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Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

straightlinespeed
February 08, 2017 03:37PM

Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 7

Good afternoon everyone! Yep you guessed it, another "continental" thinking about a move to the Islands.

This is probably going to get long winded. Sorry in advance.

We (wife, I and daughter) are from the frigid North (Minnesota). Me and the wife have been talking for the past year about all of this. I've been reading, researching and gathering all I can to help us decide. For the move it would just be me and my wife, my daughter would stay back home in MN with her mom, but would probably join us for the 3 months of the year when school is out.

-We get that living on the island is nothing like what they show on the HGTV shows and it wont be vacation.
-We understand running to the store to get something on a whim is probably not likely.
-We do understand that we should rent a place for the first 1-2 years.
-We understand its just a different way of living. We are both from small towns, but currently live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. We both want to move back to a small town, neither of us like large city. Its just where the money is at. So I think living the Island life would be similar to a small town, life is slower, no one is in a hurry, etc.. please correct me if I'm wrong.

Currently my wife works for the Federal Government (Accountant) and I work for the State Government (HVAC Supervisor). My wife mentioned she could look to see if there are any job transfers available. Although, both of us are unsure... Do the USVI, have Federal Government jobs there?

There are a few things we have concerns about.

I read a lot that its recommended to do a PMV. However, there is no possible way we could keep our jobs here while we visited there for 3-6 months. Also neither of us are allowed to carry over that much vacation time, so what is suggested?

Housing. OK so we got to the Island. Here we stand with our bags and what not.. Now what? Where do we live? Is it best to try and book something at a Hotel and start our Condo search or??? How do we go about this part?

Moving there with out a job is our biggest concern. I understand that employers do not want to entertain "tire kickers" searching for jobs from the states, if they never make the move. So lining up a job prior to the move is almost impossible. I'm very mechanically inclined, and could pretty much do any job. Not to mention I'm pretty sure I could get back into the HVAC jobs pretty easily there. So finding a job that fits me, I don't think would be to difficult. Now finding a job for the wife is a concern if she cant transfer. She would take any job she was offered to start with but would not want it to be long term. Ultimately she would want to get back into accounting or something very similar.

So moving with out a job to start with, about how many months and much money should we plan to live off of to begin with?

I'm sure I will have some more questions as these get answered.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

Alana33
February 08, 2017 04:24PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 11,975

There are Federal Government jobs available here in the USVI.
I'm sure there's a website for that. I don't know what it is.

You don't have to do a 3-6 month PMV. A week, 10 days, to 2 weeks should be sufficient for you to do on island research.

Vacation rentals, hotels, a B and B, or guest house for that duration during off season (May - October) would be more budget friendly. Ronnie is an excellent host at Crystal Palace. There are vacation rental websites such as vrbo.com, flipkey.com also airbandb you can check out.

You'll need a rental car to check out the island, check out prices at stores, gas, etc.

[www.icmcvi.com] often has job opportunities.
There are probably more job opportunities on STT for you, both.

You can check for rentals and jobs on [virgin.craigslist.org]
Just beware of scam ads. If it looks too good to be true, it's not!
You can check ads in the Island Trader, Daily News when on island.

You didn't mention what island you were thinking of making a move to.
I'm relating info re: STT.
EACH is different and has their own charm, challenges and peculiarities.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

Afriend
February 08, 2017 04:52PM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 454

First, which island are you considering? The 3 main ones are quite different from each other. The only thing they have in common is they are all islands.

Now, to address some of your concerns:

1) Yes, is;and life is a bit like small town living but you have to keep in mind it's not always easy or inexpensive to "leave" that small town whenever you feel the need for a "city fix".

2) PMV's are highly recommended and the longer the PMV, the easier your transition will be. but not everyone can come for several months so best to come for as long as you can and better to make several short trips over a period of a couple of years than only one short trip. Don't be in a rush, the islands have been here for centuries and they will still be here many years from now. So, how much vacation time do you get each year? plan on spending most if not all of it doing PMV's.

3) As for housing, many newcomers find a temporary place (a short term rental condo or guest house) where they stay until they find suitable permanent housing. Some have the husband or wife come down a couple weeks "early" to scope out suitable housing. You do what you have to do.

4) There are some Federal jobs here but not many. Your wife will have to find out if there is a suitable opening in her area of expertise and if she can qualify for a transfer. As far as finding non-government accounting jobs in the USVi's it's much the same as on the mainland. There are businesses that employ accountants and there are quite a number of current residents filling those positions and quite a number of qualified applicants looking for new positions. How successful your wife will be finding a job depends on her qualifications and how her experience compares to those she is competing against and finally how well she interviews.

