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Considering moving to the USVI, looking for advice

 

Gabriel D
(@Gabriel_D)
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Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 2
April 28, 2014 10:53 pm  

Hello! I'm a recent college graduate looking to move to the USVI. A little about myself...

My degree is in political science and I am currently working in healthcare IT, so I figured I could get on board with a government job or do IT work in hospitals there. The good thing about me is my flexibility - I really don't care what kind of job I'm working as long as it pays enough for me to live comfortably. I would like to avoid working in food & beverage services though if I can help it - did that for too many years in my teens. I'm sure with enough networking I could find a good opportunity. Now to a few questions...

First of all, how do the US Virgin Islands match up with my preferences?

- Good job opportunities outside of just tourism / hotel / food & beverage
- Reasonable cost of living (a comparison might help me understand better)
- Preferably not a huge tourism industry (as in one so large that it negatively affects daily living)
- Not a party destination, but also not an isolated area with not much to do - a good balance
- Preferably not a place with government corruption / high crime

And then some personal questions...
- Should I have another job lined up before I move?
- Any recommendations on where / what to look into to get a good job on the islands?
- How much money should I have saved up before I move? I figured I would save money for 1-2 years first.
- I've heard St. John is the place to be. Do you agree with this? How does it compare to St. Croix and St. Thomas?

I appreciate anyone who reaches out to help. Any advice or insight you guys could provide would be very much appreciated! And if this is too many questions I can condense them to make it easier for you guys!

Thanks,
Gabriel


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OldTart
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April 28, 2014 10:59 pm  

Have you read any of the information on this site? If you look to the top bar you'll see a bunch of scroll-down menus from "Home" on the left to, "Message Board" on the right and many of your questions will be answered right there. It's a great source of information, it's a lot of reading but once you've gone through it all you'll find the forum participants ready to fill in some of the blanks. Good luck!


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speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8862
April 29, 2014 12:02 am  

have you been here before? we have a very high unemployment rate. government jobs are usually, but not always reserved for friends and family. there are jobs to be had but you will most likely not get a job right away.

st john is the most expensive of the three islands. if you live on stj and get a job on stt, you will have to use a ferry to get to and fro. stj does not have a hospital.

stt is busier
stx is more laid back
stj is more expensive

stx is further away from stt, stj and the bvi's

do a lot of reading here. look at the moving centers job serch page and also check out vidol and careers.vi

read and then come back and ask away


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Afriend
(@afriend)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 521
April 29, 2014 12:36 am  

Maybe this will help answer some of your questions.

1) The Virgin Islands is a main tourist area and thus a significant portion of the economy is based on tourism - i.e. hotels/resorts,restaurants, etc. In other words tourism is "BIG BUSINESS" in the VI's. So, if you want to avoid a "tourism orient economy" the VI's may not be your best choice.

2) Yes, jobs are available in other sectors but you should know that in general wages paid are lower than for comparable positions on the mainland US while living expenses are generally higher than they are "back home". That's the Catch-22 of living in the Caribbean. Many people work two jobs to maintain the same standard of living they had back on the mainland. Tourism accounts for a large majority of the available jobs.

3) Government jobs are pretty much limited to "locals".

4) St John is the the most expensive of the VI's and has the least employment opportunities (especially those outside the tourist industry. St. Thomas is the most populated and has the most ob opportunities. St. Croix is somewhat more rural then the other two island. The recent slump in the economy has affected all three islands causing high unemployment.

5) Most employers won't hire you unless you are already living on the island. You find the reasons for this as you do the research suggested by Old Tart.

6) How much "partying" you do is really dependent upon YOU. You can avoid it or be part of it - it is YOUR choice. Suffice to say some people have a very "carefree" lifestyle in the VI's.

7) Crime and corruption exists in the VI's.

8) You'll find it infinitely easier to find employment when you are on island vs. finding one before you move. Jobs in the tourism & food service industry are easier to find during High Season (late December through end of April) when the bulk of the tourists visit the islands. Jobs in other sectors are available all year round but whether or not you are qualified to fill any vacancies depends on the needs of the employer and how your past experiences dovetail with those needs.

9) Most people will tell you to save up enough money to cover 6 to 12 months of living expenses. That number is different for everybody. Money goes away quickly in the VI's. Best advice, bring less clothes, take more money! Also, no matter how much you bring set aside enough to pay your way "back home" in case things don't work out as expected.

