Planning to move to the Virgin Islands can be a challenging decision. You may have been offered a job, vacationed in the islands and loved it or perhaps just decided you need a change of scenery and the islands should be your home for a few months or years. Whatever your case may be certainly hundreds of questions are crossing your mind and this web site is the place to find the answers. The most popular questions asked are below.
Where can I talk with other people who might be planning to move, moved already, U.S.V.I residents?
What paperwork do I need to live and work in the Virgin Islands?
Americans: If you are an American citizen you do not need any new documents in terms of work visas or papers. American citizens can freely travel and work in the U.S.V.I. Social Security cards are needed, passports are a good idea, other identification papers like drivers license and a birth certificate should be carried.
Not American: If you are not an American then you will be required to secure a resident alien status, work visa, student visa and/or temporary visa – as you would have to do in order to live and work in the United States mainland. The same federal immigration regulations that exist in the US mainland are in use in the Virgin Islands. For more information visit: Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
What are people from the Virgin Islands or that live in the Virgin Islands called, like a person from New York is called a New Yorker?
People from the Virgin Islands are called Virgin Islanders. People from St. Thomas are called St. Thomians (pronounced toe-me-ins). People from St. John are St. Johnians (pronounced joe-ni-ins). People from St. Croix are called Crucians (pronounced crew-jan). New residents from the US mainland are called “continentals” but once they have been on island for a long time they are considered local. People from other islands as a whole are often referred to as “down-island people”. When referencing a “down island person” individually the term used is often related to the island they are from i.e. Trini or Trinidadadians from people from Trinidad.
Are there many families with kids living there? What do children do?
Families: Yes there are many families with children in the Virgin Islands. There is a fair size group of young families with children from the US mainland living in the islands. To view population statistics by age visit USVI Statistics
Things to Do: Children love the beach and certainly you can find many beaches to accommodate them. Get them beach toys like floats, beach balls and Frisbees. There are baseball teams and other sports teams, often organized by schools. Boy scouts and girl’s scouts exist. School plays and other theatre camps are available. Summer day camps exist. Church groups for children are common at most religious congregations. Fishing tournaments, golf tournaments and races for children exist. Often many of the children’s activities are school related or teacher organized, however most local events like Carnival, the Chili Cook Off and the Agriculture Fair include children’s activities.
Are there any books or reading material that can help me learn about the islands?
Yes there are. Besides reading the newspapers and perhaps listening to the radio stations that are broadcasted on-line books like the Settlers Handbook and Virgin Islands guide books and videos are very useful in helping you learn more and plan your move. Visit VITraders for books, newspapers and planning guides.
Is it suitable for retirement and/or seasonal living?
Retirement and seasonal living is a big option for many older and retired couples. Even younger more financially stable couples use the U.S.V.I as a seasonal home. Time-share and private homes lend to this being a feasible opportunity for persons on the mainland who seek retirement or seasonal living in the U.S.V.I. Permanent retirement in the islands are also an option and this should be researched carefully.
What is the availability of bowling alleys, movies and shopping malls?
Are there pharmacies to transfer prescriptions to, doctors, eye doctors for glasses and contacts?
Yes there are pharmacies on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. Optometrist, Ophthalmologist and Opticians are available on St. Croix and St. Thomas. It is a good idea to secure a copy of your medical records to bring with you so that your new doctor on island has your history.
Are there high racial tensions on the islands?
No there is not a high level of racial tension. The Virgin Islands have a wide variety of persons living here. People generally live and work peacefully together. Inter-racial and inter-cultural couples and families are somewhat common. Although racial issues are not common, nationalistic issues are visible. Virgin Islanders stick together. Caribbean people in general do the same. The greater majority of the Virgin Islands population is made up of Virgin Islanders and people from other Caribbean islands, consequently new residents might feel like outsiders or like the locals are standoffish. Not all people relay feeling or witnessing this but some do. Once a non-islander has lived on island for some time their status changes from “new” to “they live here”.
What is long distance tolls like between U.S.V.I and mainland? Is there a long distance toll between the islands within the Virgin Islands?
Depending on long distance service provider it can average between 10 cents to 25 cents per minute. Some cellular phone plans include free long distance to the mainland.
Calls between islands within the US Virgin Islands are toll free, they are considered local calls.
Meeting someone to date?
The dating scene might be described as difficult by a new resident. There are certainly many women and men living here, however individual taste and requirements might make the options limited. Often new residents seek other residents originally from the mainland to date, because many younger “continentals” move as seasonal workers they are only on island for 6 months to a year. This does not leave a lot of room for a long term relationship. Some new residents do meet and date people that are originally from the islands. Many of the older “continentals” are married with children, having moved with their spouses or having met their spouse on the island and married.
What do people wear? Are there any clothing stores? What type of clothing is sold?
Residents wear typical American clothing. There are clothing stores on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. In Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas you can find name brand clothing like Tommy Hilfiger and Polo. Stores like Gap, Express, Macys are not available. There are no malls comparable to large US mainland malls. In terms of what people wear – Virgin Islanders dress casually but fairly conservatively. Younger people will don more provocative outfits. The hot weather year round means no fall, winter, spring cloths, the same cloths can be worn year round so only one wardrobe is necessary. T-shirts, shorts, summer dresses are often the norm. Virgin Islanders like to dress to a T when attending shows at the local Center of Performing Arts, church or school shows. This is true for St. Thomas and St. Croix. St. John’s residents are fairly casual.
What are the pros and cons of life in the U.S.V.I?
Things just don’t happen as fast in the U.S.V.I as they do in the mainland. And that pretty much goes for all things; from being checked out at the grocery store, to post office lines, traffic and registering your car. Traveling back home can be quite expensive from the U.S.V.I. Many people start to feel “Rock Fever” – an island term referring to feeling stuck on an island or a rock surrounded by water! Hurricanes are a big concern. And finally some people miss the options, choices and variety that life on the mainland offers them.