Expatriate to Cabrera Dominican Republic… REALLY?

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Expatriate to a little town called Cabrera but WHY?

Expatriate to Cabrera Dominican Republic… REALLY?  From time to time I receive questions and concerns about expatriation. While I respect the cautious attitude and concerns that come with expatriation, these are easy to address as I’ve done in my reply that’s pasted below. I’ve mentioned several times on past posts the DR is not for everyone, no place is. However when it comes to considering a place to relocate, expatriate or simply get out of dodge for what ever reason the DR and in particular the North Coast of the DR is one place that’s a must see. Primarily DR Escapes is all about opening peoples minds, so people can make better and thus informed decisions. Providing an alternative view, while experiencing other cultures, so when people return they will be able to make informed choices and not guesses. Everything revolves around choices more so than being right or wrong. However to make informed choices requires experience and that what we strive for with the DR Escapes DYD tour. It’s nothing short of 100% experience of what it’s really like living here.

An Old time rendering done by a local of the province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez. Cabrera is located on the Coast and Highlighted in pink.

An Old time rendering done by a local of the province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez. Cabrera is located on the Coast and Highlighted in pink.

If I had to sum it up I would say that DR Escapes is about providing hands on, boots on the ground experience of what this region is all about.  For over thirty years it’s been my experience that “will I be affected” is not the important question you should be contemplating… We are all going to be affected. You should be asking yourself “To What Degree Will I be Affected”…. that’s what really matters when you come down to it. With all of our years of researching, this region looks about as good as it’s gonna get.

 

 

 

Here is a comment I recently received by email and my response based on this experience ….

“I recently joined DR escapes. I have researched as well as one can on the internet regarding real estate in DR. Quite honestly, what I’ve found thus far, be it country or coastline, seems no different than the US since housing and property prices went in the toilet. Investment-wise, it may grow faster there,.. that is speculative as most real estate markets are these days. Expatting, getting away to a paradise-like atmosphere is more of the selling point,.. just my opinion. Lot of rigors and inconveniences, (electric, roads and hiways,etc.). Convince me otherwise Barry, because I’m truly not seeing it. I need more to go on before I invest time into a trip(s) to DR. With investors putting up hotels and golf courses, etc., seems as though the people will end up like Jamaica, dealing with a corrupt Government. Again, jmo. Regards”

Thanks for your comments.  First, as I said quite often, no single expat haven is perfect for everyone.  If DRescapes.com helps get your creative juices flowing on your own search then we have accomplished something. My philosophy about selecting a safe haven offshore really comes down to several main things.  I want ready access to abundant food, abundant water, milder climate and friendly people that do not expect or depend on a government handout.  Give me that and I am off to a great start.  I definitely do not want to be fighting on two fronts against a tax starved, heavily armed government and millions of angry dependents of the state as the spoils stop flowing downhill.

When it comes to selecting any offshore country to escape to, I am the first one to say that this is not an armchair activity.  The only way to do it justice is to hop on a plane and go spend some time wherever you are considering.  Anything less would be foolhardy in my opinion.

Regarding this little north coast area of the Dominican Republic around Cabrera, it really is unique in the whole Caribbean.  The Dominican Republic is a huge island and in fact so large that unless you happen to be on the coast, you might not even know you are on an island.  This area around Cabrera is more of a rural farming area than anything else, and will never be developed with high-rise condominiums and hotels.  There simply are much better places on the island for the big developers to build beachfront mega resorts.  Cabrera sits squarely on a Cliffside overlooking the ocean with all the beautiful ocean views and breezes and none of the tourist congestion.

Regarding infrastructure and day to day life in this area of the Dominican Republic, and for that matter any “third world country”, you will have some inconveniences to deal with.  Less and less every day, but some still remain.  And in my opinion it is some of these inconveniences that better prepare us to weather any economic storm headed our way.  The roads used to be one of those day-to-day annoyances but they are paving and guttering roads around here at a staggering pace.  I know of plenty of US towns that would love to have new roads of this quality. These are coming right out of the mouths of the people that visit us.

Regarding the electricity… As I have described on many posts on the blog, many of the towns still have intermittent power systems…. on 6 or 8 hours, off 6 or 8 hours, on a cyclic basis.  For most of us expats that has absolutely no impact on our lives since we have inverter battery backup systems that kick in immediately when the city system is down.  So, practically speaking, if YOUR power is on 100% of the time…. where is the inconvenience.