6) There are a number of HVAC employers on the 3 main islands and like with accounting jobs described above your chance of finding employment depends on your qualifications and how you stack up against the competition.

7) No one can tell you how long it will take to find employment. Some people find suitable jobs quickly, others take 6 months or longer. Likewise it's difficult to give you a precise number for how much money you should have when you arrive mainly because everyone's lifestyle and needs are different. (Please don't tell us you "like to live simply" - everybody says that and we have no idea how much you need to "live simply"wink. Just know, the bigger your nest egg the easier your transition will be. You should plan on bring at least 6 months living expenses with you and even that is the minimum. Money disappears fast in the Caribbean.

Hope this helps answering some of your questions.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

straightlinespeed
February 08, 2017 06:40PM

Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 7

Thank you for the replies.

As for which Island we would want to live on. To be honest, I don't know. I understand STT has more jobs, but I like the idea of STX better. I have no idea, but it just seems like it is less congested. Alanna33 you mentioned "each Island has their own charm, challenges and peculiarities". Could you elaborate. I can only seem to find touristy type info about them.

Which brings me to my next question. Is it difficult to move Island to Island? I mean, if we wanted to live on a different Island. I understand there are ferry's, but what about moving all of our belongings there and such?

That is good to hear about the Federal Jobs, that could help out and be a good thing. I totally understand about having to be the best qualified and best interviewer to get the job. That goes for anyplace.

Right now we buy things like toilet paper, shampoo, pillows, towels, electronics through Amazon, Target and other online retailers. Is that cost effective and do they ship there? I know it would not be there in 2 hours or even 2 days LOL, but say if we needed it in the next month.

I guess I never thought of doing a PMV over different time frames. That's a good way to go about it. We could at least get the idea and also spend time on each Island.

Lastly I have a friend that is a native of STT. I don't know when he moved to MN, but it was some time ago. He does go back every few years to visit family. I have been talking to him as well and he has mentioned that there is a cash flow problem and they could be raising taxes soon. Could anyone give me some insight, how the economy is doing overall and what you see.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

Idlewood4
February 08, 2017 06:45PM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 82

[www.usajobs.gov]

Does your wife know if her agency has an office/branch here in the VI? Not sure if the link will work, but I went to USAJOBS.gov, and put in Virgin Islands for a location. I came up with 4 jobs, but not sure how much hiring is going to be happening at this point for the feds. If your agency is here, check out whether you can transfer here. There is also a federal building that is full of federal agencies. There isn't an IRS here, because taxes are paid to the VI.

There isn't any private health insurance here, so be sure to factor that in. Other things that make it less of an island paradise is the current state of the economy. I wish I had known that the island isn't paying tax refunds, I would have definitely changed my withholding earlier.

That said, the island is a beautiful place to live. This morning I watched a treetop iguana and some gorgeous butterflies on a lime tree. The views are spectacular on STT at least.

Feel free to PM me with any questions on the feds here, I'm a fed and transferred down for my agency. Even with the warts, I've very glad to be here. Not needing a hat, gloves, boots, and a jacket to go outdoors in February is priceless.

Good luck!

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

straightlinespeed
February 08, 2017 06:56PM

Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 7

Quote
Idlewood4
[www.usajobs.gov]

Does your wife know if her agency has an office/branch here in the VI? Not sure if the link will work, but I went to USAJOBS.gov, and put in Virgin Islands for a location. I came up with 4 jobs, but not sure how much hiring is going to be happening at this point for the feds. If your agency is here, check out whether you can transfer here. There is also a federal building that is full of federal agencies. There isn't an IRS here, because taxes are paid to the VI.

There isn't any private health insurance here, so be sure to factor that in. Other things that make it less of an island paradise is the current state of the economy. I wish I had known that the island isn't paying tax refunds, I would have definitely changed my withholding earlier.

That said, the island is a beautiful place to live. This morning I watched a treetop iguana and some gorgeous butterflies on a lime tree. The views are spectacular on STT at least.

Feel free to PM me with any questions on the feds here, I'm a fed and transferred down for my agency. Even with the warts, I've very glad to be here. Not needing a hat, gloves, boots, and a jacket to go outdoors in February is priceless.

Good luck!

She knows about that site and under current employees there are actually 15 jobs at this time. She did some checking earlier today and found out that there are employees from her agency in the VI's, but what you said contradicts that.. So we will have to do some checking.

