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Considering a move to St. John

Mteeth
August 19, 2011 04:11PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 6

Hello,
My name is Marcie and my husband, our dogs, and I are considering a move to St. John. We got married on October 30th, 2010 on Trunk Bay at sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous and was just a total dream! Our vacation was 10 days, 9 nights, and we didn't want to leave at the end of our vacation. I have traveled a lot around the main US states, but this was new to me. I could not have asked for a better vacation and have been thinking about moving to St. John ever since. I am a registered dental hygienist in both Missouri and Arkansas. I have been living and working in Harrison, AR since November 2009. Before that I had lived in small little town, Greenfield, MO my entire life. So my personality is usually very safe, cautious, and I generally do not like change, but St. John may have changed some of that! Lately my life has been very stressful with a job focused on production, production, production. I am dreaming of a life with much less stress and a go with the flow feeling where everyone is not so busy, busy, busy! Since I have been thinking of making this move, I have looked into the possibility of practicing dental hygiene and I would feel more financially secure if I had another career to fall back on as well. I have been looking into going to school for massage therapy. My dream plan would be to work 1-2 days as a dental hygienist and 2-3 days as a massage therapist. I love dental hygiene, but the stress is outrageous! So I figured working both careers would not be so stressful. This thought originated when I was on vacation in Aruba with my husband, mom, and brother late this May. The massage therapists at our resort were giving massages at the "Spa Cove" where it was basically a little tiki hut out over the water facing the beautiful ocean! I thought how perfect, they just seemed so relaxed at their job and that they must love it and may not have as much stress as what a 40 hr a week dental hygiene job brings. This is my dream, but I have a few very important questions that I have been trying to answer. Can I financially make it with those kind of jobs? Can my husband make a contribution by waiting tables or anything that he could find that interests him? Can we live comfortably without having to live paycheck to paycheck? We live very comfortably now with just my job. My husband has been trying to get a used car business started but has yet to make profit. Would I be able to afford some place to rent/buy that would have room outside for our 4 big outside dogs and our 1 indoor dog? Would we ever get bored (as here now we can drive to several places of entertainment.)? If anyone reads this and has any comments or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate any replies as I contemplate this huge adventurous move! smiling

Re: Considering a move to St. John

stltim1979
August 19, 2011 08:42PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 7

Consider paragraphs

Re: Considering a move to St. John

East Ender
August 19, 2011 09:41PM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 4,923

Marcie: You visited as a honeymooner for 10 days. Before you move, I would suggest you come back as a possible resident. Stay somewhere, check out things like grocery stores, banks, shopping opportunities, etc. You might be able to work as a dental hygienist, but maybe add St Thomas on your list. Does your husband share your dream? Also, many people work several jobs to make ends meet. Is that your idea of less stress??

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Mteeth
August 19, 2011 09:54PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 6

East Ender,
Thank you for your reply! My husband does share my dream, but has several reservations. This big adventure does scare him a bit because of the finances and finding somewhere where our dogs will be happy too. Thanks again for this important information!
Marcie

Re: Considering a move to St. John

fdr
August 20, 2011 02:06AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 1,188

We have one dental practice on St John. Did you talk to them already?

What you enjoyed as a vacationer is not at all what daily life here is like. East Ender's suggestions are wise.

The dogs are a big challenge, in terms of both quantity and size. You would need a good bit of land for four big "outside" dogs, and that is going to be tough to find in a rental. It's not even that easy to find if you buy here on St John. We dont have too many large lots or big fenced areas like you are able to in the states. And the logistics of transporting them all will be very challenging, even if you find a suitable place and a landlord willing to accommodate that many animals. You would be looking at $2k in rent minimum, likely more.

It sounds like you are looking to escape what you don't like about your job and capture the best parts of what you enjoyed on your honeymoon. You and your husband both would have to work hard here to make ends meet. Being a massage therapist in a little shack in the beach is not nearly as enjoyable as receiving said massage when all your daily worries and stressors are far away. If you are serious about the idea, come back here for a couple of weeks and don't do any "vacation" stuff -- just look at places to live, stand in line at the bank, buy a week's worth of groceries, check out vehicles, and get to know some locals. In general, people who move here to escape something find it catches up with them -- "wherever you go, there you are."

