August 15 2006
-Where were you born?
New York, New York, USA
-In which country and city are you living now?
Sosua, Dominican Republic
-Are you living alone or with your family?
-How long have you been living in the Dominican Republic?
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in the Dominican Republic?
Eight years ago after splitting up with my wife I had nothing going on. I lived in a big house by myself. When we split up it was just because it didn't work out, not because I had a girlfriend. Had it been because I had a girlfriend it would have been easier, I guess. I decided to do a lot of traveling.
I hooked up with many airlines to get their last-minute deals emailed to me on Tuesdays and I would decide where I was going either Thursday or Friday to return on either Monday or Tuesday.
Puerto Plata came up and although I had been to Santo Domingo 20 years before and didn't like it then, I decided to go. I got on the Internet and discovered Sosua, where the Puerto Plata Airport is actually located, and decided to give it a shot. It was actually settled by Jews trying to escape Hitler's Europe, which I had no idea about. I liked my trip and on the second trip (which was also a last-minute deal) five weeks later, I decided to move here.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
Residency is quite easy. An attorney who holds your hand and walks you through the whole process charges about 800 US dollars for temp and another 800 bux for the permanent. I had my permanent by the time I was here full time. I have since become a citizen and I am one of very few people I know who has done this as there is no advantage to it other than being able to vote. I just wanted to be more a part of my adopted country.
-How do you make your living in the Dominican Republic?
When I came here I retired. I swore I would never work again. I was buying real estate, renovating condos and developing land before I realized it. :) I also formed a company with a Bulgarian friend to broker real estate. I don't actually take people around but I do get listings and referrals.
I have since opened a restaurant, Quixotés, which I will swear for the rest of my life "is the most stupid thing I have ever done". It is located in the Europa Hotel. I bought the restaurant as a condo so I own the property and can do what ever I want with it. I also have the exclusive rights to sell drinks and food at the hotel as long as this stays a restaurant/bar. We have the largest selection of booze in the country. We carry everything from a rum and coke for less than 2 US dollars to a shot of 45-year-old Scotch that sells for more than 200 US dollars a shot - and everything else in between.
I am enjoying myself at the restaurant. I come in at 7:30 AM to open for breakfast. My partner who is Israeli comes in at about 10 AM. After we make sure everything is stocked properly and the place is in tune I leave for my siesta. Most times I am in my pool on a raft reading a book or taking a snooze. Sometimes I am running to Puerto Plata to take care of restaurant business and don't get my siesta but most days I do. I come back between 5-7 PM for dinner and close. My partner leaves after my return in the evening. I don't work on Tuesday nights because I go to a friends place for Taco Tuesday which I thoroughly enjoy.
-Do you have any type of income generated?
In the Dominican Republic they have very high interest rates. I get 12% on US dollars and even more on Dominican pesos which I don't invest in because of the instability. I like sleeping at night. I have also done mortgages to other expats and have closed on 19 of them in the last two years. I get a big raise in income when I do my own mortgages. The restaurant is also profitable so I am not even taking my interest out these days.
Real estate has also been appreciating since this country is both beautiful and a bargain price for the Caribbean. I sold a property that I was going to build a restaurant on seven months after buying the present restaurant and doubled my money in that time. I have been buying a lot of vacant land and a few condos and some commercial property. I have turned down large gains, figuring to hold out a few more years for larger gains.
-Do you speak the Dominican language and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I speak Dominican. Not perfectly because this is a big expat community and most of the people I have to deal with on a daily basis speak English. I am working on improving my skills little by little but I am bad with languages. Besides, Americans believe everyone should speak English anyway! LOL
Culture here is way different and takes a LOT of getting used to. Sex, for instance, is a lot easier going than where I came from. This country seems to be more charged sexually than where I came from. Driving habits are amusing (to be benevolent) and a lot of Dominicans could use some schooling on recycling.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
If I miss home and family I send tickets. It is a 1.5 hour flight to Florida and 3.3 hour flight to NY. I live 7 minutes from the airport so travel is easy from here unlike Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico. I interviewed those countries also when deciding where to spend the balance of my life. I leave the Dominican Republic 4-5 times a year. I miss the shopping believe it or not.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
I never know what the future will bring but look forward to finding out. :)
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I purchased two 2/2 condos in the closest building to the main beach. (1 block) and renovated them. I rent one and sometimes two to vacationers for 600 US dollars plus metered electric. When I am booked I rent other condos owned by others in my building; I have rented out four others at the same time. The condos in my building sell for 145-189k: all 2-bedroom/2-bath built to American standards. It is the best and most convenient building in Sosua. I have also purchased property in a gated community where I plan on building the last Harrah. I have an architect designing the plans now. When I get that built I will sell the condos. It was fun...1477 sq. ft or 127 m2 is the size, so you have an idea.
-What is the cost of living in the Dominican Republic?
It was a bargain 3-5 years ago. It's still way less than the States but way more expensive now. I bought property to shelter me from the increases I knew were sure to come and it was a good plan.
I sell a beer in the restaurant for under 2 bux and a 16 once prime rib for 14 bux - all in US dollars so you can understand. Of course, they cost less in a supermarket.
-What do you think about the people of the Dominican Republic?
Dominicans LOVE Americans, which was a big selling point for me. They always have a smile on their faces and boy, can they dance!
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in the Dominican Republic?
This varies for everyone. Things I find charming, other people abhor. I love this place for its beauty, people and 82 degrees mean temperature. If you have money this is heaven. If you have to work, the salaries are very low. I pay about 125 US dollars a month for my 5.5 day a week maid who does 3 condos and under 200 US dollars a month for a full-time gardener. Cooks make about 165 US dollars a month plus tips.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in the Dominican Republic?
Come check it out!
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about the Dominican Republic?
My blog: Blogging Away in Sosualand.
Another site I am active on is: Life in the DR.