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bettyboop
(@bettyboop)
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Joined: 12 years ago
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July 13, 2009 10:54 pm  

Hi, My husband and I were toying with the idea of purchasing a home in the USVI when he retires in a couple years. I just could not imagine that waterfront homes would be so affordable. Can someone tell me, is there a catch? What are the major drawbacks to living there? Thank you in advance!


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A Davis
(@A_Davis)
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July 13, 2009 11:08 pm  

dear bettyboop,

welcome!

first start with the "what to expect" link at the top
https://www.vimovingcenter.com/what_to_expect/

and read all the true stories from others like you.

and, i am sure that many will post their opinions as well...


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East Ender
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July 13, 2009 11:13 pm  

I guess "affordable" is in the mind of the spender, so not sure of any catch. Have you ever been to the USVI? If you are planning on living here, you will find that this board tends to recommend renting for a period of time to see if the place really suits you.


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billd
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July 13, 2009 11:52 pm  

condo or a house?

there are not many houss on the beach

billd


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terry
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July 14, 2009 1:23 am  

insurance is very high.
I was quoted $10K per year on a 4000 sq ft house that was not on the water.


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piaa
 piaa
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July 14, 2009 2:34 am  

$10,000 for a 4,000 square foot house - boy that is cheap - we were quoted $10,000 for a non waterfront home on STJ and it is 1,200 square feet 😮

Pia


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dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
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July 14, 2009 2:42 am  

Insurance costs us $12,000/year for a 1500sf masonry house that is not waterfront. Just the structure is insured, not the contents. And we have only insured the loan amount, which is about half the value of the house.


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bettyboop
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July 14, 2009 3:14 am  

I have never been and can't wait to visit. I would imagine condo...I think we would spend part of the year there. What I meant by affordable is that I paid 289000 for a townhouse 2 years ago in Maryland....a very boring townhouse...and can't believe that I could have spent that on a condo with waterviews in the Virgin Islands!
Do many people spend partial years there?
Thanks everyone so far.


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Alexandra
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July 14, 2009 3:16 am  

It is true that waterfront homes on St. Croix are comparatively more affordable than in many mainland urban markets and also less expensive than many other islands in the Caribbean. I moved here from Seattle and the waterfront homes there are substantially more expensive than the offerings here. Our prices seem high to those coming from the more rural areas of the country where the dollar tends to go further.

The "catch" with island homes is that there is higher hurricane insurance costs to be absorbed as well as higher maintenance expenses from the salt air. Be sure to leave some $$ in your budget to handle the higher cost of upkeep on whatever property you choose if you do ultimately move here and buy a home.

Another thing to realize is that there are very few NEW homes here. The houses you see in the MLS are mostly going to be 10-60 years old. Many need some renovation work in addition to regular maintenance. Some have an older "dated" design.

Waterfront condos are fairly plentiful, but also mostly in older complexes built in the 1960's and 1970's. If looking at condos be sure to ask questions about any issues that may exist due to years of deferred maintenance and also if special assessments apply for ongoing restorations.

Drawbacks to living in the islands are defined differently by each person you speak with. Some will say they wish there were more shopping available, some would like better customer service, others lament about the school system or crimes that are not solved. The job market can be tough for some as there are many professions that just don't have a big enough market to make them feasible. Prices on consumer goods, food, etc. are higher than the mainland since everything gets shipped in on barges. To counter that, you can get away with owning less "stuff" here and most people don't get worked up about owning the latest model car or designer label clothing.

The islands aren't perfect, but the weather is about as temperate and reliable as you can find anywhere on the planet. Most people are friendly and it's not difficult to make new friends and develop a social group upon your arrival. A downside is that it is expensive to travel back to the mainland to visit family and friends and fewer of them tend to visit regularly here than you at first expect.


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Alexandra
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July 14, 2009 3:22 am  

I have never been and can't wait to visit. I would imagine condo...I think we would spend part of the year there. What I meant by affordable is that I paid 289000 for a townhouse 2 years ago in Maryland....a very boring townhouse...and can't believe that I could have spent that on a condo with waterviews in the Virgin Islands!
Do many people spend partial years there?
Thanks everyone so far.

Lots of people spend partial years here. Some manage to rent out their condos or houses part of the time they are away to help cover the carrying costs. This can't be guaranteed, but is helpful to some when it works.

What are the HOA fees on the townhouse in Maryland? Rates here on the majority of complexes will range from $575-$1200 PER MONTH in HOA fees. This covers hurricane and hazard insurance, external building maintenance, landscaping, security, plus other services that vary from complex to complex. It may include one or more of the following: water, cable tv, internet, local phone service, propane, pest control, mailboxes, etc.


