I am looking for veteran islander input
I am looking at living my golden years at STT... I like that it is a bigger city, yet is still an island. I plan to spend my time in fourths. Watching TV, on the Internet, and at bars with the occasional boat safari, scuba diving and beach laying. I hope, with the lesser expense of alcohol to spend much of my evenings at the bars. My question is, how much do I need to fiscally make in order to live this life style. I don't want to go store to store, Kmart seems like a good bet. My retirement will give about 4000 a month. I will have a mortgage of 1050 and will buy a car new in cash. With enough cash to buy a set of furniture and trimmings. I love what this forum has perceived to be island life even though the government isn't that great... and crime, potholes, health care... I don't mind the downfalls. Any advice is welcome. I will be spending a month on a PMV to make sure I can pass under the island life... should it be longer? What are the unexpected expenses? How long did it take you to understand the locals? How long did it take for the locals to warm up to you? I hate being an outsider, but am a good people person. Very polite and mannered... and southern... but I am figuring the mannered part doesn't matter that much. Or does it?
Also... my golden years... I mean retired... medically retired from the military. I am 25 and would prefer to have a lady companion. She would work, but I don't want kids.
One question - how do you arrive at $1050 for a mortgage? I was there 10 years and many locals warmed up to me after 1-2 years and many did not after 10 years. Unexpected expenses are the high cost of utilities, tires don't last long (maybe a year), food is expensive, if you own a home repairs and maintenance are expensive and difficult. Beautiful beaches, great snorkeling, great weather.
Unexpected expenses are just that "unexpected" - there is no set list. Suffice to say, things don't last long or, after a while, don't function properly in the islands. Anything made of metal will eventually rust and need replacement, cars tend to need more repairs and service, anything electronic will will suffer because of power surges, the sun's ultra-violet rays and the humid salt air play havoc on fabrics, paints and almost anything that is exposed to open air. Mildew can be a problem for clothing and furniture. I jokingly tell people that the one thing that would make me very happy would be to have just one week when I wasn't "fixing" something. Seriously, it's a never ending battle - my mantra seems to be "THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING!!!!!.
I'm intrigued by your comment: "I hope, with the lesser expense of alcohol to spend much of my evenings at the bar". Yes, liquor is less expensive than most places back in the states but that differential is offset by things like higher food costs, higher utilities, etc. In other words if you plan on maintaining the same lifestyle you did "back home" you probably won't have too much extra to spend on booze.
Regarding shopping - YOU WILL be going from store to store! That's a fact of life not only in the USVi's but almost everywhere in the Caribbean. You never know what items will be in stock and what items won't. You'll understand better once you do some serious grocery shopping.
The bars are where trouble will find you. There's no harm in going out for a drink occasionally, but it's not a good idea to practically live in the bars. Alcohol is cheap(er) here if you buy it yourself at the store, but to go out for a drink, it will still cost you $3-4 for a beer, $6+ for a mixed drink. And as mentioned above, food is expensive.
You cannot possibly find everything at one store. Even just to get basic groceries, I go to 2-3 stores (both because some stores don't have certain things and because some charge double what others charge for the same thing).
I agree that expenses that I wouldn't have expected (if not for this board!) include electricity and the cost of maintaining everything. You also should consider the cost of getting back to the states to visit friends and family. Right now you might think that you'll never want to leave, that everyone will just come and visit you... but you WILL get rock fever at some point, and nobody's friends and family can ALL afford that type of trip, so if you want to see them, you'll have to go to them or pay for their flight down.
How long it takes the locals to warm up to you is really a personal thing... it depends a lot on what your personality is like and on which particular local you're referring to. In general, people are very friendly if you're friendly and polite, but many are reluctant to make friends with a newcomer because they've seen a lot of mainlanders come and go. As for manners, YES, they matter quite a bit. People have better manners here than I've ever seen in the states (and I've spent most of my life in the south). And not just manners... people go out of their way to be nice, whether it's in traffic, in line at the grocery store, etc.
I am 25 and would prefer to have a lady companion. She would work, but I don't want kids.
Nice. So you're going to lounge around all day and head for the bars at night, and she's going to work all day (and possibly all evening, too, since it often takes 2 jobs to survive here) and either sit at home alone at night or be dragged out to the bars with you? I suppose you probably want her to cook and clean, too.
