Canadian wanting to relocate to Puerto Plata, Dominican republic


I am a 36 year old Canadian woman and I am just at the beginning of starting to look into what I need to do in order to relocate to  the Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata). I have been seriously considering this for a few years but I believe I am at the point in my life now, to put that into action. I have visited the Dominican 4 times over the last 4-5 years and actually just got back from yet another 2 weeks there (all inclusive resorts only).
I would very much appreciate any help with pointing me in the right directions to figure out exactly what I need, if its feasible and where to find the information. Examples of what I need to know:
1) how long can I stay there if I am going there to get my feet wet and try to see how living there is? What kind of paperwork, visas do I need after 30days of Tourist Visa is over? How do I extend my stay ? is that even possible?
2) What is the best way to get a job there? Would teaching english be a viable option at all? I am starting to learn Spanish asap.
Just to clarify: I am single and not going there because I met anyone. This is just my dream and looking to see if I could make that happen!
What are my chances of making this come true on my own? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Welcome to the forums.  YES its possible.  So first start reading the threads here. There is one on residencia. IF you want to work here you will need residencia and your cedula.

IF you want to test the waters come down and visit for several months.  Just show up and stay BUT you cannot work.  Make sure you can fund this for a few months. Once you know it is right,  go home,  get the residencia needs taken care of then make the big move!   

I live near Puerto Plata, also Canadian and love my life here.  Any questions put them in the various threads of here............ whatever works for you! 

Welcome again.

Thank you for the nice welcome and a few pointers to get me started !
I will start looking around in the forums and read.
How long can I stay in the Dominican at once? And how often would I need to leave and come back ? In terms of paperwork and visas I mean ?

Let me add my welcome.  Yes you need to come and "live" here for a couple of months. NOT on a resort but renting a condo or villa. Living and visiting on vacation are two totally different animals.  The DR is not for everyone but if it is right it is a good thing.

You can overstay your 30 day tourist visa with out any problem just pay the exit fine when you leave.  If staying for 3 months that would be $2500 pesos when you leave.

If you decide to make the move then get your residency which is  a process that must be started at home.  You cannot work here legally with out your residency and cedula.

There is a ton of information here on the board so read, read, and read some more and feel free to ask any questions.

We have been living here full time in the Sosua/Cabarete area for nearly 11 years now

Biker chick..MY wife and I ride assuming we are speaking motorcycles. WE rented out our home until May 2017 and traveling when in Canada in our 2003 F250 Diesel 445,000 km living among family and friends for business or in Dominican Republic.  Thankfully we are in DR at the moment. Its a 100% downsizing exercise.

Before I get going let me share we are followers. People on this forum like Planner & Bob are leaders of life changes. Their advice is solid as ice!!

My writings are simply that. A report card of the 1st .....3 months.

The change in my life was ever present for past 20 years. I searched all over the planet. Never the DR. It was Belize, Thailand, Bahamas and finally Mexico 100%.

Here we are in DR.

So much for thorough research. We are home without ever having spent a minute on the island.

I always share for people to watch this ... In search of powder tiny house.

You will be afraid of the DR by all things inherited in our culture, past or friends advice.
We are living life among people needing to feed families. 

We dont miss the cold or snow. We spent 2/3 month of December driving from Ontario driving to west. The cold ranged between -20C to -52C

Now we watch from afar as the snow piles higher & frigid weather sticks to Canadians.

WE turn our heads to the sunshine every morning. The breezes flow through the slats in doors and windows. We hear the sounds of birds singing in the palms. Our villa rental is 1000.00 US a month. We could locate a apartment for half.

Planner and Bob like all other Sayers of truth will say rent. Right again!!

My wife was the conservative one and rightly so. Where I jump in both feet she dips slowly. You would be surprised at her changing demeanor. We are fast becoming residents in mind and spirits.

On Christmas day we handed out small gifts to young children on the beach. We find ways to help. Our purpose is not to change or convert. We meet Dominicans eye ball to eyeball. We butcher their language but they sense our effort and reward us. The Haitians speak french and find ourselves on same footings. We speak English , french and dutch. We relocated from 2 hours north of Toronto.

