Moving to St. John Sept/Oct
I am thinking about relocating to St. John in Sept/Oct time frame. In the process of getting as much information as I can about jobs, living expenses etc. I have a background in the restaurant industry, office work and sales/marketing. I know it is hard to get a job without actually being on the island. Any advice and suggestions would be appreciated.
You'll just have to see when you get here. Job opportunities are much better on STT than on STJ. There's a ton of information top of this page in the pull-down menus which you should read if you haven't yet done so. Good luck!
Several restaurants are closed for September and part of October on St. John, and the island tends to be pretty sleepy in general during those months. I guess that is good news/bad news....you'll have a hard time finding immediate work, but there will probably be openings because people either leave island for good or find another place to work during the seasonal closings.
Work on your resume, and start sending it out. It's pretty easy to find a list of restaurants on St. John. You can hop on over to TripAdvisor and find a pretty good list, or just do a general internet search. St. John Spice keeps a list of seasonal restaurant closings on their site, but it won't be updated until closer to August. And when you actually get on island, go around with a printed resume and hand it out in person to as many places as you can. If you don't get call backs, go see people again in person. Face to face interaction is important and will get you remembered. Being diligent will also be remembered.
Office type jobs are harder to come by and might be a little more tricky until you know the island a bit more. The clerical type jobs here usually have something to do with bookings (villas, tours, etc) and having specific knowledge of the island is pretty important.
I highly recommend not renting a place to stay sight unseen. There should be lots of openings in September and October. There is a board at Connections (a block from the ferry dock) where you can find places for rent, jobs, things for sale. I do see places for rent on Craigslist, but most of them are not ideal. The good places tend to get rented out word of mouth before they are even available.
Networking is important. When you get here, go out, meet people. Since the island is pretty quiet with tourists in September and October, the full time residents come out to play so to speak. Word of mouth is pretty much the best way to find a job and a place to stay. As long as you have enough cash to get you by for awhile, you should be ok. If you don't have enough money to get you by for 5 weeks without working, don't come until early - mid October.
Great advice! Thank you it is very much appreciated! I know St. John is expensive compared to the other islands. How much do you think one should have to live on for 5 weeks without working?
Everyone's lifestyle is different so it's difficult to give you a set number. Estimate what you'd need to live 5 weeks without working "back home" and add 50% to that number. The result will give you an good indication of what you'll need in St. John.
One caveat - it may take longer than 5 weeks for you to find suitable employment that will pay enough to support the lifestyle to which you've become accustomed. In genera;l, you'll find that wages for comparable jobs in the Caribbean are lower than they are "back home" and your living expenses will be higher. That's the Catch-22 of living/working in the Caribbean.
Most people will tell you to bring enough money to support yourself for about 6 months (not 5 weeks). Money disappears quickly in the Caribbean.
Good luck following your dream.
Everyone's advice is sound. Keep in mind that many landlords will require a payment of two to three times your first month's rent for you to move in - usually first, last, and security deposit; sometimes just first & security.
Seasonal housing can be tight on STJ sometimes, and early October is actually a great time to beat the rush in lining up a place. You might not get all the work you want straight away, but within a month you should be well on your way to full employment, assuming you can show up regularly on time and sober (not in everyone's skill set in the restaurant industry here).
The amount of money you would need to get you by a couple of months without any income from a job is going to vary individually like Afriend said. And yes, most places that are up for rent require 1st, last, and security deposit. So say you find a place for $1,000 a month, you would need $3000 to move in, and another $1,000 to carry you through the next month too. You will also have to pay for electricity, say that is about $120 a month if you don't use any AC or have a clothes dryer and dishwasher. If you want internet, that will cost you about $60 a month. If you want a car and buy one here that will cost you between $3,500 (for a POS) up to $7,000 for something decent. Registration and insurance on that car would be another $300. Groceries will vary depending on what you eat. Ramen noodles are a buck, a fresh apple (ONE) can run about $2. Drinking water is $5 for a case of 4 one gallon jugs at St. John Ice. A box of cereal can be $8. A gallon of milk is about $9. Canned veggies are about $2. Doing laundry will be $8 a load to wash and dry self serve. Just throwing out there a few things to think about to give you an idea of what stuff costs. Some people don't need much, others do, so you will have to be the judge. I learned pretty fast once moving here that I didn't really need as much stuff as I thought I did to live comfortably.
Thanks for all the feedback. It has been a great help. I think I will probably make the move in Oct as it seems like that will be the best bet for securing a job and apartment. I know that life on the island will be a lot different then life in the states. Hence why I am looking to relocate for a little while. I am all for living easy and will not require a lot by sides the essentials to get by. I am only planning on staying till May/June. Are there apartments that do by the month rentals?
Most prefer annual lease as it's harder in summer to find tenants and landlords then face having their rentals vacant for months. Not saying you won't find what you're looking for but it may be more difficult.
Finding a lease for less than a year is hard. And finding someone to take over your lease in June would be hard too. And if you go into a job interview and say you are going to be leaving in June, you can pretty much forget about getting that job. Most of the restaurants have a core staff that has been here for years, and that core staff gets the best shifts. The new to island people tend to get the crappy shifts until they put in their time. There are a couple of places off hand that I can recall hire newbies on the regular... High Tide, and Cruz Bay Watersports. Although I don't recommend lying, I also don't recommend saying that you are only going to be on St. John until June. Heck, you might get here and decide it's not for you and leave after a couple of weeks. Or you could be like me and decide that this is where you are supposed to be and never leave. I can here in October 15 and a half years ago, that is 15 years longer that I thought I'd be here.