moving to the island with kids
I am thinking about moving to the islands in the spring, would already be there but I have 2 kids ages 7 and 8. Would anyone recommend a drastic move like this with children? I visited the islands in August and fell in love with the place, how is life there for kids, I know the public schools suck but the private ones are pretty good. Is there alot of crime? Where on the island is the best place to live with kids? How hard is it to find a decent house to rent and can you find one that isn't a short term lease? I really want to move but am so nervous about the kids. Anyone with some helpful info I would greatly appreciate it. - Thanks!
Which island are you interested in?
Well, with the kids I thought St. Thomas would be the most practical, I think there is a hospital there and seems alot more western than the others. I love Tortola -again don't think its the place to raise kids - not much there at all - and I think I would be better off under an american flag. And I don't think St. Thomas would be as much as a culture shock as the other islands.
If you haven't been here, you really need to make a pre-move visit. Your comment that STT is more like home is not correct. Please come down before you take the plunge.
I have been to STT, I didn't mean it is like home I just meant there is more there. I saw a Wendy's, or maybe it was a McDonalds, and someone told me while I was there you guys have a K-Mart, didn't go so maybe not true. It was my impression, anyway, you guys have alot more western things, not that STT is like here with all the conveniences and all, but just compared to the other islands. Now I know there are things I didn't get to see and I plan to go down for a pre-visit. Which Island do you recommend moving to with kids,? I know this is a big move I would like all the info I could get. Thanks -
> I am thinking about moving to the islands in the spring, would
> already be there but I have 2 kids ages 7 and 8. Would anyone
> recommend a drastic move like this with children?
Honestly, I would be very cautious about making such a drastic move with youngsters.
> how is life there for kids, I know the public schools suck but the
> private ones are pretty good.
I would say life is different. The activities are limited, although there is always the beach and water. Yes, there are excellent private schools, but they are costly, too.
Is there alot of crime?
Spend some time reading the on-line papers: The Source: www.stthomassource.com and The Daily News: www.virginislandsdailynews.com so that you can get an idea of the sorts of things that go on.
Where on the island is the best place to live with kids? How hard is
> it to find a decent house to rent and can you find one that
> isn't a short term lease?
I hope you spend some time reading through the archives here as this is one of the big questions. St Thomas is 13 miles by 3 miles and other than a couple of gated enclaves, it is pretty mixed in terms of housing. When people talk about a pre-move visit, or what I call a look-see, they are talking about looking around at all the infrastructure. Can you find housing to rent? Yes, again probably at a higher price than to which you are accustomed. There are more smaller houses- 2 bedrooms, for example.
P.S. I also noticed you were thinking about Tortola, which is part of the British Empire. If you are thinking of working, you will have a heck of a time- can't just move there and seek work. St Thomas (and St Croix and St John) ARE American, but they are an unincorporated territory, which is unlike a state. There is a K-Mart, but half the time you go in, they don't have what you want. There is a Western Auto, a Wendy's, etc. but again, the service and selection are not what you may think they should be. When you say "not much there" about Tortola, what is it that you think you and the kids need in order to be happy?
My husband and I have been interested in relocating for some time and I have finally made it to STX for the pre-move visit. We are also with children, 8 years old, 10 months and one in the oven. You said you visited in August, which island? We focused on STX after seeing STJ and STT. STX, in my opinion, really is the middle of the road.
I would suggest searching this board thoroughly. There is a ton of information here. Also, the pre-move visit is a must, even if you've already visited. I cannot stress this enough. Being here with my children and viewing it as a new home, rather than a vacation and having the kids feel it out as a new home... what an entirely different perspective we have! Good Luck.
Thanks for the info - it does help!
I visited STT and Tortola - two very different places - didn't make it to STX or STJ but from what I hear STJ is mostly a nature spot not much goes on there. I do hear STX is a great island you say it is in the middle, how so? I plan to to go back for a visit in march , I really want to do some searching to make sure this is the right decision and if everything looks good am hoping for a move early summer. Looking at it from a potential home perspective how differently did your perspective change when you looked at it that way? Was it good or bad? Do you think you will make the move now?