The Dominicans have a sense about them. This is a poor nation. Poverty is a given. And yet we watch in awe as they always hug and kiss each other, always smiling. Imagine a work shift change where people greet each other warmly and truthfully.  They never show any of their personal emotions and we know each day is a struggle to majority. The average wage is 300.00 month to live and feed family. You seldom here kids crying. You don't hear sirens.

We thought about exploring further but find ourselves gripped by the grittiness of  our town. Why do we need to keep finding better?

We have sun, sand, palms and options on where to buy food. The larger grocery store or from the fruit man or veggie man. Take the scooter or a taxi. We located good pizza at great price. We eat more chicken and rice than ever. Black beans also. Salad consumption has increased.

The Canadians / American expats that have lived here for some time fall into 2 categories. Those that live on regardless of what life has in store much like their Dominican neighbors. Their motto is One day at a time. 

The other  like to complain. Everything from corrupt cops to political issues back in US / Canada. This group sometimes has the loudest voice and sometimes dominate the chat rooms. These folks are easily found and always welcoming the newbie.

The same could be found anywhere on the planet and not restricted to DR.

My experience..Locate the expats that don't say anything when out and about.. Almost rude in their approach. They sit quietly listening. You have zero idea where they came from or what language they speak.  Think resource. Out of the blue they ask in English a question. Its kinda of holy crap moment. The person isn't a mute or from Romania. If your lucky you make a friend.

Trust in long standing people like Planner and Bob that live here and have history as their weapon of choice.

This is a country where structure is sometimes absent and chaos is normal. There are only layers found in the paperwork.

The paperwork is sometimes done in triplicate with carbon paper layered in between. Remember the hard!! Its a mix of old and new.

Banking is banking. All good. Modern.

Lawyers are awesome here after you locate the one right one.

Our medical is another source of discussion. Canada's is not the best and brightest among the globe. While its good most Canadians would be surprised by how easy and efficient the system works here in DR.

I would share we are humbled by our surroundings here in the DR. Our footprint is small. We dont live a lavish lifestyle by expat standards. We ride the public buses with residents. We jump the motorcycle taxis. We purchased a scooter. Its like the Red Bull commercials..we have wings!!
On this note we have people wagging their fingers at us about scooters and motorcycles. They recite accident and death rates as facts. All true. Its a very serious task to take up riding here. If you thought any major city or highway was bad back where you live increase the threat to DEFCON 5 here in DR.
But we are living our way.

We waste less here than back in Canada. We continue to learn our new lifestyles of using what he have and not buying out of boredom.

Our Christmas spending was little. We walked the decorated malls in Yorkville all the way west leading up to Christmas without spending any money. We needed nothing. One evening after a movie in one of Calgary's nicest malls we went for a glass of wine. $32 bucks + tip.  No thanks.

Come and rent a room or a villa. Search and will locate something in your budget. Dont expect the right neighborhood as you envision. Step out of your comfort zone. Find the explorer in yourself. If not present stop thinking about this. If your not inquisitive about finding life challenges stay in all inclusive resorts. 

The Europeans use their holidays to take a 2 week course in Spanish. They live cheaply even though they could easily afford higher end digs. WE did this!! The school will help you locate a room.

Our one purchase for Christmas was a back pack. The readers have no idea how earth shifting this is in our lives.

WE are fast becoming something. I don't have the words to express what we are transitioning into. But each day brings us closer to understanding whats important in life. Its a million piece puzzle we are solving. That's the question readers of this post should ask themselves.

Thanks go out to Planner & Bob + the many others that always respond to questions regardless of how often the same are asked over and over.

Great post. You have painted a brilliant picture of your lives in the DR. I am also a dis-placed Canadian, (from Alberta) looking for what you seemed to have found. I am returning to Sosua this week with great enthusiasm.

Love the post.  Good for you! 

And thanks...........

Thank you kindly for the intro. I will keep reading and reading and asking questions because I know the best way is to know as much as I can to have the best chance at succeeding.
I am actually planning on going back to Puerto Plata in March to rent a room or small apt and start to see what life looks like. Hoping to meet some people there and start making some connections.

