Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo

5 good reasons to NOT live in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo (April 2021 Update)

5 reasons to live/leave this city, Dominican Republic, English

Reason 1 to NOT live in the Colonial Zone: All Dominicans will suspect you of being a tourist

Do you remember the last reason of my previous article? In brief, I was writing about a ‘Greater tolerance for minorities in the Colonial Zone‘. Do as you like. Not as you should. All that is correct, but how could that be now a disadvantage?

A little walk in the early morning when the most busy street in the Colonial Zone was still empty. This was recorded on April during 2020 – Thus, it doesn’t represent a regular day on ‘Calle El Conde’ where usually tens of thousand people frequent it on a daily base.

Although you might be tolerated a little bit more according to the last chapter, there is also a downside to this. It’s quite difficult to be accepted as a citizen or a permanent resident by the Dominicans. Whether you are one of these aforementioned tolerated characters or simply an ordinary and bog-standard personality: Dominicans will detect that at first glance. Much earlier they might detect your accent.

It might be your physiognomy, your hair or skin color, your fashion style, your walking speed, or something else. But Dominicans have an eye for that and can demask you very easily. You simply don’t appear as a regular Dominican citizen. Most probably, you just look like a foreign tourist.

Rastafari in Santo Domingo
Relaxed Rastafari guy – and my personal beard idol

And there are more reasons that you could be one of these foreign tourists than just an expat living in Santo Domingo. In the Colonial Zone, there are hundreds, even thousands of tourists who want to discover the city for 1 or 2 days. Additionally, one-day-visitors from cruise ships come also every day for a couple of hours. The chances of you being not a simple tourist on a flying visit are slim to none. You’ll be automatically framed as a tourist, no matter what.

And what disadvantages this means is also crystal clear:

  • If there are no price tags on the streets and in the few shops, you’ll pay an invisible fee for regular products and services
  • Beggars, shoeshine boys, etc. tend to approach you more often and more direct
  • On every corner, a self-appointed tourist guide wants to show you the city for mates’ rates
  • Pavement princesses, Chapeadoras and Don Juans try to approach you in a very direct and uncomfortable manner

In my case, I had some hard times in the Colonial Zone. Especially in the highly frequented squares. Sometimes after work or at weekends, I was just sitting there on a bench with a newspaper, my mobile phone, or an ice-cream. Doing nothing but trying to relax and listening to music. Just in rare occurrences, I could also stay alone and relax.

Santo Domingo Pop 2020
Selfie time!

There is always someone who wants something from you. Money, attention, a cigarette, some company, etc. and offers products, services, drugs, company, etc. It’s fairly easy to be approached and contacted in the Colonial Zone as an expat. Depends, if you classify that as a good or bad thing. But no matter for how long you live in the Colonial Zone, you’ll have some difficulties losing the status as a tourist and become just a peaceful citizen who likes to relax on a bench and eat ice-cream.

Needless to state, that you’ll be of course checked and analyzed in other neighborhoods with less tourist frequented areas. But you would be far less approached by strangers than in the Colonial Zone. At least, that was my first-hand observation.

You’ll be always the Gringo. No matter what.

Next page: High rents and living costs

3 thoughts on “5 good reasons to NOT live in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo (April 2021 Update)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.