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Diacosta
(@Diacosta)
New Member

Hi everyone!
I am hoping to get some advice and tips, my husband and I are looking to move to St. Criox at the end of this year. We have been saving $ and researching for a few months now. We currently live in RI, we don't have children or a house so we don't have much to get squared away. I am college graduate and work in design and photography and my husband is in accounting. We are planning to visit again in September and look for an apartment. We were thinking of looking for jobs once we have already moved. I guess I am wondering how much $ would be wise to have saved before our move. How long do you think it will take to find jobs? We are willing to work outside our fields. We are both vegans as well, is that very uncommon on the island? We do have 2 well behaved pets, a cat and a dog that we would bring with us. I have noticed that most apartments do not accept pets, is this common? We were thinking of selling our vehicles here and buying on the island. I guess what we really want is to live simpler more enjoyable lives. We are both 30 and really want to experience island living. Thank you for advice!
Diane

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Topic starter Posted : February 19, 2013 2:29 pm
Jamison
(@Jamison)
Trusted Member

I try and be vegan and it took me a little while to get it figured out here, but it's actually pretty easy. There are some fantastic farms here and at least Plaza grocery store has a lot of things like quinoa and a great variety of grains and beans at a decent price. There are a ton of Rastas here who eat like minded, so you get some good places to eat and most restaurants have some options.

I am all for selling your cars and buying island beaters once you're here.

It's almost impossible to find a condo in a gated community that is pet friendly, but most houses are affordable and usually pet friendly. I haven't had much of a problem with my puppy. A lot of the bars and beaches are pet friendly too (less when it's turtle season).

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Posted : February 19, 2013 2:36 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

I would say that if you have good cars (not too low to the ground, small compact sedans) then bring, at least, one of them.
Beaters (and they don't call them that for nothing) can still be more expensive than you may think and while you can probably find something to fit your budget, they will have lots of mileage on them and you may end up having to add in costs of repairs.

There are a couple of threads on the forum re: shipping cars and what works best, so check them out. Bring lots of $$$$$S.
If you rent, most places want 1st, last and a security deposit, then if utilities are not included you have to pay all those deposits and monthly bills. As you may know (or not) WAPA rates for electricity are pretty horrendous and more so if you must use A/C in the summer months.
If you need to furnish your rental, buy small appliances, pots, pans, dishware, linens, towels, etc., all those costs add up, in addition to
just the costs of groceries and gas for your car. Be prepared in case it takes time to find the right jobs. Bring lots of $$$$$S.

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Posted : February 19, 2013 3:35 pm
STXBob
(@STXBob)
Trusted Member

I guess what we really want is to live simpler more enjoyable lives. We are both 30 and really want to experience island living.

Diane, welcome to the forum!

Some things here are conducive to simpler more enjoyable lives:
People on average are friendlier here than stateside
The weather is much better here on average
The beaches are nearby
There's less "keeping up with the Joneses" here

Some are not:
Things are more expensive here, including food, energy, and travel back to the states
Unemployment here is higher and wages and salaries are lower
Poverty and crime are high here

You might learn to adjust and love it, or you might get sick of it and go back after 6 months.
Edited to add: Flip a coin. About 50% of transplants leave after 6 months.

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Posted : February 19, 2013 8:43 pm
CityGuy
(@CityGuy)
Advanced Member

Vacationing Here and Living Here is like comparing a House Cat to a Wild Lion. For starters leave your pets at home, rent a condo for a month. play native go back home and think about it again.

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Posted : February 19, 2013 9:28 pm
Diacosta
(@Diacosta)
New Member

Thank you everyone for the comments thus far. I really appreciate it. I have been doing research for a couple of months only so I know I have a lot more to learn before making the decision. Why do you think that 50% of transplants leave after 6 months? Is it a safety/crime problem or cost of living issue? I have read on some other sites about locals being hostile/unfriendly to anyone they think is a tourist. Is there any truth to this? I have read many wonderful things as well about how locals are friendly and helpful. I have only been on vacation and I understand that is very different from living there. I think visiting for a few weeks and renting a condo might be a good way to get a better idea. Thank you for the comments and keep them coming! Thanks!

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Topic starter Posted : February 19, 2013 9:49 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

It will be a huge cultural shift from RI but for me that is part of the charm. Bring your biggest smile and all your patience. Be street smart and go with the vibe. Our economy is in the tank and the comeback no where in sight. Figure out some kind of basic health insurance if you can. Save as much as you can, the $ seems to melt in the sun. To ship a car is maybe $1500-2K. A decent beater is 5K but can Nicole and dime you. No heating bill but gas is $4 and a quart of oil is $5.

