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Making a move to the USVI! Objective assessment needed..

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soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

Greetings all,

Hoping to be in the US Virgin Islands by August. I will likely obtain a teaching position with the local district, so not worried about insurance, but am concerned about the public schools, crime and cost of living.

Need some help with my current assessment of USVI based on forums, others

1. Crime is relatively high, but knowing and being vigilant is key. Like any city, being aware and knowledgeable of one's surroundings is important to prevent being a victim.
2. I keep hearing about cost of living being high. Out intention is NOT to live like we did while on the mainland. So, provided that we continue with this philosophy, is it really THAT more expensive? Also, what of the local population? Do they also find it TOO expensive?
3. Schools. I read so many posts by mainlanders talking about sending their kids to private schools. I get the impression that middle-class families don't make the transition to the USVI, only the well to do who can afford sending their kids to private schools. Is there anyone who ventured to educate their children using the public school system? How was that?

Thank you all. Want to hear more from locals about USVI. How do you live within your means? Is it too expensive for you too?

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Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 12:12 am
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

Is $900 a month to feed 3 people too much for you?

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Posted : February 13, 2015 12:19 am
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

Holy crap, really? Surely, the local population doesn't spend that much, right? Are we talking about people who continue to live the way they did while on the mainland? Is this strictly grocery shopping and preparing own meals or is this a lot of out side eating?

CruzanIron,

Thanks. Is this your experience?

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Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 3:08 am
terry
(@terry)
Expert

Milk about $5 per gallon
Wife says other food about 30% or higher than here in AZ
Gas about $1 more than here in AZ
Power is about $.55 per kilowatt as compared to $.09 here in AZ.
however we don't use AC there because we almost always have a breeze. Our 1200 sq ft condo is about $145 PER MONTH. But neighbors who use AC full time pay $800 or more a month.

Our biggest expenses when we are there are food, eating out and gas.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 4:47 am
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

Holy crap, really? Surely, the local population doesn't spend that much, right? Are we talking about people who continue to live the way they did while on the mainland? Is this strictly grocery shopping and preparing own meals or is this a lot of out side eating?

CruzanIron,

Thanks. Is this your experience?

I track all my expenses with Quicken. This is cooking at home and does not include dining out.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 7:10 am
Anonny-mouse
(@anonny-mouse)
Advanced Member

I did the math once. For a family of four to maintain in the VI what would be a normal middle class lifestyle in the states (live in a nice house in a generally safer neighborhood, kids in good schools, lights on at night, flush after every use, ac in bedrooms at night, eat out once a week, occasional date nights, one vacation per year, two decent vehicles, big Christmas, etc) it costs at least $100k per year (and maybe $75k for a family of three, $60k for a couple). To make it with less, start scratching things off the list. Lose the AC, dining out, private schools, nicer neighborhoods, then downgrade the vehicles and add a hefty level of conserving power/water, and the cost probably gets cut in half. It's doable here to get by on most budgets if you are willing to make a few sacrifices, but just be aware that it does cost quite a bit to maintain a stateside lifestyle here.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 9:25 am
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

Milk about $5 per gallon

STX: $6.00 at Plaza, $5.50 at Food Town

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Posted : February 13, 2015 9:37 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Power is about $.55 per kilowatt as compared to $.09 here in AZ.

Down to 0.39/kWh.

ReplyQuote
Posted : February 13, 2015 10:13 am
TommySTX
(@TommySTX)
Advanced Member

My wife and I are on STX and spend about $300 to $400 a month for groceries and we do splurge on some more expensive things now and then. We substitute ground turkey for anything we would have normally put ground beef into. We buy soy or almond milk because it costs the same as dairy milk but lasts for months if we don't use it up quickly. We buy the bulk frozen veggies and include rice and pasta as a staple. We buy canned pasta sauce, tastes the same as the bottled but much cheaper. We found great deals on lunch meat at Cost U Less so I can come home for lunch and have a sandwich. Canned pigeon peas are a great addition to many meals for a low cost. There's normally a good deal on some sort of fish at the markets.

