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[Sticky] Living in the Virgin Islands Experiences & Survey

 
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator

Over the years, our site’s members have asked questions like “do we know if many of our readers have actually moved to the Virgin Islands”, or “do we know why they moved”, or “why they left”.

We asked our readers these questions over the last year through a survey.

The replies are brief, but collectively provide a great deal of insight through personal experiences and through tips. By sharing them it is our hope that you discover questions about island living that you need to research before making the move, that the VI community learns something about itself from the experiences of those that gave their dream of island living a chance, and to help new residents learn about the VI community that they are joining.

We will share some of the replies on this thread. 

If you want to participate in the survey, please do. It is applicable to those that considered moving but did not end up moving, those that did move and are still living on island, and those that came to the VI and moved away. Go to “Living in the USVI Survey”.

Thank you & Enjoy. 

 

 

 

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Topic starter Posted : May 24, 2020 1:52 pm
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator
These are the experiences of VIMovingCenter.com readers related to living in the Virgin Islands. 
 
"I lived in St. Thomas for 1-2 years, but no longer do. I came to the island solo, and worked in the education field. I moved there for the adventure of it, and for the island atmosphere. One of the reasons I left is that I had trouble meeting people, and making friends. I am glad that I tried it out, I learned a lot about myself." 
 
"I lived in St. Thomas for 1-2 years. We came to the island as a family with 2 kids. Our plan was to go somewhere "fun" for a year before it was time to put our kids in school. We wanted a U.S. place with an "island lifestyle". It was Hawaii or the USVI. We stayed for 1 year as we had planned, but honestly we were ready to leave after 8 months. The novelty wears off. There are conveniences that are lacking. Service is VERY slow, and we got the feeling from customer service personnel that we were bothering them just by coming by their store." 
 
"I lived in St. Thomas briefly, under a year, having moved there with a friend. We were looking for an adventure, good weather, and my friend was moving so I went along. I didn't stay longer because of my boyfriend, and lack of resources. Overall it was an amazing experience, I enjoyed the community and found the experience to be very unique."
 
"I lived in St. Croix for 6-10 years. I moved for work and for the weather, and came solo. I left because the hurricanes in 2017 ruined my business. A tip for people thinking about living there - you have to be OK with simple living." 
 
"We've been on St. Croix for 11+ years. We moved here in search of a different lifestyle, better weather and the tropics. My wife and I visited and we enjoyed the culture, and started researching moving. It’s not for everyone. The shortcomings include lack of availability of some products and services. Good healthcare is lacking." 
 
"I moved to St. John and I am still here 11+ years later. I came to the island solo, for the climate and the culture. I don't think the islands are for everyone. Anyone who wants to replicate their CURRENT life but in a location with better weather - will be in for many surprises." 
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Topic starter Posted : May 24, 2020 1:56 pm
Alana33 liked
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator

These are the experiences of VIMovingCenter.com readers related to living in the Virgin Islands. 
 
"I lived in St. Thomas for 6-10 years. I went to the island on vacation, met a man that lived there, fell in love, married, and eventually we moved back to the states for our careers. We left because it was just time for other opportunities. My take away and tip for others is that most people dream of living on an island and leaving all their problems behind. They don't realize that living on an island has its own set of problems and challenges. The beaches are beautiful and the culture is intriguing, but jobs are scarce and the cost of living is outrageous. It is a balance, just like anywhere else."
 
"I lived in St. Thomas seasonally, for under a year. I made the move for a seasonal job and for the climate, nature and water sports. First round I was there solo, on the second round I moved with a girlfriend. There are many challenges to living there: high cost of living, limited career opportunities, lack of non-vacation-rental housing, transport, environmental degradation, unsustainable ecological practices, increasing hurricane frequency and strength, summer heat, terrible government bureaucracy, lack of national democratic engagement, and unreliable tax system. There is a large gap between vacationing there and living there. Unless you are wealthy and can afford a vehicle, real estate, frequent airfare, etc., then daily life on island requires a lot of inconvenience and sacrifice. Remoteness and isolation from mainland family, friends, current events, etc. further complicates things. I also witnessed more than a few who, for lack of discipline, could not manage the work-party balance, fell on substance abuse, and spun out of control. In spite of it all, there was much to love about the place: access to incredible experiences in nature, healthy community organizations, and a sense of potential for improvement."
 
