we don't live extravagantly - but i'd be lying if i said we live simply. i have a lot of modern conveniences that most dominicans don't (most of which were gifted to me, but consume a lot of extra electricity that i'm more than happy to pay for for the easy way of doing things). i work - kind of. my school is small and we only have class two days a week for 3 hours. i try to save most of the income as an investment for making the project bigger in the future. most of my income comes from private tutoring for rich kids and english classes for adults. and, the idea of tutoring is to get kids to their level and move them on. good for their education - a little shaky for our income. usually i have a steady flow, when one spot open it's almost always immediately filled - but the pay is not always the same and neither is the workload. amalio makes a solid salary every month and thanks to the governments generous "performance bonus" this past september, he's nearly doubled his salary.
we are able to go out to eat at least twice a month - we're not talking extravagant, fancy feasts, here. pizza, sandwiches, pasta bar, typical dominican food. we've been out to nice restaurants only a few times this past year, but it's not really something that we miss. we'd rather go out with friends, have a few beers and dance. and that we are able to do.
we bought a car, are able to pay for the gas and the few repairs that it's needed. we'll also have no problem making payments (barring any severe economic emergency) and can travel to visit amalio's family.
samil has everything he needs - toys, clothes, diapers, milk, food and more. thanks to the generosity of my family we haven't needed to buy much, but when we need new things, we are always able.
we have nice furniture, framed paintings, a computer and a laptop and internet. we have a tv with cable, a dvd player and a vcr. i've got long distance on my phone and we've got cell phones.
all of that to say. we have what we need and a lot of what we want. don't get me wrong, i have a list of things i'd like - a new dining room table, a fancy bookshelf - but they'd all be replacements for things we already have. fancy life? nope. but a good one. comfortable with money in the bank.
what does it cost? there's the deal. much, much less than it does in the states. well, the car was unreasonable expensive but that's the market here. i have a friend who is selling a used '95 little SUV of some sort for close to $20,000 AMERICAN DOLLARS. it's insane. but everything else is relatively inexpensive. (i'm putting these prices in dollars and monthly to make it easier to understand)
- 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment (balcony and laundry area) in nice area of city - $160
- apartment complex maintenance fee - $14
- car payments (1998 toyota rav-4) - $185
- gas - $3.20 a gallon - usually about - $35 / week
- telephone - $60
- internet - free (shared with neighbors)
- cable television with 100 channels - $20
- electricity (we use all low-cost bulbs) - $20
- water - $11
- food (this is the killer) - $300
- gas for stove (usually every OTHER month) - $25
- public transportation - 0.35 CENTS a ride
there are the little things that add up, too, i suppose. things we don't think about on a regular basis. we put money in the bank every month in case of emergencies and have some spending money to "throw around." we hope to buy a house some day, we'll see.
i can see how it'd be easy to spend thousands of dollars a month living here - imported food can get expensive and in the more expensive areas, light and water cost more as does the rent. (though you can rent a mansion for less than a thousand bucks a month, go figure). the type of car you drive and the image you want to portray have a lot to do with your cost of living. things will get added in there as samil gets bigger - baseball and karate and school transportation and all, but it's doable.