Expats' Corner May 1, 2024 | 6:06 pm

Tips for couples making the Big Move to the Dominican Republic

Moving abroad with a significant other can be an exciting adventure. It offers a fresh start and the opportunity to explore new cultures together. However, it also comes with unique challenges, particularly in adjusting to a new environment.

One significant issue that couples may face is the possibility that one partner may adapt to and enjoy the new country more than the other. I’ve seen situations where a happily married couple moves abroad, and a few years later, they’ve separated or, worse, divorced.

If you’re a couple planning to move to the Dominican Republic or anywhere outside your home country, here are some strategies and tips for a successful transition.

Open and Honest Communication
Open and honest communication is the cornerstone of any strong relationship, especially when undergoing significant life changes like moving abroad. Discuss potential scenarios where one of you may love the new environment while the other struggles to adjust. Consider all possible outcomes: Will you move back if one person is unhappy? Is relocating to another country an option? What are the deal-breakers for each of you? Having these conversations beforehand can help prepare both partners for any outcome.

Establish a Trial Period
Consider setting an initial trial period for the move, such as six months or a year. This timeframe provides an opportunity to evaluate how well both partners are adjusting to the new environment. It also offers a clear checkpoint to discuss feelings, frustrations, and happiness levels without making immediate, permanent decisions.

Create a Support System
Moving to a new country can feel isolating without friends or family nearby. Proactively building a new support system is crucial. Engage with local communities, join clubs or groups related to your interests, and take language classes if necessary. Having external support and activities can alleviate the pressure on your relationship and help both partners feel more connected to their new home.

Plan Regular Check-ins
Schedule regular check-ins with your partner to discuss how each of you is feeling about the move and the new environment. These conversations should go beyond logistical issues, focusing on emotional well-being, any feelings of homesickness, and overall satisfaction with the expat life. Use this time to voice any concerns and celebrate the positives of your new adventure together.

Have an Exit Strategy
Despite the best preparations, it’s important to recognize that sometimes, things don’t work out as planned. Discuss and agree on an exit strategy before moving. This plan could involve moving back home, trying out a different city or country, or even taking a break to travel separately. Knowing there is a mutually agreed-upon course of action if things don’t go well can provide both partners with a sense of security.

Focus on the Relationship
Throughout the process of moving and settling in, keep the focus on your relationship. Remember that this adventure is something you’re undertaking together. Celebrate small victories, explore your new home as a team, and make time for each other amid the chaos of moving and adjusting.
Moving abroad with a significant other can significantly test relationship. Still, with thoughtful preparation, open communication, and a flexible approach, it can also strengthen your bond and provide an unforgettable shared experience.


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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