Living the expat life in Las Terrenas
Welcome to Las Terrenas
Located on the Dominican Republic’s Samaná Peninsula, Las Terrenas is a beach town that was discovered by Europeans who were looking to find that perfect Caribbean getaway in the 1970’s. Today, this lovely town is home to a vibrant community of residents and expats from all over the world including people from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, France, U.K., and Poland.
The charming little town of Las Terrenas is made up of several small streets while the magnificent beach stretching over 15 km gives all its cachet to this true haven of peace.
At the junction between the peninsula of Samana to the east, and the north coast stretching from Nagua to Puerto Plata to the west, Las Terrenas develops the most attractive wild beaches of the country. Discover our full article about the top beaches of Las Terrenas.
““Las Terrenas is a confidential haven lost in the coconut palms.””
— JONATHAN, 5-YEARS EXPAT
At the foot of a hill culminating at 605 meters, where the panorama extends as far as the eye can see towards the ocean on one side and the grand bay of Samana on the other.
Tourism, which develops harmoniously, does not alter the long established osmosis between the natives and a large and diverse foreign community, mainly composed of French, Swiss, Germans and Italians increasing each year. Serviced by the new El Catey International Airport, the Las Terrenas - Samana area has now entered a fantastic phase of development.
The State made it the first tourist pole of the country and it is confirmed every day through the colossal sums allocated to the new infrastructures. Thus Las Terrenas becomes day after day the little Saint Tropez long awaited from the Dominican Republic.
The direct motorway allowing access to Santo Domingo in less than 2 hours is extended by the Boulevard de l'Atlantique. This new-generation road linking Las Terrenas and Samana to the North Coast and the Capitale becomes the veritable backbone of Dominican tourism.
Amazed by the beauty of the vantage points dotting the region, enjoying a unique climate of voluptuousness, amazed by the disorienting conviviality of the local population, you will have discovered the only place in the world where the dream becomes a reality. Discover an amazing video about Las Terrenas.
A town with a growing expat community
This community stands out from other towns in the Dominican Republic because of the strong European presence. Did you know that many of the European expats are dating or married to Dominicans? Don’t be surprised to see supermarkets stacked with international products including German sausages, Swiss cheese, Italian pasta, and French bagels.
Las Terrenas is definitely more than just a small town where expats hang out. It is full of expat-owned businesses and has 40,000 residents. There is an Italian kitchen shop, an electronics store that was opened by a family from France, and a computer store run by Germans. The property prices are also quite affordable with a square meter for a waterfront property costing around $2,000 US. Here you can discover all the communities with villas and condos of Las Terrenas.
And a good infrastructure
Thanks to the experienced developers from all corners of the world and because of the new hurricane safety standards, the quality of construction has improved a lot in the last decade here in Las Terrenas. Most of these developers are European and it shows by the interior furnishings that have that contemporary European chick.
One of the most important infrastructure developments in the whole country came back in 2009 when the Samana-Santo Domingo highway was finished. Before this highway was built, it used to take around 6 hours of driving to get from Las Terrenas to the capital. Today, the drive is 2-hours long on a brand new four-lane highway.
Besides making the traveling easier and faster, the new highway reduced the cost of living in Las Terrenas. Today, it is much easier and of course cheaper to bring food and other goods into town. Expats who live in Las Terrenas used to travel to the capital for International flights, but luckily El Catey airport was opened in Las Terrenas and features regular flights to the U.S. East Coast and Canada.
There is a really high concentration of restaurants in Las Terrenas and no one is really sure how many food joints are there in the town. You can have a three-course meal in a high-end Italian or French restaurant that will cost you less than $25 per person with both tax and tip included. A meal like that in France would surely cost you over $40 per person. Of course, there are even cheaper restaurants that offer three-course-meals sometimes even for less than $10. Travelers who wish to stuff their faces in grilled chicken at a Dominican Restaurant should expect to pay around $5 per person.
It’s a common fact that most of the restaurant in Caribbean beach towns usually offer coconut rice and jerk chicken, as these two are signature dishes of the local cuisine. However, in Las Terrenas, you can find beef capriccio and homemade pasta, as well as rib-eye steaks and extensive wine menus. It’s not only that the food is delicious in almost every joint in Las Terrenas, the service is also amazing and full of reliable and attentive waiters.