"I lived in St. John for under 2 years. I moved with a friend and headed to St. John looking for SUNSHINE! I found an apartment that was available right in town before I moved. Having an affordable place to stay when I got there was what convinced me. One of the reasons I left was that I was not prepared for the animosity that exists between the 'ex-pats' and the natives. Tip for others: Finding a place to live is difficult on St. John."
 
"I currently live on St. Croix, and have for 3+ years. I moved there solo but with pets. I like the peaceful nature and friendly people of the island. I was tired of states, of the traffic, noise, air and light pollution. I don't believe island life is for the masses as many prefer a more hectic (happening) lifestyle."
 
"We currently live in St. Croix and have for 11+ years. We moved here because we like the weather, people, and the views above and below the water. We visited the island and area many times before deciding to move here. Tip: If people are not running away from something then moving to the island can be a positive choice." 
 

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2020 1:26 am
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator
These are the experiences of VIMovingCenter.com readers related to living in the Virgin Islands. 
 
"We, wife and I, lived in St. Croix for 6+ years and loved it. We were retired. We left because of family issues. I don't think living on St Croix is for everyone, it is very different from living in the States. Not everyone can handle those differences."
 
"I lived in St. Croix for over 3 years. I went there following a dream, accompanied by my spouse. The slow pace and the friendliness of the people are what attracted us. I loved the island people and they came to accept us. We made many friends there. We left because of infrastructure issues and economy. The government did not care about the island's tourism. The sewer outside our store stank to high-heaven, vagrants on the street on ship days chasing tourists away. When we asked to have the sewer cleaned we were told it had been like that for 30 years and there wasn't anything to be done. I don't think living in St. Croix is for everyone."
 
"I lived in St. Thomas for 3-5 years. I was looking for a change and warmer weather. We moved as a family - husband, wife, and one child. It really was a leap of faith. Everything just fell into place for us. We left because our son was going to college and it was time to move back to mainland to be near family. Obviously not for everyone but if you have an open mind and willingness to accept a different way of life, its amazing. Honestly, probably best decision for myself and family."
 
"I live in St. Thomas with my boyfriend. We moved for a work opportunity just under a year ago. If you like warm weather and sunshine, yes island living is for you. But, you also have to be ready to give up certain amenities and conveniences you have on the mainland."
 
"I currently live in St. John and have for over 11 years. My motivations for moving to St. John were that I wanted to be warm in the winter, and wanted to snorkel and relax. I moved solo, and have never left because I fell in love with someone living here. Some of the cons are that it is very expensive, it is limited in availability of goods, services & things to do. And hurricanes are terrifying. My tips: If Paradise was easy, it would be a lot more crowded. Try it out if you can, for at least two months, before moving here."
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Topic starter Posted : June 17, 2020 1:01 am
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator
These are the experiences of VIMovingCenter.com readers related to living in the Virgin Islands. 
 
"I currently live in St. Croix and have for over 11 years. I chose St. Croix for the slower pace, and for an adventure. Also, my father was born here and I wanted to meet my extended family. I came down solo. You have to be very broad-minded to live here."
 
"I lived in St. Croix for 2 years. I moved there because I love scuba diving in the Caribbean, and living in U.S. territory was easier than dealing with living in a foreign country. I moved with my spouse and we continued working at our stateside jobs, remotely. We left St. Croix because my husband's company required him to come back to working in the office. Is living in St. Croix for any and every one - Absolutely no. We loved it, but it takes a certain personality/mindset - relaxed, patient. Type A people will have a hard time dealing with the... "leisurely" way in which business is conducted."
 
"I lived in St. Thomas for 2 years, came for work with my spouse. We left because the economy is unstable (post-Irma). Its a good place to move to when you are young - good money to be made for the young and beautiful in the tourism industry. Tip: If you move to the islands, you have to know that you are a visitor, its their island."
 