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

fdr
August 20, 2011 02:13AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 1,188

Oh, and, would you ever get bored? Yes, once you have "done" everything we have to offer for evening entertainment, you may get bored --but if you love it here, it's ok. Works for some people, others get rock fever and have to travel often or move back where they came from. Still others develop alcohol or drug problems to alleviate the boredom.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

onthespot
August 20, 2011 03:00AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 380

Or you could try it out at home. Go to the grocery store, and when they ring up your total, give them double and let them keep the change. Randomly throw the breaker at your house and leave it off for three or four hours, LOL. Drive everywhere no faster than 25 miles per hour. If no one is around, drive in the left lane. (JUST KIDDING) If you stop at a place for a quick bite to eat, be prepared to pay about $40 for two people to grab a bite to eat. Drinks extra.Take two minute showers. Turn a few lizards loose in your house, maybe a centipede. Don't go shopping anywhere after six PM. Do not visit friends or family during this practice time. Leave your dogs with someone else while you are practicing. As said by others, work two or three part time jobs, enough to generate the income to cover the expenses you would have in St. John. Pack up the stuff in your house to move, paring your belongings down to the bare minimum. Get top notch health insurance before you go. Be sure you have a generous allowance of cash saved for the time you will adjust to livng there. Have an "escape plan" that is cheap and feasable on short notice.

Not trying to completely kill your dream, just trying to help you insure it does not become a nightmare.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Linda J
August 20, 2011 06:37AM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 3,903

There is a joke here in the USVI. "How do you leave the VI with a million dollars? Come with 2 million."

You really need to come for a month. Do everything that has been suggested above. Really get a feel for life here.

We usually suggest that people coming have about $10,000 in savings to make the move. That will get you here, into a rental, let you purchase an island car (or send your own down) and have a 2-3 month cushion while you find work.

The dogs will be a HUGE problem (pun intended). The months pre move visit will show you exactly how much.

If you cannot afford a PMV, maybe you should wait a while longer before considering a move.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

stjohnjulie
August 20, 2011 06:38AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 733

It is my understanding that St. John Dental is usually looking for more hygienists. So that's a good thing! I would give them a call and see what they have to say. That would be a good starting point.

I'm not sure what I think about going to school to become a massage therapist. I think I would hold off on that for now.

The dogs... yes, that is going to be more difficult. 4 large dogs is usually not what a landlord likes to hear. What kind of dogs are they? It can get pretty hot, and if they have heavy coats, they probably wont be comfortable outside. We have a lot of fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes as well. Heartworm is a HUGE problem here. Preventable, but you have to be vigilant about the preventative medication. And we do have a vet on island.

Maybe what you should see if you can do first is do an extended stay to see what you think. If there is any way that you could arrange to come to St. John for two months, leave the dogs at home, and give it a try before you cut your ties back home, that might be a good idea. I really wouldn't bring the dogs right off the bat. You are going to need time to find a place for them all to live and that probably will take some time. And it would be pretty stressful on them if you brought them down and two months later went back.

I don't think anyone is trying to squish your dream. It's just that living here is very different than living in the states and many people who have vacationed here have not given much thought to what it's like to actually live here. It can be challenging, and it's not for everyone, but I love it here and for the first time in my life feel like I am home.

Good luck!

Re: Considering a move to St. John

East Ender
August 20, 2011 09:38AM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 4,923

Marcie: Another idea is to save up money to come for vacation over the next few years. Enjoy the relaxation and let your DH get that car business going, etc. Then you can decide if you want to move here. For many years before I moved here, my yearly Caribbean vacation was what sustained me in my life in Big America.wink

Okay: I had to add fdr's telling of a Mighty Whitey joke from the archives here at vinow:

A man dies and finds himself at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter remarks, "That's odd. This has never happened before. Its an even split between you going to heaven or hell. So I'll tell you what: I will give you a tour of both spots, and you can decide for yourself."

The man readily agrees and, poof! They're instantly on a beautiful snowy mountain, with gorgeous views, clean crisp air, and abundant ski lodges. St. Peter explains to the man, "This is heaven."

Quite impressed, the man decides to go see what hell looks like. Poof! Instantly, they are standing in the warm sand on beautiful St. Thomas. The weather is fine, the scenery sublime, and the vegetation lush.

As the man is half beside himself on how wonderful hell is, St. Peter asks which he would prefer. The man replies, "Well, both heaven and hell are stunning places to spend an afterlife. Since I'm already here on St. Thomas, I might as well stay."

St. Peter says, "As you wish," and poof! Now the man is sitting in a leaking hut filled with cockroaches, bad water, and oppressive heat. A rusted out jeep sits outside next to continuously barking dog. He yells to St. Peter, "Wait! Wait! This isn't what I chose!"

St. Peter only says, "Hey, the first time you saw St. Thomas you were a tourist -- now you live here!"



