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PMV/Relocation Help – Another First Post - Thanks

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TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

I have been watching this board faithfully for the past 8 months. I want to thank all for their insights on moving to St Croix – from the good to the bad to the hidden undersides. I appreciate the information recently provide to Dasher on his PMV.

My wife and I are in a little different situation – we WILL be retiring at the end of 2017. I don’t want to say that money will be no problem – but we will be in a position to handle our expenses with a very sufficient reserve for emergencies. Although I probably will not work (I can keep myself busy with doing needed chores/handyman projects), my wife will probably want to find something to do to keep her busy – not necessarily anything high paying but more likely some sort of volunteer work. Any suggestions?

For the past 15 years we have traveled the Caribbean (we are Scuba Divers), visiting most of the islands, staying in either houses or condos (not fancy resorts), so we have an idea of what “island life” entails including the higher costs of “necessities”. For the past couple of years, we have extended our trips to longer than a week in order to spend more time exploring beyond our dive time. After much research, despite not having visited before our upcoming PMV, we have decided that St Croix is probably a great location for our retirement. We will be making a trip in May and already have trips planned for Aug/Sep and Nov/Dec.

One of our biggest questions is whether to buy a condo first (and where on the island) and buy a house later or to just plan on buying the house to begin with. Again, suggestions/ comments/ recommendations would be appreciated, especially on location (I do understand East vs West climate differences – but there has been little comment on mid-island).

Again, thanks for all the information provided on other threads. And I really do appreciate all the different views (including the occasional bit of “snarkiness”).

Michael

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 2:34 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

animal shelter for volunteer work. not sure if the hospital has volunteer positions? The Blue Mutt might have suggestions on volunteer work-or just take some of their art classes

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Posted : February 26, 2016 2:59 pm
watruw8ing4
(@watruw8ing4)
Trusted Member

Personally, I'd suggest renting first, then buying the house you really want after you've been here a while. But if you're planning on splitting substantial time between the states and STX before you make THE move, and insist on buying, I'd go condo. Getting and keeping good property management help can be a pain, and property management company arrangements can get expensive.

Also, not sure what you plan on for your house(s), but be aware that you can also buy a house on STX that is technically a condo, so you'd get the best of both worlds. Check out Southgate Plantation.

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Posted : February 26, 2016 2:59 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

Thanks for the Southgate Plantation suggestion - will check it out. I had not heard of it before.

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 3:03 pm
Dasher
(@Dasher)
Active Member

Hi Michael -

Glad to see you're thinking about a move too. The one thing about a condo purchase that makes me want to shy away from them is that I have the impression that they can sometimes be difficult to sell. At least that's been my impression from people I've known trying to sell one.

Good luck with your decision, I'm quite envious you're so close to retirement! 26 years (thus far) in the Law industry and I'm nearly ready to hang it up myself!

Kind regards,

Dasher (Dan)

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Posted : February 26, 2016 3:14 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

My one piece of advice (and I'm really emphatic about it) is NOT to buy anything - house or condo - until you've lived here for at least a year. I've seen others make this mistake over and over again in the 30+ years I've lived here. Rent. Good luck and hope you enjoy your PMV!

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Posted : February 26, 2016 3:43 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

I have been ready to retire for several years but my wife is quite a bit younger and she has not been ready - but the last couple of winters finally has her ready to start "island life".

She started and we grew a very successful engineering and design firm that will be sold off to our employees at the end of 2017. Fortunately, I liquidated our stock holdings in 2008 (lucky guess) and we invested in rental real estate since the property bubble burst - great tax breaks while generating lots of cash flow. We recently sold several properties, carrying the mortgages back, and still have both residential and commercial properties that will provide rental income for us long into the future.

Our thoughts on the possible condo buy is that we could live in it for a year or so and then turn it into rental property (self managed to keep costs down). As long as it pays the bills, it is a great tax write-off. But there is a great lure to having a house with a pool and enough room to have visitors. My concern with not buying a house fairly soon is that I think the market may be near the bottom in St Croix and I would hate to miss a great deal by not acting quickly.

Would love to hear from those living on the island on that thinking.

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 3:44 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

"Our thoughts on the possible condo buy is that we could live in it for a year or so and then turn it into rental property (self managed to keep costs down). As long as it pays the bills, it is a great tax write-off."

I hate to sound like a Negative Nelly because I'm not but be realistic. The attrition rate of newbies is HUGE and island living just may not suit you. No harm in that but that's the reality. Best you talk to people who own vacation/rental property about doing that. There are huge pitfalls, while the financial "reward" is minimal. You might be lucky to break even even with tax write-offs.

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Posted : February 26, 2016 3:50 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

My one piece of advice (and I'm really emphatic about it) is NOT to buy anything - house or condo - until you've lived here for at least a year. I've seen others make this mistake over and over again in the 30+ years I've lived here. Rent. Good luck and hope you enjoy your PMV!

