Moving to Puerto Plata to be with Fiance

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Fiesta Mama

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Okay let me start this again - I already tried and think I missed something.

Anyway, I am new to DR1 and am hoping to get some helpful advice from those already living in the DR.

I will be moving from Canada to be with my Fiance. We are planning to get married in the fall of 2004 and want to spend some quality time together before getting married. This will also give us a chance to plan the wedding and for me to see if I can hack it there. We have debated whether he should move to Canada or I should move there and we have decided that although DR is definitely not as developed as Canada, I think it is a much slower and simpler pace of life and what we both want.

My fiance and I have found true love and it's unfortunate that I have read so many posts about love gone wrong in the Dominican. I can guarantee that there are lots of decent, loving men in the Dominican but it's like any country in that you will find lots of unfaithful men looking for your money and "sankies".

Anyway, what I want to know is what life is "really" like in the DR. My fiance has a house in a small country town about 25 minutes from Puerto Plata so I don't have to worry about money for accomodations. He does not make a lot of money but always has enough money for food, living, having fun, etc. and has told me that I will not have to work but I am very willing and able to work. How much money is really required to survive there (and I am talking about not having luxury but just being able to eat, have shelter and live a happy simple life)? Since I am from Canada, I also want to be able to return home at least once per year to visit my family and will need the money for airfare. I don't have more than $5,000 CDN saved so I will need to work to get money to be able to do this.

I also want to know about medical care in the Dominican Republic. I will not be able to afford ongoing medical insurance as I plan to make that my home and don't suspect that my ongoing budget will allow for that.

What are some things that I may not have realized in my many trips down there that will become much more apparent once I am a full-time resident?

I am looking for any and all advice about what to expect living there full-time.
 

MrMike

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I know that the other posters here are probably about to let loose on you for what seems like a somewhat less than rational life-choice, so I will spare you.

I only hope that you fully understand just how simple the "simple life" can be, I think that few people from the northern 2 countries of our continent have any idea what that is, and even though I have spent more than half of my life in the 3rd world and "developing industrial nations" I have generally had comparable living conditions to what I would have enjoyed in the states, and a return ticket. It doesn't sound like you are going to have either of these things so you must be very brave, good luck.
 

Fiesta Mama

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Not for the faint of heart

MrMike said:
I know that the other posters here are probably about to let loose on you for what seems like a somewhat less than rational life-choice, so I will spare you.

I only hope that you fully understand just how simple the "simple life" can be, I think that few people from the northern 2 countries of our continent have any idea what that is, and even though I have spent more than half of my life in the 3rd world and "developing industrial nations" I have generally had comparable living conditions to what I would have enjoyed in the states, and a return ticket. It doesn't sound like you are going to have either of these things so you must be very brave, good luck.
I realize that living in the Dominican is not for the faint of heart and I have read extensively all of the threads posted on this site and have gathered that I am probably in for it. I don't realize how simple it can be and that is why I am asking for help. It seems to me though that there are many Americans/Canadians living on the island and managing quite fine (although maybe not in the luxury afforded in North America) so how is it that everyone who currently lives there thinks others will not make it?

I have a tough spirit and don't expect things to be luxurious and do expect to encounter MANY unpleasantries. Thanks for the luck but I hope I can make it because I love my Fiance and don't want to go through the very stressful process of sponsorship, not to mention that the time spent apart is very stressful. A long distance relationship can't go on forever on the phone and visiting every few months so I am willing to take the plunge (I think) :) At the very worst, if things are that bad, I will return home and sponsor him to Canada.
 

Fiesta Mama

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Anna Coniglio said:
Read all these threads. It will give you an idea.

Good luck
Thanks Anna - I will read them all but I think everyone's opinion would vary based on their own experience and I therefore think that if someone really wants to move to the DR they need to experience it for themself to see what the reality is.
 

maryanne

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Fiesta Mama,

I like your spirit! Don't let anyone here change your mind. Only you know how much you can possibly handle, and by all means, do it. And as you said, if you are miserable in the DR, then come back to Canada. I think it's a wise move. You are engaged and you want to spend more quality time with your loved one. No one here should jump down your throat because you are actually being cautious. By the fall, you will have a better handle on your relationship and you will know if the DR is the place for you.

I spend alot of time in Costambar (just outside of Puerto Plata). I have 2 home bases, which are Brampton (Ontario) and Costambar. But my heart belongs to the Dominican Republic. Many people have taken the plunge that you're about to take and they either hate it or love it. It's time to see how you will react!

I wish you all the best. If you need any "mental" support, please send me a private message. It will be great to keep in contact with a fellow Canadian living in the DR.

Follow Anna's advice and read those threads. They are filled with lots of good information.