Ok, I have to ask... Warts???



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/2017 06:57PM by straightlinespeed.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

jj00802
February 08, 2017 07:28PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 72

In regard to which island, there are a number of threads over the years addressing the advantages and disadvantages of each island. A very short summary:

**St. Croix - larger, flatter, slow economy, jobs available, but fewer options than STT, lower priced housing, no ferry to other islands (expensive to leave the island for a day trip or weekend)

**St. Thomas - more crowded around tourist areas, but quiet in many residential areas and away from tourists, more jobs and activities. Car ferry several times a day to/from St. John for day trips or weekend get-a-way. People ferry every HOUR to/from St. John and multiple ferry trips per day to/from the British Virgin Islands for additional options for day trips, weekends, etc.

**St. John - most expensive, limited shopping, but can take CAR ferry to/from STT, small town feeling, few professional jobs.
------------
IN regard to the economy:
The USVI government does not manage the government funds, but that is another who soap opera of stories. For the average citizen, the economy just means that everything is higher than living stateside. Although overall cost of living is higher than most US states, there are advantages to not paying for winter clothes, etc.
As for the rumor you heard of raising taxes? Well, we have the same FEDERAL tax return and tax rates as you have (no state tax), but it is paid to the USVI (not paid to IRS).
----------------
In regard to online shopping:
Most of the items you need daily can be purchased at KMART, Walgreens, Home Depot, CostULess, PriceSmart, or from various other local retailers. We need to support our local businesses. However, online shopping is still a necessity sometimes. Unfortunately, you will find that a large percentage of online retailers do NOT ship to the US Virgin Islands. We have US Post Office, but many retailers have exclusive contracts with UPS & FedEx which considers us international.
---------------------
As for job, I think the best option is to search for a government transfer. However, there are jobs if you are patient.
--------------------
PMV and initial arrival --- try to stay away from tourists resorts and try to find a place that is part of everyday living. Spend your time as a local - grocery stores, kmart, look at many apartments for comparison purposes, look at vehicles, have job interview lined up, etc. When you actually MOVE, then plan for a week to look for places to rent. You will want to see places IN PERSON before making any commitments. You will also want to be in area convenient for commuting to/from your work or places you expect to spend a lot of time.

Wish you the best ---
jj

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

Alana33
February 08, 2017 07:40PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 11,975

There's lots of warts. Not on the surface.
You're the only one who can figure out which ones you really can't deal with.

Island life isn't for everyone.
Some embrace it.
Some run screaming.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

straightlinespeed
February 08, 2017 08:02PM

Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 7

Quote
jj00802
In regard to which island, there are a number of threads over the years addressing the advantages and disadvantages of each island. A very short summary:

**St. Croix - larger, flatter, slow economy, jobs available, but fewer options than STT, lower priced housing, no ferry to other islands (expensive to leave the island for a day trip or weekend)

**St. Thomas - more crowded around tourist areas, but quiet in many residential areas and away from tourists, more jobs and activities. Car ferry several times a day to/from St. John for day trips or weekend get-a-way. People ferry every HOUR to/from St. John and multiple ferry trips per day to/from the British Virgin Islands for additional options for day trips, weekends, etc.

**St. John - most expensive, limited shopping, but can take CAR ferry to/from STT, small town feeling, few professional jobs.
------------
IN regard to the economy:
The USVI government does not manage the government funds, but that is another who soap opera of stories. For the average citizen, the economy just means that everything is higher than living stateside. Although overall cost of living is higher than most US states, there are advantages to not paying for winter clothes, etc.
As for the rumor you heard of raising taxes? Well, we have the same FEDERAL tax return and tax rates as you have (no state tax), but it is paid to the USVI (not paid to IRS).
----------------
In regard to online shopping:
Most of the items you need daily can be purchased at KMART, Walgreens, Home Depot, CostULess, PriceSmart, or from various other local retailers. We need to support our local businesses. However, online shopping is still a necessity sometimes. Unfortunately, you will find that a large percentage of online retailers do NOT ship to the US Virgin Islands. We have US Post Office, but many retailers have exclusive contracts with UPS & FedEx which considers us international.
---------------------
As for job, I think the best option is to search for a government transfer. However, there are jobs if you are patient.
--------------------
PMV and initial arrival --- try to stay away from tourists resorts and try to find a place that is part of everyday living. Spend your time as a local - grocery stores, kmart, look at many apartments for comparison purposes, look at vehicles, have job interview lined up, etc. When you actually MOVE, then plan for a week to look for places to rent. You will want to see places IN PERSON before making any commitments. You will also want to be in area convenient for commuting to/from your work or places you expect to spend a lot of time.

