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Bach1213
(@Bach1213)
New Member

Hi all,
I have done a ton of research on this site and a few others and have not found the exact information I'm looking for, hoping all you helpful people can well...help.

I'm considering a position in the school system in St. Thomas with a per diem in addition to a low hourly rate but am trying to get a more exact idea of a budget. I've seen the replies of people saying, "it all depends on how you live," "it's impossible to answer," but I'm looking for some specific numbers.

I'm expecting to pay about $1000 in rent for a single apartment. I've found some CSA's for around $60/month for fruit and vegetables and the current employee in this position estimated about $60/week in protein and other groceries. I've heard $50-60 in electricity without using a microwave or a/c and you may or may not need to buy non-potable water depending on rain if you have a cistern.

It's been suggested that it rains more and is cooler on the north side, but I will have my small, Puerto Rican rescue dog with me and I'm wondering if I would need to use a/c for her while I'm out, (which would obviously increase the cost of utilities)?

It's important to me to have a general idea of what it will cost me to live before accepting this job and unfortunately, I can not afford to do a PMV.

I'm guessing I will need somewhere around $6k to start for rent (incl. security deposit, etc.) and to purchase a car (my old beater won't make it and I will need a car to travel between schools).

So in short, my questions are: a) Will I need to use a/c for the pup while I'm out? (Planning to check on her during lunch - this will be possible with my job). B) are those numbers for budgets realistic? C) is it true about living on the north side, cooler and more rain, or are there other suggestions?

I understand that island living will not be a vacation and I'm not looking for luxury living. I just want to have realistic expectations before making this commitment.

Thanks very much in advance for reading all of this and helping me out!

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Topic starter Posted : May 31, 2015 12:44 am
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

What are CSA's?

Nobody ever asks about auto insurance, so you need to get estimates. Driving for your job is going to increase the amount of gas you'll need at ~$3.35 gallon. Pet food is another something to budget. Utilities will be less if you have gas stove. Budget should include bottled water for drinking unless you feel comfortable drinking from tap.

I never spend $60 a week on proteins and other groceries as a single person. A rotisserie chicken, a bag of dried beans, a pound of ground turkey, a dozen eggs, and frozen fish are more than I can eat for a week and cost about $28. Add rice, potatoes, pasta, maybe some rolls, and it comes to maybe another $7 and those last more than a week. I don't drink coffee and 100 tea bags cost about $6. The fruits and veggies you budget may be low.

Cable (which I don't have)? Satellite? Internet? Phone? Did you consider those expenses? It all adds up.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 5:04 am
stjohnjulie
(@stjohnjulie)
Trusted Member

What kind of dog is your pup? My coconut retriever is very heat tolerant, and I would even go as far as to say he would be uncomfortable in a house with A/C. Not running or having A/C will save a lot on electric costs. If you have a current bill where you live now, you can get a rough estimate of what it might cost here by multiplying your kWh by 39¢ (our current cost per kWh).

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Posted : May 31, 2015 8:50 am
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

i didnt see, but are you shipping your car or are you buying one when you get here?

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Posted : May 31, 2015 10:05 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Seems to me you've done some decent research and come up with some figures which would work for you. I don't know how active CSAs are here but certainly if you live on the North side of STT (which I'm assuming is the right island!) it's not unlikely that you can share in your neighbors' bounty as it's very fertile on this side! My neighbor often drops me off bananas and plantains (and squashes when the seeds he tosses out make it) while there are loads of random fruit trees around and I grow moringas for greens, as well as chard and spinach. Gardening is a challenge here wherever you live but it's definitely easier on the North side than in much dryer areas. In 30 years I only bought water for drinking in one place as, although the water tested potable, it just didn't taste too good. The water where I now live is plentiful and sweet as can be.

Location location location on whether you need A/C - I don't and sleep under a comforter year round. Auto insurance on an older vehicle is minimal - I pay under $250/year for basic liability. If your PR rescue is fine in PR she'll be fine here and the North side is generally very pet-friendly.

Regardless of income you (should) learn how to conserve and good habits are as easy to learn as bad ones.

Hope this has been of some help - your questions are very hard to answer in generalizations as it's all very subjective. Good luck!

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Posted : May 31, 2015 10:22 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

i didnt see, but are you shipping your car or are you buying one when you get here?

" ,,, (my old beater won't make it and I will need a car to travel between schools)."

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Posted : May 31, 2015 10:24 am
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

If you end up with another beater, you have to have means to pay for auto repairs from time to time.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 10:38 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Budget more for electricity - $150.00 would be better and that's without using AC. Rates have dropped but it's still expensive.
More than that if you run an AC. If your bill comes in lower then,
you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Gas for vehicles runs $3.09 at Jarrahs and Race Track stations in Sugar Estate.

Don't forget to list ALl your expenses to be:
Vehicle registration, insurance, all utilities: electricity, propane, internet, cell phone, cable TV, groceries, laundry expenses if your rental has none, car repairs and gas, vet bills for the pup for at least annual shots and checkups, etc. It adds up pretty quickly.
Good luck to you.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 11:53 am
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

dont forget to factor in the cost of tires. they seem to need replacing more often

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Posted : May 31, 2015 3:08 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Hi Bach! Welcome to the board... Is this job a government (NOPA) job or is it a contract? Most of the government employees who have to drive for their job have a car provided. You might ask the Dept. of Ed. people with whom you are dealing.

I, too, would like to ask- What is a CSA?

