Caribbean life- Pro...
 

Caribbean life- Pros and Cons  

 

Elsa1005
(@elsa1005)
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July 30, 2019 10:30 am  

My fiancé and I have been watching the TV show "Caribbean Life" for quite a while now and we are hooked. We are getting married on October 5th and are planning to spend our honeymoon in STX and want to use that time for our PMV. I have been doing a lot of reading and research to find out all that I can before our visit. Our love story is truly amazing in that we are both widowed and were blessed and fortunate enough to find one another in this crazy world. We know how precious life is and we refuse to spend our lives on auto pilot. My late husband worked up until 3 months before he died only because he was no longer physically able to do so. All of those years my late husband and I both spent working and were away from one another plagued me after he died. I wanted nothing more than to have those missed opportunities back to have a "do-over" because I would have done things much differently had I known he was going to die at 52. Knowing what we both know now, my fiancé and I want to work to live ~ not live to work. If our trip to STX in October is as wonderful as we hope it will be, we will be making some major changes in our lives between the time we return and the end of the year. We know that we cannot just sell everything we own, cash in all of our retirement and just coast along without having to do something to earn a living. My fiancé is a former airplane mechanic, engineer and has a commercial pilot's license. He is quite the handyman. He can fix, repair and/or build almost anything, so hopefully his skills will help him find a suitable job. I am a paralegal and a widow/widower life coach who loves to help others find the silver lining in their clouds. Having lost both of our late spouses to cancer, we don't know what the future holds for us, how long our own health may hold up, or how much time we will get to love and enjoy one another before our time on this earth is over. But...we do know that we will never take one single breath for granted and that there are truly good people left in this world and worth knowing. We choose to see the glass "half full" instead of "half empty." My motto is "If you look for something negative, you will always find it." I must admit, after reading some of these posts, I have been enlightened and given new things to consider and think about... but that's a good thing. I never make any major decisions in a hurry or without obtaining all of the pertinent information first. Does anyone have any recommendations as to where we should stay when we come in October to get the full effect of the island and to meet and interact with as many of the local folks as possible? That will be our chance to learn if the USVI is where we want to relocate to build our new life together or choose somewhere else. 


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stxsailor
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July 30, 2019 11:30 am  

Get on Air B and B and rent a house. go buy groceries and drive a car. That's a start.


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Gator's Mom
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July 30, 2019 12:11 pm  

Health care and health insurance will be your greatest challenge in pursuing your plan.  Spend some time exploring this while on the island in October.  Because of your unfortunate experience with family illness, you more than anyone will understand how important access to health care can be.

First, if you move to the VI, you will need to find an employer that offers health insurance as an employee benefit because there are NO individual health plans available in the Virgin Islands.  You might work remotely for a mainland employer but again your health insurance has to be able to work in the VI or you'll be flying if you become seriously ill.

Second, there are med evac insurance options readily available in the VI and most people do have a plan  - but you'll need to have a diagnosis and referral to an off island physician or hospital before flying. Without evac coverage you'll pay $40K or more to get to a hospital in San Juan if you must charter a medevac flight. Even to visit the VI, you might consider purchasing travel insurance that offers medevac coverage.

Third, the hospitals on both islands had difficulties before the storms … and are seriously lacking resources now. There are excellent and dedicated physicians on STX but they don't have a lot of tools to work with at Juan Luis Hospital. 

Health care will improve but not in the near term.

As far as places to stay - you might spend a few days on the East side of the island and then a few days on the West side as well.  There are lots of Airbnb or small resort options available during hurricane season LOL. 

Go to grocery stores and check prices. Drive the island, check out neighborhoods. Stop in at happy hour at local bars and pubs. 

Remember it's going to be REALLY HOT in October.

