Originally posted by Chris We live in a community about 5 minutes out of Cabarete. A farm was subdivided and there are three properties out here plus the farm that is still being actively farmed. Two properties are owned by Gringos and one is owned by Dominicans. There has not been a problem here in 8 years. Our landlady lived here alone for most of the eight years. We all know all the neighbors and if there is anything wrong anywhere in our vicinity, all the neighbors (Dominican and Gringo) talk together and decide what to do.
I believe it is more an issue of finding the right community for you, and this may not necessarily be one with walls and security. The property next to us is only sporadically inhabited and the watchman over there keeps an eye on everyone. Know your neighbors and know the people in your neigborhood. This is excellent security.
This is a poor country and theft happens frequently. Murders I believe don't happen so frequently. On a philisophical level, I cannot understand how can we say that there are great people in the DR and then lock ourselves into gated communities so that we have nothing to do with the great people? There are safe communities and safe places to stay.
A couple of comments, mostly positive, about Chris' post:
1. I agree it is not essential to live in a gated community, as Chris is demonstrating. But for most foreigners coming here looking for their first house, unfamiliar with the language and the general area, I believe a gated community with 24-hour security and a generator to supply electricity when the government power is turned off is the best place to locate as it will make the transition much easier and less stressful.
2. Both Chris and soon_free offer excellent insight into what contributes to a good life in a home that is not part of a development. For example, employ someone known locally and give this person responsibility and something important to do. If this person is respected locally and lets it be known that nothing is to happen at the house of his employer, then chances are excellent nothing will. I had some experience with this in Samana, when for 12 years I employed a respected person from the area to watch the 2 acres I owned and keep squatters and farm animals off the property. Because this man was looked up to in the area, I never had one problem. Had I built on the land rather than sell it, I would have continued to employ him.
3. Or locate, as Chris has, in an area where the residents are community minded, feel responsible for each other, and keep their eyes open for anything out of place. Then become part of that community group so that they freel as responsible for you as they do any other member of the community.
4. The one thing in Chris' post that I do take very serious objection to is that those who locate in a gated community are "locked in" and "have nothing to do with the great people". Chris, I can't believe you really mean that. Living in one neighborhood rather than another does not, repeat does not mean that you have divorced yourself from the people of the Dominican Republic. While it may be easier to live a life almost completely separated from the Dominican people in a community like Sea Horse Ranch, the fact that you live in what is called a gated community does not in an of itself isoloate the residents from daily interaction with local residents. While it is true you may be awakened less often by roosters crowing at 5am or find it difficult to fall asleep at night because of loud music from the neighbor's house, you are by no means cut off from the people unless you elect to cut yourself off.