Now that you have moved to the USVI - what would you have done different
This post is for all of you that have already moved to the USVI.
Now that you are settled in and have somewhat of a normal life. What would you have done differently?
More Research, brought less stuff, brought more stuff, saved more money...etc
A little of the stuff I shipped I wouldn't have bothered with. Some of what I left in storage I would have shipped down. I probably should have postponed my relocation until about four months later than I arrived, but that is for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the USVI themselves.
I am sure there are those out there who will be delighted to know - I wish I'd shut my mouth and opened my ears. Don't haul all your stuff down here - it's probably not made for the climate and you may not be either. Even if it does work, you will find yourself drawn to more of the island look and your great antiques may end up just looking a little funky!
I would have made one more trip down here and used it to truly focus on daily life.
I'm with Alexandra - you simply don't really know what is a necessity and what is not until you've been here for a while, and many of the things donated to my sons and extended family....well, I wish I'd either sent them or boxed them up to be shipped at a later date. All that kitchen stuff like carrot peelers and all of that? They seem to be a pain (oh, I'll just replace it when I get there)...surprise, you need it, it wouldn't have taken as much space as you thought, and it's more expensive to replace here.
More money is certainly helpful under any circumstances! We probably would have brought more green cash...we brought certified checks which the bank held for 10 business days - something we had never even thought to ask about.
Things I wish I'd left behind: my massive book collection...artwork that is special to me...my quilting stuff (and no, I have no idea what I was thinking on that one...). My great couch, which now has sea air stains on it. Plain old wish I hadn't given away my winter wardrobe, as I own a pair of jeans, a pair of khakis, and two sweatshirts...makes traveling back to Arkansas in January a little miserable.
Things I wish I'd brought: bookcases (for a collection of books that presumably wouldn't exist...you can see my thought processes occasionally go awry), extra computer stuff (memory sticks, a DVD burner, external hard drive, wireless router - usually expensive here). More SLEEVELESS t-shirts, all cotton or linen. More high count cotton sheets.
Things we've only used a few times but are forever grateful we brought or maintained? The generator. The generator. The generator. The stateside bank account for oddball bills when a stateside company can't get "USVI" to enter into it's computer (happens more than we imagined).
Things we brought along, would bring again, but that have complicated our lives? 6 dogs. Linda J made the comment in another post that the more encumberances you have, the more likely it is you will have a difficult time finding housing or the "perfect paradise" situation. Many rentals are furnished, so you don't need your furniture if you're waiting on buying a home...many rentals will not allow pets, some won't allow kids (I guess you have to bring those if they are underage, though...) No way would I leave without my dogs, but it has made life a wee bit more interesting.
Things I've acquired that were dumb? A huge chest freezer we can't afford to run thanks to WAPA...
I think coming as lightly as you can is of benefit....you can probably find a rental if you don't have a home waiting on you when you get here, and you can find your special island groove and your way to decorate your new home that totally wouldn't be understood many other places but is perfect here. Less is truly more here...the more junk you bring, the more you complicate your life...and isn't an easier life what we are all looking for? LOL!
Things I wish I had done differently:
---Spent longer on my PMV so I had plenty of time to comparison shop prices/agents for auto, home, health. Most ask you to come in instead to get more specific info than a generic price range. Once you're here and trying to jump through the car registration/mortgage closing/getting your belongings and moving in hoops, you tend to go with the path of least hassle, which may not be the right policy or agent for you.
--You can NEVER have enough unrestricted cash. We're still google-eyed about how much more we need/want to do to get the new place totally in order. One example we didn't think we'd really need until a year after arriving: a strong-wind resistant storage shed or out-building in which to store hurricane shutter panels, lawnmower, industrial weed whacker and other yard control tools/supplies.
--Donated most of my books to a reading program or library instead of hassling to pack, ship, unpack and store them while constantly monitoring to make sure humidity, paper munching insects and such aren't destroying them.
--Been on-island to personally supervise the tasks needed to close on our house, especially the inspection. Even though we had an island-based real estate attorney on retainer and were working with a.real estate agent, I was constantly on the phone pushing to make sure the inspection and inspector's report (plus other paperwork)were completed and in my hands early enough to review the problems that were found and exercise my rights in a timely manner (before deadlines agreed to in the contract, set by the mortgage company etc.) -- and without having to pay the attorney for added work to get fair compensation before closing for major problems missed/ignored/undisclosed by the seller's that we discovered after moving here, and hours before the original closing was scheduled.
--Put more stock in the advice on this board about how long it can take for WAPA, Innovative, etc. to get services turned on. We had made plans to move into the house the day after setting up our utilities accounts. Even after hearing so many times about how island time can affect things like this from this board, we were still stunned when those companies told us to expect service in two to four weeks, We got really lucky -- power was on in 36 hours and cable in about 40, but land line phone took almost four weeks, Of those who moved here since late 2004, we are the only people we've heard of who got our power on so quickly.
