This trip was an eye opener in more ways than one and I’d like to share them as I think they are SUPER relative to this site. To begin with I’ll say that we visited St. Thomas on a cruise a year ago and this week long trip was to see if we could open a retail store there and if we really wanted to live there.
In our mind it was a trip to just take care of details…our minds were made up. Our very strong assumptions were that we would be able to open a store and would love the island never wanting to return. Another assumption we made was that an island where the overwhelming minority was white (my wife and I are white and from Newark, NJ and Macon, GA) might have serious racial issues.
To begin with, my wife and I are very open minded people but have “experienced” racism growing up. St. Thomas is a wonderfully open island and every single person we met (except for a few cruise visitors) was AWESOME. We stayed a few blocks “up the hill” downtown at Villa Fairview in a very local setting. The dogs barking at night when the ships were gone reminded us of home. If you have a problem being white in an almost all black neighborhood maybe this place isn’t for you but we made many friends and never felt a shred of race related anger or hate. We did feel some weird stares at first when people thought we were “lost cruisers” walking up the hill. “Going back to the ship?” was a common cry the first few days until we were recognized (and took off our flowery rayon clothing). You are either an Islander or not and once you are an Islander you are part of the island. We like that.
We spent our days strolling the shops downtown, in Havensight, Red Hook, we went to St. John, we snorkeled Hawk’s Nest, Leinster Bay, Coki Point, went to Cinnamon Bay, Emerald Beach and a few others. We chatted for hours with locals, local transplants, tourists, waitresses, shop owners, anyone that would talk to us. We really had a blast.
We have decided, however, that we will not be moving to St. Thomas. I’ll try to put down in words the feelings we have that brought us to this decision. We love the island, the people, and the business opportunities but on our 3rd or 4th day we got off the dollar bus and rented a car to check out the WHOLE island. We explored many nooks and crannies looking for a place we would want to live. Two hours later we went to the beach. Wow 13 miles long is really small! We liked the west end best, I think, but it still didn’t feel like home. At that point we re-explored our entire decision of moving to St. Thomas.
Why did we want to move here? We love the water, the beaches, the views…everything…but don’t think we could enjoy them every single day from now on. We realized the variety we take for granted at home. We love the fact that in North Carolina a few hours drive in any direction can bring you anything you crave (beach, mountain, city, etc.).
I don’t mean this in a malicious way and I’m sorry if I offend anyone it’s not my intention but we felt that we would be “escaping” and limiting our options by moving to St. Thomas. We felt isolated from everything we’d ever known. We don’t have children yet but are trying and don’t feel they would have as many options on island as in NC. We feel they should have all the choices we did growing up. We also want them to have chances to experience the things we did in the places we did as children…i.e. my old summer camp or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC, etc…
If you want to move to St. Thomas but have never been there…please please please just go check it out! A week is okay if you are really in tune with yourself and your needs but a 3-6 week stay is much better I think, if you can swing it. We met some guys at Villa Fairview that “will never leave…this place rocks”. They looked at us like we were crazy when we said we decided against the move. It’s all about personal choice. YOU CAN’T GET ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED FROM THIS SITE & IT’S MESSAGE BOARD OR A ONE DAY CRUISE VISIT. You need to go there.
Anyway, we decided that we will be coming to St. Thomas again but it will only be for a 2 week vacation!