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[Solved] If you are thinking of moving to the Virgin Islands, read this.

(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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I moved to St. Croix along with my wife and daughter in 2011. We moved off island in 2020. I used the vimovingcenter website extensively before we moved. It was invaluable. While on island I remained a casual reader. I have never been a contributor until now. After reading the post titled, “Where have all the posters gone?”, I feel that I have some information for new arrivals that might be helpful.

Whether you buy a house or rent one when you arrive, you will most likely be working with a real estate agent or broker. Also, if you sell a house when you leave, you will probably be working with a broker. It’s extremely unlikely that you will concern yourself wondering what will happen if something goes wrong when you enter into this relationship. Afterall, there must be policies and rules in place for handling any problems; right?

I’ve written a blog detailing my attempts for justice after something went wrong.

<a href=" removed link "> removed link

If I had known the misery that I was getting myself into, I would have skipped everything and let the broker keep his ill-gotten gains. However, since I have suffered through this I might as well turn my misery into a teaching moment. My blog is divided up into 9 numbered articles; best read in order. THIS IS A LOT OF READING; IF YOU READ THE WHOLE THING, KUDOS. If you want to save time just read the first and last articles. I would love to hear everyone’s opinions.

I am a retired engineer. I have lots of stories and opinions about the island. Perhaps I’ll share them in the future. And rather than just complain about things, as an engineer I typically try to provide a solution.

 
Posted : March 30, 2024 10:33 am
vicanuck reacted
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
Active Member
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Sorry, I'm new at this. I tried putting in a link to my blog. Apparently I wasn't allowed to do that and it was chopped out. I'll try pasting it as text. I suppose you will have to copy and paste it into your address bar.

removed link

 Hopefully this works.

 
Posted : March 31, 2024 2:20 pm
(@stcmike)
Posts: 327
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I would love to read your blog but the link has been removed from your Post

 
Posted : March 31, 2024 11:00 pm
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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Does anyone know how to put a link into a post?

 
Posted : April 1, 2024 10:04 am
(@stcmike)
Posts: 327
Reputable Member
 

either go to your document web page and copy the web address and paste it to your posting

or

on your reply message there is an icon that looks like a link, its an insert link icon hit the icon and type the url address of your document web page.

 

I think the first way is much easier

 

 
Posted : April 1, 2024 12:51 pm
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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ok. here is a copy and paste from my url

https://usvirealestateproblems.blogspot.com/search/label/%231%20Real%20Estate%20Commission

and here is your second suggestion of using the link icon

usvirealestateproblems.blogspot.com

 

and here it is with the http thing in front

https://usvirealestateproblems.blogspot.com/

 

I really hope one of these works.

Thanx

 

 

 
Posted : April 1, 2024 1:11 pm
(@vicanuck)
Posts: 2934
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Posted by: @tree-cat

I’ve written a blog detailing my attempts for justice after something went wrong.

The link was removed, most likely by the moderator. But, I'd love to read your story.

You can PM me the link!

 

 
Posted : April 1, 2024 4:11 pm
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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@vicanuck Hi I am baffled by how all this works. Try typing this

usvirealestateproblems.blogspot.com

Who is this "moderator" and why can't I post a link?

 
Posted : April 1, 2024 4:58 pm
(@vicanuck)
Posts: 2934
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My goodness...it just goes on and on. You should write a summary and post it at the top.

In a nutshell, what's your point or beef?

 
Posted : April 2, 2024 9:39 am
stcmike reacted
(@ca-dreamers)
Posts: 442
Honorable Member
 

We want to see it also!

 

 
Posted : April 2, 2024 10:20 am
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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Topic starter
 

Ok try this. It worked in my PM to vicanuck. Try typing this address

usvirealestateproblems.blogspot.com

 

 
Posted : April 2, 2024 1:58 pm
(@stcmike)
Posts: 327
Reputable Member
 

https://usvirealestateproblems.blogspot.com/

 
Posted : April 2, 2024 4:50 pm
(@stcmike)
Posts: 327
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@tree-cat I posted it for you

 
Posted : April 2, 2024 4:51 pm
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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Is there anybody that thinks this is user-friendly? Who is this “moderator” and why can’t I include a link to a hundred page blog that I wrote dealing with a Virgin Islands problem that needs to be fixed? My daughter had no problem putting a link on one of the multitude of Facebook pages that deal with the USVI. I don’t like or understand Facebook. So, I’ll keep at this for a little while longer.

Vicanuck, you’re right. It goes on and on. So, in a nutshell my point is best summed up with the last sentence of my entire diatribe, “The Attorney General must investigate the Real Estate Commission for corruption.”

