Introduction/Planning to Move
Good Evening Everyone,
I wanted to introduce my husband and myself. We are planning on moving to St. Thomas in March of 2014.
We have been doing a great deal of research and we are so happy to have this board as a resource. We really appreciate the sense of community and all the help that everyone provides.
We currently live in Chicago and love our city, but are definitely looking for a new adventure! We moved to Chicago from Atlanta in April of 2012 without knowing anyone and we didn't have jobs. Things have really turned out well for us and we started with nothing, so as I said we are ready for a new adventure.
We are well aware that the job search can be very tough and that island life is very different. Our PMV is set for late January. So my first question is--Where is a good place to stay that will provide us a good look into island life? We want to do our own grocery shopping, driving, exploring, etc. So any suggestions would be appreciated.
We plan on staying in a long term lease when we move to STT. In Chicago the city is broken into different neighborhoods. I've noticed that the island doesn't have the same lingo, but I want to know what are the best areas to live in? We are looking for something safe, with a great community feel, close to grocery stores, shopping and some place with a younger feel. Chicago has one of the highest murder rates and we are not shy to uncomfortable situations, on a day to day basis we encounter multiple homeless individuals, and walk to work surrounded by tons of people. I know that crime is everywhere, so when I say safe I just mean a part of the island that we can walk around at night and we wont have to worry about our belongings when we leave the house.
We also have two cats who are great little travelers! I just wanted to get an idea of how cats handle the island. I know that bugs are an issue, so I am hoping our cats become critter killers! But what about them? Any cat owner advice would be very helpful. It's really important that our cats are safe and comfortable. They are 4 years old so they still have some spunk, but also just love to nap. As I mentioned we are originally from Atlanta, so they are used to the heat. It's also pretty hot here in Chicago and they are just fine. Has anyone moved their cats from the states? They have all of their shots and are good to go, I just want to hear how your experience was.
We are really excited about this next step and I'd like to thank everyone in advance for your assistance.
Have a great evening!
Welcome to the board!
One quick remark- St Thomas is only 13 miles long by 3 miles wide. There are a few areas of housing- north side, east end, south, etc. but none of these are areas you would really walk around at night. You will have to drive to groceries and stores no matter where you live. One of the things you will probably do on your January visit is look at some of the various areas and see what meets your needs.
The only problem with a late January visit is that it is "season" and housing will be at a premium. I would look for a condo with a kitchen.
I'll be sure to book something in advance!
welcome to the forum. i hope you enjoy your pmv. please read some past posts, especially the ones that pertain to crime, cost of living etc..
after you do that please feel free to ask more questions
Welcome! Happy to help. I live on St Croix, but whatever I can offer... smiles!
I am more so wondering about the different locations on the Island like East End, North, South, Red Hook, Magens Bay, etc.
Just wondering what areas people live in and why you like that spot?
As East Ender mentioned, Jan. is "High Season" in the VI so more traffic, cruise ships and their passengers in port, more snowbirds escaping cold weather, more tourists on beaches, hotels, vacation rentals, etc. You may want to look on vacation rental sites such as www.vrbo.com and www.flipkey.com and search for vacation rentals now as things get booked up in our prime winter months, remembering that prices will be higher that time of year. When you decide on a place, make sure you reserve it and your rental car and do not wait until the last minute.
Mid Dec. - mid/end of April is considered High season for vacation/short-term rentals but it doesn't really affect the long term rental market, tho more available end of May thru the summer into fall/Oct. - Nov. This is our slow or off season where cruise ship arrivals and vacationers have dropped off considerably.
Even in March, short term rental prices will remain at high season rates (until mid/end May) tho sure you can find a long term rental at that time, just depends on your budget, preferences,location and needs. Your cats will do fine as cats are very adaptable but you may have difficulty finding a short term rental during that time that will allow cats. Also, some long term rentals do not allow any pets, some do.
If you wish to rent a condo, the majority do not allow pets.
Not many people walk around their neighborhoods at night in the islands, no matter where they are, BTW.
Our neighborhoods are not at all like those stateside. Not saying it is not safe in some areas to do so but majority have no proper street lighting nor sidewalks.