Thank you so much RAMDADDY for the great detailed post. It gave me a great picture of what life is like and could be like for me as well. I do ride a motorcycle here in Canada and have been for 16 years :)
Also thanks to planner and Bob. i am looking at coming back to Puerto Plata at the begiining of March to rent a place, modest but safe and live there for 3 weeks and try to meet people, make connections, learn some spanish and so on. Trying to get my feet wet.
Yes I would be looking to work there as I am not rich by any means but I can sustain myself for a few months once I make the move for sure.

What would be the best way to find a good place to rent for 3 wweeks? I don't need anything fancy, just comfy and safe :) I have started looking at AirBNB ?
Also, what would be the best way to get around there just for now? As in for a few weeks?

Then I am looking at coming back again in July and staying for a few months.

Thank you again for all the help. Greatly appreciated!

You are doing it the right way.  Do you plan on living in Puerto Plata proper or in one of the near by towns, like Confresi, Sosua, Cabarete all which will have a bigger expat community and be less congested. Best way to find  a place is to walk around and look in  the neighborhood you are interested in.

Best for getting around are gua-guas which are older 15-20 passenger vans with up to  30  people crammed in at any time.  Cost is about $1 a ride, or local taxis which are very cheap.  Personally I would never get on a moto (small motorcycle driven usually by a young Dominican with a death wish :)   ), 

Let us know if there is anything we can do to help

Bob K

Thank you Bob.
I am not sure where I would like to stay as I don't know what would be best in terms of safe, affordable and easy to get around and start meeting people. I understand what you said about the smaller towns near Puerto Plata maybe being a better option in terms of less congested and maybe more opportunity to connect with some expats. that makes sense. As far as prices: would I be able to find a small apt with internet,electricity and hot water for $175-250 range for 3 weeks.
I have also read about some things about renting a car. Any advice on how to rent a car or from where (if I need to) but not at the tourist rates :) ?
I'm sorry if some of my questions may seem so naive, but I am really at the beginning of trying to make this happen. So any info is very valuable as I think the more knowledgeable I am before I get there, the better chances of "surviving" :)
An once I'm      actually boots on the ground :),   what is the best way to get in touch whith some expats and start meeting some people and make some connections.

That budget for three weeks stay will be hard to find. Especially in a secure environment. At less that a couple of months you will be paying tourist rates.  That may be doable as a monthly budget ($250-$300 range)
Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT rent a car on your first visit or two.  It is very dangerous driving here especially for the "newbie".  Secondly renting can be expensive tourist or local and you will actually save money by using local taxis for transport.
Again you will meet more expats outside of Puerto Plata city.

Bob K thoughts will be based on our brief time in the DR. I read tons in advance. Maybe too much. I asked a lot of questions like yours. Actually I asked real stupid questions. Thankfully  people have patience like Planner and Bob + others.

There is a quote" Grain by Grain a loaf....Stone by Stone a castle.

Take your time. Patience will reward you.

In our town north of Toronto there was a guy with a house by the beer store. People said welfare case. Empty beer bottles on the deck. Always sitting there smoking. A beer in one and smoke in the other. I always thought to myself..regardless of what others would say....the guy doesn't have a worry in the world? The system is the system and wont ever change regardless whose in power. At the end of life we all die? What should each day be like until then?

We have one of the oldest established beer joints in the Province. After a event in my life I took a year off work. Burnt out.  I spent that summer in old shorts and t shirts. I would sit in this establishment bumming a smoke in exchange for beers.  The people I met included some of the most brilliant minds that left high ranking positions with universities and business. Like me sitting across from them we looked like local yokal bums. They sold everything and now worked as plumber or carpenters. No previous experience. Some had money others didn't. Many hated their employment. I found the same story across the country.

We cant help ourselves for love or money. We need to be consumers of things.

The certainty in our life is we are going to die one day and we don't know when. We might/will suffer sickness. if not us someone around us. It will happen, does often and yet we refuse to listen and learn. 

Knowing what I Know  I might find a Spanish school. The one in Sosua is very good. We had students that went to school in the capital and did not have the freedoms that we have on North Coast. They will help you find accommodations. The benefit is rubbing shoulders with expats living in the DR, teachers and other students. Come for 2 weeks.
WE went on field excursions for dancing, volley ball and dinners.

