is my housing situation going.
    Going under the premise that we should be able to find a house for a couple of hundred dollars, we start looking at apartments and houses. Our 1st Saturday out, ( Remember, I am working M-F) we went with a friend to go look at our 1st selection. We drove not too far from the hotel, pulled into a gated, guarded parking lot, for an 8 story apartment complex. We looked around with excitement as to even doing this, sort of like newlyweds on their 1st night. I WALK UP 4 FLIGHTS of steps. We walked into an empty apartment, which was 2 bedrooms, no balcony, no bars, no appliances, after discussing , for about 30 minutes, what life would be like, living with 4 flight of steps, between us and every thing we do, I asked the question that would ruin me for the next 3 months, HOW MUCH? $ 24,000. pesos @ month. At 1st I got really mad, ( Sure! That’s because I’m a Gringo!!!!!) This sinking feeling came over me, in my mind I was playing out what was about to happen next. Befor going, my wife tried to tell me that it would be better to not go with them, “ because instead of seeing a Gringo, they see $$ signs”. So while walking back down towards the car, I new by THAT look on my wife’s face, that I was going to get a Big, Big helping of, I TOLD YOU SO!
    My wife was in right in the middle of proving that MEN DO HAVE ESP, walking towards the car, when our friend interrupted and said “ That is a very reasonable price, for an apartment in the Capital.” I don’t know who said it 1st, but me and my wife both said the exact same thing, WHAT! After getting a brief lesson in housing cost, we both asked to go back to the hotel, and forget about seeing the other places he had lined up for us, to look at.
    Back at the hotel, we were changed and down at the Bohio, having our 1st Presidente, it’s about 11:30am, and we are discussing, what the F**K are we going to do now. We spent the next few hours, discussing over Presidente’s, what we had learned the HARD WAY.

    We figured out, that reason we could not get the family who rented our house from the lawyer, to move, where the hell was he going to put his wife, 3 kids, 3 dogs, for $ 8,000. @ month!!
    And I am still of the opinion that although the contract was for that amount, the lawyer was probably collecting a hell of a lot more, putting the cash in his pocket. Oh yea, we were only getting $ 7600., the lawyer gets 5% for handling the rent collection and managing the property, IN OUR BEST INTREST!
    That based on our responsibilities back home, and what we were going to use out of my salary, we might seriously have to forget the whole deal, get on the plane, and go back to NY.
    After 8 years in the NAVY, and so many other experiences in my life, for the 1st time, I felt completely beaten, my spirit totally broken.
    Our friend came to the hotel that night and convinced us to go have a night out on the town with him, (God bless him for that). We woke up the next afternoon, went to Hiana, to see her family, and discuss our situation with them.

    See next post

  2. #2
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    Default Continued

    Well, after about 3 hours of very heated discussion between my wife and the disbelieving woman of the family, MAMA, Saint, Protector of Gringo’s, Mother to 3 generations of kids, grand kids, and now great grand kids, Captain of the ship, Head Chef of a 15/7 restaurant, finally had something to say.
    While the GIRLS were busy discussing our situation. Mama had looked at the real-estate sections we brought along to make our point, and was busy inside making phone calls, un-noticed by every one.
    When she came out and spoke, they all shut-up and listened. A friend of hers knew of a nice house for rent in Barrio China, on the corner of a cul-de-sac. The guy’s took me to the Park, while the women went off to look at the house. As I listened to the guy’s about Barrio China, I was reminded that I should not go to the house until AFTER the lease was signed. The Women Warriors, returned from their Battle with news of an impending Victory. At $4000. pesos @ month, we only needed to wait for the contract to be negotiated and signed, before moving in. The next few hours I watched with amazement, that the Warriors, could drink more Cervesa than us guys in the park, after a round of apologies from all sides, discussion’s flowed about what to do, about the Lawyer handling our house, the moments of laughter as they spoke of getting a Witch to curse him. The Bachata got louder and the women folk grabbed the men folk, and we enjoyed the rest of the night, well into the am.

