Moving to the Island, is it worth it?
It has always been my dream to move to the Caribbean, I have a job interview in February. I am 35 years old and my wife is 24. I have a great career and make good money, but it is very stressful. The new job will be starting from the ground up, I all ready had a phone interview and it went well. So is it worth it? I say yes, but wanted to here from people that had made the jump. I have been to St Thomas 4 years ago and love it, but of course we were on our honeymoon. I have travel to St. Lucia, Aruba, Mexico and I just love the Islands. Please e-mail me with any help you can give.
We don't know you and can't speak to whether or not it would be a good idea for you to move here. Living here is very different from vacationing here. Information about moving to the USVI can be found here: https://www.vimovingcenter.com/ The "What to Expect" link is especially useful as there you will find forty-four stories written by board participants who have made the move.
If you are offered the job and decide to take it:
1. Don't bring everything you own with you. Heck, don't bring anything but your clothes and other things you can't live without.
2. Arrange some sort of "exit" agreement with your employer. For example, agree to only a 6-month trial at your job. If you don't like the island life or if they don't like you, agree to separate with no hard feelings.
3. See if they will help you find accomodations and a car.
4. Plan to have extra $$$, just in case.
My husband and I traveled St. Lucia, Mexico, Antiqua, VI, etc....throughout the years. We also decided to move because we fell in love with the islands. A LOT DIFFERENT TO MAKE IT YOUR HOME! You didn't mention any children so you might find it easier than we did. Our mistake was that we didn't have a backup plan in case we didn't like it. We made it a year and wanted to go back to the states. (which seems to be a normal thing) My suggestion is to have an exit clause as Linda J suggested, keep your things in storage, don't bring an animal unless you become permanant resident, bring lots of money, bring lots of patience, and remember you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Are you close to your family? We missed ours terribly and thought before we moved that we would make it back to the states whenever we wanted and they all could visit us...HMM? None of our families could afford to come and we had a small child and traveling was very expensive....Back to my earler statement, bring LOTS OF MONEY! Do a TON of research on this board and do several (if you can) premove visits in a "non-tourist" way of life to really see how it is to live. Good luck!
I'm probably with the group that would say " the VI kinds of grows on you" over time
Read the message boards there are tons of agruements on weather to move here or not especially the ones with post titles that dont look like they are about it at all. 😉
That being said.
1. Medical Care here is poor and hard to get at times. If you have anything unusual or serious you will probably have to go to the mainland or Puerto Rico. I have had trouble on many occasions, getting my insurance accepted by many doctors here (stateside it is a very common PPO that is nationally accepted).
2. Police will not protect you or come to your rescue. If something happens, you’re looking at a wait time of several hours to never. Good chance you will have to go to police station yourself and get treated with disrespect. Get a big dog the only reliable alarm system on the island. I am not saying that crime is worse then it is stateside, but people do get killed, raped and robbed just like they do stateside there is just little justice done about it here.
3. Public school is not an option. College Bound schools here are very expensive you’re looking at $7000.00 and up. Some of the big companies that transfer people out here will pay for education.
4. Leaving your support system stateside. You will not have grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc which may be a good or bad thing depending on your situation. Your home will be your vacation. As most of your vacations will be spent going home to see your family (may not sound bad at first but it does get old). If you do have a large loving family I would seriously reconsider a move that is this far away and expensive to travel too. American Airlines rarely gives us discounts. For most I would hope their are loving grandparents who would be sad to miss out on seeing their grandchildren grow up let alone help the parents out occasionally. So if u both work there is a chance u will need childcare.
