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Did you know that the Dominican Republic was the final landing place for Christopher Columbus in 1493? No? Well that's alright, because this article is not a history lesson but rather an intent to help you answer the following question:
Will the Dominican Republic be YOUR final landing place? And if so, WHERE?
The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispañola, which it shares with the nation of Haiti to the West. It is also the second largest country in the Caribbean. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the North and Caribbean Sea on the South, with the capital Santo Domingo, in the South.
There are four significant mountain ranges in the Dominican Republic. Cordillera Central, being the largest and highest range, which includes Pico Duarte, the Caribbeans highest mountain. The country also has modern highways, connecting its major cities and coastlines. These routes reveal the country’s most picturesque scenery, particularly along the highway from Santo Domingo to the Samaná Peninsula where we shall start our list of the best places to live in the Dominican Republic.
The best beach towns
Expect to find lovely beachfront villages and towns west of Samana on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Puerto Plata is the largest town in the area that features several resorts, has a small international airport, and offers the only aerial tram service in the Caribbean. Head out to the nearby town of Sosua which is a major tourist hotspot and attracts many foreigners who are looking for a new home. Many people who have been living in Sosua have moved to the nearby village of Cabarete. This smallish town is full of European expats and is fronted by a wide beach that is worldwide famous for kite-surfing. You will find the small village and harbor of Luperon on the west side of Puerto Plata. It still has plenty of Dominican character, but is also populated by many foreign sailors. Our Favorite remains the lovely beach town of Las Terrenas.
Or the hidden gem of the Dominican Republic, is located in the North of the Samana Peninsula and about 2 hours from Santo Domingo by car. Las Terrenas is beach town that offers a laid-back lifestyle. It is perfect for those who come to live in the Dominican Republic and enjoy a slower paced lifestyle, to retire, work on their art or whatever they want to do with their life...
Las Terrenas was founded back in 1970’s by the Europeans who were looking for a getaway in the Caribbean. Today, it is home to residents from all over the world including people from France, Germany, Italy, the United States and Canada.
The great thing about having such a diverse population is that many imports from Europe are available. There are also many international restaurants with renowned chefs who settled down here.
It also has 2 main supermarkets and plenty of small grocery stores where you can get fresh and affordable local fruits and veggies. It has a private cuban hospital, and an International school. It is filled with very friendly people and lots of amazing sandy beaches. In short, all one needs to be happy. Las Terrenas is also famous for being the Dominican Republic with biggest retirement communities. Retirees from many parts of Europe, USA and Canada are enjoying the rest of their life in this little paradise.
Another reason why many people decide to come and live here in Las Terrenas, is the fact that there are very few large all inclusive hotels and resorts along its coastline. There are height restrictions that keep buildings that are close to the beach only three stories high, which creates a tranquil and untouched beach feel. Know more about Las Terrenas.
Las Terrenas is also well-known for its growing real estate market and comfortable properties, available due to the Europeans building there. You can check out the listings of properties for sale in Las Terrenas.
Located on the East coast of the Samana Peninsula, Las Galeras is a tranquil quiet beach town where you can lose yourself from the world beyond. This small fishing village in the province of Samana, is also considered a hidden gem of the Dominican Republic, with untouched natural beaches.
One of the main reasons to come to Las Galeras, is its simply put picturesque beaches with white sands. Many come to horseback ride and participate in water activities such as snorkeling and diving. Here you can find a community of expats from Europe who came to find a calm beach town not exposed to the popular and overcrowded beach spots, with several local bars and restaurants mixing European and Dominican flavor. The town itself has only one main road, but there you can find restaurants operated by French expats with incredible cuisine at backpacker prices. Las Galeras is a great escape from the tourist scene and busy streets, but still enough infrastructure to make you comfortable.
On the North coast of the Dominican Republic, the town of Cabarete has become known around the world as a hot spot for kite and windsurfing. Not only a dream location for water sports, but its many attractions and resorts, where you can find a wide array of restaurants with fantastic cuisine, and many shops to enjoy beachside.
Many fall in love with the beautiful scenery, local culture and way of life, which bring people to make the move to this vibrant beach town. Cabarete is also an ideal place for families, as there are plenty of outdoor activities and water sports for children to do.
