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2005 Questions & Answers About Living in the DR
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Real Estate 2005:
New Homes and Apartments starting at US$60,000.   Can you afford a new home in the Caribbean?  YES you can - in the Dominican Republic.
Living in The DR:
Why are so many people just like you relocating to the Dominican Republic?  It is really the new sactuary for middle class Americans and Europeans trying to escape the hight cost of living and high taxes back home?   Find out.

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The Dominican Republic offers some of the most affordable real estate in the entire Caribbean.  How affordable?  How about a brand new  3 bedroom  apartment for US$60,000 - Or a brand new home in a residentail area for about US$120,000.   It is True!  Click on the link above for more information.

Living in The Dominican Republic 2005:
What if someone told you that it was possible to pack your bags and relocate to a place whereby you can buy a brand new home for 25 per-cent of the current value of the home you are now living in (sell your current home, buy a brand new home of similar size for less than half that amount or maybe even one fourth, and place the difference in the bank so you can live off the interest) - would you consider it?  What if someone told you that this new destination offered the opportunity for you to have a monthly income from bank account interest locally tax-free, sufficient enough with the equivalent of US$100,000 in the bank to cover your monthly living expenses (utilities, food shopping, golf fees or other leisure activities) - would you be interested to learn more?  If the answer to both these questions is YES - then this is the benefit in brief for Americans and Europeans who have in interest in relocating to the Dominican Republic (year round temperate weather with no snow does not hurt either).
In reality you do have a large number of choices if you are contemplating relocating to another country or jurisdiction.  Obviously for most people, some topics or questions in common involve cost of housing, cost of living, infrastructure and amenities, climate and lifestyle (leisure activities, etc.) plus maybe even location.  If you have already made up your mind that you would like to live some where in the warm and sunny Caribbean, then the Dominican Republic may in fact be a surprising choice for you.  Located only 3 hours or less by airplane from many major US cities, the Dominican Republic is certainly close enough to visit family and friends (or for them to come and visit you also).  In addition, direct flights to France, Germany, Spain and Holland (just to name a few) make it a very convenient hub for International travel as well.  But that is probably not the largest benefit.  Which is to say, if you are going to relocate somewhere, obviously you want the opportunity to live better on less than where you are right now.  This is especially true if you are contemplating this kind of move in conjunction with retirement.  However, you might also be surprised to find out that an early retirement (if you are in your forties or fifties in terms of age) might be very possible in the Dominican Republic right now with the current assets that you have at the moment, where as such an idea almost impossible in North America or Europe (or certainly not without a very drastic reduction in lifestyle).
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For both Americans and Europeans, cost of housing (your largest initial or monthly expense by far) has certainly gotten out of hand in the US and Europe.  On the one hand, chances are you currently have a middle-class home or apartment that you are living in at the moment, which can be sold for prices ranging from US$300,000 on up.  If you currently live in or near a major metropolitan city in the United States or Europe, you probably are nodding your head in agreement as you read this.  However, the question becomes, what do you do or where do you go that allow you to afford something similar for far less - without sacrificing your lifestyle? 
In terms of offering the most affordable real estate in the Caribbean (in relation to the very over-priced Bahamas, Aruba, St. Martin and many other familiar places you might have been considering), the Dominican Republic stands head and shoulders above the rest.  Right now, in 2005, you can easily purchase a brand new 1,400 square foot 2 or 3-bedroom apartment in a residential section of Santo Domingo or Santiago starting at about US$70,000.  If you prefer a 3 bedroom single family home, new 2,000 square foot homes in a very nicely done secure residential community can be purchased for about US$100,000 up to perhaps US$150,000 (all depending upon size, features, etc.).   And if you are concerned about style and quality, think again.  Many of these new homes and newer residential housing projects are exactly the kind of homes you might find in Florida - but at a fraction of the cost.
So, let us assume you sell your current dwelling in the US or Europe for whatever amount (for our example, let us assume the equivalent of US$300,000) and you find the perfect home in the Dominican Republic for about US$150,000, complete with marble finished bathrooms, mahogany cabinets in the kitchen and many other attractive features as well - Now what?  Well, with the difference of US$150,000 you invest your money into a local bank certificate of deposit denominated in Pesos (the local currency of the country) earning a 20 per-cent rate of interest.  You now have a fully paid for home you own free and clear, plus a monthly income of about RD$70,000 or about US$2,000 - all from the sale proceeds of your previous home.  With this amount of a monthly income, you should live quite well in your new home - and newly adopted country (and you have not even touched your other savings, investments or pension funds).
But how is it possible you can live so well in the Dominican Republic on this monthly amount?  A very good question and here is the answer.  With a fully paid for home or apartment (no mortgage, no monthly home payments either for rent or otherwise), your basic living expenses will involve utilities, food, leisure activities, etc.  In regards to utilities, you can expect your monthly electric bill as a worst case to total about US$250 per month with constant running of your air-conditioner (your bill may even be much less).  Your telephone and high speed DSL Internet bill to total about US$150 and your monthly cable television bill about US$60 - for roughly 90 channels, 14 or so in English (CNN, HBO, CINEMAX, The Movie Channel, BBC News, CNBC, CBS, ABC, The Disney Channel, etc.).  Remember these are high estimates, as your own expenses for such things could be lower. Of course, the other question is what would the same things cost in Florida, California or Europe?
In regards to other living expenses, such as food shopping, entertainment and so on, this will be a function of what kinds of items you want to buy and what you want to do.  In other words, if you have fairly simple taste and stick with local products, your food bill will be quite reasonable.  In fact, local fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. are inexpensive in comparison to prices in North America.  Imported food items of course do cost more.  Regardless, it is not unreasonable to assume a monthly food budget for two people ranging from US$400 to US$700 with variables being local versus imported food products, plus how much you might spend each month on things like wine or spirits. 
So far, we have spent roughly half of your monthly bank account interest earnings on food and utilities, and you have not skimped or denied yourself anything either.  The other half we can spend on things like golf, eating out, movies, plus a maid who will come in every day 9 to 6 Monday to Friday (plus cook, wash and iron) for about US$150 per month.   Aside for this, living in a tropical climate means less expenses for clothing because there really is only one season - constant year-round summer.  Also, living on the second largest island in the Caribbean (about the size of South Carolina) means you have the option of both the beaches and the mountains, within a short car ride away.  Not to mention what could possibly be the largest selection of vacation resorts of any Caribbean destination (more than 30 at current count) to treat your self to over a long weekend.  In fact, resort rates are often deeply discounted and advertised in the local newspapers during off-season for tourism, so you can very well invite friends and family for a few days of fun - at a price that is quite reasonable.
In summary, if the Caribbean is your destination choice and you think you cannot afford to retire there, take a hard look at the Dominican Republic.  The country, as a choice for retirement and investment, make just surprise you.
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