Saturday, December 16, 2017

10 Guidelines and Tips for living happily in Cabarete (or any other paradise)

susy giddy living cabareteMoving to Cabarete (or any other paradise) is so exciting! The dream is coming true! Woopah!



My husband and I followed our dream to move here, nearly seven years ago and have been living here happily ever since. From our experience and the experience of friends and clients, comes this set of guidelines and tips to help make your experience of living in Cabarete as idyllic as possible!

To begin with, living here is NOT the same as a two week holiday here. On holiday we enjoy the sun, the fun, the rum without the challenges of managing life, going shopping or driving, working, or trying to work, or repairing things or trying to have things repaired, in short, all the things that we do in daily life.

Even after seven years here, my husband still says things such as “I am just going to pop into Linares” (our local hardware store) as though he is popping into Canadian Tire or Home Depot. There is just no popping here. Just getting to Linares a full 2 miles away could present a number of challenges: the road could be blocked by, a herd of bulls, an active political rally or a giant rum truck getting stuck somewhere in the middle of the road, all of which we have seen, all of which would seriously limit any popping. 

Supposing that one arrives at Linares and supposing that the “luce” (electricity) is on, and supposing the clerk understands the kind of material that is needed, and supposing they have it, and supposing it works, one may or may not have had access to Linares, and no where did ‘popping’ have anything to do with it.

Here are some guidelines and tips to help make your life in paradise as great as possible!

It is very important to truly understand (not just play lip service to) that you are not in your home country, you have chosen to live in not only a foreign country, but a third world country, meaning things will not be the same as back home (may I very politely suggest that if you want them to be the same, consider moving to Florida).

My experience has been, that for many expats, finding a balance between Cabarete (3rd world reality) and the home country reality is the key to being happy here. We are after all expats living in Cabarete and to maximize our enjoyment it seems we need to find our own mix of both. Here are some key areas of life to consider. 

susy giddy living cabarete

Accommodations (my home is my castle)

3rd World
Housing standards in some areas of Cabarete do not include 24 hour power, running water, security, screens, garbage removal, etc. Each of us is different in our needs so consider carefully the reality of what you need.

First World
I suggest that you consider what you really need/want to be comfortable in your castle. For many ex-pats 24 hour electricity, running water, security, Wi-Fi, air conditioner, cable TV, garbage collection, etc., are standards that we expect. Not to mention dishwasher, washer/dryers and screens. 

For many people, home is their castle, it is the place they go to after being out in the world, their place to restore and rejuvenate. It appears that for many, nowhere is this truer than when living here, where going out into the world is by times exhilarating and by times frustrating and always different from our homelands? Choose your accommodations carefully!

susy giddy living cabarete


3rd World
I suggest that you learn the language as soon as possible, being able to communicate helps create connections. Consider taking group lessons, it helps with learning a language as well as creates an opportunity to meet others who have arrived at the same time. These are people you may find you have a lot in common with.

First World
I suggest that you create opportunities to hear and speak your native tongue as well. It can be so comfortable to talk to someone else who speaks your native tongue, share ideas, express feelings and talk experiences. It takes away some of the strangeness when you can watch a movie in your familiar language.

While it can be exhilarating to speak a new language, it is also comforting to relax and speak your native tongue. I recommend doing both!

susy giddy living cabarete


3rd World
So now that you are here in Cabarete, it’s the time to try doing things that you would like to do. Cabarete boasts of a grand variety of things to do, going from water sports, kiting, windsurfing, SUP, surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, river rafting, dry land, fitness, yoga, salsa dancing, biking, cooking classes, creative writing... the list is almost endless.

First World
At the same time there is no need to abandon doing what you loved at “home”. If you enjoyed tennis and garden centers or second hand jobs, Cabarete has those as well. I know someone who settled into Cabarete at once: Gordito’s Fresh Mex Restaurant arrived because the owner needed his Mexican food fix each day. 

susy giddy living cabarete


3rd World
Embrace the local food offerings, the ingredients, the preparation and the shopping. The local fruits are spectacular, full of flavor and nutrition. Talk to others, find out what they enjoy and experiment too!

First World
At the same time honor the foods you loved back ‘home’ and see how you can have them here. Everyone has a different thing! Maybe it is blueberries, a favorite cheese, a juicy steak or a Big Mac and fries, its ok.

Food is a full body experience, not only do we eat but its social, it’s comforting and it’s nourishing. So, balance for many expats in the food area is very important. 

Another way of looking at this question of balance between the realities of living in Cabarete compared with the realities of the first world, is to make sure that you maximize the positive aspects and minimize the negative so that the result is satisfaction. 

susy giddy living cabarete

10 Quick and Practical Tips

  1. Money: Have several backups for withdrawing cash, banking machines here run out of cash and malfunction. As well most transactions are with cash rather than cards as in the first world.
  1. Passport: Copy your passport, take a picture of it and store safely.
  1. Communication: Have a backup for communication (I have 3 devices plus 2 phones).
  1. Receipts: Due to dealing with cash as opposed to checks or electronic transactions, most bills are paid in cash, it is important to keep receipts.
  2. Safety: Do not go out drinking alone or accept drinks from strangers.
  3. Insurance: Thoroughly check fine print of any insurance policies, auto, health, home, etc. There can be clauses that exclude claims. Example: Check residency requirements.
  4. Common sense: Use common sense, if you would not do something at home due to safety, it makes sense not to do it here either.
  5. Plans: Have back up plans. Say for example you’d like to curl up and watch a movie on Netflix for Friday night. Be prepared for the internet to go down, so have a backup movie downloaded or a T.V. Show in mind, and if the cable goes out a good old fashioned book will do the trick.
  6. Time: Where I come from 2 pm means 2 pm and tomorrow means, well, tomorrow. Here, not so much... My advice is to come to grips with this sooner rather than later, it will avoid much frustration. 

     Finally: Living abroad in a 3rd world country is not for everyone, listen to your instincts, give it a fair shot, and if it is really not your thing, leave. Try something else, life is short!

Hot Deal in Cabarete!