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How to Move to Punta Cana

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - August 4, 2016

It’s the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean: Punta Cana, the beach-filled paradise on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. And while it’s filled with a host of great, mostly all-inclusive properties, the country’s tourism hub is also home to some serious real estate. That means yes, you can live there. But how do you do it? To learn more, we talked to Jocelyn Hernandez Irizarry, an expat from New York City who owns Punta Cana Lifestyle Real Estate.

Why should I move to Punta Cana?

It is freakishly beautiful here. White sand beaches with clear waters make Punta Cana the best option if you’re interested in picturesque beaches. And the Carnival- whoever said you have to go to Brazil to have fun at a great carnival was immensely wrong.

And can I live there? What are the residency laws, etc.

It is easy to get residency in the Dominican Republic. With your identification card (Cédula de Identidad Personal) you have access to a more favorable tax structure and it gives you the same rights and responsibilities as a native Dominican.

First you apply for temporary residence. Once granted, it will be valid for one year and will entitle you to live and work legally in the Dominican Republic. With this document, you won’t be required to purchase a tourist card to enter the country. After one year, you will renew your temporary permit for one more year. After five years as a temporary resident you will be able to change your status to permanent.

What are the advantages of living permanently vs. part time?

Punta Cana is an established expat community, which means we have amenities and services you won’t find elsewhere in the Caribbean with less established expat communities. Recent developments in the infrastructure have helped reduce day-to-day living costs and providing easier accessibility by both road and air. With recent upgraded airports you can now get to the Dominican Republic from the U.S. East Coast in two hours. New highways have cut journey times to Santo Domingo and La Romana by more than half, allowing for a reduction of about 30% in food and grocery items the past couple of years.

How much does an average home cost? 

It depends on the community and whether you have golf or beach views. Properties at the Cocotal Golf & Country Club community can go from USD $100,000 for a 60 square meter 1 bedroom, to USD 650,000 for a 200 square meter, single family house. In Cortecito, you can apartments priced anywhere from USD $80,000 to USD $200,000- without beach views, in all different sizes and qualities.

How to Move to Punta Cana

How much does a beachfront condo cost?

If you’ve always dreamed of owning beach property in the Punta Cana area, there are plenty of opportunities. You can purchase a 162m2 condo with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths for USD $480,000 in the popular beach expat community of Cortecito in Bavaro. If you want something a little more luxurious you can get a similar sized condo for USD $845,000 in Cap Cana’s Soto Grande community. These are just some samples of how you can enjoy the proximity of several sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters.

How to Move to Punta Cana

The Villas Bavaro development in Punta Cana

How much does it cost to build a home?

On average, local builders in these resort areas charge between USD $750 to USD $950 per square meter, depending on the qualities and type of work done.

What are the real estate taxes like?

Once you purchase your property, you must pay a title transfer fee which is 3% of the total fiscal value, an amount to be paid just once to get the property’s title under your name. As far as yearly property taxes, the government offers a RDS 6,500,000 (Dominican Peso) exemption, which means that anything valued under this amount is tax exempt. Anything above that amount has a 1% annual property tax.

How to Move to Punta Cana

The Playa Turquesa community in Punta Cana.

What are income taxes like?

Individuals pay tax on annual income in excess of RDS 399,923.

Can I work here?

Salaries are a bit low. Unless you have upper management experience in hotel related fields, which can provide some decent salaries, the best option is to start your own business. Tourism and service related businesses do best.

What’s healthcare like?

Asides from local and foreign qualified physicians, we have great facilities in the area. Local hospitals and clinics have expanded their services due to the community’s growth. Insurance services are also quite affordable.

Can I bring kids? 

Yes, the area is grown and with is has come new schools and even a university catering to the tourism industry. Grade level Puntacana International School and Cap Cana Heritage School seem to be most popular with North American Expats.

Can I bring my car? What’s duty?

Importing a car into the Dominican Republic can be a difficult task, making purchasing a car in the island a better option. As a resident you can bring in a car at little or no duty if you have owned it for two years and it is less than five years old. If you bring in a new car if you will have to pay duty on it.

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