However, Cabarete is not jammed with all inclusive resorts and vacation tourists. This town attracts free spirits, backpackers, retirees, and those who come to escape the long winter months. Beach life, quality time with loved ones, fresh fruit, and sunsets. What more could you ask for from a Caribbean town?
Puerto Plata, one of the most well known tourist areas of the Dominican Republic, situated on the Atlantic North coast. Where all inclusive hotels, stunning beaches and adventurous excursions take place. This is a hot spot not only for vacationers, but many looking to retire in the sun. It is one of the most developed area for tourists, also containing a small international airport and offers the only aerial tram service in the Caribbean.
Puerto Plata has fertile soil which grows coffee trees, cacao and home to the worlds clearest amber. With the new Amber Cove cruise dock approximately 6 miles West of town, it brings over 250,000 tourists each year. Thus creating great opportunities for entrepreneurs interested in new businesses and vacation rentals.
Aside from its glorious natural beauty bringing people back to this vacation spot year after year, Puerto Plata offers much more than its beautiful beaches. There are plenty of outdoor activities and water sports to do here, as well as enjoy the many local restaurants and bars making this a popular spot to come and live.
Luperon, a town in Puerto Plata in the North of the Dominican Republic. It has been said that Christopher Columbus, found shelter and entered his boats here to find protection from a storm.
The town has an agricultural center and fishing port, with a small combination of tourism. What sets Luperon apart from the other towns mentioned, is that many of its expats are sailboat cruisers or former cruisers. It is considered to be known as the best Hurricane hole in the Caribbean for boaters.
Luperon is predominantly known for its marina “Blanca Marina”, which is considered to be the safest harbor in the Dominican Republic. There is also a developing area where land is still quite affordable here.
Sousa, a small beach town on the North coast of the Dominican Republic. Known for its beautiful beaches, adventurous water activities and nightlife. Sosua beach has been ranked as one of the top beaches in the country, and offers some of the most scenic views.
Many go to Sosua for its incredible water activities, and is a favorite spot for those who love to snorkel and dive. The beaches in Sosua offer many shops and restaurants on the beach to enjoy a laidback Caribbean lifestyle at a low cost. Sosua has a large expat community living there from Canada, United States and Europe.
Located east of Santo Domingo you will find La Romana and the luxurious community of Casa del Campo, where all the fancy retirees and wealthy expats live. Developed back in 1975, this high-end development features over 1,600 private villas, several world-class golf courses, cabanas, and private beaches. Its beauty attracts many from all around the world wanting to enjoy its private beaches, and prestigious golf courses all year round.
Casa de Campo holds one of the Caribbeans top golf courses, designed by the world renowned golf course architect Pete Dye. Many travel from all over the world to experience his luxurious yet challenging golf courses. Another great spot is the Casa de Campo Marina, where guests can enjoy their time at the shops, restaurants or simply gazing at the views seaside. Although the prices in this town are quite high, Casa de Campo is known for its luxury and high quality amenities, and it brings you just that. For the expats looking for an upscale country club feel in the Caribbean, Casa de Campo is the perfect fit for you!
Barahona is a town in the south western part of the Dominican Republic and approximately a 3 hour drive from the capital of Santo Domingo. It is one of the most important cities on the island with a very active port and many ecotourism attractions. It is also town of sugar production.
It may not be the most lively town, but it definitely has much to offer. It is known for its ecotourism, with ecosystems providing both dry forests and tropical humid forests making it unique.
Many love the beaches here and describe them as “unspoiled”. Barahona’s widespread of wondrous nature parks and great beaches for water activities such as surfing, is for those who seek to experience outdoor adventure.
Punta Cana, located at the most eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, known as a resort town and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. As a favorited beach destination, there is so much to do in Punta Cana, with many water activities and excursions as well as land activities. Also known as a favorite golf destination, containing 10 courses located along the strip, with luxurious marinas and fine dining. For those who love beach towns with many options and things to do, Punta Cana is a great place to live. You will never be bored.
Due to Punta Cana being a resort town, there are many gated communities and modern shopping centers where you can get everything you need. It has a well established expat community, where you can find many amenities and services you may not be able to find in other towns in the Caribbean. With recent developments in the infrastructure, it has helped to reduce day to day living costs here, as well as easier accessibility by roads and air. Punta Cana is a great place for families, with many opportunities. Not only for its endless amount of outdoor activities, but growing its community of new schools, and a university catering to the tourism industry.
