Decided to move...now what?
My hubby and I have made the decision to move to the Caribbean. We aren't ready to move next week, although we also don't plan on waiting several years. We were just there in September and fell in love with the island & people.
Of course we have a million questions 🙂 Should we buy a boat and live on it? Then you have the different types of boats available. My hubby isn't sure that we could handle a sailboat. I think that anything is possible. Plus wind is free!!
Should we buy a small place? We have a pretty big nest egg so we have a few options. We both plan to work when we get down there - we would like to keep as much of that nest egg as we can. We know it will be a big adjustment but we are both up to the challenge.
Would love to hear from anyone - maybe even someone already living on a boat.
Also, my email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen & Mal
FYI - you won't hear from too many boaters, they tend to be busy floating on water or fixing something. I lived on island two years and heard from people I knew who lived on boats about never. 🙂 I do believe they loved it more than anything though.
I think I would have loved the Caribbean more if I would have jumped on a boat and lived on water, however with three kids and no money we ended up moving back stateside and enjoy just visiting the islands. Of anything, I think the Caribbean islands are most conducive to living on boats and taking a job working with boats or docks or whatever. It is a whole society that really doesn't relate to much on land. Of the people I know that live on boats, they all bought their boats from FL and sail the whole Caribbean. Learn French and Spanish and you should be okay. Boaties (as I call them) seem to stick together and rely on each other quite a bit. Like a little family I suppose. If you can't tell, I am jealous of them and sometimes wish I was just sailing around the world.
I do hope that we do hear from someone on a boat as my husband set up so much wireless Internet around docks on STT. It is a new century after all. Good luck to whatever you decide.
Jeniffer, before asking what's really a rather abstract question, you seriously need to research this forum bigtime by, first of all going to the first post on this forum posted by moderator Islander which will direct you to a multitude of Qs and A's and FAQs and all else. I really don't mean to in any way sound snippy but there's an abundance of information right here on this forum if you do your research properly.
Living on a boat here isn't a paradisical existence by any means. There are mooring and dockage fees, maintenance costs are high.
Before you even think about a move here under any circumstances, invest in a real PMV for a couple of weeks (LOTS of posts on this subject!) and carefully weigh your options after that. Happy researching on this forum!
Thank you for all the information. As you can see I haven't heard from many others, which really doesn't surprise me.
This past weekend we looked at different types of boats, explored the cost of marinas, moorings and the lifestyle in general. I found several blogs as well - we have thoroughly enjoyed reading them. If we learned anything this weekend it would be that it's going to take some time to get all of ducks in a row...but we aren't going to give up. People are doing this - therefore I know it's possible. I'm still not sure which road we will take but I do know that we will be living in the Caribbean within the next two years. Maybe sooner if we can sell our 3 homes.
Thank you again for posting - I would love to hear more about your time spent on the islands.
Why sell your three homes???
Rental income to help your transition can be a very GOOD thing!
Jennifer - living on a boat can be a tough lifestyle. My husband recently moved his sailboat here from the mainland and we have been splitting our time between our house and the boat. It's enjoyable in short spurts, but living aboard full time would quickly get old. We've met a lot more people who live on their boats since we joined their ranks part-time. Most of them say that the close-quarters wasn't charming for them for long.
The moorage costs in the marinas has continued to rise dramatically. While you can save a lot of $$ if you have your boat out on a mooring ball in the harbor instead of at a dock in a marina, that brings with it a LOT of additional headaches and complications and equipment needs.
Wind is free, but you still spend time motoring with a sailboat and you would run a generator regularly to power up your battery banks. Even with solar panels and wind generators, you can't keep up with the power draw without a generator.
Most boats have limited refrigeration and storage, so you are constantly bringing small quantities of food in and garbage out. This is extra complicated if you are on a mooring ball instead of a dock and have to travel to shore in a dinghy. Dinghy's often have mechanical problems and some get stolen or you may have trouble finding a place to tie it up while you are ashore. Also, finding parking ashore for a car can be tough when your boat is on a mooring ball.
You need to have a plan for what you will do and where you will go with or without the boat if storms threaten to head your way during hurricane season. Some people take their boats south for the fall season, but then they often need a short-term place to live on land.
Sometimes you can get a good deal on a boat that is large enough to live aboard. It's something that many people try out and then give up on after a few months or a year. Others live the lifestyle for 3-5 years and then move back ashore. Very few people remain living aboard long-term, although there are always exceptions that you can find.
If you have the financial ability, you might consider buying a boat AND a small condo on the island so you can split your time and not weary of either to the point where you can't continue. Variety can be a good thing and it might make the charm of both lifestyles last longer. It also gives you a place to go to during hurricane season or when the tight quarters in a boat get old. When you have visitors, you have a ready-built place for them to stay. If you find you really like living on the boat, you can easily rent out the condo.
