Expats' Corner January 3, 2024 | 5:21 pm

Should you learn Spanish as an expat or retiree in the Dominican Republic?

Foto: holaeveryone.com

I know many foreign expats and retirees who make it just fine in the Dominican Republic without knowing much Spanish. It’s possible, especially if you live in a community or area with many English-speaking expats.

That said, I’d recommend trying to learn Spanish, even if it’s at the most basic level. If you plan to move to the DR full-time, take some Spanish classes in advance to get some basics. Or download a language-learning app like Duolingo or Babbel. That way, you’re not entirely lost when you’re on the ground.

Learning a few key phrases or words will make your day-to-day life easier and more enjoyable.

Get in there and immerse yourself into the culture. The more you practice your Spanish with the locals daily in real-life situations, the more you’ll catch on. Whether you’re ordering food, asking for directions, or engaging in friendly conversations, each interaction becomes a practical lesson.

Knowing Spanish breaks down barriers and opens up a world of opportunities. It allows you to form meaningful relationships with locals, fostering a sense of belonging and community. These connections can lead to new friendships and support networks. As you learn to communicate, you’ll gain insights into the Dominican way of life, traditions, and values.

Further, for expats and retirees considering starting a business or investing in the DR, knowing the local language is invaluable. You’ll better understand legal and business matters and be able to communicate with your employees or local business partners.

Lastly, and something many folks don’t consider, learning a new language is a fantastic way to keep the mind sharp, particularly for seniors. Studies show that bilingualism can improve cognitive skills unrelated to language and may even delay the onset of dementia. Learning and practicing Spanish can be a fun and challenging way to engage your brain.


Maria Abreu is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Abreu & Associates, a law firm practicing exclusively in Dominican Republic Immigration and Nationality law. She is also the founder of Retire and Invest DR. This organization hosts conference events for foreigners interested in living, retiring, and investing in the DR. You can contact Maria at: mabreu@abreuimmigration.com.


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