Help on Moving to and Living in the VI
I've moved to the Virgin Islands twice. After leaving for 11 months, and settling in the highly consumer/status-driven culture of south Florida, we scurried back as quickly as we could. And our three daughters thanked us.
For mainlanders who come to settle in the Virgin Islands, the first requirement is a sense of humor. Life happens more slowly, often without quite the same process or even logic you'd expect, and you can either cultivate an ulcer, or shake it off, and carry on.
The next thing you'll need is a willingness to confront the high cost of living. We all feel startled by the prices -- on the grocery shelves, in K-Mart, at the fruit stands, at restaurants, and, depending on where you come from, in housing. But slowly you acclimate, figure it out, cutback if necessary, and embrace the life.
As for the basic concerns - doctors, schools, where to live, how do I drive on the left?, what about hurricanes?, is crime a worry? is this really a place to raise kids? -- those are huge questions. And they're ones all of us who chose this life confronted and answered, and for the most part, very easily, and with confidence.
As someone who has done it twice, with a family in tow, I'd be happy to answer the myriad questions you might have if you're considering doing the same. I know I was crazy for some feedback from someone who knew, as we prepared to come our first time around. The second time, I just couldn't wait to get back!
Good luck, and let me know if you want to hear from someone who's been there, done that.
What part of S Florida did you escape from................my hub & I did 11 months in Palm Beach County. Not the jail..lol tho at times it felt like it, all the snobbery, traffic, old people, strange hair colors, plastic surgery, fake boobs, coach purses & lil dogs alll dressed up in frilly dresses & pushed thru the mall in baby buggies............AAAAAAkkkkkkkkkkk! Glad to be back in the good ole VI !
My family (1 year old son, husband, me, and our dog) are trying to to STX summer '09. I say trying because we are going to have to get the house sold before we leave. (currently living in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA)
My husband has no attachments to material items, so to leave with just a suitcase is no problem for him. Me, on the other hand, am very attached to everything from my family in Mississippi to my bedroom furniture. But, believe it or not, it was my idea to move.
I have friends there and they have assured me that they know that we will fit right in. I have visited several times over the last 5 years, living as an islander.
So, what do I want to know? Just how fast should I expect to be able to find work as an accountant? I have lots of experience, however just a college degree; no CPA certification. My husband is a "jack of all trades" from sales to construction. He will have NO PROBLEM finding a paying job.
Expect on at least 3 months, because alot of people are going to low ball him. This is also a field with alot of room for freelancing. Its what I do, I do the books for small businesses I like working for. But we do have some larger companies as well, just be prepared for the low ball. They will offer him less then he is making now most likely. Frankly some just can afford a accountant but need one, this is another reason I freelance. I can charge my rates but just work parttime, they get my experience without a bill that will kill their business.
Know what you guys will need to make a year to get buy down here. So you know what you will need for salary.
Try the standford financial group website, they have made this their headquarters and seem to be paying very well.
Betty, thanks for the advice.
We have done our homework. We have already secured child care and we are bunking in with friends until the money starts rolling in. Of course, the sooner the better, don't want to wear welcome out.
Three years ago I was there during tax time and was able to do a few tax returns while I was helping my friend's family with a few projects they had going on. Since my friends are not in the accounting field, just wanted to get a feel for what the opportunities were like. I hardly ever see accounting jobs in the classified section of Island Trader. I have seen a few advertised at careervi.com, Pinnacle, and Hovensa. I haven't applied since I wasn't on island.
Again, thanks for the advice.
Island Trader? Its mostly stt stuff. You need to get the avis for stx and even then it's a slower process then stateside. He'll send his resume end and not hear from the company for a month or so, but thats just how it is here. Networking is 100% the best way to get a job here. Have some of your friends here put out feelers. Whatever you do don't take a govt job and the first job he finds will probably not be the one he keeps, to many crazy owners that take advantage of newbies. Wherever you end up ask your friends if they have heard anything thing about that employer.
"to many crazy owners that take advantage of newbies"
Not only newbies ...but anyone small business owners can get for cheap! I know a few to stay away from.
Why not government? I was actually cheking out their website, too. Just asking.
Because they are the craziest of the crazies. But everyone has a different tolerance for nonsense. And it would get you benefits. But I could not put up with it at all. Most statesiders do not last long in the local govt but the feds are a little better.
Humm . . . thanks.
MJ: I don't know if it is different on St Croix, but on St Thomas, bookkeeping skills are highly regarded. I know people who do books for several small businesses and make good living. Also, although there aren't as many as there once were, the EDC companies need financial folk.
