New To The Board, Just Saying Hello
Hello everyone, I had the opportunity to visit St Thomas the week of 11/6 on our honeymoon and it was everything I expected and more. Stayed at the Wyndham (all inclusive) and had a very pleasant experience. Did some shopping in Charlotte Amalie and spent a day in St John doing some shopping with the wife and hit Hawksnest and Trunk Bay. Without a doubt the most beautiful beaches I personally have ever experienced.
Like my friend who honeymooned with his wife on St Croix last year, I came back with rave reviews, pictures that look like postcards but most importantly of all - MLS listings. I had to convince my new wife that this was more than just a pleasant vacation, I've got to get my hands on some property down there.
A little background info, late 20's and now married. Been living in Kentucky for the last 10 years (can't stand it, never have liked it- never will) and working as a programmer for a large phone company and for the last year a Real Estate agent but recently put my RE license up for reasons I won't bother to go into right now.
I look forward to becoming a part of this online community and hope that this board can help assist in making my dream of moving to the islands a reality.
Welcome to the board. There is tons of moving info up on top on the Moving Center link. Plenty of FAQs. You may want to come back and look again. This time not as a tourist!
I second Ronnie's post! Coming here as a vacationer bears little to no resemblance of actually living and doing business here. There are many frustrations in life and trying to make a life here can really tax you to the limit if you don't have a grasp on what it really means to live here, Assimilating yourself into a society which sees newcomers come and go with rapidity is actually a quite awesome task.
As Ronnie suggested, do your research well and read between the lines where necessary. Ronnie's a (wonderful) bahn-here and I've lived here for over two decades and I think I'm now considered a "local" - Ronnie? Lord knows if it weren't for hair dye I'd more than likely be totally grey by now just from being here,
But, know what? As hard as it is, becoming part of this community has been an interesting experience to say the least. Do your research well and thank goodness that this site offers so much to potential movers with just a click!
Cheers, and good luck reading and researching!
Thank you all for your responses. This site has a great deal of info and I will continue to do a great deal more of research to make this happen. I agree with you entirely that vacationing and being waited on hand and foot is vastly different from what I'd imagine living on the islands is like. Looks like I have a ton of homework to do but thankfully I'm up for the challenge.
I am also new to the board and would like to say hello. My husband and I are planning on moving to STX, but a little concerned with the poverty/crime. And yes we have two small children that are our top priority. We want to get out of the hustle and bustle of living in the states. We will be visiting Dec. 9th and would like to make the most of our visit. I don't want an experience as a "vacationer," I want to try to see it through an islanders perspective. Any good advice?
SimpleLife - To experience life as an islander, try to focus on spending at least a few days going through the same kind of schedule of activities that you would if you actually lived here. Make sure you are staying at the kind of place you might live in... a condo or a guest house instead of a resort hotel, for example. Start in the morning at the time you would get up and move through the day that way. See what it's like to drive the kids to school. Take some time to meet with the school personnel at a few places to discuss all kinds of things. Stop in at grocery stores and gas stations and check out both KMart's to see what you would have available and begin to comprehend that you have very limited shopping here. (I think that's a good thing in some ways because you can live less of a consumer lifestyle yet have enough). If you by chance have military ID, check out the PX also. It's small but you can order online for delivery on STX. Try a few local favorite restaurants and cook some of your meals in from what you manage to find at the grocery store. You will find out that some key ingredients you are used to being available might not be on the shelves here and you might have to visit several grocery stores to find specific items. Visit the hospital and a doctor's clinic or two. Stop in at WAPA and spend an hour sitting in the waiting room as if you were in line for setting up service or asking about a problem with your bill. You will have the chance to talk to a lot of other people sitting there while you all wait. Sometimes it moves quickly and sometimes it is interminable. Check out a car dealership and furniture stores so you can decide if you'd be better off bringing some things from the mainland or if you could just get things here. Spend an afternoon and an evening chatting up whomever you are sitting next to at a local beach bar or a place on the boardwalk in town. Most people are friendly, which makes it easy to make a few new friends. You can also get an idea about how hard or easy it might be to hear about rental houses or job openings through word of mouth. Take your kids to the beach and then realize that as much fun as a day at the beach can be, kids get tired even of that if they don't have other activities to entertain them sometimes. Then again, when I was growing up we didn't have all the electronic entertainment "must have's" that are out there now and we found things to do to keep busy and out of the house. A beach would have been a fun option.
