I just spent over a week in St Thomas as recommended from many on this site. This is the best advice! I looked at everything. I will give a bit of a summation for those who are looking to move as I learned a lot.
First of all, I think a car rental is a must. It is truly the only way to investigate everywhere on the island. I went everywhere. I bought a fairly decent map and it was very helpful. As far as driving, it was a lot easier then I thought it would be. I made one small mistake leaving Magens Bay at about 5:30pm and saw these people coming the opposite way in my lane, I was like, now why are they doing that? OOPPS, it was I in the wrong lane. I moved over and never again did I drive in the wrong lane. Going through town was a bit hard to navigate at first, as some lights are confusing as to when you go, but I again learned that quickly. As far as car rentals go, I was impressed with Hertz. They are a tad more, but the rental process was very easy with them.
I had the pleasure of staying at the Galleon house. This trip was booked last minute and it was very reasonable. The room was $49 a night and was clean and comfortable. It was a twin bed with a shared bath, I never had problems getting into the bathroom, but this option may not fit all, they do have rooms with baths in them. The couple that run it are real cute and very helpful. I needed to meet friends at Blackbeard’s Castle, and they let me out the back gate and saved me about 50 steps by not having to climb the 99 steps to get there. The room had cable and a phone and was perfect for me.
Now on to other items. I seriously snorkeled almost every beach there. I went to Coki, Brewers, Limetree, Morningstar, Hull, Magens, Bluebeards, Lindberg and stopped at a few more. Many times I had to park at the hotels and walk to the beach from their property, no one said a word. I just got out with my stuff and went to the beach. It is slow season so that may be why. At the Ritz, they even have a special parking lot for people who are just using their beach. Its hard to spot, its down an alley way, but I used it many times.
As stated, people are extremely friendly, but be prepared to wait in line for fast food for 30 minutes or so. I was fine because I was told this, but its true, you wait. Though I got information on setting up a business and what needs to be done when you want to register a car and get a license, this was actually very quick. I had set aside about 5 hours to do this. I meet with all the people I needed and was done in just over an hour. As others state, many people drive and stop for no apparent reason, or just to chat with a friend on the side of the road. This turned out to be in my favor, at first if I saw a place to rent posted on the side of the road I would make a quick turnaround to go get the number, after a while I became comfortable with just pulling over and writing the number down, no one ever honked, they either waited or just went around me. Beside, turning around can get tricky, the roads are narrow and have lots of curves.
I went and shopped all over; I took my paper and pen in and wrote down prices to compare to back home. I went into K-mart, Pueblo, furniture stores and Price Smart. Price Smart is like Sam’s Club, prices to me more reasonable, less then K-Mart, but you do buy in bulk. They did have great prices on appliances and the small selection of furniture they had was a good deal. I even ate lunch there 2 times. Milk is what shocked me the most a gallon is $4.50, coming from Wisconsin, that was a shock and will be hard to handle. Otherwise, things are more then here, but not too horrible, as you do not pay tax.
My best advice for people moving there is to chat with the locals. I would just go talk to people at the beach. Usually they had a dog so that’s how I started the conversation by asking if I can pet the dog. Wow, I met the most awesome people this way. I asked them a million questions and they loved to tell me about their life on the island. I made a few good friends. I was actually invited to dinner by one lady, she found out I was alone and had other friends visiting and asked me to come. She was so cool. I went to dinner and had a wonderful time. She has apartments and said one may be available when I move in September and we are keeping in contact. She is awesome. The people here are really cool. So I say strike up a conversation whenever you can. I did at the restaurants or where ever I was.
To sum things up, take some time to really investigate the island, get a car, and drive. I fell in love with the western side, around Fortuna, never really paid attention to the west side before, but I loved it. It’s a ways from many things but so beautiful and quiet. Also, pick up every magazine that tells you about the island and get the newspaper, there is so much to learn from all those things.