Here is some useful information on the Dominican society and lifestyle which will guide you if you are planning to move there.
Regardless of the country you come from, traveling to the Dominican Republic will undeniably be an enriching experience. In fact, you are likely to discover a society which is different from what you are used to. You will experience a new lifestyle which is, to some extent, similar to that of other Hispanic countries. It is best to be aware of what life in the country is all about before moving there.
In short, naps, music, indolence, family beliefs, as well as precocity are part of the local lifestyle. Hence, you stay in the Dominican Republic is very likely to be rich in emotions and experiences.
Being close to the tropics, the Dominican Republic enjoys and excellent climate. In summer, the maximum temperature revolves around 32°C at noon while the lowest is at 23°C in the morning. June, July, August and September are known to be the hottest months. In winter, temperature falls to 19°C. In Jarabacoa and Constanza, which are mountainous regions, temperatures even go down to 5°C.
The Dominican cuisine is famous for its variety and taste. In fact, it is a mix of local and Creole cuisines. But you can also find fast foods selling burgers, pizzas, etc., across the country. Vegetarians should not be disappointed either.
The Dominican peso (RD $) is the country's local currency. A peso is divided into 100 cents. Hence, you can have 1, 5, 10 and 25 pesos coins. You are also likely to handle 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50 and 20 pesos banknotes.
Exchange and ATMs
The Dominican peso is used in the Dominican Republic only. Hence, you are required to exchange your foreign currency once you are on the spot. Exchanges can be performed at a hotel which is approved by the Central bank, for instance, or in any bank. Note that purchasing with foreign currency is strictly prohibited.
In case you are running out of money, you can still use your American Express, Diners Card Club, MasterCard and VISA card. However, these cannot be used on ATMs. Therefore, you have to obtain a Cirrus or Maestro card.
The Dominican Republic operates at 110 volts, that is 60 Hertz. It is recommended to keep a transformer or have a surge protector device, or both, if you are bring electronic equipment with a different voltage.
You are strongly advised to boil water before drinking. In case you are not at home, it is best to purchase mineral water bottles. At the restaurant, make sure that meat, fish and vegetables have been thoroughly cooked and that dairy products have been made with pasteurized milk. As regards fruits, it is best to peel them carefully before consuming.
Spanish is the Dominican Republic's official language. However, most tourism professionals speak English. Still, you are advised to learn Spanish, especially if you are planning to make a long stay in the country.
Dominicans have a similar lifestyle to that of North American mixed with that of Latin America, but with a strong influence of Roman Catholicism. For instance, Dominicans dress informally during the day, they will wear formal clothes to go to a restaurant or dinner in a hotel. When going to church, forget about your shorts, tank top or going shirtless. You are also advised to show courtesy and politeness wherever you are.
The Dominican Republic's telecommunications network is based on the US technology. Its country code is 809. Moreover, you can purchase a mobile phone for some 1,500 pesos, unless you already have a phone. If it is the case, you can simply buy a local sim card.
Dominicans lives seem to be perfectly balanced between their activities and relaxation. In fact, after a long and tiring day at work, they generally enjoy a pleasant and vibrant afternoon after office hours. Dance remains an essential part of the Dominican lifestyle. Lunchtime, for its part, is longer than what you are probably used to in your home country. Moreover, shops generally close down in the early afternoon for a nap and reopen later. Finally, you will have dinner around 9 pm.
On the other hand, and this is quite surprising, Sundays are quite slow and quiet while week-ends tend to extend till Monday night, especially for the youngsters. Thus, nightclubs are open every day and the entrance is free for everyone. In case you want to have a drink after dinner, you can go to a cafe or bar. These are generally open until midnight from Monday to Thursday and till 2 am on Friday, Saturday, as well as on holidays.
In general, Dominicans get married quite young and have large families. In fact, do not be surprised on seeing blended families, divorce or even remarriage. However, contraception is rarely practiced. Moreover, as in many Hispanic countries, young girls officially become women on their 15th birthday. This day is celebrated with great pomp during the quinceañera which is a mix of religious traditions and family celebrations.
Dance, party and good humor are also an essential part of the Dominican lifestyle. In fact, they usually like to gather around Saints' celebrations. You can also join in the colorful and musical masses which usually end in a true jubilation. Of course, alcohol is served.
Finally, it is to be noted that Dominicans have preserved the tradition of living in extended families under the same roof, especially in the countryside and in the mountains, particularly due to the high cost of materials.
Cost of living
The average salary in the Dominican Republic revolves around 8,000 pesos, that is some 200 euros. As a foreigner, you will probably choose to live according to your own standards. Hence, you are advised to find a job which can cater for your needs. Otherwise, you will have to adopt the local lifestyle, that is get away from the tourist regions.
Although Dominicans do not earn much in general, you are likely to come across all types of social classes as it is the case worldwide.
Freedom of religion is a constitutional right in the country. 80% of the Dominican population is of Roman Catholic faith. Hence, you will have the opportunity to experience vibrant festivals such as the Virgin de las Mercedes which is celebrated on September 24th and the Virgin of Altagracia, held on January 21st of each year. During Easter week, life in the Dominican Republic goes in a slow motion. Most of the Dominicans will be celebrating with their families on the beach.
On the other hand, voodooism is also very present in the country due to Haitian influences. Hence, you can come across sects or other types of churches across the country.