The positive thing is your age and energy level. If you both stay on the same page you will love the island but remember, it isn't America, it's different but a wonderful place to live and call home. Welcome and go for it, yOu only live NOW, you'll love it

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Posted : February 19, 2013 9:50 pm
STXBob
(@STXBob)
Trusted Member

Why do you think that 50% of transplants leave after 6 months?

Can't get a good job, high cost of living, high crime, the house sale in the states fell through, island time, spouse or kid(s) hate it here, summers too hot. Some come here just to try it out, and moving back is not considered a defeat.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 1:36 am
peribonca
(@peribonca)
Advanced Member

get your VI drivers license ASAP so that you can start the countdown to qualify for an EDC company job. There are excellent jobs available especially in these EDC companies so don't despair.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 2:02 am
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

People leave for all sorts of reasons. For instance:
1) Some find living on an island very confining- it' like living in a small town where you can't leave the small town.
2) Some find it more expensive to maintain the same standard of living they are accustomed to.
3) Some have difficulty adjusting to frequent power outages, appliances that go on the fritz moe often.
4) Some have difficulty finding gainful employment.
5) Some miss friends and family.
6) Some have trouble adjusting to the lack of seasons.
7) Some just don't like.
8) Some develop health problems
9) Some people think living on an island is just like living on the mainland - it is not.
10) Some get frustrated with the slow pace - everything moves on "Island Time". Example, you refrigerator doesn't keep things cool. You call the repairman. He shows up 2 days later and tells you he has to replace a part. But he has to get it from the manufacture back in the mainland US and that will take 3 weeks.

The list goes on and on.

The point being, living on an island in the Caribbean is not all palm tress and pina coladas. Once you are here you have to get up every day and go out and earn a living - just like you do where you now live. You have to deal with the same types of bosses, do everyday chores, so not much really changes in your day to day lives. You just do it in a different environment. That's why many people advise you not to purchase a home right away - instead rent for 6 months to a year to make sure island life is for you. Often times one spouse likes it here and the other doesn't. If that happens how are YOU going to handle it.

Now, no one can tell you how much money you'll need since everyone's life style is different. Figure out how much you'll need to support yourself for at least 6 months then add 50% and you'll probably end up using it all before the 6 months is up. Make sure you keep enough in reserve to pay your way back if you find island life is not for you.

As for getting a job, it's no different here than it is "back home" - the economy is soft, unemployment is high and the competition is tough. Some people find jobs right away others remain unemployed for months. Those that don't find jobs in a reasonable period leave the island and if they are fortunate they find a job back home. No one can give you any guarantees you can find a job that will allow you to maintain a reasonable lifestyle or that you'll like the job you find. You indicate a willingness to work "outside your field". Well, that may not be as was as it sounds unless you are seeking an entry level job. Employers here like to hire employees with experience just like they do where you live so just how far "outside your field" you can go is anyone's guess.

I'm always intrigued when someone says they what to move to an island and "live a simpler lifestyle". Life isn't simple here. In fact it can be much more difficult. and definitely takes some adjustment. You'll find it much easier and far less costly to simply your life where you now live. By the way, just how do you plan on simplifying your life? As I said, you still have to earn a living, clean the house, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, get the car fixed - just as you do now.

Keep doing your research, read as much as you can on this forum and website, make that pre-move visit and go into the move with an open mind and take off the rose colored glasses. Take the same precautions you would if you were considering a move to a different town or state from where you now live.

Good Luck in your search.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 2:08 am
AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
Trusted Member

We moved to STT just over a month ago and are loving it!

I felt compelled to post because I'm a graphic designer with a Bachelors from AIPX and best portfolio for my class of 2003 with an impressive résumé including spreads in "Fortune" and work for 2 Fortune 500 companies. I still haven't found a job, only one real interview but because I'm so new and the rate of people leaving is so high they went with a less qualified new designer that's been here and knows the island. I understood, you kinda have to. That being said we didn't ship our cars (stupid) and found one for my BF who had a job transfer so without a car I've not been pounding the pavement that much in regards for a job. I look every day in the papers CL and the car lots for a car, it's tough. My boyfriends schedule is all over the place so where we originally thought one car would work, it simply won't. If you're flexible you can find work, I'm actually leaning more towards trying to find work in a dive shop or snorkel tour. More my thing nowadays.

