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Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

harrington
January 05, 2010 11:57AM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 6

We are looking to relocate to St. Thomas and are looking for any input on a monthly budget for a family of 3. I know this is kind of a personal question but if anyone has any information it would be helpful. We are trying to budget for a future move and would like to know if you can live off $5,000/month for so. My wife is a speech language pathologist and I am pretty open for what ever I can find. I have experience in hotel/resort management in the Florida Keys as well as sales experience. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

br1k
January 05, 2010 02:15PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 277

As someone who lived in Fla. Keys and here (STT) I can say that this place is quite a bit more expensive. It is indeed a personal question - some people are happy in a shack, eating grits, kids going to public school, others need lobster daily, 6 bathrooms and all that sort of thing.

That said, if your kid is of school age, definitely budget for private school - while schools in Fl. Keys are not great, they are acceptable. Public schools here are bad.

Otherwise everything is probably 50-100% more expensive (more on par with costs in a big city in US).

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

Afriend
January 05, 2010 03:56PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 209

Can a family of 3 live on $5,000/mo? Yes. Will you be happy living on $5,000/mo? It depends entirely on YOUR lifestyle.

To some families $5k/mo is a fortune and to others it's a mere pittance. Assuming you currently live in proximity of a relatively decent size urban area (as opposed to either a one-room cabin in the woods or in a Fifth or Park Avenue, midtown NYC co-op - how's that for extremes) you can generally expect to spend around 30% to 40% more than you do now in order to maintain a similar lifestyle in the VI's.

The only way for you to really determine if you can "live de life" in the VI's is to make a Pre-move visit. Check out housing costs for places that meet YOUR needs and standards (no one here can tell you where to live - places that might be adequate for my family might be repusive to you or vice versa). Investigate utility costs for the home(s) you are coinsidering (electricity in the islands is expensive). Do some grocery shopping so you learn first hand how much the foods your family likes will cost. Check out car prices to see what you can afford. In other words plan on spending a few weeks living on the island like a resident not a tourist. That way you'll be able to determine how much you'll need to maintain YOUR current or hoped for life style.

Some wise advice - take off the rose colored glasses - almost everyone planning a "moving/living cost budget" finds out they sorely underestimated how much it really costs to live in the islands. The Caribbean is not someplace where it is easy to live if you are on a tight budget.

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

harrington
January 05, 2010 04:24PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 6

I appreciate the input. We plan on making a few trips down to get a better understanding of what it is really like. I also understand that everyone has a different idea about money, lifestyle and expectations. I am just trying to get a realistic grasp on the earning potential on the islands, which island is the best fit, real estate, etc... We are just in our infancy stages of research. We are not just making some split second decision because it looks beautiful and we miss the caribbean (or atleast Key West, Fl). Thank you for your post.

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

marlene
January 05, 2010 08:43PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 481

New car off the lot would be depending on your downstrokeand vehicle chosen. $200-$600 month

Buy or rental...3 bedroom or 2.

How many nights eating out.

Public or private school

job or no job.

Many different circumstances, and your financial status. There are way too many conditions to answer this.

If a family member in the states becomes ill in the states, do you have the means to take off work?
If you get sick do you have insurance to get off the island?
Will you both be working?

II am thinking way too deep, but if you need an answer to this question, you need to think of the what ifs.

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

East Ender
January 05, 2010 09:33PM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 4,001

Re: SLP salaries. Most are determined by union contracts and are very low. However, the need is great. There is a birth to three program, Head Start, Dept of Education, and other ideas. If she is willing to piece together some work, she will do okay.

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

DUN
January 06, 2010 07:03PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 812

I remember a lady fanning herself @ Food Center.
I asked her if she was OK as it is quite cool in there.
She said, "I`m from New York, & I thought our prices were outrageous, these prices are criminal"!

Just then, one of the middle eastern owners(is that politically correct enough...arugh!)?
ask, what is wrong? Is everything OK?
I said, your customer here was so overwhelmed by your prices, she felt faint, she wanted to know if we use American money here & what the exchange rate is, what, 5:1???
I told her We use US money, & here she is in disbelief!
The owner knowing who I am, & how I feel about their prices, walked away.
The New Yorker & I walked around & had lots of fun laughing at the prices & how old/out of date the food was!

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

Ms Information
January 06, 2010 10:26PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 414

Quote
DUN
I remember a lady fanning herself @ Food Center.
I asked her if she was OK as it is quite cool in there.
She said, "I`m from New York, & I thought our prices were outrageous, these prices are criminal"!

Just then, one of the middle eastern owners(is that politically correct enough...arugh!)?
ask, what is wrong? Is everything OK?
I said, your customer here was so overwhelmed by your prices, she felt faint, she wanted to know if we use American money here & what the exchange rate is, what, 5:1???
I told her We use US money, & here she is in disbelief!
The owner knowing who I am, & how I feel about their prices, walked away.
The New Yorker & I walked around & had lots of fun laughing at the prices & how old/out of date the food was!



The higher cost of food in the VI is not the real shocker. You would expect food that often needs to be shipped in would cost more than in the states. Actually there are many items that are not much higher here than in the states and there are very few items that are multiple times higher. The real shocker for many new residents is the cost of utilities. WAPA despite government subsidies is so far out of line that it is almost criminal. That could change if the government spent money to improve generation techniques.

The cost of housing is also a crime, local people can no longer afford to buy a house. The same people (me) who moved from the states and paid too much for property have artificially forced the value beyond reach. Even the crash and destruction of stateside property values have not lowered the high cost of real estate here as much as it should have.

So to keep on topic Harrington, yes you can live on $5000 a month. I live on a lot less, but I have a small house payment an old car and no children to educate.

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

DUN
January 07, 2010 08:42PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 812

Yup, WAPA is very high!
But you know those Lille Debbie snack cakes you get @ the dollar store??
Well, their $5 here, @ Kmart!!!

The average cost of residential electricity was 12¢/kWh (DOE) in the U.S. in April 2009. The average household used 936 kWh/mo. in 2007 (DOE) and would pay about $108 for it based on the April 2009 average rate..
Our rate here was (about)33¢/kWh, but my guess we use just slightly over 1/2 that as we must conserve!

In 2009 the price ranged from 7¢ in Idaho to 22¢ in Hawaii.
So, Hawaii was the highest(well, except for us!!).

How can that be?
Hawaii is 2600 miles from California, & 4000 miles from Japan!

At the same time, we get our oil from Hovensa(which is the 2nd largest oil refinery in the western hemisphere!), that gets it`s fuel from South America around 500 miles away!

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

pamela
January 08, 2010 01:47PM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 924

My WAPA bill was $123 this month. Anyone want to slap me?

Pamela

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

DUN
January 08, 2010 06:35PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 812

Quote
pamela
My WAPA bill was $123 this month. Anyone want to slap me?

Pamela

Wow, very good, about 350 KWH??

Re: Cost of living / Monthly budget for family of 3

pamela
January 08, 2010 09:11PM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 924

I'd have to check the bill but that sounds about right. Probably more this month as I can't get hubby away from his space heater :-)

Pamela

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