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Does anyone who is not rich live on St John?

 
dmaria724
(@dmaria724)
Active Member

We want to move to St John but we are not rich. We have a good chunk of equity in our house so if we sell it we'll definately have some money to live on while we look for jobs, then put the rest away for emergencies and retirement. I don't mind living in a studio or small 1 bedroom apt. Truth is we live in a 2 story, 3 bed, 2 bath house but now that the kids are gone we only really use a small fraction of it for daily living. In the summer months we spend a lot of time outdoors. In the cold Vermont winter months I sometimes venture to the 2nd floor for a change of scenery when I get cabin fever.

I am a social worker but am willing to do anything. I have 20 years of bartending, waiting tables and restaurant mangement experience combined. I still bartend a few nights a month just because I enjoy it. I am 46 yrs old, is that too old to work in the tourist industry on St John? Whenever we visit we see other people our age waiting tables, bartending etc, but mostly young people. I know looks can be deceiving but we see other working class type people living and working on the island but after reading through a lot of these posts I get the impression that it is nearly impossible to live on St John without a lot of cash. We keep our food expenses to a minimum, we don't have any debt anymore except our mortgage payment and I am beyond the consumerism years when I used to shop till I dropped. Who needs all that crap anyways? I haven't been to a mall in years and don't miss it. My husband is a minimalist by nature, he could live in a one room shack and be content. He has a painting business in Vermont and would like to start up a painting business on St John. Is that realistic? Would love to hear from others who are living on the island without a fat bank account. Thanks for any input.

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Topic starter Posted : June 17, 2011 8:27 pm
sloop jones
(@sloop_jones)
Advanced Member

we moved to stj in 1989 wi, a box of paint and 300 Tshrits and not a clue if we would survive.

if you can make it thru a Vermont winter, you 'll be OK here.

sloop

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Posted : June 17, 2011 11:56 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

Most people who LIVE on STJ work for a living and often at 2 jobs or more to afford it -- The Rental Villas are owned by rich people - or people with a ton of affordable debt - but they rarely are living here and even more rarely pay their income tax here - the rental income from these houses goes to the stateside banks to pay the mortgages - people who moved to STJ before the availability of Buying Water, to supply unsustainable homes, were often able to save up enough money to buy land and build a sustainable home - but since the Villa explosion land prices, and home prices even more so, have escalated beyond any working persons reach or imagination.
Some locals have been able to sustain a normal life but often at the cost of selling the family land piece by piece.
Some professionals are able to afford the expense of STJ but the majority of STJ residents work hard to stay even.
This scenario is pretty much true on all 3 major Virgin Islands but the real estate prices on STJ are exorbitant and compounded by limited availability because of the NPS landholdings.
I have been in my house 31 years but could never afford to buy it again today at these prices.

Edited for spelling.

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Posted : June 18, 2011 12:45 am
jsmith
(@jsmith)
Advanced Member

dmaria724
You answered most of your questions, you've seen people your age tending bar and waiting tables. Also you've seen working class people living and working. If you want it bad enough you will make it work, you my have to work 2 jobs .It's like Sloop said you won't know if you don't try. Go down rent 6 mo see if it's for you if not your not stuck selling a house. Good luck Justin

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Posted : June 18, 2011 2:34 am
Ms Information
(@Ms_Information)
Advanced Member

Don't that tick you off...I just wrote an "?eloquent reply" that for some reason went away...oh well..

I'll try again. When I first came to the Virgin Islands, St John was my ideal. I described it to my friends as the perfect tropical island. In some ways it still is, but I have learned much in the past 20 years. St John with it's hilly peaks, sandy beaches and us government protected land has been bought up by the super rich.

We realized we could not compete with all of the money flowing in from the eastern seaboard. It is too bad that ordinary (sort of well off) people are not able to own a part of St John in todays market. There are many "poor" people who love St John and have lived there for years and years. Those poor people could probably live in an upscale gated community in Denver or Phoenix for what they pay in St John. In St John they rent an older place or bought some land decades ago....

Can you do it today?? Yes, but you need to realize that your husband's goal ( a shack to rebuild) is more realistic. We went to St Croix instead. It worked for us.

