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Moving to St. Thomas, not for the fainthearted.

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Idlewood4
(@Idlewood4)
Advanced Member

So I thoroughly researched my move here, reading this forum backwards and forwards, getting the Settlers Guide. I learned a lot. Having been here for all of 7 months, I have to say it's both better and worse than I anticipated.

Sugar ants-really? The little critters are so tiny, but a royal pain in the butt. Terro is my new best friend. Heaven forbid a crumb of anything drops anywhere. It's made me rethink my eating habits. Late night snack in bed? No way, unless I want little crawly visitors joining me.

Infrastructure. You mean there is one? Power went out on Halloween for 18 hours. Burned out both routers for my building. Today, I finally have WIFI again, hopefully it will stick. Dish- acted funky for 5 days, then died totally. Finally got dish to send me a new box. Spent 3 hours installing it, and it didn't work. They sent me an obsolete model that didn't work. Now I am waiting for a new box. Hopefully a model still in use. Oh yeah, not only did they send me an old box, but I had to pay $28.20 in customs fees cause although box shipped from South Carolina, it was made in Canada.

Sahara dust. Who would have thought? All the way from the Sahara to St. Thomas to land on my windows, furniture and everything else. Lucky me.

Car repairs- I brought the 2008 Accent, that runs fine, and a good island car. Well... it ran fine in the states. Got a screw in the tire. Was going to get the tire changed, I have a full tire in the trunk. But nope, not the way they do it here. Stick a plug in that sucker, pay $5. and drive away as good as new. I'm told they'll just keep plugging them until the tire can't take anymore. I ride the brakes 2 miles down hill to work, and hit a max of about 15 mph on the 2 mile trip home after work. My ears usually pop twice. But I digress. My battery light has come on, and I strongly suspect that sucker is saying, "girl, I miss the Mass Pike." Can we please go higher than 40 so I can charge myself up again?" Or maybe I'm just hallucinating.

Car registration-this was cool, well at first the shipping company "misplaced" my car. But after 5 days, they found it again.... And I never set foot in the registry. The car was delivered titled, registered, inspected and insured to me at my office. I just had to write a check. Now that's service.

Mold-packing for a weekend back in the states a few weeks ago. Pulled the few pairs of jeans and sweaters I kept just for that occasion. Oh yeah, and my sneakers. Lo and behold..... Covered in white mold. Funnnnnnnnn.

Bread and fruit. It all goes in the fridge. Otherwise it has the life of about a day. Things just don't last here. Pasta, rice, crackers. All go in a zip lock in a sealed tight plastic container, with a few bay leaves to keep the weavils away.

Power-If the rain starts, get a cold drink, use the bathroom, and have a flashlight handy. There's a good chance power is going to go "bye-bye" Can't flush or run water when power out or you risk burning out the cistern pump. Or so I'm told.

Groceries and basic supplies. You can find it, for a price! I could get 3 big boxes for cereal for the same price as a small one here. And that's just the beginning.

Dumpsters. Is there ever a time when dumpsters are actually empty? I've been driving around since Saturday with a back seat full of trash because I refuse to put in an already overflowing dumpster. Is there a schedule for these things?

Leisurely beach time-non existant, working all week, Saturday running around doing errands, and Sunday----cleaning up the Sahara dust and mold that has come to visit.

That said, I love it here. The people are amazing. Smile and good morning gets a smile back with a "morning, morning." People are kind, (well if they aren't shooting each other). The beauty. I'm still in awe of my view. And without TV and wifi, I've had ample time to savor the view. This morning there was a double rainbow. Gorgeous tropical flowers, fruit trees, coqui frogs, bats, parrots, the sea. It's a beautiful place. I'm finding I've adapted to island living easier than I thought I would. What's the rush, I can do that tomorrow or someday.

So thank you all for your sage advice, and vitally useful information. I couldn't have made it this far without you. And for those of you considering the move- think twice. All those people who say living here is different than vacationing here are correct. If you must have your Starbucks and Sunday paper than this probably isn't for you. If you don't have a stash of cash, it's not for you. Everything is more expensive than you anticipate it will be. But, if you are friendly, and genuine, and flexible, and tolerant and adaptable-give it a try. It's paradise with warts, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Oh yeah, don't forget to bring your own health insurance.....

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Topic starter Posted : November 22, 2016 1:24 am
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

Pasta, rice, crackers. All go in a zip lock in a sealed tight plastic container, with a few bay leaves to keep the weavils away.

and everything else that doesn't go in the fridge plus anything that might rust or mold including those shoes and clothes.