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terry
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July 14, 2009 3:29 am  

Here in Scottsdale, AZ there are people who are paying over $1 MILLION dollars for a 900 sq ft condo that has a water view. They are by the big fancy shopping area and overlook a canal. 😀
Many people split their time. Starting next month we are joining that group. We plan on spending 6 months, 3 months at a time. My wife wants to be out of AZ during the hot summers and I want to be out during the cold winters.
Many people spend all winter on island, and many spend 10 months going back to where they came from during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.


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bettyboop
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July 14, 2009 12:13 pm  

HOA for my townhouse is about 1000 a year! Includes trash and cutting of my miniscule lawn..
Do any real estate companies list the HOA fee in the listing...it would be helpful.
Also, I plan on working VERY part time....I am an RN...many opportunities?


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glynnswife
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July 14, 2009 12:17 pm  

Betty: Which island are you moving to? There are several condos on St. Thomas on the water and as Alexandra said the dues can be in the $600 - $1200/month range. Most listings do have the HOA amount listed. Many people live part of the year in St. Thomas and part of the year in the states.


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bettyboop
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July 14, 2009 1:26 pm  

Donna, I have no idea...this is a very new idea to us and when I told my husband about the HOA fees he let some of the air out of my happy balloon. His theory is that 1000 a month on his retirement might be a bit hard to swallow...considering we want to build a house in upstate NY to spend warm months here.


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East Ender
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July 14, 2009 10:16 pm  

bettyboop: There are plenty of people who spend a portion of their time here. With condos, look at the association rules. Some will allow you to short-term rent on your own, some require you to put the unit in a hotel management program. I know people who have condos in a hotel plan and come down for a week or two at a time throughout the year. I also know people who show up the end of November and leave in April or May. If you procede with this idea, you might want to come down, stay at a condo, visit others and see what floats your boat. About the HOA dues: it is just plum expensive to live here, perhaps that is the catch? 😉


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Jules
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July 15, 2009 1:02 pm  

BettyBoop, many realtors' websites have MLS links. Most of the condo listings I've seen include the HOA information.

Apparently the realtors have some control over which MLS search features to include on their site. For purposes of searching MLS, I like to use Calypso Realty's site (www.calypsorealty.com) The MLS link is on the left. It takes you to a page where you choose to search by category (Homes, Condos, Land, Businesses, Timeshares).

I like the MLS link on Calypso's site because you can narrow down your search by selecting specific areas of the islands. You can even search by specific condo communities.

You asked about HOA fees, so here is an example from MLS (via Calypso). Go to Calypso's site, click MLS, select condos, select Condo Name of "Mahogany Run" from the list, click "next". As I'm typing this, the first listing that comes up is for #07-579. Click that one. Then click "Full Information".

Under "Details-- Miscellaneous" it tells the condo fees. In this case:

Insurance Amt: 336.02; Insurance Remarks: Monthly; Condo Fee Amt: 471.88; Condo Fee Remarks: Monthly; Assessment Fee Rmks; Other Fee Amt: 96.01; Other Fee Rmks: Sewer/SBA/Infra/mont; General Condition: Excellent; Water Fee: 0.05; Pets Allowed: No

There is no standard way to list the fees. Note that the entire monthly amount paid to the condo association for this particular unit is $336.02 + $471.88 + $96.01 (insurance, HOA, other which is probably water, common area electricity, sewer, etc). Total monthly HOA fee for this unit is ~$903.91

Some condos are self-insured. I don't know much about that but I would want to know how much money the HOA has in that account and how they prioritize repairs when major events occur.


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terry
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July 15, 2009 1:49 pm  

Many ( all?) lenders will not give a morgage at a complex that self insures.


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beachy
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July 15, 2009 3:10 pm  

You don't need to own to spend winters. It's possible to rent a condo for one, two or three months at a reasonable monthly cost, particularly if you rent from an owner directly or through the condo management, and then utilities are usually included as well...and if you don't like a given location you can pick a different one the next year....Rents aren't as cheap as some places we've seen in FL, but they are not the price that you pay for a weekly vacation rental either.


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DUN
 DUN
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July 16, 2009 1:01 am  

Many ( all?) lenders will not give a mortgage at a complex that self insures.

This is absolutely correct!
You MUST have coverage for the loan amount!
Banks don`t care if you do not protect yourself.

Even if you do, (& have insurance with say Mariam Mathis & Brad, AKA BAD Worth as your claim adjuster)
You probably won`t get your claim paid (unless you have dinner with the Lt.Governor)anyway!
And the Lt. governors office will not help you!
Advise, don`t use crappy insurance companies w/ corrupt claims adjusters!


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