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The Dominican Republic
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The Caribbean Country Squire.................
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When you think of the Caribbean, you think beaches, beaches, and more beaches.  The reality is, plenty of beautiful beachfront property does exist, but there literally is an opportunity to become a “country squire” as well.  Sound too good to be true?  We took a “look around” at what was available in the Dominican Republic real estate market recently and found some very reasonably priced building lots and acreage for our clients.  Some of these properties are located in the beautiful mountain region near Santiago.  We also found some new homes and new residential projects in sections of the Santo Domingo area that may be ideal for an inexpensive get-a-way or retirement home.
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New City – Old Story
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There is a story I am reminded of, that involves a gentleman who decided to purchase an orange grove about 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles in the 1940’s – 1950’s.  The man made quite a bit of money, but his stroke of luck had nothing to do with oranges.  The story starts off with the purchase of his first orange grove.  The gentleman in our story, which we shall call the “country squire”, wanted to own a small farm in order to grow oranges.  He wanted to be sufficiently far enough away from the city of Los Angeles to have his farm, yet close enough for access to all the things he liked about the city.  After a few years had passed, he started to notice the city of Los Angeles “creeping up” on him.  He also started to receive very lucrative offers from real estate developers interested in building new housing developments on his property.  The gentleman finally did sell his land at a handsome profit and decided to move 45 minutes further away.  The exact same thing happened to him again.  That is when he started to get an idea about where to buy property and the fundamentals of the real estate market in a growing city.
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To a large extent, this is the same thing happening in the capital city of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo de Guzman.  This modern city with 3.5 Million people is expanding to the north and east primarily.  This being the case, there are a number of new residential home developments and building lots available at much less expensive prices then within the “city center”.  Investors can find small building lots 200 square meters in size in the San Isidro section of the “Zona Oriental” for about US $ 6,000.  Many might even prefer to purchase a double lot, which would provide 400 square meters of land for about US $ 12,000.
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If you would prefer to purchase a small but comfortable brand new home, I can suggest the newer residential sections of Lucerna & Cancino, also in the “Zona Oriental”.  Such new homes can be purchased for about US $ 55,000 at current exchange rates.  While these 3 bedroom homes are not would can be called “extravagant”, for the money they make for a very reasonably priced second or retirement home.  Close enough to visit the shopping malls, the new “PriceMart” & movie theaters, golf courses and local beaches – yet far enough away from the traffic of the city center.
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In addition, we also found what can be called a similar situation to our “country squire” story mentioned above.  Located about 30 minutes from the residential section known as the “Zona Oriental”, we located a new project designed to offer investors large building lots of at least 1,000 square meters in size, all located within a country setting.  An American expatriate is developing the project, and so far we like what we saw.  The project will include a gated entrance (residents must display special identity passes), community club house & swimming pool.  Plus enough “country” atmosphere to satisfy the nature lover (we have a photo of a wild crane standing on a bulldozer when the construction crew left for a lunch break).
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The price of these properties, equivalent to about US $ 15,000 for a very nice sized parcel (lots vary in size, but a good comparison for Americans would be a US building lot 125 feet x 100 feet in size) and the setting, is not the only attraction we found.  Close by are sugar cane plantations and many farms selling fresh fruit by the road (for those that envy Mr. Douglas from the old “Green Acres” television program).  In addition are the “farm” training camps of the Dodgers and Marlins baseball teams.  Aside from living in a relaxing and comfortable setting only 35 minutes from the “city”, one can watch baseball games of “up and coming” major league players for about US $ 6.  Maybe the next “Sammy Sossa” will be one of your neighbors and you can say, “I knew him when”.
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There’s COLD in them thar’ Hills
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For those of you that like the idea of cooler climates, I can suggest a visit to the Jarabacoa region and general surrounding areas.  What you will find are some of most beautiful mountain scenery & fresh water streams you have ever seen.  In addition, being close to the highest mountain range in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, means that you will also need to pack your sweater.  Frost is very common in the mornings and local Dominicans often call this region the “Alps of the Caribbean”.
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Jarabacoa is located about 1 hour south of the second largest city, Santiago de Los Caballeros, and about 2 hours from Santo Domingo.  What this means for investors is a conveniently located spot which is fairly close to the beach resort towns of Sosua & Puerta Plata.
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As with what we mentioned above, the prices for a comfortable building lot in a country setting is very reasonable.  Lots in a new “Country Club” development of 1,200 square meters are selling for the equivalent of US $ 20,000.  Designed to be an upscale weekend Country Club retreat or get-away for the upper middle class from Santo Domingo or Santiago, we think it is a far better value for the money than some other properties being marketed elsewhere.
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Why the Dominican Republic? 
Why have you not heard about these properties before?
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For starters, the Dominican Republic offers some of the best values around for the retiree or expatriate.  Aside from having the fastest growing economy in Latin America (offering a number of new business opportunities), the Dominican Republic offers tax-free US Dollar banking.  Local bank interest rates for US Dollar CD’s are about 10% or more for a 90-day deposit, plus the country does offer some of the most reasonably priced property in the entire Caribbean.
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The key to finding bargains in any market or country is in knowing where to look.  We have said before that everything “costs more in English”, and this is very true.  Some of our clients have said, “John, you told us a lie”.  “We went to visit the Dominican Republic, and all that we found were high priced golf course communities”.  The fact is, that anything marketed in English, or with slick advertisements aimed at foreigners will cost more.  But this is not the real local market.  There certainly are building lots located in some “golf course” communities being marketed for US $ 75,000 in addition to “luxury homes” offered at US $ 225,000 or more.  There are also many well-done residential homes or communities being built that do not advertise on the “Internet” or in English for that matter.  They do not know how to “get the word out with a web-site”, nor do they have any salespeople that speak English.  But in these cases, this is where you will find the true local bargains as a result.
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John Schroder, of Ascot Advisory Services in Santo Domingo writes for a number of publications about living & investing in the Dominican Republic.  Ascot Advisory Services provides assistance and advice to both individuals and business owners regarding Offshore Incorporations, Offshore Banking & Investments, Residency Matters & Second Passports, plus other matters of interest to “Expatriates”.  For more information or to contact John Schroder directly:
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Telephone 809-334-5387 or 809-756-1917
Email:   info@ascotadvisory.com
http://www.ascotadvisory.com