And here's another secret. All those little packets of silica gel that come in the box with all sorts of things, including shoes, even inside pill bottles, that say throw away, do not eat. Well dem is little dehumidifiers. Keep the larger ones, they can be rejuvenated by putting them in the oven or microwave and they go in the zip lock bags as well. But even though it's non-toxic best to stick to using rice inside the salt shakers.

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Posted : November 22, 2016 2:00 am
stjohnjulie
(@stjohnjulie)
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Well said.

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Posted : November 22, 2016 7:27 am
Ca. Dreamers
(@ca-dreamers)
Advanced Member

welcome to our World.(tu)

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Posted : November 22, 2016 10:54 am
watruw8ing4
(@watruw8ing4)
Trusted Member

This should be required reading! (My husband is actually outside putting a new tire on as I type). Well done.

The two things that I wasn't prepared for:

While warned that appliances don't last as long as expected here, I missed the posts about about everything else with a shorter life span: electronics, hard vinyl (that gets sticky), the soles of my shoes, the tops of my shoes, anything elastic, chrome that pits, roofing, and a host of other items I once considered durable. Not sure if I resent more the additional $$ I need to spend on replacement, or the time spent on additional maintenance to prolong the inevitable.

It should be common sense that if you live in a place with wonderful trade winds and leave your windows open 24/7 to enjoy them, that more than just air can get inside. And that humidity helps collect dirt on surfaces. But it just didn't dawn on me. Our place here is less than 1/2 the size of our house back in the states, yet I spend more time cleaning it. And I'm not a cleaning freak. Knowing this would not have changed our minds about moving here, but it might have affected the location we chose to live on the island.

Paradise does have its price. So I'm glad you are still happy with your move. We are too.

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Posted : November 22, 2016 11:07 am
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

This is a great thread and should be required reading for everyone contemplating a move to the caribbean. It sums up perfectly why we keep telling people that life in the islands is "different".

When you point out one or two of the items mentioned as "drawbacks" most people who don't live here (but aspire to do so someday) always respond with what I call a "Yeah but" as in "Yeah but, the weather is great and the beaches are beautiful so those little things don't matter.

Of course, when you add them all together you get a much better picture of the frustrations that everyday life here offer. I tell people that I would love to have just one week go by where I don't have to fix something, replace something or deal with any of those little "problems". It hasn't happened yet in my 15 or so years living in the Caribbean and I don't hold out much hope I'll get that week anytime soon.

Anyway, it's the price one pays for admission to paradise. Paradise it may be but it is not heaven.

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Posted : November 22, 2016 1:48 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

The cistern pump won't burn out if the power is off BUT can run until it burns out once the power returns IF it has lost its prime. Most pumps are self priming these days and this isn't likely to happen. However if you do have the older type pump a little pre planning will save it.

There will be a good sized raised plug on the top of a small tank built into the pump that needs to be opened, and water poured in to prime the pump.
So have a small wrench that fits that plug and a gallon jug of water together in some convenient place.If the pump is running a long time after the power returns it has lost the prime. Unplug the electricity or turn off the breaker that controls it , open the plug on the top - pour in water til it overflows - close the plug and reconnect the electricity.

I keep a small 2.5 gal bucket in the shower, collect the water usually wasted before it gets shower temperature and use it to flush into the toilet bowl directly once a day or when the power is off.

Keep up the Terro treatment for ants. Don't spray and kill the ants, let them carry the terro back to the nest. keep moving the terro drops closer to the point of entry if you can.
Take your garbage away daily - use the soon to be outlawed grocery bags, you can throw them away in many places besides dumpsters.This daily practice really cuts down on ants problems.
CostUless has much better cereal prices.

The battery light is not a good sign at all - don't ignore it - go to someplace like Caribbean Battery and have them check the alternator !!

Look into having a small low wattage heat rod for the closet - [ google piano rod] -- very effective for mold prevention. Put dryer sheets in among your stored clothing. Storing any clothes that are not newly cleaned mold quickly.

Brewers Bay is close by your home and work - go before or after work for a sea bath - you will meet some very nice like minded folks and stave off your beach deficiency with even a 1/2 hour visit a few times a week.

Keep adapting -- keep enjoying the good parts -- schedule a visit to Magens for a walk and swim during your errand day if you have to head out East.

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Posted : November 22, 2016 2:25 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

excellent post

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Posted : November 22, 2016 6:14 pm
AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
Trusted Member

Sticky this thread.

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Posted : November 22, 2016 6:52 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

excellent post

If you meant mine - thank You -- although after rereading it it does smack of my Mothers old "Hints from Heloise" books.
If you meant the OP -- I agree wholeheartedly.

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Posted : November 22, 2016 7:01 pm
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

I tell people that I would love to have just one week go by where I don't have to fix something, replace something or deal with any of those little "problems".

Paradise it may be but it is not heaven.

