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An online magazine about investing, living, working and relocating to the Caribbean.
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RETIRING TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
By: Guitze M. Messina


I want to thank my readers for their continuous questions regarding the Dominican Republic and one question that always comes up is: Is the DR a good place to retire? This article is really a sum of the different responses and points of view that I have given to all of you, I am obviously biased, but the information provided clearly will show you why.

Lets start then by listing some of the Pros of retiring in the Dominican Republic:

1-Zero Capital gains taxes for tourism real estate: Many people wonder if they can buy property in the DR, the answer is a clear YES, it is a free democratic economy and we project our friendliness not only with our people but also with our laws. Any citizen of any country even if they are not a formal resident of the country may buy real estate in the island.

If you buy property that has been considered and protected by the DR authorities as “tourism real estate” you will not have to pay capital gain taxes or property taxes (please contact your lawyer in the DR in order to find out how to best utilize this law). This is a great advantage since DR real estate prices are still very low compared to the rest of the Caribbean and other top tourism water front destinations.

DR HAS RECENTLY CREATED A NEW LAW THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO BRING IN YOUR CAR AND OTHER PROPERTIES FREE OF TAX AND ALSO ALLOW YOU TO COLLECT YOUR PENSION FREE OF TAX.

2-Special advantage law created for retirees: DR has recently created a new law that will allow you to bring in your car and other properties free of tax and also allow you to collect your pension free of tax. Some embassies offer to provide this service and you may also arrange for your bank to transfer the funds monthly to your DR bank account. Remember that many international banks operate locally and all Dominican banks have an international link to most world banks.

If you add to those advantages that all savings are never taxed in the country, this makes it a very attractive proposition for you to consider the DR as your new home for your golden years. The tax exemption on savings applies to everyone with an account in the Dominican Republic, so your money is working 100% for the owner of the account.

Again for more details on the retirement law contact your DR lawyer or send us an email and we will provide you with a list for you to consider.

3-Size and diversity: Most Caribbean islands are very small, some of them you can even go around in a few hours and at first this is very attractive, no traffic, no crowds, just blue water and peace of mind, in most peoples dictionary that would be a great definition of perfection or even paradise. The problem with that definition is “time”, after 30 to 60 days you will need more than just calm, peace and quiet, and that is when size is important.

The DR is big enough to accommodate every definition of peace of mind, since you have very large cities like Santo Domingo, the capital with about 3,000,000 inhabitants, large shopping malls, museums, old town square (where the first of the new continent is found: the first cathedral, Columbus Lighthouse (where his remains are buried) first palace (Columbus son and brother lived in it), first hospital, first fortress and jail, first street, etc) great restaurants, clubs, pubs, anything that you may find in any large city you can find it in Santo Domingo.

So when you want to do some shopping or want to get high on culture you have many places to visit that will allow you to go back and enjoy your peace and quiet for another 30 days until you decide for another way to get back into action.

Size also means variety; the DR has more micro climates per square kilometer than larger countries. For example, the largest peak in the Caribbean (Pico Duarte) is located in the center of the island, were you may find temperatures in the low 30s F (0 C) all year round and you need to go with an experienced guide in order to climb its 10,000 feet (3,000 m).
Retiring to the Dominican Republic
Most towns in the center of the island are famous for ecotourism and adventure sports, among them Jarabacoa and Constanza are the most known with very good hotel infrastructure. The average temperature in Jarabacoa is about 70 degrees F all year around and its lush tropical vegetation and wonderful rivers and falls make it rafting heaven in the DR.

If you are looking for a faster pace then you can go four wheeling in the tropical bushes or horse back riding, if you want to slow things down and look at the birds and trees just hike and trek in the wonderful trails. In short nature at its best is there for you where wonderful spring temperatures are always easy to find in the center of the island.

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Another micro climate is the deserts and dunes of the south of the island, the dunes are now protected, since the fine sands are a wonderful ecological sanctuary for many species and a beautiful site to see, enjoy and experience.

The most interesting combination is the meeting of the mountains, rivers and the beach that are found in Samana and Barahona. You will find many beaches that have a river right next to it, letting you choose the amount of salinity and temperature of the water that accommodates your desires of the day.

In other cities like Puerto Plata you have a combination of great beaches with ancient fortress ruins and even a cable car that will take you to the Christ in the mountains, an imitation of the statue in Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer.


