1 year out
Happy 4th everyone!
I will preface this message by saying that to avoid "we've answered that before" responses, I have done my due diligence and have spent hours researching the links on this site and searching the messages. I have found many great resources and a lot of great information, but I would like "the personal touch" of being able to ask actual people my questions and dialogue with human beings who have gone through what I hope to go through this year.
My story: I am a 27 year old from Kansas who has taught English in public schools for 5 years. I have a Master's of Curriculum and Instruction as well as a Master's of Library Science. I have dreamt of teaching in the islands since I completed my undergrad, and have decided it is now or never. I have been lurking on this board for a while, and would like to be part of the conversation now that I am serious about making this happen.
As I understand:
1. I should save $10K to survive the move. Could this be a little less since, as a teacher, I will receive paychecks in June and July without physically being here and working? (Like I could be looking for work in that time if necessary.)
2. When do schools begin hiring down there? Are schools like other employers in that they prefer to hire those already on island? If I do not find work teaching, could I find other work and survive? The library link on this site does not work, so I cannot tell what the job situation might be in that avenue. I have never worked in any career track other than education or child care, but would be willing to do anything if I would be able to be hired and survive on the wages until I can get a teaching or library job.
3. Is it worth shipping a car? I have a 2006 Ford Escape with a manual transmission. Would the $1500+ to ship be worth it or would it be better (monetarily or just convenience) to sell here/ buy something else there?
4. I would be moving in June, ideally to the Hull Bay area if I can get a job in St. Thomas. I would need help with where to live if I get a job on St. Croix. I pay $800 plus bills here for a 1 bedroom apartment. It seems like I could find something there for not too much more than that, is that perception correct?
5. Is there anywhere to skate? I play roller derby and while I know there is no league there, is there a skating rink or even just a flat outdoor paved area where I could skate? My other hobbies are knitting and yoga, easily translatable to island living I think. I am trying to think of everything I would have to give up in my day to day life and I know I could live without hitting girls (alas, I would miss it , ha), but I would really miss skating for exercise and stress relief.
Any other suggestions on what to do to put myself in the best situation to make this happen would be greatly welcome. I have researched the crime, have read about how "terrible" the public schools can be, how much more expensive it is to live, etc. I still want to do this. And hey, it looks like if nothing else the dating odds would be in my favor! 🙂
Thanks for reading,
You may have a better employment prospect if you could parley your library degree into something in archiving, I think. The USVI and the Danes are working to share/translate/catalog their historical documents. The new library/archives have yet to open, so they may be looking to hire if they ever do open. If you have grant writing experience that would be a huge help.
The VI govt, like so many govts, is broke, but International Capital Management, a private company, frequently runs recruitment ads for Instructional Designers. They might be your best chance. I think they're part of Cancer Centers of America, I think.
$10,000 is only a guideline - some people need more others can survive on less. The amount YOU need depends on many factors such as:
Will you have a job?
How much it pays?
How much you pay for rent?
How much you living expenses are?
etc., etc., etc.!!!
The point is you need money to set up your particular lifestyle - if renting you'll need to pay 3 months' rent (first month, last month and one month security deposit just to walk in the door) , you'll need deposits for utilities plus you'll need money for incidentals in setting up your new home.
Schools "hire" when they have a need but like school systems everywhere the most active period for hiring comes when they are staffing up for the fall semester so they might be interviewing in spring and early summer. Will you be hired? That depends on your qualifications and abilities and how they compare to the competition.
Do schools prefer to hire someone who is already on island vs. someone from "off island"? No set answer here - obviously if there are many qualified applicants for a position already "on island" they would have the edge but if the school is having difficulty filling a position the administrators will seek non-islanders to fill the position. Your best bet is to submit your application s for positions for which you are qualified and hope to be among those who are invited in for an interview.
If you don't get a teaching job an you find other employment and survive? The answer is "it depends". What other skills do you have? How much will you need to survive? The answer is different for everybody. Yes there are "other" jobs but they may or may not be suitable for YOU or the may or may not pay what YOU NEED to maintain your lifestyle.