Maryanne
 

MrMike

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I talked to Ted, tha bartender at Rocky's when I was in Sosua last, he is an example of a poor Canadian living abroad. I thought his life was amazing because I could never live like he does. (I think most people's lives are amazing when I'm drinking though) He has a real easy going outlook, he says he was poor in Canada and now he's poor here, the only real difference is he has more luck with the ladies.

I think he is over simplifying things, and obviously your situation is not one where you will be able to enjoy your special status as a foreigner in the single's scene. But he seems relatively content and not too concerned about the future which I find admirable on several levels and frightening on several others.

I don't know just how simple your life here is going to be, but you can probably look forward to some of the following situations:

You will choose between covering up with a sheet at night and being too hot to sleep, or uncovering and opening a window and getting eaten by mosquitos. (a fan would solve this - but with no electricity...)

If you are from a dry climate you could develop walking pnemonia from the moisture in the air. This is not frequent, but it does happen.

Do you enjoy riding in conchos and motoconchos? If you want to get anywhere, this is the way you will have to go.

Do you like Merengue and Bachata? Maybe a little right? (that's what everybody says after just a few visits) How would you feel about it if you were practically forced to listen to it evey time one of your neighbors wanted to?

How do you feel about your husband's extended family? They are going to be a big part of your life now, and most likely have no concept of personal space, visiting hours, and privacy and private property mean very little to them. I mean, they understand these concepts but on a very different level than you do.

If your husband is a typical Dominican you may find yourself spending a good deal of time dealing with his jealousy, posessivelness and insecurity.

I am sure you thought of all these things, but as a foreigner married to a Dominican these are the things that I have had to deal with that I would rather not deal with. In the end it's worth it but not necessarily for everybody.
 

Ken

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Fiesta Mama said:
I also want to know about medical care in the Dominican Republic. I will not be able to afford ongoing medical insurance as I plan to make that my home and don't suspect that my ongoing budget will allow for that.
Medical care varies in the Dominican Republic just as it does in Canada and elsewhere. But if you ask around, you can find very good doctors who are more caring than those you are used to and who charge much less than in the US and elsewhere. It is likely that you will need to go to Puerto Plata for medical services. Centro Medico Bournigal is the best medical center there and has all the specialties. But, again, ask around and find out which doctors are most recommended.

Medical insurance is available and is very reasonably priced. I think you should consider it when you are here.
 

maryanne

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MrMike, your response was one of the best responses ever! You are actually being honest and you are revealing the real story. So many people jump onto to this board in the hopes of hearing some real experiences. Half the time, we scare these people away and we never hear from them again. Sometimes, they stay and we are able to hear about the ups and downs (like the Mainers).

I really hope Fiesta Mama sticks around to tell us how her move goes. If you have access to a computer in the DR, please keep up posted. Even it's is once in a while!

When are you planning the move?

Maryanne
 

marliejaneca

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Okay, I'll try this...
First of all, I moved to the DR years ago to work in a resort because I was a travel agent and wanted to learn the recieving end of the job. I did not have a Dominican boyfriend, had only been there twice - once on a fam trip and once for a 2 week vacation. I did not come for love as I did not know anyone but foreigners living there. I did not fall in love with any Dominicans while I lived there (2 years). I was 30 years old and I guess maybe a little cautious of everyone I met as I believe "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't".
With that said, I did not have acess to alot of information like the posters and lurkers on this board are fortunate to have today. If I had, I might have done things a little differently. The key is perserverance. I had a goal set for myself and I achieved it. As CC said in a different post - been there, done it, got the T-shirt.
If it turns out that you do not like it - go home - nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I would not trade my years in the DR for anything, and it still is in my heart but I had other goals yet to achieve. So home I went. I must add that I didn't move to the DR for anything else but a stepping stone in my career.
Now for you, you must ask yourself many questions. Am I giving up a career that I may not be able to return to if I do not like the DR? Am I familiar enough with the Dominican culture and willing to accept it? Am I willing to give up all my wordly possessions to have none?
You also stated that your fiance has a home in the country - have you visited it? Has he a mode of transportation to get himself and you back and forth from your jobs? Is this a remote location or in a nearby town where you can find people to help you if you are in need (ie: fellow Canadians or Americans that speak your language)? Where does your fiance work? If you do not find work, how will you occupy your time? How old is your fiance, and is he supporting his family members and/or children? He has enough money for food, are you prepared to eat Domincan cuisine 7 days a week and have you tried it before or just ate in an AI? How many times have you travelled to the DR and where did you stay- with him or a hotel?
Is it possible to take a leave of absence or an extended vacation (6 months or so) and just go and stay and decide then. Remember, you should go back to Canada every 6 months to keep up your health benefits just in case.
I know that this isn't alot of help, but those are some of the valid questions you should be asking yourself before taking the plunge.
I think you are playing it safe and doing your research, but just don't let the heart take over when making a life changing decision. Think long and hard, and then make an informative decision. You will be glad you did.
Marlie
 

Fiesta Mama

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Thanks

I guess I need to give a bit more information about my situation so you guys all know what I am getting myself into:

I don't plan on moving to the DR until this summer (probably July or August) and then will get married in October/November. So I will definitely do a post of how things go. I do have a very good job in Toronto which is scary to give up but I think I can get a leave of absence, otherwise find a job should I return (which is not a problem in my field and with my education).

