Attn. JOI (STJ vs. STX)
We are planning on moving down in 2009. We would love to live in STJ, but don't know if it is feasible, affordability wise (housing). I would love to hear how you would compare STJ vs STX . Most people we met in STJ, said they would never live in STX because the crime was so bad. Was this just snooty comments or reality. Would love to hear your perspective since you have lived on both islands.
Of coarse they are different have you not visited the islands yet and you want to move here? There is crime on all of the islands. 75% of stj is federal parks the rest of the 25% on stj is mostly owned my rich people who do not live there year round. So its hard to have much crime when hardly anyone lives there but tourists. Most of the people that work there come over on the ferry and live in stt. You will find crime on all of the islands you will have to learn how to take care of yourself, you cannot depend on the police or the government. If you cannot do that do not come.
The last time I was on St John, my companion and I went to a restaurant, sat at the bar struck up conversation with the bartender. He asked where we were from--and we answer St Croix. He looked at us as if we were insane and actually asked us "how can you live there, isn't it just full of crime?" We promptly said "no" and found it amusing at first but then became a little peeved off because further on into the conversation he didn't seem to have any problems with crime rate on STT. STT and STX have pretty much the same crime rate. But he would never say "Eww, how could you live on STT, it's just full of crime."
The crime is no different than STT. Blah blah blah. Been said before. STX does tend to get the bad end of the stick in reputation compared to the other islands.
Since I'm not the only one to encounter a "snotty" StJ res, I wonder if this is a fairly typical opinion on StJ?
I would never live on STJ because its so damn expensive. But I still like to visit once in a while. 🙂
The differences between STT and STX are large and difficult to explain. My son lived on STT a few years ago and didn't like it very much. But, when we told him we were moving to STX, he flipped. He said, and mind you he'd never set foot on STX, that STX was MUCH worse than STT and we would be killed in our beds.
When he came for a visit the first time he couldn't believe how different STX was from STT and how wrong his beliefs were. His main comments were how much larger STX was and how much nicer the people were.
Maybe Linda we should keep this myth going, so it doesn't get as crowded as STT, and we would have it all to our selves. 🙂 LOL
You could tell the story how you have been murdered three times while you slept, and twice while walking in downtown Csted. 🙂
Of course the worse part was that the police gave you a ticket for littering the sidewalk while lying there 🙂 LOL
Just kidding of course.
We have been to STJ twice, each time we stayed 10 days. First time was our honeymoon and we stayed at the Westin, 2nd time we rented a very modest one bedroom home to give us a more real sense of island life- no a/c, lizzards, ants, cistern. What we love is how kind everyone is, how beautiful it is, and how much we felt the sense we were "home". We, like many, cannot afford to live there, but want to look at other options for living island life. We have 2 children, 5 & 2... Our view is that we want something different for our children to experience. There is nothing wrong with stateside education, especially where we currently live, but in the midwest I feel families are so predictable...marry young, vacation at the lake, children play sports on the weekend, etc. We feel there is a definite lack of culture. I would love for my children to learn spanish as a 2nd language early on, learn about other island culture, marine life. I don't want them growing up attached to their newest version of Playstation- I want them to become imaginative, creative, kind, sensitive individuals. We have already researched education options, cost of living differences, lifestyle changes necessary to make the move. All our spare time (which isn't all that much w/ 2 kids) is spent researching to make our move possible in the next 2 years. We find ourselves reading this forum daily, sometimes hourly, to find someone that relates to our point of view and it helps us to realize we are not alone in our "craziness". Thanks for listening and for everyone posting- it helps to keep our dream of island life afloat!
I can't afford to live there either, although I think STJ is beautiful and where I would have picked as my first landing spot if I'd known the Rockefellers a little bit better.
With all due respect, your children can experience "something different" with well planned and educational vacations. Predictability, while it looks boring to you now, is something you treasure as you get older. The American midwest culture is a culture in its own right and should be appreciated for what it is. I think your kids can learn Spanish as a second language stateside....they can visit the islands on a regular basis for what it will cost you to relocate, and you will not have any sort of midwestern family or friends support system - it takes a little while to find the folks you can hook up with on island. Parenting has to do with imaginitive, creative, kind and sensitive, not the locale they are raised.
I truly am not trying to burst your bubble and your dream - however, if you cannot afford to live on STJ, you will need to look at STX and STT - and they are brand new animals, each island completely different from the others. Water Island would most definitely be out for you with little kids unless you home school and have a bucket of money...
I would suggest you make many, many wonderful memories over the next few years with extended vacations to each island - and then as your children are older consider making your move. It's much easier to say you CAN live without a support system and have two small kids on an island than to actually do it - or at least that was our experience with the younger couples we knew.
What a lovely post. Best of luck with your plans. I live on STT and enjoy it very much.
St. John is a very beautiful place. When it comes to the islands, everyone sort of seems to find their own special place. Affordability is definitely a big consideration with respect to living on St. John -- for sure!!!
