Hello future neighbors! Utilities and real estate agent help needed.
Our family got the wonderful news that we are being relocated to ST. Thomas. We are very excited, but have so many questions. Some of the most urgent are what to expect things to cost. This will decide what size home we decide to purchase. How much should we expect to pay for utilities, cable, phone, insurance, etc. We are considering everything from a 2 bedroom condo to a 4 bedroom single family home. Any guidance or personal experience would be greatly appreciated. My husband starts work next month and I will remain here in Atlanta to allow our daughter to finish 8th grade and sell our home. I have her enrolled and accepted into a homeschooling program that we were already opting for.
I spoke briefly with a real estate agent via phone and email but I have found her to be impatient, unkind, and inhospitable. I am very sure it was simply case of us not meshing or just not communicating well but I would really love some references to agents that others have had wonderful experiences with. I truly believe that this is an important relationship and that we should really understand and genuinely enjoy working together. The whole family will be traveling down in 2 weeks during spring break to get the house hunt started and learn a little more about our new home. The girls and our German Shepard will join daddy on the island permanently in June.
Thank you all in advance for your assistance, experience, and hopefully soon your friendship.
Congratulations! St Thomas is a wonderful place to live, but everything is much more expensive and stuff is hard to find. I think you will find lots of good information on this board that will make your transition easier.
I worked with Karen Korsgren of Sea Glass Realty. 340-514-4730. She is professional and very helpful.
You need to read through the previous posts that cover all of this. Most important thing is don't plan to buy property right away, unless perhaps that job is a 5 year contract with guaranteed salary. You can use the realtor to find a long term rental. Don't sign any lease until you see the place first. Finding a rental for a German Shepard may be challenging. Many condo HOAs don't allow pets. You'll want to consider work and school location when selecting residence location among other things.
Electric bill will depend on whether or not you use A/C. Electric rate is more than 3X what you probably pay on mainland. TV about $100/mo. Internet maybe $80/mo. Groceries not cheap, more than mainland. Milk $6/gal. Butter $6-8/lb. OK, some other things not quite that bad. Refrigerated/frozen stuff cost more. $10 for a frozen pizza. Cereal $5-6/box. Rum used to be cheap but we're fixing that with a new tax. You can check out some prices here http://www.wfmpueblo.com/ on the flyer.
Welcome to the islands.
As others have said, start reading through the posts and read through the info on the links at the top of this site.
You may have a difficult time getting your dog here in June unless you are chartering a private flight. Please look through some of the old threads about transporting animals to and from here. The summer months are usually a no go if you can even find a flight that will put your dog in cargo.
I also agree with others that you should not buy right away. Renting for a year or two is advised because a lot of people move here and find they just don't like it and move away within a couple of years.
For the kiddo, online programs are an option, but it can be isolating for her. Harder to meet other kids if you aren't around them. Making a move at that age is hard enough. Having her not in school where she can meet friends could be even harder. My oldest son went to private school on STJ until 5th grade, then did an online program (Calvert Virtual Academy), moved to FL with his dad for 2.5 years, came back to STJ, and is doing another online program now. Even though he knows tons of kids here, and has a bunch of friends, I know he still misses being in school at times. If he wasn't due to finish high school in July, I'd consider putting him back in school.
Congrats on the move! We have found on STT the cost of living is very similar to living in California, without the quality of goods or services. Lol. If you look at DC, San Francisco, Boston city... Those are expensive places.. STT is right up there. Some things are less, like property taxes, and some are more, like dairy and processed or boxed foods, gas ( but you drive a ton less). Electricity is 2.5 to 3x per kWh what you are paying now. So look at your current bill and do the math. Most homes here have room based split system ac, which is a good thing. Easier to control what gets cooked and when. We have a 4 br house and we spend @ 350-500/ month on electrify. Water is free, assuming no draught (drought?) and a big cistern. Internet/dish is the same as stateside. We were actually pleasantly surprised that it's not as bad as we thought.
We have 2 golden retrievers that we are bring down in May. By boat! But I concur that commercial flights are going to be tough in June. Some have had luck posting on here and other sites grouping together for a private plane.
Seaglass is a reputable real estate company on island, and I have also good things about Curreri. My real estate agent has left the island. LOL.
Regarding buying a house, I have always joked that buying a house in the islands is like buying a timeshare, very easy to buy and very hard to sell. Which is why so many people suggest waiting to buy until you are quite sure that you will enjoy living here. However we don't know your specific situation. If your husband is being relocated then you may have perks similar to a friend of mine that moved down whereby if you can't sell your home after you want to leave they will buy it from you. If that is the case then certainly there is no reason to hesitate. Or if your husband has a specific contract time. Because houses can't take two years to sell. I think that's a bit extreme but you never know. You will have quite a challenge renting with a German Shepherd, and it is certainly easier to rent with no dog or a lapdog.
Good luck with the move!
To reiterate: do not buy until you have been here a while. I know people who do not really like it here, but are now "stuck" and can't leave because they can't sell. Not fun for anyone.
You will need to look around at the various areas and see what fits with your lifestyle. Then live there for 6 months or so and see if the reality matches your expectations.