 


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islandjoan
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July 30, 2019 12:26 pm  

Your fiancee's skills will definitely find him something here. Bohlke Airways might be able to hire him or give him contract work (not sure if they do that) Or he could start his own "honey do" business. As a paralegal you should find work easily as well, and get your medical coverage that way. Everything Gator's Mom says is true, so keep health care in mind. To meet with the locals, go to the La Reine farmer's market early Saturday morning, volunteer with any number of organizations, there is so much to do. The website gotostcroix.com has a wealth of information on what's happening on the island. All the best to you both!! Love your story!


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singlefin
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July 30, 2019 5:09 pm  

Your PMV plan is a good one, however it’s your honeymoon! Try and squeeze a few days in over at The Buccaneer. It’s the islands nicest hotel property, and something well worth experiencing. 

October is a tough month down here, even some locals go off-island for awhile to beat the heat and oddball weather (winds). Hurricane season has been predicted to be light due to an increase in Saharan dust (a good thing) but it’s not quite as pretty as later on.

Best of luck to you both!


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Scubadoo
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July 30, 2019 9:41 pm  

If he can fly for one of the local airlines like Seaborne you'll have it made.  The farmer's market at La Reine is all day Wed.   You won't have a problem finding a place to stay for PMV in October.  However long term rentals are scarce right now with the recovery still underway and the refinery coming along.  And those are often only advertised by road sign so the time to look is during PMV.  If you have read the older posts you know the recommendation is never to buy property until after living on the island for at least a year or so to make sure you are good with it.  Buying is much quicker than selling.


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Elsa1005
(@elsa1005)
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July 31, 2019 6:56 am  

I really appreciate all of the feedback from those of you who took time out of your day to respond to my post. It definitely gives us things to consider and be on the lookout for when we make it there in October. I will admit, the health insurance and healthcare (or lack thereof) would be a great concern for us ~ considering what we both went through with our late spouses.

Keep the feedback coming. Like a sponge, I'm taking it all in. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful day!


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speee1dy
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July 31, 2019 9:21 am  

we have only 1 operating room on stx right now, this was an issue over the weekend when we had a mass shooting. 

health care is a big issue especially for those who are nearing retirement or have health issues. 

our electric rate is very high-protests are being planned right now. 

food costs are about 1/3 higher than in the states for most things. 

what you cant find here will need to be shipped-amazon does not have free shipping for prime members

it is not all sunshine and roses. 

you are missing the very hot humid time to visit-both good and bad.  but of course where you will stay will probably have air conditioning-try not to run it when you arent there. the cost is super high.

i didnt see, do you have school age children? most state siders dont like the public schools. private schools are expensive. 

one time i had to drive to 5 different stores to find blueberries for a recipe.  


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Gator's Mom
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July 31, 2019 9:48 am  

If the government were to start paying its WAPA bill, VI property/ other taxes and fees will increase a lot. WAPA bills are a "hidden" tax Virgin Islanders pay. The VI government has no money to pay what it owes WAPA. You will pay either way. 

What is there to protest? Electric service is a problem for most small, isolated places. WAPA has big plans though.

The key to groceries in the VI is to learn to cook with local ingredients. Blueberries are mighty rare in the VI - so if you must have them or strawberries prepare to pay. Mangoes on the other hand …… 

Eating out in STX for me is cheaper than eating out in big city Florida. 

The cost of property taxes in the VI is pennies on the dollar compared to big city Florida. My annual tax bill is $1200 compared to $5000 I was paying on my home in FL for comparably valued properties. And car insurance? I just paid $450 for TWO cars (all be it old cars so no collision) for an entire year - FL for two old cars its over $3000 a year - and we're accident and incident free for many years.

This post was modified 3 months ago by Gator's Mom

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Elsa1005
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July 31, 2019 10:10 am  

We do not have school age children. I have one grown son and no grandchildren (yet). My fiancé does not have any children at all. We don’t even have any pets to worry about. I went through a phase during my grieving process that I did not want to be responsible for anyone or anything other than myself. It is quite liberating. We love our care-free life and the ability to pack up and go somewhere on a whim. In the month of July alone, we have already been to Iceland and Niagara Falls. We were considering the USVI because it’s still in the US Territory but it doesn’t sound like the US really looks out for them very much. All the information we are getting from the folks who live there is a bit disheartening. However, I really do appreciate it more than you know! 


