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brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 12
March 1, 2017 4:40 am  

Hi All,

I have been reading these posts for about a year. I just have a few questions that I would love advice on. We are planning on visiting for about a month starting in late August, we are planning on seriously considering moving.

We have visited St. Thomas and St. John in the past and mostly have decided that St. Thomas is where we want to be. We are younger with an almost 7 year old daughter.
First question is that should we consider St. Croix? I haven't visited, but housing looks much more affordable. Is this because we wouldn't find a job? We only can stay about a month without losing our job here. Should we split the time -two weeks on St. Thomas and two weeks on St. Croix, or just decide we are moving to St. Thomas and spend the whole month there? I wish we could stay longer to practice living there, but it just isn't feasible if we want to keep our current jobs.
Regarding St. Thomas, many previous posts said to contact Ronnie for short term housing. Is this still the recommendation?

Are there any areas that we should not consider living with a child? We have been looking in papers, Craigslist, etc to get an idea of what would be available for apartments.

If we currently are planning on paying $1500 rent for a small apartment, is this realistic? From what I have seen advertised, seems doable, but are these places we don't want to be? (St. Croix seems to have many more options in this price range) Second question to this, I have read that electricity varies greatly from house to house, (I have learned we will need to pay attention to the meter readings) is there any way to guess on a budget for monthly utility costs for a small apartment/house?

Are some vehicles too big for the Island? We drove a Wrangler when we visited and are considering shipping our Jeep Commander that is paid off there, but I'm worried it might actually be a little too large to work there. Thoughts? Speaking of vehicles, I know they are a little more expensive there, but anyone have any guesses on how much? 10%, 20% more, etc.? (side question, why don't the dealerships there post any prices??)

Regarding school, if we do decide to take the plunge, most likely we will try to enroll our daughter in the Montessori system. Anyone have experience with this? We don't have Montessori experience so would it be possible to get her accepted and enrolled since she didn't take the Montessori classes for younger children? (we did research costs already and are aware of this)

Regarding job opportunities, I worked on political campaigns, managed restaurants, and currently work in the insurance industry. I'm assuming restaurants/hotels is the best place to start looking for work when we arrive? (I suppose I need to try to work at the Ritz, since that is the only place I would feel safe according to the Governor)

Finally, when considering planning the visit and possibly the move, any recommendations on the time of the year to do this? I would guess it is easier to find a job/harder to find a rental during the busier season and easier to find a rental/harder to find a job during the slow season, but I am just guessing from what I have read. Does this seem like a reasonable conclusion?

Thanks so much for all your help, it has been very informative and eye-opening reading all the posts and advice.


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Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
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Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 2312
March 1, 2017 5:13 am  

There are a lot of differences between STX and STT and even the vehicle you want may depend on which island. General island life itself may not be too different between islands. Dealerships follow the lead of the furniture stores, they don't post prices online either. I think it would be good for you to spend some time on STX to see the differences. Yes, in general jobs may be more available on STT than STX and housing apples to apples will be less on STX. But of course it will also depend on what sort of jobs you are looking/qualified for and what sort of housing you can live with. I wouldn't assume restaurants/hotels would be the best place to look for work, again depends on education/skills. Also keep in mind that September is low season so there will be less activity/people on islands. For PMV closed restaurants should not be much of an issue.

Electric bill maybe in the neighborhood of $100-150/mo for small apartment/house/condo if not using any A/C.

Presumably you are already aware of other basics such as no health insurance unless provided by employer, make sure to have $20K give or take in the bank when moving, don't buy property for at least a year or two.


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fdr
 fdr
(@fdr)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 1246
March 1, 2017 10:36 am  

First question is that should we consider St. Croix? I haven't visited, but housing looks much more affordable. Is this because we wouldn't find a job?

Ya won't know if ya don' go! If you can take the time to do it, two weeks on each island sounds like a great way to find out. Maybe start on STX since you are already familiar with STT?

You probably already know that St Thomas has a larger hospitality industry than St Croix. The Crucian economy is still struggling after the Hovensa plant closure.

Regarding St. Thomas, many previous posts said to contact Ronnie for short term housing. Is this still the recommendation?

Ronnie's Crystal Palace remains a fine introduction to St Thomas.

Are there any areas that we should not consider living with a child?

Sure, and that's why you do a PMV - to find out where you'd be comfortable living.

If we currently are planning on paying $1500 rent for a small apartment, is this realistic?

Not unrealistic, depending on what you consider small and on where you want to live. You will get more for your money on STX than on STT.

Is there any way to guess on a budget for monthly utility costs for a small apartment/house?

Varies depending on how much you use, but $100-$150/month is a good ballpark for a small family. If you need AC, it will be higher.

Are some vehicles too big for the Island? We drove a Wrangler when we visited and are considering shipping our Jeep Commander that is paid off there, but I'm worried it might actually be a little too large to work there. Thoughts?

