Retire in Dominican Republic: To Be or Not to Be?

pinonuevo

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How to Retire in the Dominican Republic​


Ashley Kilroy Mar 17, 2022

Retire in the Dominican Republic
Do you dream of spending your retirement on a sunny Caribbean beach with a cool drink in hand? There are many alternatives, but one that you may want to consider is the Dominican Republic. From affordable housing to adventurous activities, this Caribbean island nation seems to have something for every retiree. Additionally, their expat laws favor Americans looking to retire there. Retiring abroad can help you extend your retirement savings, and a financial advisor can help you stretch your nest egg further.


Cost of Living and Housing in the Dominican Republic

Overall, the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is about 40% lower than in the U.S., according to March 2022 data from Numbeo. The average American earns about $1,650 per month in Social Security retirement benefits. This means that retirees who move to the Dominican Republic should have no trouble making ends meet.
Housing in the Dominican Republic is very affordable. For example, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in a city center in the U.S. costs $1,376 per month, but only costs $400 per month in the Dominican Republic. If you prefer to purchase an apartment or home there, the average cost per square foot of an apartment in a city center in the U.S. is $330, but in the Dominican Republic is $120. If you want to live even more frugally, you can purchase or rent a home outside of the city center or a bit farther from the beach.

Safety in the Dominican Republic

While the Dominican Republic is a beautiful place to retire, there are many safety concerns in the country, according to the U.S. Department of State. Violent crime, armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault are a concern throughout the country. Widely available firearms, drug trading and a flawed criminal justice system all contribute to the danger.
The development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo, the State Department says.
So, if safety is a top priority for you heading into retirement, the country’s criminal activity should give you pause.

Getting a Visa in the Dominican Republic

Retire in the Dominican Republic
If you want to retire in the Dominican Republic, you will need to get a visa to stay in the country. Fortunately, it is relatively quick and easy to get a retirement visa. The Dominican Republic offers a pensionado, or a retirement visa. You can enter the Dominican Republic on a standard tourist visa, then apply for a retirement visa while in the country. The process can take several months, and many people recommend hiring a local lawyer to help you get all your paperwork in order.
You will need to show proof that you have an income of at least $1,500 per month and other documents, including your birth certificate and a background check.


Healthcare in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has a three-tier healthcare system. The first tier, which is paid by the government, guarantees free, socialized healthcare for citizens. However, most people end up paying out-of-pocket for medical supplies and various services regardless of which tier they have access to.
The second tier, known as the contributive tier, is paid for by employers and their employees. The third tier of healthcare, known as the contributive subsidized tier, is paid for by people whose income is greater than the national average and is also subsidized somewhat by the government. Expats can expect to fall into this third category and will need to purchase private healthcare insurance. Although this is an additional expense, it costs less to see a doctor and receive treatment in a private hospital in the Dominican Republic than in the U.S. International health insurance may cost up to $200 per month and covers most procedures and emergencies, and even some prescriptions.

Taxes in the Dominican Republic

If you plan to earn an income in the Dominican Republic, it is subject to tax. Anyone who spends more than 182 days per year in the country is considered a resident.
Social Security and pension benefits are not taxable in the Dominican Republic. However, all residents and taxpayers must pay tax on income from financial investments such as stocks and bonds, certificates of deposits and more.
There is no tax treaty between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, so some people may owe taxes in both countries in some circumstances. Work closely with your financial advisor to understand what the tax implications are of you taking up residence in the Dominican Republic.
 
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pinonuevo

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15 Pros and Cons of Retiring in the Dominican Republic.​

The Caribbean is the perfect retirement destination. The countries in this region have so much to offer retirees, including beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, and delicious food.
With its low cost of living and proximity to the United States, the Dominican Republic is an increasingly popular destination for US retirees and ex-pats. Like many others, you may have considered moving to the DR, attracted by its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, affordable prices, and good quality of life.
However, before you decide to make your move, it’s essential to know both the good and bad parts of moving to the Dominican Republic. If you’ve been wondering whether the DR is a good place for you, read on to learn the top pros and cons of retiring there.
A photo of the DR capital building. White stone, with a rotunda in the center. In front of the building is the DR flag

1. Pro: Low Cost of Living

The Dominican Republic has a low cost of living. Even in large cities like Santo Domingo and resort towns like Punta Cana, the cost of foods, goods, and services in the Dominican is much lower than in the United States. That’s particularly true if you come from a place like New York City or Miami.

