Cost of Living Santo Domingo Este

MJSantoDomingo

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I have been following DR1 for about 2 years now - and I have found it extremely helpful!

I would like to start joining some discussions as I have time - as well as be able to get helpful advice from the group when possible.

I am going to list my budget costs that I have had for the last year in Santo Domingo Este in order to give people an idea of my present experiences.
This is for a family of four - myself, my wife, 8 year old step-daughter and 7 month old son.
I am American (early 40s) and still travel for work. My wife is Dominicana.
These are only my costs in the Dominican Republic.

I will list everything in pesos, hopefully that is helpful.

Yearly costs budgeted:
3 bedroom apartment - pay one year in advance, 150,000 pesos (keep in mind that is really on 11 months as the lawyer takes one month)
Car Insurance for a Rav4 - 35,000 pesos
Car Registration/Fees - 7,000 pesos

Monthly costs budgeted:
Security person - 2,000 pesos (Double for "13th Month" in December)
Service Lady - 5,000 pesos (Double for "13th Month" in December)
Food - 14,000 pesos
Water - 700 pesos
Trash - 500 pesos
Gas for Stove - 800 pesos
Electricity - 8,000 pesos (without AC, it was around 3,000)
Cable TV - 1,400 pesos
Internet and Landline Telephone - 2,300
Gas for Car - 5,000 pesos (some months more, depending on travel)
Car Maintenance - 3,000 pesos
School - 4,000 pesos
Doctor/Dentist - 3,000 pesos (Mostly budgeted for the baby)
Medicine/Pharmacy - 3,000 pesos (Mostly budgeted for the baby, but occassionally for flu or other medicine needs)
Baby Formula - 3,000 pesos
Diapers - 3,000 pesos
Mini-Market - 5,000 pesos (for some reason, there are always a few items needed each day from the Mini-Market or LaSirena)
Cell Phone Minutes - 1,000 pesos
Baby Clothes - 800 pesos
Other Clothes - 3,000 pesos
Car Wash - 300 pesos
Hairdresser/Barber - 3,000 pesos
Go out for Pizza - 1,200 pesos
Night out with the wife - 5,000 pesos
Presidentes with Extended Family and Friends - 3,000 pesos

One time costs to factor in that I do not have the exact amounts:
Cost of Used Toyota Rav4
Cost of Furniture for Apartment
Cost of Stove and Refridgerator for Apartment
Cost of Washing Machine for Apartment
Cost of Air Conditioner for Apartment
Cost of 2 TVs for Apartment
Cost of Miscellaneous items: Hose, Clothesline to Dry Clothes, Plants and Nicknacks for Apartment, Utensils/Pots/Pans for Kitchen, Plates, Silverware, Pillows, Sheets, Towels, Shower Curtains, the Cable Boxes were a seperate one-time cost, Fixing both bathrooms so they operate properly...
And I am sure that I have missed some "one-time" costs, but I mention them because they add up.

I have also found that I need to add an "Emergency/Miscellaneous" line to my monthly budget, because there always seems to be something that goes wrong or needs fixing - and therefor extra money.

And - I have not added in Insurance costs, because I do not have local insurance yet, but I would like advice on getting a good family plan and what those costs might be.

Also - not budgeted is saving money for a family vacation, presently that is considered by how well work goes each year and then vacation is taken accordingly.

I have my wife (or one of her brothers or father) price some things out for me before I purchase, so I do not get an "Americano" price - which I have seen happen.

I would love any input about ways to save money on my costs for a family of four in Santo Domingo Este.
I am posting this so others can see the costs that I have run up against. I know others have posted similar threads, but there always seem to be a lot of missing costs on those threads, so I am trying to help round out a fuller picture - at least in the Santo Domingo Este area.
As well as see if I can do better based on any advice I receive.

MJ
 

MJSantoDomingo

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I just wanted to post some info to help someone looking to live at a low middle class cost. It seemed everybody discussing Cost of Living was on either one extreme or another in terms of costs.

I am actually considering a propane or natural gas conversion for the car, becuase gas costs are getting a little out of hand even just for small travel - would love to do natural gas, but I do not know if there would be enough places to fill the tank.
 

MJSantoDomingo

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Very true - and propane may be the best conversion right now.
Trying to figure out all the pros and cons of Gas vs. Propane vs. Natural Gas for Car...
Ins't it true that the government is talking about converting its cars to Natural Gas, not propane - so does that mean they will be adding Natural Gas stations throughout the country?

(And - should I be asking that as new thread??)
 

MJSantoDomingo

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Question: Rather than paying the 12,500 pesos per month (or more accurately the 150,000 pesos in advance for the year), what kind of prices are people finding for houses in the Santo Domingo Este area that would be considered safe (or friendly) for an American?
I have noticed some decent pricing on Supercasas, but have only started to research this as I am getting close to the point where it seems better to own rather than rent... just trying to find areas where I can save some future costs...

And - what Internet service are people finding the most reliable. Codetel has been a reasonable price, but sometimes there are days when it does not work properly...
 

jackcrew

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What is your apartment like?

