Living in Dominica isn't easy, but worth it, says American expat Jennifer

253
 

Jennifer Miller

-Where were you born?
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.

-In which country and city are you living now?
Roseau, Dominica

-Are you living alone or with your family?
With husband, Roger, and pug dog, Chester

-How long have you been living in Dominica?
2 years

-What is your age?
53

-When did you come up with the idea of living in Dominica?
Several years ago we began to think about retiring to Dominica. We used to vacation here and fell in love with the island. We saw it as a place to live a simple, quiet life in a more sustainable way than we were living in the U.S.

-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
We do not have work permits. They can be hard to get unless you are filling a needed niche or starting a business. Simple residency is easy to get.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
We are self-insured.

-How do you make your living in Dominica? Do you have any type of income generated?
I have been writing since coming to the island. I have written an eBook about moving to Dominica. I have also written several articles for Escape Artist. Otherwise, we live off meager investments.

Most expats here with jobs have started businesses.

-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
Dominica is English speaking but locals speak patois. Having knowledge of Creole would be very helpful.

Dominica is very conservative and homophobic. It is important here to dress nicely and be discrete in behavior. This is not the island to wear your bikini in the streets. Unless it is Carnival, or ‘Mas as it is called here. (Mas is short for Masquerade)

-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I miss being able to buy things I need when I need them! I also miss having a job sometimes.

We are terrible homebodies. We moved here with 29 boxes of books! I guess that says it all, right? I do occasionally swim or snorkel. Or we will go to the mineral baths or go walking in the rainforest.

Hells Gate-Do you have other plans for the future?
We are building our retirement house on Dominica. If we can out wait the bureaucrats, that is.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home?
We currently rent a very nice 3-bedroom, 2-bath house for US $537.00/mo.

-What is the cost of living in Dominica?
People can live here cheaply. We live a more North American lifestyle (with some imported comfort foods) and we spend about ½ of what we did in the US.

-What do you think about the locals?
I have found it difficult to integrate into the local community. They are nice, but the culture has been difficult for me bridge. Some expats do better with this than others. We do not have an easy entrée into local society as in work or school. I think it would help if we were churchgoers. Dominica is very Christian.

Other than being ripped off because as “strangers” we are assumed to be rich, Dominicans are generally courteous and helpful. The crime rate is low here, but petty theft does occur.

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Dominica?
Dominica is the most beautiful place on earth. It is possible to live close to the land and be awakened to birdsong in the morning. We eat the freshest of local produce and breathe fresh air scrubbed clean by the Atlantic and the rain forest. However, it is a third world country without much to do. The government bureaucracy is miserable to deal with, and everything runs on "island time."

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Dominica?
We were told before moving here that Dominica is not an easy place to live, and it is not. We have our share of frustrations with the island, but the quiet, tranquil life we live makes it worthwhile (mostly). My husband would be happy never to set foot off the island again!

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Dominica?
My eBook on moving to Dominica is available at livingdominica.com. I blog at livingdominica.blogspot.com.

Retiring in Dominica

Michael's picture

Hello
You have a wonderful web site. I am 62 and live on social secirity of approx $1400 monthly and am looking for inexpensive safe serene and adventurous place to retire.
Is this possible in Dominca, I would have to rent a furnished dwelling and not have the luxury of an automobile. This island and what I have recently rsearched looks beiautiful. Would just like a current update of cost of living on my meager income. Thank yoy, Kindly Mike

Living in Dominca Isn't Easy

chharre's picture

Hi Jennifer,

I enjoyed reading about your living abroad experience. It was very entertaining and informative. I had been investigating living overseas for only five months out of the year and Dominica sounds like the perfect place to consider. My wife and I are both retired from one job. But I am doing business consulting work for my former employer. I am only planning to work until I can collect social security benefits but now I looking at investing into property abroad. If you don't mind I do have a few questions I like to asked (See Below).

