Moving with a family?
I have to say, ever since my wife and I visited STX back in May, I have been borderline obsessed with the idea of moving our family to the USVI. I have done a lot of research and think I have read almost every link on vimovingcenter.com, in particular. The one thing I don't read a lot about is people moving to the islands with kids.
We have a young family. Has anyone here moved to St. Thomas or St. Croix with young kids? If so, do you have any advice or thoughts (good or bad)?
can you afford private school
It depends on how much private school is, to be perfectly honest. We are far from wealthy! We are your average, everyday, middle class family, in suburbia! We have good jobs, make a good living, pay far too much for our mortgage, and have dreams of a simpler and more peaceful life.
A family with two children were here until last summer when tuition for the two children would have been $26,000 per year.
That was cost prohibitive for them and each year tuition gets higher.
Yikes! That's a bit un-nerving. Are the public schools truly out of the question? I have seen a couple other posts on here from families relocating, but am just trying to get a feel for everything myself.
The choice between public and private school is a tough one, and one that has been fiercely debated on this board. Marlene, however is absolutely correct about the cost and its effect on families in this economy. The tuition at Country Day School (on STX) ranges from $10,250 to $13,850 per year per child. Our monthly tuition is $2,690 for two children. That's more than double what our mortgage was in the states. Add that to $2,000 or more to rent a house, $500 + per month for electricity and another $1,200 per month for groceries, higher car insurance, etc... You quickly begin to see that what you may have thought was a good paying job where you live is suddenly not enough to even make ends meet here. Good luck in whatever you decide!
Electric very expensive as well. Not the best healthcare.
I want to move to St Thomas as well and I also have 2 kids I searched on google and found this site: copy and paste this in your tool bar and check it out. Hope this helps. www.jackiemarin.com/PageManager/.../PageID=1101842&NF=1
DreamerDad - There's plenty of threads on this forum about the benefits and tuition costs of private school vs. public school so I won't belabor the point other than to say, in my opinion, you'll do your children a disservice if you do not seriously consider sending them to private school (assuming you do move to the islands). If you value the quality of their education you shouldn't even consider not sending them to private school but that's a decision you'll have to make for your self. For me if it came down to a choice between relocating to the islands and my children's education I choose the latter. In fact we did just that, we waited until well after our kids were grown and out of school before we relocated. Our kids are now very successful in their own right manly due to their education and that makes us, not only proud but also glad we made the decision we did.
There was one other comment you made that deserves some consideration. You said you "have dreams of a simpler and more peaceful life". That's a ideal many people who are considering a move to the islands have in one form or another and, to be truthful, it's a great misconception. Peaceful, perhaps - one can live in peace anywhere since that is really your own outlook on life. If however, by peaceful you mean "crime free" then that's a pipe dream - crime exists in the islands. Likewise island life is not simple by any stretch of the imagination, even if you have unlimited financial resources. If you are, as you say an "average family" and "far from wealthy" you'll still have to deal with the same everyday life chores where you now live. You have to et up every day, commute to work, earn a living, pay your bills, pay your rent or mortgage, buy groceries, do the laundry, cut the lawn and hundreds of other daily, weekly and monthly routine household and personal chores as you do where you currently live. In other words, living in the islands doesn't allow you to escape from everyday life. Read though the material on this website AGAIN and a third time, if necessary, and focus on the more mundane aspects of island life. You'll get a clearer picture of what it is really like to live here.
All too often people considering a move to the islands fail to take of the rose colored glasses. They think life will be like in the movies - living in a little cottage on or near the beach, eating fruits freshly picked from trees and plants in their garden and sitting under palm tress while sipping pina coladas. Yes, you can do that but only after you've taken care of everyday reality.
Please don't think I'm trying to scare you away. Rather, I'm just trying to point out that life in the islands is not a fantasy. There's an old saying that goes something like this: "The islands may be paradise but they are not heaven".
Good luck investigating and following your Dream - perhaps one day it may become a reality. Lastly, there's no need to rush, the islands will be here for many, many years to come. If the timing is not right you can always make the move later.
Thanks for the tips. My children's education and well being is by far the most important thing in my wife and my life. Your words and comments are most certainly insightful. I wanted to make sure I did not sound like one of the many who aren't able to separate living in paradise vs. living in Heaven! I have read a lot of the posts on the message board and many of the moving stories, good and bad.
Maybe I sounded a little out there when I said "have dreams of a simpler and more peaceful life". I most certainly understand the reality of living anywhere, involves work and daily routines, errands, etc. I probably should have prefaced by saying, we live in the mid-Atlantic near DC. Our idea of simple and peaceful is being away from the hustle and bustle of DC, the traffic, noise, and those sorts of things.