3 of the biggest cities
Located on the southern coast, Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic, and the oldest city in the Caribbean. It is the largest city on the island with around 1 million in the central part of the city, and 2 million people who live in the suburbs. Did you know that half of the island’s population lives in Santo Domingo?
Within the heart of the city you can find the Zona Colonial, which contains the oldest churches, fortresses and buildings. Its beautiful cobblestone streets make you feel as if you are transformed into another time. You simply can not get enough of its beauty.
Most parts of the city can be best described as urban. A number of services and amenities like cultural venues, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and shopping malls can be found in the city. Here you will find many things you do not have access to in the small beach towns, which makes Santo Domingo a popular place to live if you like the urban city feel.
Santo Domingo is one of those metropolitan cities that is constantly changing. Neighborhoods that used to be residential have turned into commercial districts, while older areas in the city like Gazcue have become a hotspot for investors and buyers from abroad. However, some of the best neighborhoods in the city include Cuesta Hermosa, Cacicazgos, Gazcue, Paraiso, Castellana, El Millón, Los Pinos, La Julia, Naco, Piantini, Julieta, Bella Vista, Mirador del Sur, Anacaona, and Arroyo Hondo.
For those looking to move to Santo Domingo, the cost of living is significantly lower compared to other cities in the country.
Santiago de los Caballeros is the second-largest city on the whole island, in the North of the Dominican Republic. It has over 600,000 residents, and is home to many expats and retirees who come from abroad. It is for those who like the city life with a Caribbean feel. The range of amenities is much better than in other places of the island. The downside of living as an expat in Santiago is that it is quite crowded and noisy. There are also no beaches here, but a few are located just an hour away by car. If you are searching for the best neighborhoods in Santiago, go to the northeast side of town where you will find many foreigners and upper-class Dominicans.
Located on the Dominican Republic’s northeastern tip, the Samana Peninsula is the nature haven of the DR. There lies the town of Samana, overlooking the bay, which hosts thousands of humpback whales during the winter months.
The town managed to escape all of the hustle and bustle of tourist life until 10 years ago. In 2006, cruise ships started using a small harbor to dock. The development that soon followed had an influence on local life and more and more tourists started coming here. Today, Samana is a large town filled with fishermen, a few large resorts and their guests coming to to see the whales reproducing in its bay, as well as enjoying the nature that the peninsula has to offer.
Despite the hustle and bustle, the province of Samana remains the Dominican Republic's secluded escape containing wild beaches, rainforests and coconut plantations, which is why we love it so much! It is for the adventurous who love exploring nature. Another plus for those looking to live in the DR and concerned about hurricane safety, is that there are no hurricanes on the North end of the island due to the mountain range that blocks it off and the deep channel between here and Puerto Rico.
And the inland cities
In the central range of the Dominican Republic, you will find Jarabacoa. It is know to be one of the favorite vacation destinations for the locals. The main reason why this is such a great spot, is the fact that it gets much cooler here because of the higher altitudes. In summer months, the temperature is around 24° C, while in winter it tends to be around 20° C. If you wish to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded capital and popular coastal towns, Jarabacoa is a perfect getaway for everyone who loves the outdoors. You will find dozens of hiking trails, waterfalls, and river treks in the area.
La Vega, is the third largest city in the Dominica Republic. The city is known as the heart of the country because of its geographical position and large agricultural production throughout the province. La Vega’s economy is based on sugar cane cultivation, agriculture and industry trade, thus providing numerous career opportunities.
La Vega is sometimes known as the “Caribbean Alps”, as it is surrounded by mountains. Being one of the countrys most ancient cities, it is known to be a vibrant cultural city, which is visited by many tourists every year. You can find many restaurants, bars and clubs In the city center. La Vega also contains Manny private local schools and two universities in the city. La Vega attracts expats who enjoy nature, and modernity.
Higuey is located in the East of the Dominican Republic. It is now considered one of the countrys economically fastest developing cities. The city thrives on its tourism, with Punta Cana being a few kilometers away. Higuey is now known for its orange plantations, which is a main help for the cities economy.
Many of the resort workers working in Punta Cana live in Higuey, therefore making it a vibrant town filled with local culture. Many consider it a genuine Dominican experience when going there. If you are looking for a town not too far from the beach but not directly in the middle of all the resorts of Punta Cana, Higuy may just be for you!