Things we definitely did right:
--Setting up a checking account at a local bank during our PMV. Having local checks with which to pay deposits, folks who did early work for us, etc was invaluable, as was having account info on where to send my new direct deposit checks in their systems before we left the states.
--Setting up a mailbox/mailing address with Mailboxes, Etc. before relocating. Wished we'd done this on our PMV, but being able to do it over the phone and by fax with so we had a real, permanent mailing address for mail forwarding, receiving packages, providing to people who will be sending me money (like a state tax refund) and such -- instead of waiting for these things to go through the USPS new address slowness, was awesome.
--Staying in Fredericksted on our PMV. Doing so required us to drive cross-island for almost all of our appointments, house viewings, vendor interactions, etc. By doing this we learned a lot abut ways to get from here to there early on, see/experience a lot of West End areas and businesses firsthand, and (best of all) get to know the people that lived, worked, and shopped West of Christiansted personally before many (most) of the people who were helping us to buy a home started pushing us *hard* to stay away from the west of C'sted regions and into the East End.
For the most part we've done things pretty well.
One change? We brought down two cars. The first was a Plymouth Voyager mini-van. It was older and paid for. We filled it with stuff, shipped from Miami and it was one of the best decisions we made. Three years later it's still running and has paid for its shipping many times over. The second was a 25 year old Triumph convertible. It is my husband's baby and he thought STX would be a great place to drive around with the top down. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. This car has no road clearance. The slightest imperfection in the road and it bottoms out. You can imagine how it runs on the STX roads. And the convertible part? Well, it's usually too sunny and hot to ride comfortably with the top down and any sudden rain showers means getting soaked while you are trying to raise the roof. Anybody want to buy a car?
The best thing we did was leave most of our stuff in storage for 6 months. We mailed 6-8 boxes of household goods to ourselves immediately. 6 months later, we went back to the states, did another culling, and shipped most of what was left down. We still have some furniture and china in storage that I can't bear to part with but is not suitable for our life here.
Thanks for your advice. We are going through the house now and taking an inventory of what we have. We have so much stuff for 2 people. As I go through it sometimes I can't even remember the last time I used it. The local charaties are going to have a hey day the day we ask them to come out
We have started our St Croix fund and out of every paycheck we each stow away $150 dollars. We want to have this money in cash when we move down.
The car thing was super important...My partner has a Audi TT...she swears that it is going to STX. I keep telling her that this is the worst thing she could do....but she is 55 years old and super stubborn...live and learn. I did print out all the posts and put them in places where she can read them...
I think this post will help others when they are planning to come down.
We have a PMV scheduled for the week of 10/21. We are doing some business stuff and some PMV stuff and some play stuff.
I am a little different. I came down June 2005 for a 30 day PMV and brought 3 suitcases. I didn't leave to go back until November that year. I didn't bring much else back down. I did eventually have my computer shipped down, but everything else I got here. I was in furnished apartments and only recently had to get any big stuff - thank you Dial Rent to Own.
KMart and other stores have what you might need. I don't regret coming down light and not shipping my stuff. It is still all back home (in storage).
I leave in a week & a half to go back (to see new Gr. baby and take teen home) but I'll just bring stuff back from Meijer where it is much cheaper.
I think the decision on how much to bring also depends on how much living and storage space you will have and how much you are willing to pay for shipping. But, a few things we wish we wouldn't have given away back home are 1. extra tupperware/storage containers 2. the many nails, screws, bolts from the workshop 3. the extra TV's and DVD players and microwave. Reasons. We store many things in tupperware due to the humidity and bugs. It's was nice to have a supply of the little houshold fix-it items back home. When needing just one screw or nail it takes 2 hardware trips to find the one you need. Lastly - we are already having to replace the DVD player and microwave.
We also would have bought a good generator to ship down. As it turns out, the one at our house is old and on its last leg.
The last message posted in this thread was in August 2006. I found it very interesting and helpful, so I thought I would reply so that it bumps up. Hopefully there will be more posts from other people who have moved.
(I am moving to STT in 2 weeks, my husband has been there since October).
thanks for bumping this - Was going to bring my massive book collection (am now reconsidering... ) Would've never thought tupperware and I am going to get some linen before I leave now! Thanks again you guys are the best!
But is it really that impt. for me to open up a bank account at the local bank?? I've never dealt with paychecks and such - I always had my employers direct deposit into my bank account as all of my jobs were through the university.... Horrible I know - but I really know nothing about banks :'/ Any advice is much appreciated, Thanks in advance!
I have a MiniCooper I bought last year. Low miles and super gas mileage. I also, am stubborn about it and won't leave w/o it. My boyfriend keeps badgering me about it. He want's to know exactly how much this and that will cost to ship it.
