Buy or Build
I've been reading the message boards for several months now and have been able to get a general overview and realistic feel for life on the islands and not just the idyllic notion. I became interested in St Croix while researching my family history, I found out my grandfather was born there and left as a young man. His father is buried in the cemetery in Frederiksted he arrived in St Croix in the 1800's and his wife, my Great Grandmother was born there and I'm still looking for more answers. I will be visiting early next year and have been looking into a possible move when I retire.
I was wondering what your thoughts may be on buying vs building, in checking the MLS vs buying property and building at $200-250 per
sq ft, financially not that much of a difference with building a simple home, 1000 - 1200 sq ft.
I would suggest renting for at least 6 months before building or buying. That will give you time to see if STX is for you.
But to answer your question, I would buy rather than build. Much lower hassle factor.
You can certainly get a great deal on land here; we have about a 6 year surplus of land....BUT building can be a hassle and it can take a long time and it most likely will cost you much more than you think (I believe that is the case in building ANYWHERE, but certainly here...). There are some great deals to be had on homes - and even if you have to remodel - you'll probably come out better financially to buy/remodel rather than build. But regardless, that decision is kinda putting the cart before the horse. A PM visit is essential - and renting for a while is also good advice - UNLESS the interest rates and/or housing prices start climbing.....
It's great that you are doing your research and getting a feel for what life is really like here - but you are seeing it thru a lot of different eyes - and you need to see it thru YOURS!!! Remember - two people can have the same experience - and one will interpret it negatively, and the other positively. Your set of life experiences, expectations, desires, attitude toward life will pretty much color what you think about this place - so come, experience, THEN decide!!! You really have to see / experience this place for yourself to know if it's right for you.
Kim and Linda gave good advise, come for a while and figure out where you would like to live, then maybe rent there and see if it's for you. Building here can be an adventure and a frustrating and time and money consuming process, but if you find the perfect view then....there is your motivation. Pay attention to the wind because you want a breeze and then decide whether you like sunrises or sunsets. The extended visit is a good idea to see if STX meets your expectations.
If you really want to be realistic please rent for 6 months to a year. Everyone wants to buy when they first come down but it's usually not the best decision.
Take it from someone who built in the Caribbean - you'll be behind schedule and over-budget within a week of ground breaking. Building here is not for the faint of heart nor for those without deep pockets. I know plenty of people who built homes all over the Caribbean and none have ever done it on a small budget. FYI - $200 to $250 per square foot won't get you very much - it's easy to spend double that.
Thanks for all the great advise.
I will definitely be doing PVM, and my thought was to rent first while figuring out what area would suit me best.