PMV in two weeks! Advice please  

 

Isa
 Isa
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May 15, 2008 12:14 pm  

Hi Everyone!

I've been reading this board for the last eight months. Wonderful people here and great advice. I've been to STJ three times in the last seven months. Planning a PMV in two weeks. I have a job and an apartment on STJ waiting for me. Any and all advice on my PMV would be appreciated. First, since it is a PMV, should I open up a bank account or continue to use my stateside account? Would it be difficult to cash checks without a bank account? I will not have a vehicle on STJ. Thank goodness I am only a three minute walk to Cruz Bay. Do you suggest purchasing a "scooter" while I am there, just to get around? If so, would it be easy to re-sell? That is, if island life is not working out for me. Should I mail (ship) a box of supplies or just buy them when I get there. (ex. shampoo, lotions, soap, t.p., paper towels, etc.) I appreciate any and all information I can get. Thanks and see you soon! 😎


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danieljude
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May 15, 2008 1:39 pm  

H!ello there! Although I do not live on St. John, I know that establishing an account is rather important as stateside checks, depending on the bank, can take up to 10 business days to clear. My parents only come down for approx. 1 month per year, but established an account here just to make things easier.

In terms of a scooter, I don't know the roads of St. John, but on other islands I am not sure it is such a good idea. I think short distance in St. Croix would be possible, but St. Thomas is, well, people drive fast on very hilly and windy roads. Maybe St. John is quiet enough for it to be a safer risk to take.

Best wishes,

Dan

Daniel J. Gilbride, MRC/LPC


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Betty
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May 15, 2008 2:29 pm  

A scooter on stj is a very very bad idea. The roads are very hilly/steep with lots of sharp curves. You have been there haven't you? Unless you are a very experienced motorcycle driver I would not do it. You would need a motorcycle with a good engine not a little 50cc or 125cc scooter engine. You could try a bicycle but you better have muscular legs like Hans and Franz.

Cashing a stateside check may be hard, using a stateside check should not be with the amount of tourists stj sees I'm sure they get stateside checks. ATMs work like stateside for the most part. Most people get a bank in the islands, so getting one before might make things easier before you move. I kept my stateside bank not liking the local ones.

For a two week pmv I would not suggest shipping supplies, I'm sure you can easily live out of your suitcase for 2 weeks. However since you said you already have a permanent apartment?? Not sure if you were saying you have a pmv apartment or a permanent apartment. I would max out the number of "boxes" your airline will let you bring and start moving your stuff down. Even if you have to pay for a box or two it is usually cheaper to pay the airlines then USPS or UPS.


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Isa
 Isa
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May 15, 2008 4:38 pm  

Thanks for the info. Sorry if you misunderstood. I will be in STJ in two weeks. I will be staying for a couple of months to get the feel of "island life". If it works, then I will move. Yes, I do have an apartment (pmv) when I get there. The people I am going to be working for have an apartment on the property. That makes it a whole lot easier! As for the scooter, thanks for the info. That was my thoughts about how unsafe they can be on the island. Yes, I have been to STJ three times in the last seven months. Driving is pretty crazy, fun, but crazy. I just wanted opinions on how safe "scooter driving" is. Looks like I'll just stick to walking and cabs. I could use the exercise anyway. lol
How could I establish a bank account before actually living on the island? Aren't identification and signature cards required? I guess the next question would be, should I even bother with an island bank account? If i keep my stateside account, would that be easier for the couple of months I am there?
Thanks everyone for your advice. It's been a great help.
See you soon!


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Betty
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May 15, 2008 5:03 pm  

It will be the same as stateside you will need your current banks info, and your IDs (driver's license or state issued ID or passport and social security card). That's a long pmv, which is great, so I would wait til the end of the pmv and if you feel island life is for you on stj then I would set up an account. If you're staying two or three months you'll have plenty of time to figure it all out from the locals. As far as shipping stuff down I wouldn't bring too much until you know you want to live here. Try living simply, you'll need to go out and network, to make friends and good connections more then you'll need alot of stuff. stj has a very small year round pop so it should be easier to figure out if you fit in and if you can handle the steep costs of living there. Good luck.


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Isa
 Isa
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May 15, 2008 5:23 pm  

Thanks again Betty! You've been a great help. The only thing I was thinking of shipping down (mailing down) were the basics. Shampoo's, conditioner, soaps, cleaning supplies, etc. I know it costs more on the island and since I am only going to be there for a couple of months, should I buy them here stateside (or CVS.com) and have them sent there? This might save on some $$$.

I am trying to contact First Bank on STJ. I have already spoke with my stateside bank and as long as First Bank allows me to deposit money (checks) thru them for my stateside bank, I shouldn't have any problems. Hopefully! lol Other than the fact I will be charged everytime I use the ATM. This will also make it easier so I am able to perform my online banking and payments thru my stateside bank without any delays.

If I'm missing anything, as for my PMV, please let me know. Any advice would be helpful.


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East Ender
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May 15, 2008 9:52 pm  

Isa: IMHO, going to the grocery, pharmacy, Cost-U-Less, etc is part of what people do on a day-to-day basis, so buy your stuff here for your short stay. If you think you are going to be able to save money while living in the VI, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.


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Isa
 Isa
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May 16, 2008 12:05 pm  

Good Morning East Ender!
Thank you for your honest opinion. Anywhere you live, you have to calculate your income to your living expenses. I am fully aware of this and you are correct, saving money while living in the VI is not an option for most people. This is one reason why I am trying the PMV for a couple of months and not moving everything down. Yes, the Islands are beautiful, who wouldn't want to live there. But, reality is if people can afford it and adjust to "island living". Thanks again and have a wonderful day.