"I currently live on St. Thomas, going on 4 years now. Moved to the islands because I was done with the rat race stateside. Moved with my hubby. We chose St. Thomas because of the beauty, the affordability and the people. Anyone can live here, as long as material things aren't very important to you. It was and still is the best decision we have made. Life here reminds you of what's important in life."
 
"I currently live in St. John, its been almost 2 years. Always wanted to retire in the U.S. where there was turquoise water, white beaches and wonderful people. The cost nearly prevented us from fulfilling this lifelong dream, but my family did it - we moved to St. John, USVI. It's not for everyone. It's not easy getting here. If convenience is important to you, this place is not for you."
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Topic starter Posted : July 9, 2020 6:41 pm
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator

These are the experiences of VIMovingCenter.com readers related to living in the Virgin Islands.

“We currently live here and have for over 6 years. We loved visiting and wanted to become a permanent part of the St John community. My wife moved first while I got rid of our stuff and got our house ready to sell. Oldest son moved with me, and younger one came after he completed college. Both have since moved back stateside. Timing was right, I had lost my job, youngest son was in last semester in college, just seemed like the universe was saying 'what's holding you back?". Had to leave for 6 months after Hurricane Irma due to nowhere to live, and no internet, which I need for one of my jobs. Island living is not for everyone. Not everyone is cut out for the inconveniences that are a part of daily life, as well as the relative scarcity of things to do. We have never looked back and have no plans to leave, but realize that while it is paradise, it is not a utopia.”

“Been in St. John for a long time. I moved to the VI for adventure when I got out of college, to teach school. I arrived in 1966 and left in 1968. I moved back in 1980 and moved aboard my boat. I have been there ever since. In a lot of ways living in the VI is like living in a 3rd world country. It is not like living in the northern 48. You must be able to put up with a lot and get used to doing without. If you are planning to move to the VI, come here for an extended period, not just a short vacation, before you pull the plug. Make sure you can put up with it before you do.”

“I lived in St. Croix for a couple years with my husband. We love St. Croix... friendly people, small community, nice beaches, nice food, but very expensive to rent now. The cost of living was the reason we left. Renting in St. Croix is expensive, as well as going to restaurants and events, not affordable. It is not for everyone because it is very costly. It is not for retirees, or people with a fixed income. It is only for rich people, or people who live off welfare, either of those. People should do a lot of research before making the move or visit and stay for a while. The utilities are very high, and you will also need a generator, it’s all very costly.”

“I currently live in St. Thomas. It has been about a year. Moved here for the clear blue beautiful water, and sandy beaches. My tip for others: Islanders from St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are by nature cold, hard, rude and don’t realize how unpleasant they are towards others from other cultures. They are unhelpful, unsupportive, unfriendly and judgmental."

“I lived in St. Thomas for over 6 years. My family and I moved there looking for a laidback lifestyle. I loved vacationing there. The water clarity, the sand, the down island views. We left because I felt trapped. I wanted a normal life again. Tired of high cost of groceries for such a limited variety. Island living is not for everyone. People that love to go shopping, love having lots of entertainment options, and have kids should seriously consider moving carefully. It is such a beautiful place and I have made lifelong friends that I am still in constant communication with. I would not trade the learning experiences for anything. We learned so much about ourselves and true grit while we lived there.”

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Topic starter Posted : July 29, 2020 1:02 am
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator

These are the experiences of VIMovingCenter.com readers related to living in the Virgin Islands.

"We lived in St. Croix for 2 years. We were volunteers helping VI churches with their youth programs. My wife and I chose St. Croix because it is part of the USA and English is the popular language. We left after we completed our volunteer work and we moved to another island. For the average American it would be quite a cultural shock, everything is slow and difficult for an outsider, but locals seem to get along fine, and we did too after an adjustment of our expectations. It is a beautiful location with wonderful people, we truly hated to leave the friends we made. I think for outsiders it would be tough to invest in property given the hurricanes and extremely lengthy recovery. I would like to see the average citizen in the islands be able to afford non-government housing, raise their children and send them to college, and then have the children return to the VI and lead the islands fairly with competence and compassion."

