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MN_Chris
(@MN_Chris)
New Member

I am strongly considering moving to the island of St. Thomas in about 1 week. I have about $2000 saved up. I just need a place to live and a job good enough to support me. I am 22 years old with no mortgage or debt.

My questions are: Could I afford to live in St. Thomas as a waiter? Would I need a roommate? What is the cheapest way to live when I get there? Some kind of hostel? A campground maybe? Is it common for un-wealthy people to move to the island and seek employment?

The purpose of this trip is to be on an adventure. My uncle bought me a one way ticket to St. Thomas and will buy me a ticket home when I am ready. I would like to stay in St. Thomas for about 6 months. Worst case scenario is I can't find a job good enough to pay the bills and I just go back home. I know that this is a serious undertaking and I don't take it lightly. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙂

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Topic starter Posted : December 1, 2008 3:12 pm
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

That's not a lot of $$. No campgrounds for permanent residents. You can live on a waiter's pay but will likely need more than 1 job. You could stay reasonably in somewhere like www.villafairview.com but most other places will require first, last month's rent & security & if utilities aren't included you'll need to pay deposits for those.

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Posted : December 1, 2008 4:17 pm
A Davis
(@A_Davis)
Trusted Member

MN_Chris,

That's not much. You will have only 2 months' living expenses so you'd have to have a job as you step off the plane or boat. But keep in mind the utility and apartment deposits... you'll be out of cash in no time. From where I sit, it does not seem possible.

But you could come for a week to 10 days if you like, and stay at a nice guest house. Otherwise, way expensive. Everything costs 30-60% more than it does in the states, so the cost of living here is pretty high. You'll be seriously counting pennies if you have 2K for an entire 6 months.

You can either save more $$$ (at least 6-10K to be comfortable) before coming, or stay with someone so you don't have to worry about living expenses. But, with your adventurous spirit and the little safety net your uncle has given you, I can see you moving forward with your plans to come here, and either getting on famously by lucking into a decent, small apartment and a gig (high season is about to start, so higher demand for service personnel) ... or not, and going home with lots of good memories and the possibility of another, more strategic move later (or not)...

You're young! Won't rain on your parade. And as you will find when you get here, "rain don't stop the carnival"...

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Posted : December 1, 2008 5:09 pm
Betty
(@Betty)
Trusted Member

Normally I'd be against this for someone trying to make a permanent move. But this kids got his ticket here and back. And he has no real intention of living here.

If he can get his health card within a week or two (you have to have it for any food service job) and he can find a roommate situation where one roommate's moving in and one's moving out he might be able to do it.

You are going to have to be super careful with your money till you have a place to live and a couple of jobs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and dinner careful. No going out and partying, because if you do it'll be gone in a week.

Villa Fairview is most like likely you best bet to get set up, but keep an eye on craiglist Caribbean and this classified board, BUT DO NOT rent anything sight unseen.

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Posted : December 1, 2008 5:36 pm
lc98
 lc98
(@lc98)
Trusted Member

Yes, the viable routes at that price point are to get a roommate or live on a boat. Otherwise your cash would all vanish the second your future landlord asks for first, last, and security deposit. Depending on your living situation and the meals allowance at your job, you might be able to make it with just one gig. It all depends on your standard of living.

Also, I haven't seen anyone mention transportation. With that budget, you'll have to walk, take safaris ($1-$2 per ride), or hitchhike everywhere you need to go. That will also limit where you will be able to live and work.

Living here and enjoying living here are different, and one of the big differences can come from the number of digits on your paycheck. If you come, you will definitely have an adventure!!

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Posted : December 1, 2008 5:46 pm
trw
 trw
(@trw)
Expert

my friend got her stool tested and her card in less than an hour and a half today,where in minnesota are you from chris?