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singlefin
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July 31, 2019 5:33 pm  

Agree with Gators Mom on costs.

Dont forget the $400 full-time resident reduction on property taxes. The day I traded in my NY driver license for a V.I. license I went straight to the tax assessors office for my discount. I payed over 10k in NY, as a full-time resident in the VI, I’m paying less than a thousand!

Subtract what you were paying for home heating oil / gas / wood / coal / whatever, from the only utility bill here (WAPA) and your still way ahead. Although I do pay $86 about every nine months to get a bottle of propane delivered. I use propane for both cooking and my clothes drier.


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Scubadoo
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July 31, 2019 10:06 pm  
Posted by: @elsa1005

We were considering the USVI because it’s still in the US Territory but it doesn’t sound like the US really looks out for them very much. 

Not true at all from FEMA to USPS.  Like any state the VI must manage itself, there's been an elected governor for only 49 years.  We have no federal voting rights other than sending a non-voting delegate to Congress.  But, US federal laws apply in the VI and local laws are based on US laws, Medicare/Medicaid, property rights are US based, the monetary system is US, HUD/VIHFA , SNAP, Emergency Prescription Assistance Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Operation Blue Roof (US ARMY),   SBA, the list goes on.  Federal assistance was immediate after Irmaria.  You don't hear much about St Martin, I think they are way behind in recovery other than the main tourist areas.


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speee1dy
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August 1, 2019 10:35 am  

@elsa1005

dont let the truth stop you from living your life. come down and stay for 6 months stay for 6 years. dont let others determine what will make you happy. 

and i totally understand about the pets-we have two now and after they die, im not getting any more. i love them but......

if you have the money , its a great place to live. and we do have a nice air conditioned movie theater. 


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SkysTheLimit
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August 4, 2019 12:11 pm  

Great attitude and story.  Sorry for your losses!

You are getting great advice here.

Come down, check it out, go home, give it some thought, and Do It...

Welcome!

Alan
St. Croix resident since 2000


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Fishbait
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August 5, 2019 7:27 am  

It's good that you are both "glass half full" people. I am the glass half empty half of our marriage. (I think it's blood type, she's A positive, I'm O negative, that's my theory.) Anyway, being the pessimistic one I did a lot of research and did dwell on ways to minimize the negative risks. You guys should do the same before you move to STX. A problem understood is a problem partially solved. Enjoy the honeymoon! 


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Fishbait
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August 5, 2019 7:31 am  

Oh - one more thing. I love your statement about knowing that we never have forever. People ask me if our upcoming move in November is "permanent." (We bought a place in STX last year.) I reply that being 65 I know that nothing is "permanent."  But we should have a little adventure with the time we've got. 


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Loppiks
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August 7, 2019 7:59 am  

Get on Air B and B and rent a house. go buy groceries and drive a car. That's a start.


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jaldeborgh
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August 7, 2019 5:27 pm  

@Fishbait

I like your comment about having a little adventure with the time we’ve got.  I’m 18 months from retirement and my wife and I bought a home on STX last January.  We rented back to the former owners and my wife will start using the home this December.  We’ll be seasonal residents, likely half time, but see it as an adventure, a chance to reinvent ourselves as we move to a new stage in our lives.  Our kids are excited for us and many of our friends are already getting on the calendar to come visit.  While by no means naive about living in the Caribbean, life is short but more importantly life is what you make it, that’s our attitude.


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Deb D Vegas
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August 15, 2019 1:09 pm  

@elsa1005

Thanks for choosing the USVI for your honeymoon and congrats ! My husband and I purchased our home on St. Thomas over 3 years ago. Originally we had intended to live here 3 months of the year until we could retire and renting our place through Vrbo & AirBnb the other 9 months. After being here just 3 months the 1st year, we were heartbroken to leave to head back to the mainland where we lived the other 9 months. That plan lasted less than a year and we moved here full time before year 2. We love it here, yes we were actually here at our home during IrMaria, and that didn't change our love for the rock.