I look forward to continuing to read the different comments and view points and truly appreciate everyone's feedback!
Dreamer: I would suggest that you come back for a visit with the kids. Do all the things you would have to do during the course of a day: visit some schools, go to K-Mart, Cost-U-Less, the bank, drug stores, grocery stores, look at some rental homes...Try to find a place to stay that is in a residential area, rather than a hotel. Don't go to the beach- well at least for a few days! Cook your meals, etc. See if the reality of living here is anything like the dream you have.
Ready to Meet: Jackie Marin is a realtor and has a vested interest in getting you to move here!;) You will find much more information here on vinow- good and bad. You get to sift through!
Good luck to both of you.
afriends post was very well though out and thoughtful. i too lived in the dc area. i actually miss the change of seasons. the islands are nice but not for everyone.
really study the cost of threads and the crime threads before you make a decision. also cost of getting back to the states to visit family.
it is really beautiful here though
DreamerDad--I have been 'obsessed' with living on STJ since our first visit in 1999. We have been back yearly-sometimes twice a year since then. We have three grown children now and a 6 year old. I just sent in his application for private school on STJ today. I am super excited for this new chapter in our lives! Don't give up on your dream!
I suggest you move to the country and commute to your jobs to find some peace.Monetary peace is much better for a young family then struggling to make ends meet.Plan a yearly vacation to get your "FIX" of island life.Kids come first before fantasies,of thongs and tan bodies.Just my opinion ....from a poor old rich Dad.*-)
I agree, you will probably be way ahead to stay with your kids in stateside school. Maybe you can plan for LONG summer vacations with your families. It would be off season, and off hurricane season... cheaper... quieter... with your kids still in good schools, utilities affordable, good health care available... then a month or two of "roughing it" down in the islands every year. Hey, it could work!
If you are versatile there are many other smaller private schools that are just as great as " The Country Day", " Good Hope" etc.... The public school system is predominately black which is normal for an island that is predominately black. I don't understand why families choose to move to an island thinking everything is golden. I am moving from the DMV area in January and found that the teachers at the private schools have less credentials in the USVI than the teachers in the public schools, i.e. they don't need a teachers certificate nor do they need to sit the Praxis test ( which qualifies the USVI teachers as being certified) .
GOOD LUCK!! Just keep an open mind.
My advice is do not move to the USVI with young kids. I live in St Thomas, have three kids under 5 and speak from experience. The public schools are way below average on all three islands. Not because of the teachers who, for the most part are qualified and caring. They work for less than half of what they would get in the states. It's the government that has not prioritized education. The schools lack basic supplies like books and paper as well as working copiers, fax machines, computers, printers, etc. Maintenance is nearly non-existent for both the physical structure and the equipment/technology. It takes weeks for them to defficiently repair something. Now, of course there are some public schools that are better than others but even the best is below the national average. Private/parochial isn't much better. Their teachers are paid less and are generally not certified/trained. The better schools cost about $13,000 a year as mentioned above. I've spent that much for my oldest and wondered "what am I or my kids getting for this?" There are few, if any, after school or enrichment programs. Those cost extra, which could run in the hundreds. There really is no sports program either. The private and parochial schools had to combine there fledging programs to create one team "the Arawaks" to play against the public schools, but the fields for the public schools need repair that the Government has failed to provide. So no one plays. Pre-school/daycare is equally depressing in terms of trained care givers, academic and social programs and facilities. There are a few shinning exceptions, which are expensive and hard to get into. I pay $1550 a month for my two youngest at pre-school, but I'm happy with the place. There are no "real" public parks or playgrounds either and for the few there are, Maintenance has been defferred to long so bridges, slides and turf emails broken and dangerous. There are no museums other than small historic houses, and no year-round activities. The only real options for young kids are the beach, movies (which does costs less than the states), and the "marine park" Coral World, whose hay day has long past. Older kids have water activities as an option. Groceries are a whole other problem! I cannot find everything in one place and the various stores on St. Thomas appear to tripple the price of baby food and other children necessities. Each week I spend about $300 on groceries and household needs (cleaning supplies, tissues) at a minimum. Lately it's been more as my youngest turns 1. Gas and car maintenance is something else to consider. In St Thomas, a gallon of low grade gas costs 4.10. I can go on. Take a trip if you like, but honestly look at the islands for what they are. As someone else said, this is a great place for singles and couples, but not for families.