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Posted : December 1, 2008 6:13 pm
Sabrina
(@Sabrina)
Advanced Member

Go for it - your Uncle has the right idea! It will be a great adventure/education. You will probably have to work very hard to survive, but I'm sure at 22 you can manage that. Good luck!

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Posted : December 1, 2008 6:16 pm
bethburnett70
(@bethburnett70)
Advanced Member

At 22, with the tickets paid for, there is absolutely no reason not to do it. Just be careful with your money. I reiterated what a previous poster said... don't start with the partying/bars/etc or your money will go very very fast.

ANd if it doesn't work out, what a great story... Do you think your uncle would adopt me? 🙂

-B

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Posted : December 1, 2008 10:04 pm
A Davis
(@A_Davis)
Trusted Member

When I first came here, I was only 22, but I moved in with the 'rents for a year before getting my own place. So, I had it easy compared to MN_Chris. I moved back to the states twice, but each time I came back, I already had a job, and already had a place to land safely (place to live). It was still gosh-darned expensive to move back, even with those measures, as I had to pack up and dissolve my previous domicile. MN_Chris may not have to worry about that, and already has ticket in hand, 'tis tru...

Has the makings of a fine adventure; LOL @ bethburnett70!!! Let's hear it for those late adoptions.

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Posted : December 1, 2008 11:30 pm
onionhead
(@onionhead)
Advanced Member

I have traveled all over the world with next to no money in hand and no plan on a direction other than to rack up life; I have a small piece of travelers advice.

Never tell anyone that you are new, alone, and ready to be beaten to a pulp and left for dead unless you really want an incredible adventure.

You never "ask" for a job, that tells an employer that you need to be trained. Rather, be confident in your skills enough to find where those skills are obviously needed, approach the prosect with your observation and negotiate compensation.

To more easily get a job, have a job. I personally am more likely to hire a responsible person than someone who left his last job with no thought of tomorrow. Get a stupid gig pushing an ice cream cart if you have to and then look for something else - you now have a viable reference. Also, get a po box and a trac fon - TRAC FON...if its stolen or lost, no big deal.

As a traveling adventurer, you are not a guest or a temp resident in any country, you are a transient-a likely suspect - keep your nose clean and don't treat our island like a cheap whore to be thrown away when you're exhausted. Crass, I know, but police and angry male relatives don't care about your "adventure".

Drink no rum till you've paid your first bill...its cheap,goes quick,and robs your good sense.

Take time to say goodmorning - manners are your way of showing people that they are worthy of more than a cursory assessment.

Any islander can tell you that there is no shame in being poor, only in acting poorly.

Good travels to you.

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Posted : December 2, 2008 12:10 am
A Davis
(@A_Davis)
Trusted Member

Wow, onionhead... great advice! If this thread stopped right there, it'd be a great close.

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Posted : December 2, 2008 12:43 am
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

onionhead,

Some of the best advise I have seen on the forum in the couple of years I have been following! I haven't read your other posts, but I noticed you registered only 7 weeks ago. Have you only been here a short time?

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Posted : December 2, 2008 12:45 am
NugBlazer
(@NugBlazer)
Advanced Member

Chris, if I were you I wouldn't listen to the naysayers. JUST DO IT. You're only 22, which is the age where you're supposed to have adventures. I've known easily a HUNDRED people in their early 20's who have made the move to the VI with less than you.

YES you will need a roomate and YES you will need to work alot, but who the hell cares? You only live once. If you don't like it, you can always move back. Once you get a resturaunt job, you will make alot of friends in a hurry. And, you know what The Beatles said.: "I get by with a little help from my friends." So will you.

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Posted : December 2, 2008 2:28 am
MN_Chris
(@MN_Chris)
New Member

Wow! Thank you everybody for the great advice! I never thought I would get so much feedback in just a few hours. Villa Fairview seems like the perfect place if I can afford it. Maybe they would let me bring in a roommate. I will contact them tomorrow to ask some questions.

I did not know that I needed a health card to get a job out there. What's involved with this? a physical? how much does that cost?