Many people do not do a PMV. Pre move visit. I personally WOULD recommend it. STX is cheaper for rents and you can easily find a place for $1000 for the month to check things out. You'll spend about $4k on your PMV (we did) but can do it on less. Eating out will SHOCK you, but the foods sooooo good on STX. One piece of advice is spend the $$ and Come to STT for the day. we didn't and I really regretted it when the plan changed from STX to STT. It was scary not knowing where we were moving lol. You'll know pretty quick if island life is for you, especially in September 😉 go with no AC 😉 if ya can hack it, you're in lol! I would say that if you're "high maintenance" kinda girl, it would be rough. I was talking to my sister and making fun of her... I've always been the play football with the guys chick, and she's the must have full makeup and hair just so. I was warning here that she couldn't make it here lol. I hope I'm not offending anyone lol...

As far as money goes: I will give you a dollar amount... drum roll... we've spent 10,000 in our first month NO LIE. Ok actually $9,872. EVERYTHING ads up fast. We rented a bit of a pricey place $1400 mo. So first, last and security is $4200 right there! Our beater car was $2500 A GREAT DEAL (bring yours) furniture (very expensive) your starter groceries, at least $300, deposits for WAPA, gas, satelite, internet and of course fun stuff and eating out because let's be real, you'll want to do that when you arrive... youre living the dream! Before you know it, boom, you're at 10k in no time! We sacked away money for a little over a year while we planned this move, literally half every paycheck, our tax returns from last year and sold everything we owned. We wanted to suceed and not fail, so we made sure we had PLENTY of money. Came with 4 suitcases and 2 cats.

The people IME are awesome, not all but most. I've noticed some racial stuff but I just don't worry about it and make convo with whoever is giving me tude. Seems to work but I'm really friendly and not afraid to chat up with strangers. I think extroverts will thrive here. I'm from AZ, originally TX and before I left AZ I could BARELY stand to be in public because people were such A holes. Its funny I remeber my last week in AZ, i went to the mall and people were as usual being rude, pushy, snobby, with their LV bags and 60k cars: I thought... I am soooo not gonna miss this. Do I? HELL NO! I do think it can be challenging to live here but most people WANT to be here and that's the common thread.

Oh and September is worst months for hurricanes I believe, October may be better 🙂 my BF and I had some BBQ today over by Sapphire beach and overlooked the ocean and down islands and talked about how we can't imagine life, not on an island. We're still in the honeymoon phase thou so ask me again in a year haha. I'm a nature nut so I doubt it will change but ya never know.

Most of all LISTEN and TAKE ADVICE of the folks on here! I'm new so I can only give you a newbies perspectivel but I'm STILL kicking myself for not listening about bringing my car. Sorry I wrote a novel here, and not gonna spell check it 😉 too pooped from the beach and making homemade lasagna today.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 2:10 am
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

Im jealous of you AandA.

Thanks for posting, I am glad you enjoy it on STT.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 11:54 am
TX9920
(@TX9920)
Advanced Member

I'm always intrigued when someone says they what to move to an island and "live a simpler lifestyle". Life isn't simple here. In fact it can be much more difficult. and definitely takes some adjustment. You'll find it much easier and far less costly to simply your life where you now live. By the way, just how do you plan on simplifying your life? As I said, you still have to earn a living, clean the house, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, get the car fixed - just as you do now.

I completely agree with the above statement. I find every task much more difficult to accomplish here than back home in the states. Grocery shopping, errands, getting things fixed, house maintenance, etc. Instead of being able to go to one grocery store and getting everything you need, it takes you 3 hrs at 4 different stores and even then you still can't get everything on your list. We have to have a lot of things shipped in like our cat's food since you just can't find it anywhere on the island. Definitely not a simpler life! I truly miss the ease and convenience of living close to a big city and all of our friends and family. Island life is not for everyone, but I've met a lot of people here that would never leave because they just love it! You never know until you come out and experience it for yourself.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 1:47 pm
AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
Trusted Member

I think it's MUCH simpler here than in a big city. The selection of goods is simpler, the people are laid back and "simpler", not trying to keep up with the jones's, you can just stop plop down at a beach, theres always a cool gallery show or a great band playing somewhere, traffic jams may last 20 min where in a big city they last for HOURS, it's cleaner air-fresher. Many reasons IMO it does feel simpler, its not "go-go-go-go". Even thou there's still work and jobs and the daily grind, it just doesn't feel like stateside rat race. I think for me the biggest - "live simpler" - was that no one here give a crap about what you drive or wear. In Az people are SUPER judgmental. It's all about "toys" in Az... I sold my massive lifted diesel truck, my boat and my quads and rented out my 3k sq ft house all for 900sq ft, a 2 dr vitara and a garden lol! That's what simpler means to me and it feels VERY freeing.