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/20/2011 09:44AM by East Ender.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Mteeth
August 20, 2011 12:00PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 6

fdr: I have looked into the one dental office on the island, but haven't spoken to them yet. I am in contact with a hygienist that worked in the USVI to discuss average wages, what to expect, etc. My plan is to move there around January 2014 so I was first looking into some other aspects, but I will definitely be doing that at some point before making any serious investments, etc on the island. Thank you so much for your reply filled with very good information!

onthespot: The practicing at home idea is a good one! I could do that for a while to see! We will definitely formulate a cheap escape plan before we make any big decisions. That is one of my husbands big reservations, if we decide to make the big move do we sell our house here in Arkansas or try to afford the mortgage here and rent there just to be safe incase we have to come back we have a place to come back to. Thank you so much for your reply and those are definitely good things to think about!

LindaJ: Your joke is definitely something to think about! I deal with all our finances now and we have the savings intact, but my husband would like to pay off our house here inorder to have a fall back plan. I am very realistic about finances, but my husband is even more scared about the cost of living there and if it is worth it. Which our plan is to move around January 2014 so we still have some time to save more and weigh all the pro's and con's. Thank you so much for your reply and those are all very important things to consider!

Stjohnjulie: The fact that they are usually looking for more hygienists is a good thing going for us! I will definitely be in contact with them at some point before making any big decisions. Our 4 outside dogs are mutts, which we love dearly smiling , they are about 50 lbs each, besides our puppy Woolley which is just 20 lbs now but the lately has consistently been gaining 8lbs a month! He is about 5 months old so not sure how big he will be. My husband is very concerned because most of our dogs except for our oldest dog Katie have pretty much grown up living on 23 acres of land out in the country with a pond and creek on our property where they get to run and play as they please. So this would be a huge adjustment for them. They do mostly have heavy coats except for Oscar, but we do have some pretty hot summers here in Arkansas. Just a few weeks ago we had a couple of weeks of temperatures around 115 degrees. Heartworm medication and also dog food costs since they eat alot would be a huge consideration. I know it will be much more expensive then what we pay here for them since we can get a 40 lb bag of dog food for $9.99. Thank you so much for your reply with very important factors that we need to consider!

East Ender: I like the joke and when I read it to my husband he said "That was what I was afraid of". We do go on vacation 3-4x a year to various locations, mostly the carribbean and that does keep my going at my job. If I didn't have my vacations from my current job and location I would probably go crazy! Thank you so much for your replies with valuable information!

smiling

Re: Considering a move to St. John

East Ender
August 20, 2011 04:26PM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 4,923

Marcie: 2014 gives you plenty of time to visit, dream, etc. With many couples it seems that it is the dream of one half to move and the other half goes along with the plan. This often leads to problems along the way, so don't force your beloved to move. wink

Re: Considering a move to St. John

stjohnjulie
August 20, 2011 07:14PM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 733

40lbs for $9.99?!?! That's pretty awesome. I have two big mutts myself (coconut retriever rescue dogs), totaling around 170lbs, and they eat quite a bit. I think the 40lb bag is $35. Not positive, since I usually push that job off on the hubby smiling I would bet the dogs are going to be the biggest hold back for you. Finding a place to rent that will actually let you have them is going to be hard. Finding a place with even a little bit of yard is going to be even harder.

I was thinking about your post on my way to work today.... I think the best way I explain why St. John is a fit for me is; I like routine, but I hate schedules. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Re: Considering a move to St. John

independent man
August 20, 2011 08:39PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 72

Marcie,
Just a couple of comments after having lived full time on STJ for almost a year:

As others have said, vacationing and living full time are two very different experiences.

I don't know what the pay on STJ is for a dental hygienist, but the cost of a cleaning here is outrageous. Delta Dental Premier Insurance is the envy of many in New England. It meant 2-3 cleanings per year (at any state of the art dental office) with NO out of pocket cost. On STJ, you can expect to pay $125 per 20-30 minute cleaning WITH Delta Dental Premier insurance. And, I have never gotten a satisfactory explanation as to why. The Boulon Center isn't exactly in the high rent district.

Regarding dog food: Cheap food, which is mainly corn and by-products can be had on St. Thomas or maybe STJ for around $30-$40 for a jumbo bag. Probably the same quality as what you pay $9.99. However, more healthy food will cost near twice as much. It is especially important to use high quality dog food here because of the heat and insect borne problems. They are more likely to adversely affect pets with poor diets of corn and cheap by-products. And diet is a very big part of your dogs' health. Many studies have shown good dog food equals less visits to the vet and less cost in the long run. Double true here on STJ. Always check the contents on the bag. Dogs can't easily digest corn. By-products can be anything and always is. The only purpose for these things in dog food is to be a cheap fillers.

