Closing on our hous...
 

Closing on our house and moving in just three weeks  

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ChrisMI
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May 9, 2013 2:36 pm  

Thanks to you guys for all your advice earlier when we were househunting back in Jan/Feb. We found a very unique home we fell in love with and are closing and coming down at the end of the month. We'll be coming back to Michigan for the summer before going back permanantly later this year to St. Thomas.

We're currently calling insuance companies to get quotes on windstrom and other home insurance - any firms to avoid or that you'd recomend? Any opinion on Theo. Tunick & Co. in particular? All all the firms in the VI brokers? Making sure a provider has a huge balance sheet and diversity in outstading geography of insurance placed is obviously a big deal for us (as it should be for anyone).

Any other common things that people moving to the VI for the first time usually forget or don't think to do early enough? The home is furnished and has a tenant moving out, so it's well taken care of. We wanted to have a used car all picked out to buy when we came down, but for whatever reason while I'm told there are many car dealerships on St. Thomas, I literally cannot find a single one of them online to check out. I don't want to come down with nothing, but I really have no idea where to look. We want something pretty specific, but it's common in the USVI (Jeep Wrangler).

We've very excited. We absolutely love the people and the culture of the island. It's not just about escaping Michigan's 6 month winters, but that's certainly a nice benefit.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Chris & Nicole


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VIsnorkeler
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May 9, 2013 2:47 pm  

Congrats! Sorry, but I have no knowledge of the things you are requesting advice. I found both the cars we drove while here either in the Island Trader or word of mouth. The Island Trader has a website, though, and the used car dealers advertise there. That may be a good place to start.


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STXBob
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May 9, 2013 3:42 pm  

I believe that Theodore Tunick & Co is an agent, not an underwriter. It's the underwriter's ability to pay that you care about. For example: Lloyds of London.


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FL Barrier Islander
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May 9, 2013 3:49 pm  

We found windstorm to be very expensive and at the time we were shopping they would only allow a very few new policies to be written. If you have access to USAA, this would be a great option.


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Alana33
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May 9, 2013 4:54 pm  

Depending on your age, you may be able to qualify for AARP Home Owner's Insurance (think it's 50 and 0ver). They have an office in PR that does this. AARP Real Property & Casualty Insurance /Real Legacy Assurance - 1-800-433-0881.

I also use Kreke Corporation who is an Underwriter - Contact Marilyn Kreke.
Their location in the Guardian Blgd. in Havensite, STT
Insurance is expensive here but you seriously do not want to be without it.
Pre-Hugo (1989) my windstorm Insurance for my house was $800.00 annually.
I now pay close to $4000 for that same house that is now a rental property.
I pay more for the home I now live in. Not cheap by any means.


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OldTart
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May 9, 2013 5:55 pm  

I believe that Theodore Tunick & Co is an agent, not an underwriter. It's the underwriter's ability to pay that you care about. For example: Lloyds of London.

Theodore Tunick is now part of Marshalll Sterling and they're agents for Lloyds of London as well as many other carriers (listed on their website):

http://www.marshallsterling.com/st-thomas/490-st-thomas-history

I've never had to make a claim but have always found them very easy to deal with and highly professional.


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rosesisland
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May 9, 2013 6:11 pm  

One thing to be aware of is how much time it takes to get new checks to you when you open a bank account. We opened one here on STX on March 8. Yesterday they finally let me know to come pick up checks. We kept an account open in the states and used my daughter's address there when we moved. It made it a lot easier when paying insurance, etc. two whole months, geez!


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Exit Zero
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May 9, 2013 6:11 pm  

Also check with any Insurance company about what mitigation efforts you can make to lower the windstorm rates - high rated shutters, external ring beam, engineering report, Simpson strong ties, rafter reinforcement, overhang cutbacks, steel cable installation, tree trimming, etc. --- a good engineer can recommend places to strengthen and possible problems and limiting the damage is to your advantage in any case.


