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Moving to St. John this October...

(@karacherie)
Posts: 3
New Member
Topic starter
 

Good day! We are yet another young couple that will be moving to the USVI this October-- myself, 23 and my boyfriend 28. He has lived and worked on St. John once before, and we have our flight planned for the third week of October. He's a very experienced chef who will be starting at La Tapa and I am an experienced server who also has a job lined up in a high volume fine dining establishment in Cruz Bay. Although I've never been to the USVI, we've both resided and worked on other tourist islands and locations and I know that living here will be totally my speed. We have no pets, children, or interest in shipping our goods, but I'm curious to know when a good time would be to keep my eyes open for an apartment. This is the only loose end we need to tie up.

Also, considering that we both have jobs and start times, would $5-6k be enough to move with, and would shipping my car be a viable option? I've heard mixed reviews on shipping a vehicle. I've had my '93 Mustang for years and it only has 90,000 miles on it. I would love to take it with if the price is right, and hopefully throw some extra personal belongings in there. I've read through most of the advice here, and I'm sure this forum is exhausted by the amount of young couples seeking advice, but any information is welcome-- especially from other industry workers. I would love to know average take-home pay for servers in general to see how that might stack up with my monthly expenses. My boyfriend is starting at a fairly healthy wage from what I understand in comparison to average hourly wages on the island. So with that in mind, let me know what you guys think!

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 5:39 pm
(@the-oldtart)
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member
 

Unless you have friends on island who can check out a place for you, try and find something for a week or so until you can get to know your way around and look at places yourselves. There are a lot of scams out there while even legitimate places often just aren't what they appear to be via a few photographs. I don't think your Mustang would be a good choice for St John at all. Unlike the other islands, you really need a 4WD drive and your Mustang isn't suitable. As far as putting belongings in a shipped car, that depends on the shipper and the route, and many insist that the car be completely empty.

$5-6K is a little low when you put a car purchase into the mix. Most rentals require first, last and one month security - plus additional for WAPA and cable and telephone/internet deposits. You can probably find a decent island car to get you around for about $3K although if you can find a temporary place in town close to where you'll be working you can probably do without a car for a while.

Impossible to say what you might make as a server. Depends on the shifts you have, the clientele, the location and a whole bunch of other related factors such as how many people you have to tip out, what your basic shift pay or hourly rate is, etc.

All the best and hope this has helped a little!

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 5:53 pm
(@speee1dy)
Posts: 8867
Illustrious Member
 

shipping your car-i shipped my care. it was paid off and it was better for me to bring my car than to buy one here. you know your car. cost wise it was cheaper for me to do that.
some shipping companies allow you to pack the car others dont. just call them and see.
i don't know about stj, but on stx we have a lot of pot holes that do damage to the underside of your car and you have to buy tires often. consider that when thinking about bringing your car.

good luck and have fun

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 6:40 pm
(@the-oldtart)
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member
 

speedy, the problem on STJ isn't so much the potholes but the steep elevations. You can get by with a 2WD for a day trip but living there you need a 4WD for better traction on steep rain-slicked roads and to reach many residences which are off unpaved rough roads. Hugely different from STX's terrain.

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 7:08 pm
(@Jamison)
Posts: 1037
Noble Member
 

As far as a car goes, I'd sell the one you like and then buy one here, with 4wd and lots of dents that you don't care about one bit, as long as it starts and goes. That amount of money, with jobs lined up, you'll be fine with that amount of money, especially if you sell the car.

I'd find a cheap place for a week, stay there and ask every single person you can find about a house and car and I bet you find deals on both right away.

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 7:14 pm
(@blu4u)
Posts: 842
Prominent Member
 

unless you live on dirt road or have a particularly difficult driveway, 2wd (high clearance is best) is fine for the VI. The key is good tires with plenty of tread and knowing when to shift in low gear 2 or 1. Turning off the a/c also helps on the steeps. This is true for all all of the VI. STT & STX & STJ all have a few dicey roads, (dirt & steep) and some hairy driveways where 4X4 is required, but for the most part you can live a very full life without taking your car to those places--just park and walk in.