Whether you’ll be living off your Social Security paycheck, your investments, or your savings, you can make your money last longer by living in the Dominican. While you might need to live on a strict budget in the United States, you can enjoy a higher quality of life in the Dominican for the same price.
For example, eating out will suddenly become affordable. Groceries, basic utilities, and other services in the DR are often a fraction of what they cost in the United States.
Numbeo is a helpful website for comparing the cost of living in different cities. However, keep in mind that it relies on user-submitted data, so it’s not 100% accurate, though it can help you get a good ballpark figure.

2. Con: Poor Infrastructure, Corruption, and Bureaucracy

Infrastructure in the Dominican Republic isn’t the worst. However, be prepared for some surprises. For example, you may not be used to dodging low-hanging power cables while walking on a sidewalk. The absence of traffic lights at some intersections may surprise you as well, and crossing the street can get tricky.
Despite that, the Dominican has great highways and well-paved roads, especially in major cities and tourist areas. In more rural areas, however, roads may become impassable.
Like many Latin American countries, the Dominican suffers from corruption. You’ll also face a lot of bureaucracy. Even simple tasks like paying bills can quickly get frustrating.

3. Pro: Delicious and Cheap Food

A local, rustic fruit stand in the DR. Many different types of tropical fruit.


The Dominican Republic has delicious food at affordable prices. Wherever you go in major cities like Santo Domingo, you’ll come across “cafeterias,” which typically offer food buffets. Just pick the food items you want and pay as you go. The food is traditionally Caribbean and delightful, and menus vary based on the time of the day.
A typical meal at such an eatery won’t cost you more than a few dollars. There is also a lot of street food available, from Dominican salami to empanadas. High-end restaurants are a lot more affordable than in the states, too.
Of course, there is also a lot of fresh fruit. You’ll get access to locally grown fruit, including bananas, avocados, and mangos. Since they tend to come from local crops instead of importation, you’ll find them ripe and juicy. There are also a lot of exotic fruits, like dragon fruit and guava. You can buy fruits at an affordable price in supermarkets or from street vendors.

4. Con: Low Wages

This factor isn’t always critical when retiring, especially if you don’t plan on working again. However, if you think you may need to get a job, even a part-time job, be aware that wages in the Dominican Republic are considerably lower than in the United States. That’s typically true even if you get a high-level position. Low wages come along with the low cost of living.

5. Pro: Cheap Transportation

It’s easy to get around the DR, even if you don’t own a car or motorcycle. Uber and Didi are two popular ridesharing services, and they are quick to come and not expensive. You can even order a motorcycle ride on Uber in places like Santo Domingo to beat the traffic.
Similarly, public transportation is extremely cheap – that goes for both intercity transport and getting around within cities.

6. Con: Constant Traffic Jams

Santo Domingo has some of the worst traffic in the world, only falling behind cities like Bogotá, Nairobi, and Moscow. Be prepared to get stuck in traffic – a lot. The endless traffic jams can be highly frustrating, especially if you need to get somewhere, so budget extra time for them.
If you plan on driving, be careful. Watch out for potholes, motorcycles zooming in and out of traffic, vehicles driving at night without any lights on, and other unfamiliar and often dangerous driving behaviors. You may be better off not driving at all and instead relying on Uber and public transport.

7. Pro: Beautiful Getaways and Beaches

A photo of a white sandy beach. To the left are about a dozen boats sitting in blue waters


The Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean, which has some of the best beaches in the world. Wherever you are in the country, a pristine beach is never more than a short drive away.
Even if you live in Santo Domingo, which doesn’t have any beaches, you could always head to Boca Chica, which is just a 30-45 minute drive away. Punta Cana, with its beaches and resorts, is only a few hours away by car.

