Thoughts on gringo houses and gringo prices...

goneglobal

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Just did a search on this board using 'real estate for sale' as my key words and read most of the results...

Just curious about what's happened to those of you who took the 'plunge' and bought someone else's 'bad dream' at terribly inflated prices and how that's effected the locals in your neighborhood?

Using local cost of land, labor, and materials as a measure...how dirty was your shirt when you realized you had been 'taken to the cleaners'?

I'm sure most gringos who have bought in DR from other gringos had only one advantage.... a common language!

'Most'......perhaps there have been exceptions.

Any insight into this plage we tend to export everywhere we go?
 

rendul

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Gringo Prices

As in all real estate transactions be very astute. Prices can be negotiated, just like everywhere else. Have a good lawyer already working with you. A good lawyer will ensure that the proper documentation and plans are completely registered prior to the finalization of the sale. Closing costs are higher than most other countries but there is a lot of red tape in the D.R. that is in line with your own security of the property. We took the plunge in 2001 and are thrilled with how things turned out. We are still friends with the previous owners although the Real Estate agent tried on a few sidesteps that our lawyer quickly took care of. Look for a good community with security and you should do just fine! Good luck! ;)
 

Ken

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Perhaps I'm especially thick headed today, goneglobal, but what is the purpose of your post? Are you stating an opinion as fact, are you seeking information, are you reacting to a bad personal experience, what?
 

lhtown

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Maybe I'm a bit naive, but somehow, I fail to see how a gringo always gets taken to the cleaners in the DR. I know it happens, but it also happens with Dominicans. For those of us with "blue eyes," it appears to me that there are both perceived and real advantages and disadvantages in business, but they are certainly not always negative.
 

goneglobal

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Thanks for the posts...maybe I can explain the reasons why I made my post....maybe not.


I've been an expatriate for over 30 years...well over half my life. Life started in the US, then Canada, Australia,and now France. My wife is French....my children were born in Australia. We love experiencing new cultures and all of us have open minds as a result of our chosen lifestyles. In total, we have traveled over 2 million miles .That works out to about 20 times around the world....each.

We are always looking for another place to visit....and live. As a result our our never-ending quest, I've become a bit of a self-proclaimed expert on international real estate (at least my family thinks I am!) Always an observer and sometimes, a player....I am curious about other expats and their experiences. Even though I am one...I don't know many personally....Why? Maybe its because I've never felt I needed to...If I was born Greek... 'when in Rome'...why surround myself with with Greeks? Maybe if I was only in Rome on assignment and not by choice and I really missed everything Greek, then things would be different. Many of the expats I've meant over the years were were living on OPM (other people's money) temporary... on assignment....waiting to go back home for the promotion...every expense paid for....

I have observed another newly emerging type of expat in the last serveral years....'for the purpose of this post, I will call them
' escapists' Many are retired and have found out that their pension is to slim...or just made a fortune in their home ecomony (perhaps selling their home) Many realize that there are other countries where they can live like kings with $. Many want to get away from all the social and ecomonic problems of their
'developed' home country......and unwittingly, they 'export' those same problems with them....

Yes, these are certainly only opinions. I am reacting to bad personal experiences. And I am always seeking information as I am extremely curious and concerned about the way the world is spinning now....

Let's look at the cost of labor in the DR....how much are those people building the house getting paid? What about the land prices? Is there is any sound economic and/or historical basis for the inflated prices? Cost of materials? Any way to use local materials? And what is the net effect on the local economy of all the imports used for the classical 'gringo' dwelling? What % of DR citizens own their dwellings and is that universal dream of ownership still possible for the majority these days?

I think it would be difficult for many frequent posters to this board to be honest here. Maybe the best 'posts' might be the private ones in the bar or on the beach when a first-timer actually meets a frequent poster here who lives in the DR....

My 'bad personal experiences' happen frequently....ie. standing in line for a bus ticket in France and watching an impatient, line-jumping tourist, asking the ticket seller for directions in English...we all watch in amazement....all of us...strangers sharing an common secret..most of us speak/understand basic English..we all have have schedules to keep...and perhaps by speaking English real slow and using simple phrases...some can get by in life....

