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Is it better to buy a car on island or ship one there?

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GoCubs
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March 17, 2008 10:45 pm  

I'm moving to STX in April, and am trying to find out how feasible buying a car on the island is, or whether I'm better off buying a car on the mainland and shipping it over. From the posts I've read there seem to be mixed feelings about shipping a car here, but I haven't seen much talk about the automobile market once I get down there. I'll probably be looking for a Jeep Wrangler or something comparable. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks


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Betty
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March 17, 2008 10:50 pm  

Do you currently own your car? No loan in other words? Or is it mostly paid off? Is it a American car made in America (this will go towards how much tax you pay). Tell us about your situation and we can help more. Are you willing to drive your car to southern fl if you don't live there?


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GoCubs
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March 17, 2008 11:23 pm  

I own a car now that I'm going to sell as it definitely would not be a good car for the island. And so my options are: 1) buy a car in Chicago (where I live) and drive it to Florida before my move and ship it; 2) fly down to Florida before my move, spend a day or two there and buy a car there and ship it directly; or 3) sell my car here and then just buy a car when I get to the islands. Hope this helps assess my situation.


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southeast
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March 18, 2008 12:10 am  

We pondered this question before we moved in Sept. We ended up selling our car back home& renting a car until we found the right one to buy down here. I find it was the easy solution for us. Getting a car loan was another story. It wasn't about bad credit,more of the pace of the company finalizing the loan. There aren't many choices when it comes to car loans. If your credit is mediocre,you might want to consider either a cash car or shipping a car.


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Linda J
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March 18, 2008 12:49 am  

Most lein-holders will not let you ship a car to the USVI.


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Betty
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March 18, 2008 10:20 am  

OK now why would you think it wouldn't be a good island car. STX is a flat island and any car will do fine here, unless its something like a Corvette. If it is reliable and paid off and its not fully foreign I would think twice about bringing it. You absolutely do not need a jeep for stx, really the worst island as far as needing 4 wheel drive is STJ but STT is not too far behind.

If you are absolutely set on buying a new car then buy it stateside, it will be cheaper unless you buy foreign, then you are going to get killed by customs(6% for any foreign made car, including American cars not made in the US, 3 1/2% for foreign cars that are coming from the US, 0% for American car made in the US). If you will be happy with a island beater car wait til you get here.

The vend number in the vend will let you know where it is made. For example 1 & 2 are definitely American made and I think 5 as well, but I'd have to check to be sure and I'm lazy this morning.


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Lizard
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March 18, 2008 11:47 am  

Betty,
I think you mean the VIN Number (Vehicle Identification Number).


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Jim Dandy
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March 18, 2008 2:42 pm  

If you buy the car in Illinois purchase it just before you leave Illinois. Have them give you in transit tags so you don't have to pay sales tax in Illinois. You will have either five or ten days to get the car to the dock in Florida. You will then have the title issued in the USVI.

STX isn' flat, it is just less hilly than the other islands.

Jim


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GoCubs
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March 18, 2008 5:34 pm  

Wow, thanks for all the advice from everyone. The car that I have now is an '01 Acura, 2-door coupe, so I didn't think it would be that great for the island. I didn't even consider that it is a Japanese made car, so that's another reason I suppose not to take it to STX.

Linda, you posted saying that most lien holders will not allow me to ship the car to the islands. Does that mean if I have any kind of car loan on a car I buy here that most banks won't let me transfer the car down there? If so, that really kind of limits the options I suppose since I know that I won't be able to buy a car outright without having some loan/payments on the car. If this is the case, is anyone aware of any major US banks that will issue a loan and then let me ship the car to the islands?


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Marty on STT
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March 18, 2008 5:48 pm  

I recommend buying a vehicle here...it certainly saves on all of the hassles...just pick up the paper, stop in at some dealerships...you'll find what you are looking for and you won't have to worry about any shipping or taxes or anything like that...JMHO...


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dntw8up
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March 18, 2008 5:59 pm  

I agree with Marty. Buy something here and save yourself the hassles of shipping. You can obtain a car loan here and there are lots of good used cars because a lot of people who move here become disillusioned and leave within a year.


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Betty
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March 18, 2008 6:44 pm  

An acura integra is a very reliable car, I personally would keep it. Its not any lower to the ground then a honda civic or accord. I would definitely ship it. We sold ours before we came and brought over just our honda, wish we had brought our integra as well. They're great cars, its not like you're going to be driving on the beach (illegal). If you're planning on living in a remote area with no real road or something like that then you need 4 wheel drive. The roads may have potholes here but most of them are good and mostly flat. The hills here are mostly very minor.


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cruzkandy
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March 18, 2008 7:25 pm  

Lots of people on St. Croix drive Honda's whether it's an Integra or a Civic. There are a good bit of sports cars here, and sometimes they are dropped even more than they are made.


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IslandGrace
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March 18, 2008 7:36 pm  

I have been struggling with the same options in STX and here is my personal take on the buy here, or ship.....