For my own comfort, a Commander would be too big for STT's narrow roads. Probably fine on STX.

Speaking of vehicles, I know they are a little more expensive there, but anyone have any guesses on how much? 10%, 20% more, etc.? (side question, why don't the dealerships there post any prices??)

I never buy new vehicles, so I can't address that aspect. Used vehicles that are good on our island roads (and thus don't need as many repairs) seem to command about a 20%-30% premium compared with the same used vehicle stateside. Once you pay to ship, the cost tends to be about the same, the difference being used vehicles here have a harder life than stateside.

Regarding job opportunities, I worked on political campaigns, managed restaurants, and currently work in the insurance industry. I'm assuming restaurants/hotels is the best place to start looking for work when we arrive?

Sounds like a good bet for you.

Finally, when considering planning the visit and possibly the move, any recommendations on the time of the year to do this? I would guess it is easier to find a job/harder to find a rental during the busier season and easier to find a rental/harder to find a job during the slow season, but I am just guessing from what I have read. Does this seem like a reasonable conclusion?

You've got it right for St Thomas; STX is less seasonal. Personally, if it were me, I would save up as much as possible to come down in July or August, so you have plenty of time to find a good housing situation and settle in before school starts in September. Many restaurants have staff turnover during the summer and need fill-in help before they close for off-season, so you might be able to get your foot in someplace. By mid-October, jobs in hospitality will be hiring again fast and furious, if you haven't secured a full-time position yet.

Good luck, and keep us posted on your PMV!


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brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 12
March 2, 2017 6:30 am  

Thanks so much for the info.
Regarding jobs/economy I was just assuming I would seek out restaurant/hotel jobs because I have experience in this and there seemed to be opportunities. I currently work for an insurance company as an account manager in a call center type environment. Are you familiar at all with employers such as this? Craigslist/papers just list jewelry sales and serving jobs.
While doing research I stumbled upon a few articles about investors starting a business that takes advantage of the internet lines below St. Croix. The wanted to make a location for call center/help center for large companies. I can't remember the names right now. I couldn't find any recent articles about this. Did it just fall through or is it still a place? Something like this would be perfect for me.

I saw the news about the fires (bomb?) today. Super sad and very weird. Articles I found didn't have much info, but I suppose more will come out later....


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LiquidFluoride
(@LiquidFluoride)
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Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 1937
March 2, 2017 5:24 pm  

Did it just fall through or is it still a place? Something like this would be perfect for me.

I've never heard of that, but this is a great place to do it... I'm surprised more tech companies aren't here, on the literal backbone of the internet.

I saw the news about the fires (bomb?) today. Super sad and very weird. Articles I found didn't have much info, but I suppose more will come out later....

not much to hear, some wacko trying to make my life harder... haha


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fdr
 fdr
(@fdr)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 1246
March 2, 2017 7:45 pm  

brndnbl81, are you talking about this company: http://www.businessinsider.com/st-croix-is-paradise-for-remote-workers-2013-8 ?

I don't know the specifics, but I haven't heard anything about them recently. I think they trained a bunch of people to be Salesforce.com reps at one point, not sure how it worked out.

Often with "exciting new enterprises" like these, once the EDC and/or other grant money disappears, they fade away. The challenges of island life are large for most businesses.

We don't have any large call centers here to my knowledge, just small insurance brokerages.


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Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
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Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 1120
March 2, 2017 8:11 pm  

Ocwen has a customer care center in Frederiksted. You occasionally see jobs posted.


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daveb722
(@daveb722)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 572
March 2, 2017 10:23 pm  

Yes, they just posted some jobs on indeed. Although the employee reviews aren't so great.

Ocwen has a customer care center in Frederiksted. You occasionally see jobs posted.


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AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
Trusted Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 2290
March 3, 2017 1:15 am  

I have a commander. Love it. Had it on both STT and STX. You will burn literally twice as much gas in STT. I got about 10mpg and STX I get 17 I think.

Come to STX on this visit. It's COMPLETLY different. It's snails pace and much less to do - with no BVIs and no STJ close by. STX is wayyyyy laid back. Things aren't usually open when they're supposed to be and many times close early. Less so in STT.

We moved to STX a year and half ago from STT. I miss STT every single day and really looking forward to moving back asap. I love the diving here and we've made some real tight friends but for me it's just too boring... comparatively.


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speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 8762
March 3, 2017 10:51 am  

what about that place out at the college, isnt that a call center type of place?


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brndnbl81
(@brndnbl81)
Active Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 12
March 4, 2017 2:28 am  

"brndnbl81, are you talking about this company: http://www.businessinsider.com/st-croix-is-paradise-for-remote-workers-2013-8 ?

I don't know the specifics, but I haven't heard anything about them recently. I think they trained a bunch of people to be Salesforce.com reps at one point, not sure how it worked it."

I was referring to this.
I assumed when the free money was gone they disappeared also.


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