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Posted : June 18, 2011 4:24 am
dmaria724
(@dmaria724)
Active Member

Thanks for the replies. We realize that we will probably not be able to buy a house. Our plan is definately to rent. I would like to try the boatie life but haven't convinced my husband that selling the house and buying a live aboard sailboat with the money is a good idea. 😀

As it happens I checked the VI job listings this morning, as I do every morning, and a social work position on STJ similar to what I do now is open. I'm not ready to move yet but it gives me hope that I could find work there.

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Topic starter Posted : June 18, 2011 10:53 am
independent man
(@independent_man)
Advanced Member

You may be able to buy a house after all. Speaking about the St. John real estate market; the good news for newcomers is prices have retreated to near what they were before the recent boom. Down 30% and sometimes more from the peak. Unfortunately, if you have to sell other stateside real estate to buy, you won't gain much. On the other hand if your money is in something other than real estate, this may be the perfect time to buy an island house or condo and make St. John home.

Regardless, almost everybody I talk to say the general difficulties and working two jobs are well worth it - to be able to call St. John home. I agree. Remember, there will never be an airport and most of the island will always be protected parkland. The perfect combination: Rare and Inconvenient. Otherwise it would be both common and convenient, perhaps St.Thomas or even Florida. Give it a try!

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Posted : June 18, 2011 11:39 pm
beachguyvi
(@beachguyvi)
Advanced Member

I guess I am in the group that is part of the "Never say Never". I moved here eight years ago, during the peak of the stupid real estate market on STJ. I was able to buy a house, needed some work, but you must be able to overlook what is in front of you. Fixed some stuff, cleaned and painted, and put it on the short term rental market for three years (we lived in an apartment during that time) and the house did well as it was reasonably priced. The day came when we wanted to live in our house and not an apartment any longer. We moved in and are slowly upgrading. We had at one point listed our house for sale, then the market crashed. Now, our home is still worth what we paid, and I consider us lucky. There are some great houses here for sale. DO NOT listen to those that say you can't do it. We were told that we could never short term our house. The first year we rented it for 42 weeks. I say, go with your gut and it will work. There is a market for everything. We priced our house right realizing that not every traveler to STJ is a wealthy tycoon with a huge budget. Be open to every possibility. No, life here is not the same as the states. I think it is much better. Be open to what comes and you will be fine. If you want anymore info feel free to PM me...and good luck! Anything is possible!

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Posted : June 19, 2011 12:19 am
sloop jones
(@sloop_jones)
Advanced Member

leap and the net will appear!
sloop

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Posted : June 19, 2011 12:20 am
beachguyvi
(@beachguyvi)
Advanced Member

Yeah, Sloop! Totally agree!

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Posted : June 19, 2011 12:24 am
MistB'Haven
(@MistB'Haven)
Advanced Member

Sloop, Love this quote!

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Posted : June 19, 2011 3:05 am
jsmith
(@jsmith)
Advanced Member

Sloop hope you don't mind but Im going to have to use that one. Justin

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Posted : June 19, 2011 1:08 pm
sloop jones
(@sloop_jones)
Advanced Member

as far as I know it is public domain , not mine. i got it from Jeff of http://www.on-stjohn.com/
Sloop

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Posted : June 19, 2011 2:44 pm
dmaria724
(@dmaria724)
Active Member

Thanks everyone. Your right Sloop, whenever I have "leaped" things have always worked out. I came to VT 20 years ago with the clothes on my back, $50 in my pocket and a toddler in tow. Some called it irresponsible, but I was determined to get my kid out of the projects. Everything worked out way better than I ever imagined! Age has made me more cautious. lol...

Beachguy, that is a great story about buying your home. We don't mind renting and plan on doing it for the first year anyways. If we decide to stay then you give us hope than we might be able to buy after all. Your right... Never say never.

Our plan right now is to put our house up for sale next spring and go from there. Until then, I look forward to learning more about living on St John from all of you and am counting down the days until our next visit in April. Cheers!

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Topic starter Posted : June 22, 2011 3:36 pm
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