1. Is there broadband Internet, Cable/Satellite TV Digital/Video Phone Service available in the region?
2. Can you provide a price range for a 2 bedroom Condo?
3. Is Capital Gains, or Inheritance taxed?
4. Do you have any idea about property tax rates? Are they low or high?
5. What is the annual weather like?
6. I have a webcam if you have one would you like to communicate live?

Thanks

Clarence

Im Moving to Dominica in August 2009

Just Gina's picture

Hello -

My name is Gina and my husband and I are moving to Dominica in August 2009. I am 35 years old, my husband is 40 and we have no children. My mother and her husband have been living there for the last eight years, off and on for the first four and permanently for the last four. We will be living off of my husband's military retirement money as he served for 21 years as well as some insurance money that I saved after my home was struck by lightening and burned to the ground. At the time we weren't living there and were renting it out. No one was home but the renter lost everything. But that's another story all by itself. :-)
Since my mother and her husband have moved, they have bought property, four acres now. I am unsure of how much the cost was, but I recall it was inexpensive according to American terms. They have a cement building that my mother uses for her massage therapy, the home they live in, the home that my mother's best friend lives in (who moved there almost 2 years ago), and an additional home that we are moving into. The bathrooms are separate from the house with a standing shower on one side (with hot water) and toilet & sink on the other side. It's like camping in a cottage, but you're in the rain forrest! My mother wanted to open a restaurant featuring American & Caribbean cuisine and my husband and I after visiting a couple of times were Sold on the idea! My mother was doing some massage therapy, but not enough. Since the beginning of the year, my mother and her friend starting to market themselves to the hotels and spas and their feature is an hour & half massage with hot stone therapy. Well the last few months they have been a lot busier than they ever were! So if the restaurant is going to happen now is the time to go for it! So we are!
The houses on the property are a meager, two room (that's right two rooms, not two bedrooms) home. One side is your bedroom and one side is your kitchen area. The porch is the living room. We all have tv's in our bedrooms and sometimes we'll all get together in the largest room, gather chairs and watch a movie together, but for the most part in the evenings we're on the porch talking or reading.
Yes there is cable, internet, cell phone....all of that! Dominica was the first island to go digital. Some areas, like in the valleys or 'wet area', your service may at times be touch and go, but otherwise, you have all of that stuff. There is also an internet cafe in town (the capital city). Roseau is the capital and its 'in town'. That's where you'll do any shopping and banking and such. Pretty much everything is in Roseau....except for trees. Its hot in the city. We go there, do what we gotta do, and go home!
As for rental properties, I'm not positive on how much one would cost. I think it will depend a lot on how you want to live. If you want to live like an American, then it will cost you. If you want to live like a local, well then it will cost you half. I believe the key is to go for a visit First. Let me know when you're coming and we'll have lunch! It is Very important that you visit First and make sure you have at Least ten days. After two weeks....you'll know. ;-) I also believe that the more you get to know the locals, your neighbors, the more they will treat you as such, if you know what I mean. My mother and her husband have Many friends!! They are loved by many and they don't have much to give. They have lots of Dominican friends as well as friends from all over the world that have moved there. Its a small island...its easy to know when someone new has moved to the island. :-)
As for questions 3 & 4....I have no idea. :-)
Annual weather...average temp is 72...all year long. You get dry and wet seasons, but over all it rains almost everyday...its the rain forrest...sometimes its a hard rain that last a while, but for the most part they short rains. My mother said that last 'winter' was colder than normal and the average temp was 60.
I suggest, you google Dominica and read up on all you can! I have found Jenny's blogs to be incredibly useful as well!! Feel free to reply to this and I'll be happy to tell ya what I know. Hope this helps!
Peace -
Gina