My two cents worth:
Moving here with kids is extremely difficult. The culture differences, lack of areas for kids to play, etc. It isn't like the suburbs in the States with abundance of playgrounds - indoor and outdoor and places for kids to meet other kids. My kids - 7 and 6 year olds have a hard time understanding the accents of the kids here. We have lived on STT for about six months and are just starting to adjust. STT is not really a 'kid' friendly place.
That being said - with a realistic perspective, you can make living here a good experience for your kids. My kids love the beach and can't get enough of it. They like the warm weather and riding in the car with the windows down. 😉 They like seeing the boats and activities. There are events for kids at the different schools and I have seen events advertised for kids. We have attended a few and the kids liked them. So it is not completely an adult world here. It is just nothing like the States.
I still can't say whether it is better per se to raise kids here or in the States. The experiences here will be with them for a lifetime, but it is harder. Living in the States is easier, but they would have missed out on a lot. Just be prepared for a long adjustment for yourself, the kids will adjust quickly - as most kids do.
One other thing is the food. If you have picky eaters like my kids, than finding the same cereals and 'kid' food is harder. Some stores will carry a brand or food that the kids like and then not have any for a while. Sometimes the prices are just too high to buy what the kids want. It is not easy to stock up on cold or fresh food, and shopping with the kids is difficult. The stores always seem busy and it is time consuming. I really don't like sounding negative. I hope you understand that I am just trying to prepare you for the realities of living here. It all works out when you go to the beach and just let the kids play and you can relax. 😉
Thanks so much for the 2 cents, it is really the kind of things I am looking for. I know it will be a big adjustment for them as well as for me. The more I research the islands STX is starting to look really good. I said even if we are there a year or two and decide we want to come home at least we, especially the kids, had the experience. I am trying to be really realistic about the whole thing and when I think the idea fades a little it seems to make its way back. I am going back down in march, hopefully then I will know for sure. Although in my heart I think it will be good for us all -even without all the conveniences of home. It will do them some good too to learn everywhere in he world isn't as convenient as home. Hopefully teach them some humility - Thanks again!
My husband accepted a job offer on stx just last week. We have two children, both very young and I am looking at it as an adventure as well. We have an 18 month contract, which we figure will be about the amount of time it takes to decide if you really even like living in a new place. Our perspective is that at that point in time we can move back if we hate the reality of living in "paradise" or we can make the move more permanent at that point. The hardest part for me is that we are not moving all of our possessions right awayt, because we don't want to be in a position where we just have to move them back if we don't like the islands. But ultimately we decided to take the job because we too thought of it as the adventure of a lifetime. I also think that our children have too much living here in Wisconsin and maybe living a "simpler" life will teach them how fortunate we are. Besides, living in a different cultural setting can only make them better people in the long run. I have not moved yet but will be there sometime in February and I am really looking forward to it. Good luck in your decision.
I moved to St. John this past August with my husband and two boys ages 4 and 7. The boys did not have any problem adjusting at all. Luckily we arrived just before the school year began so they started off on the first day with everyone else. They made friends very quickly. As far as there not being alot to do in the islands for children, I do not agree. St. John is the smallest of the three US Virgin Islands and my boys are pretty busy. I have been visiting STJ for 10 years before I decided to move here and did alot of research as far as schools, housing, etc. I feel we have adjusted very well....but we knew STJ was a place we loved and wanted to live. I believe it will be a wonderful place for my boys to grow up. I recommend spending a good amount of time on the island that you choose before you make the move. I wish you all the best.
> Teresa -
>> Although in my heart I think it will be good for us all -even
> without all the conveniences of home. It will do them some
> good too to learn everywhere in he world isn't as convenient as
> home. Hopefully teach them some humility - Thanks again!