I plan on living as cheap as possible when I get there. I will not bring a car. I plan on taking the $1-$2 bus, biking, and/or walking. My primary intention is not to "have fun". As soon as I get there I plan to take any job(s) I can find and keep on looking for better jobs. If I have to start out working 80 hours a week that is fine with me. At least this way I will be able to meet many other people who work and live on the island.

This will be a big change for me. I live in Prior Lake, MN (a suburb south of Minneapolis) and I have lived in Minnesota all my life. It's 16 degrees Fahrenheit outside right now and I just saw the first ice house out on the lake yesterday. The good thing is that right now is the perfect time for me to go on an adventure. I have no financial obligations here in Minnesota. I do not owe anybody money. I am single. I just lost my job in a start-up web design company that failed, so it's not like I'm quitting my job to take a big risk.

It will be very hard leaving my friends here in Minnesota. I have explained to them that I plan on returning the end of May. I even know somebody who plans on visiting me in St. Thomas 🙂 This is not easy for me. My thoughts are that if I don't do this now I will not ever have the chance to do anything like this ever again in my lifetime. I would get a mortgage or get married and it would be impossible for me to ever have these experiences. You only live once, right?

P.S: NugBlazer, you sound exactly like my uncle right now! He has always been an adventure seeker and kind of my life guru if that makes any sense. I am not doing this for him though. This is my idea. He just supported me by helping me with the plane ticket as well as giving me a nudge in the right direction (well I hope it's the right direction anyways).

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Topic starter Posted : December 2, 2008 3:30 am
A Davis
(@A_Davis)
Trusted Member

Dear MN_Chris: Continue to check the message board and stay here, at the Relocation Center itself (links at the top of this page) for lots of factual details about life in the islands.

Keep onionhead's advice in mind, for real tho'...

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Posted : December 2, 2008 7:09 am
anjell
(@anjell)
Advanced Member

Wow, Chris,

You are lucky to get the welcome mat. I have more money saved up than you, and I wasn't treated so kindly. I wanted to buy a condo, but was not given a choice in what I wanted. I asked about the villafair, and was told it was no good.

Goodluck in your trip there. I've decided to stay here in the states, and will buy something here instead.

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Posted : December 2, 2008 8:26 am
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

Uh, nugblazer where are the naysayers on this thread??? Anjell, you were talking in previous posts about buying a condo & I don't think you had been to STX before. Many people suggest renting for a while before buying.

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Posted : December 2, 2008 9:11 am
onionhead
(@onionhead)
Advanced Member

Thank you, that is very kind.

I grew up in the VI and left after my apprenticeship to be a journeyman and hone my skills. I have found my bride, she gave me three boys, and now it is time to come home...so, while the crude matter which is my body is not now on the island - my soul has never left (as evidenced by my clients asking questions like: "ok, you say it'll be ready by Tues...do you know what to-day is? Do you know what month it is? Do you care? Are you listening to me? Thank you for not charging me for it,but,could you explain again why the job will take longer than anyone else because you have to have two hours in the middle of the day for hammock time? What the heck is hammock time? How can you charge me more because you think I was rude to the waitress?".LOL

I will be home soon, and I look forward to using my acquired skills to assist and annoy you to the best of my abilities. Ciao bela!

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Posted : December 2, 2008 12:12 pm
terry
(@terry)
Expert

Anjell,
I don't remember the post you are referring to. However if someone suggested to you that you rent before you buy, they were only trying to save you some possible grief. Many people buy then regret their decision.
As far as someone saying that Villafair was no good, that was only their opinion. I'm not familiar with Villafair, but maybe it was in run down condition, or maybe it was in a neighborhood that was next to public housing.
These things do not in themselves mean that they were not nice to you.