Their sworn job is to protect the public from unscrupulous real estate brokers. Unfortunately, they do the exact opposite and protect unscrupulous brokers from members of the public who have submitted complaints.

Seismic changes are coming to the real estate industry thanks to the lawsuits won in the past year against the National Association Of Realtors in the states. The public will be able to save thousands of dollars where and when changes occur. A VI Real Estate Commission composed of mostly real estate brokers could try to prevent those benefits from coming to the VI public.

 
Posted : April 2, 2024 5:07 pm
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Posts: 2533
Famed Member
 

https://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/

There, I posted a link as a test, so the system works. Must be a user issue. 😀 

 
Posted : April 3, 2024 5:47 am
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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Thanks for the test link.

If I am not mistaken, I now believe anyone who wants to read my blog is able to. Correct? If anyone does read it and wants to engage in a back and forth or express an opinion, I would love to hear it.

Along those lines, Pope Francis said, “Corruption is paid by the poor.” And the Virgin Islands certainly have a lot of poor. In the nine years I lived on St. Croix I was both aware of corruption as well as most people’s indifference. I assume they simply view it as something they can’t fix. I haven’t given up yet. I’m just going to take a break. I will definitely try to be more cheerful in future posts.

 
Posted : April 3, 2024 1:09 pm
vicanuck reacted
(@vicanuck)
Posts: 2934
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@tree-cat I'm sorry that you had difficulties with your transaction!

You're right about the corruption in the VI. However, indifference is driven by the fact that many benefit from it on a daily basis. These things happen in every jurisdiction but more so here in our very isolated economy. We miss you guys!

 
Posted : April 4, 2024 11:30 am
(@tree-cat)
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“One N done”,

that is the phrase that my wife and I coined for a sad group of people.

My wife likes to go yard-saling. I go cause everything is cheap and she can’t spend much money. I might even find something to buy. Not too infrequently on STX yard sales are depressing affairs. You can usually tell when it was going to be depressing by the ad in the paper. If it says, “everything must go” prepare yourself for depressing. Why depressing? Well, exactly one year earlier these were bubbly, enthusiastic people who dreamt about island life. They probably either vacationed for a week at a nice hotel, spent a day while on a cruise, or even worse only read about the place online. They then rented a house and signed a one year lease not knowing what they were getting themselves into. They never did their homework.

I remember a sad group of twenty-somethings moping around their rented house. Their one year lease was ending in a couple of days and they were jetting back to the mainland never to return. Shipping stuff back to the states is so expensive, its better to just leave it or sell it for anything you can get. We bought a bunch of stuff.

 
Posted : April 6, 2024 11:39 am
vicanuck reacted
(@stcmike)
Posts: 327
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i hate to assume but I will anyway. I am assuming no one is having any problems with the links that have been posted in this message thread. All the links work for me.

 

It is sad when people realize their dreams won't be realized, but that is why its absolutely necessary to do as much homework as possible. The story of renters leaving is better than people who actually bought residences before doing their homework. Now they have to sell their property before they can leave. I always tell people do not sell their mainland residences before moving to the islands. Island life is not for everyone.

 
Posted : April 7, 2024 4:52 am
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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Hi stcmike

Yes its working. So far 33 views have come from vimovingcenter. Although I am curious if anyone has actually read it. Its long and dull. However, it is important. Large changes are coming to the US real estate market this summer. Due to landmark court cases against the National Association of Realtors typical house sales commissions will be dropping from 6% to something much lower. The Virgin Islands Real Estate Commission is composed of mostly real estate brokers. Four of the six members are brokers even though the law states clearly that only three members are allowed to be brokers. Brokers will not want changes to occur in the VI.

 
Posted : April 8, 2024 10:15 am
(@tree-cat)
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“Do your homework!”

This was a constant order I gave to my students. Its also what I tell people who are thinking of moving to the islands. I started doing my island homework about fifteen years before I moved, when it was only a fantasy not a surety. I subscribed to “Caribbean Travel and Life” magazine. Back then it was like reading “National Geographic” of the Caribbean. Articles were written by someone who actually traveled to a particular island, did something, and then wrote about it. The author used the pronoun “I”. Then the magazine got modernized. It was all flashy ads mixed with smatterings of short text. The few stories were written by people who never left their office or did the things they were writing about. The new pronoun usage was, “You can do this or that”. I dropped my subscription.