5. Cost of living here is higher then in most places in the US. Come with a nest egg (3months of living expenses) and hope you don't plow through it. Housing is hard to find and expensive especially if you want something nice, in a good neighborhood or isn't out in the boon docks. That being said if you look hard enough and have decent resources when you come to hold out for a bargain, they are out there, just hard to find. If you are planning to buy I would greatly suggest a condo. The fees may seem high at first but owning a island home is very expensive as well and you will not have go thought the nightmare of dealing with island contractors (you think its bad stateside). The weather here is hard on homes and u will need to be vigilant with maintenance. Island houses for the most part very unique and each was generally built by its originally owner. I will stop here because there are many posts on this. Food is of coarse more expensive and the selection is poorer. Don't even get me started on trying to find decent looking fruits and vegetables that won’t cost you a fortune. I'm sure you've read about electric and it is all true. Cable is fairly comparable as is phone. Dsl and satellite tend to be poor but just as expensive as state side. And depending on where u live welcome to frequent power outages that last hours if you’re lucky.
6. U will have to be extremely flexible and laid back to make it here. Things are often very frustrating and run in a way that makes no sense. But that is the way they do it and they are not going to change it for you. Some days I doubt it will ever change. There is Very often NO such thing as customer service. Average meal out here for two (at a real restaurant) is going to be more like $60 to $120 instead of $30 to $60 stateside. Bring good TVs and computers b/c the night life here is going out to restaurants and bars and that does get old no matter your age, but drinking is the only cheap thing to do here. There is a cinema here but it is not the safest place at night.
The island and the people here are what you make it but these are some real challenges everyone should be ready for.
I am in favor of people following a dream. I also offer:
1. You shouldn't burn your bridges back home. Put your stuff in storage. Talk to your boss at the stressful job and explain that you want to try something. Maybe they will keep the job for you if you are good.
2. Travel light. You can rent furnished and you don't need a lot of clothes. Anything extra will take extra planning and will make life more complicated (this means dogs, children, grand pianos.)
3. Be aware of your expectations. If you absolutely must have...(insert need here- cable internet, world famous heart surgeon, fresh bagels), you may end up disappointed. Come see what you can learn from this place.
4. Discuss seriously. If there are two of you, is this the dream for both? Or is one going along for the ride? Many disappointed settlers are in the latter category.
5. Set a time frame. Plan to stay, for example, a year. Make goals and review them. If at the end of the time you aren't satisfied, you can go back, get the stuff out of storage and continue on.
The USVI is much nicer than Aruba and Mexico. I am fond of St Lucia, but the snorkeling isn't great there, so I'd say this place is the best. 😉 It is also a great jumping off spot for more Caribbean adventures!
And, IMHO, a PMV is IMPERITIVE! Before you make the big decision to move here, come down for a week or two and act as if you really DO live here. NOT like you are on vacation, mind you. Get up at regular time, get dressed, get in rush hour traffic, then get in rush hour lunch traffic, go to the bank, go to the Post office, go grocery shopping on a Saturday, etc. Do things like you would in a regular ole week back home. Once you 'get out' of work, go sit in 5 O'clock traffic, stop at Pueblo, stand in line, then go to Blockbuster. Come home, start to lug the groceries out of the car and down the...dammit! it's starting to POUR!!! RUN!! Find that the is power out. Great. Try to put your groceries away in the dark, cuz you haven't bought a flashlight, batteries OR candles yet! Once they are all put away...ahh! Dammit! The lights JUST came back ON! Grrr!!!! Now mop the floor from where you got it all wet...wait a mintue..NO MOP! DAMMIT! Back to K-Mart we go. Don't forget to buy a flashlight! Why all this traffic?!? Everyone should have gone home hours ago! What gives?!? Grr! (20 minutes later) Ahh! An accident! THAT'S what's slowing everything down! Wish I'd've known! I'da gone the OTHER way! OK, in to K-mart we go...get that damn mop...ohh, look at that nice pair of shorts! I'll bet those'ill look good with my new shirt! I think I'll get those! OK, back on the road...why is the mountain so darK? Hmmm...don't tell me the...DAMMIT! I forgot the flashlight!!! Turn around, back to K-mart...GET the flashlight...come back out...ahhh, power is back on (and WILL be for the next two weeks SOLID, cuz you have a flashlight! haha!)...OK, I'll just get in there, mop that floor, put my new flashlight away...#*%k! I didn't get batteries! Well, I'll just get those tomorrow, what are the od... Spend the next 10 hours in the dark.....Good thing your stove is gas, huh? Heat up some Campbell's Chicken Noodle for dinner...Can't watch that movie from Blockbuster...dammit. Hafta remember to return that tomorrow, they don't have that "No late fee" thing here. I'll do that when I go to get batteries...and I need to remember CANDLES, too! And LOTS of canned food! And maybe some books! Or how 'bout a lantern? I wonder if the landlord will spring for a generator? I hope so. And maybe one of the ones with those automatic switches! Shah! Right! I think I'll try to got a P.O. box tomorrow, too. I hope I don't need to stand in a long line at the Post Office....
