Finding a long-term rental for a non-billionaire
I've gotten a lot of great info here. THanks a bunch.
I'm confused by the rental market. I had my interview on St. Croix about a month ago. It went well so I started looking at apartment listings on craigslist and on realtor websites:
coral beach realty
and a few others.
The same dozen places are available. There are few in my price range. In places I've lived before the market runs differently, very differently. So each day one finds a few new ads and the ads you saw a few days ago are no longer listed since they've rented. Well, not so on the realtor websites I listed above. Nor on craigslist. In the past I've found apartments long distance via craigslist. This just doesn't seem to be working for the VI.
Is it really that slow a market? Is this just something best handled upon arrival. I don't have extra cash to take up residency in one place for a week while I look and then move to a new place. This is expensive! The moving expenses from my employer don't cover even half the cost of moving my books and clothes to the island.
I did contact a realtor who sent me suggested places. They are ok but nothing I'd really want to move into. But it's been weeks and she added maybe 2 new places last week. That's it! I guess when so many can afford thousands for a 2-bedroom the offerings for someone looking for a place at $1,000 or below are really going to be hard to find.
(I have a mattress and bookshelves but not much else in the way of furniture)
"Is this just something best handled upon arrival. I don't have extra cash to take up residency in one place for a week while I look and then move to a new place."
It is easier and less expensive in the long run to stay somewhere for a week or two and take time to look around yourself. Once you find your little piece of Paradise, then you can move your stuff.
No laughing please.
I'd like to spend $900-1000 without electric $1,300 with. I'm worried about the WAPA everyone keeps talking about.
I like having an extra room for an office where I could also put up the many, many, many people who seem interested in visiting me suddenly, now that I am moving to a desirable vacation spot. So, I've been looking for a 1-bedroom with an office or a 2 bedroom.
If my salary were just a few grand more I think it would be easier since I see a lot of places are at $1,200-1,500. But so much talk of WAPA and high cost of living has me anxious. I've spent many years as a poor grad student in the US and Paris and Spain. I can live on a tight budget but I've grown fond of food in these last couple of years.
Is the AVIS newspaper or its classifieds online? craigslist for St. Croix is pretty limited.
Make sure you send your books media mail through USPS. It is much, much cheaper than first class.
CruzanIron's small house on Queen street is a great location. We pay triple that down the street and really don't need the space that we have. The smaller the better. WAPA is a bit much. Our electric bill is about 300-320 a month for a two bedroom.
I haven't picked up the paper in a few days. If I manage to get one tomorrow and it has listing I will do a quick scan and post it.
Not everyone pays that much for electricity, especially if you don't run an A/C or have a pool. You can learn to be conservative in your electrical and water usage, if you are not already.
You can try looking at the Island Trader - They have a STX edition. It's a free weekly advertising paper that offers house and apt. rentals, cars for sale, house sales, etc. by island residents. It also has a entertainment section that lists places to eat/live music. Comes out on Thursdays on STT. Don't know if it's available same day in STX.
The local STX Avis would be another good source. It's summer so things take awhile to rent and seeing same stuff on MLS is not unusual.
My wife and I just moved here and found a 2bdrm/1ba place that charges a set amount every month for electric as it's not metered separately. Rent is $850/month plus $140/month for electric. No A/C but we find that a few fans and open windows at night are fine. We found the place originally on Craigslist but I came down before we moved and looked at a bunch of places in person. I know this doesn't sound like an option for you but you are probably best trying to find a weekly rental so you can go look at places in person and talk to some people. There are LOADS of places that aren't advertised at all online and some are only word of mouth so talk to people as much as you can.
Since my linens and dishes and all that will not arrive until a couple of months from now it may just be better to take a 1-bedroom condo with all the trimmings for a while. No one will be visiting in the first months anyway.
I could do one of the places with a pool and beach and stuff. That might be nice.
And then I could take my time getting to know where things are and what I really will need/want on St. Croix.
Do NOT get a 2 bedroom on account of guests. It's nice BUT you'll find that all those that say they want to come visit rarely do. We've had 4 visitors in a year and half. Two of which we paid for their tickets (parents). Most people at least I guess our people don't want to spend the $$$$ in tickets even with a free place.
More room to clean, more to furnish, more to keep cool - fans etc. get a pull out sofa. That's my advice.
While an extra bedroom for guests is nice it's not really necessary, especially if having one puts a strain on your rental budget.
There are only two types of guests: 1) Those who you invite and 2) those who invite themselves.
If you invite people to visit you but don't have an extra room simply arrange for them to stay at a nearby hotel or guest house. If you feel generous, you can offer to pick up the tab - it will be much cheaper than paying "extra" rent on a room for a year that you'd otherwise not use.
For those people who call and try to invite themselves simply respond "Great!" than ask "What hotel are you staying at during your visit to the island, we'd love to get together with you for drinks or dinner while you are here".
To the OP - you're getting some really great advice when it comes to attempting to accommodate guests. I couldn't agree more with the other posters' comments. I've downsized twice over the years and couldn't be happier. Less to pay for, clean, and cool. 2 years ago I purchased a 1bd condo and trimmed basically $1,000/mo from my budget (all costs combined). That's $24K over the last two years, and I now have a "visitor lodging" line item in my budget. I've spent about $2K in the same 2 year period for that.
Choose your location well, and you won't need A/C. You can easily get. 1bd in a condo community for well under $1,000.
So I've set myself up in a condo for a few weeks while I get acclimated. I saw a few places today. I very much liked one of them though I am worried about the rent: 1,200/month. There is no A/C and the dryer is gas rather than electric so that would help keep WAPA lower than other places.
I've tended to spend very little on rent in the past because I've been in small college towns. It skews my expectations. Would this rent-to-income calculation that I found be appropriate for STX?
I really do need a place with the space to work whether that is called a 2nd bedroom or dining room or something else.
Not yet. I just arrived so tomorrow I'll be calling places I've found in the paper and online and that includes Pam since I've been following her listings (and everyone else's!) for a while now.
Someone I talked to today was saying mid-Island is best. When I said I saw things in the Avis at around 850/month she balked, "can you afford that? It's so expensive!" But then she was telling me about how her home is broken into even though she has an alarm system.
So, generally speaking, if you talk to a realtor are you supposed to stick with them or call all the places you see (and realtors who have places) to set up viewing times? I don't want to be rude to the realtors but I've never done that before.
Anyone care to comment on this guy that includes utilities at 1000/mo?
It looks lovely, bright and modern, but I loved the rain forest with its lush vegetation. This seems so dry and isolated.
I stink at making decisions! I super stink at financial prudence.
Well, it is not furnished, has no dryer, so unless you plan on spending a lot of money furnishing a 2 bedroom, I'd keep looking, especially if it is not in an area you desire. Probably be good to decide where you'd like to live then it may be easier to find what you want to rent, in your allocated budget. Why not stick with a furnished condo?
Some Realtors do not like to deal with people looking for rentals as they can spend lots of time showing people around and without knowing, the people are also having other realtors show them around and they also look and find something on their own so it ends up being a big waste of lots of hours for the Realtors as they only make any money (very little on rentals) if they find you a place you like. (Note: I said some Realtors) It's good if you stick with one to show you properties plus you get the benefit of having them know the island and neighborhoods to help you in your search. Realtors can show any other Realtor's listing available on MLS.The landlord/owner of rental pays the commission to a Realtor.
Good Luck on your search. Remember, it may be more expensive to live in the VI than you anticipate so don't overspend.