My wife and I first visited St. Croix six years before we moved there. I found a USVI Department of Tourism website that listed all the places to stay on St. Croix. They were listed by the quantity of rooms that they had. I suggested a hotel. She said, “how many rooms?” I said, “Fifteen. She said, “Too many.” My next suggestion had six rooms. That was declined. Finally, I got to the last entry on the list. It had one room. She said, “That’s where we’re staying.” This was in the dark ages, before Airbnb. A one room lodging destination was far from the norm.

The location was Longford Hideaway; run by Kiko and Valeria Gasperi. It is presently next to ARTfarm, run by Luca and Christina Gasperi. It was a charming one bedroom cottage. We stayed there for two weeks every year for six years and were “adopted” by the Gasperis. We tried to immerse ourselves in island life. Once Luca “volunteered” us to paint the set at the Caribbean Community Theater in Golden Rock for their presentation of Little Shop of Horrors. We had a wonderful time. We didn’t look at it as one less day of vacation. We looked at it as one more day of settling in. We practiced living there so that when we moved we would be ready. We bought overpriced food at the market that was on the verge of spoiling. Drove on the wrong side of the road. And tried to decipher what people were saying when they were talking in full “Cruzan”. And still, when we moved it was really tough.

This warning of doing your homework is for folks who will be living fulltime on the island. For folks who are going to be keeping a stateside home and travelling back and forth. Its not that imperative. You have an opportunity to decompress. You typically won’t suffer from that claustrophobic feeling of being stuck on an island where driving more than ten miles in a straight line will generally land you in the ocean. A condition that can afflict statesiders who move fulltime has the humorous name “Rock Fever”. A stateside visit is referred to as, “Getting Off the Rock”. If you intend to permanently move to the island, DO YOUR HOMEWORK and have a backup plan to GET OFF THE ROCK.

 
Posted : April 9, 2024 4:57 pm
(@tree-cat)
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“What, more homework?”

To those of you who read this, please understand, I am not explaining what must be done. I am only explaining what we did and what were the results. We made mistakes. It’s hard to plan for all contingencies. Always do what you think is best. And by all means, be flexible.

Our initial plan was to move to St. Croix, rent a house for six months while we were looking for a vacant piece of property to buy. We hoped for about ten acres on which we could build a family compound and also start a business such as a restaurant. In hindsight, we were overreaching. So, here is some advice - Just making the move to the VI is stressful enough, don’t lump additional stress on top of that. We ended up buying a house and learned in later years just how hard building on STX is.

One of the huge decisions we made before we moved involved stuff. Everybody’s got stuff and some have more than others. So, how much stuff do you take with you? All of it, some of it, or none of it. All of it doesn’t make sense. Shipping costs can be astronomical and besides there’s not much use for a snowblower on a tropical island. So, we’re down to some or none. If you arrive with just the clothes on your back or in a suitcase, prepare to be buying a lot of new stuff. That gets old, fast. And another thing to remember, you are going to be in an alien environment. Having your old stuff can be a great comfort.

If you go with, some stuff, you need to decide, boxes or shipping container. Check your prices. I did and decided on shipping container. A 20’ container is 8’ wide and 8’ 6” high. That multiplies out to 1360 cubic feet. Even the worlds greatest packer will still have some air spaces. So, call it 1000 cubic feet. Shipping our container from Massachusetts to STX was about $10,000 as I recall; or about $10 per cubic foot. Measure some of the items in your home and decide if you would rather pay $10 per cubic foot to bring them with you or buy new ones on island for the going price. Then decide if the stuff you want to take comprises 1000 cubic feet. Most things are worth taking. Skip mattresses and some of your bulkier furniture. Take chests and furniture with drawers. You fill them with small stuff rather than putting all that small stuff in cardboard boxes. Plus, chests in your container are great for putting other stuff on top of. Plan on packing to the ceiling. We had stuff wedged against the ceiling. That prevents possible movement during shipping. Take everything that is little. You can’t buy a cubic foot of china or silverware for ten bucks so, take all of it. Warm weather clothes, electronics, books, tools, bedding, towels, all your good small stuff, take everything. There’s an old saying, “You are what you eat.” Perhaps a better saying would be, “You are what you own!”

We purchased our shipping container rather than renting one. We had to because we would need the container on island to hold our stuff until we bought a house. I paid about $4000 for a new one. We had to get a new one because of something called a “Certificate of Seaworthiness”. If you plan on buying one make sure you are familiar with this. Eventually when we were all done with it, we sold it to the Gasperis. I think it’s still at ARTfarm.

 
Posted : April 10, 2024 11:47 am
(@jaldeborgh)
Posts: 530
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Island life is great, if you know what you’re looking for and you get the math right on the cost of living.