I live on STX, and I have lived all over the continental United States and Europe. STX has a rather large K-Mart, Wendy's, Subway, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, etc etc....the movie theaters play first-run movies each week. You can buy a 60-inch plasma TV at Mike's Electronics with no money down,,,you can purchase current DVD movies in abundance at Sam Goody's, and you can shop at Footlocker, Mariana's, etc. at the two shopping centers. Anything not available in a store can be readily purchased online using broadband DSL services or dial-up. If you idea of convenience is the ability to purchase stuff, rest assured you can spend your money as rapidly here as on the mainland 🙂
STX is home to a large number of very wealthy people who can afford to live anywhere on the planet. The trick to living here is to become more reliant upon yourself and your family for fulfillment, as opposed to just having access to stuff.
That was very well put Cojo. When I move there I will be doing so alone. I have a few friends there and by the time I actually take the plunge I will have made you all my good friends/extended family as well.
dont move to any island in the virgin islands go to hawaii i just got back from there i lived there for 5 monthes and hated it after the second month. Most people on here will fluff the truth about st thomas to get you down there and blow all your money so the economy will float.
well, things were sounding great 'till david gave his advise. Anyone want to respond to this???? 😮
I’m sorry you and your family have had a fairly hard time adjusting, and I’m glad you’re doing better now. Bear in mind that everyone’s experience in moving here is different. Personally, I didn’t go through an adjustment or transitional phase at all. I’ve loved it from day one. It was very much what I was looking for. I find it much easier living here than on the mainland (it isn‘t fricking cold!), and a lot more fun, too. I think the easiest way for a transplant to make it here is to let go of mainland ways right away and simply dive in-figuratively and literally.
I’m sorry you had a bad experience in the USVI. It is definitely not for everyone, which is why people contemplating moving here need to visit first to get a sense of what life is like here. There is obviously no conspiracy to get people to move here to get their money. Let’s be reasonable.
The Virgin Islands is NOT for everyone, and those who don't like it here make that decision rapidly. Hawaii is very much like the Virgin Islands as far as weather, flora, etc. but the culture there is definitely different. I don't think you need any more cash to live in the VI as opposed to Hawaii, I've lived in both places. Hawaii is more expensive than St. Thomas. My son is presently stationed in Hawaii.
I will risk being politically incorrect and state for the record that the US Virgin Islands has a predominantly black population, which may make some people uneasy. The natives tend to be more self-assured than their mainland counterparts. Some people arrive here with preconceived notions about how black people should act, and may rapidly get uncomfortable. Not sure exactly what caused this guy's discomfort, and he doesn't want to elaborate. St. Thomas is the world's number one cruise ship destination, it's not a joke compared to any other place.
Mr. Jacobs just sounds like several of the previous people posting here whose intention is solely to stir the pot, as it were, with half truthes. They're kind of like hackers with too much time on their hands and no brains in their heads.
Heather: You will find if you go back throught the archives, that there are people like David who have a horrible experience, for whatever reason, and leave. This usually happens in the time frame he states- 3-6 months. This is why we say- come for a serious visit- think about what you need and if these islands can provide those things. Don't burn your bridges back home. It will take a period of settling in before you really know if you can live here. Some people don't have relocation adjustment problems, like FOG. But if you see his posts, he has enculturated himself in his new home. He does not fret about that which is not like America.
David, I do not think we "fluff the truth" to get people down here. In fact I personally have been criticized for being negative, and I love it here. Ditto Native Son- The Virgin Islands are NOT for everyone.
I agree with you FOG, not everyone's experience is the same. It is hard to describe living on the islands, because everyone's perception is different. I can only say that for me it has been difficult. I am not sure why exactly. I would love to hear opinions from other mother's that have recently moved with young kids. I don't know what I am doing wrong or what it is, but I have not liked living here. My kids have adapted. They know they like going to the beach and going to the pool. They like playing outdoors and enjoy the warm weather. The are still trying to understand what other kids are saying with the heavy accent of the islands, but it doesn't stop them from playing and having fun. So I would agree that kids most likely will adapt quickly. Dad's and mom's have to work out the details of meals, finding a home, transportation and other things that keep them from enjoying things as quickly. I am getting off the rock for the holidays, so we will see how much I miss it here or if I even want to come back. 😉 It is irritating to me to not like it here, so many people would trade me in a minute I am sure. Sorry to be such a downer. As many people who dislike it here, there are just as many who love it here. You just don't know until you try! I will never regret trying it and no matter how long we stay, I will make it work. Good luck to you all and please post your experiences!
