The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean, thanks to its paradisiacal beaches, colonial history, and natural wonders. Aside from that, it’s also a suitable destination for nomads and remote workers. On this basis, here is a complete digital nomad Dominican Republic guide.
Welcome to the Dominican Republic: a Laidback Paradise with Many Different Faces
The Dominican Republic (“DR”) is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean – thanks to its numerous resort areas, historic sites, and year-round warm climate.
The DR is part of the island of Hispaniola (shared with Haiti), the first island where Europeans built settlements in the Americas. Christopher Columbus landed here during his first voyage in 1492, and over time, most of the Native population died as a result of European diseases.
The country’s history continued with European settlement and colonialism until the DR’s independence in 1844.
Today, the DR’s economy relies on tourism, rum, agriculture, and tobacco. The DR is, in fact, the largest producer of cigars in the world.
Even though a lot of development came to the DR in the last few decades, the country still struggles with widespread poverty, corruption, and crime. All in all, the Dominican Republic is a Caribbean paradise with many faces – positive and negative.
So, how about remote working in the DR? The Dominican Republic isn’t the most popular destination for digital nomads, but there are definitely reasons to consider the country.
On this basis, here are some aspects to take into account as a potential Dominican Republic digital nomad:
- Outside of the capital, the country’s most developed areas are resort-orientated. As such, you won’t find too much nomad infrastructure.
- The DR isn’t far away from the US. As such, there are lots of price-worthy air connections to Santo Domingo and Punta Cana. Another upside for US visitors is that you can call US numbers for free.
- The DR isn’t an expensive country, but there are more affordable places for digital nomads in Latin America.
- Outside of Santo Domingo and the resort areas, you’re in a developing country in every sense of the word.
- The clocks tick slowly here, so it’s a destination for digital nomads who favor laidback, mindful living – not necessarily high-speed Wifi and exponential business growth.
To dig deeper, here is a complete digital nomad Dominican Republic guide.
The Best Places to Live in the Dominican Republic as a Digital Nomad
The DR isn’t a large country. Nevertheless, certain regions cater to different types of travelers and nomads.
The following are the best places to live in the Dominican Republic as an ex-pat or digital nomad.
Santo Domingo: the Country’s Bustling Capital
Our digital nomad Dominican Republic guide starts with Santo Domingo, the country’s largest city and economic center.
Simply put, if you want first-rate infrastructure, cultural attractions, and connections to the world, Santo Domingo is your best bet.
The capital has the best infrastructure, remote working spots, coffee shops, malls, and transport hubs. Better still, you’re only 2-3 hours away from the resort areas – and there are lots of nature parks nearby.
- Read my guide on the Top Attractions in Santo Domingo.
Santiago: the Second-Largest City
If you want to base yourself in a larger city that’s more authentic than Santo Domingo, Santiago de los Caballeros is the top choice.
The second-largest city is the cigar capital of the Dominican Republic – and home to many other industries such as coffee, rum, steel, and concrete.
Santiago doesn’t have a lot of tourist attractions, and not many foreigners make their way up here. However, as a secondary industrial hub, it has a lot of infrastructure, including malls and nomad-friendly coffee shops. Better still, it’s not far away from Puerto Plata, one of the DR’s most popular resort cities.
To sum up, Santiago is a solid option during your digital nomad Dominican Republic stay if you speak Spanish, know your way around the country, and seek a more local experience.
The Resort Areas: La Romana, Punta Cana, and Puerto Plata
Several regions in the DR are resort-orientated, with closed hotel complexes for every taste and budget.
The largest of these is Punta Cana, where hundreds of hotels line the coast. You can find budget Airbnbs here, and there are some remote working spots, but all in all, it’s made for all-inclusive tourists, not digital nomads.
Next, La Romana has a similar layout to Punta Cana, but it has two advantages: it’s closer to Santo Domingo, and there is a bit more local life going on.
Close to La Romana, you’ll find Playa Dominicus and Casa de Campo. These beaches are among the best in the country and offer some accommodation choices.
Finally, if you want to stay in a resort city, Puerto Plata is probably the best choice for Dominican Republic digital nomads. The city has two hotel zones – Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, but also a charming historic core.
As such, Puerto Plata offers a mix of tourism and authenticity. The city’s infrastructure isn’t as modern as Punta Cana, but there is an international airport and a few malls.
All in all, Puerto Plata is the top base for digital nomads who want tourist infrastructure but do not want to be in a resort-heavy area.
Las Terrenas and the Samana Peninsula: the Most Laidback Area
Finally, if you don’t mind slow internet and a general lack of infrastructure, the Samana Peninsula is one of the most paradisiacal regions in the country.
Las Terrenas is the main town of the peninsula and home to a sizable ex-pat community. The area has incredible natural beauty, gorgeous beaches, and laidback vibes.
As such, it’s an excellent place for nomads who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and slow down.
Cost of Living in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic isn’t the cheapest country for nomads in Latin America, but it’s still far from expensive. Here is a breakdown of one month of expenses in Santo Domingo:
- Airbnb in the Colonial Zone: €700 per month.
- Food and drinks: €300.
- Transport: €70.
- Tourist activities and weekend excursions: €150.
- Miscellaneous like SIM Cards, hairdressers, and cigars: €50.
Total Dominican Republic nomad budget: €1,270 (1,460 USD) per month.
The cost of living in the Dominican Republic isn’t particularly low, but you can get by on 1.5k USD per month if you avoid resorts and touristy restaurants.
Infrastructure, Connectivity, Sim Cards, and Transport
The Dominican Republic is still very much a developing country, and its infrastructure showcases that.