I also don’t disagree with the recommendation of an extended pre-move visit, but I think the real issue is envisioning your daily life on the island.

In our case we’ve come here as part of our retirement plan, we’re done with Massachusetts winters but do still spend a good part of the year up north.  It’s been 5 years since we purchased our home on island and have no regrets.  The island has been cathartic for me.

The circle of friends we have on island keeps expanding, it’s true there has been turn over but that’s true anywhere.  Since buying here we’ve had two couples, long time acquaintances, buy on island and my younger brother will be closing on a condo next month.

In addition we’ve joined the St. Croix yacht club, the Buccaneer golf club, the Reef pickle ball group and have found making new friends remarkably easy.  The result being we can be as busy as we choose, I rarely go a day without playing either pickle ball or golf and we socialize with friends 3 or 4 times a week, there always something going on.  This ignores the fact that we have regular visitors from off island.

I understand our situation isn’t necessarily typical but it is what we envisioned, which was my point.  It’s an amazing island with lovely people, just make sure you know, and are excited about, what your typical day will look like. And, yes, the math has to work, but that’s true anywhere.

 
Posted : April 10, 2024 2:13 pm
(@tree-cat)
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Good day jaldeborgh

Thanks for posting. I’m glad things are going well for you. And I totally agree with your phrase, “I think the real issue is envisioning your daily life on the island.” The majority of “One N Dones” we met were young. Its probably a lot easier for people our age to, “envision daily life.” We’ve experienced maybe an extra thirty years of the school of hard knocks. The kids we met and I don’t use the word kids in a disparaging manner, I tend to call people less than half my age kids, didn’t know what they were getting into. They would say things like, “I dreamed of living on a tropical island my whole life.” Dreaming is great but Do Your Homework.

Oh, and reading vimovingcenter is a great place to start!

 
Posted : April 11, 2024 11:25 am
(@tree-cat)
Posts: 14
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A funny shipping container story

We did our homework when it came to our shipping container. Maybe we did it too well. We read all the advice we could regarding possible problems. A large portion of the advice dealt with U.S. Customs and horror stories of what can go wrong. When your container leaves the mainland a Customs Seal is installed in the locking mechanism. When your container arrives on your island you go to the Customs Office to claim it. If Customs want to inspect your contents before your container is transported to your home, they have that right. Picture all of your stuff piled on the tarmac. You want to avoid this. The advice we read was to document the contents when the container is loaded. That information is included in your manifest that is available to the agents on your island. Logically, if the agents see enough information they aren’t going to want to inspect the contents.

We numbered, described, and photographed the contents of every box or bin. Large items were also numbered, described, and photographed. We also photographed the loading process of the container showing timelapsed images of the process. The final result was a fifty-two page manifest of color photos along with descriptions. When we were contacted on STX by Customs asking us to come and claim our container, we were met by a rather incredulous agent. He said he had never seen anything like our manifest. He was obviously thinking, “These are the most anal-retentive people I have ever met or they’re domestic terrorists.” He asked us repeatedly about firearms. We said there were none.

Suddenly, he acted like he noticed something on our manifest that he hadn’t seen before. He said, “Oh wow, you’re from Ipswich. One of our agents is from Ipswich.” He calls one of the agents out back by name. That agent comes out and is informed by the agent dealing with us that we are also from Ipswich. The new agent excitedly says to us, “Hey, what about that big fire in Ipswich?” I have no idea what he is talking about. I have a confused look on my face as I try to remember of any big fires in town. Perhaps one comes to mind. I say, “You mean that old warehouse on the river that burned down last winter? It wasn’t really a big fire and the building was abandoned. No one got hurt and the town was glad to see the building gone.” He said, “Yah, that must be the one”, turned and left. A true domestic terrorist probably would have acted differently than we did. Apparently, we passed.

We used Ferrol Trucking to get our container to our rented house. I recall Tony was the driver. The road to our house was AWFUL; narrow one lane dirt road up a steep hill. I followed Tony in my car. On one particularly nasty corner, the truck started to slide off the road on the right. The tires on the left side lifted off the ground. My heart stopped. I pictured the truck rolling over and all of our belonging being crushed under their own weight inside the container. My motorcycle was amply strapped in for the voyage but I doubt if it would handle this. For a moment the truck balanced and then gradually settled back on all tires. He got the truck into our narrow driveway and then performed an amazing twenty point turn to get the truck pointing out of the driveway. He perfectly slid our container into the spot we had chosen and received our heartfelt thank-you along with a big tip before he departed. Ferrol Trucking is great!

 
Posted : April 11, 2024 1:37 pm
CruzanIron reacted
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