Meeting people will lead to changes. Case in point we have new friends and I played hockey yesterday. First time in a long time. What a great day. Ball hockey of course. They have a car and we can access it whenever we need.

Earlier in the day..We went for a long walk up the road past pastures of cows and chickens. The dirt is as red as PEI. It was a wonderful 1.5 hours. Along the way we came across a small Casa. Young kids living there. Today we will drop off some clothing and gifts. Its a humbling opportunity.

Later..We watched the football game. Green Bay scraping by Dallas. In a bar opened to the elements.  2 Beers, 2 vodkas and 3 plates of finger foods was approx 15 dollars.

The rewards of living here are best shared by Planner & Bob along with many others. Im only providing a short time review. I am a follower and thanks to all find myself in this life.

The real benefits moving us forward with a smile each day especially include Dominicans that come to work always embracing and laughing and greeting each other with kindness. Forget the poverty. Its like comparing US case of beet to Canadian price of beer. It is what it is. These people are warm. They smile often. 

People write and share this without much success. The words of wisdom don't resonate. Why I'm I so tenacious and yet so blind?

Life is precious, your health the most important and real friendships to be found your searching in one of the right places. Home is someplace for each. A short flight for canucks and you can go back as often as you want.

However in discussions you come to find they don't go back often anymore.  The change is intimate.

I quit smoking after a business meeting in Mexico city 2 weeks prior to coming here. Its been 13 or 15 weeks. I lost count. This place has grown on me unlike any other. I needed to change. The beaches are amazing and cost nothing. The water as clear and warm and yours to enjoy with unlimited sunrises and sunsets. Public transportation here is engaging. Learning the language rewarding. 

Always my heartfelt thanks to leaders that left home lands in search of change.  I used up too much of my own life working and worrying when i could have made changes to locate balance.


Bob, thank you for the rental warning and the price range for a small apt. Great to know!

Ramdaddy also thank you for your sincere thoughts and sharing your experience. I couldn't agree more with your thoughts and feelings and that is why I want to make this change. I have been thinking about for a few years and always, like you said, was too caught up in life here, bills and careers and all that stuff that made me blind to what really would make me happy...deep down to my core, my soul.....! I get it and my mind is made up and I am doing took me many years to get here and feel free enough and courageous enough to do this on my own. And one thing I know for sure is: i don't know how much time I have left, like you said, but I would like to try to find my place in this world....because where I am now, is whole being finally knows that....
You also suggested a Spanish school? Any ideas of a good one in Puerto Plata or surrounding? And roughly some ideas about fees for that?

Here is my  feedback - I agree with BOB do not rent a car.  Driving is ridiculous here.   Use public transport and taxis. WAY safer.

Tourist type accommodations  will not be that inexpensive and you are coming in high season.  Let me see what I can find in Puerto Plata area.

Once you are moving here long term, then an apartment is much less expensive!   Then you can get something quite nice for  200 to 300 a month.  For example I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apt, furnished, hot water and air conditioner for 325, I also pay for electricity. 

I will be available  during your stay to show you around if you like. Cost is gas and lunch!!! Hahahahahaha.

Thank you so much Planner :)
I will wait to hear back from you on accommodation options around Puerto Plata for March 3 to March 24.

I look forward to meeting you as well once I am there ...gas, lunch and dinner can be arranged :)

I am sure I will think of a lot more things to ask..haha.

Ramdaddy loved your post

Bob K

Planner what will gas and dinner get me :D

Bob K

Thanks to all for your kind comments. My actions are not to dispense advice. Don't listen to someone who hasn't been around for long. I'm only sharing as I see it.

Im stuck on this quote..

grain by grain a loaf..stone by stone a castle.

Waking up a long way from normalcy is  scary. A persons brain rattles around for a long time laying in  bed trying to sleep when your long way from normalcy.

Whats normal? bighouse, cars, expensive hydrobills, waterbills, gasbills, foodbills,stuck in traffic, noise, working 60hour weeks, flying, hotels, cellphones, mealsonthe road, stress, 4 weeksholidays, mallshopping, consumerism, boredom, gym, multiple ATV's, multiple Harleys, colfcarts, boats, trailers, rrsps, taxes, tv,...bigger & better comes to mind.

