Dominican Republic - A Digital Nomad's Guide to Living and Working in Cabarete
Updated: Mar 22
Looking for the Bali of the western hemisphere? Let me give you a hint, it's not Tulum...
"Welcome to the Caribean Love" as Jack Sparrow would put it. This island is just as gorgeous as you would imagine. But the real question is, is the Dominican Republic a good place for Digital Nomads? And can it be called the Bali of the western hemisphere?
Let's dive in...
Wifi in the Dominica Republic
First thing is first, how's the Wifi. The golden nugget that makes a place "digital nomad" accessible for not. The fast answer is, it completely depends on your accommodation. The long answer is this.
If you are thinking of trying to only work from cafes here in Cabarete, don't. The Wifi is not good enough at the cafes to support a productive and not frustrating experience. This town is not super digital nomad friendly in that capacity, YET (more on that later).
Your best bet is at your accommodation or to purchase a data card here and bring your own
wifi box. The Claro companies won't sell you a wifi box unless you purchase an annual plan with them, which is so strange, but you have been warned so bring one with you. Also, make sure your accommodation has fiber optic internet and a generator. The electricity goes out here 3-5 times per day typically and for 5-90 minutes at a time. So to save yourself the misery and stress, make sure you book at a place with a backup generator.
Safety in the Dominican Republic for Digital Nomads
I can't speak for the whole country of course, but where I was staying in Cabarete is very safe. I felt completely fine walking around alone during the day and driving alone at night. I wouldn't walk around the beach at night alone in Encuentro, but on the main beach in Cabarete where all the restaurants and nightlife are, I felt very safe there too.
Where to Stay in the Cabarete Area (North of the Island)
I recommend staying on the North side of the island because it is very lush and more open and untouched than Punta Cana area for example. Within the area of Cabarete favorite places to stay are Encuentro and Perla Marina. This is for a few reasons:
I like to surf and be near the ocean, when you stay in those two neighborhoods I described above you are within walking distance to the surf spots and beautiful oceans (which is one of the main reasons why I love being here in the first place)
I like to be able to walk to a cafe or food options when I don't feel like driving into town, you can do that in both Encuentro and Perla Marina. I personally prefer Encuentro because there is more to choose from and it's more lively but either is nice
I don't like how noisy it is in Cabarete proper. The main road that goes through there is busy 24/7 and the trucks and motorcycles are very loud, it takes away from the experience for me
There's way less traffic around these areas, and I like a tropical lush, tranquil place to stay, so these neighborhoods are perfect
Cost of Living in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
This varies so much based on what time of year you come. This town is so seasonal that they have to make all their money in about 4 months out of the year because the rest of the time the town is basically empty except for the couple thousand people who live here all year
round. Here is what I spent living here for 3 months:
Accommodation: $800-$1000 a month (paying half while my partner paid the other half so a total of $1600 - $2000 a month)
*learn from our mistakes:
1. Make sure to rent your place 6+ months in advance if you are going to stay here between December - March, this is peek season and they charge almost double for accommodation
2. If you want to stay in Encuentro as we did, you need to really follow the 6+ months rule because there aren't enough accommodations here to support the growing number of people who want to stay here, so then you pay an even bigger premium when the stock is getting very low and there are only a handful of places left (this happened to us)
Renting a Car: $800/2 = $400 (my partner paid half of this with me)
Food & Water: $300-$500 depending on where you want to eat out and how often
Social Life: $300 I like to attend events and yoga classes. And they aren't cheap here, I would say a typical workshop or event is $20 - $100 depending
Working Out with a Personal Trainer: $240
Of course, that will vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. But this is a ballpark figure for you to use when you are creating your budget.
When is the Best Time to Go to Cabarete
It depends on what you are looking for, for sure I think peak surf is Dec-March but I have heard there are fun waves all year round. Of course, there are hurricanes between August and October so I would be mindful of that. For cost purposes, I would say any time outside of Dec-March that's when you will pay the most.
It's also a great time to come live in Cabarete when you want to slow down. Coming from Bali to here was really nice because I felt like I had more free time because in general, the island has 1/4 of the population of Bali and 4x the size. So things are more spread out, there are fewer events, and everything is just slower. I came here while I was launching a new business and it was perfect, I felt like I had time and space for an amazing work-life balance.
Is the Dominican the "Bali" of the Western Hemisphere?
I think it might be in the future, but it's not there yet. There is BIG growth happening here in Cabarete. In the Encuentro beach area alone there are 500 more accommodations said to be done in the next 1-2 years. I think this will help even out the cost of accommodation a bit, helping with the supply and demand issues. But it is really expensive to live in Bali now too, accommodations have gone through the roof, rent costs the same if not more than in San Diego, California on the beach which is wild.
The community - many people from the USA, Canada, and Western Europe are coming here looking for the island lifestyle, and Digital Nomads are among them. The biggest thing is the huge opportunity here. There is no coworking space yet, and there aren't regular meet-ups
or business-oriented events but there are tons of remote workers. Right now most people who come here are snowbirds, not full-on nomads. But the opportunities are ripe for the picking. There is however a very strong and close-knit community that comes together for some annual events, and smaller weekly events depending on your niche. It feels a lot like a small town in that once you are here for 2 weeks you will be saying "hi" to someone you know at least once a day while you are out and about.
The vibe - the best part is that Cabarete doesn't have that weird energy of Tulum. Some of you may not agree with me, but I don't like the vibe of Tulum. And Cabarete feels more like Bali in the way of being a surf town where people are more down to earth. There isn't a vibe of consumerism here, and it doesn't seem anyone cares what brand of clothing you wear. So if you shy away from places like Tulum I think you'd like Cabarete a lot.
The beauty - the island is incredibly beautiful. Of course, I can't compare Bali to the DR, they are different but I think they are equal in terms of natural beauty.
The culture - there is so much depth here to be uncovered. Similar to Bali, the Dominican Republic has layers and layers of history and cultural practices you can explore. I recently went to a Tainos festival, a celebration of the native of this island who lived here before the Spanish and Africans arrived. There is such an interweaving of food, rituals, traditions, dance, music, and art. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface.