Is a car absolutely necessary?
Hello all! I'm planning a move to the VI later this year (I'm planning a 7 - 10 day scouting trip in the spring to check out the islands.) I'm a 29 year old single dude and haven't had a car for almost 2 years. I live in Denver, Colorado and rely on bus, light rail, bike, and friends to get around. So, I'm mobile enough on my own, being an avid runner & cyclist - it's not an issue for me to put 10, 20 or more miles on my legs per day to get around (I ride to work 16 miles each way from spring thru fall.)
It appears that my best job prospects would be on St Thomas or St Croix, & I might lean to St Croix since (as the sites say) it's a little cheaper to live and there's more to explore. I'm not bringing much with me, 5 - 7k cash, some clothes & books to read, computer, etc....and would want to get a job as quickly as possible once moving there. Pay is not much of an issue, I have no debt & will have some savings so my income would only need to cover rent, food, utilities and some play money.
With all of that being said, is it aboslutely necessary to own a car if you live in St Thomas or St Croix, or, would I be able to commute just fine via bike, walking & bus? I'm already used to (and prefer) this lifestyle so it wouldn't be anything new for me. Would I need to worry about my bike being stolen or are there plenty of places to lock it up where it would be kept safe?
Thanks everyone for the advise & I can't wait to join you in paradise!!!
I am a near-decade full- and part-time resident of STX and I would not consider living here without a vehicle.
ETA: This is why. Roads are poorly maintained and narrow and cyclists get hit. There is no shoulder. Public transportation is virtually non-existent and taxi vans are expensive.
If you lived in town (C'sted or F'sted) and also had a job in town that you could walk to, say, and you didn't care much about getting to anywhere outside of town, maybe you'd do okay but, personally, I'd still want a car. Motorcycle minimum.
Welcome to the forum, Adam T Burklow!
Bicycles aren't popular here, because of road conditions: Potholes, curves, hills, overgrown brush, bad drivers, rain, no shoulders, etc. Theft in general is a problem, so therefore I'd say bicycle theft would be a problem.
On STX, there is a semi-reliable bus system, and there are taxi vans which travel set routes for $2.50 per person (I think). If you live, work and shop near the routes, you could get away without a car, as thousands of people here do. At night, I wouldn't want to bicycle or stand around waiting for a bus or taxi van. I imagine that everything in this paragraph applies similarly on STT.
You can always start out car-less and see how it goes. But as many on this board will tell you, you'll be happier here with a car.
You would definitely have to worry about your bike being stolen and there's going to be few places to lock it up.
You can definitely do it without a car if you live in c'sted area, there are jobs, small grocery stores and most things that you will need within walking distance. To bike to other places will be extremely dangerous though. The roads are narrow and windy without shoulders, passing lanes, sidewalks, etc... So cars will not see you coming around a curve. So it's not a matter of if you will get hit but when if you use a bike as your main mode of transportation. Most bikes are used for exercise here and mostly just on the south shore road in the early hours of the morning or in the evening.
Buses are never reliable, they may be running one day and not the other. But we have lots of taxi's which are all expensive, except for the safari taxi which is $2.50 and has it's own route. I don't know much about it but I'm sure someone else will.
So basically you can do it without a car but it's much more fun here with a car, you will miss out on so many areas of the island. Life here is hard enough, I would advise getting the car.
I moved here from Denver and it's a whole new world.
Right away, I say yes, it's absolutely necessary.
The roads are narrow, washed out, overgrown with brush, full of pot holes, and often have no shoulder. Rain showers (sometimes torrential) will break out with no warning, rendering the roads flooded and slick.
On South Shore road in StX, there's a lot of bicyclists that get their workout in and there is a lot of triathlon training that goes on in the morning and afternoons. But, that's on a road with a speed limit of 35, where most cars go at least 65.
It can be done if you make friends w cars, hitchhike, or are ok with beating the hell out of your bike on our horrible roads. There is no light rail and the public transportation is unreliable at best.
I think a pre-move visit will be an eye opener. Best of luck!
I believe all the previous answers are from St. Croix residents. I live on STX as well, but I lived on St. Thomas before moving over here. You can get by much better on St. Thomas without a car than you can on St. Croix.