If you have not watched please do...IN SEARCH OF POWDER TINY HOUSE

My opinion is if your not happy this short story will reinforce life change is required.

We sold off a large home going from 4000 to 950 sq ft. Changes!!
We didn't have a oven and cooked on the deck in the BBQ. Bacon & eggs, toast, roast, steaks ect.
We sold everything we could. The rest we gave away. The hardest part rested on my wife's shoulders.
We fought. Really fought!! The disagreements centered on emotional items. And we really disagreed at times. All of the above was in search of normalcy.

But normal living is out there and we located in recess of our minds. My wife is dutch and in our travels to Holland were front and center...nothing is large? They don't have Costco mentality so no freezers. Stoves and ovens are small. Efficient comes to mind.

In short time we could sense replacing one normal for another. All that was required was to throw out the flyers filling our mail box with sales of every gizmo and gadget a person never needs.

We watched TV people telling us our world would be better with a new Ford or Jeep.

We went inside our clothes closets and pried apart so many clothes seldom used and gave away.

In the end I dont know how this turns out?  I hope to be around this site until the end...:]

Spanish school..make sure you locate the Sosua campuss

Casa Goethe..ask for Tina.

The only link I could find was for the capital. Sosua is smaller and inexpensive to live for a few weeks. … asa.Goethe

I just posted a new thread about my 3 week trip to investigate a move to the Puerto Plata area (with a million questions - help!)  and then saw this one.  Quite a coincidence. lol  [at]bikerchick18 my son and I will be there from February 24th to March 17th.  We too are considering a permanent move.  What part of Canada are you from? We live in London, Ontario. :)

Planner I sent you a PM about taking you up on your generous tour guide offer for lunch and gas.   Bob K I recognize you from the Trip Advisor forum.  (on that forum I go by Heatseeker).

Welcome to this forum. Let me share with you what my experience has been. I have just moved to the Sosua area in the last 2 weeks. It has taken me 1.5 years to complete residence process. Everyone will have different reasons why they like one area over another so I will share why I have chosen Sosua. I also considered Puerto Plata however because I don’t speak Spanish, I felt I would have a difficult time getting around with shopping and various other services. Sosua is a smaller community mostly catering to Expats so my lack of Spanish has not been a problem for me so far. I do need to learn, but that won’t happen overnight. I could not begin to tell you how many new friends I have found here. It is a very friendly community with Expats from all over the world. It does seem that most are Canadians. All that being said, there is reasons why many do not like Sosua, you will have to decide what you can tolerate. Sosua is the Vegas of the Caribbean. The downtown area is full of bars and nightclubs. The streets a crawling with young ladies working the streets.

Another reason I chose Susa is that I can get by without a car. If I lived in Puerto Plata, I surly couldn’t get by without one. If you rent a car, make sure it is from a reputable dealer and get full insurance. If you can get by without one, you will be better off.

An all-inclusive is okay, but you will find that the Casa Marina Internet sucks. No access in the rooms, and at the reception and areas where you are supposed to have service very poor.

I wouldn’t get involved with any real estate agents on line. Bob says boots on the ground, and I agree 100%.

Stan. Bang on observations of Sosua.

Grittier comes to mind. Like the old Las Vegas strip of today.

The mayor {She} wants to clean up and bring more families into the region. That's going to be tough but so is she!!

We are close enough to everything, have everything a person requires.

However as I see it there is much to explore and learn.

We put-putted our way by scooter to Cabereta for my health insurance yesterday. Glorias day!! Mountains to one side, ocean to the other. Stopped in to watch the surfers at Arsenios.

On Frustration....

Needing to have things perfect is the surest way to immobilize yourself with frustration.

Wayne Dyer

There is a get together for a guy dying of cancer at Checkpoint bar tomorrow at 5. We will be present.

I really like the idea of Sosua from what I've heard.  I can't wait to see it!  My one big issue though is going to be schooling for my 8 year old.  I need to be able to get him to school every day and the one school I like appears to be in Puerto Plata so I'm not sure if that's feasible for a daily commute? (O&M Hostas School in Puerto Plata)

Isla academy I visited it and it is reasonable priced

There is a school next to where i live. I will make inquiries for you.