You can look for or place an ad on Craig's List, try the Island Trader online for rentals.
http://virginislandsdailynews.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx It advertises rentals as well as household items for sale, cars, etc.
It's a free weekly paper with new issues coming out on Thursdays so be sure to pick it up on your PMV, also rentals are advertised in Daily News. You can also contact a Realtor as time draws near to help you find a long term rental. (I am a Realtor, BTW)
You will need a car no matter where you live so take that into consideration whether on a PMV or long term.
Living here is different from vacationing here as many on this board makes known.
Some transplants take to it like a duck to water, others after a few months or a year, can't wait to leave.
You'll have to discover which type you are. Good Luck.
To help with your cat question:
We've both moved cats here as well as have adopted several bush cats. We also have an outdoor colony that we have trapped/spayed/neutered to limit reproduction in our area.
Our cats that moved here, one did just fine - he actually became the king of the property for a while. He refused to live inside and since we live in an insolated area, he was allowed out. The other one was very happy just staying inside and sleeping on things. Both of them passed away in the last few years of old age, and had no trouble living out happy lives.
Our bush cats are our best bug-killing cats. We have two inside that are our pets that we adore, and I swear I never have a bug or spider anywhere in the house, even if you pull out the furniture you will never find a living or dead bug carcass. The only thing they won't touch are the millipedes (gongolos), but I think that's because they taste terrible! And they die once they come inside pretty quickly anyway.
There is definitely a personality difference between domestic cats from the states and bush cats. The bush cats are a bit rougher around the edges, a bit more streetwise, so to speak. Ours are very loving yet at the same time are definitely not lap cats. From this point on as long as we live here we will only have rescued bush cats.
Bringing your cats down from the states, it is up to you to consider, but for that long a distance you may ask your vet for a small sedative to help them stay calm on the airplane. Some people disagree with that but I think it is a kindness to not have them in constant stress the whole trip. Also when you arrive make sure you wait until you are somewhere safe to open the cages and let them out, and keep them safely guarded for a while until they adapt to their new home, even if they're good travelers. I know of people who have lost cats because the cats were disoriented and ran out the door, never to return. There are a lot of pressures here for cats to get used to that is different from the states, everything from close neighbors to other animals outside to loud noises, etc - depending upon where you live of course.
Also you will need the bill of health for the airline to travel, but do not worry about any kind of impoundment/agricultural inspection of cats upon arrival. My vet in the states years ago read the rules and insisted I had to have a vet meet me here at the plane for an animal inspection before my mini poodle would be allowed into the VI. That's not true, it's the same as flying between the states, you walk off the plane and there you go. It turned out that what she was reading was actually the requirements for farm animals, such as horses and cattle, and that's a different thing!
Good luck and don't stress too much, they'll be fine, if just mad at you for a little while.
Oh, and make sure you take them to the vet to get checked out shortly after arrival, and I highly recommend you get them the flea shot. It lasts for six months and is worth every penny. Too many animals around make fleas too hard to control here. On the plus side, they do not have to maintain a rabies vaccination while they are in the VI. As of right now rabies has not been found in the VI and it isn't considered a required shot.
Also we have very high rates of FLV and Feline AIDS. Make sure they are current on those vaccinations too.
I am moving to STX the end of August, and I need to take my two cats, so I understand that there is a health certificate required, is there a set date for that? Any airlines better than others? Can you take them on board, or do they have to fly in the belly? How do you deal with water, food and clean ups (considering not opening cages until they are in a safe area)?
Thanks JulieKay! I really appreciate all of your insight and I am glad to hear that my cats will do very well there. They are indoors so I am sure they will just be up to their usual tricks in no time.
Check with your airline for requirements, but most of them just require a health certificate and visual inspection of the cat. Most people fly American Airlines to and from St. Croix, but there is also JetBlue and Delta, just they have more limited schedules. I have flown on both AA and JetBlue with pets and both have been a good experience. Your cat can fly under the seat in front of you if you pay the fee and it meets weight requirements (again check with your airline).
Cats generally don't want to eat or drink under stress, so mine I typically gave a mild sedative and they slept the whole way. Ten hours isn't bad. But talk with your vet for what's right for your particular kitty, it's a personal decision. And there is lots of good advice on the web if you search for "flying with your cat."
