In contrast, urban areas such as Santo Domingo (the capital city and largest populated city with about 4 Million inhabitants) and Santiago (the second largest city) are going to offer a wide variety of shopping, medical care facilities, bi-lingual or English only private schools, and a number of other amenities as well. With larger variety of buying options comes competition and lower prices. As such, whether trying to find a good private bi-lingual school or the best price for tomatoes, cities such as Santo Domingo will offer a wide variety to choose from.
In terms of real estate options in Santo Domingo, again a wide variety also exists to fit any budget and we can say your will get more square footage for your money with a condo apartment in Santo Domingo than you will looking at something similar in a tourist area. As an example, you can expect to pay about US$120,000 for a 1-bedroom 1,000 (or more) square foot apartment in a higher end more upscale area in Santo Domingo (with secure parking, 24 hour security, gym facilities for tenants, etc.). For a 2 or 3-bedroom 1,500 to 2,000 square foot (or more) apartment in a more upscale building, you can expect to pay anywhere from about US$165,000 up to maybe US$230,000 all depending upon size, location and so on. And if your budget is more modest, there are new apartments and single family homes to be found in the US$80,000 to US$120,000 range. Likewise, you can find very nice single family homes similar to what you might find in a Florida private residential development for roughly US$250,000 to US$350,000 and condo penthouses of 3,000 square feet (or more) for perhaps US$300,000. There is not enough space to highlight everything, but the point is when clients ask: Is there any affordable real estate in the Caribbean – our answer is YES, in The Dominican Republic.
Getting back to the investment point of view, we think it important to consider real estate as one asset class to consider, albeit one that is NOT correlated to the US or European stock markets, currencies, etc. in order for it to make sense. In other words, the idea is to own an asset class that is somewhat isolated from the current and future problems that might exist in other markets, and one not dependent upon the future movements of the currencies or economy in such other countries as well.
Not to go off on a tangent, but there is one interesting phenomena taking place regarding new construction in Santo Domingo. Which is to explain that 20 years it was almost impossible to find a new condominium apartment building with one bedroom units (builders just did not build them). And previously the norm in The Dominican Republic was that young people graduated university but lived at home with parents until such time they did get married and could afford a 2 or 3 bedroom rental (with the long term view of owning rather than renting). Today, what we are seeing is a larger number of new higher end buildings going up with one bedroom units and this tells me something. It says to me that the younger single people are more likely to be able to afford and buy (or rent) a new one bedroom unit today, which means to me more affluence in the economy than what existed say 25 years ago. In the United States today, just as a contrast, younger people are graduating university and cannot even find a job, and or regardless if they do, they are living with the parents. This represents a notable change from what was considered the norm 25 years ago. In brief, what is going on is that the United States is moving backwards economically speaking and the Dominican Republic is moving forward. It is a small thing and something not obvious from the government statistics, but very telling none the less.