I also owe money on it, but have a full warrenty for 3 more years. I can't sell it here and buy the same thing there.
Everyone should get to bring 1 thing with them...I believe it will be a good car for the island.
can you tell me more about "the stateside bank accts." We are planning our move in fall/winter. We have 2 dogs.
I have lived in many places and know how to get rid of stuff! However, my boyfriend, has never left Annapolis, MD. where he was raised. He is a pack rat and is struggling with "letting go". He is driving me crazy!
Yes, you can buy plastic storage containers on island and order them through the Internet. The intent of my comment was that I gave away a lot of Tupperware and wish I had shipped it down in my 40 ft. container. There was certainly room! In the States, I used it mostly for storing leftovers. Down here, I use it to store many things fresh from the store. It helps to keep the bugs out of dry food and moisture out of the spices. btw.. the best containers are with the locking lids.
We just left our Arkansas bank account in place....and it was enormously helpful from time to time where there were loose ends stateside and someone (meaning my children) needed money in a hurry - it costs $40 or so to wire from Bank of St. Croix....but we could just go online and switch money into their accounts. We also bought some stuff off of ebay and many dealers did not want to ship to the VI - those that didn't do Paypal really didn't want a St. Croix check.....so online again. We finally got around that by just billing through Paypal to our American Express. It is VERY difficult sometimes to explain to stateside companies just exactly where St. Croix is and most of them will not believe it is under the U.S. flag....it was very funny at first and very annoying after about the third go-round. Everyone knew about St. Thomas, and I guess they thought it was the only island down there other than Puerto Rico.....many people thought we were part of the Bahamas.....arggghhh, it was frustrating! My husband had to call a credit card company to change our billing - the customer service rep was about 12 or so and kept telling us the VI was NOT in any way connected to the U.S. - we assured her that it was, and she said, "well, when did that happen? I didn't know about it"......my husband said "1917"......she had to go find a supervisor. 🙂
Toblerone is right - yes, you can buy stuff like Tupperware on island - but the movers kept telling us all of our stuff was NOT going to fit in that container - and we jettisoned a lot while they were loading to various friends and relatives - when it was all said and done, we could have moved another family and indeed DID end up bringing some furniture for an acquaintance who was already on island we had met through this board. Point being, we could have brought our Tupperware but instead endured bugs until we could replace it....and we replaced it with crap from Kmart that wasn't anywhere near the quality of Tupperware but WAS near the price...
We rented on St. Croix on Tipperary at first - if you do a search for all dates under Becky R, I've told my landlord story several times - wonderful people, we rented from pictures they sent us, and everything went great......however, if they'd had a grass shack out back, we probably would have rented from them anyway since they were the only people interested in renting to us with my menagerie of mutts. Our second rental experience was not as pleasant, as the landlord found a reason to come by every day of the world.... As so many others have warned, renting over the internet is NOT the optimal way to find a place - it just happened to work for us - we had only a vague concept of where the first rental was located....oh, and here's a reality check - it's not that big of an island, so when we moved into the first rental on Tipperary we're thinking about 15 mi. to work, 15-20 minutes drive time, give or take? From Tipperary on the east end to Kmart on the west end? Not hardly - closer to 35....over hill, over dell, through Sunny Isle, down the "freeway", turn here, turn there......it added over an extra hour of travel to my husband's 14 hour shifts.....sure didn't look that far on the map......
MSU grad - many people on this board indicate they have never had difficulty with giving a stateside check to anyone.....I wouldn't know, we used Bank of St. Croix in Gallows Bay.......but direct deposit? I don't know how that would work if you had a VI employer, but it would have to probably be Hovensa or a larger company.....I'm not sure the smaller places have rocketed into the 1990's and are doing direct deposit. But thanks for giving me my morning laugh - obviously you are a child of the electronic age. In a lot of ways you're getting ready to step back to a time before you were even born. Ric J's favorite saying for St. Croix is "welcome to the 1950's", and many was the time I thought of that while trying to get something accomplished that is second nature stateside, but an oddity in the islands.
Anybody know if "rosiestropicaltreats" ever did actually move here? Seem to remember she was planning on setting up some sort of a food business on STX?
MSU - larger businesses sometimes will but most small businesses don't take stateside cheques and the V.I. Government and larger corporations only in the last few years started doing direct deposit. You really are in for a bit of an eye-opener!
Cameron I'm pretty sure your warranty will be worthless down here and you will have to 6percent of the purchase price to customs along, along with transport fees (atleast $900 from fl), along with registration etc... Your low to the ground car will also put limitations on where you live. Some roads will be off limits to you especially when it rains like it has this weekend, even our little highway gets flooded in certain areas. In other words while its a great car its not going to be a great island car, but other people have other cars in the same style as yours and make do. So its just a matter of what you can deal with.