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Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Emibujold
May 14, 2016 11:46AM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 4

Hi All-
My husband and I are in our early 30s with a 1-year-old and 3-year-old. We spent some time before having our children sailing the Pacific and then living (on land) in Micronesia and really enjoyed the way of life. We're considering returning to the island lifestyle. Micronesia is a bit too remote and we're interested in learning more about USVI. My husband has sailed much of the Virgin Islands, but long before we had kids so he wasn't viewing it in that light. Of course, we'll take a trip and spend time there before making a permanent move, but I'd be grateful for any local insight and to learn from your experience. Here is more info on us and the areas we have questions about:

+ Kids will be school aged soon, how are public schools vs private?
+ Walkability is important to us
+ My husband works remotely and will keep his current job, but it does require a good and consistent internet connection
+ A safe neighborhood is a priority- there is crime everywhere but overall we want to be in welcoming and family oriented neighborhood
+ Access to a marina in a plus but not essential
+ We've experienced limited availability of goods and don't have a problem with it
+ We love the outdoors and would like to have easy access to recreation, land or sea- beach, paddleboarding, fishing, hiking, etc.
+ How is housing availability? Renting and buying?
+ Are there issues between locals and expats and how can we do our best to be mindful of that?

Thoughts on these things or anything we've missed as well specific places and neighborhoods you would recommend would be much appreciated!

Thanks, Emily

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

OldTart
May 14, 2016 12:04PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 6,524

Quote
Emibujold

+ Kids will be school aged soon, how are public schools vs private?
+ Walkability is important to us
+ My husband works remotely and will keep his current job, but it does require a good and consistent internet connection
+ A safe neighborhood is a priority- there is crime everywhere but overall we want to be in welcoming and family oriented neighborhood
+ Access to a marina in a plus but not essential
+ We've experienced limited availability of goods and don't have a problem with it
+ We love the outdoors and would like to have easy access to recreation, land or sea- beach, paddleboarding, fishing, hiking, etc.
+ How is housing availability? Renting and buying?
+ Are there issues between locals and expats and how can we do our best to be mindful of that?

Thoughts on these things or anything we've missed as well specific places and neighborhoods you would recommend would be much appreciated!

Thanks, Emily

First, there's a ton of information in the drop-down menus top of this page which will answer many of your questions. Many people new to the forum miss what's right here!

1. You would have to visit the schools on whichever island you choose to live on to see for yourself which would best suit your children. It's a subject which has been discussed at length on this forum and is an important issue.

2.. Walkability is tricky. You can certainly find different areas on all the islands on which you can walk and hike but "neighborhood" walking, and being within an easy walk of stores, etc. isn't so easy and you need cars to get around.

3.. Internet connections are improving and several people manage to work remotely but you may find the reliability and speeds somewhat less than those to which you're accustomed.

4. Plenty of safe neighborhoods on all islands.

5. Marinas on all islands.

6. Easy access on all islands to the outdoor activities you mentioned.

7. Housing on all islands, all different kinds, both for sale and rent. Inadvisable to purchase real property until you've lived here for at least a couple of years and have figured out whether or not island living suits you.

8. There are very few "expats" here but many transplants. It's a multi ethnic mix and successful integration simply entails observing and accepting different cultures just as you would do when moving to anywhere rather foreign.

Read up on all the islands to get a better idea of which might suit you best. Good luck with all the research!

PS: One more thing you should be aware of is that the USVI isn't included in the Affordable Health Care Act, there is no affordable individual health care insurance to be found and the biggest group insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is pulling out of doing business here very shortly.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/14/2016 12:08PM by OldTart.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Scubadoo
May 14, 2016 10:31PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 2,143

So you'll want to confirm your husband can also keep his current health insurance with his current job. or at least get on another group plan through his job.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Spartygrad95
May 14, 2016 11:42PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 1,885

Access to healthcare and schooling options will be your biggest pitfalls with a family. We moved here (STT) two years ago with an infant son. We have been lucky with healthcare, both of our jobs provide it, at least for now until BCBS moves out. For us, public schools are a non starter here. We are looking at options now and they are expensive. Montessori or Antilles are most convenient for us based on our jobs and rental but will cost you between $7500-9500/yr for a kindergartner. And it just keeps going up. Parochial or other religious schools are also available at much lower costs but still talking $4000+

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

stjohnjulie
May 15, 2016 05:38AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 804

I agree, healthcare, schooling, and walkability, will probably be your biggest challenges. Since healthcare wasn't on your list, I'll just comment on the schooling and walkability. My experience is coming from St. John, and I have a almost 15 year old and a 5 year old, both born here.

