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TropicalDenizen
(@TropicalDenizen)
Active Member

Greetings and One Love to all forum goers.

I'm currently in the process of getting all my ducks in a row and like many have a few questions. first off a little background. I'm a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor(OWSI) and am looking to make STT/USVI my home. Ive been to several Caribbean destinations but never to USVI. What I understand of your "season" its about over. Also a few of the difficulties of securing a dive job is availability and being able to audition for the part, so to speak. More than not, people will want to see how you work and test out your personality before they bring you on long term. Fine, sounds great. Besides being a OWSI, I have more that 10 years in the restaurant/hospitality business.

My first question is, what is the availability of serving positions in the Red Hook/East End area? From looking around, it seems like that is the most promising area for both industries in which I seek employment. Its like throwing a dart at a map but with the utmost goal of best positioning myself for a OWSI position, it looks like the East End is the best place to start.

One reason I am focusing on that area in particular is I really don't plan on buying a car. Ive read in a few threads how its dangerous to walk or bike on the island. I need to be centrally located to shops, home and work to help maximize traveling efforts and minimize taxi/bus service. Obviously once I get established and am able to look more into the Dive Industry things might change but it looks like a good place to start.

Another thing I was wondering is, depending on the job availability of course, whats the likeliness I will be able to show up and have a job making money within a few days to a couple weeks? I plan on arriving on island mid to late June. I guess another way to look at it is: is the restaurant biz super saturated with workforce or do you often see "Help Wanted" around that part of town. Also does anybody know about how long is take to get your health card that's required to work in the restaurant industry?

Unfortunately a PMV isn't really in the budget. Really the way I see it, the extra $500 spent on airfare alone would be better spent on that much more rent/time on the island.(not to mention the $$ spent on rent during the PMV, food, taxis etc. is just down the drain) That's about $800 dollars for the PMV alone = a month of rent...

So those were really my main questions about job availability. Next what I was wondering is, what are the best sites for communication amongst islanders. Before the USVI, I was entertaining the idea of Maui. In Hawaii, EVERYTHING is done on Craigslist. Rentals, jobs, events, rants and raves. Long story shorter, I came to focus on St. Thomas and am wondering, besides vimovingcenter.com, what are some popular sites people use to post these types of things.

From looking at Craigslist, rentals are pretty popular on there, jobs not so much. Is that because of the lack thereof? Or is it because people use a different site?

Thanks in advance to any insights your responses will bring.

Quote
Topic starter Posted : May 1, 2012 8:50 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

High Season is over and the number of tourists coming to the islands is steadily decreasing. As a result business on the island drops off considerably as we get further into the summer and that includes restaurants, bars and resorts. it's the time of year when layoffs are on the increase and hiring decreases. Whether or not you can find employment (in June or anytime this summer) is dependent upon so many variables it's impossible to predict how quickly or how long it will take. Suffice to say, the economy in the VI's is slow (just like many parts of the US) and and that means jobs are at a premium. And, you'll find it very difficult to find a job using the internet. In the VI's the norm is most employers hire people who are already "on island". The reason - employers get hundreds of inquiries from people saying they are relocation but never actually make the move so rather than waste time they concentrate on hiring people who are already here.

A few words of caution, while you can research rentals over the internet DO NOT rent any place sight unseen. there are lots of scams on Craig's List and properties you find from other sources may not be "as advertised". You will be much better off waiting until you are on island so you can see what you are renting.

Lastly, I don't mean to sound condescending but you raise a big red flag in your post when you say - "PMV isn't really in the budget. Really the way I see it, the extra $500 spent on airfare alone would be better spent on that much more rent/time on the island.(not to mention the $$ spent on rent during the PMV, food, taxis etc. is just down the drain) That's about $800 dollars for the PMV alone = a month of rent..."

Let me explain:

First, you make a serious mistake not doing a PMV. It will probably cost you more than $800 BUT if you are serious about living i the islands it will be the BEST INVESTMENT you could possibly make in your future. No one ever regrets making a PMV but there are many, many people who came (without making one) and are now gone (but wished they had). Making a PMV is the only way to find out if island life is really for you.

Second, It can be very costly to live in the Caribbean and if $500 or $800 is enough to cause you a financial hardship you may find you actually can't afford to live here once you arrive. Most of the regular contributors here will tell you that you need a nest egg of between $5,000 and $15,000 before you consider making a move. You'll need three month's rent (first month, last month and one month security) just to walk in the door. You'll need deposits for utilities, money to set up housekeeping and money to support yourself until you find gainful employment (since you are coming in June that could take months) and you should have enough "left over" to purchase a return ticket in case things don't work out for you. The fact that you are concerned about "being able to show up and have a job making money within a few days to a couple weeks" tells us your finances may be a bit tight. You would be wise to hold off on your relocation plans until you've saved enough to support your self for say 6 months. That way you won't feel so stressed while job hunting. Waiting until September or October may give you a chance to save the extra money and arriving at that time will put you on island when employers are in the "hiring mode" for the coming High Seson".

Good luck with following your dreams.

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Posted : May 1, 2012 10:06 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Welcome to the forum!8-)

To answer some of your questions...Yes, Red Hook/East End has a lot of bars and restaurants, so probably a proportionately large amount of the jobs on St Thomas. The St Thomas Restaurant Group is very active on the east end: http://stthomasrestaurantgroup.com/wordpress/ I suspect that June will be a time when the winter service crowd moves on to other, summer, tourism spots, so you may get lucky there. However, you will need to be on island for most jobs. Come down, get your health card and hit the ground running.

For the dive industry, look at http://www.redhookdivecenter.com/. 😉

Just an opinion- it will be difficult for you in the service industry if you don't have a vehicle. The safari systems shuts down fairly early and it is difficult to find housing within safe walking distance.

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Posted : May 1, 2012 10:12 pm
TropicalDenizen
(@TropicalDenizen)
Active Member

I may have put things out of context when I said "its not in the budget". I have roughly $7k saved with about $5k in reserve in case the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillator. To make the move, I had planed on paying a hefty lump sum upon arriving for establishing residence and getting settled I guess what I meant to say was I dont like the idea of spending 800-1000 dollars on all PMV when its could go towards getting there just to come back. Ive already sold everything I own and am kinda at the point of no return. Not to say that I want to make a hasteful decesion and just jump ship to land on the island unprepaired but Im rearin to go.

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Topic starter Posted : May 1, 2012 10:23 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Somebody's looking for a diving instructor, I think, on http://www.career.vi. I think also on that site someone is/was looking for day sail crew members. If not there, it was on craigslist.org for the Virgin Islands.

Some businesses are actually busier in the summer than in "season," because the visitors during the summer tend to be younger and more families are traveling.

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Posted : May 1, 2012 10:40 pm
kass
 kass
(@kass)
Advanced Member

I haven't made the move myself yet, but I seriously doubt the usefulness of a PMV for the purpose of "finding out if island life is really for you." I mean, just read the Moving Stories on the VI Moving Center. A bunch of those people say quite frankly that their PMV didn't prepare them for what it was really going to be like living in the USVI. A week or a month or even three months isn't going to tell you that. Only living there will tell you that. And living there means having a job and a place to live and doing all the day to day things, not just going for a vacation of sorts.

For the purposes of securing employment and residence before you sell off all your stuff, I think a PMV is a great idea. But you say you've done that. You're going to move somewhere at this point. And if you come down and you find a job and a place to live, why fly back to the mainland?

I've lived in a bunch of different countries, and the places where I've been most successful are the places where I decided to "burn my boats". Transitioning to a new culture is difficult. Giving yourself a way out only ensures that you'll never really commit to the new culture.

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Posted : May 1, 2012 11:16 pm
TropicalDenizen
(@TropicalDenizen)
Active Member

A week or a month or even three months isn't going to tell you that. Only living there will tell you that. And living there means having a job and a place to live and doing all the day to day things, not just going for a vacation of sorts.

For the purposes of securing employment and residence before you sell off all your stuff, I think a PMV is a great idea. But you say you've done that. You're going to move somewhere at this point. And if you come down and you find a job and a place to live, why fly back to the mainland?

I've lived in a bunch of different countries, and the places where I've been most successful are the places where I decided to "burn my boats". Transitioning to a new culture is difficult. Giving yourself a way out only ensures that you'll never really commit to the new culture.

I couldn't agree more. Ive tuffed it out in places I HATE more than once. Tuffed it out a Corporate job making 50k+ for 4 years and hated every single minute of it but I slapped on a smile and made sure nobody around me knew about it. My plan is to take a major pay cut to pay out the butt for everything under the sun so I can be close and involved with what I love most, the Ocean. Ill do whatever it is I have to do, this side of legal of course, to make it happen. If I find that I really cant stand it on STT, after a year or two, Ill move on. For some reason I just don't see that happening. I'm making my life change in a major way and there's no PMV that ll change my mind about. One thing I can tell you for sure is mainland life isn't for me so island life is the next shoe to try on. I'm not like your normal stateside sissy foot.

On the other hand what I do appreciate is the caution so many try to instill because of their past experiences of people failing so much. In the words of Elwood Blues "I'm on a mission from God!" Not really but that's how passionate I feel about it. Another thing that I'm experiencing the the genuineness of the people in USVI. Maybe mainly because so many that live there have already made the transition but I'm really trying to make sure all my ducks are in a row and all my eggs are accounted for.

Thanks to all for the input thus far.

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Topic starter Posted : May 2, 2012 12:12 am
kass
 kass
(@kass)
Advanced Member

I'm just a newbie to this board, but it sounds like you have the right attitude. Good luck, TD, and when I get ready to get my PADI cert, I'll make sure to seek you out!

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Posted : May 2, 2012 12:20 am
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

I am a believer in PMVs for some people, but I don't think everyone has to have them. If you are unattached, without "baggage", flexible, willing to give it a try for 6 months and have a bit of a nest egg, go ahead and give it a try. Don't burn your bridges back home and save enough for the airfare back if it doesn't work out. 😀

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Posted : May 2, 2012 1:21 am
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

You can get a food handlers // health card in one day - take a stool sample to a private lab in the morning - pick up your letter from them at noon and head to the Hospital - they issue them from 1 -2:30 most days.

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Posted : May 2, 2012 4:39 am
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Someone is looking for sailing catamaran crew and captains. Job posted in VI Daily News. 340-775-5939.

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Posted : May 2, 2012 9:38 am
SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
Trusted Member

Quote " in case the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillator." 😀 This made me laugh! Thanks for the chuckle, and good luck!

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Posted : May 2, 2012 10:44 am
trainwreck82
(@trainwreck82)
Advanced Member

Get to the hospital as early as possible and you can get your card in one day, I can't remember the specifics but showing up at 9am is a solid bet.

As far as the PMV goes, I've recommended it to a couple people in unusual circumstances before but my opinion of the PMV that is so holy on this forum is that it is hugely overrated. You'd have to have a hell of a long PMV to ever hit the "shock phase" that sends most people packing. If you come down for 3 weeks you're going to be so blinded by the "honeymoon phase" that it won't dissuade you even if the island life really isn't for you. Unless of course your expectations (don't have many) are just wildly out of check. If you've done your reading you'll probably be fine and if you leave after a year you won't be the first or last, at least you can say you did it.

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Posted : May 2, 2012 12:38 pm
billd
(@billd)
Trusted Member

Here are some things to think about as your 7K may not go as far as you think.

1. If you want to get a place to live in then you will need first, last and one month security to get into any place that is crediable. A studio in the east end willk cost to anywhere from a low of 5-600 to 1300 for one on the beach. Take a low estimate of 700. There goes 2100 of your 7K. Then you will need to get set up. There goes another 200 -400.

2. You probably will not have a job when you get down here. So you will need to draw down to live. You probably can get by with a 100 -120 a day. There goes another 1000 before you get a job. Then you wil not get paid until two weeks later. So you will need to draw down..

3. You can not live down here (youcan however exist if that is what you want) without a car. Insurance is 300 for bare bones. An island car might cost anywhere from 500 to 2000. Take another 1500 off your stake.

Now you are left with less than 3000.

Oh I forgot about a ticket to get here. There goes another 500.

The taxi ride will cost you 20

and it goes on and on.

I do not want to discurage you but there are lots of people that are in your industry. Some have been here a long time. So it may be difficult to find what you want.

My suggestion is do a PMV. It will cost you about 1200 to 2000 but this a much better way to get everything lined up.

Good luck!

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Posted : May 2, 2012 12:51 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

100-120 a day to live here?

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Posted : May 2, 2012 1:02 pm
trainwreck82
(@trainwreck82)
Advanced Member

Here are some things to think about as your 7K may not go as far as you think.

1. If you want to get a place to live in then you will need first, last and one month security to get into any place that is crediable. A studio in the east end willk cost to anywhere from a low of 5-600 to 1300 for one on the beach. Take a low estimate of 700. There goes 2100 of your 7K. Then you will need to get set up. There goes another 200 -400.