I'm still confused when people say they shop at several places for stuff or mention things are hard to find. We rarely do, we usually find everything we need at one place, I haven't really, not found what I needed. The ONLY thing I've not been able to get here is my RX cat food.... And a car lol. Sometimes we decide to go somewhere else for a better price but overall we've found on both STX and STT things we need or want are readily available. Again it's the live simpler thing, you don't REALLY need 100 varieties of one product and here you don't get that, there's one or two - simple.

It's also simpler here IMO because you realize you don't NEED as much crap. Water, electric, toilet paper... Ya know the basics LOL! Maybe we've been lucky or maybe we are just so go with the flow, we don't notice the challenges. Even with me not finding a car or a job I'm like - yea it'll happen when it happens. Back in AZ I would be freaking out!

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Posted : February 20, 2013 2:19 pm
Diacosta
(@Diacosta)
New Member

Thanks everyone for the input. It is really helpful. I don't take the decision lightly and I don't expect it to be easy. I know I want to move but I am trying to figure out where. I want to make sure the fit is right. I am with AandA when I say I want to live simply. I tried to go along with the typical goal of success but it didn't work for me. We are not rich by any means but we were spending all our money on new leased cars, a trendy apartment, and a bunch of stuff we barely used. I don't want to climb the corporate ladder and live to work. We already made many changes and it has been great. I would love to ultimately end up somewhere where I can eventually work in wedding photography. It is something I do here on the side in the summer months. I would totally work at a hotel or do something tourist related. I actually have some experience in that. I don't care about making it big, life is too short to care about having a big house and a nice car. I do want to be safe and live in a warm tropical place with friendly people.

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Topic starter Posted : February 20, 2013 3:43 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

AandA2VI - I think you've miss my point about a "simple life" - you could have done all those things - get a "beater car", where more casual clothes, down-sized your house, sold your boat - all without leaving the mainland US. And by the way, not everyone who moves to the islands comes from a "big city".

I know from your recent posts that you are new to the island - You are still on your "honeymoon" period. Almost everyone enjoys it at first. and are often awed by the newness of everything.

After you've been here a while you'll have to deal with some of the frustrations of island life and the fact that you are always "fixing something". Here's a few examples: I have an outside hand held shower we use to wash sand off our feet - I've had to replace either the head itself or the hose at least once every year since we've been in the Caribbean (back in the states it would probably last 5 to 8 years). In 10 years since we built our home we've gone through two ice makers, one dishwasher, three sets of washer dryers, had our refrigerator and/freezer repairs about every 3 months, replaced 3 TV's, 1 DVD player, 2 Satellite Receiver boxes, we are on our 4th cordless telephone system, 2 sets of automatic gate openers ALL DUE to constant power outages or power fluctuations.

I'm on my 3rd water heater, 4th lawn mower, 5th weed wacker, we've gone through more water hoses than I can count and we've replaced dozens of light fixtures. Our internet service is sometimes sporadic and I've had more telephone outages in the past 5 years than I had in 30 years back on the mainland. Wait till you have to start making repairs to the "beater car" you have. Once something goes wrong other problems are sure to follow and the repairs will cost you almost as much as another car. I consider a great achievement when I go one week without something needing to be repaired.

Here's another little tidbit that rarely gets mentioned but will definitely affect you sooner rather than later - the elastic on your undergarments, casual pants and bathing suits will dry out and become useless - usually happens after 18 to 24 months of exposure to the heat. Your only recourse is to thrown them out and buy new ones. I know it sounds petty but having to replace anything with an elastic waist every couple of years gets frustrating. Your cloths will develop rust spots - fine if your just wearing them around the house but despite trying to "live simply" there are times when you do want to look nice. Wait a year or two until that same heat dries out the adhesive that holds the sole of your sneakers to the rest of the shoe - it will happen when you are walking in town and there you are with your sole flapping like the bill of a duck as you make your way down the street. Like most of us you'll learn to keep a supply of Shoe-Goo on hand so you can make the sneakers last another couple of weeks until it happens again. Leather shoes will also deteriorate and are even more difficult to repair.