But while we’re talking about convenience, let’s talk about a few you may no longer be used to in your “first world” country.   Need a doctor to make a house call, just pick up the phone… it might cost you $25 – $30.  Want the freshest fish, vegetables, fruits and meats delivered right to your door, no problem.  Want to hold a barbeque at your house for 30 of your closest friends with the pitmaster doing the cooking right at your house including all the fresh chicken and ribs that you can eat for around 1000 pesos ($25), no problem.  Want to have a fulltime yard man keep your tropical garden looking like a Disney resort for $12.50 a day, no problem.  You see… conveniences run both ways and I like my end of the deal.

Now on to the subject of government.  I’ve lived in a lot of countries including the US and Canada.  I am definitely not naive enough to believe that governments everywhere can avoid corruption.  It is true that the corruption in larger governments may be better masked and not so “in your face” as in “third world” countries, but the consequences of government corruption in these larger economies can also be more severe.  Give me a choice between slipping 50 pesos ( $1.25) to a underpaid local cop or greasing the skids in customs for a few dollars in lieu of paying for the excesses of a US government run amuck, and you know where I will end up.  Yeah, corruption in government is inevitable everywhere, but I do believe that our current president, Danilo,  is moving full steam ahead to improve the infrastructure and the lives of all of the DR citizens and expats… and I can’t say the same for some governments.  Evidence of positive progress is everywhere in this Cabrera region of the DR.

Finally, real estate.  There are real two different reasons to own real estate.  First to have a place that is your own that no one can take away, assuming you paid for it.  Many people just prefer the security that affords.  The other main reason to own real estate is as an investment asset, in lieu of stocks, bonds or gold.  Like anywhere else on earth real estate goes through bubble cycles based on fear and greed.  Certainly in areas of the Dominican where buying fever overtook supply, the prices escalated and then suffered when over extended buyers needed to dump the properties to pay their bills back home.  This was perhaps less of a crisis as it was in the hottest markets in the US where loans were granted to anyone with a pulse.  Over here, many properties are not financed, thus avoiding the direct impact of foreclosure when times got tough.

So the limited debt-based financing helped stabilize the market, but counteract that with the lack of a realistic MLS listing system.  Over here it is quite common to find dozens of real estate companies and individuals all pitching the same or similar pieces of property for vastly different prices.  It is quite common to see one company selling a piece of property for $40 a meter, only to find either the identical property or the equivalent one next door for $12 a meter.  Why, because they can.

You may have heard this saying before…. “The profit on real estate is made when you purchase it”.  That is especially true in the wild west of real estate in the Dominican Republic.  It is absolutely critical to have someone on the inside looking out for you in your real estate search, unless you want to just leave it to luck.  That is one of the reasons I have literally surrounded myself with trusted local families that know the history, motivations and needs of the local property owners.  If a deal can be had, these local families can uncover them.

One final note about development and the path of progress.  For me, I guess I do want to be in the path of progress for my real estate investments…. without being in the middle of it.  That is another reason I like this region.  When I see a several hundred million dollar investment in the Playa Grande golf course just 7 or 8 miles down the road I realize that cannot hurt my real estate invest returns.  Yet I know that I will not lose the rural charm of a small town that I value because Cabrera will never become one of those beach towns overridden with tourists.  For me, it is the best of both worlds. Hope that helps.  REALLY, there is no way to form a rational opinion without taking the time to come see it for yourself.  You simply cannot do that from the armchair.

Best Adventures, Barry in DR

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Kevin S. November 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I’ve visited Cabrera 3 times in the past year, as I was also considering a good location as a “Plan B”. Having spent a fair amount of time in the region, which included spending quality time with both the locals as well as the expats, I decided to make a purchase of land. My primary reason was not for investment, but to have a place for my family. Don’t get me wrong though, as a real estate agent in the U.S., I can definitely see what I feel is a wonderful investment opportunity for local real estate in the Cabrera area.

I completely agree that one should take the opportunity to jump on a plane and go check out whichever areas are appealing to you. You won’t know until you do what I did, that is, taking the tour and getting to know the local folks and get a sense of the culture.

I’ve said it several times, what really pleasantly surprised me was the friendliness of the people, and you can tell it’s genuine. It’s nice to know that you are welcome.

For those that are searching for a plan B locale, consider that there will always be challenges. Integrating and getting to know the local customs is a learning curve, but if you can have the good fortune of plugging into a family such as DR Escapes with all of their local knowledge and established connections, this will likely prove to be an absolute key as it has for myself and my family.

Good luck to all with your search. Perhaps we’ll see you in Cabrera in the future as the DR Escapes family continues to grow.

Kevin S.