    Barrio Chino, which means China Town

    What it took, to finally get situated in a house.

    It took, 2 weeks for the contract negotiated and signed. On my 1st trip to the house, my next door neighbor was in the middle of a rally, with about 200 people in the streets, music blasting from speakers, bigger than my GE refrigerator, him yelling through the amplified mike like a southern Baptist Minister at revival, I asked my wife “ What the Hell is going on here?” , she informed me that he was the Mayor of Hiana, and that he was getting ready for the elections( a whole’nother chapter).
    When I exited the car, of course he spied us from the truck and welcomed us to the neighborhood.
    SILENCE, no music, no talking, nothing, as 200 of his people were staring at us, and my wife whispering “ You supposed to say Hello”, I summed up the courage and did so as waved and smiled.
    They went back to business, and I was greatly relived that it did not turn out to be a lynch mob in search of a Gringo Piñata.

    Although we had moved into the house right away, after the first week, we moved right back to the hotel, while we Americanized, the house. The ability to take a shower in the morning, cook food with water from the kitchen sink, or have electricity 24 hours a day, to keep food from perishing, are things taken for granted coming from the States.



    At this point, I ask you to comment, if I should post part 2.

    Thanks
    Tim H.

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Yes, by all means, post!!

    This is good reading. Thanks for posting it.
    st louie mike

  4. #4
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    Default

    Well Tim, I've enjoyed reading your story (even though it's a bit long), and I think you should post part 2. After all, you can't just tell half a tale can you? I'm interested in finding out if you got your own house back yet?

  5. #5
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    Default

    Please post part two. This is very good info.

  6. #6
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    Default Great post Timex.

    As a friend of mine says, "Remember where you're at".

    I find all your experiences and observations interesting, but I have 1 question in particular - why do you say the DR has "paradise like weather"?

    I've asked several times in various threads and no one yet has answered. Perhaps you can enlighten me. What is great about 90 degrees and 90% humidity for a discomfort index of about 120 degrees?

    Regularly, when I go to downtown Santiago (Santo Domingo, being bigger, would be even worse) I literally have to get out and walk the last few blocks to my destination because the heat sitting stationary in an un-airconditioned vehicle is simply unbearable.

    Tell us more about your experience, please.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Keep going, please!!!

  8. #8
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    Talking

    Keep it up, but i do not know of a town named (Hiana)maybe it is Haina?. hehehehe....

  9. #9
    LiVe ThE LiFe YoU iMaGiNeD
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    Default

    Very interesting, it's good to hear stories like this. Keep up the posting!!

  10. #10
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    Default Part 2

    I had to plumb and install a separate 500 gallon water tank on the roof, it is for domestic water, we buy potable water in 5 gallon containers for drinking and cooking, installing a hot water heater and the plumbing for it, in a concrete house, was the worst part of that job. The real reason for the roof tank is so you can pump water from your in-ground tank to the roof, and gravity feed the water to the house. Water pressure is not available all the time from the municipalities. Because as bad as the electric is, the water only gets turned on about once a every other day, for 6 hours. Which is used to fill your under ground water tank.

    Once you have overcome the water, Electricity is next, the electric usually goes out daily for about 6 hours, but sometimes it can go out for days, as it did on our 3rd day in the house. On our 3rd day in the house, we went shopping for food. When we left the electric was on, when we came back 4 hours later, and $ 19,000. pesos poorer, it was out, After 3 days with no electric we were running all the food from the refrigerator, we had just bought, to other peoples refrigerators until the electric came back on. All of this before the water pump and tanks were installed. So not only were we without electric, we were pulling buckets of water from the under-ground tank outside. The underground tank holds 7000 gallons of water. But if the water supply is off, and the electric to your house water-pump is out, you can not move water through the pipes. So we were going outside, opening the hatch, lower a 5 gal bucket, and take it in the house to wash dishes, take a bath, or flush the toilet.

