Moving to St. Thoma...
 
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Moving to St. Thomas

 
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

Hello,
My family just got back home to the US Midwest from St. Thomas and St. John. We want to move to St. Thomas permanently. We have done some research on the island and at home and it looks like there is housing available that would be affordable for us. (I have a wife and two children.)
The trouble I'm having though is finding a job. Is it possible to get a job before moving or do I need to be actually on the island before anyone would look at my resume?
I have worked for a workers comp insurance company for four years and before that I managed restaurants and banquets for over 15 years. I am just surprised because I applied for a few restaurant jobs that I would have an interview immediately if they were on the mainland, but I haven't heard back or got an immediate no right away from the job on St. Thomas.
Sorry, that was a long winded question. I guess my question is, do we just need to move with no job lined up, or are there places I can look for job opportunities now?
Thanks so much for your time and any suggestions you have.

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 1:11 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Many people wish to move to the VI.
Many employers are reluctant to respond to job requests from those not actually living here as usually if they have a position, it needs immediate
filling.

Maybe you should identify potential employers and make a trip specifically to job hunt and be ready to move if you get a job you want.

ICMI often has positions and a good company to work for if you're qualified.

http://www.icmcvi.com

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Posted : November 13, 2016 1:23 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

I am just surprised because I applied for a few restaurant jobs that I would have an interview immediately if they were on the mainland

If you mean you applied while you were here - you will find that quite a few things on the island just do not function the way they do on the mainland.

If you applied from the Midwest: Most employers are often looking for a person already on island and do not often consider people who are not available in person.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 1:25 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

You can check Craig's List
http://virgin.craigslist.org/search/jjj

Also check:
https://www.bing.com/search?pc=ASWI&form=AMZNS2&q=employment+opportunities+in+St.+thomas+VI

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Posted : November 13, 2016 1:28 pm
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

Would employers be more willing to consider me if I said I was coming back to the island on "x" dates for in person interviews or will they still ignore me until I actually live there? If I was just me, I would just find a place and move, and find a bartending/serving job when I was on the island, but this is a little harder to do with children so I'm worried about just taking the leap without a job lined up.
Thanks for your help.

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 1:34 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

I think you'd have a more positive response to your inquiries, if they have positions available.
Probably be better if you actually spoke with someone at the company's human resources department, instead of just emailing and have a name, contact info. Be good to have a planned date in mind if they ask how soon can you start, your resume and references, in hand.

Some of the larger hotels, Ritz Carlton, Frenchman's Reef, Elysian, Secret Harbor, Margaritaville, Point Pleasant may hire from off island.

How old are your kids and what do you plan for schooling for them?

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Posted : November 13, 2016 1:55 pm
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

Thanks for your help.
I have a six year old daughter and a two year old son. We are still kind of torn about school, everyone we talk to says you have to enroll in private school, but we are of the mindset if we are really going to move there, we want to actually be part of the community and enroll in public school, but we are still trying to decide. My wife was a preschool director before we had our son, so we both were excited to see the Montessori schools.
In our current house I work during the day and my wife watches our younger son during the day and works a few nights a week while I watch the kids. We would most likely do something similar there since we both have years of restaurant/hotel experience and that is most likely the position we would find. (Unless she found a teaching/preschool job)

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 2:09 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

I do not understand your statement about being 'actually part of the community' and how it relates to what school your children attend -- all the schools public or private have diverse student bodies - as in any community there is school spirit and competition in different activities - you will not find your family excluded from any particular segment of 'the community' because of the school your children attend.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 2:46 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

The reality is that your odds of finding a job finding (in any field) will increase dramatically if you are actually "on island". The major employers in the USVI's (and most of the smaller ones, too) get inundated with inquiries from people who say they are planning on moving to the USVI's and are looking for work. The thing is, the vast majority of those applicants never actually show up. As a result employers just don't give those inquiries any consideration - they just get put in the Trash Bin.