Barry November 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Kevin, SPOT ON Brother you’re understanding the bigger picture. There’s so much more at stake here than merely an investment. Of course I agree that this is an area that’s bound to increase in value however it’s not the primary motivation of what DR Escapes is all about. Perhaps the better question people should be asking themselves is the following. Instead of asking “what if I do” start asking and contemplating “what if I don’t”.
Best Regards
B

johnsteven November 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I am in total agrrement with you kevin ,just over 13 years ago i paid my first visit to the town of cabrera, i was a little intimated by the friendliness of the people.The sad fact of it is that i thought they were after something, that has how we have become in the west thinking everyone is out to get us.I realised that the people were geniune, kind and very welcoming, i myself also purchased a piece of property here for myself and my family to use not only for living but for growing vegtables and fruits plus having an eternity of water from the mountain area where i purchased.People there are many options out there,all you need to do is come down and see for yourself, if you like it come back, if it is not for you there are other places ,It just depends on the indivdual.
Cabrera has seen changes since i came here but it will never become a major tourist place because it does not have beaches on par with cabarete or soshua, it is above sea level with many mountains, the town itself is of a small population around 10000 people ,with the surrounding contryside towns within a 15 km scale around 40000 in total with the town.
Cabrera was and still is a very sleepy farm town, there are expats who live in town and the countryside who have decided to be in this town for all the reasons in the articule.Safety, sense of community,healthier lifestyle and more relaxed.
Johnsteven

Barry November 12, 2013 at 10:31 pm

When someone with as much EXPERIENCE living in the country, starting a successful business in the country makes comments PEOPLE SHOULD JUST LISTEN. We’re all so glad you’re part of the DR Escapes family and more so a part of Liane’s and my life. Seeing you both soon as Dec. is not far away.

B

kathy stahl November 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm

HI BARRY,

Just read the article. Great one, by the way!!! What people fail to realize, is that no matter where you decide to live, there are always pros and cons!But to be so negative, without experiencing actually being WHERE EVER IS, is rather ignorant. If you were going to move from California to New York, people go and check it out, meaning, housing, roads, food, electric vendors, etc, so on an so forth. But anywhere you decide to call HOME, one must go and experience the experience, before making judgments! This is where I get so upset on so much propaganda on the Dominican Republic, being
a 3rd world country, and etc…. Not true!!!! One of the main differences is that people take care of people, like move it or lose it!! People in the D.R. know they have to do what they need to do to get where they want to go. Furthermore, when things are not right, the people stand up for their CAUSE and the President there listens. So unlike our country, where the government is only concerned with government, not PEOPLE.
When was the last time any of you can remember a doctor making a house call, within
10 minutes?????? Well, it happened to me, and guess what. NO CHARGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Not in America! You will get the emergency pager and be told dial 911 if this is a life threatening emergency. And try getting a hospital to admit you, especially if you have no insurance. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE!! HERE’S A COUPLE OF PILLS, AND IF YOUR LUCKY MAYBE A SHOT!! I am amazed at how shallow minded people can be, are, and continue to believe all is well. Try to find a eye doctor or dentist for your 90 yr old mother in the States that will even take MEDICAID OR MEDICARE. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. I KNOW. I MADE THE PHONE CALLS!!!!!!!!!!!! It still remains to be so true, its all about the almighty $$$$$$$$. If one believes they are immune d from this, your in for a rude awakening. I would rather have health, food, water, and doctors who still practice their OATH they took.!!!!!! AND most of all FREEDOM!!!!!
One should not judge, with out knowing all things, and even then, it is not your place to sit in judgement. However, I am sure one should EXPERIENCE THE EXPERIENCE, then make a decision of what is best for you and your family.
Keep writing Barry! Great informative, article!!

Barry November 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm

It’s difficult for many to round the corner when they’re traveling in circles. I was just watching a YouTube featuring the famous Oliver Stone expressing why so many over the last decade have lost all values and common sense… all reality period. They’re mostly good folks but just to use this line one more time. ” depending from what angle your viewing the box it takes on a completely different view” Grows truer every single day but everyone has the RIGHT to be WRONG I guess if a form of freedom if you’re viewing the box from that particular angle??? Realistically it’s so far beyond sensible reasoning that the nation is being destroyed from the inside out but as the universal laws teach us all “separation creates clarity” How’s the book going and say hi to P

B

Dave November 12, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Great article and great comments. Everything I’ve read and experienced summed up in one article. I don’t know what more can be said.