If you aren't ready to make the move yet, you won't need to drop off resumes and set up interviews, but you should explore what kind of jobs are available and see if there are companies here that would have use for your services. Some people stay in the same industry when they move and others start a new career. Many take whatever they can find to help make ends meet. Stop in at the employment office and look at their job postings. Read the Avis paper for jobs, housing, items for sale, general interest, etc. If your current line of work wouldn't be a match for the island, going back home and taking a training course for something you might be more likely to do here isn't a bad thing to include in your pre-move preparations.
One day just go out and drive and drive and drive to see what you stumble across. You will spend a lot of time getting lost at first while driving around the island (on the left!) on the winding roads that don't have street signs. Use the pocket map for general orientation and then explore. Do try to avoid getting off onto bad dirt/rock roads at first as many of those head to the middle of nowhere and become a maze of backroads you might not unwind from easily. You can get seriously lost on an island even when it's only 27 miles by 6 miles. Just for kicks, print out a few property listings from the MLS and then try to follow the driving directions and see where it takes you. Get used to oddball directional markers that locals will tell you if you ask directions.
Then at the end of your PMV think about your life as you live it now. What would be added with the move? What would be taken away? Are the additions more positive than negative? Would you really be getting away from what you want to remove from your life and not removing things you really don't want to live without? For some people, the scales balance in favor of the islands and other people realize they should stay where they are on the mainland or seek another mainland option that would better suit their desires. Since everyone is different the reactions fill a broad range. Try to envision living here with a realistic set of expectations and the blinders off. Does it seem like an appealing lifestyle? Or one you would regret?
Many people have a fantasy island life in mind. They usually don't find it to be quite what they expected. The more realistic your expectations, the better you will do. So come down knowing that you are coming to what is basically a small, mostly rural town with a large moat around it. If you want to see the big city you can't just jump in the car and be there in half an hour. Most of the people who live in this small town are related to each other in various ways. You as a newcomer to the town will often feel somewhat isolated due to not being a family member. Most of your friends in the early years you live here will likely be other outsiders who have moved to this small town and are also seeking new friends. It takes time for newcomers to be accepted as anything other than tourists. You may find it harder to find a job than people who have family members who help them get hired. Housing is harder to come by than on the mainland because we don't have a lot of apartment buildings as most cities there do have. You will spend most of your holidays away from family, which is something some people don't take into account and then find it difficult to deal with when reality sets in. As much as your family and friends say they will visit you in the islands once you move... it will happen MUCH less than you think going in. Very few transplants actually have a steady stream of guests and many feel quite isolated. A nice positive to consider is that you won't have to save up your $$ and vacation time to be able to take a tropical vacation once a year. Instead you can have a series of short ongoing vacations... at the end of each day or on the weekend or whenever you have a couple hours to hit the beach and throw a frisbee or float in the water. As quality of life goes, it can be much less stressful to live where you can enjoy simple pleasures and find ways to relax on a regular basis instead of in a rare spurt of a vacation week when you work hard trying to have a good time and fit everything in before going back to work for another year. While there are undoubtedly places you can relax and enjoy no matter where you live, having a beach and 84 degree water at your beck and call is one of the easier ways to find one that works for most people.
If your family finds that "small town America with good weather" is a good match for you, then I look forward to welcoming you to STX in the near future. If you opt not to make the move, do come back for a visit and spend a week hanging on the beach like a tourist. That's fun, too. 🙂
These are all things I've found to be useful to many of the people I show properties to as a Realtor on St. Croix. It's a topic that I discuss pretty much daily. Island life isn't for everyone. But for those it suits, it can be pretty great.
Thank you for your help. We will try to make our PMV as practical as possible. It is very expensive to make the move and shortly return if you don't know what you're getting into. This site has been an incredible help. Thanks everyone!
Great post and good advice !