Now, if you are willing to come down (before you actually move) and apply in person and can give your potential a set date when you'll actually be moving it's possible to find employment before you make the move BUT that will depend on how badly the employer wants to HIRE YOU as opposed to other qualified candidates that are already here,

The thing to keep in mind is that you are not the only one who is considering moving to the USVI. Hundreds of people wake up everyday and start thinking about life in the Caribbean and that's just the "new" ones - there are thousands upon thousands that have gotten that same idea in the preceding days, months and years. If only a fraction of those dreamers actually make the plunge it still means a lot of people come to the islands to seek their fortune.

If you scroll down through the forum archives you'll see that every month there are scores of new threads started by people who are thinking of relocating and a large percentage of those are hoping to work in the Food & Beverage or Hospitality Industry. I'm not trying to dissuade you but rather pointing out that there is a lot of competition for the jobs that are available. That's why being here will put you in a better position to find employment.

As for schooling for your children - again, much has been written. Use the search feature and read as much as you can about schooling (there are literally 1,000's of threads with 10,000's of post dealing with the subject. Make an informed decision rather than one based solely on the ideology of "wanting to be part of the community". You are dealing with your child's education which will have a life long effect on their future. Don't take this decision lightly.

Best advice anyone can give you is to save up enough money to support yourself for 6 to 9 months while you settle in and long for employment (you may find a job right away, you may not and that job may or may not be a good job - you won't know until you try it). Having a nest egg to tide you over until you get settled will make the transition much easier and the bigger that nest egg is the easier it will be.

Good luck following your dream.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 2:57 pm
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

I guess my comment was referring to what you mentioned. I would be worried about being a new family to the island and also put our kids in a private school and what feelings the locals would have towards that. Although, from everyone we talked to a "private" school doesn't have the same stereotypes as they do on the mainland so it shouldn't be something to worry about.

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 3:01 pm
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

Thanks for your advice Afriend. I do understand your points as I would think most a large percentage of people flying home say they are going to move to an island.
It was interesting talking to people living on St. Thomas and a lot just decided to make it happen and told us to move if that's what we want to do.
I mention F&B because I do have experience doing that and most of the economy is based on tourism.
My surprise in not getting a response makes sense based on your comments that everyone wants to move there. I don't know how to say this without sounding like a jerk, but I was surprised at the lack of quality food and service on the island. Wd were only there for two weeks and split time between John and Thomas so we may have just not gone to the right spots. Nothing was bad, but nothing was spectacular especially for the cost. Although the cost of food transport has a lot to do with this. I only mention this because this is what caused my surprise on not even getting a response to my job inquiries. I have managed and cooked at some of the most respected restaurants and hotels in the Midwest, so I was surprised there would be many more qualified applicants than me. Although this may point back to your comment that there are literally millions of people that are "moving" to the island. Again, I don't say that I am more qualified than anyone else to act stuck up or a jerk, but I was just suprised.
In regards to the school decision we understand that it is of upmost importance to our children and we aren't taking the decision lightly. This is a large part of our decision to want to move. My wife and I both grew up in small town Nebraska and went to a to typical 4 year universities , but we had the opportunity to see other parts of the world. We know (family included) far too many people that think their way of life is the best without ever actually seeing anything else. We want our children to realize there are many different ways of learning and doing things.
Thanks a lot for everyone's comments and inputs, I really appreciate it.

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 3:28 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Joseph Sibilly school on northside is a great public grade school.
It's the only public school possibly with the exception possibly of Yvonne E.Milliner-Bowsky Elementary School, I'd consider.

Montessori and Antilles are both excellent private schools.

Sts. Peter and Paul, All Saints (Anglican) are very good parochial schools.

http://www.vide.vi/our-schools.html

Here's a complete list of all schools on STT, public, private and parochial.

https://www.vimovingcenter.com/schools/stthomas.php

Some parents also choose to homeschool.

