Why Retire To The Dominican Republic?
The tropical Caribbean paradise of the Dominican Republic is the perfect retirement destination for many baby boomers looking for a change of pace in their retirement years. It is the oldest country in the Americas, discovered by Columbus in 1492. Its low cost of living, diverse lifestyle, tropical climate, and relaxed pace of life are just a few of the reasons many retirees decide to join the 10 million residents who already call the Dominican Republic their home.
Cost of Living in the Dominican Republic
Known as one of the least expensive Latin American countries in which to live, the Dominican Republic is attractive to many baby boomer retirees for precisely this reason. A retiree can live comfortably in the Dominican Republic on just $1200 per month, about the same amount as many retirees’ Social Security checks. Rent is quite affordable, ranging from $250 to $500 per month, and apartments can be purchased for under $100,000. The Dominican Republic allows foreigners to legally own property, just like a citizen of the Dominican Republic, as long as the Title Registry Office has a record of all purchases made. Local groceries are quite cheap for those who learn to avoid purchasing more expensive imported goods. Local and public transportation is also highly affordable. Experts have called the Dominican Republic the best value in the Caribbean.
Climate of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean paradise with white sand beaches and warm turquoise waters, as well as abundant sunshine year-round. It does not just consist of beaches and fun and sun, however – the Dominican Republic also features tropical jungles and mountains in which baby boomer retirees can choose to get away from it all. Temperatures in the country average 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, with cooler temperatures at higher elevations.
Seasons in the Dominican Republic include the rainy season on the north coast from November to January and the rainy season for the rest of the country from May to November. Usually during the rainy season, rain occurs in short bursts and sunshine is still visible most days, pleasing sun-loving retirees who settle there. Rains are heavier in the mountains of the Dominican Republic, where they see over 100 inches of rainfall per year. The western valleys of the country along the border with Haiti, the northwestern and southeastern areas of the country are quite dry, seeing only about 20 inches of rain annually. Humidity is highest in the summer months, and cooler and drier during the winter season.
One thing that baby boomer retirees must remember when considering a move to the Dominican Republic is its location along the hurricane belt. Hurricanes are popular from June to November in this area. Major storms only hit about once every 25 years, but minor hurricanes and tropical storms can occur much more frequently.
Popular Areas for Retirees in the Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo is a top choice for baby boomer retirees moving to the Dominican Republic. It is a fast-paced city with Western amenities, better health care, services, shopping and many things to do. However, it is not known as being a safe city, which will be discussed further. For this reason, some prefer settling in the smaller towns outside of Santo Domingo, which are still close enough to the city for easy access to amenities but far enough away to remain safe.
Located in the mountainous center of the country, cities such as Constanza and Jarabacoa appeal to retirees who are looking for milder, cooler weather. These areas are full of many animal and plant species and appeal to nature lovers.
Coastal cities in which retirees tend to settle include Punta Cana, Samana and Puerto Plata. These beachy cities, however, attract many tourists and expats. Therefore, they are filled with Western amenities and water and land sports that appeal to vacationers.
Settling along the coastlines just outside of the more popular coastal cities is the best bet for retirees who wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas. These areas, including La Romana and San Pedro De Macoris, offer a much cheaper cost of living as well as a more relaxed pace of life, appealing to baby boomer retirees who want a nice quiet beachy getaway.
Quality of Life in the Dominican Republic
Many Americans and Europeans who retire to the Dominican Republic like the fact that there is already a large community of expatriates living there, particularly in cities such as Santo Domingo and Las Terrenas. This has created a more European or Western type of lifestyle in the country. Spanish is the country’s official language, but English is widely spoken due to the large number of expatriate communities across the country. Although historical colonial architecture is abundant in this oldest permanent settlement in the New World, it is mixed with shopping centers, museums, theaters, sports stadiums, and over 25 golf courses, providing baby boomer retirees who settle there with much to do.
Another great appeal of the Dominican Republic to American baby boomer retirees is its proximity to home. With just an easy two-hour flight, American retirees can be back home visiting friends and family. International airports may be found in Punta Cana, Las Americas in Santo Domingo, Cibao in Santiago de los Caballeros, and in Puerto Plata, La Romana, and Samana, making international travel much easier and more efficient for retirees living in the Dominican Republic.
The infrastructure across the Dominican Republic has been greatly upgraded, including roads and airports, making travel much more enjoyable. This has also cut down on the cost of living in the country, as goods and products are much easier to transport to stores with the improved transportation system. Power outages may still be common in certain parts of the country, however.
Health care in the Dominican Republic is affordable, but of very low quality compared to what most baby boomer retirees are accustomed. Within larger cities such as Santo Domingo and Santiago, health care facilities are of higher quality and are recommended for anyone who needs medical care. These areas also usually staff bilingual medical professionals. Healthcare outside of the major cities and tourist regions, however, is usually poor. With the Dominican Republic’s proximity to the United States, it is often suggested that retirees who live in the Dominican Republic simply return home for any important, major medical procedures, if possible.
One of the negative aspects of living in the Dominican Republic upon retirement is the crime in the country. Tourists have found the Dominican Republic to be generally safe, as the resort areas on the east side of the island tend to experience low crime levels. However, tourists who venture into cities such as Santiago and Santo Domingo often become victim to small crimes such as theft.
According to the U.S. Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council, cities that tend to experience more violent crime and therefore should be avoided in the Dominican Republic include: Independencia, Peravia, La Altagracia, Duarte, and Barahuco. Smaller, petty crimes such as theft are common in cities such as Santo Domingo, La Vega, Peravia, and San Critobal. It is recommended that baby boomer retirees looking to settle in the Dominican Republic avoid these areas, just to be on the safe side.
Incentives to Retire to the Dominican Republic
The government of the Dominican Republic established a new law in 2007 that allows retirees to easily retire to the country, attracting many baby boomer retirees. In order to qualify for immediate permanent residency, one must receive at least $1500 per month from any type of income- pension or independent. No minimum age is required to qualify for this retirement program. Any additional persons (such as spouses or dependents) must just show $250 per month in income in order to qualify. Other documents that must be presented include health certificates, criminal background checks, marriage and birth certificates. Usually, it takes about 45 days from the time of submitting paperwork to qualify for this type of residency in the Dominican Republic.
For Americans who decide to settle in the Dominican Republic for retirement, it’s important to know that they can continue to receive their Social Security benefits from the U.S. government, whether they remain a U.S. citizen or become a citizen of the Dominican Republic. Benefits can be direct deposited into a bank in the U.S. or the Dominican Republic. Medicare, however, will not cover health care services that U.S. citizens receive while living abroad.
Those who spend more than 182 days per year in the Dominican Republic are considered to be a resident of the country. Residents who have lived in the country for at least three years are taxed on global income, while non-residents are only taxed on money they make in the Dominican Republic. Remember that the Dominican Republic does, however, tax capital gains, financial investments, non-cash compensation, real estate, and estate and gifts, as well as levies a 16 percent value added tax (like a sales tax on goods and services). Residents’ pensions and social security benefits are exempt from tax.
The Dominican Republic provides a unique choice for baby boomer retirees looking for a retirement destination. After weighing the options, many decide that moving to the Dominican Republic upon retirement is the best usage of their money in their golden years.