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The How and Why of Retiring in the Dominican Republic

The How and Why of Retiring in the Dominican Republic.

While it’s not always the first country to come to mind when deciding on a place to retire abroad in, the Dominican Republic is showing up on a lot of expat radars as a solid choice. It’s already been a popular spot for tourists for quite a while, with tourism comprising a large portion of its overall economy. Thanks to its retirement visa and special retiree benefits, however, it’s also a great place to settle down and stay.


Cost of Living

As with anywhere, the most popular tourist destination cities, such as Bavaro, Samana, and Puerto Plata, are going to be more expensive than other areas of the country. Even in those cities, though, the average cost of living is lower than it is in most Western countries.

Groceries can be high for imported goods, but very low if you stay local. What’s great is that local transportation is highly affordable. A one-way ticket for local transport is only about $0.53. Taxis are usually anywhere from $3 to $6, but the best part is the cost of the rent. Your monthly rent in a city center will run you about $330 for a one-bedroom apartment and under $700 for a three-bedroom apartment. Outside of the city center, you can find a one-bedroom apartment for under $200 per month, and a three-bedroom apartment for around $370 per month.

Currently, $1 USD is equal to $47.72 Dominican pesos, so the exchange rate is likely to bend in your favour coming from most countries. It’s more than realistic to expect to live on a $1,000 per month budget in this country. If you prefer to live much more comfortably in your retirement abroad, $1,500 per month will vastly upgrade your lifestyle. Just remember that your budget can stretch much further when you choose less densely populated areas.


Pensionado Visa

Under a standard or temporary residency, you must wait a certain amount of time in order to upgrade your status. For example, if you have a temporary residency, you must renew annually it for five years before you can apply for a standard permanent residency. With the pensionado (retirement) visa, this is not the case. If you qualify for this visa, you are bumped up to permanent residency, and you even get some perks along with it.

While standard residents must pay taxes on their global income after a certain amount of time, retirees only have to pay on their local income. This keeps your overseas pension and/or social security income safe from taxation in the Dominican Republic. You can also continue to receive your benefits from your original country to your Dominican address.

To qualify for this visa type, you’ll need a decent amount of paperwork, as is always necessary in this country, and to show proof of a pension of at least $1,500 USD per month. If you are planning to bring any dependents along with you, another $250 is required for each of them.


Where to Live

Aside from the low cost of living and the retirement perks, there are other reasons for choosing the Dominican Republic as your retirement abroad home. A few of the more popular cities can offer you different types of lifestyles, so you’re bound to find the exact type that you’re looking for. For example, the capital city of Santo Domingo offers a fast-paced, urban lifestyle for those who don’t want to slow down. You can also get easy access to services, shopping, healthcare, and other attractions.

Cities such as Jarabacoa and Constanza are located in the center of the country in the mountains, and they appeal to those who prefer milder weather. These areas are also great for ecotourists, as they host a variety of plant and animal species, especially birds. Those who visit these cities like to stay in mountain cabins and go horseback riding on the trails.

Busy coastal cities worth considering are Puerto Plata, Samana, and Punta Cana. Here you’ll find beach paradises with heavy expat and tourist populations. Again, you’re going to have easy access to shopping and restaurants, but also to fun, touristy adventures like snorkeling.

Finally, many expats who relocate to the DR wish to get away from the hustle and bustle, so they choose to settle along the coastlines outside of these cities. If you’re looking for a quiet, slow, and laid back retirement abroad, this may be the option for you. Not to mention that outside of the city is where you’ll find the best living prices.

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