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Ericw
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May 9, 2013 8:56 pm  

We found windstorm to be very expensive and at the time we were shopping they would only allow a very few new policies to be written. If you have access to USAA, this would be a great option.

USAA sadly does not offer homeowners insurance in the VI, only auto.


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divinggirl
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May 9, 2013 10:06 pm  

We found windstorm to be very expensive and at the time we were shopping they would only allow a very few new policies to be written. If you have access to USAA, this would be a great option.

USAA sadly does not offer homeowners insurance in the VI, only auto.

They do also offer Renters Insurance but not Homeowners. However, everyone who is eligible for USAA and is interested in Homeowners insurance here should call them and request they start coverage. Two years ago I approached them and was told they were looking into adding that option here but didn't know what the interest level would be (I gathered- "if it's worth the trouble to get it started with the VI Banking & Ins dept"!).


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ChrisMI
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May 10, 2013 9:17 am  

Thanks for the responses so far. I had to laugh when opening our bank account at Scotia when I was also told it would take months for checks. Any other things that people don't think about when buying a house in the VI for the first time (not being a resident yet)? Does the post office deliver to your door or do you have to buy a PO Box? When sending a letter do people use our 'address' (which looks like a plot number and has no street name) or is there some other more 'typical' looking address like I see with some VI businesses, or do they need to use a PO Box number?


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vicanuck
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May 10, 2013 11:32 am  

If you're buying your checks from a bank, not only will it take forever but cost way more than necessary too.

Drop into a local printing company, they usually offer a variety of check printing options and quick turnaround.


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vicanuck
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May 10, 2013 11:36 am  

By the way...the only vehicle choice you should be considering is a tough 4 wheel drive SUV or pick up (not one of those pretend SUV's built on car frames). The roads will destroy the the suspension of a car here in no time.


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Alana33
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May 10, 2013 11:56 am  

Most residences do not have mail delivery service so a PO box is required, which means many statside companies won't ship to you as they do not ship to PO boxes. Welcome to the charm of living in the VI.


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speee1dy
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May 10, 2013 12:15 pm  

if you are on stt a 4 wheel drive would be better because the hills are bigger. if you are on stx you do not need a 4 wheel drive..

we have a po box. most places do not have home delivery.

you can still keep your stateside bank, i have had my stateside bank for the 8 years i have lived here. i also have an account at bank of st croix, imo, the best one on island and the most stateside like bank here.


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OldTart
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May 10, 2013 12:49 pm  

if you are on stt a 4 wheel drive would be better because the hills are bigger. if you are on stx you do not need a 4 wheel drive..

Have to disagree on this one. I believe the OP purchased a home on STT and there is no need in general to have a 4WD vehicle here. In 30 years of living on the South side, North Side and East end I've owned many different vehicles and only once one which had 4WD - which option I never used!

ChrisM, may you continue to be able to laugh (your comment about Scotiabank) as this is just the beginning and all the reading and research in the world can't properly prepare you for the reality of living here. It was really a great leap of faith to buy property when you've not lived here for a while but congratulations and keep smiling! 😀


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fdr
 fdr
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May 10, 2013 1:44 pm  

Any other things that people don't think about when buying a house in the VI for the first time (not being a resident yet)?

Yes. For instance, they don't think about actually taking the advice of a bunch of experienced people who suggested you not buy a house before becoming a resident. *-) "We'll just rent the place out if it doesn't work out for us here" is much harder (and/or more expensive) than it looks at first glance, for reasons you will come to understand if you ever have to do it. As OT says, you've taken a leap of faith. Keep your eyes wide open and be prepared for a lot of unexpected adventures -- some good, many of the other kind.