With my older son, I didn't even consider the public schools. I had heard too many horror stories. He started private school on St. John and attended from pre K until 5th grade. It was extremely costly. And with the advantage of hindsight, was a terrible fit for him, and our family. I have had a major shift in my thinking when it comes to private vs public. And having 9.5 years between my kids has given me time to reflect on a lot of things smiling

My youngest son started in a private preschool taught by a retired teacher from the public schools. It, Bright Beginnings for Early Explorers, is a tiny fraction of the cost of the private school my older son attended, Gifft HIll School. I could not be happier with this school. It has exceeded my expectations in every regard. The teachers are fantastic, the facilities are fantastic, and I don't think I could have found a better school anywhere.

If you read back on some older posts, you'll probably run across some of my posts. But just to highlight some of my thoughts, and the reason why I've shifted over the years, has to do with how I feel about being a transplant, and how I want my children brought up in the place where they were born and continue to live. I see so much separation on St. John between the locals and the transplants, and that is NOT something I want for myself or my family. I didn't come here to live in a transplant bubble. I am here because I like it here, not just the natural aspects, but the social aspects too. Even if I don't want to go as far as to say Gifft HIll encouraged a separatism, I do think it fosters it. And there was constant trouble with hiring almost exclusively off island transplants, which lead to super high turnover and all kinds of other issues. My older son lost a teacher, or two, all but one of the 7 years he attended.

Are there problems in the public schools, you bet ya! For me, one of the biggest is that corporal punishment is still being used to some extent. They say they don't do it any more, but I am almost certain that it is in some cases at least. I don't agree with this form of punishment personally. And that will be made clear when my little guy starts JESS this fall. And my little guy is pretty well versed on when he should be 'telling' on behaviors that are not in line with what is acceptable.

I believe that most of the issues that the public schools have can be helped immensely by parental involvement. I am fully aware that it is my job to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's my job, as a student's parent, to support and reinforce what is taught in the classroom. And if I see a problem, to make it be known and try and HELP solve the problems in a constructive way instead of just make a big unproductive fuss. Having a child that succeeds despite any challenges is that the kind of child I want to raise.

Walkability is something that is limited on St. John. If you live in town, it can be done, but is not convenient. We have few sidewalks. Lots of steps, bumps, obstacles, that make strollers useless. Having to keep watch over two kiddos, and carry groceries to your apartment, would be a hassle and a bit dangerous. I can't give you much input on that issue on STT or STX.... but there are a lot of wonderful contributors on this forum that have and will be able to chime in more.

I can't think of any other place in the world I would want to raise my kids. When we find ourselves in the states, it is more glaringly obvious how living in this small, Caribbean, community has shaped them as human beings. Friendly, kind, and always ready to make a friend of any age, any gender, any race.

Good luck! This may be the right place for you, and it may not be. But no one is going to force you to stay if it just isn't the right fit for you.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

speee1dy
May 15, 2016 12:03PM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 8,657

sounds like you all were made for island living. i hope you come down and enjoy.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

CaptainMalibu
May 15, 2016 12:17PM

Registered: 3 years ago
Posts: 90

Quote
speee1dy
sounds like you all were made for island living. i hope you come down and enjoy.

I agree with all of the comments made here but this one the most. It sounds like you have the knowledge, experience and flexibility required to enjoy whatever lifestyle the island has to offer. All of my children are grown but if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options as there are many resources and some many ways to challenge and educate children that most traditional classrooms. Not that I have anything against educational institutions as I myself have been in the private school business for a long time.

Given your previous experiences, you'll do just fine.

Good Luck!

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Emibujold
May 19, 2016 03:07PM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 4

Thanks all for your comments! We're hoping to do a scouting visit this summer. Looking forward to it.

Emily

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

LiquidFluoride
May 19, 2016 05:34PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 1,940

Quote
CaptainMalibu
if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island wink

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Spartygrad95
May 19, 2016 07:56PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 1,885

Quote
LiquidFluoride
Quote
CaptainMalibu
if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island wink

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

OldTart
May 19, 2016 08:51PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 6,524

Quote
Spartygrad95

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Really? "Leave It To Beaver" reruns obviously had a major impact on your impressionable childhood mind if this is what you really believe.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Spartygrad95
May 19, 2016 09:32PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 1,885

Quote
OldTart
Quote
Spartygrad95

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Really? "Leave It To Beaver" reruns obviously had a major impact on your impressionable childhood mind if this is what you really believe.