STJ is very dog friendly for the most part. It may be hard to find a fenced yard, but doable with a house.

Do your homework and spend some non-vacation time here. I love St. John, but it doesn't suit everybody over time. The best to you.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

fdr
August 20, 2011 09:22PM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 1,188

Quote
stjohnjulie
I think the best way I explain why St. John is a fit for me is; I like routine, but I hate schedules. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Julie, that's pretty brilliant. I never would have thought to put it this way, but I think it is true for the people who feel most at home here!

Re: Considering a move to St. John

pilatesgal318
August 20, 2011 09:41PM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 406

Marcie,

My husband and I married on St. John in 2004, having NEVER been here before! But, I was one of those "weird" brides that didn't want the big wedding and dress, didn't need family around (we had a GREAT family gathering 2 weeks post wedding at my rental home in Wrightsville Beach, NC!). We were here 2 weeks then and I totally fell in love with the island...my husband - he thought it was "cool". Upon our return home, I signed up on this forum wink to gather more information...I was determined to live here!! We vacationed there for the next 3 years (but please understand, our vacation was staying at a cottage in Coral Bay with no a/c, shopped for groceries, rented a true "island" jeep, etc....no spa days or lounging by the pool). In that time, my husband's job was incredibly stressful and the timing was right for him to quit (before he got laid off in the telecom industry after 23 years) - me, being the internet search queen that I am, found a position in St. Thomas (not my ideal dream, but nonetheless, the islands). We did sell our home in NC (however we were planning on doing that regardless and putting things in storage in FL at his family farm, which we did). The first year was TOUGH, especially for my husband...I talk to EVERYBODY and make friends easily...it is part of my job...he does not. He said daily he HATED it here and wanted to move back. After the position we came down for washed up after 1.5 years, he found a great job, made some great friends and decided this was indeed, a GREAT place to be (never thought I would be on STT, only STJ..but we visit STJ as often as possible!). We did not travel with any animals (our two BIG dogs had passed away...our dear 140lb Rottie/Lab mix died in 2006, my sweet 80 lb. German Shepherd died the first of 2007....we T/N/R'd 12 cats in NC and I transported the 6 left to the family farm in FL...we now have an island bush cat that showed up on our doorstep 4 hours after moving into our place; she is all of 7.5 lbs and loves Doc Williamson!)...I do know dogs, especially big ones, are an additional concern, but not impossible.

I will say that the "island dream" can be a strong one, however, you HAVE to be able to deal with so many "inconveniences" (compared to Stateside living). You will only know that if you come, prepared to adjust to a totally different way of life. If you are truly adventurous, you may love it. My husband has to get off the Rock more often than I, but he does realize - our friends are here...we have an island family. I, have truly found a home...only one other time in my life have I EVER felt as accepted as this place (Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach is the other, in my lovely home state!!). For us, the sense of community is priceless.

A rather long winded piece of advice, but being a relative island newbie, at 4 years and counting, and having my initial dream being set on STJ, I thought it might be worthwhile for you to read..Our life is ever evolving - for now, this is the place we want to be....St. Thomas is our home, with St. John being our fabulous weekend destination, as often as possible...

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Mteeth
August 21, 2011 02:14PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 6

East Ender: That is exactly what I am afraid of. Us making the move and then him not loving it. I will make sure that he wants to also make the move 100% before we do! Right now he is not 100% on board, but he has plenty of time to think about it smiling Thanks for your awesome reply!

Stjohnjulie: That $35 price tag for 40lbs of dog food is what I was afraid of. That is a huge consideration for our move since they do eat a lot! I definitely think that our dogs will be one of the biggest considerations about this move. I really think that if we didn't have our outside dogs that my husband would feel a lot better about moving. Some people have of course suggested that we adopt our dogs out to other loving homes, but for me that is completely out of the question! I love them far too much for that! We don't have kids so they are our furry 4 legged kids! Your quote about the routine and schedules makes perfect sense! Thanks for your excellent reply!

Independent man: Thank you so much for that very valuable infomation about the dental insurance and cleaning charges! The dog food costs will definitely be a huge consideration about this move. Our dogs love food and always have it available to them! At prices like that they will have to have structured meals times, which my chubby dogs will probably not like! Thank you so much for your valuable reply!

