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Heavily considering relocating...

 
HRB&MPB
(@HRB&MPB)
New Member

Good afternoon all!

My husband and I just got back from our honeymoon a few weeks ago. We went on a cruise and one of our stops was STT. We absolutely loved it!! Since then, we've been doing a lot of research, and I've spent the last few days reading the message boards. My husband is looking at applying for a government job and I am looking at transferring to UVI (I am a full time student at UNC right now). I have a 6 year old son, so private school is a must after looking at previous posts and statistics. I know that things would be tight, as we would be living off of one income until I finish school. However, it is now a dream that we can't stop thinking about, and I also think that it would be a great experience for my son. My husband says that it would likely be temporary.. 3 years or so. However, I counter that once we get down there, we're not going to want to leave (LOL). A few questions that I've come up with after doing some research:

-How hard is it to get financial aid for my son to go to private school? I hope this doesn't sound totally crazy.. we're not moving down there flat broke or on a complete whim.. it would take several months to get everything in order anyway. I just know that my son needs a good education, but the cost of private school would be out of reach until I finish school.
-What about sports for kids? Are there baseball leagues, etc, available for kids?
-How about summer day camps for kids? For example, he goes to the YMCA for summer camp here in the states. JW if there's anything comparable.
-What types of things can we do to get out and meet people? We're both very much "people" people, so it will be important to us to meet friends.
-What are your opinions for shipping one or both of cars (and maybe even his motorcycle) over? It seems pretty clear after reading previous posts that shipping at least one car is pretty much a must, but I'm wondering if we should just go ahead and ship both. We have a 06 Scion xA with higher miles (120k) and a 93 Mercury Capri convertible with low miles (69k). So, pretty good low weight island cars. Also, my husband is pretty dead set on shipping his Harley over. I keep trying to tell him that, after reading the boards, it's probably not a good idea.. mostly for safety reasons.
-Finally.. what are your average bills for utilities.. ie.. electricity, filling a cistern (bc I'm sure at some point, we'll have to have it done), cable, internet, cell phones, car insurance. Let's say on a 2 bdrm apt. Any other expenses (besides food) that we should be aware of?

Any other info is appreciated as well! We're going to start planning a PMV soon 🙂

Thanks!!!!!

Heather

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Topic starter Posted : March 27, 2010 4:24 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Heather: I understand your love affair with the USVI, as I have also succumbed. (Are you waiting for the "BUT"?) I have several brief suggestions:
1. Complete your education at UNC.
2. Come back for an extended vacation on land when you are done with school.
3. Read the online newspapers and this board.
Best wishes.;)

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Posted : March 27, 2010 5:27 pm
popflops
(@popflops)
Advanced Member

We're on STX, but as a mother and a "newbie" (just moved here in January), let me comment on the few things that I know.

1. The two main private schools on island offer full and partial scholarships, but they are heavily weighted towards "locals".

2. There are no recreation sports leagues here, but there is AYSO soccer, as well as swimming through one of the private schools. That school does offer other sports for higher grades, and Pony Club is also popular here.

3. The same private school does offer summer day camps, as does Pony Club, but the summer camp is quite expensive -- a few hundred dollars per week per child.

4. I don't know about meeting people, other than the school, but volunteering is common here.

5. We shipped both vehicles (to the tune of several thousand dollars), but it was the right decision for us. As far as the Harley goes, I'm sure you'll have a fight on your hands with your hubby and that Marty from this board, but I would strongly discourage flashy, expensive things. The crime rate is is high, and he'll be heartsick when (not if) it gets stolen or vandalized.

6. Our utilities would not be comparable to yours, as we have a larger house, but things here are NOT cheap. At all. Not even a little bit. For example, the full coverage car insurance that ran us $95 per month for two vehicles in the states at State Farm now costs us just shy of $300 per month for the same two vehicles here. Paid in full up front.

The best advice that I can give you is to do as much research as you can, plan a PMV, and come with your eyes open. It's a beautiful place, but there are more things than I can count that take a tremendous amount of getting used to. We have been extremely blessed thus far, and feel that it was overwhelmingly the right choice for our own kids, but so many people end up leaving after a short time. It's not for everyone, but it works for us.

Good luck!
Lisa

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Posted : March 27, 2010 5:55 pm
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

As other before me, I would recommend caution. And as a newcomer, I would not expect to receive any type of aid for your child's private school.

My advice? Stay where you are and finish your education. Good luck.

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Posted : March 27, 2010 6:08 pm
HRB&MPB
(@HRB&MPB)
New Member

Thanks for the advice!

I have thought a lot about finishing school here before we go.. it would be more practical.. however, the sooner we go, the sooner my husband can get back into the federal system, sell back his military toward retirement, and then retire. Also, I feel like the younger my son is when we go, the better. However, it may very well end up being the best thing for all of us if we do wait until I finish (since it's not that long anyway.. I already have an associate's.. I'm just finishing up my bachelor's now).
Another thing I have thought about is finishing online. That would allow me to get a job as well (I did my associate's online and worked full time and it worked out very well). That would also allow us to be a lot more comfortable for the first year or so.
Anyway, all of that is stuff that we will have to weigh, which is why we've been doing so much research.

