Living in the capital city of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for a year was an adventure filled with cultural immersion, exploration, and unexpected discoveries. From starting my journey in the historic Colonial Zone to eventually settling in the vibrant Mirador Sur area, I experienced the diverse facets of life in this bustling metropolis. In this article, we will delve into my experiences, focusing on the challenges of navigating a 20% tax on goods and services, the absence of a digital nomad community, the preference for resort cities among tourists, and the retiree-dominated expat scene.

The Colonial Zone: A Historical Power Outage Haven

My journey in Santo Domingo began in the enchanting Colonial Zone, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that breathes history. The cobblestone streets, well-preserved architecture, and vibrant plazas take visitors back in time to the era of Christopher Columbus. I immersed myself in the rich cultural tapestry of the area, not exploring museums but mostly enjoying local cuisine, and trying to avoid friendly locals. Everything is within walking distance in this area, the one thing that stands out is how often the power goes out in this area. If you're going to rent here, make sure the place has a backup generator as well as a battery backup for the wifi so you won't get knocked off meetings when the power goes out. Even though it was a nice started area that was super near to the ocean, it was pretty much living in a bubble, since the rest of Santo Domingo looks nothing like the colonial zone. Also, the high cost of living in the Colonial Zone prompted me to seek alternatives.

Moving Around: Seeking New Experiences

As I ventured beyond the Colonial Zone, I discovered the sprawling neighborhoods that make up Santo Domingo. From the trendy Piantini district to the bohemian charm of Gazcue, each area offered a unique blend of residential, commercial, and recreational amenities. The search for a balance between affordability and convenience led me to the Mirador Sur area, which offered a tranquil atmosphere, lush parks, and proximity to essential amenities.

The Impact of 20% Taxes on Purchasing Decisions

One of the challenges faced by residents and visitors alike in Santo Domingo is the high tax rate of 20% on goods and services. This tax, known as the ITBIS (Impuesto a la Transferencia de Bienes Industrializados y Servicios), affects everyday purchases, including groceries, dining out, and entertainment. The burden of these taxes influences consumer decisions and impacts the overall purchasing power of individuals residing in Santo Domingo.

The Absence of a Digital Nomad Community

Unlike some popular digital nomad destinations, Santo Domingo lacks a well-established community for remote workers. Despite its vibrant culture, affordable cost of living, and growing technological infrastructure, the city has yet to attract a significant number of digital nomads. The absence of co-working spaces, networking events, and other resources tailored to this community presents a gap in the city's appeal for location-independent professionals.

Resort Cities vs. Exploring Santo Domingo

When most tourists think of the Dominican Republic, they envision pristine beaches and luxurious all-inclusive resorts. As a result, the majority of visitors flock to resort cities like Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and La Romana. This preference has created a divide between the tourist hotspots and the cultural capital, Santo Domingo. While the resort cities thrive on the tourism industry, Santo Domingo remains relatively untouched by mass tourism, offering an authentic experience for those willing to explore beyond the beach.

Retiree-Dominated Expat Scene

The expat community in Santo Domingo is predominantly composed of retirees seeking a peaceful and affordable retirement. The city's pleasant climate, affordable healthcare, and access to amenities attract many individuals looking to stretch their retirement savings. However, the retiree-dominated expat scene may pose challenges for younger individuals or those seeking a more dynamic and entrepreneurial environment.

Suburban Living in an Urban City: The Need for Transportation

Despite being a vibrant and urban city, living in Santo Domingo often encompasses a surprisingly suburban lifestyle due to the sprawling nature of the city. With amenities and attractions spread out across different neighborhoods, having some form of personal transportation becomes essential for navigating daily life.

Santo Domingo's urban landscape stretches far beyond the city center, with various residential areas, commercial districts, and recreational spaces dispersed throughout the metropolitan area. While the city does offer a public transportation system comprising buses and taxis, relying solely on these options can prove challenging for efficiently and conveniently accessing different parts of the city.

To truly embrace life in Santo Domingo, owning a car or having access to other means of getting around, such as a scooter or bicycle, becomes highly advantageous. The ability to travel from one neighborhood to another without depending on public transportation not only saves time but also allows for more spontaneous exploration and easy access to the city's diverse offerings.

Furthermore, Santo Domingo's suburban lifestyle is shaped by factors such as traffic congestion, limited parking spaces, and the occasional heavy rains that can make walking or relying solely on public transport less practical. Having personal transportation provides the freedom to navigate the city's always congested roads and access amenities more conveniently.

It is important to note that while personal transportation is beneficial, there are considerations to bear in mind. Traffic congestion during peak hours can test one's patience, and the cost of fuel, vehicle maintenance, and parking fees should be factored into the overall budget. Additionally, alternative options such as ride-sharing services are very common and offer alternatives to getting a car, however you gotta deal with other peoples’ driving.


Living in Santo Domingo, despite its urban character, forces you to embrace its suburban lifestyle due to the city's extensive layout. The need for personal transportation arises from the sprawling nature of amenities, the challenges of traffic congestion, and the desire for convenient access to different parts of the city. While personal transportation comes with its considerations, it provides the freedom and flexibility to navigate Santo Domingo's diverse neighborhoods and discover the treasures of the city and its surrounding areas.