Kids will learn many different things anywhere you place them but paramount importance is quality education and for that in STT would be Montessori and Antilles. Lots of good programs, diversity and interaction at both these schools.

They are pricey but one can apply for lower tuitions, if qualified.

As far as your job inquiries, either speak directly to someone or do it in person. Emails from afar don't cut it.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 5:03 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

You touched on an interesting subject/observation - your "surprise" at a number of different aspects of how things get done in the Caribbean.

Well, that's because things ARE DIFFERENT. Often, those of us who live in the Caribbean try to tell people living in the Caribbean is far different then being here on vacation. What you've observed is a main component of that "difference". It is sometimes difficult to express in ways that are easy for a non-island to comprehend.

For instance, you mentioned you were "surprised at the lack of quality food and service on the island". Well, we live on an island, just about everything has to be imported (especially quality fresh produce & meats) and that brings with it a whole new set of logistics and uncertainty in the supply train. And, it definitely adds to the costs both on the acquisition side and then again for the ultimate consumer. Often, chefs and restauranteurs don't decide what they want to put on their menu in any particular week but rather they have to wait until they see what's actually available. the same holds true for normal grocery shopping. We can't always find/get what we want but sometimes have to settle on something else or something that is "second or even third best" or even doing without.

The more you look the more surprises you'll find - some will be good others will just add to your frustration.

The islands have been here for a long time and they'll be here for many years to come - they are not going anywhere. So my suggestion is take time - do your research (and that's more than just asking a few questions on a forum) first hand. You saw things through the rose colored glasses perspective of a tourist. Come for an extended stay (say 1 to 3 months - we call it a Pre-Move Visit) and live like an islander - don't stay in a resort but rather stay in a condo or efficiency apartment (that's fits your normal budget and life style), don't do tourist things and don't spend your time sitting idly under a palm tree sipping pina colodas or frozen daiquiris. Instead, do everyday chores like cleaning house, shopping for groceries, yard work, traveling at rush hour (yes, we have rush hours), stand in line at the bank, stand in line at the DMV, find out what it take to pay your utility & phone bills, check out housing costs, investigate the school systems. And while your at it, explore employment opportunities in your field. In short live your day to day life since that's what you'll be doing if you move here. An by the way, by the time you finish doing that there won't be too much time to spend on the beach.

Again, I wish you good luck in finding your way.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 5:13 pm
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

Thanks so much for the info. Very helpful.

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 5:37 pm
watruw8ing4
(@watruw8ing4)
Trusted Member

One more thing to consider in your job hunt is that you can't get individual health insurance here, and almost no coverage can be continued here once you become a VI resident. If you aren't in that small class of people who can use their old carrier, you'd want to find an employer that offers health insurance, and that's not as prevalent as you'd find stateside.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 5:42 pm
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

Afriend,
I would love to spend more time on the island living a normal life. We did try to avoid "tourist places" but understand we still were on vacation.
Funny you mention the beach, we don't have a lot of money but live a normal middle class life here. We are planning on doing with less there - apartment vs a house on an acreage, etc. But, we still have some free time and I would think a few minutes on the beach is a lot more fun than sledding in the snow!
Thanks again for your advice

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 5:43 pm
fdr
 fdr
(@fdr)
Trusted Member

Instead, do everyday chores like cleaning house, shopping for groceries, yard work, traveling at rush hour (yes, we have rush hours), stand in line at the bank, stand in line at the DMV, find out what it take to pay your utility & phone bills, check out housing costs, investigate the school systems. And while your at it, explore employment opportunities in your field. In short live your day to day life since that's what you'll be doing if you move here. An by the way, by the time you finish doing that there won't be too much time to spend on the beach.

Wait, we have beaches here? 😀 I think I need a staycation!

What Afriend wrote here is super-important info especially because nowadays, most statesiders do a significant amount of the above online -- banking, utility costs, and shopping. Since I moved here in 2008, I have perceived the USVI to be about 10-15 years behind the states in terms of applying technology reliably and consistently.