My point is that you can eat well for not much more than you would have spent back in the states. Be smart about your purchases and be selective on when and how often you splurge on the more expensive items like meat.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 12:32 pm
robert.hamic
(@robert.hamic)
Advanced Member

Read the article in the Virgin Islands Consortium about non-payment of employee retirement benefits today. It is called GERS. Apparently, it is insolvent and the Board members can invest tens of millions into scams and schemes at will, which they have done. If a teacher is promised a retirement income based on contributions and time on the job, the government has a duty to pay. It doesn't in the USVI and the entire government in the VI is headed towards bankruptcy.

I was also looking to relocate to the USVI to teach in public schools. I can not work for an employer who promises benefits but does not provide them to their retirees. Hell, the government of the USVI doesn't even maintain worker's compensation insurance for any of their employees, according to their own reports. They do this to save money.

I suggest you look at the news on a daily basis to really get a feel for the climate in the USVI. It shocked me.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 1:09 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

vi government employees who do retire, sometimes it takes over 6 months or more to begin collecting after you retire. interesting.

how big is your family you will be coming here with. rents on stx are a bit lower now due to the hovensa fiasco.

do you have school age children? health issues?

crime happens, sometimes it follows you home. there have been 6 murders so far this years on stt-correct me if i am wrong?

cost of living is at least 30% higher. we try to buy fresh non processed food whenever possible. trying to do away with bread, at least anything white. this whole non processed thing will take a bit to get into as we still have a few things in cabinet that are processed.
our food costs are about 500 per month ( 2 people ) maybe eat out 2-3 times per month at an additional cost of about 150-200-depending on where we go

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Posted : February 13, 2015 1:20 pm
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

Thank you, Terry.

Have you all made a conscious effort to NOT live like you did in Arizona? How are the prices for fruits and vegetables? Local seafood?

Thank you.

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Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 3:15 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

I posted links to 2 popular supermarkets in a separate thread under Food Prices.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 3:24 pm
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

Annony-mouse. Thanks. We have no intention of living like we do now. My wife is a physician and I teach. We don't want to continue living the crazy life we have now on the mainland. Lot's of money, but heavy in debt and the lifestyle is hectic. We are paying off debt and want a more leisurely lifestyle.

No AC- no problem. Modest home, single car, cooking at home, etc. We're actually looking forward to the challenge of living with less.

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Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 3:28 pm
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

TommySTX,

Thanks. We will certainly be making adjustments to our current habits. My wife is big on organic, etc. Expensive as hell. Our current grocery bill would be half if we didn't have to buy so much organic.

Thanks for the info.

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Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 3:31 pm
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

robert.hamic,

Thanks. Disconcerting. I am certainly looking into other locations, options, but the idea being in the USVI is/was appealing. Will continue the research.

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Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 3:33 pm
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

speee1dy,

I will be bringing a family of 6. 4 children all under the age of 11. Youngest 4. The 4-yr old has unusual medical condition, but has not been an issue. She is covered by medicare (something else we need to look into). My wife is a physician and will look into practicing while there, but not full time.

Thanks again.

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Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 3:40 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

speee1dy,

I will be bringing a family of 6. 4 children all under the age of 11. Youngest 4. The 4-yr old has unusual medical condition, but has not been an issue. She is covered by medicare (something else we need to look into). My wife is a physician and will look into practicing while there, but not full time.

Thanks again.

You didn't mention whether or not you've actually ever been here to the USVI. Honestly, I can't possibly see how you can even begin to support such a large family on a teacher's salary. If you haven't done a serious PMV, you really should.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 4:21 pm
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

OT, Physician, not teacher.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 4:34 pm
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

OldFart,

No intention of supporting a family this size on my own. As I stated earlier, my wife is a physician. She is flexible to practice in the VIrgin Islands and/or take on temporary LOCUMS jobs in the states for a few months at a time and return. So, making money will not be a problem.