"I lived in St. Thomas for a couple years. It was the right time to find a little bit of adventure and so we made the move. We both lived in a tourist destination in Florida and wanted to continue in the tourist industry. My boyfriend convinced me to move there, plus snorkeling and diving and hiking and 30+ beaches!! We left because it seemed like it was more dangerous, or the dangerous stuff was happening closer and closer to home. Drinking was getting out of control. We couldn't save much money. We had a load of adventures and fun, but it was time to go somewhere a little less lawless! Is it for everyone, Hell no!! When we lived in Florida, not even an island, you could jump in your car and go see your friends and family you miss so much, people in the islands can’t do that! No, island life is not for everyone. People miss family, have expectations that are unrealistic, or health issues – all of which cause people to move back."

"I at one time lived on St. John. I was there under a year. I was motivated to give it a try because I hate winter and wanted a slower pace of life. I received a job before hand and together with my wife, we made the move. The island and move put a strain on our relationship. Island living is not for everyone. Some people can't handle living on island time."

"I currently live on Water Island and have for over 6 years. I moved for the weather; I didn't like the cold anymore. I choose it because it is part of the USA. A tip for those that want to move to the USVI, you must be resilient and able to adapt."

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Topic starter Posted : September 1, 2020 1:47 am
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator
These are the experiences of VIMovingCenter.com readers related to living in the Virgin Islands.
 
"I lived in St. Thomas for over six years. Adventure, diving, the sun and beaches (of course) were the things that drew me there.  That was the FIRST move. It lasted about a year.  Then I left for four years and returned for the same reasons plus one, the GREAT friends I had met down there.  I moved back and stayed for six years for that one reason mainly. I moved away again mostly due to local crime and violence. Island fever to some degree... but we all get that, and it comes and goes. The crime and violence never goes away. Tips for those considering island living... It's the Caribbean and if one is from the States then they learn to relax and go with island flow. You go with it, or you don't and you get frustrated. If you can deal with WAPA (electric company) and the banks and DMV and Government and still come out smiling... then you understand the flow. Maybe I'm exaggerating on the smiling part ;)."
 
"I live in St. Croix and have for over 11 years. I choose it because of the warm climate and the proximity to the east coast of the US mainland. After being a snow bird for three years , I was planning to move permanently to St. Croix but I got cancer and found that all the best treatment centers were in the US mainland so I stayed in the US during the summer and come back to the island for the rest of the year. The availability of shipping to the Virgin Islands is very limited. For instance I have to have my mail order prescriptions mailed to a friend then forwarded to me in the VI. It definitely takes getting used to island life. Some common things are just unavailable and have to be ordered from the states. A person moving here needs patience. Driving on the left side is dangerous for people coming here for the first time, and for people that go back and forth between the island and the mainland often. Several times I would end up on the wrong side if I wasn't paying close attention. It's also dangerous because most of our cars are made for the right side."
 
"I live on St. Croix and have for over 11 years. I came to St. Croix because I work for a non-profit organization and one of the locations that needed staff was in St. Croix. 🙂 I stayed because of God, and the kids I work with, that is what convinced me to stay. After 12 years, I probably will be moving in about a year to pursue other job offers as we now have enough staff at our location here. Island living is not for everyone. I have seen hundreds of people come and go. It takes a special kind of people to stay. You have to be willing to change how you do everything in your life, from shopping to government paperwork. Often people expect the states, but warmer. And that just isn't the case, you have to be willing to release how you think it should be done, and be willing to learn new ways. In some cases, you just have to learn that that is how it operates. Whether or not it is correct, efficient, or logical. The people who stay are flexible, compassionate, and open minded. My tip is that if it is at all possible, before committing for the rest of your life, come and rent for a year. Stick your stuff in storage back in the states and come give it a trial. A year will show whether or not this island is meant to be your home, or just a place to pass through."
 
"I've lived on St. John for just under five years now. We wanted a slower pace of life. I love the beach and ocean so what better place to be. Our first vacation to St. John was what got us to move. It's not an easy life or convenient. If you are not a good person you won't last, as most people here don't have time for drama. It's a small community where everyone knows everything and everyone. This site gave lots of helpful information to island living. I suggest reading every article if you are considering moving here."
 