In looking for places to live, most would recommend that you come stay someplace like the Crystal Palace to get your bearings and look at the housing first hand.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 3:09 pm
Pdmargie
(@Pdmargie)
Advanced Member

CSA=Community Supported Agriculture. Basically you buy shares in a farm and get an allotment of fresh produce in return when in season.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 3:14 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Thanks for the definition, but do we still have that on St Thomas? Barefoot Buddha used to organize, but haven't seen mention of it in years. The St Croix farm that used to offer the boxes is now supplying some schools, so may not be offering on St Thomas for now. If another farm is offering it, I haven't seen mention of it. Very few farmers on St Thomas can offer quantity consistently.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 3:55 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

As mentioned earlier, I don't believe there are CSAs here on STT.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 3:58 pm
nohstx
(@nohstx)
Advanced Member

http://ridgetoreef.csasignup.com/members/types

See link- csa still offered on STT

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Posted : May 31, 2015 6:12 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

But not year round - 12 weeks a year.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 6:20 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

And don't say where pick up is. Was in Barefoot Buddha last week and no sign up. They must have enough customers.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 6:29 pm
nohstx
(@nohstx)
Advanced Member

Actually they offer it year round in 12 wk increments offered at the start of each season.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 6:45 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

I'm sure it's an excellent program but it's not as big a thing here as it is in many stateside areas, it's only offered by one enterprise on STX, I doubt that it's cost effective and it's also dependent on where you live and how convenient the pick-up points are. Reminds me of the old lady my mother worked for who would have her uniformed chauffeur drive her in her massive gas-guzzling Austin Princess (with the farting terrier in the back seat) to a store 20 miles away because their lemons were a couple of pennies cheaper than those which could be had locally!

One person can easily grow (from seeds or seedlings) enough greens to afford a regular supply year round while the supermarkets, roadside stands and farmer's markets on St Thomas offer a huge variety.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 7:01 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

"Most of the government employees who have to drive for their job have a car provided. You might ask the Dept. of Ed. people with whom you are dealing."

Not always the case. Our governor has said something about downsizing the VI government car fleet. I know that the property tax division here in STT doesn't have enough staff or cars for the revaluation process which is why things are taking forever on that front.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 7:59 pm
sheiba
(@sheiba)
Advanced Member

If this is a school therapy position, and you are contracted out, no govt car will be available.

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Posted : May 31, 2015 10:50 pm
quirion
(@quirion)
Advanced Member

Sejah farms offers CSAs for produce, meat as well as chicken and eggs on STX.

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Posted : June 2, 2015 1:23 am
Bach1213
(@Bach1213)
New Member

Thanks all for the replies! A few things in response to your answers:
As some have mentioned, a car is not provided but I'm looking at buying something with a little oomph, maybe a jeep or suv for a few thousand like I've seen on Craig's list.

Appreciate the reminders regarding all of the many bills that add up, that's not even including my student loan payments, (currently a quarter of my salary)! I've heard many people suggest that cell phone and internet bills are roughly the same as in the states, I'll just have to switch to AT&T or Sprint. Is that pretty much accurate?

I'm happy to buy produce at markets or from my neighbors, the CSA just seemed easy and I'd heard that markets aren't that abundant and prices are as bad as grocery stores.

I will definitely stay somewhere for a week while looking for a place, but would love to know recommendations, particularly as I will be relying on public transport to start.

My pup is a 30 lb. short-haired mutt - maybe boxer/sharpei/pointer? We actually live in an apartment building in D.C. but on days like the last few, 90 degrees and above and humid, with no real cross-ventilation, we definitely need a/c. She loves laying in the sun whenever possible, but I'm hopeful that with slightly lower temperatures, breezes and rain, it will be significantly cooler in STT?

Thanks again, especially those with specific number examples. Obviously, one person's expenses won't be the same for everyone else, but it helps give me an idea for budgeting purposes.

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Topic starter Posted : June 2, 2015 11:36 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

You'll need to put your pup on monthly heartworm preventive if you have not already.

I guess you're aware the airlines don't allow dogs to fly cargo during the heat of summer.

If working for the school system, you may need additional cash to see you thru until you get your first paycheck as they can be notoriously slow to issue a NOPA and paychecks.

Good luck.

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Posted : June 3, 2015 12:14 am
brauchtj
(@brauchtj)
Active Member

I have had the same questions.... it's been difficult to find answers to utilities and daily living expenditures other than "search the posts - this is an informative website". With a limited search engine and over 700 pages of posts, it's been very difficult to isolate specific answers to questions. So thank you to those that are answering!

I was on the WAPA site today and it looks as though the USVI rate is 0.39 cents per kWh. Based on what we consume now, I estimated about $160/month. So, I was glad to see the $150 referenced, as a second source. So thank you for covering that!

Can someone confirm my findings on gas stoves...? I've read it's beneficial to have a 2 tank propane gas stove, each tank running about $100 and lasting about 3 years (delivered by WAPA?). Is this accurate information and how common are these stoves? Will an apartment or inlaw unit on STJ have this stove? The other option is a standard electric stove you find in the US, correct?

Thanks!

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Posted : June 3, 2015 6:16 am
Anonny-mouse
(@anonny-mouse)
Advanced Member

Wapa bills vary greatly here depending on lifestyle. Before kids, ours was about $125-$150 per month, no ac, no laundry, no deep freezer, etc. After kids, it jumped to $500, then hovered around $800/month, even cracked $1000/month more than once, but this included lots of laundry, nightly ac for all bedrooms, deep freezer, lights on at night, fans, etc. Since the recent rate decreases it has dropped below $600/month, which has been nice for a change, and we are optimistic about that dropping again soon.

For cooking, we have a standard US type gas stove (this is a regular stove- not the camping type some people associate with propane) that runs off a 100# propane tank outside the house. We keep a spare tank that can be turned on in case the first runs out. To fill them here on STX costs about $80 each, and we go through two per year. The propane is delivered by a local company- not WAPA.

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Posted : June 3, 2015 7:01 am
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