Barry November 14, 2013 at 3:20 am

I got lucky

mike November 13, 2013 at 1:29 am

Looking forward to my first visit to Cabrera. One can only read so much stuff, gotta get out there and see and reach deep down and find what is right for oneself .
To some people a real estate purchase wont work for them to me it does,

Let me give you an example ; buying foreign real estate has a lot of advantages and, cant be ripped off, confiscated/repatriated, unreportable ,can produce food, appreciation potential in Cabrera , and a place to live taboot. It mean alot-lot, Cant wait to visit in Jan and see what all the hoopla’s about.
Nervous quite abit about it but like they say : “showing up is 90% of it” !

Barry November 13, 2013 at 2:31 am

Mike relax you not going to a gun fight.Looking forward to meeting you soon.
Regards
B

Dave November 13, 2013 at 5:42 am

Laughed out loud at that one. 🙂

mike November 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Dave , Kathy , have a laugh on this one : I went to the dentist in the USA to replace 2 crowns , no big deal just replacement . The bill was $2000.00 (and they werent EVEN Gold crowns either, . My insurance payed 1000 , I had to pay the second 1000$ . The finacial hentchman in the office was adament I MUST pay my 1000 up front .
My thought was that they are coming down so hard is cause people arent paying there bills– just a guess.
The health insurance setup paysystem here is so twisted I bet it costs this dentist 20% of his gross for the personell to handle the insurance redtape.
It is a convoluted mess .

I asked a few dentists there views on fluoride— its a myth– perfectly safe. Asked if they are familiar with oil-pulling — never heard of it.

And this one ; 2 years ago I went to a new dentist and as I was first chatting with the new dentist he said ; “the last guy in here said theres chemtrails being sprayed on the US , isnt that rediculous ” .
I didnt say anything as I felt responding to this typical zombie idiot american would be a waste of time.

johnsteven November 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Hi mike ,just to let you k0now and others 2 months ago i went to the dentist here.I had an xray,a clean and a root canal price? 170 DOLLARS.
YOU had to pay a 1000 dollars extra on your insurance.Mike here a top quality insurance plan for a family works out at around 1000 DOLLARS A YEAR.
JOHNSTEVEN

Barry November 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm

J We have a great dentist that charges 150:) but I still hate going. Somehow the pain seems a bit less at that price though. Mike talk about free grease with every shaft !!!

Dave November 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Mike, the differences in the healthcare systems are reason enough to make a move. It’s getting so crazy here in the states that almost anywhere would be better. If you don’t have your health what else matters right?

The DR isn’t perfect by far. But I’m sure after you take your trip you’ll fall in love with the imperfections just like I did.

The comment about the gunfight was funny. Hell, if you stay in the US there’s a good chance you WILL see gunplay. You may even catch some at a checkpoint on your way out.

Denise November 13, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I think the healthcare situation is a great comparison. It is true that in the US you could get great care, but as Obamacare is implemented more fully, there will be less doctors, less innovation, etc. In the DR, you can call or go in and see what your costs will be with or without insurance. That is called transparency and it is a definite plus when making healthcare choices.

Barry November 14, 2013 at 1:02 am

Denise you’re really so talented when it comes to such things. I’m glad you help the DR family when they come down and Liane and I are glad you’ve helped us in this matter on more than one occasion. Thanks for the post as we know what assistance you’ve done for so many in this regard.
B

Tracy Woodard November 14, 2013 at 1:23 am

Barry,

As always… great article. I can’t underscore how important it is to go visit multiple areas. My family and I knew we were leaving the States several years back. We started our search for “home” in Belize then Guatemala. This at least gave us a measuring stick. Then we came on a DR Escapes trip and FELL IN LOVE!

As soon as we left Cabrera, we went to Chile. We knew from the first day we were in Chile that Cabrera was the place for us.

What has greatly surprised us since moving to Cabrera is how amazing DR Escapes and the “Family” as Barry calls them, has been.

We moved our family of five and needed a nice sized rental for our family…. DR Escapes found us a beautiful, newly built… never been lived in… 5 Bedroom / 5 1/2 Bath home surrounded by the best neighbors you could ask for.

We run an internet business and were looking to rent office space… DR Escapes to the rescue. Someone who is a part of the DR Family allowed us to share office space with them… they even gave us the keys to the office.

Having challenges with customs… expecting to pay THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS in taxes… did I say DR Escapes to the rescue. DR Escapes had a local who speaks great English to accompany us, not once, but twice to the Capital to get our shipment in from the US. Oh…. what would have been roughly 8K in taxes was reduced by close to 4K thanks to the DR Escapes Family member “negotiating” on our behalf to reduce our tax implication. For a pat on the back of $400 USD to customs, we saved close to 4K in taxes. Maybe that is called “corruption.” To me corruption is when you have a 20K a month business that gets killed inside of 3 months because of excessive US regulations. I’ll pay the extra $400 to save $4,000 all day long.

