Before coming to see Barry in the DR, I remember introducing myself as a realist that was not swayed by the events reported on the evening news. I explained that we were not ‘doomsday preppers’ and that we were only looking for a nice location to consider for vacation/retirement property. Our goals were simple, 1) See if we liked the place, 2) Look at property to consider investing, 3) open a bank account, and 4) Start the process of looking at a DR passport.
We assumed that we would be in love with the place before we even got on the plane. Once we met up with Barry and Johnny and started driving towards Cabrera, we started to feel that things were different. The people we saw were all talking to each other, or waving, and smiling. I remember being told that the people were content and happy…but this is something you truly must see to fully appreciate. That moment made me think about how poorly things have become back home…far from the days of Andy Griffith. We quickly fell in love with Cabrera, the people, and the surrounding communities, so our next goal was to look around at properties…and that went just as well. The country is truly rich in resources and beauty as well as affordable. We had no problem finding properties that we liked in the area.
As the week went on, we decided to open a local bank account so we could invest and move money as needed. Johnny took us to a local bank and introduced us. When he explained that we wanted to open an account with them, they looked at each other and then told us that we would need to go through a background check before we could apply. They took our personal information and made copies of our passports and then said it would take 48 hours to complete. The banker was very apologetic and said that this was a new step for American citizens but was a requirement. That put a damper on our banking hopes, since in 48 hours we would be on a plane headed home.
After returning home, we discussed purchasing a property and contacted a lawyer we had met in the DR. When the time came for us to wire funds to the lawyer, we hit yet another snag. Our two credit unions and our online bank would not do an international wire transfer. They say that the service is no longer something they offer. Our small hometown bank said they could do such a transfer…but we do not keep many funds there. After more than a week of transferring money and waiting for checks to clear—the local bank then told us that they could not complete the wire for a reason they could not explain.
The lawyer agreed to go to a Western Union office and pick up the payment if I wanted to use that route, so I opened an account. Western Union then approved me to wire up to $1000…needless to say the property in the DR is affordable but not THAT affordable. I then linked my bank accounts (a prerequisite) and requested a limit increase. I soon received a call from Western Union, on a recorded line, asking for a phone interview. They asked what my purpose was for wiring money, how often I would expect to make transfers, and who I was wiring the money to. After the interview, they requested a copy of my driver’s license and a utility bill be sent to them. When I finally made a transfer, the form asked again for the purpose of the transfer and if I was wiring money for someone else to hide their identity.
Needless to say, my eyes are wide open now and we have begun the process of getting a couple offshore accounts and DR citizenship. We are still not ready to pack our root cellar with canned goods yet, but I am not delaying our Plan B strategy for my ‘DR Escape’.
Thank you Barry,
Matt & Michelle