I have read your advice on this for quite awhile but we are not totally "newbies" when it comes to island life. We have spent 9-12 weeks per year on various islands in the past 5 years - so we know we are going to retire to a rock and we are aware of many of the issues.

For us to rent for a year or more to me is like throwing money down the toilet - the price for what we would want to rent is such that we could buy a place (pay insurance, etc) and sell it a year later, reducing the price by 75% cost of the rent we would have paid, and still be ahead (if we buy it right).

But I appreciate your thoughts and I agree, it is probably good advice to 90+% of those contemplating a move to the islands.

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 3:54 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

My concern with not buying a house fairly soon is that I think the market may be near the bottom in St Croix and I would hate to miss a great deal by not acting quickly.

Would love to hear from those living on the island on that thinking.

The real estate market on St. Croix hit the bottom about two years ago and prices gave been rising ever since. Now that the refinery has been sold and Limetree has taken over, prices will likely rise further. We've already seen several old faces who have been brought back to work at the complex recently.

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Posted : February 26, 2016 3:58 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

My concern with not buying a house fairly soon is that I think the market may be near the bottom in St Croix and I would hate to miss a great deal by not acting quickly.

Would love to hear from those living on the island on that thinking.

The real estate market on St. Croix hit the bottom about two years ago and prices gave been rising ever since. Now that the refinery has been sold and Limetree has taken over, prices will likely rise further. We've already seen several old faces who have been brought back to work at the complex recently.

That's what I figured would happen. 🙁

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 4:01 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

9-12 weeks a year on an island (presumably not in the USVI) still makes you a newbie. Yes, I'm sure you've read my posts with the same advice to others but I say it because I've seen the downside way more than the upside. The market here is slow at the best of times and selling something a year after purchasing it and coming out even is an idealistic thought. Doable possibly but idealistic. But I'll shut up and just wish you all the very best! 😀

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Posted : February 26, 2016 4:02 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

Don't want you to be quiet - I am encouraging your input. We are not planning on selling anything in a year - our thoughts were that we might buy a condo and live it for a year until we found a house that fit our requirements - then turn it into a rental. Break even or even a slight loss per year has tax benefits (for us). I need to do some more research on this, so maybe it will make more sense to just jump into a house - just exploring options.

Yes we will be newbies if we move to St Croix - but we will be moving to an island somewhere and spending most of our time there - be it St Croix, St Marteen, Curacao, orBonaire.. That is our choice for retirement - we looked at FL, PR, DR, Costa Rica, etc and it has really come down to St Croix, Curacao or Bonaire. We have found that cost of living is similar on them all when it comes to day to day expenses - significantly higher than the states. We know that it is not always easy to find what you want when you want it and it will cost more than you expect - we figure we can live with that.

We are most concerned with the "culture" of the island - is it welcoming and can we find people to be friends with. The people is what will make or break the experience. :@)

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 4:18 pm
AandA2VI
(@AandA2VI)
Trusted Member

The problem with buying right off the bat is that SELLING takes forever. Places sit usually a year+ on the market. So if it doesn't work out and you hate it after a couple months you're stuck with a place. I think thats what everyone is trying to say. Im not a realtor but Alana is - my BFF in STX is an amazing realtor - Kim Lucas http://www.stcroixislandlife.com

Theres always places to rent - its not as fun since you cant make it your own but the first year its honeymoon and you wont care about much other than limin. After a couple years if you still like it then buy - thats my advice at least. When we move back to STT we will be looking to buy.

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Posted : February 26, 2016 4:19 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

The other thing you'll want to look at is the condo/hoa fees when buying as well as by laws for the complex prior to purchasing.
Sometimes the fees they can be as high as what it would cost for a monthly rental and that's on top of your mortgage and utilities. And, of course any renovations that you wish to do, furnishings, etc.

If you have any pets, be aware that many don't allow any at all.
Those that do, have restrictions on type, size/ weight and number.
Plus must have board approval.

If you have healthcare insurance, it may not transfer here.
Individual/family health insurance is not available here unless you qualify for Medicare. If you have any serious health issues, may not be best to relocate to any islands.

That being said, Good luck!

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Posted : February 26, 2016 5:42 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

The other thing you'll want to look at is the condo/hoa fees when buying as well as by laws for the complex prior to purchasing.
Sometimes the fees they can be as high as what it would cost for a monthly rental and that's on top of your mortgage and utilities. And, of course any renovations that you wish to do, furnishings, etc.

If you have any pets, be aware that many don't allow any at all.
Those that do, have restrictions on type, size/ weight and number.
Plus must have board approval.