IF YOU ARE A NATURE LOVER, THEN YOU WILL BE INTERESTED TO KNOW THAT 30% OF THE TERRITORY OF THE ISLAND HAS BEEN PRESERVED UNDER NATIONAL PARKS.

If you are a nature lover, then you will be interested to know that 30% of the territory of the island has been preserved under national parks. Weekend trips are easy and fun to let you break the peace and quiet habit anytime you want. My favorite is Bahia de las Aguilas which will be a subject of another article, meanwhile look up the name on Google and enjoy the views.

4-Communications: the best telephone system in the Caribbean is in the DR, we have more competition, more growth and more ease of use than any other island. We have the same system as the US with an area code and do not require a country code if dialing from or to North America and Puerto Rico. Just dial the 809 or 829 area code and the number, that’s it!

This means that it is easy to stay in touch with your loved ones abroad. We even have a major European carrier in the island for those who do not want to change carriers when they travel back and forth to “both of their homes.”

Communications also means direct or easy flights from most US, Canadian or European cities. We have daily direct flights from Madrid, Paris, New York, Miami, New Jersey, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Atlanta, Toronto and using any of them as a connecting port to most countries in the world. The DR has great direct connections to South America via Panama, Caracas, Bogota and Lima. Charter flights are also very popular to most tourism destinations, so check the internet or call your travel agent and you will be surprised how easy it is to come to paradise.

Communications also means cable entertainment, the DR has a lot of competition in the cable field with packages that are very competitive and recently satellite TV is becoming a great choice for customers located in remote areas. So if you love TV or simply like to watch your favorite sports, no worries you will get anything that you want in the DR.

5-Infrastructure: If you visit most Central American countries and Caribbean islands the roads are small and usually with a single lane each way and in poor condition. The Dominican Republic has many smaller roads that are comparable to those, but most of the main highways and private toll roads are in very good shape and most of them have at least two lanes each way with a speed limit of about 60 mph (100 kmh). You will see the difference the minute you get off the plane into your transportation to Santo Domingo with a highway of three lanes each way that has no parallel in the Caribbean or in Central America with the exception of Puerto Rico.

Weekend trips are easy, fast and enjoyable to most of the great destinations that you will want to explore while living your best years.

6- Hospitals and personal care: this category is a major key for your peace of mind and long term enjoyment of your golden years. This requires great hospitals, affordable home care and top of the line air transportation for emergency medical conditions. The DR like most third world economies has a very basic and badly equipped public hospital system, but the private medical hospitals are staffed with doctors that graduated in the US, Canada, Brazil or Europe.

You will even find international hospital chains like Hospiten of Spain that has two hospitals the first in the Punta Cana- Bavaro area and the second in Santo Domingo. You may also buy a private insurance health plan that covers local and international hospitalization and emergencies provided by local companies and international companies like BMI or Danmark International Health Insurance among others.


It is without a doubt that one of the great advantages of the country with a large and young population (about 10 million citizens and an average age of 25) is the easily available personnel for home care. Depending on the level of care that you may require you may hire a qualified nurse or just someone to help you get around. The costs for a qualified nurse to stay with you six days a week for eight hours will be around US $400/month and for a helper who would be there just to help you to move around and help out in other such ways, it would be about half of that amount.
The Dominican Republic
7-Talent needed- Ok, so you are loving paradise, you have many things to visit and places to enjoy, but after a while you will find that you also want to be active at least once in a while. The country needs talented people, their skills and their time, you can teach at many bilingual schools in the country or open your own school, you can open a service shop and teach your skills to a younger generation that would never learn it unless you show them how.

You can get involved in your local church, give financial advice, sell real estate, teach a sport or open a sports academy. Many new visitors that loved the country have decided to do just that, open a business that allows them to keep enjoying the good life and their “retirement” but at the same time allows them to have a great feel of contribution. It is up to you to seek the type of involvement that you enjoy and the amount of free time that you want to keep, it is your decision and it is great to know that you have the opportunity to decide.


8-Entertainment: The Dominican Republic is the only Caribbean island that has a regular schedule of opera, and musicals locally produced. We also have our own philharmonic orchestra with weekly seasonal concerts at very reasonable prices starting at about US $10/per show and season tickets are also available.

In most shopping centers you may find great movie mega-plexes with 3D rooms and Dolby Digital sound. You will find casinos of every size and shape, since gambling is legal in the whole island. Concerts from the Police to Shakira have all been here-  some in the more secluded arenas like Casa de Campo in La Romana, but mostly in the Olympic Stadium with a capacity of about 60,000.