Thanks East Ender.
As far as EDC companies, how can you tell which companies are EDC? Also, aren't they "required', in oder to kep that status, to employ acertain percentage of locals? Will I have to be there a year before they would even consider me? Just asking.
Yes, they do have to have a number of bona fide locals, but also can and do hire others. Sometimes these are their stateside employees, but lots of people get here and decide to return. There was an ad for accounting personnel in the paper just this morning...
East Ender, are you referring to the AVIS?
EE was referring to EDC companies.
mnjj: The ad was in the Daily News, for an EDC company over here (St Thomas). I suspect St Croix has their own set of EDC companies.
What's the single scene like down there? I.e. single women in mid-to-late 30s?
Also would like to know the best area in which to live. I'd probably work from home and only need a 1 bedroom furnished place, but I would like to be in the "middle" of things - i.e. bars, grocery stores, movies, the water, etc.
Red Hook, St. Thomas
Hello! We are considering a move to St. Thomas but concerned about a couple of things and have some questions...would appreciate any advice. Kids...we have three and the age range is from 13 to 17. Private school or are the public schools any good? Crazy question...is there any ice hockey? Yes, obviously we are from the midwest! Where is the best and safest place to live as a family that is affordable? My husband is a carpenter and specializes in windows, siding and door installation...will there be any work for him in St. Thomas? Thanks again for any guidance you can share! 🙂 Mom
I can't wait to hear the answer on the ice hockey question. My daughter plays (now in college)... I'm worried that I won't even find ice hockey on TV when I move to STX!
However, I think (outdoor) inline hockey might work. I coached a team when my daughter was younger, here in Virginia. It gets hot in the summer (90's), but the kids are troopers... you still use elbow, knee pads and helmut... and maybe butt pads in the pants/shell; but they play in shorts and no shoulder pads. Oh, and of course you still use gloves... and yes, they are still the rankest smelling things on earth after a few weeks.
Private school is a necessity for teenagers moving from the states to the VI. You can use the search feature on this site to find past discussions about this. It's expensive. Antilles School http://www.antilles.vi/ charges $15,100/year per student.
There is no ice hockey, though there is plenty of sailing, scuba, etc.
There is no "safest place" on island; we have mansions next to dilapidated homes. There are some gated communities, but prices there are among the highest on an already expensive island. Affordable is relative; some general costs can be found here: https://www.vimovingcenter.com/cost_of_living/ If you purchase a home and have a mortgage, wind insurance is required. My house is 1500sf, masonry, not on the water, and my insurance is $1000/month.
There is plenty of work for a carpenter, but it probably won't pay enough to support a family of four with private school tuition for two. If you are also working full-time, you may be able to make ends meet. However, many jobs do not include health insurance, so that would be a significant added cost.
What are the common health insurances accepted? I am researching purchasing a private policy mainland because my employer's rates are high and the coverage stinks.
I kinda of have to agree with "dntw8up" on this one...even though I am a big advocate of public schools, I would not throw stateside kids that age into a public school, and it has nothing to do with the quality of education....it's the environment. They need to get used to the island and make friends first. I have two kids in public school right now and they are doing extremely well. My son is 8 and daughter is 12. Our neighbor goes to Good Hope and is in the same grade as my daughter...my daughter...who is in Elena Christian...is actually a little ahead of them...thing they are learning now, my daughter started a few weeks ago.
Thanks...I appreciate the guidance. I checked out the sites and it helps enormously. I am having sticker shock on almost everything. OK...I'm sure that I sound like a midwest moron...but I have to ask...and please refer me to another message board or whatever, but...sharks. I am truly looking for the real scoop on how safe it is to swim in the Virgin Islands. I've heard so many different perspectives on this, I frankly don't know what to believe. What are your takes on this? Thanks again for all of the good advice! Mom
To MOM - There are sharks in the waters surrounding the USVI's just like there are sharks in the oceans in almost all parts of the world. Your chances of encountering them, however, are small. Shark attacks are rare which is why they make HEADLINES when they do occur. Put your mind at ease - people go swimming every day in the the USVI (and Caribbean) and some have never seen a shark.
Regarding your comment on "sticker shock" - that's much more common - everybody gets it. Things are expensive in the Caribbean!!!!! It's a very difficult locale for those on a strict budget. It helps if you have a nest egg to fall back on. Sorry if that's not what you want to hear but it is the reality of island life.