The roads from Santo Domingo to the resort areas of La Romana and Punta Cana are excellent, but that isn’t the case for the rest of the country.
Any digital nomad Dominican Republic guide has to cover Wifi, and it’s here where the country doesn’t do too well.
Always ask your Airbnb host about the Wifi speed, as it can be slow. The same applies to hotels, guest houses, and coffee shops. It’s usually enough to surf, reply to emails, and use Google Drive, but once you start uploading photos and videos, it tends to fall short.
In that same vein, the mobile coverage is usually decent but not fast. Altice and Claro are the country’s primary SIM Card providers, and both are passable but nothing more.
In truth, I only found high-speed Wifi in luxury resorts and high-end coworking spaces, so be aware of that before embarking on your digital nomad Dominican Republic adventure.
To get around the Dominican Republic, internal flights (Santo Domingo – Punta Cana and Santo Domingo – Puerto Plata) exist, but they’re expensive.
The most affordable way to travel is to take buses (“guagas”). Bus companies have their own terminal in Santo Domingo and depart to various cities from there. There is no inter-connected bus service going around the country.
Accommodation for Digital Nomads in the Dominican Republic
In the DR, Airbnb is your best bet. You’ll find great deals anywhere in the country, and you can often negotiate the rates with hosts.
Renting through a local agency or privately is only an option if you know someone or stay for six months or more.
You’ll naturally find hotels and guest houses for every taste and budget. If you visit during the low season (May – November), you’ll find excellent deals on sites like Booking.com.
Digital Nomad Dominican Republic Guide: Remote Working Locations
- Chez Space in Santo Domingo: an excellent remote working location close to Piantini with different packages for digital nomads;
- Coffice in Santo Domingo: a coworking space in the University Zone;
- Affogata Café RD in Santo Domingo: a trendy coffee shop in the Colonial Zone;
- Cana Work in Punta Cana: a modern coworking space close to the international airport; and
- Freeworking: a coworking space in Naco with the fastest internet I found in all of Santo Domingo.
Culture and People
The Dominican Republic is a Latin American country with a well-established national identity. Local and national celebrations are frequent, and people cherish their traditions.
One thing I found surprising in the DR is that the view of Columbus and Spanish colonization is different than in the rest of Latin America. In other words, people see colonial history with a more positive eye than in Mexico, for example. The gigantic Columbus Lighthouse in Santo Domingo demonstrates that.
Even though there are modern resort zones and some parts of Santo Domingo are super-wealthy, a vast proportion of the population struggles to make a living.
The people, however, make up for the lack of infrastructure. Dominicans are among the friendliest and most helpful you’ll ever see, and they will go out of their way to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
In conclusion, people who enjoy the Caribbean lifestyle, in general, will be more than happy in the DR. If you, on the other hand, look for a bustling high-tech metropolis, the DR might not be the best fit.
Digital Nomad Dominican Republic Guide: FAQ
If you’re a first-time DR visitor or wonder about the country’s safety situation, visa policies, and popularity among nomads, here are some FAQs.
Is the Dominican Republic Safe?
The Dominican Republic isn’t the safest country in the world, but it’s manageable if you use common sense.
Here are a few Dominican Republic safety tips:
- When in Santo Domingo, stay in the good areas like Zona Colonial, Piantini, Naco, and Gazcue;
- Don’t travel at night. If you are going somewhere in a city, use Uber;
- Do not flash cash, jewelry, or expensive electronics;
- Only use ATMs inside banks;
- Use reputable transport companies like Expreso Bávaro;
- Ask locals about the situation in a specific area you want to travel to.
I never felt unsafe in the Dominican Republic, even in untouristy areas, but there are undoubtedly dangers, and it’s crucial to stay alert.
What’s the Best Travel and Digital Nomad Insurance for the Dominican Republic?
As always, it’s crucial not to travel abroad long-term without proper insurance coverage.
I have been using Safety Wing for over four years, and they offer the best digital nomad insurance on the market. It’s completely flexible as you can use it for one week or an entire year, no matter where you travel.
For about 10 USD per week, you are insured in case of medical emergencies, accidents, and lost luggage. Check out Safety Wing here.
Is There a Dominican Republic Digital Nomad Visa?
At the time of writing, there is no bespoke Dominican Republic digital nomad visa. There is talk of introducing one, but as of late 2021, nothing is confirmed.
Most visitors can stay for up to 30 days visa-free. If you want to stay longer, you have to extend your tourist visa at the migration office or online. The website wasn’t working during my stay, and I didn’t fancy three-hour-long queues at the migration office. Welcome to the DR…
Two other options are suitable for digital nomads in the Dominican Republic.
The Temporary Residence Visa allows you to stay for up to one year. It will cost your 5k DOP (~90 USD) and requires lots of documents. You can find more information about this visa here.
Finally, if you’re planning to stay long-term and invest over 200k USD, the DR also has an investor visa.
How Are English Levels in the Dominican Republic?
In short, better than I expected. In the resort areas like Punta Cana and La Romana, you won’t have any trouble communicating in English, but that isn’t the case for the rest of the country.
In Santo Domingo, you’ll find lots of English speakers in the tourist neighborhoods as well as the wealthier parts.
Finally, you’ll definitely need some Spanish for second-tier cities like Santiago and smaller towns.
Are There Many Fellow Nomads in the DR?
The DR isn’t a nomad hotspot like Mexico or Medellín, Colombia. The chilled-out lifestyle, however, attracts a particular type of ex-pat and nomad who likes to take things slowly.
In this context, you’ll find lots of nomads and ex-pats in Las Terrenas and Santo Domingo. In the rest of the DR, you’ll either be rubbing shoulders with thousands of tourists or exclusively locals.