The best suggestion I can offer is to read the archives here. Read, read, read. If you're surprised at the bank taking a month to get you new checks and you don't know how people get mail here, then you've still got loads to absorb to get a sense of what daily life on STT will be like. Maybe you already know all these things, but here are some suggestion:

Learn what you will do for household trash disposal and why we don't have much recycling. Learn how cisterns work, how they get contaminated, how to clean them, and how you will get water (and how much it costs and how long it takes) if you run out at your house. Find out what it takes to get a business license and how long the process might run. Learn what our "gross receipts tax" is and how it affects both business owners and consumers. Imagine how you will really feel living in a community where you will never truly belong simply because you weren't born here, and how it feels when new people move in and move away with great frequency. Read about people's experiences in Hugo and Marilyn, and consider carefully what you will do when a hurricane disrupts your life, for a few days or a few months if we're unlucky. Understand that the world here functions much more offline than online, which is why you can't find car dealer info online -- it just doesn't work like in the states. And so much more.

If you're not already, also start reading the local newspapers every day. VI Daily News, St Thomas Source, etc.

The more you learn, the fewer surprises you'll face that you're unprepared to handle. Good luck and keep us posted on the move!


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ChrisMI
(@ChrisMI)
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May 10, 2013 7:50 pm  

Thanks fdr for the candid advice (and the smiley face after justly chiding me) for not listing when you all indeed said to rent first. We were planning to, but found something so particularly unique and special to us personally that we couldn't NOT buy it. We do read the island trader, porbably weekly on average online, and are slowly wading in so to speak. Appreciate all the thoughts. Straight advice is always the best kind, even if the tourism board doens't approve. 😉

Thanks too Old Tart for your comments earlier in this thead, I had typed a reply yesterday but it didn't apprear to show up.

Any other things that people don't think about when buying a house in the VI for the first time (not being a resident yet)?

Yes. For instance, they don't think about actually taking the advice of a bunch of experienced people who suggested you not buy a house before becoming a resident. *-) "We'll just rent the place out if it doesn't work out for us here" is much harder (and/or more expensive) than it looks at first glance, for reasons you will come to understand if you ever have to do it. As OT says, you've taken a leap of faith. Keep your eyes wide open and be prepared for a lot of unexpected adventures -- some good, many of the other kind.

The best suggestion I can offer is to read the archives here. Read, read, read. If you're surprised at the bank taking a month to get you new checks and you don't know how people get mail here, then you've still got loads to absorb to get a sense of what daily life on STT will be like. Maybe you already know all these things, but here are some suggestion:

Learn what you will do for household trash disposal and why we don't have much recycling. Learn how cisterns work, how they get contaminated, how to clean them, and how you will get water (and how much it costs and how long it takes) if you run out at your house. Find out what it takes to get a business license and how long the process might run. Learn what our "gross receipts tax" is and how it affects both business owners and consumers. Imagine how you will really feel living in a community where you will never truly belong simply because you weren't born here, and how it feels when new people move in and move away with great frequency. Read about people's experiences in Hugo and Marilyn, and consider carefully what you will do when a hurricane disrupts your life, for a few days or a few months if we're unlucky. Understand that the world here functions much more offline than online, which is why you can't find car dealer info online -- it just doesn't work like in the states. And so much more.

If you're not already, also start reading the local newspapers every day. VI Daily News, St Thomas Source, etc.

The more you learn, the fewer surprises you'll face that you're unprepared to handle. Good luck and keep us posted on the move!


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East Ender
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May 10, 2013 9:50 pm  

The thing with the plot number is your physical address, and people may ask you for it.

The Island Trader is good for buying and selling stuff, but for information on the community, you need to read the Daily News and the Source.

Car dealers on line? LOL. This is why people wanted you to come stay awhile and see what's shaking...

A couple of other things people don't think about:
No home delivery of newspapers, no Sunday paper on St Thomas.
No government garbage pick-up (you have to take your trash to a dumpster by the side of the road).
Laws are enforced haphazardly. But as newbies, you will probably be profiled. Wear your seatbelt, make sure you have a handfree device to talk on the phone while you drive.
Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night.
Don't start sentences with: "In the states, we do it this way..."

Hmm, lots more, but I can't think of them right now.


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OldTart
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May 10, 2013 10:26 pm  

Don't start sentences with: "In the states, we do it this way...".