Check out International garden kids school. They have a Facebook page.

Pandora B.. I am from Ottawa, ON. And I am also looking at being there around the same dates as you :) End of februuary to End of March. Maybe we can meet and share one of those lunches and tours :)

Have you looked into the International School of Sosua?

Thank you all for the Spanish school suggestions ..I will my start my search with those in mind!

Thanks! I will take a look at the International Garden Kids School.  I believe I did communicate with the International School of Sosua and the tuition is more than I could afford.  The O & M Hostas School seems like a great school and the tuition is much lower.  My son has very little Spanish at this point so I think we have to go with a private school at least at the start.  He's only 8 so I think he will pick up espanol quickly if we are living there (which is one the many reasons I want to move!).  :)

I will be at check point tomorrow hope to see you there.

Both the Garden school and the international school in Sosua are very good. Lots of expat kids as well as a mix of local kids.  Great experience.

As an aside we have lived in the Sosua area for almost 11 year now and have enjoyed living here.

Bob K

Main reason I dislike Sosua is the  issues late in the day and at night.  I lived in Sosua 6 months and it was not for me at all. I want to be able to go out at night and enjoy myself and I could not do that in Sosua.

Always check things out for yourself. What works for me or others may not work for you!

No you cannot commute from Puerto Plata to Sosua every day or vice versa for school. Not feasible. Too far, too dangerous.  I did  Puerto Plata to Cabarete for a  6 month contract and it was brutal!   

Using Spanish as a reason to stick around  expats will only hamper your ability to learn the language. Immerse yourself and you HAVE to learn it.  LOL 

I tell singles,  wanna learn Spanish? Get a boyfriend/ girlfriend who doesn't speak English. Now you have no choice but to learn.  NOTE - this does not apply to Bob,  because Pat will  tear you limb from limb......

You want me to find a new house, move to a new country, AND find a boyfriend?! lol  Wow - that sounds ambitious!  :P   

I'm going to send an email to the Garden school to find out the tuition. The International School was muy expensive.

I'm counting down the days until we get there and have ramped up the spanish lessons.  My biggest problem is I don't understand a word when someone is speaking too fast.  My mantra as I go about my day currently is: "Hablo un poco de espanol.  Por favor, habla despacio"! lol

After 13 years I still have problems understanding when they speak too fast!!!

The clue for understanding Dominican Spanish is to practice with:
1.  Dropping every letter you can from the end of the word. Dos become do, along with every pronoun that you can drop
2.  Take a course in auctioneering and learn how to speak fast.
3.  Fill you mouth with marbles and then practice, practice, practice.

Bob K


Hello bikerchick.
It is generally said that if you don't have an income from outside it is foolish to try to move to the Dominican Republic.  wages here are low enuff as to be nonexistent.  I was offered a job teaching English for 9,500 pesos per month.  At that time the exchange rate was 37 pesos to the dollar meaning the offer of work would have paid me $257. per month and since the school was almost 20 miles from home it would have cost me more than half that amount to get back and forth just for fuel for my diesel car, so even though I have a TEFL certificate I didn't take the job.
I know a lady who has rental apartments for 8000 pesos per month which at today's exchange rate means about $175. per month. This price includes lights and gas for the stove and all furniture and blankets and towels and spoons and dishes etc... It is less than $1.00 to the beach from her rentals by carro publico which is a  taxi that runs on a specific route and stuffs as many people in the car as possible.
I was there in Puerto Plata for almost 5 years and found it impossible to live on my Social Security which was a bit less than $1000 per month. I drove a pirate taxi picking up people at the airport and delivering then to their hotel and made about an extra $500 per month and was able to survive in that manner, but when the car broke down completely I had to give up and return home and live with a family member here in the USA.
Best of luck and with a PM I can give you the contact info for the apartment rentals I spoke of if you are still interested.
Deryl Fisher

Just wanted to say hello because I am also a 36 year old single female from Canada seriously considering relocation to Dominican Republic.

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