But I much prefer dealing with the little "problems" in paradise vs. the alternative elsewhere.

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Posted : November 23, 2016 12:37 am
STTsailor
(@STTsailor)
Trusted Member

Well balanced.
Hopefully will be an eye opener for some dreamers.

Knowing and experiencing the advercieties and challenges of life here and generating same income off the mainland I would still vote for Orange County in Cali or south florida.

The one thing I can't agree with OP is frendliness of locals. Beyond ample greetings of blessed day they are really an oblivious, mindless and often commatose bunch. Indifferent to new comers and often reverse racists to boot. "Not the there is enything wrong with that" to qute Jerry Sainfeld. It's their turf so I play by their rules.

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Posted : November 23, 2016 1:13 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Glad you're settling in so well, Idlewood.
Great observations on island life for those contemplating a move.
Welcome to VI.
Warts and all.

At least you have a dumpster (for who knows how long) on your way to work. I usually give mine a scenic tour depending on my route of the day before I can get rid of it. I'm looking forward to having my garbage picked up at my home, recycling and having mail and packages delivered to my door when I move. What a treat!

What happens when power goes out and you use water is that it drains all the water out of the pipes and pump will need priming before you can get water when power returns.

Always good to keep a few bottled gallons on hand as well as a couple battery operated lights, fans and a radio. As you may have noticed, WAPA needs no reason to have outages. Good to have your electronics on battery backup/surge protectors.

Brewers Bay is very nice, as mentioned, for a quick dip after work.
Keep on enjoying.

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Posted : November 23, 2016 11:52 am
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

both (tu)

excellent post

If you meant mine - thank You -- although after rereading it it does smack of my Mothers old "Hints from Heloise" books.
If you meant the OP -- I agree wholeheartedly.

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Posted : November 23, 2016 2:33 pm
dreambig
(@dreambig)
New Member

Hello,

Which Island do you currently live on? And what happens to the electronics over a period of time? My husband and I are considering moving to St. Croix in April-May.

Thanks

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Posted : November 26, 2016 4:03 am
rosesisland
(@rosesisland)
Trusted Member

Hello,

Which Island do you currently live on? And what happens to the electronics over a period of time? My husband and I are considering moving to St. Croix in April-May.

Thanks

Same as the other two islands. Salt air reduces the overal life of electronics. I said good-bye to my Bose stereo just this year! TV should be next to go!

Please read, read and read some more on this site. Over the past 20 years I've said good-bye to more people leaving here that just could not adjust than I've ever said hello to people. Not everyone comes here understands that it's not a vacation to just live here. What you see on HGTV is all the good things and never the dirty underbelly you see when living here. Do NOT move here without a PMV! (Pre-move visit) and, my advice, do not buy until you've lived here a year or two. At 18 months many come down with "island fever" and find to need to move back to the states.

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Posted : November 26, 2016 9:56 am
watruw8ing4
(@watruw8ing4)
Trusted Member

Hello,

Which Island do you currently live on? And what happens to the electronics over a period of time? My husband and I are considering moving to St. Croix in April-May.

Thanks

Same as the other two islands. Salt air reduces the overal life of electronics. I said good-bye to my Bose stereo just this year! TV should be next to go!

Please read, read and read some more on this site. Over the past 20 years I've said good-bye to more people leaving here that just could not adjust than I've ever said hello to people. Not everyone comes here understands that it's not a vacation to just live here. What you see on HGTV is all the good things and never the dirty underbelly you see when living here. Do NOT move here without a PMV! (Pre-move visit) and, my advice, do not buy until you've lived here a year or two. At 18 months many come down with "island fever" and find to need to move back to the states.

Just in the past year:

The 5 year old vacuum cleaner, a 2 year old iPhone, a 4 year old iPad mini, our 8 year old car's electric circuitry, a 6 year old Blu-Ray player, an 8 year old microwave, and a partridge in a pear tree. Bear in mind we've only lived here full time for 2 years out of 9+. So only a few months a year usage before then.

The year before: the washer/dryer (OK, that was really old), and a 5 year old Kindle.

Happy to say the 7 year old Bose speakers and two LG tv's (6 and 8 years) are still going strong. (Knocking on wood).

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Posted : November 26, 2016 1:39 pm
Bigfacemoe
(@Bigfacemoe)
Advanced Member

Great post and replies.

Plan on moving early 2018.
PMV in Feb.

I try to always tell myself that I may end up hating it, but I know it's one of those things I would regret if I didnt do it. Especially after all the time spent researching.

I started a catering business with the same thought. I enjoyed it but got burnt out after two years. Sold it, but have zero regrets and learned a ton doing it.

You just gotta do it sometimes.