I haven’t even talked about the awesome locals and other DR Escapes Expats that we’ve met. We’ve been here less than 3 months and we already have more meaningful relationships than we had in the last 3 years in the States.

If you haven’t taken a tour… you owe it to yourself and your family.

LOVING THE DR!

TW

Barry November 14, 2013 at 2:39 am

La familia es la familia y su familia ahora está vinculada con la nuestra. Esto es lo que una vez hizo América la gran nación que era. Nunca olvides lo que sucede cuando la buena gente olvida eso. Bienvenido a casa.

Saludos
B

mike November 14, 2013 at 6:30 am

“meaningful relationships” , whats that?

I got a giggle out of Barrys ‘gunfight ‘ comment as well.

kathy stahl November 23, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Hola Barry,

Book is coming LONG GOOD. I’m syked. More news on the doctors here in the states. More of them are beginning to leave their practice and open up private like clinics and have started home visits again, to get out of the bureaucracy, and its BULL SHIT.
People here just are not upset, Social Engineering at its best , once again working.
They complain, whine, belly ache, however thats it… I on the other hand am doing my
treatment, and GUESS WHAT PEOPLE, ITS WORKING! $25 A DAY IN THE D.R. Again, you wont find that here. Also, the VA, has been in the news, when a patient has to be outsourced to the outside to a doctor here in Dayton, guess what, NO DOCTORS WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH OUR V.A Why? Because the VA IS NOT PAYING THEM……Yet, fact, when other cuts are made, the VA has been the only government agency to receive more money for funding. Wheres it going?? Big thing on tv about it. AND OF COURSE, THE DIRECTOR OF THE VA WAS NOT AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT, AND THE BILLING OFFICE IN CLEVELAND, they just do not know where the money is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a country! Will not look back when we leave!!!!!!!!! PEOPLE , WAKE UP, ITS GOING TO GET ALOT WORSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Presently , there is one surgeon who continues to treat the outsource patients, WHY? His answer was ” THESE PEOPLE SERVED AND PROTECTED US, SOME CAME BACK , SOME DID NOT, WE OWE IT TO THEM!!!!!!!!!!!’ He is still waiting to be paid from our government!!!!! Oh, AND LET ME ADD THIS, TRY BEING 90 YRS OLD, on medicaid and medicare, and try getting your mother new eyeglasses and dentures, GUESS WHAT. THEY WONT PAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHATS WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE??? Guess what everyone, you too will be old someday!!!!!!!!!!!!! But if you work for the U.S. GOVERNMENT, YOU KEEP ALL YOUR BENEFITS!! Kathy

kathy stahl November 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Hello from paul!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kathy stahl November 23, 2013 at 10:04 pm

When is video going to be on ???? Im excited to see it ! And to be a blessing to others as well as an inspiration for hope and living a life no more in pain daily>>>
People need to be helped and know they can be PAIN FREE DAILY…..
LOTS OF LOVE,
Kathy

P.S. Working on moms passport!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barry November 23, 2013 at 11:03 pm

We’re working on them. They will start coming out real soon.

Willy November 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm

As a Dominican and most important “Cabrereño” I don’t want to talk about the beautiful of Cabrera, because I don’t want to look like a salesman, but something very important and that is very truth, is the fact that not only the foreigners get surprise with the little town of Cabrera and the people, that happen to Dominicans as well, when they come to visit from different pats of the country, is like “my god I feel here like home and I only have a couple the hours here”, so I feel happy for all of you guys, that you can find in Cabrera a place where you feel like a real free person and like home. Thanks to all of you also for been part of this town, because when you choose Cabrera as a second or first home town, you are helping the town to grow one way or the other and that is something that we appreciate a lot.

Barry November 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Thanks so much Information coming from local people is a great thing to see. It is us who should thank you as we have distroyed the very foundation that once made our nation great. That is before we all allowed the Gove. to divide and conquer us the people.
Thanks for allowing all of you to make us part of many of the families here.
Barry

Bruno December 20, 2015 at 8:16 am

Looking to move from the U.S. in less than a year! Wondering if there is any work available for an English speaking American with some High School Spanish? I am currently a bartender, but am unhappy with the way the USA is turning and want to seek out a new adventure/life. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! I’m an easy going guy with a genuine love for people…hope to meet you all in less than a year! Happy Holidays,Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!!! Sincerely, Tom Bruno

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