I had a big, long list of things that would be included in my "perfect apartment." Of course that list looked more and more like a Penthouse everyday, and I was frustrating real estate agents with my "list" and my "price requirement." Though I found (and ultimately decided against) a beautiful, new, small apartment with many of those "requirements" at a modest price, it was not a modest price I was looking for. Plus gas, plus internet. Also, since I could not find anyone who actually paid for their electricity, the potential for a huge wildcard electricity bill was looming in my future. Everyone said, "As long as you don't use the air-conditioning." Of course, since there was an air conditioner, I would have used it.
I was looking for, well, cheap! Yet still being a picky American, there were things that were simply unacceptable. I walked for days, following up leads and taking down phone numbers from rental signs. Two different people made numerous phone calls for me because, as we have learned in an early lesson, Dominicans get different prices and different terms than foreigners. Foreigners pay one or two months as a deposit, another month rent as a commission to the agent, and then may also have to pay a month in advance. The place I ultimately decided against wanted another $100 for the lawyer's fee. (A lawyer is always involved, I was told.)
So, when I found a new friend who previously had worked in "Bienes Raices" - or Real Estate rentals and purchases, I received very different terms. But think part of that is because it is a very different place. The owners live on the top floor (the Penthouse), much of which is an open terrace with most rooms opening directly to this terrace - plenty of breeze passing through. I paid one month in advance, negotiated (or my friend negotiated for me) less than a month's commission, and a $100 deposit. Now lawyer’s fee. No contract. No minimum months required. I think this is very rare. I think it is perhaps miraculous.
The room is a studio, yet larger than other studios I saw. It also has a half wall separating the bedroom from the seating and kitchen area. This is a fantastic addition to the studio concept! Guests don't look at my bed. I have a separation between where I sleep and where I work. I have room to walk around (a little). Internet (cable) added for $20. Women, you will notice the closet!! The bathroom is small, but I saw worse - MUCH worse. It has a ceiling fan. Electricity is included - therefore no surprises at the end of the month.
I was told by one person that Dominicans don't have fans in their homes, and I am prone to believe it. Since electricity is rare in many areas, it wouldn't work anyway. And they all love to take a chair out to the street and sit in front to talk, drink or to play dominoes!
No air-conditioning (and yes, it's awfully hot here.)
No balcony - something I long for desperately. There is one in the owner's building on the second floor, and after asking five times to use it, they finally said I could call up and ask to be let in periodically. But they won't give me a key. A bit uncomfortable. Then one of the chairs was stolen and I am afraid they have become even more insecure about an unknown person having access to thier home.
No hot water - anywhere - even homes, apartments and many hotels that have hot showers don't have hot water in the sinks (not even the kitchen). I felt the lack of hot water in the shower was not a deal breaker. Not because I don't "need" a hot shower, but because I knew a shower head with a heater could be attached to the spout in place of the regular shower head. It costs about thirty dollars at the local hardware store (local meaning on el Conde street where foreigners shop!) It must be battery operated, and my mom and I had one in our aparta-hotel. It created warm water at a low pressure. So I signed rented confidently. Then I tried to buy one on a Saturday night (closed) and a Sunday (when EVERYTHING is closed), and have now learned how to put my hands in the shower first, then slowly my arms, then my face, then my hair. In a short time, I'm in completely and not even shivering.
No guarantee that I won't be killing bugs every day for the rest of my stay, mosquitos included.
And so, I have a new home! Use the Converter Tool on the right side to find out how much I pay per month for rent, internet, electricity, water and gas. Make sure you use the Dominican R. (DOP)(not the Mexican Peso) and US Dollar. I pay RD$ 10,700.