My fiance lives in a small town called Monte Llano (about 30,000 people) so it's not totally in the boonies. His house is right beside that of his family (mom, dad, brother and two kids). They are all wonderful and I love them and they love me. Many other members of his family (cousins, uncles, etc. are all neighbours).

I have been down to the DR 7 times and after the first time have always stayed at his house with him.

He owns a moto and so do other memebers of his family and they all share so getting around is not a problem. He works at a resort and has some friends who have married foreigners and he feels confident he could help me find a job.

I love merengue and bachata and have grown accustomed when I am there to the non-stop noise. The worst is the roosters crowing all night long and the loud speakers on the banana trucks and cars advertising local businesses!! Other things I have dealt with in my many visits and don't see them as a big problem are - cold water showers (sometimes out of a bucket if the hydro is off), power outages, his house only has shutters on the windows so air conditioning is non-existent but I rather like it that way, the only thing I really hate are the endless mosquito bites - I guess I have sweet blood!!

My biggest obsticle is the fact that I don't speak fluent Spanish (my fiance speak fairly good English). Ever since we met I have been taking lessons so it has improved dramatically and once I am there and surrounded by it non-stop Spanish I figure I should learn fast? Has anyone else had to learn Spanish once you are there and how hard was it?

The town he lives in has very few to no tourists but Puerto Plata is not far at all, nor the resort communities where I will surely find lots of Americans/Canadians if I need help.

As for my fiance being jealous, not a chance. He is truly the most wonderful person I have ever met. We go out often with his friends and I dance with his friends and anyone who asks and he does not care. When he is at work, I got out with his brother and friends too. He has never ever shown any insecurities at all and his main concern is always that I am happy. I have never been shown more respect from a man. His only downfall is not always calling when he says he's going to ... no problem he would say... but I have gotten use to that since I know that time is not tracked as closely as it is here in Canada.

I think I can make it and of course I'm sure there are lots of things that I will have not experienced yet. I will give it a good go - at least 6 months to a year!
 

Ken

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Monte Llano is between Sosua and Puerto Plata. I would not advise taking a moto to either place. I know your fiance may do so, but it is not advisable and very few people do. Instead, go out to the Sosua-Puerto Plata highway and take one of the many guaguas and publicos that pass by. This is what 99% of the people in Monte Llano do. In fact, you can even catch one in Monte Llano since some of the publicos and guaguas do make the side trip into Monte Llano to see if there are passengers waiting.

Your best options for grocery shopping are the supermarkets in Sosua and Puerto Plata. Puerto Plata is probably your best best for medical services. There may be a doctor in Monte Llano, but if there is my guess is that he is ok for common ailments for for anything more than that you should look elsewhere.

Regarding family, be aware that family ties are very important to Dominicans and the mother is the head of the group. Don't be surprised to find you are woman #2 in the mind of your fiance. If I were in your shoes, I would want to be further away from his family than next door. But I don't think that is likely to happen.
 

simpson Homer

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Living in the DR.

As Ken told you the best thing is to live a little away from his family, don't look it this advice as some thing bad. But the best thing that could happen to me is that I lived far from my family while I was living with my girlfriend in Punta Cana. I am Dominican and what Ken told you he is right.

My family are great but I dont want them involved in my relationship with my girlfriend is better like that. and about friends some of then may think that you are rich just because you are Canadian. I learned about northamerican culture because part of my family come from state or has lived out to the Dominican Rep. One day we are coming back to the Dominican to buy a house or whatever and in my plan still my family I have them far from my place. I love them but not way.

How do you think about our Dominican food?

Do you know what do we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

I hope you get use too.

The best thing is that finally you guys are going to be together.

Homer
 
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TiberiusMineola

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Cost of Living!! Canadian resources - Puerto Plata?