Wish you the best ---
jj

I'll do some searching to see if I can find those threads you mentioned.

Thanks for all the other info, very informative.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

straightlinespeed
February 08, 2017 08:05PM

Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 7

Quote
Alana33
There's lots of warts. Not on the surface.
You're the only one who can figure out which ones you really can't deal with.

Island life isn't for everyone.
Some embrace it.
Some run screaming.

LOL, I was still slow on picking up what you meant. My wife had to explain it to me.. I get it now.

Im curious, and Im sure there are no statistics out there on this. For all the people that try to move there. How many end up staying vs. leaving?

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

East Ender
February 08, 2017 08:48PM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 4,957

Welcome to the board!

"How many end up staying vs. leaving?"

There is old wisdom that says that 80% are gone in 6 months to a year. I personally know people who arrived on a Friday and were gone by Monday. And a guy who came here on vacation, called home for his belongings, and stayed 25 years.

"So I think living the Island life would be similar to a small town, life is slower, no one is in a hurry, etc.. please correct me if I'm wrong."

Well...People aren't in a hurry until they get in a car and then they are! excited BTW, the whole concept of time is different. You may have an appointment with someone and they just don't show up.

If you are interested in what's happening, you can and should read The Source, an on-line paper.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

Scubadoo
February 09, 2017 01:38AM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 2,072

Quote
straightlinespeed
I have been talking to him as well and he has mentioned that there is a cash flow problem and they could be raising taxes soon.

Cash flow problem is a bit of an understatement. The VI government budget far exceeds it's revenue. Revenues have been decreasing over the past several years but the government hasn't adjusted it's budget to match. The government has been floating bonds to make up the difference but without being able to show the lenders there is enough revenue to pay back the bonds the bond ratings have tanked and they can no longer float bonds. Therefore the government is quickly running out of cash to pay immediate bills. They've just imposed a sin tax on some items and also set a minimum level for property taxes (property taxes are very low in the VI) but this likely will only bring in minimal incremental revenue. It may allow for some more bonds to be sold in the short term There are other threads discussing the situation on this forum as well as the Under a Coconut Tree forum.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

speee1dy
February 09, 2017 07:52AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 8,600

everyone has pretty much answered your questions. but you did mention ferry. currently there is not a ferry that runs between STT and STX.

moving from island to island though AandA should be able to answer how easy that is.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

vicanuck
February 09, 2017 08:03AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 2,285

Quote
jj00802
In regard to online shopping:
Unfortunately, you will find that a large percentage of online retailers do NOT ship to the US Virgin Islands. We have US Post Office, but many retailers have exclusive contracts with UPS & FedEx which considers us international.

It should be noted that the Virgin Islands is well served by freight forwarders located in Miami who consolidate your purchases into containers and ship every week to STT and STX.

You can rest assured that you can buy virtually anything on the mainland and have it shipped economically to the islands and receive it within a few weeks.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

STTsailor
February 09, 2017 08:22AM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 493

I think with HVAC, mechanical skills and midwestern work ethics you will find employment here without a problem. If not, self employment is an option as there is a shortage of qualified and reliable AC techs.

For employment STT seems to be the best option. STX is beautiful but sleepy. Seems to be best suited for retirees. STJ is mostly a vacation playland for the rich. Plenty of stunning lux homes. There maybe a lot of central AC systems to be installed and serviced. Idk, just a speculation.

If you like boating and sailing than STT is the place to be.

Warts:
limited shopping, inconsistent supply line and frequent shortages, produce lasts 48 hours, lines in the bank, post office, supermarket, horrible roads with craters all over.

Doing business here is painful. Lots of gov red tape, fees, inefficiencies. 5% gross receipt tax is a killer on low margin enterprises. Corrupt, self serving gov. Lack of qualified workforce. Think of it as employing your labor force from kindergarten.

Very high violent crime rate. Murders and gun violence is an everyday event here. There is a serial rapist on STT on the loose for the last 8 months. Large illegal immigrant population. Drug trafficking. Totally indolent Police force.

Daily power outages on STT. Not sure about STX. WAPA is broke.

Lots of cars with broken brake lights, no lights or using high beam at night. Cars stop at random for conversation, drop off pick up of passengers in the middle of the road is common. Lots of unsactioned traffic patterns with negotiable right of way.