Slightly off topic, but you might also want to do a little research on Puerto Rico which is only 80 miles (or so) from here and would offer a tremendous way for your children to learn Spanish quickly, among other things.
By the way, last year I purchased a book from this website called "Desiring Paradise." If you look at the top of the page, you will see the link for it. The book is about a couple who moved to St. John. I found it to be a very entertaining and informative read.
Have a great day!
Thanks for the post. I have heard great things, indeed, about Puerto Rico and definitely need to look more into it. Desiring Paradise...read it, love it and couldn't put it down- again someone that could relate to our dream!
Nikki you said
There is nothing wrong with stateside education, especially where we currently live, but in the midwest I feel families are so predictable...marry young, vacation at the lake, children play sports on the weekend, etc. We feel there is a definite lack of culture. I would love for my children to learn spanish as a 2nd language early on, learn about other island culture, marine life.
But there is something wrong with the education here unless you can afford private schooling especially for transplant kids. People marry very young here and there are alot of women who end up as single mothers as always happens in high poverty areas or when people marry too young.
There are very few organized sports for the children to play here. Or any other extra curricular activities. I played tennis all the way through grade school and did school plays that were incredibly fun and participated in math tournments and things like that where we competed all the way to the state level when we were lucky, but there is nothing like that here. So there is alot that this rich culture will not provide to challenge and educate your child.
I think the midwest has a rich culture. But if you want a spanish culture with a marine influence why not texas or florida. Where I grew up in south texas you had to speak spanish to survive (literally very hard to get a job there if you do not speak spanish no matter you qualifications) and the gulf of mexico is right there. There are good schools and the cost of living is still extremely cheap.
As far as the playstation....it is here in the usvi and the kids love it just as much here.
It makes me sad that you want to throw over your own heritage for another but thats your choice. Many many people experience the "this is home" sensation on vacation, but it really is hard to live here and make it financialy with just two adults. With kids it gets alot more experience, so unless you score a really great job down here you will be working more down here to make ends met then you did stateside.
I'm also a mother from the midwest who loves different cultures. I love the stability of my home town, it is a great place to rear kids. The kool-ade stands in our front yard, neighborhood frienships to last a lifetime, riding their bikes to school, anyway I could go on and on. What we have done is to take our children on travel adventures. My husband and I have taken our children to the caribean every spring since they were little. Last summer we spent several weeks in Costa Rica with them white water rafting, snorkeling, the canopy tour, deep sea fishing, surfing and snorkeling. To see the Arenal Volcano was a special treat. It is and active volcano and at night you can see the lava flowing from it. They also have wonderful hot springs for bathing generated from the volcano.
To expand on our adventure, we purchased a villa on St. Thomas. We got a great deal, but it needs some work. We are going down there this winter to renovate it. I've even met with the kids schools since they will be gone for 4 to 6 weeks. All I have to do is home school them or higher a tutor and stay with the current curricullum. They will even E-mail their tests to them.
They have vacations centered around learning spanish fast. They have a program in Panama and Costa Rica called "Spanish by the Sea". I haven't done it myself, but I would like to someday.
I hope this helps,
I feel that we can give the best of both worlds to our children. I love the carribean, but I don't think I can ever completely give up all that my home town has to offer me and my family.
As I mentioned, we have researched, researched and researched again the issues with education there. My husband is currently working on his teaching degree and then will be completing his Master's prior to our move. He as always desired to be a teacher and has been a wonderful teacher to our children as he is a stay at home dad while he is attending his courses. Our goal is for him to get a job with a private school which will help with the cost of tuition. We would not move down if we couldn't afford to have our children in a private school as they are our number one priority. (we are also aware of the salaries for teachers)
We are not necessarily looking for a "Spanish Culture", but the opportunity for our children to learn another language, Spanish or not, and utilize it. I find it sad that schools here don't find the necessity to teach children another language, as most other countries do. Children are such sponges at early ages and this should be taken advantage of not only because it would come fairly easy to them, but would be a great benefit in their adult lives.
I am originally from Arizona and know a great deal about "Spanish (or Mexican) Culture". Although I love Arizona, it was not where we wanted to raise our children. I have not "thrown over my own heritage for another", as the Midwest heritage is not my own heritage, just an adopted heritage- my husband is from the Midwest. Where we live is nice, but just not us. If our dream of moving falls through, I have no problem staying here and raising our children (although I would dread each winter), I would just like to offer my children as much as possible as a parent.
Your children will get spanish offered to them in HS, just like in the Mainland US. Aside from that, it is very unlikely that they will hear or speak another foreign language on a regular basis in the VI.
Most of the locals speak english only and the one's that are bilingual want their kids to speak english to increase their opportunities Stateside. It really is not a bilingual society and a large number of those spnaish speakers cannot afford private school and there are limited opportunities for your children to immerse themselves for any significant time..
Go to PR (or the DR) if you want your children to become fluent in a foreign language. Immersion is the only way to do it. We lived ther for several years and we all became fluent speakers.