There are dozens more examples that I can give but most "newbies" and those contemplating a move to the islands will tend to dismiss them with a "Yeah, but that won't bother ME". Well, after a while they just may begin to get a little under your skin.

Now, I'm not saying any of these things are enough to make someone leave the island - they are merely examples of why those of us who are long term residents say life in the islands isn't "SO SIMPLE".

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Posted : February 20, 2013 5:37 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

there are a lot of little irritants to be sure. stand fans that rust after a year. rottary cutters that rust before you can wear out the blades. glue that dries up before you have time to use it all. yes on the elastic yes on the shoes yes on everything you said.
finding a product you love and then all of a sudden you cant find it. just a bunch of little things that make life interesting.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 5:42 pm
beachy
(@beachy)
Trusted Member

LOL... don't forget the Tupperware that cracks, breaks and disintegrates into a million little pieces, or the Rubbermaid big containers that break apart after a year or two. How about the synthetic soles on women's shoes and sandals (and not cheap ones) that crack and break or fall apart..can't fix them like the sneaker soles...the handles on hairbrushes or other tools that get gummy and can't be cleaned, so you either tape a plastic bag on the handle or throw the whatever out as well...the ants that chew through all sorts of things...ziplock bags with food inside, we had them eat their way into a new zodiac inflatable boat...little pinholes all over the side that was resting on the floor of the garage even though it was inflated at the time..We figure if we get 5 years out of a major appliance we're doing good..Front end repairs to cars, over and over...
Over 25 years for us...some years full time, some part time. Some things have solutions or ways of avoidance, some things you just live with..and some days it drives you crazy.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 7:33 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

i forgot about the shoes. i had a pair where the heal washed away when i went to clean them

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Posted : February 20, 2013 7:40 pm
beachy
(@beachy)
Trusted Member

have had heels break off, even while walking down the street. I used to own alot of pairs of nice sandals/shoes...don't buy them much any more.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 8:20 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

Zora's sandals FTW!

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Posted : February 20, 2013 9:05 pm
AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
Trusted Member

Oh I get it, totally do. Theres some caveats to island life. Hell, half my hair fell out, (luckily I have a lot), cant find a car or a job, had to figure out how to light the pilot for my gas stove without blowing up the house, had to figure out how to wash and dry my clothes so they don't smell nasty, sweeping the floors every day from sand and my feet stay dirty, and I just killed a mosquito that was so full of my blood it couldn't fly away, gross. LOL! Still totally worth it.

For ME, personally I am one tough broad!! I can fix or build just about anything and have a favorite quote: Dont sweat the petty and dont pet the sweaty. 😉 I lost my mother, brother and grandfather one year after another and none from natural causes. THAT is hard. All the other stuff just doesnt matter for me. I know my situation its a bit different but Im telling ya, if you have patience and a POSITIVE attitude, realize you're alive a breathing on a BEAUTIFUL Island. I think you can succeed ANYWHERE. It can ALWAYS be worse and I think a lot of time people forget that.

I know my optimism sickens some people but what the hell good does it do, to be angry and annoyed all the time... not that I am saying anyone here is. I actually used to be that way, then had a few tragedies to REALLY put things into perspective, so I decided to change. I REALLY hope that my list of downsides only come to include minor annoyances like shoes falling apart and stuff breaking.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 10:18 pm
IslandBound14
(@IslandBound14)
Active Member

get your VI drivers license ASAP so that you can start the countdown to qualify for an EDC company job. There are excellent jobs available especially in these EDC companies so don't despair.

First question: Where can I find more information about this?

Second question: For the author of the original post. Why are you choosing SCX? Just curious, I am leaning more toward STT just because it seems like there are more jobs….

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Posted : February 20, 2013 11:18 pm
STXBob
(@STXBob)
Trusted Member

Are you asking about a VI drivers license or an EDC company job?

For a USVI driver's license, bring the documentation listed here to the BMV: https://www.vimovingcenter.com/talk/read.php?4,197298

You can trade in your stateside license for a USVI license without having to take the test.

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Posted : February 20, 2013 11:47 pm
IslandBound14
(@IslandBound14)
Active Member

The EDC job company. I googled it, please correct me if I am mistaken but it is Federal money used to facilitate business growth where the company receiving the benefit must maintain a certain ratio of island residents. What I wasn't able to find what business participate or how to establish residency. Thanks for asking for clarification on my earlier comment. There is such good information nestled in this board - I don't want to overlook anything simply because I don't understand.

Thanks!!

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Posted : February 21, 2013 12:43 am
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