In my humble experiences, I have found that when families move here the husband and the kids have very little trouble adapting....the wives, however, is a different story!!
Don't know exactly what causes the discomfort, maybe lack of proper shopping experiences, stuff for fixing up the home, interactions with other women, but I have seen a great deal of dissatisfaction among wives who move here with their husbands. I know of families that have big problems because hubby really wants that nice job here, but wifey does not want to leave from wherever they are. I know of husbands who are right now planning to take their wives back to the states, leave them there, and return here to work. I know of husbands who have left the island and a great job although they loved it here, because the wives hated it. So again, just because hubby gets a great job offer here doesn't mean you can pack up the family and move. Also, warm places look more inviting during winter, when it's bitterly cold. The continental United States looks really, really good during the summer months. Make sure you're not just suffering the winter doldrums, looking at those ads of people frollicking on beaches.
The reality is that St. Croix, while beautiful, has a myriad of problems and issues that people who are used to mainland conveniences will often not be able to stomach. There is a level of rudeness among sales and service people that can be unsettling, and all of us who live here know that. You will be frustrated trying to get simple things like a driver's license. The roads are atrocious in places, and there is no rush to fix them. There are spectacular properties all over the island, most of which are expensive. If you go cheap, you will be in an undesirable neighborhood. A lot of wives are used to shopping in sparkling supermarkets with attractively displayed produce and other items, and having a variety of such supermarkets to choose from. It can be frustrating not finding that one item you are used to having. Yes, the shopping drives a lot of wives away.
I urge anyone contemplating a move here to visit first, for at least a month. Take the seaplane and go from island to island...get a feel. Go to the local markets, see if you can live off the local fare. Participate in some local cultural events like the agriculture and food fair, carnival village, art shows, museums, ruins rambles, and so on. Immerse yourself for a month, then see if you can stomach it. Drive on all of the roads, day and night. Eat at local restaurants, go to the sunset jazz concert, watch the sun set.
Then compare it all with your current lifestyle, see if you can make such a drastic change. It is not all about the weather and the beaches, there are harsh realities here too.
I think different people have difficulty for different reasons, both men and women.
Ric and I are empty nesters and I have a pension. For the first 3-4 months we were here, we didn't work. We played, we explored, we made friends -- we were basically on vacation. Then Ric went to work and I played -- my days were my own. I'm not much of a shopper, so I didn't miss that. I'm a beach person and I spent 2 months basically doing a tour of beaches. Each day a different beach. Me, a book and a cross word puzzle. Maybe I'd snorkel, maybe not. Even now, when I'm working 4 days a week, I spend at least one day being lazy on the beach.
I'm content except for one thing -- the folks back home. My dad is in his 80's and my grandchildren are 5 and 2. If I do go back they will be the reason. I miss them much more that I thought I would.
Teresa, you're in a totally different situation. Are you still homeschooling? I can barely imagine how you're doing it. Even things like grocery shopping, which is hard for me, must be murder for you. I remember the days of taking kids to the grocery with less than fondness. And here, I go to three different stores to get what I want at good prices.
I know I often sound negative when I tell potential Crucians, especially those with children, to be careful, take their time, come for a premove visit. But it is really true -- you can't know what it's like here until you come down for an extended period of time.
Merry Christmas to all.
I moved here in August and I've also had a few problems adjusting here which has been challenging even though I do like St THomas. Here are a few observations/experiences that seem to me to differ from the states and make things "harder" here... I also moved from NYC where i had lived for about 5 yrs so i had everything at my fingertips, so it was a pretty extreme change (and i was expecting a lot of culture shock...)
-- We have a Jeep Wrangler-- perfect for the islands-- but a lot of people here have Jeeps and rather than stocking up on auto parts for Jeeps, Western Auto seems to just run of things. We needed a few lugnuts for our wheels and it's been a few months and the lug nuts still aren't in stock there or at a couple other places.