You describe your apartment as "middle class" but that is a vague term. I would be very curious about what a $333 a month apartment in Santo Domingo looks like. Also the neighborhood.

Thanks for the budget...very helpful.
 

yanandu

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Jan 23, 2011
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Service lady - to twice a week.
Buy a robotic floor cleaner. New models are quite efficient.
Food:
Seems high with mini-market 19,000 a month.
This is equivalent to 120 chickens.
Buy in bulk, cook food in pressure cooker - e.g. 10 lbs of beans and freeze.
Plan meals so for example shimp is occasional.
Target meals - 2 dollar meals per portion, 3 dollars, 4 dollars specials at week ends.
A 1.5 - 2 dollar meal might be soup strarter, sardine salad and rice, banana or fruit desert.
Target 3 dollars per person per day for adults.
If you use a lot of bread get a breadmaker. These pay for themselves quickly.
Gas:
Use more economical cooking methods. Take care flame is not too high. Get a pressure cooker and cook several items at once,
Electricity: go for high efficiency fans such as o2 cool ( 15 watts ), high efficiency LED light bulbs. Reduce air conditioning with solar insulating curtains on lighted windows, reduce lighting when watching tv with dimmer and turn down tv brigtness, use local lighting when reading book etc.
Use aluminium system insulation - e.g. thermoguard.
Use local lighting where appropriate - e.g. above cooker, sink. High efficiency.
Get a swamp cooler for 150 dollars or so and use in place of some air con.
Internet and landline + tv - go for one of the claro packages that includes tv, internet.
gas for car. use public transport for some journies or parts of journies.
Have no-car days.
plan trips better is more than one objective is met per trip.
Medicine - get second opinion on what's perscribed. There are some rip offs.
Doctor - see if there is a co-pay insurance for local doctor. it may work out cheaper.
A friend pays 800 / month.
Cell phone - go for plan for 300 pesos a month with definite limit. Minutes are cheaper this
way. Share a phone.
Clothes - buy a sewing machine and set up a sewing 'bee' with co-operative relatives etc.
You can make baby cloths and some shirts, blouse etc.
Hairdresser -find a good one that visits house.
Night out - avoid the casino. See if a Dominican event is acceptable. Cinema is not so expensive.
Presidentes - mix in bottles of rum, Bohemias etc. Try home brew.
Diapers - use terry towl.Set will pay for itself quickly.
Water - make sure full load for wasing machine if water is metered
Any help?

Yanandu




You describe your apartment as "middle class" but that is a vague term. I would be very curious about what a $333 a month apartment in Santo Domingo looks like. Also the neighborhood.

Thanks for the budget...very helpful.
 

Criss Colon

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yahoomail.com
The "REAL" Reason Some live in The DR on "The Cheap"!!!!!!
Because they don't have any M-O-N-E-Y !!!!!!!!!
CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC
 

Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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I consider myself reasonably frugal and many of Yanandu's tips apply but my monthly expenses still add up to much more (family of 3).

I spend more on my cellphone but we don't have cable/satellite TV or landline.
We don't spend as much on food as most people because we don't eat meat or shellfish very often and try to buy local products as much as possible.
Our cleaner is 2 days a week but we pay her more than many people pay a full-time cleaner. But she's worth it :)
We use public transport for most trips to the capital, and walk and cycle in the immediate vicinity. We don't use the car every single day.
We never use A/C or clothes driers and all our lightbulbs are low consumption. Our electricity bills are very low compared to most people.
We don't eat enough bread to justify a breadmaker - and wouldn't that consume a lot of power? I don't see the need for a robotic floor cleaner.
I take the point about medical second opinions but the process is tedious enough when you have to go through it all once. I work freelance so time is money.
I go to a pricey hairdressers but only about every 2 months.
I don't include school fees in my monthly calculations as we save up and pay the full year in advance.
I rarely buy clothes in the DR - I buy most things in the summer sales at home and in Spain. Our annual trip home costs about US$5,000.
We eat out about once a week and yes, that is relatively expensive in the east coast area.
Our apartment is paid for but our maintenance fees are almost as high as the rents quoted by Yanandu.
Other occasional luxuries include a massage (RD$500) and a US$50 per month book/kindle habit.
 

bob saunders

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Jan 1, 2002
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Cloth diapers would be a big savings, and would be much more evironmentally friendly. Hairdressers - my wife does her own hair unless she is too busy. How often do you have to take your baby to the doctor?
 

yanandu

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Jan 23, 2011
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No; just want to live a quiet life and preserve the planet for future generations!
Yanandu.
 

MJSantoDomingo

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The apartment is a 3 Bedroom in a small apartment complex - rooms are all a good size, maid's quarter, one parking space, electric gate to parking area for safety - apartment than the place I used to have in New York - and yes, a lot less money per month. But I get the impression that it was a good deal - after the landlord found out I was American, they wanted to raise the rent, but that did not happen.