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Posted : December 2, 2008 2:30 pm
vicaptain
(@vicaptain)
Advanced Member

I've been lurking on this board for years, and there does seem to be a shift in attitude. 4 years ago, the necessity of a pre-move visit was gospel; anyone looking to move here with less than 5 figures saved up and a month's time on island was declared a mad man. Granted, its an opinion that I agree with assuming the person in question is a professional moving with a family, but for a large majority of the people I know on island, coming here with barely adequate means is a real badge of pride.

This thread is packed with excellent advice for you. To ad to it, I would suggest talking to everyone you meet once you reach St. Thomas. Taxi drivers, people next to you in line, land lords, everyone. Cars, accomodations, and jobs are all best found by word of mouth and not the newspaper. I got my first job on island by ducking under an awning during a small rainstorm and after talking to a bartender for a bit, found out they were looking for help. People can be a huge asset on this island. And never forget to start conversations with "good morning," "good afternoon," or "good night."

That being said, there is a certain coldness given to new arrivals by some people who have lived here longer. After seeing so many people come and go, they are hesitant to try to form friendships and relationships with "untested" people. Ignore them, they are largely unhelpful people anyways who rely on pedigree instead of personality.

I wish you the best of luck on your adventure, and feel like you have the exact right attitude for your trip. You seem to be approaching this with both eyes open which is a very healthy quality. Keep posting if and when more questions pop up.

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Posted : December 2, 2008 8:02 pm
jsmith
(@jsmith)
Advanced Member

mn chris ,
sounds like your uncle is trying to get u away from something. if u are on drugs dont think things are going to change there. like everyone said stay away from the party scene,work hard and only good things can happen for u.However much money u think u need double it.best of luck and keep us posted.

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Posted : December 3, 2008 12:44 am
divinggirl
(@divinggirl)
Trusted Member

Chris - I moved to STX from MN (Roseville) 7 years ago and I can tell you you will love it! Most of the advise given on this board - to have more $ and make a PMV - is to those who plan to live here permanently and bring a family. At 22 you have the right attitude and it sounds like perfect circumstances....good luck and enjoy!!

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Posted : December 3, 2008 12:47 am
A Davis
(@A_Davis)
Trusted Member

jsmith, I think it's quite a stretch to assume that the uncle is trying to get MN_Chris out of town or that drugs are involved. The poster sounds rational enough (starting with this message board is a sign of true intelligence! 😀 ). All things considered, MN_Chris has lots of information and will be fine, no matter what happens. That's my .02.

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Posted : December 3, 2008 12:51 am
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

(I wanted to buy a condo, but was not given a choice in what I wanted.)

What choice?
Who didn't give you a choice?
Who has the ability to give you choices?
Some Realtor out there would not sell you a condo???

We are into giving advice and opinions, that's for sure! But, don't put the blame, or credit, on a bunch of online strangers.

That's a good point for everybody, not just Anjell. There is a lot of really, really good advice, from the heart, on this forum, but there is also incorrect information given. Not on purpose, I'm sure, but the fact is this forum can be a wealth of knowledge and info, but not the know all and end all! So, Anjell, and others, get off the forum occasionally and talk to Realtors, employers, shipping companies, landlords, etc. And, if at all possible, come down for a pre-move-visit and start to get the skinny on things for yourself.

As Marty says, "We're all here, 'cause we're not all there." One person will do great with $2,000 and the next won't stand a chance with $10,000.

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Posted : December 3, 2008 12:53 am
onsteadc
(@onsteadc)
Advanced Member

Onionhead, was is TRAC FON? Forgive my ignorance. Good advice by the way. I'm relocating 1/1 and getting prepared as I write. I have more than $2,000 saved up, but I've already set my budget and my savings will pretty much be gone once I arrive, buy a car, get an apartment, etc. but I'm in my late 20's and don't see any problems getting going, even if we have to take on multiple jobs. Mind you I'm bringing my fiance with me so that also helps with another income.

Thanks,
Chad

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Posted : December 10, 2008 8:31 pm
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