I'm an American who has been living in POP for 6 years. Cost of living? For 1 or 2 persons US $1,000. per month = very modest living; $1,500. per month = close to Canadian - American lower middle class existence. $2,000. - $2,500 / mo uperr middle class to luxurious. This assumes that the Canadian lives in a foreign tourist area [exs. Costambar, Cofresi], not a barrio or a rural area. Where you plan to live with no rent, I suspect that you can deduct $300 - $400 per month. It's very difficult to earn a living down here, by Canadian or 1st World standards. Resources: there are many Canadians, esp. females, living here permanenlty. I suggest that you try Chris' Restaurant, Playa Cofresi. Chris & his father are Canadians; been here for 10 - 15 - 20 years. Very nice people. Many Canadians eat at his very popular restaurant; you should be able to obtain some useful leads. I think that some constructive networking over 6 - 12 - 18 months will resolve most of your fears. Good luck! You're adventuresome. You're only going this way once. Ir your DR project fails, at least you got it out of your system. How awful to be in a nursing home in Toronto at age 85, wondering how your life might have been different if you'd ever taken the risk of moving to the DR. Right on!!
 

bob saunders

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http://www.voyage.gc.ca/main/pubs/retirement_abroad-en.asp
This Canadian Goverment document is intended for retirement outside of Canada but it might have some information that is useful for you. Trina would probably be a good person to e-mail(pm) as she is married to a Dominican(now in Calgary) but lived for sometime with her husband in Porta Plata area.
My wife and I plan to move to Jarabacoa(her home town) as soon as the last kid leaves the nest(4-5 years) and I know that I'll have no problems adapting to life in the DR.Good Luck.
 

Talldrink

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Fiest Mama, nothing is permanent in life. Like others have posted, leave with plans A thru Z.

Mosquitoes: Try Avon's bug repellent, it works. Eventually they will stop biting you. The Doms live with them like they are family (dont know why) but eventually something happens and you wont be bitten as much once you move.

People WILL think you have $$ just because you come from outside (de fuera, like the say). So be concious of that when you act and speak. They may think you are trying to say or be something you are really not.

Dont burn any bridges wherever you go/leave. That means at work and home in Canada and eventually there in DR. Dont throw your sweaters and coats away, or anything that means anything to you or is expensive. Most of that stuff seems meaningless now, but it took you years to accumulate them, it will take more to regather yourself if it doesnt work out. I suggest you pack a couple of tight plastic boxes with your stuff and leave it in your friends attic.

The healthcare coverage is cheaper is you do get in a plan.

One little Dominican word for you today: Clavo. This means have a stash (that NO ONE knows about in DR my dear). Leave it with someone in Canada just in case. Every Dom knows what a clavo is (specially the women) I bet his mom has one....

Wish you the best.
 

Chirimoya

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This is sterling advice from Talldrink and others above!

You are getting a gentler ride than many other posters with similar questions. Really hope it all works out for you.

Chiri
 

MommC

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You definitely are getting a gentler ride than most but I think

it's because of the way you phrased your question and the fact that you did give pertinent info about you previous visits here.
I love this country!!......but I wouldn't want to live here as a Domincan which it sounds like you are about to do. Most ex-pats on the board have some kind of financial security from either Canada, Britian or the US.
I've met many people who have moved from Canada to get married and while everything was great at first they soon realized the Dominican way of life (as a lower class Dominican-which a resort worker would be as they are among the lowest paid workers in the country) wasn't for them.
If you've ever been "camping" in the north country (I'm from Northern Ontario) you have an idea of what it's like to sleep in a tent, cook over a campfire, haul water from a stream to wash and bath, and go without all the little things that make life pleasant and bearable for those of us fortunate enough to have been born in a developed nation. You would also know that while it's fun to camp for a week or two or three, it would drive most people insane to have to live like that permanently.

I think most of the advise given so far has been right on target. Take a leave of absence, don't burn any bridges, leave some cash behind (and DON"T USE IT - no matter what, once you get here, It's your safety net!!) and give it a try.

Good luck!!
 

Ken

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MommC said:
Take a leave of absence, don't burn any bridges, leave some cash behind (and DON"T USE IT - no matter what, once you get here, It's your safety net!!) and give it a try.
Fiesta Mamma, if you don't follow this advice you will be sorry. Just knowing you have an escape hatch will be a benefit to you. And the fact that you do have a means of escape may someday save your health and sanity.

Your 7 visits, even though you stayed with your boyfriend and associated closely with his family, haven't prepared you for the cultural changes that await you. They have been alluded to in the previous posts, but it won't be until you are here and life has returned to normal after the excitement of your arrival that you realize what the true situation is. I am not saying that you won't be able to adjust to it and have a successful relationship with your fiance and his extended family, but it is very possible and should be prepared for.

I would be more optimistic if you and your fiance were going to be living in a different town than his parents and other relatives so that you and he could form the sort of family unit that you see and experienced in Canada. But... Just take MommC's advice and prepare for the possibility that reality is not the same as anticipation.
 
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