8. Pro: Affordable Healthcare

Depending on your retirement age, the cost of healthcare might be one of your top deciding factors when selecting a place to live. The good news is that healthcare in the Dominican Republic is extremely affordable.
The Dominican Republic has free public hospitals. If you’re ever in an emergency, you could always head to one of those hospitals – every town with a significant population will have at least one.
At the same time, the quality of care in those hospitals is not the best, and most ex-pats avoid them unless truly necessary. Furthermore, while care is free, you may have to pay for supplies and x-rays.
Despite that, even private hospitals are affordable, particularly when compared to healthcare costs in the United States. Even advanced and elective procedures cost a lot less. You can also get private insurance that will cover private healthcare, regardless of your age and pre-existing conditions.

9. Con: Low Quality of Healthcare

While healthcare might be affordable, that doesn’t mean it’s good. The Dominican has decent private hospitals, clinics, labs, and doctors. Nevertheless, the quality of care tends not to be as good as in the United States or Europe. Also, in some hospitals, many nurses or doctors may not speak a high level of English.

10. Pro: Vibrant Culture

A photo of two DR women wearing brightly colored traditional dresses, bare midriff, and head wrapping.

The Dominican Republic has a vibrant culture. People are friendly, and you’ll have no trouble meeting people. There are plenty of festivals throughout the year. If you love immersing yourself in foreign cultures, the Dominican Republic has a lot to offer.

11. Con: Security Situation in Major Cities

The Dominican Republic has a high level of crime, particularly in large cities like Santo Domingo. You may be at an increased risk of muggings or robberies.
Despite that, there are ways to mitigate the risk. For example, you can avoid walking around late at night, or you can stay in neighborhoods known to be safe. Many ex-pats live in safer communities and cities and never experience any problems.

12. Pro: Ease of Learning the Language

The primary language spoken in the Dominican Republic is Spanish, which is a relatively easy language to learn for native English speakers. That’s because Spanish has a lot of similarities to English, and it uses the Latin alphabet.

The specific accent spoken in the Dominican may not be the easiest to understand. Nevertheless, it will be a lot easier to learn the language and integrate into society, especially when compared to retiring in places like Thailand. Many of you have already taken some Spanish in high school, so you already have a head start.

13. Pro: Ease of Getting to the US and Europe

The Dominican Republic has a great location regarding flight availability and flight time. Getting to Florida takes just a couple of hours, more or less, and going to places like New York only takes a few hours more. Budget airlines like Spirit and airlines like United offer reasonable fare rates to and from hubs like Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.
That might be more important than you think. Besides visiting family, you could go back to the United States to enjoy better quality healthcare. You could even swing by to do some shopping.
Similarly, the Dominican is connected to Europe via Madrid. Various carriers offer flights, which take only 8-9 hours.

14. Pro: It’s Incredibly Easy to Get Residency

Before deciding to retire somewhere, you have to figure out the visa situation in advance. Many countries in Latin America allow you to stay on a tourist visa, but you may have to leave every few months to renew it. Similarly, as a non-resident, you may face certain bureaucratic hurdles.
The Dominican Republic offers one of the easiest residency programs in Latin America, even though tourists only get 30 days the first time they enter. In a matter of months, you can get residency and a Dominican ID card. You can learn more about applying here.

15. Con: You Will Stand Out

Finally – and this is a big one – you will stand out. Not everyone will stand out as much as others. However, if you don’t speak Spanish well, or if you speak it with a gringo accent, everyone will know you’re a gringo from the moment you open your mouth. People will also be able to tell from the way you walk and other habits – which are hard to shake.
Of course, the same applies when retiring in any foreign country. However, be prepared for people to approach you at times, particularly in tourist areas, trying to sell you something. Even when you make friends, you’ll still be a foreigner, even after living there for many years.