It seems to me that 25 is too early to live the lifestyle you're talking about. I'm only a few years older than you, and I agree that it sounds nice for a while, but you'll probably get bored and/or get into trouble after a while. It happens to quite a few independently wealthy people who show up down here. Even older people who are at a more traditional retirement age do more than watch tv, read the internet, go to the bars, and do water-related activities. They volunteer at various places. They spend time with their life-long friends and with new friends. They read. They work on maintaining and improving their homes. They go visit their grandchildren or have them visit here for the summer. They attend charity events. And the list goes on. The lifestyle you're talking about doesn't leave much room for personal growth, and it leaves a lot of room for spiraling downward into alcoholism. Your'e only 25, and you're talking about living your life as if it's basically over, but there's so much more you can do!
I am married to someone who is also retired from the military due to injury/disability, while on active duty, and we are young in life (we're in our 30s) as well. Even though you served our country, honorably, and encouraged a disability, you shouldn't waste what you've been given (financially) at bars and on alcohol. I know it may be tough to deal with what you have gone through, but there is so much more active and productive things to do with your time and money. It sounds like you still need to deal with what has happened to you, and that as it appears you are coming to the USVI to "run away." Trust me, I know it can be difficult, it has been almost 10 years since my spouse's injury and we are now just starting to "accept it" and work with the problems it creates in a productive way.
I hope you have a VA hospital where you are at. Don't be put off by the bureaucracy that runs them. There are some great resources and clinics there that can really help you.
My spouse, even though on full disability, has stayed active, volunteers to help other disabled veterans and has even worked for the Veteran's Administration. We have been planning our move for over a year, and hopefully will be able to complete the move in 2011.
You also need to consider you current ongoing health care. If you are using the VA remember there is only a clinic on STT or STX. Anything else that is needed you will have to go to the VA hospital in San Juan (the closest one). Depending on your service connect percentage rating, transfer to San Jan may be covered by the VA. If you are not rated high enough, you will have to manage your own transit.
Just my 2 cents to you, as being someone who can "see" what you are going through. We have done all of the research needed for moving with a disabled vet, reliant on the VA system, to the USVI. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.
I stopped reading at mortgage of $1050? On Stt? What are you buying?
The 1050 a month for a mortgage is what I am pre qualified for at 213,000, then I have cash for the rest. I am looking at 275k - 325k range for a 800 square foot condo.
My lady friend will simpley live there and work, I will be the house wife. I will be cleaning, cooking, ect.
EricW... you are right.
Don't forget condo fees. In many cases, the monthly fee is more than the mortgage payment.
so true juanita, mill harbor condo in stx was 1050 a month? something like that
I don't know what kind of condo you can get on St. Thomas in that price range if the monthly qualified amount also needs to cover the monthly HOA fees.
On St. Croix, I'd recommend the St. C's condo complex with those dollar figures as the units (1-BDR and 1200 square feet with great views) are selling between $100K - $187K and the monthly HOA is one of the lowest around at $617 and includes water, cable tv with hbo, garbage pick-up and a mailbox.
Even if you find a house at $213k you are still looking at hurricane insurance which will be at least 3%, which would be roughly another $500 a month. Are you putting down 20% because if not then you have P & I as well. But generally you must have at least 10% to put down unless you are a first time buyer. And if you own a house down here there are always going to be big expenses, the condo fee do generaly come out to be cheaper IMO.
Condo fees at $600 are about the cheapest out there.
So like I said $1050? Rent, you'll be happier.
I don't know what you have been through but you sound like you are 25 and waiting to die. There are many, many productive years ahead of you...if Steven Hawking can do the amazing things he does in the state that he's in I'm sure that you can do way more with your life than spend the $4000/month you will be receiving on TV and booze.
I hope as others mentioned that you seriously re-think what it is you are trying to do. I have met MANY people who are on a permanent vacation in St. Croix and almost all of them are absolutely miserable human beings. Most of them took their vacation much later in life than where you are...25 is a frighteningly young age to have such an attitude.
I apologize for sounding preachy but genuinely hope that while it may not be what you want to hear it can help you avoid making a big mistake by checking out of this thing we call life.