2. You probably will not have a job when you get down here. So you will need to draw down to live. You probably can get by with a 100 -120 a day. There goes another 1000 before you get a job. Then you wil not get paid until two weeks later. So you will need to draw down..

3. You can not live down here (youcan however exist if that is what you want) without a car. Insurance is 300 for bare bones. An island car might cost anywhere from 500 to 2000. Take another 1500 off your stake.

Now you are left with less than 3000.

Oh I forgot about a ticket to get here. There goes another 500.

The taxi ride will cost you 20

and it goes on and on.

I do not want to discurage you but there are lots of people that are in your industry. Some have been here a long time. So it may be difficult to find what you want.

My suggestion is do a PMV. It will cost you about 1200 to 2000 but this a much better way to get everything lined up.

Good luck!

I would freely admit that all of this could happen to someone that just moved here.

That said, every single thing you said was completely incorrect when applied to my own move here. I moved here with $2200 in my pocket and did just fine. I have never paid first, last, and security - I've never had a problem finding an apt for just first and last. In the case of my current place (which I love and is more than "credible") the landlord only asked for first month's rent and let me pay out the security deposit over the course of a year. $100 a day for daily living expenses?? I'm going to assume you are rolling monthly expenses out day by day because I can't even imagine spending $100 every single day. Hell, I probably go most days without crossing $25. I lived here for over a year without a car and I did just fine, didn't even live anywhere near the safari routes - I walked a lot, didn't bother me at all. $500 for a ticket here? A one way ticket from Chicago to here, no connecting flights, was $190 as recently as a year ago.

I'm not saying this is all typical, but it absolutely doable.

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Posted : May 2, 2012 1:15 pm
STXBob
(@STXBob)
Trusted Member

100-120 a day to live here?

Yes, you can easily spend that amount here, or anywhere. But you you have less, then you will definitely spend less.

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Posted : May 2, 2012 1:24 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

i just figured ours for two people, we do not even spend about 80 a day ( which includes all bills ) so i guess it is possible to have that much outlay per day taking into consideration ALL of your bills, rent, cable, electric, cell, groceries,etc.....

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Posted : May 2, 2012 6:55 pm
TropicalDenizen
(@TropicalDenizen)
Active Member

Lots of good responses.

As far as having a handle on island life and if its a fit. I'm not worried about that. Anytime Ive ever gone on vacation, I went by myself. Spent 2 weeks on Little Cayman for a dive trip. Total pop was approx 140... Spent my whole time with the locals. Spent 3 weeks on Grand Bahama. Sure I stayed with a friend but he was a work the whole time. Lived on Cozumel for 6 months. I like being confined and having limited options. Helps me decide what I'm going to do. "So should I go to the beach or should I go to the beach? I think Ill go to the beach"

I understand EVERYTHING is expensive. $8 for a small can of bug spray. $5 for a litre or leche. I saw somewhere someone said "I hope you like your Cheerios with rum because that about all you ll be able to afford." $35 a day to have a roof over your head. Yes it goes on and on.

One big downside to coming when I am is the lack of business and jobs. On the flip side, nobody is on the island and I have my pick of apartments, more of one anyway. Ive been thru the "season" rigmarole before several times. Lived in Ft. Lauderdale for 5 years and its Very seasonal. Either there's Canadians or there's not. You make your money when you can and save it when you cant.

One area I plan on saving money is Not having a car. Several reason for this.
One) I just don't want one, at all. Long story behind it but basically Ive spent more money than you can imagine just to keep the one I have and I hate being ruled by my a car and insurance.
B) It just doesn't make since if the buses are reliable to pay for gas.
3)What money I save on the car with insurance and gas I can put towards living expenses.
IV)By spending more towards a place to live I can live close to where everything is.

I'm not moving to an island for an extravagant existence. I'm looking forward to living as meager as possible with nothing but my dive equipment and my clothes.

And one more thing, nobody ever said it would be easy. In fact every single person ever said it would be hard. Life here is easy. Too easy. I like a little challenge. If it comes easy, its probably not worth it8-)

Quote " in case the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillator." 😀 This made me laugh! Thanks for the chuckle, and good luck!

I learned that from my 9th grade Biology teacher of all people. Kinda stuck with me.

Also thanks to those responding with the Health Card info and for the info on respective sites for different things around the island.

