Saturday, February 11, 2012
Expat Experience: Lindsay de Feliz, Dominican Republic
Barrio Living In The Middle Of Nowhere by Lindsay de Feliz
I am Lindsay. English, mid 50s. Started out life as a linguist (French and German), ended up as Marketing lecturer at Kingston University, then Marketing Director of various Financial Institutions in the City.
I have been married to a very hunky Dominican for 7 years, and he has 3 boys who have all lived with us at various times. At the moment we have number two son with us, who is 21, and we also have 3 dogs and 10 cats.
I left the UK and ex husband in 2001. I just wanted more out of life and felt claustrophobic in London. I had developed a passion for scuba diving and had always loved travelling, meeting new people, experiencing new places, eating new food. My plan - such as it was - was to qualify as a PADI scuba diving instructor and then travel the world teaching diving, going from one tropical beach to the next. I didn't really think about where I would go or where I would end up. My first port of call was the Maldives, where the diving is second to none
I thought with a British passport I could work anywhere. Not true. I ended up doing my instructor's course in Singapore and the examination in Thailand.
I could have worked in Singapore but it was not a tropical paradise really, Thailand and the rest of Asia wanted work permits and at that time most dive schools preferred to employ locals. After a month of looking for work I ended up in Menorca as I could work legally there. But the Mediterranean Sea was cold - freezing in fact, and no beautiful corals or colourful fish - just the odd cod swimming past a clump of rocks.
I still wanted the tropical dream and thought that it would be handy if I could speak Spanish and then get work in South America where there were lots of sharks, as I was a shark specialty diver. I applied for a job in the Dominican Republic and came to the south coast in November 2001 for a 6 month contract with the plan to learn Spanish and then move on. But I fell in love with the country and the people and then one particular Dominican man, and I am till here ten years on
What challenges did you face during the move?
The main challenge when I originally left was dealing with the emotions of family and friends back in the UK who thought I had lost my mind, and were all waiting for me to come to my senses and go back to England. Having had a successful career and all the trappings that went with it, they could not understand how I could leave it all behind to live in a bikini and a sarong on a beach. I travelled light, with one bag with all of my scuba diving equipment and the other bag was the rest of my life. I basically left everything else behind.
How did you find somewhere to live?
When I arrived in the DR there was accommodation arranged through the dive school - a studio, which I upgraded after a month to a two bed flat which cost 400US$ a month. After a while there I began living with a Dominican man and his three young sons, and we moved to a bigger apartment with a garden. I then bought a villa in 750 square metres of land, 3 beds, 2 baths, pool and a servant's house, for 120,000 US$.
The buying process was fast and painless, and the house came with all the furniture. We now rent in a Dominican barrio and pay just over 100 pounds a month for a 3 bed 2 bath villa in a large garden. Prices are significantly cheaper in non expat or tourist areas.
Read more about life in the Dominican Republic