This forum is helping me ID whether a move would be feasible, reasonable.

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 4:35 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

you can do exactly what you want to do while in the u.s., just curious about why the virgin islands are appealing and why you dont think you can unjoin the rat race in the states?

some people love the public schools other hate them. do a search on here for schools , crime etc and read those posts too.

as for a/c most people cant imagine ( those who have not been here or live on a nice hill ) why you would ever need a/c in the tropics. it gets hot, stifling hot. especially in july-sept. lots of people ( myself included ) have gotten rashes from the heat. if you dont have a/c life can be difficult during those times.

can your wife treat your childs medical problem? have you looked into whether they have a physician for your childs needs on island.

also-do you have pets? any of them snub nosed ( cats included ) those are banned on some airlines and animals can not be flown during certain times of the year on those carriers

do you have any money saved up? like maybe 10 grand or so to get you started.

i always recommend a person bring their car instead of buying one here.

ask more questions-do some more reading

ReplyQuote
Posted : February 13, 2015 4:41 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

OT, Physician, not teacher.

He said he was planning on a teaching position and his wife is a physician who may work part-time.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 4:52 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

If you think organic products or health food products are expensive In AZ, you'll be reeling from sticker shock here in the VI.

If you're considering uprooting your entire family for a move, you really should be ready to do a PMV and lots of research.
Much of which you'll find answers to on related posts on this forum.

Bring $20K min. to get you started with a family of 6.
Are you going to need 2 cars or will 1 do? Will you both work while on island? Will jobs be in close proximity to where kids go to school and where you choose to live? What kind of budget do you envision to live here? How big a rental will you require for a family of 6? Will you need it furnished or not. Those are questions you'll have to consider.

Cost of living is high. Be prepared.

Every place can be a rat race, if you let it.

And ......was the "OldFart" comment really necessary? Seriously?

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Posted : February 13, 2015 5:08 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

OldFart,

No intention of supporting a family this size on my own. As I stated earlier, my wife is a physician. She is flexible to practice in the VIrgin Islands and/or take on temporary LOCUMS jobs in the states for a few months at a time and return. So, making money will not be a problem.

This forum is helping me ID whether a move would be feasible, reasonable.

Either you misread my user name or decided for some reason that the new name would better suit me.:D

You didn't answer the question of whether or not you've actually been to the USVI. In my opinion it would be extremely foolish to come here "cold" without doing a dedicated PMV. The idea of your wife practicing in the USVI surely necessitates a first-hand look at the hospitals and medical services available here. Do you even know which island would best suit you?

I hope you also realize that the USVI doesn't participate in the Affordable Care Act and that health insurance is extremely expensive (if you can even find it). Even if you were eventually able to qualify for medical insurance through your employer, the premiums for adding on your family would be substantial.

The $10K which poster speee1dy mentioned is very low in my opinion. You need a good-sized house for a family of six and they're not inexpensive. The usual requirement is for first month's rent, last month's rent and one month security deposit. That along with deposits for utilities, internet, etc. will just about eat up $10K right from the start.

That's my "objective assessment" as a 30 year resident who's helped hundreds of people make the move.

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Posted : February 13, 2015 5:09 pm
soccerrprp
(@soccerrprp)
Advanced Member

Oh, crap, sorry about that OldTart! 🙂

I will be making a visit prior to making any final decisions. 1-2 weeks. We are looking at St. Croix, but admit our research is early. We won't make the move until August. We will have substantial savings to make the transition if decided.

TBH, would like to hear the more positive, "can do" suggestions. We continue the research, but would like to hear people like you provide experiences, examples, wisdom to help us make our decision.

How have other families you've helped deal with health insurance, education, cost of living?

Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : February 13, 2015 5:45 pm
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