-Where were you born?
I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but growing up we lived in Puerto Rico (where my parents are from) and New York City.
-In which country and city are you living now?
I am living in the Bavaro-Punta Cana area of the Dominican Republic.
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my husband.
-How long have you been living in the Dominican Republic?
I have been living here since early 2006, after visiting a few times.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in the Dominican Republic?
I first arrived in early 2005 with my ex-husband. We were living in Spain at that time, and were looking for investment properties. Our choices at the moment were Brazil and Dominican Republic.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?
No, it was quite easy. I hired a lawyer and they did all the work.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
No, there are several choices available.
-How do you make your living the Dominican Republic? Do you have any type of income generated?
When I arrived here I was not sure exactly what I would be doing. But my not-so-great experience with the agencies, and the lack of information when we purchased, gave me an idea to have a company that provided real estate services - including property management.
I wanted to work with other foreigners looking to make their move here, or looking to invest in rental property, by providing them with good, updated information about investing in the area.
Here anyone can sell Real Estate, even the taxi driver or the souvenir clerk. I thought it was important to provide a full-service agency, with an office, more in keeping with the expectations of a foreigner.
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
Yes, Spanish is my native tongue. I think it is very important to know the language, although Punta Cana is quite international. Many people speak at least basic English and there is a big mix of expats from Spain, Italy, Belgium and France - among others. The area is full of resort hotels, and with the Punta Cana International Airport just less than 20 minutes away, we have many daily visitors.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.
I visit my family from time to time as I am not so far - but we speak on a daily basis via phone or Skype. There is not much to do here but enjoy the sun; however, I do take day or weekend trips to take in what the country has to offer. We are just 3 to 4 hours away from Santo Domingo, less than two hours from La Romana, and there are so many beautiful sites to see in between and beyond.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
I plan to expand my business to Puerto Rico, and hope to be able to split my time between the two islands.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I have a Duplex Villa. We got a great price for it back when we first moved here.
- The average prices for beach front (there is hardly any due to the hotels) starts in the mid 400k's and into the millions.
- For properties near the beach, you are looking at prices in the low US$100,000's and higher.
- Golf & Beach Resort properties offer security and you can have a small 2 BR unit starting in the mid- 100,000's up to the mid 300,000's. Duplex Villas range between 320,000 to 450,000 and Single family homes average from 500,000 and up.
These are based on gated secured communities, and sometimes you can find an opportunity.
People also need to be aware that there are mayor title issues, and we always suggest that you do not buy unless the properties have titles or are backed up by mayor financial entities.
-What is the cost of living in the Dominican Republic?
Not as economical as I had expected.
-What do you think about the locals?
Like I mentioned before, this is quite a big mix of different cultures, and that is what I love about it. It is a small town though, and with that comes a small town mentality.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in the Dominican Republic?
I think the lack of regulations in every aspect, especially in Real Estate, is a big issue. You can come and live well here, but if you are too trusting, you can lose it all. Legal costs are too high and most times you have no one to turn to.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in the Dominican Republic?
You really need to find that group of people to work and hang out with that will help each other. We have a lot of nice people that live here, but people come from all walks of life from many countries where you have no record or history on them.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about the Dominican Republic?
Guide Punta Cana: http://guidepuntacana.com