This can be one of the most difficult tasks to undertake for a potential expat. There are often, in all things Dominican Republic, two prices. Local pricing which is reasonable for the most part and GRINGO pricing which is inflated. There are many honest people in the country that treat the gringo as a person and not a bank. There are also the opportunists and this is evident in rentals too.
When searching there are various sources. Internet, word of mouth and signs advertizing the rental on the property itself. Where the sign is positioned is the rental.
It is common here to pay two or three deposits and legal fees upfront for your rental property. Be prepared with adequate funds. Some require a fiador, a guarantor. The fiador has to be Dominican with a good credit rating or they will be rejected. Offering several months rent in advance is a way around not having a fiador. If at all possible, have a Dominican call to make the inquiries for you and pre-view the house for you. They do not need to say that they are looking for a home for their gringo friend. That is best left out of the conversation. Once the price is quoted to them, join them in the viewing. Most are open to negotiation as well, you don’t get if you don’t ask. Understand the lease agreement before you sign it. Check and note all meter readings before you move in. Go with your gut, if you have a bad feeling, look elsewhere.
Unlike Canada, I can’t speak for other countries, when renting in DR, unless furnished or partly furnished, you are expected to provide your own appliances. This can be a costly initial expense depending on your personal standards. If you opt for unfurnished, keep in mind Gringo pricing when you are shopping, and if the salesperson tells you that the wood that the furniture is built with is mahogany (caoba), find an unfinished piece and if you can dig your nail in it’s pine stained to resemble mahogany. Mahogany is a hard wood and will be difficult to score. There are many department stores, IKEA, and mom & pop shops to investigate to furnish your knew home. Low end or high end, all is available here.
Other points to evaluate when renting are your requirements.
What is your preferred form of transportation? If you have no car, how close are you to public transportation (guaguas or metro)?
Proximity if you have children. There is a large difference between private and public schools.
How secure is the dwelling? Are there bars on all the windows? Are there steel plates welded over the locks? Is there outdoor lighting? Do the locks work? ALWAYS change the main locks, you don’t know why has keyes.
How close will you be to supermakets?
How close is the closest colmado? Close enough to walk to, but not close enough to hear their music all night long. Look at the radius around the rental to ensure there isn’t one behind you.
What are the estimated running costs? Electricity is affected by supply and demand. Demand always exceeds supply. Electricity companies in DR are privately owned. This makes some areas more expensive than others. Zones in DR receive hours of electricity based on payment history. If there is a high percentage of compliance then you get more hours of electricity. Before you rent, ask the people in the neighbourhood what the electricity situation is. Your other option is to purchase an inverter and batteries as a back-up power source.
Are there holding tanks (tinaco), and how large? Is there a cistern and how large? Does the pump work? How often a week does the water run or not run? You need to know the schedule.
Canadians like hot water for bathing :). If there is no hot water source there are several options available to you if you care to equip your bathroom. You can buy an inline propane powered water heater for about $400.00. This one works very well, provides instant hot water, an endless supply (as long as you have water) and is easy to install and uninstall. If you move, you can take it with you. Labour here is inexpensive and a professional installation may be required for warranty purposes. This is my favourite option
Electricity must be turned on in order to determine if all electrical is in working order. That includes any water pump or electric water heater, pools etc. Test the water to ensure you have water to all devices; sinks, toilets, showers, and laundry facilities. Check drainage, and check for leaks. Look at the ceilings to note if there is water damage, the roof may very well need sealing. In rainy periods you may experience leakage or filtration if there is no sealant. This also leads to mold. Pay attention to any black spots and foul smells. Insects are problematic. If the house appears to have been vacant, check for signs of cockroaches. A good place to look for these is in the toilet tank. If the tank is dry, they love to hide in there. You can also request a fumigation before moving in. Note any discrepancies. ANYTHING that needs repairs needs to be taken care of before signing the lease and giving deposits. If not, they might never be done unless you pay for it after.
Renting, it’s an adventure!
Listen to the palms…
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