Feel free to email or call me if you'd like to discuss our experiences of living on a sailboat further. I even know a few people looking to sell their boats in the next year or two.
Ed - surely you well know that some rental properties barely cover their costs without extra income if there is a mortgage on them, but sometimes selling those properties will produce enough cash from the equity to move on to your next project in life. It's also difficult to live thousands of miles away from your rental properties if you don't have someone local to handle the many problems for you.
I don't agree. We have two rental condos with mortgages and extra income after expenses. Most folks that I know don't decide to have rental property to break even.
promoguy - I specifically said "some" properties fit that description. That may be the situation with the poster above, or they may not want to keep properties thousands of miles from their new location.
Investors pretty much always want to have positive cash flow. You don't always get it, especially on a new purchase. Over time as you pay down a mortgage and rental rates increase, the cash flow gets better, and you also make equity increases all the way along if the local market is rising. I certainly wasn't bashing the thought of rental properties as investments! But Island Ed is a mortgage broker and that was why I know he understands that rentals do have their complexities that don't always make them something to hold onto if your life situation changes. Many investors buy them so they can eventually sell them to use the $$ for another purpose, such as funding their retirement or putting a child through college.
You are all giving me a lot to think about - which is exactly what I needed.
Keeping our homes and using it as income isn't something we want. We have one property rented and each month we cringe when the rent money doesn't arrive on time.
I completely agree with all the comments regarding living on a boat full-time. I'm not sure we could hack it.
We are going back to the US-VI in the next six months. Until then, we will be doing a whole lot of research.
I don't think we could afford to keep a boat and a home. Marinas alone charge up to $800.00 per month and that doesn't include water & electric. We found the property to be outrageously priced, but we are looking at that as an investment.
Ok, gotta get back to work to pay for this dream. 🙂
Thanks for all the input - I love this board
Jen - you may find that what would work for you is to look at 2-unit properties so you can live in one and rent out the other to assist with your mortgage payment. You can often get a better property this way than you could otherwise afford. Then if the cash flow still allows, think about a small run-about boat for playing on the water. You can get one small enough to put on a trailer so you don't have moorage fees. Best of both worlds.
Making friends with people who have boats is another tried and true way to get to play on the water now and then even when the expenses and headache of keeping a boat have you cringing away from owning one personally.
Some of the boats in the marinas are paying far more than $800 per month for their slip space. Green Cay recently raised their monthly rates to $20 per foot for non-liveaboard boats and to $25 per foot for liveaboards. Water and power and cable tv are extra. So a 32 foot boat for liveaboard (which is kind of small for that purpose, especially for two people) would be $800 per month. All those bigger boats you see out there cost even more.
I like your idea. We have looked at some property online - whoa the prices are high.
I'm ready to move...wish sleeping on a beach was an option. (Jen likes her bed)
When my husband and I moved to St. Thomas 7 years ago, the first thing we did was buy a boat (house came two years later). We have never regretted the expense, because we use it almost every weekend. We are both teachers, so we get to use it even more in the summers. The marina fees are hefty. If you don't use it at least 3 weekends per month, it's not worth it.
If you do use it, the boat's a great way to bust the island fever, and of course it's a great excuse to eat well, drink a little, relax and get away from it all.
But live on it? We are a close and flexible couple and probably could do it, for a while, if we kept moving from island to island. But to stay in one place on one boat with one significant other? Might be a recipe for boredom, I'd say.
They may need a financial advisors help, to make sure selling or keeping the 3 properties (or some mix of these) best suit their long term financial goals. Not knowing the details, it is hard to say, but I could see selling 1 or 2 and paying down the note on the other(s) and keep one asset working for them with much better cash flow. It sometimes takes a very long time to recover the hard costs of selling a property - realtor fees, closing costs, possibly pre-payment penalties, etc. - much less 3 of them, and then add the potential tax consequences, all before they even know living in the VI is really suitable for them. Depending of the type of notes (neg-am?), and the local market (flat or falling prices), it may very well be a prohibitive expense. Not that investing in VI real estate can't be a good deal, and might even recoup some if not all of what they would lose, many people leave with much less money than they came with. It was simply a question to make them think twice about cashing out, and maybe get some financial advice. If they do decide to sell out and buy in STX, you are definitely the one to help them make the best real estate investment!
I could possibly get a teaching job. Is the school schedule the same as it is here in the states?
What difficulties have you encountered with the school system?
I know there is probably information already posted regarding this topic..but I'd like to hear your response.
PS. I like the idea of speaking to a financial adviser.