If you have healthcare insurance, it may not transfer here.
Individual/family health insurance is not available here unless you qualify for Medicare. If you have any serious health issues, may not be best to relocate to any islands.

That being said, Good luck!

Great observations - but ones we are mostly aware of. We are "numbers people" and carefully the total cost of ownership (if you don't do that when investing, you will lose your shirt 🙂 ). I know HOA fees need to be accounted for.

We don't have pets, so not a problem.

Insurance is taken care of - my wife will be on salary as a consultant to the company we are selling and the insurance will pay at least the "out of network" rate until she qualifies for medicare - plus we will have a medical evacuation policy to get us back to the states if needed. I will have both medicare and be on her policy. No serious health problems - I will be getting any needed medical procedures done before we move.

Please keep the concerns/needs coming. I want to be sure we don't miss anything and you folks are the best source. (tu)

Thanks

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 5:51 pm
Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
Trusted Member

As with any real estate market, on STX it's all about location, location, location. Purchase the best property you can afford in the best possible neighborhood. Look for an active neighborhood association. Don't fall in love, don't overbuy, negotiate hard. Stay in the price "sweet spot" where you'll have a lot of potential buyers if and when you need to sell.

Be careful with condos - some don't allow renters or restrict rentals. Most don't allow pets.

I concur, work with Kim Lucas or one of her team.

Don't forget to wear sunscreen - you'll be fine otherwise.

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Posted : February 26, 2016 6:02 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

Good advice. Have always tried to follow it in purchasing personal residences in the past. Been successful 9 out of 10 (10 was a wash because we did not stay long enough).

So:
Best locations for condos ($200K-$300K)?
Best locations for houses ($300K-$600K)?

Wife is part Cherokee - will look like an islander in a month - I will bring sunscreen!! (tu)
and lots of bug spray.:D

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 6:23 pm
IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member

There are plenty of great properties that don't have HOA's. I wouldn't let that be a factor. I'd also meet and talk with several realtors (not just the one mentioned above) until you find one to work with. We all have our favorites.

Yes, it is possible to run a condo for rental income, but the ones that do well as vacation rentals (ocean front) have high maintenance needs that will keep you busy. The condo fees are also very high, so what might seem feasible on paper may be more trouble than it's worth.

I'd suggest you rent for at least 6 months. Take your time to meet people and really check out all areas of the island and talk to the people that live there. Being retired you will have time to explore. Use it. Choose the area you want to live in and then start looking at properties. Forget market timing as this is always in flux. Everyone's needs are different. Some like it out east, some swear west is best. North shore is great to pursue diving. We like being mid island and being able close to everything. There are some great neighborhoods hidden away if you take the time to look.

You'll do fine here. After all, you managed to get O.T. to 'shut up' in your first thread - I'm impressed! 😎

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Posted : February 26, 2016 6:37 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

What part of TN are you moving from?

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Posted : February 26, 2016 7:45 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

Knoxville

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 7:45 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

Knoxville

I'm from Memphis. Went to school at UT Knoxville.

My wife and I bought a house on STX 18 years ago.

Good Luck.

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Posted : February 26, 2016 7:48 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

Would love to hear your suggestions.

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 8:01 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

You have lots of options on St Croix. Waterfront, Water view, Rain Forrest, etc. We moved here as boaters/divers. We had been living aboard our boat for a few years before settling down on STX. We looked east and west. North and south.

We decided that we didn't move to an island to live on a golf coarse, Carambola was out. We looked at waterfront but decided that the saltwater corrosion was too much. We ended up with a sweeping water view. We love it. We live in Pueblo Heights(Beeston Hill). We have a nice little community of homes on a private road(not gated) and are only 3 minutes to downtown Christiansted.

As for getting involved, many things to do. My wife has been involved with the local animal shelter for 18 years. She and a friend opened the Blue Mutt in downtown Christiansted. It is a store/art gallery which donates most of their profits to the animal shelter and sponsors many fund raising events for the shelter. For years I was an Aircraft Commander in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, flying SAR and coastal patrol. There are many ways to get involved here.

John

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Posted : February 26, 2016 8:44 pm
TN_Travelers
(@tn-travelers)
Advanced Member

What you descrbe is pretty much what we are seeking - water view, high enough on the hill so we can have a nice breeze. Hopefully with a pool.

We will probably get a boat so we can dive on our schedule. Although shore diving is our preference - that eliminated a lot of islands from consideration.

Wife would probably like volunteering at the animal shelter but I would worry about winding up with a bunch of strays.

We will most likely make 3 or 4 trips back to Knoxville per year because of our grandkids (3 and 3 1/2) for a couple of years, so pets will be a "no, no". Once they are older and can come visit for longer, our trips will be fewer.

Thanks for the info.

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Topic starter Posted : February 26, 2016 10:13 pm
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