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Posted : November 26, 2016 4:14 pm
singlefin
(@singlefin)
Trusted Member

One thing that I think is very important, and rarely mentioned here, is that living here can any maintainers nightmare (but with a better view).
My point, is that you've got to be a somewhat self sufficient jack-of-all-trades, or have huge amounts of disposable income to pay someone for constant repairs and maintanance.
I built my own home in the states, and for years maintained my own vehicles. I thank God I'm a "tinkerer". I find having basic "McGyver" skills is a must down here. I'm very greatful for St. Croix Marine, Gallows Bay Hardware, Sears, and Home Depot. Between them all I can always scrounge up what I need for any repair project (stainless steel and lithium grease are my new best friends).
So if your planning on buying your own home, I think being handy is far more important here than it is up in the states. You can't be turned off by getting down and dirty here, be inventive, be hands-on, resistance is futile!

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Posted : November 26, 2016 4:19 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

resistance is futile!

Preventive maintenance is imperative.

(stainless steel and lithium grease are my new best friends).

Using a high grade automotive paste wax on any SS surfaces is worth the effort. Any lubrication should be regularly scheduled. I find a silicon spray attracts much less contamination then a WD 40 type product in places where Lithium grease is hard to apply.

I find having basic "McGyver" skills is a must down here.

Many projects can be done with iniative and common sense and maybe even a YouTube search.

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Posted : November 26, 2016 4:37 pm
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

Below I have included a quote regarding 'Rock Fever/ Island Fever' as expressed by one of our forum members. Stated so beautifully, it simply has to be shared:

"...Yup. I've got it. It hits me hardest in the springtime.

The black, gray, and yellow morels should be up right now in the Virginia mountains. If not, they're only days away awaiting a soaking rain and a warm night. The pheasant's-back mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and gem-studded puffballs are up. Beautiful, delicate spring wildflowers are up - bloodroot, spring beauties, bluets, Dutchman's breeches, jack-in-the-pulpit, may-apple, violets, star-chickweed, rue-anemone, bluebells and so many others. Everything is turning green. The redbud should be in full bloom and lining all of the highways and country roads. The deer are shedding their winter gray coats for their summer red ones. The song birds are returning. The thunderstorms this time of year can be spectacular as gulf air masses battle arctic air masses for control. And the rivers flow timelessly on.

Yup. I've got it.

It’s the cycles in nature, the seasonal patterns, and all of the symbolism held within the renewal of life that I miss the most. All of nature dances to the rhythm of that song. The pattern is predictable. You can anticipate within weeks when each plant will break ground, when the buds will appear on each tree, and when each migratory bird will return. People follow those patterns too. Throughout the mid-Atlantic, people are throwing open windows that have long been shut against the cold. They are doing their spring cleaning, planting gardens, pulling out their spring wardrobes, servicing lawn tools, and sewing crops.

Life on land is far more diverse on the mainland - many more critters, many more species of wildflowers, much greater varieties of trees and shrubs, many more species of songbirds. These islands are like the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer. The seasonal patterns here are absent or so subtle that they can easily be missed. Life on land is not nearly as diverse in the islands. The diversity here lies in the water. Put your face in a tropical sea and nature goes nuts! Too cool.

Yup. I've got it. It hits me hardest in the springtime....."

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Posted : November 26, 2016 4:46 pm
Optomist
(@Optomist)
New Member

Insects, dust, mold, mildew, premature corrosion on appliances and failure of electronics seem to be more a symptom of the prevalent construction methods than anything unique with respect to the climate or geography of the Virgin Islands. Stucco coated concrete walls tend to absorb moisture, and "breeze cooled" living spaces are going to import humidity, dust and salt laden air.

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Posted : November 26, 2016 6:53 pm
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

My point, is that you've got to be a somewhat self sufficient jack-of-all-trades, or have huge amounts of disposable income to pay someone for constant repairs and maintanance.
I find having basic "McGyver" skills is a must down here.

True dat, I almost posted this myself and I think this makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the psychology of coping with the daily challenges. If you move here expecting convenience of the mainland with paradise living you're more likely to be disappointed. I you are prepared to expect and deal with the inevitable challenges that are the price to pay for paradise then you'll likely do just fine.

PS- We have a new little hardware store in Princesse. And silicon spray is definitely the way to go for lube and corrosion protection, not WD 40 which is really more of a solvent.

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Posted : November 26, 2016 7:30 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Silicone spray works for me.
It doesn't evaporate as quickly as WD 40.
I spray moving parts on windows, their handles, sliding, glass door tracks, latches and locks, hurricane shutters latches and tracks, key holes on door knobs, etc. Always have a can or 2 handy.

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Posted : November 26, 2016 8:13 pm
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