This site has been set up to complement our book published in 2011, Expat FAQs – Moving to and Living in the Dominican Republic, a practical, detailed handbook for anyone considering moving to the DR. It covers all the possible issues a prospective expat might face, from the legal nitty-gritty to real-life situations, as well as the country’s cultural and historical context. It is aimed at retirees, professionals and “snowbirds” – people with a second home in the DR.
Some of the information contained in the book is subject to constant change, especially the exchange rate, fuel prices, taxes, laws, regulation, businesses and institutions that open, close or change address.
This site will contain as much updated information as possible. We invite our readers to let us know about any information that may have changed, as well as comments and suggestions.
Ginnie Bedggood arrived into this world as the air raid siren sounded an alarm – June 1943 in London UK and World War II was in progress.
Following expulsion from a Roman Catholic convent grammar school she graduated from London University (Queen Mary College) with a degree in History. During her University years she became interested in social work and taught drama in a Boys’ Club in the East End of London. Her failure to graduate on her first attempt led to a year working in a Girls’ Remand Home in Sussex and a period of four months living in Ohio, US, while she awaited the results of her second attempt. This was her first experience as an expat, one where she encountered racism for the first time up front and personal through her relationship with an African-American. She also experienced working as a waitress in a drive-in and a go-go dancer in a singles bar. Without air raid sirens.
On returning to UK she undertook a postgraduate Diploma in Social Administration at LSE and professional training as a probation officer at the University of Southampton whence she emerged with her professional qualification in 1966. At the age of 23 she was appointed one of London’s youngest probation officers, attached to Marlborough St. Magistrates Court and covering the areas of Carnaby Street and Soho. Her work was mainly with prostitutes from whom she says she probably learned more than she taught. She also specialised in the transient and young drug addict population of Earls Court.
During her long vacations from this post she had her second experience of being an expat driving across the Sahara desert and in West Africa in places such as Timbuktu. After three years she moved to the NSPCC as a social work tutor. Here she taught and supervised students working with cases of physical and sexual abuse of children. In 1973 she met her future husband, Ginger Bedggood, an airline pilot, whilst she was learning to get her Private Pilots Licence at Denham airfield in Bucks. By now she was commuting daily from Bucks to London and so in 1975 she began working as a social work teacher at High Wycombe College of Art and Technology in Buckinghamshire. She remained with this College for 17 years. During that time she taught countless students to be social workers and probation officers as well as herself completing an MA in Public and Social Administration at Brunel University.
She divorced her husband in 1982 and after wild oats sowing for eight years met her current partner Grahame Bush in 1990. That same year she travelled across Russia, Mongolia and China on the Trans-Siberian Railway and saw life from the inside of a Mongolian yurt.
In 1992 Grahame and Ginnie moved to the Dominican Republic where Ginnie taught English, was a free-lance journalist and tour guide, ran a B&B and eventually ‘retired’ to reinvent herself as an author. Her first book was published in 2007.
Unfortunately, Ginnie passed away suddenly when this book was in its final stages, in early July 2010. She is greatly missed by all who knew her personally and many more who didn’t – all the readers and correspondents she advised via e-mail and internet forums. This book is just the latest example of her enduring legacy to the Dominican Republic and foreign residents there – her down-to-earth advice, her perceptive and sympathetic understanding of the Dominican Republic and its people and the way she conveyed all this to her readers.
ILANA BENADY is a Gibraltarian who studied and lived in the UK for more than fifteen years, graduating in Politics and Social Anthropology from the University of Kent at Canterbury.
Initial notions of a career in journalism led to her working for a BBC local radio community programme in Bristol and a long spell of travel and work in South, Central and North America, Europe and the Middle East. This was followed by a year spent in Gibraltar working as a radio, newspaper and magazine contributor and founding and coordinating the local Friends of the Earth group.
At some point in her mid 20s she decided that journalism wasn’t for her, moved back to the UK and took up a career in international development. Her work at the Oxfam headquarters in Oxford led her to several countries in the Middle East and Latin America and the Caribbean. One such assignment was a six-week stint in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in early 1996. Ilana’s instant love affair with the Dominican Republic was sealed by a relationship with one of its citizens, photographer Pedro Guzmán, who she met during her third visit to the country, in 1998.
She settled there and married Pedro in 1999. At first, she lived in the central province of Cotui, working as a fundraising and communications advisor to campesino groups in Cotui and Salcedo as a cooperante (skills sharing volunteer) for British agency ICD (now Progressio), before moving to the capital, Santo Domingo, where they lived for nine years. Initially she went back to working for Oxfam GB, as Communications Officer for Central America and the Caribbean based in the Santo Domingo office.
After the Oxfam GB regional office moved to Mexico City and her son was born in 2000 she took a career break and did not return to full-time work until the 2004 crisis in Haiti, when she spent several months working as Oxfam GB’s communications officer. Since then, she has worked as a freelance consultant for Oxfam and a number of other international organisations (including Plan International and Unicef), Dominican media in English like DR1.com and several PR agencies and private clients, providing research, communications, fundraising, translating and editing services.
Ilana and Pedro and their son Lucas now live in Punta Cana on the east coast.
Ilana is the co-author of ‘Dominican Republic – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture’ (also with Ginnie Bedggood) and Aunt Clara’s Dominican Cookbook and Traditional Dominican Cookery, with Clara González.