Pilatesgal318: We also married on St. John never having been there before! We were actually all set up to get married in Oahu, Hawaii and 4 weeks before the wedding date I cancelled all the Hawaii plans on got on a random destination wedding website and was going down the list of destinations looking at pictures and decided St. John was the place we were getting married. I was able to get everything set up so we could still get married on our original wedding date 10-30-10. I was also a "weird" bride, which I think is the best way to go! It was just my husband and I, the officiant, videographer, and photographer. There was no one else on the beach besides 1 couple that was very respectful of our event and I didn't even know they were there until we started taking pictures after we had officially been married. I initially didn't invite anyone, but then my aunt got so excited about it because she loves to travel that she started crunching numbers and her and my mom really wanted to go. I gave in and said that they could come, but then they asked how much it would be to stay in our villa that we had already reserved. I had to draw the line at that point and said that they couldn't stay in our villa and they took that as they weren't welcome at all. So they backed out/I uninvited them. At first I felt awful and they were mad, but looking back I wouldn't change the fact that it was just my husband and I! I spent the extra money to have a videographer there so they could watch it at my casual reception back home a few months later. When we were there we did rent a villa so we decided to save money by cooking our meals instead of eating out. I was very shocked when we went to the grocery store and the milk was $8 a gallon! It is $3 a gallon back home. I decided to buy the milk that was marked down to $4, but didn't go out of date until the next day. The milk back home is drinkable a week after the expiration date usually. Big mistake, it was sour! So I learned that I would have to buy the in date milk. I drink skim so I ended up buying whole milk and adding water to it to make it skim and save some money! I am pretty frugal! Your husband hating it is what I worry about with my husband, but it is nice to know that your husband ended up loving it. I am so sorry to hear about your dogs. Some people think dogs are replaceable, but they are a really big part of the family! I am also worried that my husband will have to get off the island more than myself. Thank you so much for your very informative reply!

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Linda J
August 21, 2011 04:30PM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 3,903

Very often one partner will love the islands and the other hate it. It's not unusual to see marriages break up over this issue. Because of the various challenges, if both members of a couple are not completely on board, trouble awaits.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Mteeth
August 21, 2011 07:53PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 6

Linda J: I will definitely not force the move if my husband is not 100% on board because marriage trouble is definitely the last thing I want! Thanks for your great reply!

Re: Considering a move to St. John

STXBob
August 21, 2011 08:22PM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 2,131

Whenever my wife asks if I would live somewhere, I ask her, "Would you be there?" Our marriage is location-proof (I think). But I do know several couples that have split up over the issue of staying in the USVI.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Hiya!
August 22, 2011 10:54AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 727

I have a question, I know little about your job other then what I see on the receiving end. What exactly makes it so stressful to you? Not asking to be snarky but our troubles rarely ever leave us just cause we move somewhere new. In fact moving here will most likely bring new problems to your existing ones. It's not like vacation where you can take a break from it all. And while the islands are absolutely beautiful it not easy to make it here for many reasons. I would suggest trying to fix things on your end at home first. Good luck!

Re: Considering a move to St. John

Mteeth
September 13, 2011 05:36PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 6

STXBob: I absolutely love your reply! That is how everybody should respond, but sadly probably many don't. I think he would go even if he wasn't 100% on board just to make me happy. Thanks for your great reply!

Hiya!: It is hard to explain to someone that is not in the dental field why it is so stressful, because from the outside looking in it looks like a really easy, schedule friendly, family friendly job. Just a few things to break the surface of why it is SO stressful: Most people hate coming to the dentist so after so long of people expressing their dislike, it starts to wear on you. As a hygienist, you are constantly reminded of production, production, production! You want to provide the absolute best cleaning you can, but the majority of the time you have very limiting time constraints. Your job owns you! Not only do you spend 40 plus hours at the office, you spend nights and weekends keeping up with the newest products, techniques, etc. Most nights I dream about dental related items, so you are a hygienist all the time, when you also need time for you as a person. It is very very hard to find the right balance.

Re: Considering a move to St. John

NugBlazer
September 13, 2011 06:43PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 308

Quote
Mteeth
Lately my life has been very stressful with a job focused on production, production, production. I am dreaming of a life with much less stress and a go with the flow feeling where everyone is not so busy, busy, busy!

It's a complete myth that things are less stressful on the islands. They can be just as stressful here, in fact, sometimes MORE stressful. It's not the place you're in, it's the MINDSET you have and the life you lead.

Quote
Hiya!
I have a question, I know little about your job other then what I see on the receiving end. What exactly makes it so stressful to you? Not asking to be snarky but our troubles rarely ever leave us just cause we move somewhere new. In fact moving here will most likely bring new problems to your existing ones. It's not like vacation where you can take a break from it all. And while the islands are absolutely beautiful it not easy to make it here for many reasons. I would suggest trying to fix things on your end at home first. Good luck!

^^Well stated, and goes along with what I said above.

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