For example, I rarely went into a bank in the states. Certainly there was no need to pay tax or utility bills in person, EVER. Everything I needed to do could be done electronically since about 2000. Different story here.

Just as one example: there are still plenty of stores that can only process credit cards using dial-up (i.e., there has to be a working landline phone). During a big rainstorm, landline phone service is often dicey, and so can be your ability to buy groceries with plastic. We still use cash a lot more than statesiders do.

And these aren't even the cultural differences in terms of how things run. For example, did you know corporal punishment is permitted in the public schools here? Or that many offices where you will need to conduct business in person will close for lunch, with no posted notice (you just have to know when Mrs. XYZ takes her lunch break and plan to come back later)?

I wasn't entirely joking with my first sentence, either. "Vacation" for many of us who move here comes to mean "visit all your family and friends in the states, plan medical appointments that can't be done here, and do all your shopping for cheap/hard-to-find stuff." I walk on beaches every day, but between work and family and other commitments, it's rare I have time to relax on one.

Just a few things to think about as you do your research. And I second what others have said: very easy to find a F&B job when you actually live here, more difficult to land one from afar. The standards may be different from what you are used to because this place is different -- and you may discover it is not really right for you.

Cheers & good luck.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 6:03 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

"...we don't have a lot of money but live a normal middle class life here. We are planning on doing with less there - apartment vs a house on an acreage, etc..."

Please don't take this the wrong way but perhaps 90% of the people who are considering a move to the Caribbean make some type of similar statement in order to help justify their plans. I can't tell you how many times we've read posts from someone saying they want to "simplify their life", "live a quieter lifestyle", "downsize", "get out of the rat race", "do with less" or some other similar phrase.

The truth is life in the islands isn't "simple" and trying to "do with less" (especially for those with families) could very well make your transition harder. I don't know how much real research you were able to accomplish during your recent visit but you might be in for another one of those "surprises" which I call the Catch-22 of island life. In general, living expenses here are high - figure anywhere from 25% to 35% higher than where you now live and salaries 20% to 30% lower than for comparable positions back on the US mainland

So, think about it for a moment. If you are like most families you maintain a certain lifestyle and human nature being what it is the normal desire is to maintain or perhaps even better one's lifestyle not cut back. If you are currently living in a house with your wife and two children ask yourself would you really be happy downsizing to an apartment with fewer amenities and having to do so on what could be a lower income then you now have???

Oh, and by the way, most houses here don't have "acreage". Those that do are owned by very wealthy people and are way out of reach for those of us who, like you,"don't have a lot of money". Even those house that don't have "acreage" can be pretty pricey.

If you do make the move keep an open mind - there will be many surprises.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 7:20 pm
brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member

I didn't mean my comments as you took it. Yes, we would be happy in an apartment.
I understand the house we live in now would be a million dollar plus house on the island.
I also understand my salary now would be quite less there and we did buy groceries on St Thomas. $8 a gallon of milk.
Most of your comments are exactly the only thing I am truly worried about in moving to the island. Islanders won't respect us or treat us fairly because we are stupid rich mainlainders. I am assuming you are just trying to point out the realities of moving and that life is not just a vacation there. There must be many reasons you still live there, correct? I understand that there are difficulties, but living in Omaha, Ne with a baby and gunshots outside your window are downsides of the mainland. We, thankfully, are out of that situation now, but we do know what real life is, so I do feel we are much better prepared to deal with difficulties than most who say they are moving to St. Thomas.
Again, I thank you for all your input and advice, but I do take offense if you feel I'm not looking at this realistically. I don't think you are, but some of your comments can be taken this way.
Thanks so much for all the help and advice.

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Topic starter Posted : November 13, 2016 8:10 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

Oh, no offense taken and hopefully you understand I wasn't trying to offend you in any way - just pointing out reality vs. perception.