The society here is generally disorganized and chaotic. There are hardly any rules enforced. Some find it charming. Sure people are nice when socializing over rum punch and chicken fry. All this goes to hell when you water pipe is burst and you need a plumber pronto. Plumber will be here soon. Perhaps tomorrow or Tuesday. Any hired help needs to be supervised at all times. Any repairs will be short term solutions. Can't fix a water pipe with duct tape.

Limited cultural options. There are no book stores here at all. Single movie theater with very limited engagement. Forget indies or foreign film. Just cartoons and Hollywood crap.

Relatively decent basic healthcare. Health insurance is a must. Healthcare is super expensive here if you pay out of pocket. Certain specialty care is lacking.

It is a good place to be retired or living off investments. It is a fun place for youngsters waiting tables or working tourist boats and they partying in Red Hook. It get much tougher for midlife families w children with a need for steady income and high quality schools.
Nevertheless, we are all here for the weather, ocean and vistas and that is priceless.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

Scubadoo
February 09, 2017 04:25PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 2,072

Quote
STTsailor
There are no book stores here at all.

I don't know about actual book stores on STX but there are beaucoup used books to be had at the animal shelter thrift store.

We will have a new STX-STT passenger ferry as soon as the coast guard approves it but it will not be suitable for any sort of shipping/move between islands.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

Alana33
February 09, 2017 06:57PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 11,975

I be AandA2 used Norma H to ship between STT and STX.

[www.normahfreight.com]

I've used them for shipments between PR and STT.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

straightlinespeed
February 09, 2017 08:03PM

Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 7

Great info everyone! Thank you so much for being so friendly and informative. We dont have any new questions this time around. My wife and I are now doing more reading into some links and info that was sent to me thru PM's.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

speee1dy
February 10, 2017 08:16AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 8,600

there is undercover books in gallows bay and not sure if the book store above divi divi fabrics is still open or not.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

NugBlazer
February 11, 2017 02:48PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 309

Honestly, from the tone of your post, it doesn't sound like the VI would be a great fit for you. Why are you so set on the VI anyway? It sounds like you are just sick of the cold. It that's the case, why not Arizona or Florida? Both get you out of the cold and are about a hundred times easier to transition to than the VI.

After 17 winters here, I've gotten pretty good at predicting who will stay and who will go. And, from what I'm hearing here, I predict that you will not like the VI.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

straightlinespeed
February 11, 2017 05:23PM

Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 7

Quote
NugBlazer
Honestly, from the tone of your post, it doesn't sound like the VI would be a great fit for you. Why are you so set on the VI anyway? It sounds like you are just sick of the cold. It that's the case, why not Arizona or Florida? Both get you out of the cold and are about a hundred times easier to transition to than the VI.

After 17 winters here, I've gotten pretty good at predicting who will stay and who will go. And, from what I'm hearing here, I predict that you will not like the VI.

Im not sure what tone came from my post. If it is a tone of caution and concern, I would hope that would be with anyone thinking of making the move. If someone was not nervous about it, then I think I would be worried, Thank you for the response anyways.We are not set on the USVI, and we have actually been looking at different Islands and Countries all around the Caribbean and even Hawaii. As for the places you mentioned in the states, no thanks. The only place that is somewhat interesting is Key West, and after researching it is not for us. Perhaps if we were snowbirds, but we are far from that.

Im not actually sick of the cold, I will miss my winter sports, snowmobiling, ice fishing etc.. My wife on the other hand, she is not a winter person, but that is not the reason we are looking at moving to the VI. If we did decide to move to the VI, will we make it, or like it?? I have no idea. You may be absolutely correct, or absolutely wrong.. I dont want to live my life always wondering "what if" though.

I feel asking questions and comparing how we live now to how life is like on the islands is a good thing. We both can adapt very easily and we by far are not stuck living this life style. If we decide not to move, we will eventually (within 5 years) be moving back to a small town and go back to living a slower paced lifestyle.

Re: Yet Another Contemplating the Move Thread

East Ender
February 12, 2017 11:43AM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 4,957

Here are a couple of other warty things that recently came to mind...

1. There is no Animal Control. Feral animals wander boldly all over. Wild dogs, cats, CHICKENS!, etc. In Big America, you call the local animal control, they come pick 'em up. Easy peasy. Here, nada. The Humane Society is supposed to do some of the work, but doesn't have the resources to do much.

2. Noise- just reminded by a post on the community page. People blaring music from cars, bars, homes, and even churches at all hours. Little to no enforcement of noise ordinance and poor response from the po-po.

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