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Dominican Republic - Renting Property
Santo Domingo is the most popular town for expats. It is the capital and the business center, located on the south Caribbean coast. This city is also quite cheap: a three-bedroom house can be found for $400 a month. These houses often include maids’ quarters, so those who wish to hire one don't have to worry about the additional space. Many expats recommend staying in the city for a while in order to get to know it before choosing an area. It's best to find an area where it's safe and comfortable, within your first budget, as there are some areas of Santo Domingo that are not safe for foreigners.
For those who wish to move to a remote part of the Dominican Republic, away from the coast, there are similar properties which are much cheaper. These houses can be around $200 a month and they are located in the areas with fewer tourists and less crime. Apart from Santo Domingo, there are some other parts which are popular among expats, such as the areas around Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. In general, these are luxury options and have significantly higher prices. In this area, there are many expat families who seek security and tranquility. In the Dominican Republic, prices are generally higher when properties are closer to the sea.
When renting a furnished place in this country, it's not uncommon to find some houses with older furniture. So, if your goal is to avoid this situation, it's best to rent an unfurnished place and arrange it yourself.
Finding the property
Searching for property on the internet may result in finding some holiday rental places, which can cost more than $500 USD. So, it is best to ask around if you have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish, or bringing a local friend to help. Sometimes it's a good idea to visit a local "colmado", a shop that also serves as a meeting place, where you can meet informal "corredores", or agents. They usually have a variety of properties for all budgets to offer to their customers.
If you wish to find a property in a more traditional fashion, there are a lot of official corredores with their offices around the towns. It's not uncommon for these agents to speak English. It's also a good idea to check out the classifieds in the Dominican daily papers, such as Diario Libre, Hoy, Nacional, Caribe, and Listin Diario. These papers have a limited range of properties which are usually the most expensive ones. If you wish to find a property by looking around the town yourself, look for signs that say "Se alquila" with a phone number. In these cases, it's best to bring a Spanish-speaking friend along.
Rental contracts in the Dominican Republic are usually made for a one-year period. Sometimes it's even possible to negotiate monthly contracts, which is good especially for those who are new in the country. In some cases, expats need to allow their landlords to enter the rented place on a monthly basis to check if everything is in order. This kind of relationship with a landlord is usually marked in the contract.
The landlord is often in charge of fixing anything in the apartment, except if something is broken by the tenant. Landlords in this country usually ask for a 2-month or 3-month deposit when tenants enter the rented home. This money serves as a deposit, but one month’s rent also goes to the landlord's lawyer as a fee. The deposit money is often put in a bank account and is returned once the contract expires.
Where to look for a property
As was already mentioned, Santo Domingo is the most popular choice among expats. It's a city that has very distinct neighborhoods, and the center area looks like a mix of all these styles together. The Rio Ozama divides the town economically, so the area west of the river is more developed than the eastern part of the town, called Santo Domingo Este.
The most developed neighborhood is Platini, which is located in the center of Santo Domingo. It has a dense population and the prices are significantly higher compared to other parts of town. Naco is a neighborhood in the south west of Santo Domingo and it's a wealthy residential district. Yolanda Morales is the neighborhood north of Platini. It is a newly developed area with newer accommodations.
Apart from Santo Domingo, Santiago de los Caballeros is in the north of the island, away from the coast. The second largest town in the Dominican Republic may not be so appealing to expats, but the rent can be twice as cheap here. Also on the north coast, there are two huge expat communities in Sosua and Cabarete. Both places are close to Puerto Plata and the international airport. Accommodation in these parts is often more expensive, and people tend to sell properties, rather than renting them. It has a gated community, world class beaches, and golf courses.
When renting a property in the Dominican Republic, it's advisable to get home insurance. Once you have worked out what your policy covers, it's it advisable to pay extra to include hurricane damage, which is a common concern in the Dominican Republic.
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