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 7:29 pm
(@the-oldtart)
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member
 

unless you live on dirt road or have a particularly difficult driveway, 2wd (high clearance is best) is fine for the VI. The key is good tires with plenty of tread and knowing when to shift in low gear 2 or 1. Turning off the a/c also helps on the steeps. This is true for all all of the VI. STT & STX & STJ all have a few dicey roads, (dirt & steep) and some hairy driveways where 4X4 is required, but for the most part you can live a very full life without taking your car to those places--just park and walk in.

I have to disagree. St John stands on its own where this is concerned.

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 7:37 pm
 piaa
(@piaa)
Posts: 582
Honorable Member
 

I live on St John so first - welcome to the island 🙂

OK, as far as your car is concerned agree 100% with OldTart - no way would I ever drive anything less than a 4wd on St John and definitely not your Mustang. If it rains you won't make it up Jacobs Ladder and you won't even make it into the Marketplace (where the "main" grocery store is) I have been behind too many regular cars (well when I say that there aren't actually that many regular cars on St John as we are too smart to buy one 🙂 ) that come sliding backwards towards you in the rain and believe me it is no fun - - sorry but I would leave your baby at home.

Good luck and hope to see you once you move.

Pia

 
Posted : July 14, 2012 9:18 pm
(@stjohnjulie)
Posts: 1048
Noble Member
 

If your boyfriend still has friends on island, I would try to entice them to help you out with the apartment. There are a lot available right now, but it always seems the 'good' places don't even get listed. They go by word of mouth. I highly recommend that you do not sign a lease sight unseen OR unless you have some one you really trust on island to check it out for you. No kids, no pets, and jobs leaves you open to just about any place. The thing is, everybody has a different idea of 'minimum standard of living' and the only people who really know what that is, is you and your boyfriend. We have really nice apartments, shacks, and everything in between.

I would leave the mustang if I were you. I have 2WD, but there are some places that are dicey when it's wet (and I avoid), but I do have a Tracker, so I have the clearance needed to get over our many speed humps. Some of them are pretty severe and I see low clearance cars have to make wide angles when going over them or totally bottom out going straight over them. This environment is just harsh on cars too. The high UV index, the salt air, the tight parking situations, etc. can turn a nice little car into an island car in a hurry.

The amount you will make as a server will vary greatly depending on the place you work, time of year, and shifts you get. I have a server friend who works at one of the busiest, long standing, places on island and she can make anywhere from $40 to $300 a shift. If you know anyone at the place where you have secured a job, you should ask if they can give you some input on that.

Good luck! See you in a few months 🙂

 
Posted : July 15, 2012 10:08 am
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
 

You would be better off contacting a licensed Realtor to help you with your search for rentals in STJ.
I can reccommend St. John Properties/B.J Harris.
[www.stjohnproperties.com]

 
Posted : July 15, 2012 1:03 pm
(@karacherie)
Posts: 3
New Member
Topic starter
 

Luckily for us, my boyfriend had already lived and worked here, so through a few old contacts he got the job and was able to provide me contact information to secure a job as well. It's not only as easy as "knowing someone". I credit our years of restaurant experience for getting the jobs. We've always found it within our means to move to tourist locations. Because what do people like to do on vacation? Go out to eat! I don't know what your experience is exactly, but if you truly have a passion for the hospitality business, then this might be a a successful move for you. Other than that, make sure your resume is tight, you put together a well thought out cover letter, and then scour Craigslist for whatever you can find. That's how my boyfriend got to St. John for the first time several years ago. Oh, and BE persistent. Employers are hesitant to hire those who aren't even present on island yet.

 
Posted : July 16, 2012 5:42 pm
(@karacherie)
Posts: 3
New Member
Topic starter
 

And thanks everyone! I'm definitely considering selling my Mustang now. I've had it since I was 15 years old though (my first car) and it makes me a little sad, lol. If I don't have the heart to end up selling it, then I'm going to try to live in Cruz Bay, where both my boyfriend and I will be working, and we'll just walk! Other than that, does anyone have any information on shipping personal belongings. IE: mailing a freight/skid to accommodate a few big items?

 
Posted : July 16, 2012 5:46 pm
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