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Topic starter Posted : May 2, 2012 8:27 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

" B) It just doesn't make since if the buses are reliable to pay for gas."
The 'dollar ride' safari buses are reliable BUT only follow the main route between town and Red Hook - if you do not live near that circuit or your destination is not close to it - it will not be a convenient mode of travel - also they are not operating after sunset - the Vitran buses are few and I wouldn't call the Vitran system reliable and again they do not operate in the evenings.

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Posted : May 3, 2012 6:19 am
TropicalDenizen
(@TropicalDenizen)
Active Member

" B) It just doesn't make since if the buses are reliable to pay for gas."
The 'dollar ride' safari buses are reliable BUT only follow the main route between town and Red Hook - if you do not live near that circuit or your destination is not close to it - it will not be a convenient mode of travel - also they are not operating after sunset - the Vitran buses are few and I wouldn't call the Vitran system reliable and again they do not operate in the evenings.

:SGood to know, thanks.

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Topic starter Posted : May 3, 2012 10:23 am
Jamison
(@Jamison)
Trusted Member

Man, you're gonna do fine. That's a ton of cash to get started. If you have the right attitude and it sounds like you do, you'll do great.

I'm on STX, but I'd think you'd love it here more. You'll need a car. This island has a ton for sale cheap right now too, because of the refinery closing. Insurance is about $250 a year lol.

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Posted : May 3, 2012 1:16 pm
VIsnorkeler
(@VIsnorkeler)
Trusted Member

I moved to STT with no PMV. I did come down here with a pretty decent pile of cash and the idea that I'd stick it out for a year and if I hated it I could always go back. After I'd been here a couple of weeks, I could tell I'd be here longer than just a year, probably not FOREVER either, but more than a year.
I know many people who have no car, maybe about half the people I know don't have one. I do have a car, but have had to go without when it's been broken a time or two. It depends on where you end up living and working whether you can make no car work or not.
Jobs are word of mouth, and DEFINITELY in person! Come down, find something, if you work hard and are dependable, you shouldn't have a hard time finding something better.
PM me if you have more specific questions I can answer. I moved here a year and a half ago, within two weeks had a vehicle, a job (serving in Red Hook) I still love, and a great place to live! It can be done, but best be prepared if it doesn't. It sounds, to me, as though you are prepared.
So, good luck to you!

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Posted : May 3, 2012 3:36 pm
GLantern
(@GLantern)
Active Member

A week or a month or even three months isn't going to tell you that. Only living there will tell you that. And living there means having a job and a place to live and doing all the day to day things, not just going for a vacation of sorts.

For the purposes of securing employment and residence before you sell off all your stuff, I think a PMV is a great idea. But you say you've done that. You're going to move somewhere at this point. And if you come down and you find a job and a place to live, why fly back to the mainland?

I've lived in a bunch of different countries, and the places where I've been most successful are the places where I decided to "burn my boats". Transitioning to a new culture is difficult. Giving yourself a way out only ensures that you'll never really commit to the new culture.

I couldn't agree more. Ive tuffed it out in places I HATE more than once. Tuffed it out a Corporate job making 50k+ for 4 years and hated every single minute of it but I slapped on a smile and made sure nobody around me knew about it. My plan is to take a major pay cut to pay out the butt for everything under the sun so I can be close and involved with what I love most, the Ocean. Ill do whatever it is I have to do, this side of legal of course, to make it happen. If I find that I really cant stand it on STT, after a year or two, Ill move on. For some reason I just don't see that happening. I'm making my life change in a major way and there's no PMV that ll change my mind about. One thing I can tell you for sure is mainland life isn't for me so island life is the next shoe to try on. I'm not like your normal stateside sissy foot.

On the other hand what I do appreciate is the caution so many try to instill because of their past experiences of people failing so much. In the words of Elwood Blues "I'm on a mission from God!" Not really but that's how passionate I feel about it. Another thing that I'm experiencing the the genuineness of the people in USVI. Maybe mainly because so many that live there have already made the transition but I'm really trying to make sure all my ducks are in a row and all my eggs are accounted for.

Thanks to all for the input thus far.

I've been to STT 3 times in the last 2 years. I'm starting my PMV this month. Staying for 3.
All I have to ad is: Boy are you both wrong! Good Luck!;)

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Posted : May 3, 2012 4:52 pm
kass
 kass
(@kass)
Advanced Member

Different people handle different things differently, GLantern. I'll be shaking your hand next year and you can tell me then how wrong I was not to do a PMV.

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Posted : May 3, 2012 5:00 pm
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