Moving to Dominica

Norman's picture

Hi my name is Norman, i am 23 years old. I live with my girlfriend who is also 23. We currently reside in the United Kingdom but have pent most of our life in South Africa. We are thinking about moving to Dominica to get away from the city, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We just want to live a good life but more important a quite one.
As I am sure everybody knows we are currently in a economic crisis! I work as a personal trainer and I am qualified. As well as this I have a degree in fashion design. My girlfriend has a degree in fashion design and is phenomenal with children.
My problem lies in that I do not know anyone in Dominica. I was hoping for someone to reply to my comment and hopefully I would like to make telephone contact with someone who currently live in Dominica.
I know with todays day and age the internet is a very big place, so if there are any hesitations in believing who I am please do look me up on Facebook. Just type Norman Vassilios and add me as a friend.
Can someone please help and if you get this Jennifer I think you are an amazing lady

Cheers
Norman

PLANNING A MOVE TO DOMINICA

anthony24dilday's picture

Gina,

My wife and i are planing a move to Domica also, I will retire from the military in 2 years and we are south bound!!
I would be very interested in you and your husband's progress (etc ) as you arrive.
I must be a blessing having family already on the island!!
We have found Jennifers post and ebook to be outstanding!
We will be doing a RECON next year if all goes well.

Thanks to all,
Anthony

Jennifer and her husband have moved back to the states

lhonet's picture

Apparently, she has moved back to the US, according to an entry to her own blog:

http://livingdominica.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00%3A00...

Her e-book is still worth buying ($20 US) in my opinion as the information she gives is not sugar coated but very matter of fact -- basically, she tells it like it is, which will be useful to anyone contemplating a relocation to Dominica.

Moving to Dominica Too!

Felicia's picture

Wow! I see there is alot of interest in Dominica because my husband and I plan on moving there also! I am 40 and interested in getting a position in the Education field. We are very much interested in purchasing property and building a home there.

We would love to know:
1. Approximately how much are the bills: cable, internet, cell phone? Are they real expensive? I've been checking online but it's better when I get the real people's answers rather than the business websites.
2. What is the best location (village or area) to by property where there is less rain and more sunshine?
3. Are the cars expensive there? About how much is a 4x4?

Lastly, my husband and I plan on visiting again next August (2010) and would love to meet with you when we visit.

Are you on Facebook? If so, you can look me up as well (Felicia Henderson-Norris) as I would love to find out more about living in Dominica.

Moving to Dominica

Shelsive's picture

Hello Gina,

My husband and I are considering moving to Dominica. What is the average price per Sq metre for land in Dominca. Could possibly forward names of recommended estate agents in Dominica. Your help would be very appreciated.

Kind regards

Shelsive

looking to move

mark6448's picture

am a disable vet from georgia who not happy in america and would like to fine a rental not buy i am 59 years old and brother 64 income total 3200! what are the chance of making it there and live safe!!!!!!!! thank you

Vets

Hare's picture

I am a combat disabled veteran from the Vietnam war. I have been living abroad for the last 25 straight years years.Before this I was abroad 10 years in the early 70's (most in what Americans call third world nations) Some advice for those that dream wonderful dreams, places like this do not have an infrastructure such and American's are used to. If you can at times live alone with your thoughts do not abuse alcohol or drugs, and willing to bend when it comes to getting things done like wanting a telephone installed the next day you might enjoy it. These people have their own history and experience. and as an American I notice most people in their own countries appreciate us listening to them instead of us comparing the US standard of living against theirs. I have learned this over the years. Remember you can get on an airplane and leave, they unless they are well connected cannot for the most part.

If you can live quietly and humbly you will be alright.

Relocating to Dominica

Cools22's picture

Hello All! I am American and relocated to Dominica in March 2010 with my husband. I now work on the island as a real estate agent with one of the most recognized real estate companies world-wide. I can assist answering any questions about cost, living expenses, temporary rental homes, purchasing land, etc. To reach me, send me an email at margiecools@century21natureisle.com. Also, feel free to check out the website at www.century21natureisle.com
Thanks!

My wife and I are looking

Klee's picture

My wife and I are looking for a decent furnished house or 2 bedroom apartment to rent, starting October or November 2011, we would like a minimum of 1 year, with option to renew the lease. We are a professional couple from Canada, looking for a simpler life, friends of ours have property in Dominica, and plan to build, we want to take our time before we jump into buying anything.

Thanks