Good luck! Smiles~
YW SarahandAlex, good luck as you get ready for your visit! Enjoy every moment, life is full of adventures.
Yes you have to get it within 7 days of travel from your vet. I think its 7 or 10 days...they didn't ask for ours but better to have it in case they do! It was only like $20 anyways. Yes, your cats do fly with you in cabin. You have to purchase them a ticket, ours were $150 each and you need to purchase them in advance as they only allow a certain number of pets on the flight. I think AA said it was 6 for them, so its unlikely but better to book ahead of time. We brought two cats via AA last January. They did just fine on the long trip from AZ to STT. Limit the food and water the night before your flight, like they are going into surgery. No food and water the morning of and throughout the trip. I actually offered some water at our layover in FL and they weren't interested. We let them out in the family bathroom in FL airport which is kinda gross but allowed them to walk around a bit and we had a 3 hr layover. We also had a baggie of kitty litter and a box lid but they didn't use it. They were quiet nearly the entire trip in the soft sided carriers - surprising as they're both very vocal. I read conflicting ideas about sedatives and flying so I decided against it. They did just fine.
You will need to take them OUT of the carriers at security. Make sure if they are skittish cats that you have a leash and a tight collar! One of ours Eden, is about as chill as it gets and loves to be carried like a baby around the house - she was fine with no leash although curious with all the noises.... Nimbis our 1yr old we made sure she had a leash, she gets scared easily. It went pretty smoothly and I was actually surprised and SUPER relieved that it went so well.
We also brought a small baggie of food just in case but again they weren't interested. They adjusted perfectly to life on the rock. IMHO I do not believe in outdoor cats. Here there are SO MANY feral dogs and cats that I wouldn't ever let my babies out, not to mention the cars and we see hit kitties all the time :(( Its heartbreaking.
We stayed at Megan's Point Resort when we arrived on island, they allowed our kitties and a place to stay while we looked for our rental for a week. Some people say its not the best place - I didn't have any issues. There were a few small roaches that I saw roaming around but for me not a deal breaker and for a weeks stay and the cost was like $400 for 7 days. A great deal IMO.... a 5 star resort - it is not. The bartenders and servers left A LOT to be desired > actually downright rude, but the lady at the little store was super nice. Good pool and views. Also kinda centralized. The little store makes it easy to get things in a pinch, especially when you don't know your way around and the food was pretty good in the bar and the restaurant.
It sounds like you'd enjoy the East End. Its closer to stores and Red Hook usually has a lot for entertainment - I find it expensive thou. I personally love the North Side. Its very quiet ova here, more cool and rainforesty than east end but its a bit of a drive for a grocery store. We do have a couple small connivence stores but they are expensive. We don't use AC here on north side but all the places I looked at on the east end did. I believe its more dry (correct me if Im wrong) which can be bad and good. Less mold but have to use the AC and pay WAPA$$$. I haven't noticed a HUGE amount of mold at my house.. here and there but nothing too bad.
OH - I cant believe I almost forgot! If you feed your pets special food, MAKE SURE its available here lol. I have to spend $75 a 8lb bag to get food from the states as I cant find it here and everything local upsets Eden's stomach. I know thats crazy but I love my pets lol.
Our dog eats specialty food. I buy it six bags at a time (5 months supply or so) via Amazon and have it shipped to VI Cargo in Miami (free since we have Amazon Prime), then it costs about $10 to ship it here. I have a large bug-proof spin top food container that I store it in to keep ants out. It isn't too hard to deal with if you plan ahead.
I get about 80lb of specialty dog and cat food shipped here once a month from petfooddirect.com. I'd like to be able to order more at a time, but I haven't found anyway to keep weevils out for longer than 2 months or so.
JulieKay--what kind of food containers do you use? Do they come in large sizes (enough for a 30lb bag of food)?
As to why people live where they do: I don't know. Sometimes they find an apartment in an area, get used to it and never leave. Sometimes it is for convenience to work, school, etc. The east end is drier, and as A&A said, has less mold, but needs more a/c. It is fun to visit someone on the northside, as they have different plants and a different view. I like the convenience to Red Hook and, if I had children, Montessori. Also we are near the St John ferry and the yacht club. North side friends all hangout at Magens and 13, I have to pack a lunch and bring my passport to go there.;) You'll find a place that speaks to you.