Most of the restaurants here are actually operated by the owners and each eatery relies on the creativity of the chef and on the local produce. You will find plenty of shrimp, beef, fresh tuna, and snapper on the menu, but every restaurant prepares dishes from these ingredients in its unique way with different spices and sauces. There are no food-industry delivery trucks in front of restaurants here and you can always talk directly to chefs and owners.
When it comes to the bar scene in Las Terrenas, it can be best described as diverse. Travelers will find a variety of American, Canadian, and Dominican bars that offer happy hours that usually begin in the afternoon. You can order cocktails including a margarita or a mojito for under $4. Las Terrenas also attracts many salsa dancers and you can watch them perform in a number of bars.
Plenty of activities for expats to do
Expect to find many different activities and manifestations for expats here in Las Terrenas. There are weekly cycling outings that include Italian, Swiss, Canadian, Dominican, and French participants. If you like to join a sailing club, a diving club you want to play tennis Las Terrenas has it for you. There are even two petanque courts that host matches almost every day for the french and passionates. Discover our list of all the activities and things to do in Las Terrenas.
And what about the costs of living?
Despite the high number of expats from abroad, costs of living in Las Terrenas seem to remain local. Keep in mind that the taxes are quite on the expensive side. A mandatory tip for dining is 10%, while sales or value added tax is 18%. A couple of restaurants have the tax included on the menu, so you should always ask before paying. The bad news is that the Dominican Republic has problems with price equality, and the only way you can avoid it is to be informed and ask around. More information on the cost of living in Las Terrenas here.
Some questions we are often asked...
How safe Las Terrenas is?
Yes, Las Terrenas is safe! Actually, it is one of the first reason why so many foreigners decided to live or invest here. Criminality rates are much lower than anywhere else in the Dominican Republic. Few years ago, the government created a section called "CESTUR" with the goal of protecting tourists and maintain security. While driving or walking in Las Terrenas, you will see policeman there to help you if needed.
What about road access?
In 2012, a new highway between Santo Domingo and Samana was openned.
By far it is the best road in the whole country. Clean, scenic and well maintained. A trip that would have taken before no less than 45 minutes by car from Sanchez (at the entrance of Samana province) to Las Terrenas, now takes just 20 minutes. From Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas it takes about 1h40, and from the new international airport of El Catey, it takes only 20 minutes from the village. The views all along the road are spectacular and there is a fabulous viewpoint, just as you are approaching Coson area, overlooking Coson beach, surrounding the tropical forest and the turquoise sea.
Consider that you'll have to pay just less than (1,000 pesos / 20 dollars) between Santo Domingo and Las Terrenas it is worth it. All the 4 toll booths only accept pesos cash.
What about bugs?
Yes there are some bugs here.. After all the we are on a tropical island in the Caribbean, but nothing to really worry about. There are no mortal species of insects or animals here. With all the Flora that surround us, it is quite surprising that the Fauna not more agresive. You will find some mosquitos, and maybe a spider, but you easily find the products against them in every local super market. Most of the tourist areas of the country are fine as they use fumigation to prevent insects to reproduce.
In the Dominican Republic the power sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 110 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in the Dominican Republic, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 110 - 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries). If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 220 - 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia), you will need a power plug adapter / voltage converter. You can find it easily in “Ferreterias”. They are bit everywhere in the center of Las Terrenas. Power cuts happen sometimes, but not often. Maybe once or twice a month for 20 minutes. Remember that 20 years ago only it was still a small fisherman village retired from the world. If you really do not want any cuts, you can buy a generator.
And water supply?
Like in many other countries, you can use the tap water for brushing your teeth, shower and cook but not to drink. You will find everywhere 5 gallon bottles at 1 usd each. There is water from the city but it is not connected for everybody. Usually properties outside of Las Terrenas don't get water from the city. Condominiums always build water cistern. Some owners have a private well.
Schools in Las Terrenas
On top of the many school where the locals put their kids. There are 2 bi-lingual schools in Las Terrenas: Las Terrenas international school (English and Spanish) and the École Française (French and Spanish).
Located on the peninsula of Samana, Las Terrenas is the ideal place to buy a villa on the beachfront or to look for apartment to buy and put with you feet in the water. Discover this beautiful village to invest or for pleasure, and why not both? In fact, the real estate market has been on a positive trend since 20 years, with plenty of properties available, Las Terrenas is one of the most attractive place to invest.