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puddlejumper
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May 16, 2008 9:44 pm  

Isa,
I think you have your finger on the pulse of the PMV visit in the right spot. If you stay after your two months, you will want transportation. Going shopping on STT like East Ender suggested is what we do here on STJ. Sure you can buy off the net as some do, I just prefer getting toiletries and stocking up on food from STT. It breaks up staying on the rock after a while.

When I came down, I had carry on bags only. I mailed my clothes, sheets, towels, etc. Then more stuff was mailed down after I knew I was staying. I brought down my large flat panel and PC on a flight returning from a visit. Other than that I buy everything here. It is part of island life. You will find what works for you. I like going to STT just so I can get a junk food fix and decent shopping at KMart and Cost-U-Less.

I guess you read the thread here about banking on STJ? You do not have to rush into banking here. I get around ATM fees by using internet banking HSBC.

Look forward to meeting you soon.

Puddlejumper
St John


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Isa
 Isa
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May 17, 2008 1:01 pm  

Hi Puddlejumper:

I so appreciate your input. And thank you for the encouragement on the PMV. My plan right now is to just bring the basics with me. Clothes, shoes...nothing big. The place I am staying has all the towels and sheets so I won't have to bring or mail any of that.

As for the banking, it has been difficult to contact anyone at First Bank (part of island living). I am just trying to verify that I will be able to deposit thru their ATM into my stateside account. I'm not a big fan on mailing my checks back to my bank here. Even if it is registered mail. Thanks for the tip on HSBC. I'm going to research that today. 🙂

I know it is coming into the off season, but what would be my chances of getting a second job in one of the restaurants working in the evenings?

Looks like a beautiful day on the island today (cruz bay live web cam)! Have a great day and I look forward to being back on the island and meeting you too.

Isa


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puddlejumper
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May 17, 2008 10:47 pm  

I don't know about depositing into First Bank's ATM and then somehow transferring into your stateside account. I would doubt that. Doing a wire transfer would be the only way I know of without having an account, and that would be a bigger hassle than waiting in line for a teller. I think you will either need to open an account and transfer from there or mail any checks back home. Getting an account will not be as bad as I make it out to be. It will not be as easy as stateside, that's all. Don't fret. You may need a VI driver's license to open a local account and have a local mailing address. I would give up on reaching anyone at First Bank until you get here. It is amazing how they operate. I called and left a message once to inquire about a boat loan. No call back. Then somehow I found out a coworker's aunt was the loan officer. The loan officer had a totally different phone extension than what was on the answering system. Then First Bank wanted me to pay for a loan application. NOT. Just the way it is. Thus I bank else where for now.

As far as getting a second job. It is possible. Never say never. Hard working reliable people are needed. Word travels here fast. It is easy to get a bad reputation here and just about as easy to get a good reputation too. Show up on time, pay on time, do what you promise...just have good character. It isn't hard. Don't sweat the small stuff!!

I hope Sunday is just as nice as today. I am going to Jost and more for some R & R & B.

Where are you coming from Isa?

Puddlejumper
St John


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Isa
 Isa
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May 18, 2008 1:41 pm  

Good Morning Puddlejumper!

It does look like another gorgeous day on STJ! Have a great time at Jost. But then again, how can you not have fun at Jost! lol

Thanks for the banking info. My thought was if you can withdraw using the ATM from your stateside account, why couldn't you deposit also. Need to do some more research on that. But oh well, if it doesn't work, then I guess I'll just mail my checks to my bank here.

Having a second job would be a nice added income. The job I would have there would be during the day so working in the evening a few nights a week wouldn't be a problem. And being such a short walk into town, I definetly wouldn't have to worry about a vehicle to get back and forth. From the people I have met there, some of them have more than one job and it is also what I have been told on the island. One job just doesn't make the bills!

Speaking of bills, could you give me an average of what the water and electric may cost me. I have no clue to this right now. I don't think the utilities are included in my rent.

To answer your questions, I am from Michigan. Born and raised. I have lived in Florida and Mexico for a short time. I figure, if I can survive living in Mexico (no where near water or a resort) then I should be able to survive the island. I live only 3 minutes away from the lake here. So water and boating is a passion of mine.

If you have any more advice or tips, I'd greatly appreciate hearing them. Have a wonderful day and see you soon!
Isa


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dougtamjj
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May 18, 2008 2:24 pm  

Isa, most places have cisterns so no water cost unless they have to buy water. Your electric will depend on your personal usage. Air conditioning can be quite expensive. Most of us just use fans. I am sure you will be able to find a second job. Most of the snow birds have gone home and quite a few that winter on St. John work in the local shops and restaurants. If your paycheck is written on a local bank maybe you can cash them and pay your bills with money orders. Then if you decide to stay you can open a local account. As far as shipping toiletries, in my opinion it is worth it. The stores on St. John are quite expensive and selection is limited. Unless you will go to St. Thomas on a regular basis, (you say you have no car), it would be worth filling a prepaid mailing box through the post office. You can get a prepaid for 8 dollars and 14 dollars. When I go back to the states I buy my toiletries from Walmart and ship it to St. Croix. I haven't tried the online shopping yet.

Enjoy St. John. It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.


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Linda J
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May 18, 2008 2:35 pm  

I also bring back toiletries from the states. I go back and forth 3-4 times a year and I usually take a second, collapsible bag for the trip back to STX. I buy deodorant, toothpaste, polident, our favorite brand of tea, sometimes a new set of sheets, etc. You get my drift, light non perishible items. I figure the airfare is so high anyway, I might take advantage of the free shipping. Since there are just the two of us, the things I buy last until the next trip. You'll have to figure out what makes sense for you. I'm sure everybody who live in the USVI and travels regularly back to the states has a "list".


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