    Which leads to an installation of an automatic inverter and a generation system, so that when you lose the electric, and you have no Lights, T.V., Water-pump, Refrigerator, you do not have to sit around in the dark by candle light and kerosene lamps, waiting. It switches over automatically, When I watch T.V. and it happens, we do not even know it. The only time I can tell the electric is out, is at night time, except for my house and a couple of others the whole neighborhood is dark. So we make our own electric when it goes out.

    In the process of taking care of the mechanics of the house, my wife decided to paint the house inside and out, but before she was finished, she had informed me that I was going to install a new kitchen for her. While I was finishing my end, she had contracted somebody to put new security bars on the house. I live on the corner of a cull-de-sac of an exclusive area, and when I questioned why, she pointed out that our house was the only one without security bars, on the block! And that here, it's a fact of life, and it also important as to how Fancy your F**KING bars are. My ESP, kicked back in and I knew, She was right, and got her way of course.

    All of this had us back at the resort for another month.

    For the 1st few days, it felt good, kind of like camping. By the end of the 1st week, I new there was trouble. With my wife stating, “ I refuse to live like this”, we moved back to the hotel for another 3 weeks, while we tried to get the ready for the 2nd home coming.

    Manana, The most popular word, when discussing instillation of services.
    So we finally move back into the house and waited for the last of the shipping containers to come with our furniture. The phone and cable took 6 weeks for installation, and it took about 2 months for them to install my DSL, for the Internet. Although I had a brand new electric meter box, with no meter, I had to jumper the lugs for electric in the house ( Nervously done by me during one of the many power outages). Found out that the electric company would not install my meter, until I paid the outstanding balance from the last person living there.
    ( Live and learn)

    The whole ordeal left me feeling like Jimmy Stewart, in Mr. Flanders builds his dream house, or Tom Hanks in the Money Pit.

    Living in a 5 star resort for more 3 months becomes a real problem, no matter how nice it is. After the 1st month, intimacy becomes a fleeting thought, You are constantly surrounded by other people from, when you sit down to eat, to taking a late night walk around the pool, or just listening to the piano player in the lobby. Yes you can always go back to the room and sit in 2 very nice chairs and have a discussion while watching T.V., but dealing with 3 kids and talking about who was taking care of what at the house, while still getting up and going to work M-F, all the time around other people, puts romance out the back door. I only Thank God that the company took care of the bill.

    My1st Saturday night in the house, I sat on my couch with my son in my lap, and my arm around my wife, who was translating the words from the daily paper that I did not understand, now a nightly ritual. She remarked that it was the first time since coming here, we were really close. And proceeded to tell me about the Chivo dinner she was going to have for “ Just my family”. This RITUAL was carried out about a week later, with over 50 people in attendance. Which is where I met my God-Father, My Sister In-law, Who is the head of accounting for Magna-Chem, is married to a General in the Army. He has been able to keep me out of trouble on most occasions. I think it’s the Military thing, I certainly can’t offer him anything he doesn’t already have.

    Now we go shopping once a month in the Capital, and use the colmado near by, for everything in-between.
    We belong to a club in San Christobal, Right next door to my Brother in-law’s, cinder block plant. And I try almost every weekend to get the family over to the pool there. ( Yea, my wife wanted to join some Casa España club, in the Capital, but when I told her it cost’s $100,000. pesos and every month $600. for maintenance, I THINK HER ESP, kicked in). We get the other place for free thanks to her brother( he lets the club use his parking lot every time there is a party there).

    I live very modestly, and had a tremendous amount of help, all and all when we looked back over the 1st year’s expenses, it totaled $ 65,000. U.S. Dollars, and our monthly expenses are now around $ 45,000. pesos.

    Now life is good and we are truly enjoying what we have.

    Thanks
    Tim & Mechi

    P.S. Got the house in the Capital back, Thanks to the efforts of my God-Father. It’s now rented out through another lawyer we deal with, at $ 40,000. pesos @ month. Although the contract reads 50% more than the actual rent, The new lawyer explained, “ That’s just in case we ever have to go to court”.
    But by that time I was to setteld into this place to even THINK, about moving all over agian, right now.

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