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Possible move, flying by the seat of my pants. Advice welcomed! 🙂

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Operagirly
(@Operagirly)
Active Member

Hello hello everyone! 🙂

I have been prowling through the message boards here getting as much research as I can for a possible move very VERY soon. I decided it was time to take the plunge and write my first post, as I have greatly appreciated all of the info already just from reading other posts. I would love as much imput as I can get! A little of my back story.....

I was vacationing in Florida and joked that I could live on the beach for forever. So with that in mind, I spontaneously applied for a bartending gig on St. Thomas because hey, why not? I didn't expect to get a call on my application the next day, but I did! 🙂 My brain has been a whirlwind since with the possibility!

I am in my mid 20's, have been a bartender for 5 years, no kids, no significant other, no pets, no car payment, no college debt, and I have about $8,000 in savings. "The world is at my feet" as the saying goes. I'm really nervous but very excited for the opportunity to take this position if it is offered to me, since the worst case scenario is that I buy a plane ticket home. So, I come to you lovely people to ask for some specific advice on logistics. If the job is offered to me and I take it, I would be moving there in a month. Quite the speedy lifestyle change! Luckily, I'm a go with the flow-down to earth-doesn't need frills type of gal who adapts well to new circumstances, and finds silver linings wherever I can. 🙂

Some of my main questions involve cost of living, transportation, and living location to start......

The job would be $9/hr plus tips, full time. I have read that housing is not as high as on the mainland, but other expenses like food, water, electric, etc. are higher. I wouldn't need anything fancy for living situation, a humble one bedroom apartment or studio would be just fine, so I'm wondering if that is a feasible/sustainable wage? The job is on St. Thomas at one of the resorts on the east end of the island.

Transportation factors in as well. I do own my own car, but I am hesitant to have it shipped over until I'm really sure that island life is the right fit for me. I have read that public transportation can be spotty depending on where you are, bikes don't exist, buying a car there is "like a box of chocolates" and driving a motorcycle could be a death wish. That leaves me with walking to and from work, while occasionally taking public transportation to shop, unless there are stores within walking distance as well. I would be on the east end in the Redhook area. Is living on that part of the island feasible without a car? I have also thrown around the notion of living on St. John and commuting by ferry for work, since my job would be on Great Bay. Good idea? Bad idea? I would love imput for that specific location of the island. (I would be moving alone as well, so there is a certain level of safety I would like to keep given the crime rates I've been hearing about. Redhook sounds pretty safe from what I have read, but I wouldn't mind advice on areas to avoid either).

As I stated before, I'm on a whirlwind with this opportunity if it pans out, and a little overwhelmed. I so appreciate any advice you all are willing to send my way, and hopefully if everything goes smoothly I can make some friends here before I take the leap as well! Thank you for reading my lengthy post, I'm excited for some feedback! 🙂

Sincerely,
A Fish Out of Mainland

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Topic starter Posted : April 8, 2017 10:19 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

Great Bay job sounds like the Ritz - in any case - not a lot of affordable housing near there and the roads going there are treacherous for walking even in broad daylight. You will likely be spending $10-30 a day for taxis.
If it is truly a corporate job you may find the pay/tips are lower than in a private industry bartending gig. benefits however may be worthy.
Shipping your car may make sense after you assess the job, living situation etc. Selling it and buying one here may work better depending on the circumstances.
Living on STJ should be saved for a down the road decision --IMHO
You might explore the hill and road above Red Hook Plaza for living - still not walkable to great bay but a nice residential area. Red Hook is fairly safe in the surrounding area but gets more than a bit sketchy as the late night bars can go until 4am and drugs and alcohol take effect on the patrons and hangers on.
As a real different option having a dinghy that gets you from Red Hook to Latitude 18 -- not a bad walk at all along Vessup Bay to great bay..- cheaper than a car but less practical.

Keep up the research and Q's -- best of luck making it happen - it can be a fine choice for an unencumbered young person!!

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Posted : April 9, 2017 12:04 am
Dannyvw
(@Dannyvw)
Active Member

Good luck and great job on getting an opportunity without being there. If I could tell my mid 20s self anything, go to it!

I'm in a similar situation 30 years later. Heading down in June for PMV. I think my heart still has the wanderlust to make it a move!

Keep the board posted.

Danny

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Posted : April 9, 2017 1:30 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

You'll definitely need a car so budget for that and you'll want to rent somewhere fairly close to your work location. You can check Craig's List for rentals but beware of scam listings and best not to rent sight unseen or send money in advance unless you can verify the situation.

They also have listings for roommate/house share situations.
Check in at Red Hook Mail Services and East End Secretarial Services located on East end. They have message boards with people advertising rentals, jobs and things for sale, etc. Also pick up our local Daily News and Island Trader which is a free weekly advertising paper to see what's available for rentals.
Good luck.