Final Thoughts​

A child from the DR is carrying hats woven from palm leaves, likely for sale to tourists. The beach can be seen in the back.

The Dominican Republic is one of the best places to retire. There’s a reason so many ex-pats have chosen Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, and other cities in the Dominican Republic!
Of course, no place is perfect. Always weigh the pros and cons before deciding which location is best for you. Make sure to consider things like the healthcare system and infrastructure in the DR before jumping on a plane to enjoy the delicious food and incredible beaches.
After reading this article, you’ll understand why so many ex-pat retirees chose the DR – and maybe you will, too!
 

NanSanPedro

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If you want to retire in the Dominican Republic, you will need to get a visa to stay in the country. Fortunately, it is relatively quick and easy to get a retirement visa. The Dominican Republic offers a pensionado, or a retirement visa.

Not remotely true.
 

Ecoman1949

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If you want to retire in the Dominican Republic, you will need to get a visa to stay in the country. Fortunately, it is relatively quick and easy to get a retirement visa. The Dominican Republic offers a pensionado, or a retirement visa.

Not remotely true.
That’s was my reaction as well. All submitted documents have to be translated, notarized or apostilled and you have to do that in your own country. Also good conduct police reports have to be obtained in your own country. You have to gather the documents in your own country first, file them with the nearest DR consulate and then head to the DR to complete the process within a specified time. That’s the way I understand it.
 
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westcan

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For those that have done this, did you have to send your passport to the DR consulate? If so, how long did they keep it?
 

irishpaddy

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from start to finish it took me about 4 years .....had to provide new documents each time because the previous ones had expired......they mislaid my passport also
definitely not an easy process......i finally got mine at the end of March .
 
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aarhus

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If you want to retire in the Dominican Republic, you will need to get a visa to stay in the country. Fortunately, it is relatively quick and easy to get a retirement visa. The Dominican Republic offers a pensionado, or a retirement visa.

Not remotely true.
A contradiction. Many do fine without and have local health insurance to. And if you want the residency it has become very bureaucratic and takes a long time.
 

pinonuevo

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USA/Canada/Europe the most likely to seek retirement in Dominican Republic? How can the DR attract them to invest and retire in DR?
 

Ecoman1949

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I thought the article was referring to 'pensionado' residency - isn't it faster/easier ??
WW. It’s supposed to be the easiest of all the citizenship processes, the least expensive, and the quickest way to get the cedula. My friend in Luperon ran into bureaucratic walls with his application. Had to go back to Canada to get more documentation. It may be faster but it isn’t easier.

Why the DR government doesn’t follow the example of places like Colombia and Mexico is beyond me. Six months residency allowed, leave for a week, then return and another six months residency allowed.

Citizenship application must generate a fair bit of revenue for the DR government. Streamlining the process would probably result in lost revenue.
 
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Ecoman1949

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USA/Canada/Europe the most likely to seek retirement in Dominican Republic? How can the DR attract them to invest and retire in DR?
It’s simple. Implement the same immigration rules as Colombia and Mexico. Every time you enter the country you get a six month residency visa.
 
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aarhus

www.johnboyter.com
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WW. It’s supposed to be the easiest of all the citizenship processes, the least expensive, and the quickest way to get the cedula. My friend in Luperon ran into bureaucratic walls with his application. Had to go back to Canada to get more documentation. It may be faster but it isn’t easier.

Why the DR government doesn’t follow the example of places like Colombia and Mexico is beyond me. Six months residency allowed, leave for a week, then return and another six months residency allowed.

Citizenship application must generate a fair bit of revenue for the DR government. Streamlining the process would probably result in lost revenue.
yeah and maybe together with the lawyers, getting work this way, they think it’s a gold mine but there is a change happening I think. Just here on dr1 we all seem to agree on it now.
 

AlaPlaya

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It’s simple. Implement the same immigration rules as Colombia and Mexico. Every time you enter the country you get a six month residency visa.
I think Mexico is shifting away from granting six months on entry. I have seen quite a few digital nomads recently report only receiving 90 days.
 
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