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Topic starter Posted : November 28, 2020 5:05 pm
mesonerocarlos33
(@mesonerocarlos33)
New Member

I moved from North Carolina to the Virgin Islands with the help of a company and I can say it was quite a positive experience. I like it a lot here, though it's only been 2 years since I'm here. I love the environment in general, as well as the comfortable climate.

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Posted : December 8, 2020 10:44 am
Mauilady
(@mauilady)
New Member
  1. Our experience was horrible living on St. Croix. We were so excited to move there and from day one it went downhill. We bought right on the beach and not on the East end. We wanted to comingle with locals as we love meeting people and hearing stories. Our first outing was so buy furniture and ran into a police officer in the furniture store. We asked him for advice, his response was...put up a tall fence, get a dog, and a gun. My husbandvwas shot at walking our dogs on the beach and two people were murdered 1/4 from our house/Condos/Hotels and left in the water at the beach. You constantly must look over your shoulder and locals are mostly not friendly. Huge disappointment. We moved to NC and are enjoying some of the friendliest people ever and rare crime. 
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Posted : December 30, 2020 7:03 pm
jaldeborgh
(@jaldeborgh)
Advanced Member

Our experience (so far) in moving, as seasonal residents form the Boston area, has been wonderful.  We’re just entering retirement, love the Caribbean and wanted to escape the cold New England winters.  We had vacationed on many Caribbean islands over the past 30+ years but ultimately decided being in the US was important.  We’ve moved down gradually over the past 2 years and I’ve been able to work remotely during the pandemic, retiring next month.  We, my wife in-particular, remain concerned about the islands crime.  Given our age (mid and late 60’s) and our habits (in bed rather early and don’t go out to clubs) I think our risk is tolerable. As for the people, very friendly almost without exception.  As for “island time” I’ve been pleasantly surprised, we’ve had several maintenance projects on the home we purchased and both the responsiveness and quality of work have been better than expected, we do have a property manager as we’re only here half time and that’s been a big help in finding service providers.  As for the cost of living, overall very similar to up north.  I think our biggest concern remains healthcare in the event of an emergency, we have signed up for medical evacuation insurance as a precaution.  Basically, we’ve been able to enjoy all that the island has to offer as we went into the move with our eyes wide open plus we have the benefit of understanding island living as our other home, of almost 30 years, is on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, just south of Boston.  No place is ever perfect but for our needs St. Croix seems like a very good fit.  Importantly, we have no expectations on trying to change the island, we’re happy to roll with the punches and take life one day at a time.  It’s another beautiful day so we’re off to make the most of it!  Happy New Year to everyone and let’s all get vaccinated ASAP so we can put this horrible pandemic behind us, stay safe until then.

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Posted : January 2, 2021 11:35 am
msboddy and akmamaof5 liked
Fishbait
(@Fishbait)
Advanced Member

Can I still contribute to the survey? We have lived in St Croix for 14 months. We bought our place in June 2018, rented it out & then moved after my retirement in Nov 2019. We are full timers, not snowbirds.

We were lucky enough to enjoy the Christmas season happenings before the COVID lockdowns hit. We were also lucky enough to have good neighbors that formed a small "bubble" of careful people who could then hang out together outdoors and have fun during the lockdowns. 

The lockdowns have been no joke. They killed many businesses, hurt others. It seems like we are coming back now, plenty of vaccine available and our numbers were never high (except when they finally tested everyone at the Limetree man camp. No judgment, it is what it is.)  Most people here are taking the virus seriously, especially older people. There are no anti-mask / anti-vax or other silly demonstrations going on. Masks are REQUIRED by the government, not an option. Most people wear them correctly. 

We still like it here. I am getting certified to dive. I volunteer for the Botanical Garden and my wife & I take in fosters for the Animal Welfare Center. We're in until something forces us back, such as health issues that can't be handled here. But we have found that if you are lucky enough to make friends, have good neighbors, have resources such as health insurance and enough money to live decently then St Croix is like anyplace else, it is what you make it for yourself. 

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Posted : February 7, 2021 9:57 am
artistlady
(@artistlady)
New Member

@Fishbait I am considering moving to stx. could we talk? i could really use some help. thank you so much! amy

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Posted : April 10, 2021 8:35 am
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