Just the Eddie Haskell character. That is it.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!
avatar

CruzanIron
May 19, 2016 09:52PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 2,405

Quote
Spartygrad95
Quote
LiquidFluoride
Quote
CaptainMalibu
if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island wink

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Waitsminnit. My wife is supposed to work?

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

watruw8ing4
May 19, 2016 10:03PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 851

Quote
Spartygrad95
Quote
LiquidFluoride
Quote
CaptainMalibu
if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island wink

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

America!! Proudly sending children to school since the 16th century.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Spartygrad95
May 19, 2016 10:03PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 1,885

Quote
CruzanIron
Quote
Spartygrad95
Quote
LiquidFluoride
Quote
CaptainMalibu
if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island wink

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Waitsminnit. My wife is supposed to work?

If we wanted healthcare for all of us my wife had to work. It was not affordable to have family coverage with my plan.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Spartygrad95
May 19, 2016 10:06PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 1,885

Quote
watruw8ing4
Quote
Spartygrad95
Quote
LiquidFluoride
Quote
CaptainMalibu
if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island wink

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

America!! Proudly sending children to school since the 16th century.

America wasn't in existence until the 18th century. You must have been homeschooled. The accessibility to homeschooling has diminished since the majority of families have both parents working was my point.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Scubadoo
May 19, 2016 10:31PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 2,143

Quote
OldTart
Quote
Spartygrad95

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Really? "Leave It To Beaver" reruns obviously had a major impact on your impressionable childhood mind if this is what you really believe.

Ha Ha! First thing that came to my mind as well.big grin Only home schooling there was Ward being hard on the Beav.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

watruw8ing4
May 19, 2016 11:13PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 851

Quote
Spartygrad95
Quote
watruw8ing4
Quote
Spartygrad95
Quote
LiquidFluoride
Quote
CaptainMalibu
if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island wink

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

America!! Proudly sending children to school since the 16th century.

America wasn't in existence until the 18th century. You must have been homeschooled. The accessibility to homeschooling has diminished since the majority of families have both parents working was my point.

Q: "strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense"?
A: "We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work"

Your point contradicts history. Homeschooling pretty much died out in the mid-19th century, long before most moms went in the workforce, because of compulsory education laws. It didn't start to make a comeback until the 1970's, which is also a time when more moms started entering the the workforce. Kind of bass ackward from what you said.

The area the colonies were situated in had been called America since the 1500's. Where do you suppose they got the "America" part from when It became the United States of America in the 1700's? We started sending kids to schools in the 1600's. (my bad, typo in previous post). I learned my history in public schools. But I'm sure home schooled kids learn this as well.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Alana33
May 20, 2016 12:20AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,112

I'm sure all this dialogue is helpful to the OP's original questions. (Not)

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Spartygrad95
May 20, 2016 05:12AM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 1,885

Homeschool away. I would if I could.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Mpphawk
May 20, 2016 06:19AM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 4

Glad I found this site and topic. My wife and I have very similar situation. 30 and 32 children 3 and 5. We grew up in small town of Iowa and moved to south Florida area 6 years ago. Love the water and anything to do with outdoors. Would like to have the activities Florida provides us but with a slower pace, small town feel. My wife and I'm thinking the Islands would provide that for us. I could be wrong though. Planning a trip to St Croix soon and can't wait.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

speee1dy
May 20, 2016 08:10AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 8,657

just come with an open mind. relax and enjoy

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

LiquidFluoride
May 20, 2016 08:42AM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 1,940

Quote
speee1dy
just come with an open mind. relax and enjoy

bring a job with you if you can...

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

Spartygrad95
May 20, 2016 08:51AM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 1,885

Quote
LiquidFluoride
Quote
speee1dy
just come with an open mind. relax and enjoy

bring a job with you if you can...

And your guns, and your healthcare.

Re: Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!

OldTart
May 20, 2016 09:05AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 6,524

Spartygrad, I think the joy of living here is wearing a little thin for you. Nothing wrong with that, just getting a sense!

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