Lastly, you should know living on an island in the Caribbean is far different then being here on vacation. It has its own set of challenges. Some people adjust to it fairly quickly others find that island life is not for them. Most "newcomers" leave within a year or two. Others plan on coming for a short period and end up staying a lifetime.

So, do as Old Tart suggests. Use the drop down menus at the top of this page and READ EVERYTHING. then search the archives on this forum (there are 10,000's of threads on every subject imaginal). You'll find detailed answers to all your questions and hundreds more you haven't even thought of yet. There's so much information on this website it will take you weeks to read it all. And read it all, you should!

Good luck, following your dream


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East Ender
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April 29, 2014 1:27 am  

Gabriel: Welcome to the board. If you have not been for a visit, it would behoove you to do so. Government jobs are not easy to come by, especially for "outsiders." To be honest, the hospital just hired an IT person. But the VING (Virgin Islands Next Generation) may need people. A lot of job possibilities are found through word of mouth. If you are willing to move here and look, you might find work.


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mtdoramike
(@mtdoramike)
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April 29, 2014 12:34 pm  

You will be very surprised at how many College grads are in the service industry on the Islands. Good luck.


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Afriend
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Posts: 521
April 29, 2014 12:44 pm  

Let me add one more thing;

Finding employment in the VI's isn't all that different than finding a job "back home". You have to market yourself to employers who have need for someone with your particular skill set . The way to do that is going to be the same no matter where you live - make phone calls, send out resumes, fill out job applications, network, get referrals from friends & family, scour the want ads, etc. In other words you have to be active - wishing, hoping and waiting around for someone to call you isn't going to be very fruitful. Do the same things you would to find a job where you now live.

As pointed out before, the major hurdle is that must employers hire people who are already living on island and, if you think about it, that's much the same as it is where you live now. - very few employers are going to recruit someone who lives in a foreign country or even if they are living in another state far across the country unless that person has a very unique skill set and is well respected in their chosen field.

You said you are a "recent college graduate with a degree in political science and are currently working in healthcare IT". This tells me you are probably young - nothing wrong with that as young people are often excellent employees - but i'm guessing you don't have any actual work experience in political science and only a little (probably entry level or slightly above entry level) experience in healthcare IT. If true, this means there is nothing in your work history that is "unique" and sets you apart from 100's or even 1,000's of other young recent college graduates. So if you want to find employment that will pay you enough to live "comfortably" work on developing skills and an employment history that will make you more attractive to employers. Quite frankly saying that you "really don't care what kind of job I'm working as long as it pays enough for me to live comfortably" send the wrong message - it tells potential employers that you don't have high aspirations.

Before I retired I ran a company with between 150 and 200 employees, I ALWAYS hired "go getters" who were the best at what they did, I never kept anyone who was just and average worker who didn't care what type of position he had. I wanted goals oriented employees.

Anyway, you get the idea. Strive for the best, not just a mediocre job that will make you a mediocre employee.

good lock!


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Gabriel D
(@Gabriel_D)
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Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 2
April 30, 2014 10:09 pm  

I read through a good bit of information and answered many of my own questions. Most of it sounds great, except for employment. I would be looking for a long-term professional position, but it seems like those opportunities might be hard to come by.

70% of the economy is based on tourism, which doesn't leave a lot of money outside seasonal work. I looked at salaries for jobs on the island, and they seem lower than on the mainland, which doesn't help manage the high cost of living. Moving away to enjoy a slower pace of life... I'm not sure working two jobs (or struggling to make ends meet with one) was part of the allure.

I know several people my age that have made the move and are living there right now. I'll try to get in touch with them to get a better understanding of how they've made it work for them.


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Alana33
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April 30, 2014 10:30 pm  

Look at the EDC companies located here for professional positions outside the tourist industry.
There are lots of them.


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speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8862
May 1, 2014 12:30 am  

gabriel, none of us meant to be a downer. it might be a good idea to maybe check out places in florida. maybe the keys. island living with a way off easily?


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mtdoramike
(@mtdoramike)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 955
May 1, 2014 12:25 pm  

I read through a good bit of information and answered many of my own questions. Most of it sounds great, except for employment. I would be looking for a long-term professional position, but it seems like those opportunities might be hard to come by.