I've meant many expat real estate agents/advisers over the years....They probably make the big $ when times are good or bad. Many of them probably know how many times Jose has sold the farm, what it's really worth on the local economy, and are helping him invest it on more completely over-the-top, insane gated communities (islands within islands) And Jose is happy! Maybe he realizes that his mate is helping him to become just like all the gringos who will eventually live behind those walls.

Cool man.....my kids are gonna love this new world of peace, love and everything subtopia! The Haves and Half Nots...Is '1984' turning into a 'Brave New World ' Was it really too much of a risk to not settle behind a wall? What happens to all of you if the power is off for days? Stand-by on the last flight out? Can those walls be climbed? How do the locals really feel about you new arrivals? Am I mad in assuming that two economies are running parrallel...rich and poor? What advise would you give to the newcomer that might reverse these trends....if they exist at all?

It's ironic that, in our travels, we have observed that the poorer the country/people, the happier they appear to be....ie the smiles of the children, the seemingly close-knit families...

Anyway...I am really looking for honest and real feedback..from those of you who are living there....
 

Keith&Cris

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Goneglobal ...
Sifting though your verbiage, I think (and correct me if I am wrong) that you do not live in RD? You are obviously very literate, but I can't help but ask, are you speaking about life in RD from a resident's point of view or from an alien's perspective?
 

goneglobal

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wallowing in the garbage!

Keith&Cris....I am in France....have lots of free time to ponder my navel...and have been studying Dr for many years from afar. We plan on spending a few weeks traveling around the country in February. It will be our first visit. I read your trip report with keen interest...We have traveled independently in Cuba, PR, and visited family in several times in ST Martin..

I'm a bit of a dreamer and sometimes my 'verbiage' is considered as 'garbage' by close friends who have not had the opportunity to see or think as much about where IT'S all going in the future on a global level..We remain friends and I try to keep an open mind about their opinions....however REDNECK and LOCAL I perceive those opinions to be.....the world is getting smaller and many decisions we make effect someone else in a less fortunate material situation. One doesn't even have to travel anymore.....just buy the car with 0% down and have it ALL right now! Ever think about who might be paying for all that interest you have saved? I personally think my children will have to pay a big hunk of it in the coming years. By perhaps trading up and moving to DR, what does one really acheive if they bring their lifestyle (language and culture included) with them?

Plenty of FirstWorlders are heading out into Second-Third World economies and verifing in the minds of locals in those countries where they shift that they are, indeed very rich....materially. I see satellite dishes is the strangest and most isolated villages on earth now..

I challenge some of you serious thinkers to bare all and look at what you have done by living behind walls in the DR and all the other places where they are considered 'safe' ....

Now all I'm getting is questions about me....

I've always wanted to settle in a tropical climate and live in a house that has NO walls, open to the breezes and light, with friendly indigenous neighbors. And I...on principal...would expect to pay no more $$ than those same neighbors for the honour to be living next to them....One would think that I owe at least that much to theirs and my children and future generations. How many DR natives could afford the typical expat's digs.....it's like giving whiskey to the Indians...the money we spend on our new 'lifestyle', no?

My plans are being foiled by rich gringos selling up and moving into the gated communities, buying timeshares, bring all in all their possessions....where will it all end? Or more specifically, where will I end up? 6 feet under for sure....just hoping to have a big grin on my face when that happens!

I write these words because I'm aware that there are many more readers than posters here and perhaps they are just as serious and concerned (with no vested interests) about life in DR as I am...just looking for some ideas from locals on how to shift and blend in a positive way...

And any thoughts from DR expats about the way they feel they have influenced the DR natives, collectivly and as individuals...
 

HQB

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Having lived in 2 third world countries (not DR yet) I can relate to what you are stating regarding the 'haves and havenots'. As American TV reaches more and more 3rd world countries it would appear that the 'American Dream' gains strength. What TV rarely if ever portrays is the down side, the poverty, homeless people etc. which does exist and can be seen daily in most American cities.

I am an expat who left UK as soon as I was legally of age and moved to Malta which at that time was very much 3rd world. I have since lived in the Bahamas (quasi 3rd world), Canada and America. Although I return to UK on a regular basis I see many changes and a definate American influence, not necessarily the best of America...this also applies to the Bahamas.