The pros/cons of shipping a car here have been discussed at length on this forum - there's no right or wrong answer. best advice is to determine the value of your current car and add in the estimated cost of transporting it to the islands and other fees associated with bring the car here and compare that number to the cost of purchasing a similar car when you get here. Do that and the answer that works best for you will become evident. Your car is 5 years old, unless it has very low mileage and is in terrific shape you may find there's not much difference in your "out of pocket expenses" between shipping your car or selling it before you come and getting a different car when you get here.
Yes, you should be able to find an apartment that rents for $800/month on either St. thomas or St. Croix - whether or not it meets your needs/expectations is another matter. That's one of the reasons most of us recommend making a Pre-move Visit (PMV). It will give you a chance to check out the lay f the land and find out what your dollar will purchase.
Sorry, can't help you with skating other than to say there are no skating arenas in the USVI's and "outdoor" skating is just not a popular activity. Island life is probably going to be "different" than where you now live - that difference is hard to explain but you should be able to find activities and pass times that keep you interested and occupied.
Hope this helps.
If you have questions about teaching in the public school system, feel free to PM me. And, feel free to search my previous posts. But, just a few words about the following school year...
-Because the government is "broke", there is a proposal of an 8% pay cut for all government employees, which includes teachers
-Because the government is "broke", there is a hiring freeze, with the exception of necessary school positions - But, we were told that there will NOT be any new personnel at our school next year...only larger class sizes
-If you do get hired, you will not be paid right away. You must get your NOPA signed and returned before receiving your 1st paycheck - Although we started teaching in August, our 1st paycheck wasn't until November. We planned accordingly, but it was a bit tough for the first few months
-Keep in mind that the cost of living is higher here, and a teacher's salary is lower, so you will probably have to work an additional job
If you heart is into teaching for the right reasons, please come! We need great teachers! Good luck!
My two cents on STX:
It is worth shipping your car.
STX has a skating rink...Malabu Fun Spot in Castle Coakley...maybe you could start a roller derby here?
STX has yarn...Frame Up in Peter's Rest ( not far from skating rink) and Divi Fabrics in Christiansted both have yarn...whether it is yarn you like is another story. Most stateside sewing/yarn stores will ship yarn USPS.
10,000.00 is more than enough to move here with.
You may need to pay more than 800.00 a month here for a decent place.
I hope this helps!
I'm here on STX for the month of July "testing the waters" to possibly relocate here. I've been here as a visitor a number of times & have made some business contacts and met new friends. ms411 on this post mentioned International Capital Management looking for instructional designers & my antenna soared. I am a contract instructional designer who is always looking for that next contract job. My current one ends at end of summer. I just checked out the site & sure enough they are advertising for an ID. Is that cool or what? Of course, I have to get the job, but seeing an opportunity is pretty exciting. If anyone knows of other training development contract jobs in the area, please PM me with the info. I've met with the Director of the UVI CELL program & hope to do some development for them.
As for moving here, every time I come it feels like I'm coming home so the pull is strong. I'm from San Diego so it's actually cheaper here! I recently paid $4.38 for gas & food is about the same price. Housing is comparable if not less here. I know my month here will go fast. Wish me luck on the ID job. Maybe I'll be back soon, permanently 🙂
Laura: Besides the public schools (and yes, we do need public school teachers!!), you may also want to look at Montessori, Antilles, etc. Antilles has a beautiful library, don't know who the librarian is. The public libraries here are under Department of Planning and Natural Resources. I think they may even have a fairly up-to-date web presence.
When I first moved here, I had a manual transmission. Now I can't imagine how on earth I got around!! 😀
The $10,000 figure for moving here has been bandied around for 25 years. It still seems to work. Maybe it is because it disappears so quickly, you quickly get off your tush to find work!
Thanks so much for all of this useful information! And for being so friendly and encouraging! You know, I had never really considered St. Croix, but it sounds like it just may be the island for me! I will add it to my PMV this Spring for sure!! I am looking forward to this adventure even more now knowing what an awesome resource you all can be!
Thanks again for your time! I look forward to needing even more advice later!!