Lisa - great point about WHEN the Harley gets stolen.. that may actually be the point that makes him leave it here, LOL! And yes, the whining would never end when it did get stolen or vandalized.. I can see it now! Which is exactly why one or both of the little cars that we have are perfect.. if something happens to them, it'll stink, but it's not the end of the world.

We definitely need to plan a trip back. The more and more research I do, the more I learn about STX also. We've never been there, so we may need to visit when we go back to see if that may be a place we would like even more. I'd like to go back and "live like a local" for a week or so, before we plan an official PMV and make a final decision about when the right time is.

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Topic starter Posted : March 27, 2010 6:26 pm
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

I would second (third?) the advice to finish your education and head for the islands when you're more free. I was in a similar position more than 2 years ago, and I've waited until my final training in my career is over. I'll be heading down in July. During those two years, I've learned a TON from this board and from two PMVs. I've also been really working on squirreling away some extra money for all of those extra expenses... like shipping vehicles. I know it's not the easy or fun decision, and everyone's situation is different, but I think getting all of your ducks in a row would make it more likely that you'd actually stay for a long time.

As a side note... I'm thinking about your potential transfer to UVI. I hope those who are graduates of the UVI won't take offense at this honest question... what do mainland employers think of a UVI diploma? I've had people comment on how they think I'll probably be sipping pina coladas on the beach all day when I tell them I've taken a job in the VI. (I will not be. I will be working my a$$ off.) I can only imagine what people might think of going to college in the VI. Please understand I'm not trying to say it's not a good school... I just wonder about the perceptions of some naive people on the mainland. In the case of a person like HRB&MPB, who might eventually go back to the mainland, would it make it harder to get a job?

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Posted : March 27, 2010 6:39 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

Did you put all 120k miles on your car in 4 years? No wonder you're ready to move to an island!

We have apartments, and our two bedroom units vary greatly on utilities. It all depends on the people. We have very conservative tenants who run less than $100 per month for electricity. They don't use the a/c and are mindful of lights and other appliances, etc. We have had tenants who ran $300-$400 or more. The difference is their company is paying their bills.

You probably won't have a need to order water unless you buy your own place. Most landlords take care of it (not all). Some charge (we charge .05 per gallon) and some don't. Just depends on the situation. A truckload (5300 gallons) is $210 from the company we use.

You're not seriously considering leaving UNC to transfer to UVI, are you??:S

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Posted : March 27, 2010 6:49 pm
chockman
(@chockman)
Trusted Member

Bring the bike. Ride safe.

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Posted : March 27, 2010 7:01 pm
fdr
 fdr
(@fdr)
Trusted Member

Another vote for finishing school first. Unless your field is the biological sciences, you are likely to get a much better education, and for much cheaper, in the UNC system.

You will definitely want to spend at least a week "living" here (not another vacation) before you decide if you really want to move here. One day on a cruise ship visit can plant the seed of the idea, but it is way too little to go on for uprooting your family ASAP. I'll repost the old joke:
----

A man dies and finds himself at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter remarks, "That's odd. This has never happened before. Its an even split between you going to heaven or hell. So I'll tell you what: I will give you a tour of both spots, and you can decide for yourself."

The man readily agrees and, poof! They're instantly on a beautiful snowy mountain, with gorgeous views, clean crisp air, and abundant ski lodges. St. Peter explains to the man, "This is heaven."

Quite impressed, the man decides to go see what hell looks like. Poof! Instantly, they are standing in the warm sand on beautiful St. Thomas. The weather is fine, the scenery sublime, and the vegetation lush.

As the man is half beside himself on how wonderful hell is, St. Peter asks which he would prefer. The man replies, "Well, both heaven and hell are stunning places to spend an afterlife. Since I'm already here on St. Thomas, I might as well stay."

St. Peter says, "As you wish," and poof! Now the man is sitting in a leaking hut filled with cockroaches, bad water, and oppressive heat. A rusted out jeep sits outside next to continuously barking dog. He yells to St. Peter, "Wait! Wait! This isn't what I chose!"

St. Peter only says, "Hey, the first time you saw St. Thomas you were a tourist -- now you live here!"

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Posted : March 28, 2010 12:02 am
HRB&MPB
(@HRB&MPB)
New Member

Hahaha, FDR, I love that joke! My major is meteorology.. one of the reasons UVI wouldn't be so bad. I would have to switch to oceanography, but the curriculum is pretty much the same and I can get mostly the same jobs when I'm done. My associate's is in communications. However, all of that being said.. I don't have much left. It would definitely be preferable to move during the summer because I don't want to uproot my son in the middle of the school year. This summer would be too soon because we definitely want to come back down and stay for a week or two before making a solid decision, and my next break from school isn't until summer break. So, that would be rushing it for us. So that takes us to next summer. At that point, I may be done with school if I can hustle. So, we'll see.