It took me days for anyone in the Avis (newspaper) to even call me back about a car for sale. Then i find out that everything is overpriced. I didn't want to just settle with a vehicle I didn't like. The car dealerships were completely overpriced as well and that was not an option for me. Then there is also the waiting time period with transferring money here. Not many people will take stateside checks. And I couldn't get the cash right away. I had to open a VI account, then transfer money which took 2 weeks to clear. I ended up renting a car for about 3 or 4 weeks and spending about 1,000 in car rental fees because of the money issue and a vehicle that I was interested was sold before i cold access my money.

After spending a grand on car rental fees I decided to just get an old car for a couple hundred dollars, just to drive until I found something else.....which of course breaks down frequently and leaves me stranded. I had to put a couple hundred more into the car to get it running.

Now after looking at the papers and talking to lots of different people I am deciding to ship my Wrangler from home...and my bank is okay with allowing me to take it without paying it off.

I know everyone has different opions and ideas on this subject but i thought that I would share my personal experience because I could have saved alot of money by shipping in the first place

Goodluck on what which ever avenue you decide to go with


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mark825
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March 18, 2008 9:28 pm  

Hi everyone,

First time post on this VERY helpful and informative board. I am also moving to STX in the summer and would like to ship my car there as well. I live in the DC area and it seems like the best option is to load it up on the Amtrak Auto Train which goes from DC to Sanford, FL and then drive to either Miami or Jacksonville to ship it.

I drive a 2005 Toyota Matrix and am halfway through paying the loan (lien holder has agreed to let me ship it). Since it's a Toyota and I believe these cars are manufactured in Canada, it looks like I'm going to get hit with the 6%, right? It's a great car, in excellent condition and I'd hate to see it go. I just don't know if the cost of shipping it to STX is worth it.


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Betty
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March 18, 2008 10:40 pm  

Since it has already been brought into the US, the 2 1/2% has been paid, you'll get hit with the 3 1/2%.


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Jim Dandy
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March 19, 2008 12:49 am  

One of the reasons cars cost more in the VI is the dealer also has to pay the extra shipping to get the car here also. You are going to pay for shipping on whatever car you end up with. If you go to a dealer for a new car you will see the extra shipping listed on the sticker. The extra shipping is also rolled into the value of used cars.

Shipping a car is only a hassle if you handle all the paperwork on both ends yourself and then only because you don't know the short cuts. Took me thirty five minutes to process the last car I shipped and dropped t off in West Palm Beach (Tropical). Ten days latter it took me five minutes to pick it up from Fleming Transport and drive away. They charge a couple of hundred dollars for their services. Tropical charged $50 to handle the outbound customs inspection.

I have shipped two cars here and bought one car on island. Shipping the cars worked out much better than buying local.

Jim


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Captain Jay
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March 19, 2008 9:39 am  

As I sit here this morning getting ready to put our "island car" in the shop to have the wheel bearings replaced, that I had to have shipped down by a friend, this post is timely. The one major thing I would do over if I could, I would have shipped a car from the states. If you have an 01 Acura in good shape ship it. If you decide later that you want something different than it will be easy to sell for more than it would have gone for in the states. It will make a good island car. I sold both of our cars prior to the move because they truly weren't suited for here. I had a F350 truck and Deb had a Grand Prix with a Super-Charged engine. I could have bought a good used Liberty for under $10,0000 in the states the same car here would run $15,0000. Even with shipping it would still be much less expensive. Yes there are some deals from time to time when someone is leaving but it is tough to tell what that inexpensive island car has been through already.
Jay


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beachy
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March 19, 2008 11:43 am  

We've shipped in 4 cars over the past 10 years or so. Once I learned the routine, it bacame a snap--and I do all the paperwork in person, from Tropical and customs in Fla to Finance and motor veh on stx. We owned all the cars, knew them, and actually still own all 4. Each one fits a need for us, and stx is like a retirement plan for our stateside cars. We did buy an island car at one point for our kids, and it worked out well too. It was cheap, ran ok though looked terrible, and we kept it two years and sold it for almost what we had paid for it, without any expense besides several tires. We will be bringing in another vehicle before too long, and selling one of our older ones. The shipping cost is worth it to us, to know what we're driving, and the resale on island is better than in the states.


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trw
 trw
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March 19, 2008 4:10 pm  

you can really bargain hard on cars over at c auto mart, i talked them down 5000 on my jeep 2 years ago.


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Betty
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March 19, 2008 7:19 pm  

Mark825,

I was talking to a customs friend and found out I was wrong about the 3 1/2%. Because of Nafta cars from Mexico and Canda go into the US without paying the tax, but when you get here you have to pay the full 6%.


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capelight
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March 19, 2008 8:08 pm  

We're also moving and wondered what dealerships are on St. Thomas. We're thinking of shipping because we live in Florida and our car is paid off but we'd like to know which makes have easy service on St. Thomas. Thanks for your help!


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mark825
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March 19, 2008 8:25 pm  

Thanks for the clarification, Betty! I am budgeting for 6%.


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dntw8up
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March 19, 2008 9:25 pm  

You can find a list of dealerships on STT here: viphonebook.com Finding "easy service" is another matter altogether.


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Trade
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March 20, 2008 9:57 am  

Capelight, there's a Toyota dealer here. I've used their service department & had good luck with them.


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