How to Live in the Dominican Republic on $1,000 USD a Month?

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Located right between Puerto Rico and Cuba, the Dominican Republic spreads across 18,700 square miles of the island nation in the Caribbean. Expect to find diverse natural landscape, mountain ranges with elevations of 10,000 feet, and spectacular white-sand beaches. If you are by any chance planning to move to the Dominican Republic, you will be glad to hear that there are many digital nomads and expats living in cities throughout the country.

The DR is not the cheapest place to live for retirees, but on the other hand, it definitely provides many for money when you compare it to other islands in the Caribbean.

You can easily live in the Dominican Republic with an income of $1,000 per month. Single expats can live here comfortably on a $1,200 monthly budget, while those who are sharing costs with their partners will have a chance for a normal life with $1,000 per month.


The best places to live

There are many places on the island where you can find comfortable housing. For instance, Santo Domingo is known for its urban lifestyle and features many cultural attractions. It also provides easy access to services like healthcare, shopping, and banking. In case you wish to relocate to a coastal town, we suggest heading out to Sosua, Cabrera and Puerto Plata in the north. Samana are Punta Cana are the two most popular coastal towns in the east. Honestly, many expats prefer to settle down in smaller areas and avoid places crowded with tourists. Some of the attractive inland destinations include Santiago de los Caballeros, Jarabacoa, and Constanza. At the junction between the peninsula of Samana to the east, and the north coast stretching from Nagua to Puerto Plata to the west, Las Terrenas offers the most attractive wild beaches of the country. 

Tourism, which develops harmoniously, does not alter the long established osmosis between the natives and a large and diverse foreign community, mainly composed of French, Swiss, Germans and Italians increasing each year. Serviced by the new El Catey International Airport, the Las Terrenas - Samana area has now entered a fantastic phase of development. The State made it the first tourist pole of the country and it is confirmed every day through the colossal sums allocated to the new infrastructures. Thus Las Terrenas becomes day after day the little Saint Tropez long awaited from the Dominican Republic.

 The coast in Las Terrenas and its never ending beaches

The coast in Las Terrenas and its never ending beaches


Utilities and rent

Although it’s easy to find an inexpensive house available for purchase on the market, rentals are usually on the expensive side in the tourist areas. It’s probably best to look for accommodation in the neighborhoods which are surrounding the popular areas. In order to cut your monthly expenses, you will need to spend a significant amount of time on looking at properties for sale/rent and trying to get the best deal.

For example, a one bedroom apartment located in the heart of Santo Domingo will cost you around $400 per month. This price still allows you to have a nice living standard on that $1,000 monthly budget. However, expats who wish to save some cash can search for better deals in outlying districts in Santo Domingo. Outside the city center, there are one bedroom apartments available for rent for just $250 a month. Those who are looking for a three bedroom apartment outside the central neighborhoods of Santo Domingo will need to pay around $500 per month.

Puerto Plata and other towns in the area can be a great option for inexpensive coastal living. Expats will find a one bedroom apartment in the central part of Puerto Plata for just $270 per month. If you are moving to the DR with your family, a three bedroom accommodation will cost you around $405. Outside the city center, the rental prices are cheaper and a one bedroom apartment costs around $ 330 a month, while a unit with three bedrooms can be rented for $410 a month.

You will need to pay approximately $60 per month for the basic utilities including water, electricity, and garbage service.  This cost applies to moderate electricity use and expats who use air conditioning will have to pay a bit more. Keep in mind that electricity outrages are quite common in the Dominican Republic. The best thing is to get a gas-powered generator which will provide power until the electricity is back up. Fast broadband Internet connection service costs around $50 per month, while prepaid mobile service costs 17 cents per minute. Promotional deals and plan-based discounts are not included in this price.


Food

Grocery stores and markets with locally produced food are the best options for inexpensive shopping in the DR. Basic foods including potatoes, chicken, eggs, beans, and rice are commonly used in the Dominican Republic cuisine and can be purchased at budget-friendly prices all across the country. A loaf of bread usually costs around $1.25, a dozen eggs can be bought for $1.60, and chicken breasts cost $2.60 per pound.   

Since the Dominican Republic is a small island nation, it imports plenty of packaged goods from other countries. If you are craving some foods from back home, there is a chance you will find them in a supermarket in the DR. Imported international products including chocolate, cheeses, and various meats can be found in tourist centers across the country. Keep in mind that the international food is on the expensive side and it’s always better to purchase local-brand products. Expats who decide to go shopping outside the tourist centers and purchase locally produced food products can spend less than $200 on food per month. Fruits and Vegetables are always a good solution!

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If you are on a $1000 budget in the Dominican Republic, you can afford to go to restaurants a couple of times a month. With that kind of income regular restaurant dining is not really an option. For example, a cheap meal in a busy district restaurant will cost you between $4 and $7. If you prefer having a three-course meal with your partner at a nice restaurant, expect to pay nearly $40. Those who want to save but still have a delicious meal should check out neighborhood food carts.


Health care

The good news for people who are coming to live in the Dominican Republic is that health care is much less expensive than in the US. Of course, you will find first-rate care only in larger cities such as   Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo. Expats will be happy to hear that there are private clinics that offer high-quality care in many of the tourist centers on the island. However, don’t expect to find a full range of medical services in these private clinics. Digital nomads generally don’t go to public hospitals and clinics in the Dominican Republic.

Although health care services and visits from the doctor are quite cheap here, most expats have a health insurance while staying in the country. Monthly policies are available from $30 to $100.


Other expenses in the Dominican Republic

Things like cleaning items and various hygiene products are generally cheap in the Dominican Republic. On the other hand, imported products from the US like perfumes and contact lenses are on the expensive side. Most of the expats living here spend around $100 per month on these types of expenses.  Keep in mind that if you plan on buying imported cosmetics and clothes, you may need a bigger budget.

There are public bus systems in larger cities in the DR, while other smaller cities offer a variety of options for transportation. Publicos (passengers vans and cars) are popular in many coastal cities. You can also travel to places in a motorcycle taxi or in a traditional taxi that can be found at designated stops. Transportation fares are usually based on the city and distance, but let’s say that generally, a ride will cost you less than 60 cents. Of course, it is recommended to negotiate taxi fares with the locals.


A budget sample

Expats who wish to live in Punta Cana on the eastern coast on a $1,000 budget per month can expect to spend around $330 for a nice apartment outside the city center, $150 for basic utilities plus phone and Internet expenses, $200 for groceries, $35 for transportation in the city, and around $125 for other expenses like personal items and stuff for the house. With this budget, you still have left $160 a month to spend on restaurants, entertainment, traveling, and health insurance. In case you raise your monthly budget by just $100 to $150, there will be more cash for unexpected expenses and emergencies.

 
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