Although I agree that living behind walls in gated communities is not a solution in itself, I don't see this changing back to an open wall life style. The Utopian Dream of ultimate freedom where all 'men' live in harmony cannot exist as long as the 'new rich' see wealth as possessions, and the need for others to 'see' what they have achieved whether it be paid for or on credit.

Perhaps if we had a credit squeeze where no one had credit you would see a return to a certain basis where life would once again find it's own level. The last 3 years have seen many people who thought they were set for life with a tidy pension to look forward, to have to rethink thier future. Will a lesson be learnt from this? Doubtful as so many have become dependent on 'comfort accessories' and are not able to view life as being 'wealth' in itself or life without these comforts.

I too would like to live in a house without walls, and to feel that my neighbours accepted me as I would them without envy or whatever. I would not want to think that my lifestyle would impose on them or thiers on mine.

I wish you luck in your quest and hope that DR affords the life style you seek. I will know more after 1//4/03 when I visit DR after many Internet searches and board readings....
 

goneglobal

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HQB...thanks for your thoughts, especially the ones on credit....

I've never bothered to seek out expats like you...although I know I'm not alone when thinking about our shared common future...

My opinion is that if there is a devil...it's OIL...fire and brimestone from beneath the earth's surface and his most powerful tool is the most powerful drug known to man in my opinion.....CREDIT.

And those walled communities are springing up everywhere...read 'The Tortilla Curtain' by TC Boyle....It's about one in Sunny Southern California...the home of Hollyweird. Yes, in the same state ...and I'm sad to say...where I popped out of my mother's womb. It's a state where the smart gringo's have learned Spanish as the maths don't lie. I realized at a young age that I was the real 'alien' growing up in LA LA LAND, a legal white alien...and the majority of them (the Native Spanish speakers) weren't legal but they weren't 'aliens' either. I used to love the Christmas tamales the bi-lingual Martinez family gave us every year. They were 5th generation California...going back to the days of the Spanish land grants. Slavery and disease killed off the REAL NATIVES long before where I was born......Kinda like DR's history, no?

Back to CREDIT....I have this re-occuring thought that if all the banks sent out a few billion pre-approved credit cards with, say, a $1000 limit to every working adult or child in China...that would kick us along for another decade or so....Has this already been done?!

I and some readers of this post (who perhaps never post themselves)are still waiting for all the local experts to post replies to my previously raised questions....perhaps you have your reasons for silence on the issues and questions I've asked? I've got a few interesting private messages in my box....but no answers to any of the questions......and if you can't remember the questions, then we're in the same boat!
 

Pib

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goneglobal, today is Sunday, people are waking up, getting up, brushing their teeth (or denture as applies) and that might be the reason why nobody has replied to your questions. Give'm a break, they will show up soon and join the fracas (or start one).

I am not an expat, I am one of "the natives". I will give you my two centavos worth of wisdom (about half of what I possess). Forget about "houses with no walls", that hasn't been true around here for the last 510 years. The problem with these ideas, that cause much disillusionment and grief to expats who unwittingly move here without having done their homework, is that they have this "Robinson Crusoe" view of the third world and the tropics.

The truth here is the truth everywhere, with the obligatory adjustments to wealth and weather. People are the same everywhere, crime is a problem here as it is anywhere (with the obligatory adjustments in method and profitability). Anyone seeking paradise here, or anywhere will soon become jaded.

The expat community in the DR hasn't affected "the native's" view of the world in a greater way than the last epidemic of the flu. Most expats that I know have integrated (with different level of success) to the local community. Many (in lack of statistics I don't dare say most) have married locals and are raising their children as such.

The greater influence has come from tourists, and as in any other tropical country with an economy with an emphasis in cheap tourism you will see the vices that come with the trade: prostitution, crime, drugs. But let's not fool ourselves, "the natives" are not quite like Crusoe's Friday, we are not mindless morons (I know you didn't say that) that don't see past our noses, we make informed choices, many times we get screwed because of those choices. I don't tend to blame in on the tourists, or the tourism industry.

The point is (I remember I had another point, but I haven't had sufficient coffee yet) that humanity sucks. Here and everywhere.

Pib
Coffeeless cynic.
 
