Buy a car or ship a car? Opinions needed!
Ok, I'm really struggling on what to do about the car thing. So all you people that have done it, or could go back and do it over again what would you do? In your opinion is it better to ship a car, and know it's reliable but pay all the extra fees, or buy an island car when you get there? I'm a college student so if I did buy a car when I got there it would be in the $3000 to $5000 range. Oh and by the way I'm moving to STX if that makes a difference.
The vehicle duty is determined by the VIN. They don't look for foreign parts.
From https://www.vimovingcenter.com/car/ :
The duty collected is based on country of origin on the car and is calculated using the book value or Bill of Sale, whichever is greater. The VIN number is used to determine origin: if the first digit is 1, 4 or 5 it is a U.S. car and there is a no duty owed. Vin’s starting with 2 or 3, there is a 6% duty. Vin’s starting with 6 or with a letter it is 3.5% duty.
As a board reader and poster for a few years, I've seen this time and time again...but, what most people don't consider when they ship their car here is, what it will take to ship it back? Which is why there are so many cars for sale, advertised as "Leaving Island, Must Sell". Living here is not like living in the States and the majority of those that move here are heading back to where they came from within a year...my advice is to always buy a car here and, if you find that living here is working out for you after 6 months to a year, sell it and then use that money to have your car shipped...JMHO...
My understanding from people who have done so is that the costs to ship a vehicle back to the States are comparable to shipping one here. The problem is that most people run out of money while here and not only can't afford to ship it back, but also need to sell to raise cash for the move. This is an expensive adventure, folks, no two ways about it.
I'll be living in St. Croix for a minimum of 3 years. I'm going to school on the island, and no matter what I have to finish the program there. So if I did bring my car I wouldn't plan on shipping it back to the United States. I figured by that point it wouldn't be worth shipping back, and would make a great "island car" for the next newcomer.
I just got a quote from Blue Ocean Transport for shipping my civic from L.A to St. Croix.......... $2,245!!! Yikes! I don't know about shipping it now, that sounds steep. I may just be looking for a car when I get there. Ugh, still very torn on what to do. Sure wish the island was more bicycle friendly. I'm a very very good cyclist 🙂
BeachcomberSTT, I think FDR answered it perfectly!
Jennyfish: You could always drive it to FL , then ship it from there, but the gasoline costs and time you spend driving will offset the savings...and you could try a bicycle, there are alot of people that do it...not ME, as I need a motor for my two wheelers...but STX is flat enough to make it doable...not fun, mind you, but doable...these are some of the reasons that we all recommend a PMV when relocatiing to the VI...your responsibilities towards your education are important, but you will meet a lot of people at your school that are leaving before finishing...to finish in the States, of course...my advice would be to leave the car, get here, get situated, then decide if it's worth it to ship, or just buy your own island car....best of luck to you!
FDR, great explaination.
I should've been more precise with my question.
Would there be other fees, like we pay here - road tax, customs, etc. to get the car back into the states? & is the shipping cost much more expensive shipping back to the states by the shipping companies? Or about the same?
Do the math. If your car is in "good" condition (you have confidence in it's performance ) and you can put up with the stuff needed to ship and re register....Do it. Your shipping quote plus cost to import and register will be somewhat over $3000. It is hard to get a dependable car for that amount. Don't forget insurance in all this.
I agree with Ms Information. If the math works in your favor, ship.
It's better to drive a car you know, than an island car you don't, in which you fork over thousands of dollars for one that isn't worth the price.
Then more than likely pour more money into it to fix it up, so it is mechanically sound.
I shipped and don't regret it at all.
I recently moved to STJ and before making the move I had a lot of the same questions. I struggled with the decision for a long time. I really wanted to ship down a reliable car but at the same time I wasn't sure if it would be a good investment as I didnt know if my car would be worth $1800 (my quote to ship) more down here than in VA. I ended up not shipping a car down and sold my car instead. I bought a car about 4 weeks ago. Its old, and very beat up but it runs and so far has been realiable. I also only paid $1300 for it. Looking back on it now, I'm really glad I didn't ship my car down here as all of the cars here are somewhat beat up as they go through a lot. The island car I bought is exactly what I need and for $1300 I don't have to worry about its resale value as I know I will be able to get my money back. I would highly recommend buying a car once you are on island.
If your car is in good shape ship it period. You will buy nothing but trouble for three grand or less here. Unless you are going to school to become a mechanic, then it will be good practice and training. This is the single worst mistake we made when relocating four years ago. When we moved here we bought a local car for around $4000 dollars. In the first six months we did the brakes and wheel bearings. Then the transmission had a major issue. I went straight out and bought a new car the next day. I fixed the transmission my self and only lost about $2500 on that car in six months.
Take your car to a good shop in the states, have them tune it up, replace all of the breaks, inspect the suspension components and do a full analysis of the engine and transmission. Then put four new tires on it and a second set of brake pads in the trunk and ship it. Tires and brakes on St Thomas last less than 10000 miles. I have purchased six tires plus the four tires that came on our car when it was new in the three and a half years that we have owned it for a total of ten tires. It has less than 20000 miles on it.
Consider the money as spent money, in three years when you finish school your car should be worth a couple of thousand dollars. The difference is just part of the cost of living and going to school here.