Great post Marty! Now repeat this post ten times and you will get the feel of the islands during your PMV.
While you are out...
Don't forget that KMart was out of Campbells Chicken Soup and you had to also stop at Pricesmart on the way home. You see that they have mattresses on sale, but only the box springs are left. What?? I guess nobody buys sets here. Oh, and don't forget a fan... much cheaper than A/C. When the power is out, my neighbor sells "Da Fan Ting" which is a rechargeable/portable car jumper and 2 oscillating auto fans that clip on the table edge. It will last about 8 hours. Sets you back about $80, but makes a hot humid night bearable. VERY IMPORTANT: Don't forget to get your $20 mosquito racket... looks like a small plastic tennis racket but with electrified strings. Push a button as you overhand sweep up to a mosquito and SNAP then POOF... up in smoke... and smells like it too! (BTW - Don't touch it to your tongue while holding the button on).
Dang, I wish you had told me that earlier!!
If finances permit - BUY A GENERATOR. There really is no other option during the frequent power outages. AC, no spoiled food, entertainment and light - we just bought a gennie for our boat - about the size of a good Vuitton purse, with a handle and quiet!!!
Nice place, nice weather, nice water....that’s about it. 50% of the people are rude; both white and Cruzan’s. 50% of the people are honest; both white and Cruzan’s. If you like water sports and like to keep to yourself, this is a great place. Customer service is non-existent and medical care is not very good if you have anything more severe then a splinter. Night life is pretty bad compared to most places and the food is overpriced and horrible. Yes, I know i sound negative but thats just who i am.....i guess it's sort of rubbing off on me.......
I have to add ditto to the above - take out the bars and cheap and plentiful drink and the nightlife would be almost nonexistant and some people would have a lot less to post.
(Taking Shelter In Underground Bunker Waiting For The Brickbats To Fly)
We have different viewpoints about island life -- but we on the board are unanimous about one thing -- DON'T SELL EVERYTHING AND MOVE HERE WITHOUT A LOT OF THOUGHT AND A PREMOVE VISIT.
Maybe we can name a new forum (Islander is thinking of providing another forum for this board) the "Island Brickbat Forum" for those who can handle the real experience, and those that don't want to hear 'negatives' can go to the "Island Bouquet Forum". What do you think?
Island Explorer -
If you don't do it, you're always going to wonder how it would have changed your life. Sure it's different here and it takes getting used to, and you need patience and you have to be healthy and you have to have money. Given all of those, above all, you need to have a good attitude. But that's true of any aspect of life. I say go for it, no regrets.
I agree with Bert - I'm just finding that the more I give STX a chance the more it gives me back. The open minded I am the more possibilities are revealed.
Yes, visiting STX wonderful bars drinking rum punchs does remind me of a night in LA or Miami. Hey we all have to be realistic now, if thats what we wanted, we would not have moved here in the first place.
"TSIUBWFTBTF" Pretty original.........I must say, I'm sure you came up with that while playing drinking games at the brew pub.........
lol - what worries me most is that i don't drink!
if you dont drink its only because you havent been here long enough 😉
Actually, I managed 5 years on island and then left for colder climes this spring - I still have many friends and care about the VI - hence my continued interest.
Perhaps if we had turned to drink, we might have stayed.