The USVI is exactly that - heavy emphasis on the US culture. Your children will be exposed to more bilingual opportunities in one of the border states in the US.
The "Spanish" thing is a little blown out of proportion. I just like the idea of my kindergartener learning Spanish through his school years, instead of waiting until High School. He is such a sponge now and I want to feed him as much knowledge as I am able to. This "learning to speak spanish thing" is not our primary reason to move down, it's an added incentive.
Sometimes things might be taken a little too literally on this board, but is to be expected as we all don't have time to publish our own or read everyone's life story to get the proper background on what we are posting/commenting about. I do appreciate everyone's comments and do value each one. If I didn't, I would not visit this board as often as I do!
I am not an expert on anything, just trying to live my life to the fullest since I only have one shot.
My wife and I closed on a house in PR just a few weeks ago. We can't wait to move there. Last year we tried for a house in St Croix but that fell through. I am glad it did because we found Puerto Rico much nicer (and affordable) for our tastes. You can find decent houses in decent areas for $125K. They are packed in tight but if your use to condo's, apt's, or lot sizes just 10' larger than the house then you will do fine. We paid 170K for a 4 bedroom 1500sq' house on 2 beautiful acres. We will be living on the West end of the island and 11 miles from the water. There are lots businesses and all the amenities you find in the states. If your looking for something completely different from the states then PR might not be for you.
My parents had the same ideas as you--as soon as they were old enough, they high-tailed out of Ohio and never looked back. They raised their kids, me included, all over the world. My mother and father grew up in OH and didn't want their kids to grow up in OH. They managed just fine without a support system of extra family wherever they lived. They probably would have gone nuts having to live near in-laws and their own parents. My point is to each his own. If you want to leave the midwest, leave. Just do the best for you can for your children. If you can afford private school on island--that's great. I also know plenty of people with two-children homes with modest incomes who live on island, send their kids to private school and are getting along just fine. This board does represent a very small minority of transplants--with very valid opinions and experiences--but it by no means does not represent everyone.
There are also lots of extracurriculars on STX in both the public and private schools. They have little league teams, scouts, basketball, soccer, a super swim team, arts programs, music, quiz bowl teams, a debate team, math competitions, theater (plays and musicals), environmental trips etc etc. One of the quiz bowl teams or math teams I believe is quite good and goes to the states to compete. The newspaper constantly publishes stories about all the stuff VI kids are involved in.
FYI, cost of living is FAR more expensive in South Florida than STX.
Absolutely Awesome post Stxem!!!
You are most obviously a very worldly and wise person, who's parents did a superior job!!!!
stxem I completely disagree with you about the extracurriculars on stx. More then half of the items you mentioned are simpely not here on the level they have them stateside. I'll give you scouts and the swim team, but the others are no where up to par with even a 1a or 2a school stateside. And as fars as florida and here, south florida is a big area there are alot more deals to be had then here.
St. John has extracurricular activities as well...spelling bees, talent shows, the Love City Pan Dragons (children's steel pan group), the Love City Leapers (children's jump rope group), little league, flag football and more. I don't have first hand experience with these groups, but I am involved to some degree and believe they offer just as much enrichment as stateside extracurriculars (this is just my opinion).
Jeff - where in PR? We lived Isabela/Aguadillal area.
Ditto to Mell's post! Thank you for sharing your parents story!
Ok...one last post and I will get off my soapbox. If the school issue is not a big problem for you think about the justice system here. The child recently went missing and was turned up murdered. The police had an idea of who did it but never released a picture during the search for her. And on top of that once he was caught the judge released him recognized until trial. Some brave locals had a protest on Monday 23, 2007 of which stt res was a member. I say brave because there can always be backlash from the local police which are incredibly corrupt. Here you will have to teach your children to keep their head down and not make waves.
I still stand by my original post regarding extracurriculars. It is a small island in the middle of the ocean. Of course one cannot drive 100 miles and be able to compete against 15 different schools in the highest of divisions. But the schools on island do play each other in several sports--soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, golf, tennis and swimming. Good Hope has a very active theater department and arts program. There are many opportunities for kids at any school to get involved with local music like calypso and steel pan.
Every year, there is a territory wide quiz bowl, math competition, spelling bee. Some winning schools have gone on to statewide competitions.
The schools are often doing beach cleanups, taking cultural trips (one group went to visit Denmark recently), involved with environmental groups, etc etc.
Unless your child is allergic the sun or a serious couch potato, there are plenty of things to get really involved with on island, especially in the private schools.
"And on top of that once he was caught the judge released him recognized until trial"
That's not my understanding. The creep is in jail now & has been since he was arrested. No argument Kendall needs to go because he loves to let violent offenders out until trial. I think he was out & free on a previous offense when he killed the little girl.
In fact, the kidnapping/murder case is before an entirely different judge, and if I am not mistaken, bail was set at one million dollars. This person is NOT out walking the streets right now -- and assuming he is guilty (as seems to be the case), let's just hope he never sees the light of day again.