A number of Yanandu's suggestions are worth looking at, because there are still things that I could do to improve the costs - so I will be looking at what options Yanandu mentioned which are possible for us. Thanks.

Presently, the baby is still going to the doctor once a month for regular check up - and as schedule for vaccines, etc. I am not sure at what month you start spreading out the visits, but I can check on that.

Yes - very interested in finding a local insurance plan. I will start a new thread asking that question.

Occassionally I will bring diapers or clothes from the US, but it is in the budget because with my travels for work I am not able to always send things exactly when needed - so some better planning on those things would help the costs. Though sometimes, I have gotten ripped off on shipping costs - which is why I have tried to follow any threads that had to do with shipping items from the US to Santo Domingo. It seems most people are having the best luck with EPS - is that true?
 

DMV123

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Mar 31, 2010
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Your budget actually appears pretty realistic. Some items:

Get medical insurance, with dental and prescription coverage. That will cut a big part of your medical costs.

Food - stop using the local colmado. That is a huge expense. The family just needs to plan better.

Electric - your bill does not have to increase that much with the a/c. Just learn to use it wisely, only at night when you are trying to sleep and not set to freezing.

I think the other poster was suggesting buying CLOTH diapers instead of disposable. Better for the budget and for the planet. As you have a cleaning person then she can wash diapers too.
 

dv8

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Service lady - to twice a week.
Buy a robotic floor cleaner. New models are quite efficient.
Food:
If you use a lot of bread get a breadmaker. These pay for themselves quickly.
Gas:
Get a pressure cooker and cook several items at once,
Electricity: go for high efficiency fans such as o2 cool ( 15 watts ), high efficiency LED light bulbs. Reduce air conditioning with solar insulating curtains on lighted windows, reduce lighting when watching tv with dimmer and turn down tv brigtness, use local lighting when reading book etc.
Internet and landline + tv - go for one of the claro packages that includes tv, internet.
gas for car.
use public transport for some journies or parts of journies.
Have no-car days.
Medicine - get second opinion on what's perscribed. There are some rip offs.
Doctor - see if there is a co-pay insurance for local doctor. it may work out cheaper.
Clothes - buy a sewing machine and set up a sewing 'bee' with co-operative relatives etc.
You can make baby cloths and some shirts, blouse etc.
Diapers - use terry towl.Set will pay for itself quickly.
Yanandu
some of your ideas are good and some make my hands and tits drop all the way to the floor.

robotic floor cleaner:
what? there is nothing cheaper in DR than manual labor. buying anything mechanical for cleaning will end up in tears as maid will break it in no time.

cooking:
everything in pressure cooker? like what? all things all at once?
you cannot fry an egg in a pressure cooker, man. most of food cannot be prepared there at all.

breadmaker:
it takes 3 hours to bake bread. electricity costs money here. i have a breadmaker and i use it several times a week. sadly, it does not come cheap. in fact each bread i make cost way more than in a shop. my favourite sunny mediterranean bread comes to about 200 pesos.

i agree with electricity tips but a big no about a car. family of four with a small baby using public transport is not the best idea. car is faster and more comfy and that counts too.

medicine:
yes, buy generic when possible and get insurance, it will also cover cost of some medicine. not to mention providing peace of mind.

sewing machine:
some of us just have two left hands. cheaper and easier to buy.

diapers:
damn! folks! washing them takes water, electricity and time. where is saving in that?
 

DMV123

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diapers:
damn! folks! washing them takes water, electricity and time. where is saving in that?
You are highly entertaining DV8!!!! And I agree with everything except this above. Cloth diapers are a one time cost - then washing them is very little cost COMPARED to constantly buying disposable diapers. Those bloody things are expensive.
 

Africaida

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Jun 19, 2009
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Men are funny. I am all for save the planet and stuff, but as a mother of two toddlers, do you know how many times you would have to wash these freaking cloth diapers. Please, most of us, mothers have our hands full already, I am NOT washing no cloth diapers.

Yeah, disposable diapers are expensive (in the US, you can buy them in bulk, delivered to your doors for cheaper), but not having my hands in pee and poo half a day, it's all worth it :)

I would save the planet only if I had a maid (even then I would feel too sorry for her). What next ? Wash my family's clothes by hand ? God bless my washing machine :)

By the way, they have earth friendly diapers: biodegrable and such. Again, there are much more expensive and less effective than the regular one.
 
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La Mariposa

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You are highly entertaining DV8!!!! And I agree with everything except this above. Cloth diapers are a one time cost - then washing them is very little cost COMPARED to constantly buying disposable diapers. Those bloody things are expensive.
and the time to wash them ??? what's the value of it ????????????
 

DMV123

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If you look at his budget they have full time help! So why not save the money and wash the diapers??? It ****es me off to see women who stay at home (not working moms) and using disposable diapers! What a waste. They are thrown in the landfill and most take a very long time to decompose, some parts don't.

So Africaida, the suggestion of cloth diapers was not directed at you. It was directed at a family living here where diapers are very expensive.