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AnnaC

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Total freedom only exist in the mind.
You will get many oppions here but you need to experience the DR first hand.
 

goneglobal

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due to time zones...we always get the first cup!

You light yourself up knowing that I appreciate and value your opinions

And, yes, a visit is planned, with an open mind....regardless of what we learn pre-trip.

Finally, when I said 'no walls' I was referring to the lost art of building to suit the enviroment.....with moveable walls and/or windows that can be opened to catch ocean breezes....Many South Pacific Islanders still use this method to heat and cool their homes in villages that have no electricity......As a matter of interest, all of the materials used in many of these houses are local.....virtually growing in the ground and free for the picking. All the labour to build these simple structures is provided for free by family/village members.....and the occasional person like me, who happens to be staying in the village.

I realize that this is a dead or dying way of building, particularly in the Caribbean...but I can still dream....
 

Chris

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GoneGobal, seems to me that all the questions that you ask, can be asked of any country, and any place and any set of people.

Quote: "I challenge some of you serious thinkers to bare all and look at what you have done by living behind walls in the DR and all the other places where they are considered 'safe' ...."

I cannot figure out if you mean physical walls or methaphysical walls. Maybe you should put your questions in point form so that other poor misguided serious thinkers, such as I, who live in developing countries, can figure out what you are actually asking - and how your questions are pertinent to living in the DR.
 

Pib

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Re: due to time zones...we always get the first cup!

[B]goneglobal[/B] said:
I was referring to the lost art of building to suit the enviroment... all of the materials used in many of these houses are local.....virtually growing in the ground and free for the picking. All the labour to build these simple structures
Pretty fresh house. Here comes *another* hurricane. Oops no house!

I need *more* coffee. ;)
 

AnnaC

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Jan 2, 2002
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"As a matter of interest, all of the materials used in many of these houses are local.....virtually growing in the ground and free for the picking. All the labour to build these simple structures is provided for free by family/village members.....and the occasional person like me, who happens to be staying in the village."
What planet did you say you were from? Yes come on down and we'll have a big party and build you a house from the sticks on the ground. Are you willing to give your free labour to build houses for the poor? Someone is dreaming here. Maybe it's me. BRB need more coffee.
 

goneglobal

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Anna...I'd take you up on that offer....if I thought it was a serious one

and we both share the same planet....as far as I know.

And yes, I give ' free labour ' ocasionally while traveling as a repayment for kind deeds.....It's a great way to gain an deeper understanding of the culture and learn a few things at the same time.

Joni Mitchell's old tune seems appropriate now...."pave paradise and put up a parking lot"

Maybe it's time for some 'out of the box' thinking when you worry about those hurricanes......it's all in the design....and by keeping it as simple as possible and using local materials, it's amazing what kind of winds the dwellings I referred to in the South Pacific can withstand. They have a hurricanes as well....

Of course, to be safe, use a gringo design....fill the place with every gadget possible....insure it....worry about it being ripped off when you aren't around.....and feel comfort in the knowledge that you have made it in paradise just like your gringo neighbor next door......You can share the same security guard!

Personally, I'd rather not......as I feel there are more important things to spend my time and $$ on during this short and wonderful time I have on yours and my planet....and soon to be our children's.......
 

Pib

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Am I the only one who see the irony in the fact that you are posting using a computer? You know, one of those "gringo gadgets"?

So much for a simpler life.

BTW, 510 years worth of wisdom indicates that "local" materials don't withstand the forces of a hurricane. Even some "modern' constructions have a hard time doing it. I for one find comfort in the fact that my house will not fly off like a kite when the next one hits.

Pib
Coffeeful Cynic (nothing can help me)
 
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goneglobal

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Pib...you can do better than that!

Just about everyone where I live can afford a PC......

As you are a DR native....conversing on this board, using a 'gringo gadget' as well, and with great skills in written English....one can hardly assume you are a typical DR native.

I'll bet you have spent a great deal of time in a place/country full of gringos....other than on these forums.

Perhaps your fellow natives are full of envy when they meet you....as you appear to have the ability to keep your feet separated, each one in a different culture at the same time....It's a gift! Thanks for helping expats like me get a grip on real local reality!