STT has a dynamite "safari bus" public transportation system. They have a set route that won't get you to all 4 corners of the island but close enough for MOST work, shopping, recreation, etc. They do stop running early-mid evening, then it's taxi's, which as mentioned, are expensive.
On STX, it can be done, but not as easily, and you will need to be very selective about where you live and work.
Wow you guys are on the ball! Thanks for all the great responses. I guess I'll need to figure all this out during my scouting trip as purchasing a car is really out of the question. I won't have the $ for one, will loose out on the exercise, and I like to maintain a low carbon footprint.... I would consider a motorcycle as I've had one before.
STXbob mentions that he wouldn't want to stand around at night - is it really that dangerous? It sounds to me that my best bet would be to find employment & housing in one of the main towns...
Motorcycles here are not a great idea either. Roads are really bad, large pot holes that turn up overnight, gravel, rain, etc... If you are not a experienced rider it's a really really bad idea as well.
As far as exercise you're thinking like a statesider. You will have the beach to exercise & I assume this is the big draw for the move. You can swim, snorkel, dive, kite board, surf, etc...
Buying an island car would be a pretty green thing to do here, because the cost and expense to dispose of old cars is outrageous. Using what's already here is green and you could always give people rides to make it more green. But if you don't think you can afford a car, really think about living here. Almost everything cost more here and wages are lower then most places. But you'll see when you do your PMV.
Although it would be best to have a car I have known dozens that do not have one in St Thomas. It can be done.
True, many people come to the islands and get by without a car but not having one makes life a more difficult. A lot of people coming to the islands with a limited budget in search of what they perceive will be a simpler lifestyle. They try to convince themselves that palm trees, nice beaches and turquoise waters magically make everyday life easier. The truth is not having a car curtails one's ability to get around and do everyday chores, particularly shopping which as everyone knows often requires stops at multiple stores (that are not necessarily close to each other) just to find a few basic items. Trying to walk or use unreliable "public transportation" only makes these types of chores harder.
It's much better to have some basic transportation.
Thanks again for all of the great responses.
I have some good news - one of my coworkers knows a few people who live on STT! One can even offer me a place to stay during my PMV, and said that he went a few months without a car while his was broke down... so, it may make things more difficult, but as long as it's possible then that's all I need to know.
Look forward to see you all in paradise!
As someone who just moved to the STX and is trying to make it without a car, I highly recommend getting one. As has already been mentioned, the roads are definitely not in biking condition (I regularly bike while in the States) and the bus schedule is a little bit iffy. Also, the buses stop running at 6pm and the taxi rates go up after that time. The taxi rates also go up after midnight, in case you think you'll be staying out late. Also, there doesn't seem to be any bus pass system, so bear in mind that it's going to be $1 per trip unless you're a student or disabled or senior resident with ID. You might, however, be able to work out a discounted rate with a specific taxi driver if you use them a lot.
That all being said: I'm glad you found some people on STT! Even if you don't end up staying on that particular island, it'll be nice to know some people. 🙂
Hello all!! This is my first post but is also one of the questions I have concerning a possible move to STT.
Background, I would be commuting from Miami to STT for work. I am a pilot so I will need to get from the airport to Redhook (possible location I will be living.) Paying a cab $15 each way is doable considering it would be 6 to 8 one way rides a month. I want to know once I am there (in Redhook) would a car really be necessary considering I wouldn't need it for work, just for recreation, shopping and whatever else.
I was carless for a year on St. Croix, because I couldn't afford one. Would I do it again? Short answer: damn that, I need wheels! I'm as concerned about my carbon footprint as anyone (I'd even say more so than the average person), but doing without just wasn't practical. I worked in retail, and if I worked too late to catch the taxi bus, I'd have to call a private cab ($12 to get home is a lot more than I'd have spent in gas from Sunny Isle to Richmond, that's for sure!) and I just couldn't afford it after a while. When I come back, hopefully in the spring, I'm going to have to have a vehicle, even if it means living in a crappy place for a few months till I can catch up.
in a word, yes.
ok, more than a word...
if you live where you can walk to most of what you need and public trans, no... but you are bound to want to go somewhere and be free to take your leave as you desire.
you will know when the time is right to get your wheels.
Yes, a car is definitely necessary.