BARS, DISCOS AND PUBS ARE A MUST IN A COUNTRY THAT WAS RECENTLY RANKED THE SECOND HAPPIEST IN THE WORLD.

If you like the nightlife, most cities in the DR have great restaurants with international chefs from all over the world – ranging from Lebanon to Argentina and everything in between. Bars, discos and pubs are a must in a country that was recently ranked the second happiest in the world. Dominicans love to party and they love to show others a great time, your job is to decide how often and how much to have fun, since you will not have to look far to find a place to dance, drink and party.

The cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago have great libraries with cafes and music that will allow you to sit, relax and to shop for your favorite book (usually in Spanish or English). During the weekend they have different activities with piano players that will take your suggestions and play them for you or simply surprise you with new marvels to your ears.

They have special actors provide stories for kids and you can watch while sipping your warm cappuccino. In May of every year you will find the International Book Fair with international guests from different countries every year. France, Spain, Colombia, Cuba and Argentina are some of the countries that have hosted the Fair in the past.

The Dominican Republic
Festivals and carnivals in the DR are famous, especially the Carnival de la Vega, which happens in February and features terrible looking devils dressed with thousands of colors, making people dance and enjoy their routines.

9-Most International embassies are established locally: Most developed countries have an embassy in the DR, and they provide services and information regarding the activities of their citizens in the country. The German embassy has a weekly email for information on cultural activities (concerts by German professionals, a German market where they sell bread, beer and some typical foods, etc). By having a large population of immigrants, it is easy to find a bit of your culture locally as well.

Most embassies provide this same service. Other services are very speedy and convenient locally - for example, the US embassy here will get you a passport renewal in about three weeks, that is a lot sooner than you would receive it back in the US.


Well, now we all know that everything may not be just perfect, so we also have to talk about the cons of living in the DR and how to go around them:

1)    Electricity Shortages: The DR has only two areas that never have electric shortages: Punta Cana and Samana, the reason for this is that they are both privately operated. The rest of the country depends on the public sector, which means daily blackouts of up to three hours. How Dominicans survive, you may ask? We have generators in most apartment complexes and they change power automatically the minute the electricity fails; and others have power inverters that charge batteries when the power is on and use it when the power goes out. Some others, like me, have both. So electricity is not a major problem if you take the right measures, but you have to rely on a back up system.

2)    Hurricanes: The truth is that only once every 15 years a major hurricane lands in the DR on average, we are better prepared now since we have more information and better infrastructure (concrete buildings) than in the 70s. The real damage from hurricanes affects the areas located close to rivers that increase their flow drastically with the rain. Most planned real estate projects will take this into consideration and hurricane damage to your property should not be a problem. Remember Hurricanes is the way nature balances the great warm weather that the Caribbean is famous for and made you come here in the first place; it is nature’s way to cool down. So it is a small price to pay for 24/7 warmth.

3)    Language: Spanish is the official language of the country, and if you do not speak it you may be a bit scared about it. My rule is simple: everybody that you meet to play, to do business, to buy or sell or even at a restaurant will speak English. In Samana and Punta Cana (some other tourism-related areas as well) they will also speak English, French or German to you as well. So again take the opportunity to teach your language in the DR and at the same time learn a new language and culture, which in the end makes communication with others a lot easier. Most of the DR middle class attends a bilingual school (English and Spanish) which is another reason why language should not be a barrier.

I hope this overview gives you a good idea of the advantages and hurdles to look at the great possibility to spend the best years of your life in the Caribbean and especially in the Dominican Republic where friends are easily made and you will have the best experiences of your life, experiences that will last forever.
Author : Guitze M. Messina. Born in the Dominican Republic, Guitze is an industrial engineer by vocation and has worked in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in that capacity. In 1996 Mr. Messina became a management consultant for various Dominican companies. In 2005 he joined Diesco Group, a new manufacturing facility that produces and markets plastics for the construction industry. These products save time, energy and money for builders and clients of large buildings and hotels. His work in this area has given Guitze the first-hand opportunity to work with the exploding luxury development real estate industry in the Dominican Republic.

Email :  Guitze M. Messina
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La Flor del Este (The Flower of the East), as La Romana is known, is the third-largest city in the Dominican Republic and it is a hub for a growing tourist industry with several nearby golf-oriented resorts. La Romana has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country because of the beautiful beaches and the high-end tourism infrastructure that has been put in place. The jewel in the town’s resort crown is the magnificent Casa de Campo complex. ---> Read More
 
 
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