Unfortunately I was having a sip of tea when I read this and it came out of my nose. I have an acquaintance who's been here for about 3 years (but will be leaving soon) who prefaces everything with, "back East" and it drives me stark staring bonkers! I've even brought it to her attention and she knows it sounds awful but it's become a total habit. I guess when she ends up "back East" it'll disappear from her vocabulary ...


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ChrisMI
(@ChrisMI)
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Posts: 213
May 10, 2013 11:56 pm  

The best suggestion I can offer is to read the archives here. Read, read, read.

Sorry for my ignorance, but I can't find the archives here - do you just mean the tabs at the top (have read several times) or is there a separate post archive from this board?

Thanks. ChrisMI


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fdr
 fdr
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May 11, 2013 12:19 am  

Sorry to be unclear; I meant the archives of the message board. In particular, I would suggest searching for a topic that you're wondering about (make sure the range is set to All, not Last 30 days, which is the default) and you will find a wealth of info. Another good approach that will help you learn a lot would be to look at past posts from a particular user who gives very helpful advice, like East Ender or Ronnie. You can find a user's past posts by clicking on their name and navigating via the page numbers at the bottom.

There are a number of past threads that are a real gold mine of information and helpful advice from people who no longer post here for one reason or another. I wish there were a better way to find them, like a Top 25 Most Helpful Threads or something.

Also, don't worry too much about whether older threads give outdated guidance. Some things do change a little (our Internet service options have multiplied and gotten slightly faster in the last 10 years, for example), but most things around here don't really change all that much in a decade.


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Ronnie
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May 11, 2013 3:59 am  

They do not deliver the mail to your door but do to a mail box at the end of your driveway. EE the Daily News does have home delivery and on certain parts of the island there is garbage pick up at your home.

RL8-)


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AandA2VI
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Posts: 2289
May 11, 2013 12:48 pm  

Whoa. That's one heck of a leap of faith not to mention brave. Stateside houses are a whole different ball game than here. It's a learning curve but IME a fairly easy one. Some things suck, some things are awesome lol, thats a simplified version. What I am dying to know is since you bought a house what's your hurricane insurance going to run u????? Would you mind telling us what you paid and what size house? If you'd rather not share I understand. We almost jumped the gun too in STX on a house I fell in love with! Boyfriend talked me out if it, thank god too because we ended up with his job transfer on STT! It was a 3 bd 1 bt cottage style on some land and up high on east-ish end. Was $160k (unbelieveable deal) and I think hurricane insurance was like $600mo or something crazy like that.

In regards to a car, you're looking to buy from a dealership correct? Private party can be very annoying and time consuming and costly with mechanics fees just to look at it before purchase. Bring $15k. That'll get u a nice SUV from a dealership that will have some sort of guarantee on it. Roads are hard on cars here, old timers are right about that. So, no you won't be able to get something going with a car before you're here. Most places dont have useable websites here. I actially have a phone book.... and actually use it!! and odd notion for me, as ive always just used the web for finding stuff. Somewhat limited stock at dealerships too I found but you mentioned a jeep so you'll find one no problem. I would rent a car (we like dollar) for the first couple weeks so you don't have to rush to spend $$.

Really, good luck man. I can't imagine now, jumping into buying a house before living here long term - kudos for your bravery.

Edit: I posted but started thinking: did you find the house on a PMV or just online through a realtor? I was unclear...

*** The views and opinions expressed in my posts are soley those of A&A2VI and other like minded islanders. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the majority or any/all contributors to this site. Have a GREAT DAY!


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East Ender
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May 11, 2013 12:54 pm  

They do not deliver the mail to your door but do to a mail box at the end of your driveway. EE the Daily News does have home delivery and on certain parts of the island there is garbage pick up at your home.

Re: Daily News- Well, we tried to have home delivery and they had a very poor performance record. Had to pay in advance, got two or three papers and then nothing. Boo!(td)

Re: Garbage pick up- I know I had it at my old apartment, but I thought my kind landlord paid for a private company to pickup?? Where I am now, we pay for pick up. Are you saying Waste Management does curb side pickup in places??


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