70% of the economy is based on tourism, which doesn't leave a lot of money outside seasonal work. I looked at salaries for jobs on the island, and they seem lower than on the mainland, which doesn't help manage the high cost of living. Moving away to enjoy a slower pace of life... I'm not sure working two jobs (or struggling to make ends meet with one) was part of the allure.

I know several people my age that have made the move and are living there right now. I'll try to get in touch with them to get a better understanding of how they've made it work for them.

Well, contrary to popular belief, Island living is a tough nut unless you are wealthy or you are willing to work for it. Why in the world would a young person fresh out of school want a slower paced lifestyle?? This is the time in your life to be getting it, moving mountains, crossing raging rivers leaving your mark. Slower pace is for people like me, who has done lived majority of their life, have a few buck or what I like to call disposable income and looking for a place to rest, relax and wait on death to find me. But if you are only looking for an adventure and not a lifestyle then go and have fun not retire on active duty.


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ChrisMI
(@ChrisMI)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 213
May 1, 2014 12:37 pm  

One issue with looking for work from an EDC company is that 80% of EDC company employees must have been a resident of the USVI for a year or more, so there are few slots available for new residents.


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gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 428
May 1, 2014 2:13 pm  

Gabriel,
The islands look good to everyone from afar but you are NOT moving to Kansas.

Take some good advice and look to better your profession in the States and come here for a vacation.

If the tropics are what appeals to you, have a look in Hawaii, not the Caribbean..


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wanderer
(@wanderer)
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Posts: 596
May 1, 2014 11:24 pm  

First of all, how do the US Virgin Islands match up with my preferences?

- Good job opportunities outside of just tourism / hotel / food & beverage
- Reasonable cost of living (a comparison might help me understand better)
- Preferably not a huge tourism industry (as in one so large that it negatively affects daily living)
- Not a party destination, but also not an isolated area with not much to do - a good balance
- Preferably not a place with government corruption / high crime

Based on the above preferences, USVI are definitely not for you.

- No good jobs outside tourism, compared to the stateside (the local jobs pay about half of what the stateside job would pay)
- High cost of living (about 1.5 times higher than the stateside average)
- Huge tourism industry (2 million tourists visit the USVI every year)
- Definitely a party destination (lots of drugs and alcohol consumption)
- High government corruption (quite notorious at that), high crime (in fact, one of the highest in the world, based on the murder rates per capita)

You sound like the midwestern states would be a much better fit for you. I'd also echo mtdoramike in that USVI is a good place to stop kicking and to die in peace. If you are not ready for that, go live elsewhere.


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Ca. Dreamers
(@ca-dreamers)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 432
May 2, 2014 11:53 am  

Well, contrary to popular belief, Island living is a tough nut unless you are wealthy or you are willing to work for it. Why in the world would a young person fresh out of school want a slower paced lifestyle?? This is the time in your life to be getting it, moving mountains, crossing raging rivers leaving your mark. Slower pace is for people like me, who has done lived majority of their life, have a few buck or what I like to call disposable income and looking for a place to rest, relax and wait on death to find me. But if you are only looking for an adventure and not a lifestyle then go and have fun not retire on active duty.

Well said, I agree.

I've always been told "Youth is wasted on the Young".

CD


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AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 2294
May 2, 2014 4:31 pm  

Good job opportunities outside of just tourism / hotel / food & beverage
- Reasonable cost of living (a comparison might help me understand better) Single $1500 mo. $1100 on STX
- Preferably not a huge tourism industry (as in one so large that it negatively affects daily living) ----- St. Croix
- Not a party destination, but also not an isolated area with not much to do - a good balance -------St. Croix
- Preferably not a place with government corruption / high crime --------- LOL!!! Keep dreaming. Maybe Singapore?

And then some personal questions...
- Should I have another job lined up before I move? ------ Unlikely that anyone other than a transfer will hire you or "line up" before your on island
- Any recommendations on where / what to look into to get a good job on the islands? -------- come in November-December for more options. If you come in off season be prepared to look for a while. Unless again you're transferring to a hospital like you mentioned.
- How much money should I have saved up before I move? I figured I would save money for 1-2 years first. $15k
- I've heard St. John is the place to be. Do you agree with this? How does it compare to St. Croix and St. Thomas? ----- Totally disagree. I think STJ locals are too snooty for me. St. Thomas is not as friendly as St. Croix but there more to do.


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East Ender
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May 2, 2014 9:32 pm  

"Youth is wasted on the Young".

AMEN.


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