Just a few decades ago there were only two ways to reach the natural paradise of Las Terrenas, on the Dominican Republic’s Samana Peninsula. You could take a horse, or a boat.
Then, word spread among Europeans—mostly from France and Italy—about a place with stunning waterfalls cascading down from lush green mountains, and shady woodlands touching on miles of palm-fringed, white-sand beaches.
Since then the only changes have been for the better. By the time Susan Miller and her husband Stephan discovered Las Terrenas four years ago, there was a distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere.
“It has the sophistication of St. Bart’s or the French Riviera mixed with the friendliness, music and laid back attitude of Dominicans.” says Susan. “And nowadays, it only takes 30 minutes to drive here from the new international airport at El Catey.”
Susan and Stephan had been living in Louisville, Kentucky. “We loved Kentucky but as we approached retirement I knew I couldn’t spend one more cold winter in Louisville. So we decided to find our dream home in the sun with the aim of splitting our time when we retired; six months in Kentucky and six months overseas,” says Susan.
“At first we checked out Panama, but we returned home without committing and then two months later we saw an article in International Living about Las Terrenas so we went to explore,” explains Susan.
Their original plan was to have a look at the area, then move west and investigate the rest of the north coast. But things changed when they arrived in Las Terrenas. “We knew we had found our piece of paradise. We wanted to live near a beach, and the beaches in Las Terrenas are beautiful, but what really grabbed our attention was the immediate friendliness. I had never met such friendly people before. And the fact that we didn’t speak Spanish wasn’t a problem.”
The couple quickly found and bought a villa to the east of town for $170,000. “With two bedrooms it was perfect for us. Just 300 yards from the beach and only a 10-minute walk into the town. It has a lovely yard and a private swimming pool, too. It was important to us that it was close to all amenities as I didn’t want to have to buy a car and I love walking. Plus we wanted to rent it when we weren’t using it, so proximity to the town and the beach is paramount,” says Susan.
She continued: “Daily life here begins with sunrise when I take my dog for a walk on the beach, followed by yoga in the garden and then I trim the flowers, and pick the almonds off the tree. We make sure we get down to the beach before noon to buy some fresh fish from the fishermen, which Stephan will barbecue for us. We often walk into town for happy hour with other expats before coming home for dinner and star gazing beside the pool.”
Editor’s note: The Dominican Republic is where the International Real Estate Investment Forum 2012 is taking place next month. Whether you’re looking for a second home in the sun…or a straight-up profit play…this is the place to find it.