I want to comment on your desire to live in a place with "a younger feel." (I'm guessing you mean younger people?) One thing I found fascinating when I moved here was the mixture of people I met. In the states, I only knew professionals around my age, income and ethnicity. Here you may find yourself at a party with folks from a variety of backgrounds- old and young, rich and poor, white and black, educated and not... You may not LIKE everyone, but you do get an appreciation for the variety out there.:@)
(Still with the emoticon issues?)
I found them at CostULess, they have them periodically in the pet food section. They're called "The Vittles Vault" (lol) and they're round large bucket types with "spin on" lids and each holds about 25 - 30 pounds of food, depending upon the food.
You could also order them online, I'm sure - I just picked up one or two each time I saw they had them in. They work GREAT to keep out ants - before I had my food bags wrapped in plastic, in plastic bags, inside storage containers with a gasket lid, and the ants still got in! Not with the Vittles Vault, the lid seals tight and has a rubber ring that keeps every last little bugger out. The lid is large and you literally spin it off and on, and it's recessed so the ants can't crawl under it.
Next time I see they have them again I'm buying them to store some more dry goods food for emergencies.
Edited to add - I have kept food in them for months now (using it for our pets of course) with no problems. The dog food has lasted 4 - 5 months and is still perfectly fresh. They do seal tight.
I use those pastic containers too/not same brand but similar and they have larger ones that easily fit 44 lb. bags of dog food. For the cat food, a friend gave me their discarded containers with the snap down tops for deli-cat cat food. I buy another brand for lesser price than the deli-cat food and it fills 2 of those containers.
The food stays fresh with both types of containers. I dont have bugs (no ants, roaches, weevils) that get into the food but it keeps it fresher than just in the bag and I can stock up as I always keep extra dog and cat food on hand during hurricane season so I don't have to run to the store at the last minute. And nosey noses cannot unscrew the lids where they can poke into the bags, if they get the muchies.
AandA I love this info thank you! I am definitely looking for the environment that the East End has to offer. So I appreciate your insight.
I don't purchase specialty food, but are there certain stores to go to that sell it for less?
It's good to hear that I can have some things shipped!
I'm sure I need to establish an account with WAPA when I arrive do they request a deposit? If so does it generally depend on the apartment or is there just a solid fee?
I had snap down lid containers for the dog and cat food for a while. The ants didn't get into them for - six months? But eventually they did. Pesky little buggers!
I usually stay on the Northside around Hull bay area because that is where my wife's family is located and where she was raised. Her uncles used to own Bryans bar back before it was sold and turned into some Bistro. I have always found this area to be quiet, safe neighborhood with friendly people. Back in the early 70's, it was mostly locals whose families had lived there for generations. But now, the area has built up and you have more people from the states living in the area. I have always found the Northside to have a nice breeze most of the time and a bit cooler if you don't need air conditioning which a lot of the rentals in this area doesn't have. Also, not that many condos compared to apartment rentals in this area. It seems that most people who have built a home here adds a apartment below for rental income.
If you can your PMV should be pushed up to preseason,do. Folks like me(I have a b & b) offer special rates for folks like you, however it becomes very hard to do that during the long awaited winter season. JMHO.
Jobs are singularly the most important part of where you may want to live. You don't want to live in the west and work in the east. It's a long commute although only a 13 mile long island!
If your rental does not include electricity or if your landlord does not keep the electricity in their name and have you pay the bill for your usage, then you need to take a lease doc. into WAPA and well as a mailing address. Most residential properties do not receive mail so
you have to set something up with a mail service or the Post Office to receive your bill.
I'm sure I need to establish an account with WAPA when I arrive do they request a deposit? If so does it generally depend on the apartment or is there just a solid fee?
WAPA's webpage should answer most of your questions. It tells you what documents you need to set up service and fees(deposit, etc.) associated with it.
Under "Manage Your Account" click on "Sign up for service". That should get you started on your WAPA research.