Juanita - yep, all of those miles have been accrued in actually about 3 1/2 years on my car. I commute to school (an hour and 15 minutes each way), and before that, my job was 45 minutes each way. We also have an 05 Yukon XL with 140k that my husband drives (that would stay if we moved). He drives 45 minutes each way to work also, and up until about a year ago, he drove over an hour each way for his other job. Needless to say, we spend a lot of money in gas and a lot of time in the car. You should see mine.. it looks normal on the outside (besides needing a bath), but the inside looks like a circus... hahaha.

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Topic starter Posted : March 28, 2010 12:33 am
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Ah, fdr! Mighty Whitey used to tell that joke as a shaggy dog story... Thanks for reminding me!

HRB&: What sorts of jobs are you thinking that a bachelor's in Marine Science is going to get you? Around here, maybe elementary science teacher? It is an entry level degree, you'll have to add on graduate school.

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Posted : March 28, 2010 2:23 am
stxem
(@stx-em)
Trusted Member

Science jobs are really competitive in the VI. Also, I would check with some professors at UVI about the curriculum. The classes UVI says they offer often get cancelled and/or don't occur every semester. It may be challenging for you to finish your degree. Whether this matters to you or not, I don't know, but the biology and marine science programs are not that "well-regarded", especially if you decide to return to the states with a UVI degree. Not to bash on UVI, but it's true. UVI serves its purpose well for the territory, but is still very limited. UNC is a far better option for completing your education, especially in science. Even though you may not believe it now, the islands will still be here (and probably better looking, since you'd be more competitive for jobs) once you finish your education! :-). Good luck with any decision you make!

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Posted : March 28, 2010 2:38 am
Edward
(@Edward)
Trusted Member

Heather,

Lots of good advice here. When I first visited St. Thomas many years ago, I felt the same as you. But it wasn't the right time.

Now, after three fairly lengthy pre-move visits to STT and STX, it's the right time. I arrive STX permanently in two weeks.

"Research" in this case really requires "field work," i.e., on the ground (and water). That means, at least, some time on St. Croix as well as St. Thomas.

Best wishes,

Edward

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Posted : March 28, 2010 12:01 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

I have a relative who graduated from the Marine Sciences program at UVI and is doing very well in a very competitive doctoral program in Big America. But this person is one in a million!;)

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Posted : March 28, 2010 3:30 pm
billd
(@billd)
Trusted Member

and get ready to pay about 12000 a year for a private school!

Plus transportation!

Stay where you are and come back with no children!

billd

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Posted : March 29, 2010 12:35 am
brockettfamily
(@brockettfamily)
Advanced Member

Private schools in the main states run about $12k a year also

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Posted : March 29, 2010 3:08 pm
stephyjh
(@stephyjh)
Advanced Member

Stay at UNC. Having moved here from the Charlotte area, I'd have done the UNC thing and then moved if it had been an option with regards to my personal life. Once you're through, then move if you still want to. UVI is not on a level with the stateside schools, and you're much better off taking the more challenging courses at UNC and then moving than thinking that UVI will prepare you for a career at the same level that UNC wll. Trust me on this one--I'm at UVI now, and it's a real disappointment in terms of the quality of education. The PhD ratio among the faculty here is absolutely laughable--I don't have a single professor this semester who has a doctorate degree.

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Posted : March 29, 2010 3:26 pm
Iris Tramm
(@Iris_Tramm)
Trusted Member

As a side note... I'm thinking about your potential transfer to UVI. I hope those who are graduates of the UVI won't take offense at this honest question... what do mainland employers think of a UVI diploma? I've had people comment on how they think I'll probably be sipping pina coladas on the beach all day when I tell them I've taken a job in the VI. (I will not be. I will be working my a$$ off.) I can only imagine what people might think of going to college in the VI. Please understand I'm not trying to say it's not a good school... I just wonder about the perceptions of some naive people on the mainland. In the case of a person like HRB&MPB, who might eventually go back to the mainland, would it make it harder to get a job?

I'm an attorney, and my decision to spend the last decade as a VI lawyer has trashed my ability to find work stateside. The legal market is bad now, no doubt, but it is worse when the bulk of your experience is in VI courts. *I* understand that federal court is federal court is federal court, and there is no real substantive difference between practicing in federal court in the VI and practicing in federal court in, say, North Carolina, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a North Carolinian hiring partner who'd agree with you. To them, our bar exam involves rum-and-soda ratios, not substantive legal questions.

But, you know, YMMV.

Best to you.

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Posted : March 29, 2010 3:26 pm
fdr
 fdr
(@fdr)
Trusted Member

To them, our bar exam involves rum-and-soda ratios, not substantive legal questions.

Iris's point is valid for most occupations, not just the law. The USVI is decidedly not a place to get ahead in one's career in most professions. But then, those of us who move to stay here really don't much care. 😎

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Posted : March 29, 2010 4:33 pm
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