Health insurance as others have posted is a real issue and was for us as we are not old enough to be on Medicare. We started our own business and we were able to get group health insurance. While you are visiting STX, I would make an appointment with an insurance company over there that works with group insurance plans. With your hubby to be being a handyman, I wouldn't think starting a business and finding work would be an issue. I am sure STX is in much the same boat as STT, with all the work needed on homes and businesses damaged by the hurricanes as well as people who choose to do remodeling work, etc. So that should be something to explore.

Life here is terrific, stress free and laid back. It works well for us as we were "so over" the traffic, stressful life we had driving over 500 miles each week for work. We basically had no free time, it was up at 4am, back on the mainland home at 6pm and then wake up and do it all over again.

Here we spend days and nights together, actually plan meals and cook at home, instead of grabbing something like fast food since who wants to cook after a 14 hour day working. We get to spend so much time together instead of existing in the rat race back on the mainland.

It does take a certain kind of person to live and enjoy it here. If you are someone who wants Starbucks, chain restaurants, shopping malls with name brand stores, then this probably isn't the place for you. If none of that matters to you, as it doesn't us - you will be happy here. Amazon ships here for things you want that you can't find on island, you do pay for shipping even if Prime Member. The thing I do find a little frustrating is that sometimes when I go to order something on Amazon, only to find that it won't ship here. I can see where it will ship to the BVI or some other country - but not here. Go figure. So our solution for that is we send it to a friend who lives on the mainland, and she ships to us if we need it right away. Or when we go to the mainland about every 3-6 months, she just holds on to it, and we pack it into suitcases and bring it back here. When you go to the mainland, we bring 6 empty suitcases and they are jammed full when we come back. I visit all my favorite stores, restaurants there and get my "fill" of them.

Another thing to remember is to come here, embrace the island and its culture. If you expect things to ever be like the mainland, it won't nor should it ever be imo. It would ruin the peace and tranquility of the rock. So explore while there on your 1st trip, that is exactly what we did. We loved it instantly and bought our home before we even left here !

 

 


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Buster57
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August 15, 2019 5:35 pm  

@Gator's_Mom

What if you have Medicare from the US with a supplement and prescription plan?  Is that acceptable on STX?  I'm slowly seeing my retirement float away......


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Fishbait
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August 16, 2019 4:21 pm  
Posted by: @buster57

@Gator's_Mom

What if you have Medicare from the US with a supplement and prescription plan?  Is that acceptable on STX?  I'm slowly seeing my retirement float away......

Yes, I am getting the AARP/UHC suppliment that is accepted anyplace that takes Medicare. I CONFIRMED with them that the USVI is covered. In fact, the rates are a little lower than in NY where I am coming from. 


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Fishbait
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August 16, 2019 4:26 pm  
Posted by: @jaldeborgh

@Fishbait

I like your comment about having a little adventure with the time we’ve got.  I’m 18 months from retirement and my wife and I bought a home on STX last January.  We rented back to the former owners and my wife will start using the home this December.  We’ll be seasonal residents, likely half time, but see it as an adventure, a chance to reinvent ourselves as we move to a new stage in our lives.  Our kids are excited for us and many of our friends are already getting on the calendar to come visit.  While by no means naive about living in the Caribbean, life is short but more importantly life is what you make it, that’s our attitude.

Absolutely! 


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Buster57
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August 16, 2019 4:26 pm  

@Fishbait

Thanks.  That is GREAT news.  We too would be coming from NYC.  3 years & counting!! ? 


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vmiiwks
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September 9, 2019 9:27 am  

Health care and health insurance will be your greatest challenge in pursuing your plan.  Spend some time exploring this while on the island in October.  Because of your unfortunate experience with family illness, you more than anyone will understand how important access to health care can be.


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Alana33
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September 10, 2019 10:28 am  

October is still hurricane season so best to buy travel insurance.

You never know!


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