Like moving anywhere else you'll be an outsider for a while but that doesn't mean you won't be accepted by others. If you are pleasant, friendly and treat others with respect people will be the same toward you. Because there is a high transient population (people come and go regularity) it may take some time for locals to warm up to you but that shouldn't take a very little long especially if you greet everyone with a "good morning" or "good afternoon". If you didn't have difficulty getting along with people back in Omaha you won't have difficulty on St. Thomas.

I'm concerned, however, about your comments about "gunshots outside your window". If concern for crime is an issue for you in Omaha you need to do more research about crime on STT. Suffice to say, there is crime on the island and depending on which statistics you read and who you ask crime is a growing issue, not just on STT, but throughout the Caribbean.

The islands may look like paradise but they are not heaven.

Again, I am not trying to scare you - only pointing out that it is better to do a lot of research before making a move then finding out after that island life is not what you thought it was.

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Posted : November 13, 2016 8:43 pm
jj00802
(@jj00802)
Advanced Member

I think the OP is giving relocation to USVI as much realistic consideration as possible from the perspective they have of visiting and comparison to stateside living.

The OP responded to somebody above saying:
There must be many reasons you still live there, correct?

Yes, a few of us love island life and stay for a lifetime despite the challenges. In contrast, a large percentage (estimated 80% or more) of the people who move with full expectations of living in the islands will return stateside within 6-12 months because daily life was not as expected.

Have you read the book..."Don't Stop the Carnival"?
Although fiction, it is based on life in STT and is easy to read.

At the moment, the OP has been surprised by lack of responses by potential employers, almost offended at some of the suggestions, noticed high cost of restaurants, etc. There will be MANY more surprises and how you handle the unexpected situations will determine if the you are going to enjoy island living long term.

We wish you the best.
jj

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Posted : November 15, 2016 4:10 am
AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
Trusted Member

Good advice above. With a family of 4 I suggest to Bring $40k for set up.

Health insurance will be a problem.

Hs anyone heard of someone getting hired from off island? I know I haven't... except for nurses... and they all seem to leave after they see our disaster lol.

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Posted : November 15, 2016 4:15 am
Gko
 Gko
(@Gko)
Active Member

Most employers are hesitant to hire people who aren't living on the island despite qualifications. They have so many people who seem eager to come to the islands to start working and have a life there but a lot of people decide that island living just isn't for them after a few months. So the way that employers see it, it's time and money wasted. That's not to say that you won't find anything.

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Posted : November 17, 2016 1:00 am
mtdoramike
(@mtdoramike)
Trusted Member

Hello,
My family just got back home to the US Midwest from St. Thomas and St. John. We want to move to St. Thomas permanently. We have done some research on the island and at home and it looks like there is housing available that would be affordable for us. (I have a wife and two children.)
The trouble I'm having though is finding a job. Is it possible to get a job before moving or do I need to be actually on the island before anyone would look at my resume?
I have worked for a workers comp insurance company for four years and before that I managed restaurants and banquets for over 15 years. I am just surprised because I applied for a few restaurant jobs that I would have an interview immediately if they were on the mainland, but I haven't heard back or got an immediate no right away from the job on St. Thomas.
Sorry, that was a long winded question. I guess my question is, do we just need to move with no job lined up, or are there places I can look for job opportunities now?
Thanks so much for your time and any suggestions you have.

NO, it would be fool hardy to move without having at least one of you having a job lined up with two children. Do not let a vacation wearing rose colored glasses make you do something that you could live to regret. The Islands will be there long after you have lived and gone. So slow your roll, get things in order plan, plan, plan. You will need at least a reserve of $15,000.00-$20,000.00 in the bank to fall back on especially with children. You do realize what little insurance there is on St. Thomas it is expensive unless you can find a job that supplies you with insurance, but they usually don't cover the family. It's nothing to spend $1500.00, $2000.00 a month for coverage for one person. Children without health insurance is asking for financial ruin.

mike

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Posted : November 20, 2016 1:26 pm
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