"Pipe Dreams" or is it really possible???
Okay, I'd like to start of with my first post by thanking everyone for the invaluable information I have read in so many previous posts. That quality information has led me to register so I can ask about my wife's and my dream...
I'd also like to preface this with an apology for the following being so long-winded but I feel it is necessary to fully explain the situation so I can get the most informed responses from those that have already undergone the move to the USVI from the US Mainland.
Recently, I said to my wife, "We could cash everything in and move to STT in the next year or two." She likes the plan so with her "permission", I'd like to investigate moving to STT from Atlanta, Ga...
Here's the story: I'm 35, my wife is 29. We had planned to retire on STT or STJ. I began thinking about the whole "working for retirement" process and thought of this: Why not go ahead and move to our paradise, work and just stay through our "golden years" down there? I can't think of why we shouldn't.
My wife is Brazilian and grew up living a VERY modest life in a 3rd world country. She has a law degree there and is obviously a very intelligent woman. Here in the U.S., she's a full time au pair (nanny) and cleans houses in the evenings and weekends. I am in marketing for an IT Consulting firm, and I do event planning, (setting up corporate meetings/conventions in hotels and conference centers), corporate branding, campaign development, etc, etc, etc... I also have extensive experience in construction (I can build a house from the foundation to the last shingle on the roof and everything in between including the electrical/plumbing).
Given the hard work ethic we have as a "team", I don't think that finding a decent job (though not as "cushy and high paying that we have here now), would be difficult. If we moved, we'd expect to take hourly jobs until we found something more suitable for future growth down there.
Why work so hard up here for another 30 years, waiting to retire in our "paradise" down there when we could go ahead and cash in my 401K, (and since I've read quite a bit about shipping stuff down there), sell all of our "stuff) including cars, take our cash, move, buy or rent a house for around $1200 - $1500 a month and begin working and enjoying our lives down there.
We are both more than willing to accept a lower standard of living there to make it work. My wife, being from Brazil say that the lower standard of living we'd have down there is still so much better than what she was used to in Brazil for over 20 years, and my thought process is that as long as we make "ends meet" and we have the love for each other that others envy, I'd be so happy.
We both absolutely love it down there, love fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and sitting down, looking at the water. We can hold each other in our arms for hours, just sharing the beauty of the island and the love of life and each other.
We are simple people that want to go ahead and try to move, but I need to know if I'm just dreaming or is what I'm talking about possible?
Financially, we'd be able to put around $20,000 down on a house or condo, OR pay rent for about a year in advance, while having enough cash left over to not have to work for about 6 months. This is after the cost of moving and of course, we wouldn't "sit around" for those 6 months, but we'd have the peace of mind with that much cash in reserve to fall back on.
Again, I'm sorry for the long winded questions, but I thought it appropriate to tell you some about our love/relationship/marriage, our "lifestyle" expectations and financial situation to get some accurate responses.
Thank you so much and I'm looking forward to this thread being long and submitting more as the time passes. You all seem like you are very well versed in these types of questions and are always willing to help!
Duke and "Meli" (short for Melissa)
Well I am sure you will hear this from everyone but, Do youself a favor and do a PMV. STT is wonderful but it is not always easy. Do you plan on having children? If so keep in mind that you may have to pay for private school. A lot of people leave just to get a better education for their kids.
Now the good news, You can absolutely do it! You have a good plan and it just takes some hard work. It is absolutely worth it! If things dont work out, you could always move back. The way I figure it, You could work hard and live in Atlanta or you could work hard and live in Paradise! seems like an easy choice!
"The way I figure it, You could work hard and live in Atlanta or you could work hard and live in Paradise! seems like an easy choice!"
That is exactly what is motivating this thought process and pre-planning.
Children? We do not have any now, but I am a firm believer in Home Schooling. If private schools there turn out to be a good option, we might go that route, but right now, children are not in the "near" future as we are still on our honeymoon and having so much fun with our freedom as a couple (we've been married about 3 1/2 years!!!
Please excuse my ignorance, but what is a PMV?
We are looking at the possibility to do so in 1 or 2 years from now. This is mainly to give us PLENTY of time to plan, secondly, to continue to grow our "bank account" and cushion and thirdly, to give us time to research real people like you over time to see how the lifestyle changes over time, communities, weather, etc, etc, etc, (everything regarding living down there).
We do not want to rush this, but it is something we feel we can and should do in our lives.
Thanking you again for all of the responses so far... Let's "keep 'em commin'" (Sorry, that was my Georgia slang)!
PMV = Pre - Move Visit
Maybe you already have been to St Thomas, but if you haven't it would be worth the visit before making any definite plans. The 3 USVI's have uniquely different "personalities".
St Thomas is by far the most commercial. Lots of tourists running around, lots of Cruise ships popping in and out. Probably easier to find a job there, but commercialism has its drawbacks, too.
St John is by and large a national park. The small areas of the island that are open to ownership are in great demand and prices are extremely high. This is the place where the VERY wealthy come to put their feet in the sand and buy up the best parcels. Not much in the way of shopping (the kind you do as an everyday shopper - groceries, clothing, etc.)
