First, a little background. I am British and I have lived in the Dominican Republic for 12 years.
I was 53 and in a rut. In the previous 5 years I had been made redundant (laid off), had been divorced, and had been trying to keep a roof over my head! The only work I could get was short-term contracts and the new Labour government was convinced that we were all trying to avoid paying enough tax. (Sound familiar?) We were actually just trying to get by. With new tax laws on the way, life was beginning to look more complicated.
I hate the cold. So does my arthritis. I always planned to move somewhere warm when I retired. I had been very lucky to work in many different countries around the world and I loved to travel, always looking for a place to retire to. Having a small window of opportunity for a trip, I wanted to arrange a timeshare exchange to Mexico but was unable to do so. Instead, I was offered several places in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
I arrived in a monsoon. It was the rainy season. Happily, the weather improved. I went on an outback safari, white water rafting, and a catamaran trip! Also, I met up with a mother and daughter who were originally from Puerto Rica but were now living in the US. They had arranged for a car service to take them to explore more of the island. The driver took us to Playa Grande, one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Coast. I didn’t want to go home.
I decided to come back for three months, once my work contract in the UK was finished. I rented an apartment and tried to live as I would if I was to move here. What is available in the supermarkets? What are the prices? What is life like when you are not a tourist? Where would I like to live?
What were the challenges? Well, I didn’t speak Spanish. I didn’t dance merengue or bachata. I wasn't used to all of the power outages. And I had trouble avoiding all of the marriage proposals!
On the plus side, I could afford to live here. There was a huge range of fresh fruit & vegetables. Eating out was cheap. The island is beautiful and the people are friendly. The weather is great.
I made the big decision to move here and I have no regrets. Making that decision was the easy part. Making it all happen was a lot more challenging.
I started to look at properties and different locations. I quickly decided I didn’t want to live in a gated community with mostly expats, although there were not too many of those 13 years ago. Instead, I decided if I was going to move here I would like to be integrated with the locals. I never found a property I liked. Most of the places were built by Dominicans, who like lots of small rooms and even smaller windows. Views and open airy spaces did not exist. I was advised by all that it would be so much better to build my own place. Now that began to feel very scary! I was in a strange country, I didn't speak the language, and I was going to build a house for the first time! I really needed to think about this.
Click here to continue reading Part 2 of Wendy Gosbee's "How Did I Get Here?"
Wendy has a house for sale in Puerto Plata that you can view on EscapeArtist Real Estate.