Moving to Saint Croix with young family? help
I am hoping to gain the perspective from some residents of Saint Croix. I have a potential job opportunity to move to the island. My wife and I have two kids ages 2 and 4. Are there any reservations or unseen challenges you would offer about moving with a young family?
It seems that people without much experience caution me on the crime rate and safety- is that a concern for a family?
Lastly, my family and I are willing to make adjustments to the way we live, however what is a comfortable wage for a family to live on in STX. The job is 65k plus benefits, is that enough to live comfortably?
Thank you for your help, it is really appreciated!
Start looking at school options Now for down the road before you decide.
School options and health insurance are the two biggies. Presumably your job will provide good group health insurance. Otherwise forget it.
Yes, check out school options as the public school system might not fit your needs. Many people decide to send their kids to private schools and that can be expensive - think in terms of $10K to 15K/yr tuition for each. Others choose to home school.
As for a salary of 65K/yr being "enough to live comfortably" - that depends on your lifestyle as everyone has a different definition of what "living comfortably" actually means. You don't say where you are currently living but, in general, if you are not currently living in a very high end community, the overall cost of living in STX (or any other Caribbean island) is going to be anywhere from 25% to 40% higher than where you now live. You can use those numbers to estimate what YOU will need to maintain your level of comfort.
Thank you for the tips!
What can you say about the crime? is that something to be concerned about with a young family?
We moved here last May with a 9 year old and 12 year old. We love it, and we have no plans on moving on back. Visited St Thomas for 2 weeks recently, and like it better here.
As far as crime it’s here for sure, but we haven’t seen any. We are fortunate to live in a nice secluded area. Like in any city you stay away from certain areas.
We feel pretty safe here.
In my opinion 65k is not a lot to live here. The main reason is the housing which will take up a lot of your budget. A cheaper place to say may put you in a place that may not be as safe as you may feel with 2 kids.
That said my advice for anyone is if you can make it work why not give it a shot. West side beaches are nice and calm even for a 2 and 4 year old to enjoy.
Serious crime on St. Croix is mostly confined to the projects and is generally drug and gang related. I've lived on STX for 18 years and we've never been negatively affected my violent crime.
The cost of living is another matter. You'll find $65,000 is insufficient to live comfortably here. The cost of rentals and real estate never went down when the refinery closed and is set to rise again now that the refinery has been sold and is to be reopened. You won't be happy with public schools and private school is 10 to 15K per year, per child. Of course home schooling is an option, but is it?
The islands are also very car centric and you'll want two in order to function.
It can be fun to live on St. Croix but it is expensive.
Your questions are hard to answer since you didn't share from where you are relocating.
I don't think STX is any more expensive than coastal Florida is today. Housing, food, fuel, insurance, services - about the same. What's expensive for you may not be so for me though.
$65K as a base plus spouse employment will be a good start. You might think about parochial schools rather than private schools. They are less expensive and get good reviews.
The crime that will affect you is petty crime. We have had tools and boat stuff stolen from our garage twice during the past year. We live east end past Cheeseburgers.
Thank you for all of your replies, they are very helpful!
Currently we live in Burlington Vermont, which is certainly not a inexpensive region of the country as the cost of goods are high and taxes are even worse. I currently make closer to 85k now, however we would like to downsize- we currently have a mortgage that is $2300 a month mainly because of our taxes which are 7500 a year!
We actually do plan to homeschool so we would not have to worry about school tuition, however that means my spouse would making an income.
I am also in the Air Force Reserve which can produce a little extra income.
So to be clear- for STX our maximum income would be around 70k
is that substantial for a family of 4 with no tuition cost? We are also ok renting a small house, as long as its in a safe neighborhood, as its my understanding home ownership can be steep with hurricane insurance.
We would be moving with a healthy bank cushion of around 75,000.
We have no need for fancy things, we just don't want to enter into a situation where we just volunteered for poverty!
Thanks again for any insights you may have!
I live on the most expensive of the 3 islands but also do not have a mortgage or typical rent. And I think it is difficult to support a family of 4 on $65k a year. It can be done but it may require significant lifestyle changes that you may end up resenting. Utilities are notoriously high and not that stable. Individual health insurance plans are non existent. The culture is completely different (which is a plus for some and a big negative for others). If you decide to give it a go l’d recommend not blowing through too much of your nest egg. I personally love it here and can’t really imagine living anywhere else. But it certainly isn’t for everyone.
So 70k after lets say 20% taxes taken out - 56k
56k / 12 month 4,666
Rent for a 2-3 bedroom house in a decent area min 2k so now you have 2,666
Utilities 3-400 depending if you want AC, may be able to do 200 shutting down all the lights so now you have 2,366
Internet, phone, car insurance - 400 month =2,966
Feed a family of 4 - 300 per week groceries = now left 1,766
Incidentals (gas, clothing, medical insurance, etc), conservative 400 month
You now have 1,366 to spend over 4 weeks , so about approx 350 a week.
This assumes no credit card debt.
So yes it can be done, but compare that to what you spend now and you really need to think about it. The housing number is probably low, but depends on number of bedrooms and where on island you are.
daveb722's figures are good estimates but when trying to decide if you can "live comfortably" on a certain salary you should use them only as a starting guide. Most people looking to relocate will only focus on the lower estimates while the reality is that often times your actual out of pocket expenses will be on the higher range.
dave's estimates didn't take into account transportation costs - you'll need two cars if you and your wife have to work so will you be bringing cars when you make the move or purchasing them on island? If purchasing on the island do you plan on buying new or used ones? If used, you might find the need for costly repairs sooner rather than later.
You have to also take into consideration what I call the "little adventure(s) that life has in store for your checkbook each month" - like the washing machine that needs a major repair, the cost to replace a refrigerator that gives up the ghost or the a/c unit that breaks down during the longest hot spell of the year - you get the idea. I can tell you that in 18 years of island life there was almost something (sometimes big, sometimes small but always something) every week that needed fixing or replacement around our home.
Your $75K nest egg will give you some security but spend it wisely. Money has a way of disappearing quickly in the Caribbean. In my opinion, paring down for a gross income of $85K to $70K is going to take a lot of adjustment on your part in order to make ends meet. Some people can do it, others find it very difficult. You won't know until you try. You say you have "no need for fancy things" - that's commendable because with a family of 4 living on $70K "fancy things" won't be part of your vocabulary.
I'm not trying to paint a dismal picture but rather the reality of life in the Caribbean. Just about everything ends up costing more than you think. Prices keep going up, rarely do they go down. So, it's better to over estimate your budget and have a small surplus at the end of each month rather than have a shortfall before you get your next paycheck. You want to use your $75K nest egg for emergency expenses not to supplement your monthly income. If you use it to maintain a style of living, you'll blow through it in no time.
Life in the Caribbean has its own challenges, some people adjust well, others don't. It is not necessarily going to be better or worse than where you now live, it is just going to be different.
Good luck, following your dream.
Thank you for the many kind responses and insights! Very helpful!
Reality of the cost of living here. Gallon of Milk $6, loaf of basic bread $4, cereal $6, gas almost $4 a gallon.
Beaches $0, swimming with sea turtles all the time $0, warm weather year round $0, snorkeling $0.
You are young. You can always reset financially somewhere else if STX doesn't work out.
Your spouse won't be unemployed forever nor will your salary remain static.
Be sure and factor in the expenses of moving - deposits, cars, shipping, etc. will be a dent in $75K.
There is no Obamacare or other individual health insurance available in the VI - you'll need to keep a job that offers health insurance.
What's the worst that could happen?