St Croix is the biggest of the 3 islands (about 26 miles in length and about 6 miles wide at the biggest points), and it is a good compromise between the extremes of the other two. There is more land here for development, prices are generally lower (except for beachfront, waterfront, etc.). There are several small shopping centers, a Home Depot is coming soon. The people are friendly, but generally soft spoken. I think it was hurricane Hugo that hit the island pretty hard about 15 years ago, and the island is just now really getting back to speed.
I first visited St Croix back in the mid 80's on a one day cruise ship visit. I liked it enough back then (I was just out of college) that I hoped I could come back another day. That day came this past October, when my wife and I visited for about 5 days. I actually got to drive around on my own a little this time (driving on the left takes some getting used to, but its not so hard). We got a "round the island" tour from a local RE agent (Alexandra Bentley - she can give you a lot of information that would be helpful especially regarding condos, houses, land etc. but not limited to just RE) and were able to see the entire island, from the east end with its dry brush and cactus to the west with its high mountains and rain forests to the south with its rolling flat lands leading down to the shore.
That was enough of a look for us. We definitely want to get back again, and this time sink down some more permanent roots.
Good luck on your decision. Just remember that anything that is really worth something usually takes a little patience and fortitude.
Great points you make and thanks for the explanation of PMV... (We've been to STT and STJ) We will certainly do a PMV, in fact, it would make sense to do a few of them. One just to really look at housing and job opportunities, (conversational visit). Another to really decide on some type of residence and job and possibly one more just to be sure we're doing what we need to before we pack up and move.
The reason I like STT is because of the commercialism. I know there is traffic during tourism "time", but living in Atlanta and having seen the traffic on STT, I have to say there is no traffic in STT comparatively speaking. I really think that landing a job at one of the resorts in Banquets, Banquets/Events Sales or something of that sort, given my history of what I do now. It would be a matter of working from "the other side"... I also have construction to "fall back on" as there is so much of it going on at STT. The commercialism on STT is exactly why I like it for income/employment reasons. Given we are looking at this move as an early retirement, we can't really retire, so having so many employment opportunities is a plus in my book. Also, many of the resorts offer some pretty good benefits to full-time employees. My wife's initial job search would be in the area of house cleaning, be it for residential homes or more than likely, rental home "turns". Possibly, over time, she/we could start a cleaning business... Who knows! Starting a business there is a whole different thread and far into the future...
STJ and STX would be our "weekend vacation" spots! We are especially fond of STJ. The picture in my initial post is Trunk Bay (where my wife left a piece of her heart!!!)
The job thing is a big factor in your decision, so St Thomas does indeed look like the best fit for you. And the fact that you've been there (along with STJ) is good.
For me its the large undeveloped spaces of St Croix that are the big draw. When I "put down my roots" there it will be a partial year residence (at least at first for the winter months) and I intend to be retired (although the stock market today is not helping!) so that I can enjoy it to the max.
Right now I live in Pittsburgh, and we are @ about 30 degrees this week with snow on the ground and in the forecast, so I definitely am not "enjoying" anything to the max.
I too visited Trunk bay on STJ (the same cruise I was on when I visited STX also stopped in STT and I took I side trip to STJ to do some snorkeling in Trunk bay). It is a beautiful place with the bluest of blue water.
Best of luck to you future neighbors.
1. Read all the message board and the moving stories. Best source of info out there.
2. Never touch your retirement nest egg to move down here.
3. Rent your first year, don't buy until you know you like it and are going to stay. Selling is harder here then stateside. Never (no matter were you live) pay rent in adv for the whole year. Its your money and it should make money for you not someone else. What if you have a crazy landlord or find out its a unsafe neighborhood after you move in and want out? If you signed a strong lease it will be EXTREMELY tough to get your money back. And any landlord is crazy to accept rent in advance as it could make it MUCH harder to evict a trouble tenant.
4. Many people find its not what they thought and leave, so don't put your eggs in one basket. Its a big cultural adjustment and its much more expensive to live here then most places in the US. Everything but booze and cigarettes are more expensive here.
5. Best bet to get a job with insurance is probably STT, but if you cant get its very expensive to buy on your own and medical care while not the best here is not cheap.
The list goes on and on as you'll see as you read the board and moving stories. The good things about the islands are extremely obvious...the beach, ocean, sun, etc The negatives... most people dont realize until they move here because so many dont do pmv or research. They just come down on vacation and then move here.
You both sound like smart, hard working people and having the advantage of no kids I'm sure you could make it if you wanted too.
Frankly, I think you're much smarter to move down here now rather than wait until you retire. I'm certainly glad I did. It will break my heart in a few years to have to leave here but leave I must.
"setting up corporate meetings/conventions in hotels and conference centers"
PERFECT skills for STT. There are lots of opportunities with those qualifications including but not limited to hotels, meeting planning companies that work with incentive groups, actual venues like St. Peter's Greathouse, etc. Get a good resume together & when/if you do your pre-move visit mention when you'll be down to schedule an interview. Read the Classified Forum on this site which will give you some ideas as to prices but you will probably want to be in easy commute distance to where you will be working since that job can be hectic & have long, odd hours as you well know.
I agree about the hard concrete floors, my knees felt it but most especially my back, I bought a pair Air Nike sneakers two sizes bigger than my normal size, pulled the laces off and slide in and out of them. I use these only at home, in a month I was almost pain free.