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Story #18: Pre-Move Story from a Prospective St. Croix Resident!
Part One: Dreams and Expectations
(Submitted in 2004) My husband ran around like a chicken last Saturday and was able to finally locate a copy of Don't Stop the Carnival. (Herman Wouk, 1956). I read the book all day Sunday so that Mark could take it Monday for a business trip to Orlando for reading material. I have only seen my husband sit and read one other book in the six years I've known him. He is already 2/3 of the way done!
I highly recommend this book and also Life in the Left Lane which my host on island loaned me for poolside reading when I was in St. Croix last month.
For all of you, 'Some of its magic, Some of its tragic, but I've had a good life they'll say.' (Jimmy Buffet: Man went to Paris)
In Don't Stop the Carnival, Not much was magic for poor Mr. Paperman. Lots of tragic though. The people who have not done their pre-move, it is highly recommended for you to do so; with a copy of Mr. Paperman's debacles for reading material (research material) really. In reading the book you will see why the concern folks on the Moving Message Board talk about like "Island Time" are worth thinking about. Can you deal with these nasty little inconveniences? Can your personality and attitude toward life handle the USVI?
I'm not into book reviews especially of the genre and influence of the notable H. Wouk, but I will say that I enjoyed the book immensely. Both for the insight and thought provoking three month period we see of tragic Mr. Paperman, who ends up sucking it up and returning to the life he sold out of in NY. (Sorry I ruined the ending)
Unless you are from millionaire row, and I don't know that many of us are, the Virgin Islands are going to be difficult to live in. The work will be long; 2 or 3 jobs most likely. The necessaries of Stateside will be conveniences on island (Utilities, Brand name Foods, etc). Politics and government will strike you as fraught with tension and corruption, and we think the next election is going to be bad! I've heard that the USVI is an undiscovered treasure of the USA. For some of us that chest will be full of fool's gold.
I must say though, with all the thought provoking things I have seen, heard and read, I still want to move to the USVI and open my chest to discover what is in it. Even if it is fool's gold, I will still feel richer for the experience I'll have. The shared love, laughter, tears and possible defeat my husband and I will experience, and the new friends we'll share this with.
Part Two: The Pre-Move Visit
I love it: from my all out dash through PR airport to make my connection flights..... (both ways!), to the local islanders serving hospitality drinks while I waited for my luggage claim ticket to be checked. The luggage was later delivered directly to the Pink Fancy!
The tour guide taxi driver who delivered me to the Pink Fancy. What a hoot! I found the drivers to be friendly and informative. Well worth the extra tip.
Walking (during the day) down Prince St and King St to the boardwalk and observing a different architecture, lifestyle.... etc. The things I have never experienced on my own before. How new and interesting everything is!
Sweeny and his St. Croix Island Tour.... what a wonderful man. Cruzan Rum Factory, Whim Plantation, Botanical Gardens, Beer drinking pigs, Domino Club... I lived through the MammaWanna. The beautiful sunset on the west shore, drinking a Cruzan Rum and Coke. And a storm (Sunday pm 02/29). What a storm..... watching that roll in off the ocean was magnificent.
A compliment to the island and the people I met... Yes, when you first look into the eye of an islander you may feel a sense of hostility. But a good morning and a smile will bring out a warm and welcome good morning how are you today and a nod (from most). In the states, that is rare. In the islands, well you have to experience this. Amazing.
I met Captain Simpson from the Renegade (Buck Island Tours out of Christiansted). I listened to him and NEVER walked at night through Christiansted. Felt very safe that way and the taxi service and bartenders where great. Simpson even carted me back to the Pink Fancy a couple times.
So far I've seen the east side and Point Udall, South Shore, West Shore, Rainforest, Mid-Island with the refinery (No never smelled bad odors myself). I also went to Frederiksted as well.
The impressions are great. I love the Island. NOW FOR THE REALITIES!
The real estate agent I met is not a buyer's agent. She works for the seller on commission. Watch for the agents to inflate the asking price on properties to get you to bid more. Be willing to say no to the perfect place and stand your ground. Be patient because you will not receive responses to your phone calls and emails. It feels like you've been judged and found wanting. These people want to sell million dollar properties to millionaires. They want you to bid on your pre-move visit. You can't because all your value is tied up in Retirement Accounts or needs to be liquidated through your own sale of property. It is a truly a nightmare. Mark and I have already decided that if we can't find what we want at a fair value, we will sell out everything within the next 6 months to a year, move down, find an apartment and than look for properties which interest us.
So far, no luck on the financial end either. What is the way around this. There is no cohesion between the Stateside banks and the Island banks. Yikes... Now we're talking about coordinating opening an Account on our next pre-move visit in order to have a place to do wire transfers to. Have to remember to take an extra $500.00 to do this with.
Don't show your excitement and optimism in this fantastic opportunity to your stateside friends and family. Lord, the green eyed monster comes out. I hear so much negativity in a day, I've had to stop talking about it. And what does a person want to do. Talk about it. It's the opportunity of a life time. You will find out all about who is your friend or not. Supportive. Yeah Right! My advice is to stick with the USVI Moving Message Board. The encouragement is a lot more pronounced. People experiencing the same things you do. Use this wonderful service. Than help to support the site by continuing to participate when you arrive on island.
My husband and I have roundtrip airfare, accommodations and more properties to view. We'll be there in less than two weeks. How exciting! We're in this together. What a great experience. But, what is going to happen next??? My husband is looking into National Guard transfer as I type. I'm looking into health Ins., hurricane Ins., liability, GOOD LORD where to start and what to do (to be there instead of here.)
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