When we started our move to Dominican Republic, people had lots of concern. “It’s too dangerous, it’s a third world country, you are going to get mugged you know!” These were just a few of the things I was told. I have been asked many questions and told many things about life in the Caribbean that couldn’t be further from the truth, so this prompted me to clear up a few myths. Here goes:
1. It’s too dangerous for a foreigner to live outside of a resort. False. While I do live in a gated community, Dominican Republic is not as dangerous as everyone thinks. I live nowhere near the resorts and haven’t seen or had one sketchy thing happen to me. Well, maybe except that one time we almost saw a machete fight, but I’ll save that for a later post as to not scare you. Fun fact: never shared this with my mom..dont worry Mom, before you have a heart attack, nothing happened. Anyhow, that was right next to a resort and in a very rural neighborhood. Dominican Republic is full of friendly, helpful people. Before we moved here, when I’d say where we were headed, I’d be presented with faces of confusion. And then told that it was way too dangerous for a “gringa” like me to be outside of the resorts. I was told I would get mugged, kidnapped, sick, everything you can think of and believe me it put me on high alert. When I got here though, I realized it’s just like living anywhere else. Yes there is crime here, but theres also crime in my home state and every other part of the world. My fiance saw more crime while living in Hawaii; example: when he had his moped stolen right from his driveway. How’s that for you skeptics of DR? I mean come on people, Dominican Republic is not a war torn country. So far it has been a lovely place to live. So give it a chance, it’s not as bad as you think.
2. Medical care isn’t up to par. False. My fiance and I both have medical insurance here. Quite honestly its better than the plans I ever had in the states and far less money. There are doctors and hospitals here that are just as good as in the United States if not better. The prices are substantially lower for sometimes better care and treatment. With this, there are also many doctors who speak fluent English here, so if you’re worried that your Spanish speaking isn’t great yet, you can still find doctors that may better suit you. Side note: this is in regard to private hospitals and doctors. Public hospitals and clinics are not up to par. For instance, when we got here we didn’t know about this and ended up at a public hospital. Not knowing how it worked here, we were in for a rude awakening. So if you visit or are living here, be sure to visit private hospitals and doctors if need be. On top of medical care for yourself, there are extremely reputable and quality veterinarians for your fur babies that you may bring along or adopt once here.
3. You don’t need to speak Spanish. False. Unless you’re in a tourist area, speaking only English will not get you far. So it is best to learn as much Spanish as possible before moving to the Dominican Republic.
4. There is only one ethnicity here. False. Dominicans are mainly a mix of Taino, Afro-Caribbean, and Spanish or other European ancestries. They are not one ethnicity or race but rather a mix of many descendants.
5.You can’t drink the water. True. I have heard mixed reviews about whether or not you can drink the tap water here but I wouldn’t chance it. It is best to stick to bottled and purified water while here.
6. The country is not built up. False. Dominican Republic is the fastest growing Latin American economy right now. In Santo Domingo, there are high rise apartment buildings, many shopping malls and plazas, gourmet restaurants, fast food drive thrus, pharmacy drive thrus, and beautifully manicured parks. Santo Domingo is just like any other metropolitan city.
7. The Caribbean is hot all year long. False. While this is true in certain parts of the Caribbean, there are areas here that go as low as 9 degree Celsius (48 degree Fahrenheit) at night. During the days it can be 13 degree Celsius ( 55.5 degree fehreinheit) in those same areas. In Constanza, DR it can sometimes go below freezing at night.
8. The cost of living is extremely low. This one is a mix of true and false in my opinion. While costs such as rent and housing, medical care, and foods are low, most other goods are a much higher price. You are on an island which means that everything has to be shipped and imported in. With importation, you pay a premium of taxes and fees for almost everything. For instance, cars and electronics are much more expensive here than in the states.
9. Driving is sketchy. True. Okay this one is definitely true. If you have read any of my other posts you would know what I think about the driving here. People don’t use signals, they don’t use lanes, and they don’t even have working lights on their cars. It can be extremely risky while driving here but only if you let it. I find that if you take your time while driving and are cautious of the drivers around you; you can definitely manage it, even if you have as much unease about it as I do.
10. Dominicans give the best blowouts. True. For all you ladies, this is absolutely true. The best part is that you can walk into a salon and get a blowout for substantially less than in the States. I’m talking less than a coffee date at your local shop.
11. We just lay on the beach all day. False. People still have to get up and go to work everyday just like the rest of the world. Although, when living in the Caribbean; every weekend feels like a vacation, which isn’t so bad.
What’s the craziest myth you have heard about where you live ?