--took us 8 days to get the battery changed in the car-- 7 of those 8 days were total frustration with us calling the repair place daily and them saying they hadn't had a chance to look at it yet (car broke down on the road and we had to tow it there... seems like they should have taken a look sooner than 7 days, but hey maybe that's just me). overall, we've had a hard time finding reliable car repair people for Jeeps. Luckily we've had few problems since my BF and i only have 1 car between us...
-- no food places deliver here! 🙁 that's something i miss about NYC-- calling up a chinese restaurant at midnight and getting a delivery 20 mins later. but that's sort of a petty thing, i know. i miss the variety of food more than the delivery service. and so little shopping-- may seem trivial but on a rainy day there's not too much to do here! the shopping selections aren't too hot. but that's minor in my opinion. and no indian food restaurants on the whole island 🙁
-- not many people my age (late 20's). i think it's WAY more of a family oriented place than a place for people without kids. there's not much to do! seems like there are a lot of people raising kids here, a lot of people who are 19 and at the bar every night, and a lot of old people and tourists, but few people my age. it's been really hard to make friends in that sense. i personally used to go out a lot in NYC but here the bars aren't very fun (filled with 18 yr olds) so we end up staying in a lot and feeling bored once the sun sets. never bored at the beach though!!! 🙂
-- the islanders who were raised here aren't too open to us "immigrants". not very helpful about giving advice on settling in. maybe it's a cultural thing or an island-living thing (they're so used to doing things their way that they assume it's common-sensical which isn't always the case!). coming from CA and NYC which are full on transplants, i wasn't as prepared for people to be so exclusive. for example, if you mention to an islander/west indian/longtime resident of STT that you're heading to radioshack to get a cellphone, they smile and point you in the right direction, but don't mention that it takes like 3 hours for the damn purchase to happen! 3 HOURS!!! mind you, there were like 2 other customers there the whole time. then you come back, pissed and frustrated and feeling like "why me?" and only THEN does the islander say, "oh yeah, that's normal. sometimes it takes all day." you don't get many "heads ups" here from my experiences. btw, all cell phone service here is really crappy, be ready. i was used to living without a home phone, but it's hard to just have a cell phone here since there's a lot times you don't have service.
-- also, i find STT to be very segregated. whites hang here, west indians hang there. the private schools here like Antilles and Montessori are basically filled with the white kids and all the public schools are pretty much all black. that was weird to see. i'm in an interracial relationship and it's been weird since there isn't a lot of mixing in the social scenes that we've seen-- not experiencing racism much, but it seems like we're either at a bar that's all white or eating at a little hole in the wall place that is all black. i know a lot of west indians don't drink so that's something to consider. i guess i'm used to having a big group of friends from lots of ethnic backgrounds and that's been a tough change. we live on the east end and it seems like there are just a lot of fairly rich white familes who live here. not meaning to insult anyone at all-- just trying to find where the others hang. big discrepancies in wealth distribution here too.
-- lastly, it's been REALLY hard for me to find work! REALLY HARD. i have a job that pays HALF what my salary was in the states. the education system here is so bad, that it seems educated workers aren't very valued in certain arenas. if you're a doctor, lawyer, architect -- some sort of specialty-- then you'll find a decent job with decent pay. if you have a business degree and could be a bookkeeper or work in finance or work in real estate (ie., could do any type of job) the pay is really low and it seems most employers would rather save a buck and hire someone with a GED for $8/hr than hire a great employee who will add a lot, suggest constructive changes, try to improve efficiency,etc. ..without trying to offend, it seems like there is an acceptance of mediocrity in the workplace and that was a big adjustment. kind of nice if you're looking for a slacker job, but not when the paycheck comes in! 🙂 also, few places offer health benefits which was shocking to me.
anyway, there are a lot of wonderful things about STT, but i thought this thread of honest not-so-great experiences would be helpful so people remember this is another place where you have to work and pay bills, not entirely paradise!