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Posted : April 9, 2017 4:09 pm
Operagirly
(@Operagirly)
Active Member

You'll definitely need a car so budget for that

Hi Alana33, thank you so much for your imput! It sounds like a car is definitely going to be a must (now to figure out that whole right of way thing.....haha!) Obviously buying a car down there is, as quoted from a different message thread, "like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get!" With that said what do cars go for down on the islands? I wouldn't buy until I could drive it in person, and I don't need frills as long as it gets me from A to B.

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Topic starter Posted : April 9, 2017 4:59 pm
Operagirly
(@Operagirly)
Active Member

I will definitely keep up with the questions, everyone has such good answers! 🙂 A dighy?? I would have never thought of that! Haha! I would be coming from landlocked Colorado, so that would definitely be a new experience for me, but hey, when in Rome, right? Thank you for your info, I will keeping picking your brain! 🙂

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Topic starter Posted : April 9, 2017 5:02 pm
Operagirly
(@Operagirly)
Active Member

Good luck and great job on getting an opportunity without being there. If I could tell my mid 20s self anything, go to it!

Thanks Danny, it's been a crazy process to wrap my brain around, but I would regret not going for it later, so cheers to an adventure, and cheers to you on thinking about the move too! Woohoo! Go potential Island newbies! 🙂

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Topic starter Posted : April 9, 2017 5:06 pm
Operagirly
(@Operagirly)
Active Member

As a real different option having a dinghy that gets you from Red Hook to Latitude 18 -- not a bad walk at all along Vessup Bay to great bay..- cheaper than a car but less practical.

Keep up the research and Q's -- best of luck making it happen - it can be a fine choice for an unencumbered young person!!

Thank you for all the info! A dighy?? What around fun alternative! Are those hard to maneuver?? Landlocked Coloradoan over here, so I wouldn't even know where to start! Haha! But hey, if it works, I'm down to try it! Anyone around here teach dighy driving lessons?? 🙂

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Topic starter Posted : April 9, 2017 5:12 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Honestly, unless you're living on a boat, you're not going to need a dinghy and then you'll still need a car. Getting around by dinghy in all kinds of weather and sea conditions presents its own set of challenges including outboard engine maintenance. One challenge at a time.

Before you buy any island vehicle, take it to a mechanic to have it checked out. Get something that has good engine power for climbing steep hills, good brakes for going down steep hills, good ground clearance for vehicle impairing potholes. You don't have to worry about right of way, just staying on the left side of the road and idiot drivers.

I do hope you have a good nest egg because between renting an apt.,
1$t, La$t and $ecurity, utilities, groceries, buying a car, vehicle insurance, registration, and other miscellaneous items (towels, linens, toiletries, cookware, etc.), it adds up fast and disappears faster.

Not trying to discourage you but it can be challenging to follow a dream and translate it into reality.

Good luck to you.

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Posted : April 9, 2017 6:00 pm
Operagirly
(@Operagirly)
Active Member

I do hope you have a good nest egg because between renting an apt.,
1$t, La$t and $ecurity, utilities, groceries, buying a car, vehicle insurance, registration, and other miscellaneous items (towels, linens, toiletries, cookware, etc.), it adds up fast and disappears faster.

Not trying to discourage you but it can be challenging to follow a dream and translate it into reality.

Good luck to you.

I have $8,000 or so in savings, does the nest egg need to be bigger? I thought that would be enough, but maybe not?

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Topic starter Posted : April 10, 2017 1:57 am
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

I'd say that's a little too small even if you weren't going to buy a car. But if you already have a job lined up that will help with what it should be.

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Posted : April 10, 2017 3:08 am
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

it cost me about 2000.00 to ship my car down. i bought the car new. i knew the problems it had/didnt have. a used car is russian roulette IMO. if you can, ship your car here

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Posted : April 10, 2017 10:59 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Might be more expensive from Colorado.

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Posted : April 10, 2017 5:09 pm
Dannyvw
(@Dannyvw)
Active Member

Opera, my recent homework shows anywhere from 21 to 2300 to ship vehicle down, assuming it's US-made. Shipping would be from Jacksonville, FL, Port Everglades, or Miami.
That's shipped, transfered, registered and ready to roll. (St. Thomas) based on age of vehicle insurance is not bad(mine is 06 so only liability)

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Posted : April 10, 2017 6:50 pm
Operagirly
(@Operagirly)
Active Member

Hello Lovelies,

A little update:

I was informed that I didn't get the bartending job that I applied for. :'( But! I think I am still going to give a move down there a shot and try bartending for the busy season and see how it goes! Thank you for all of your help and encouragement so far, it's been such and blessing!

So new question......if you were going to recommend a fun bar/local watering hole that embraces weird, silly, bubbly blonde bartenders (say that 5 times fast!) with some sarcasm and somewhat salty language (all in good fun of course, I can hang with the best of them), where would you recommend? I'm thinking a Cheers-like atmosphere where everybody knows your name, but I'm open to any fun venue with awesome people and good honest fun! _ Any suggestions?

Sincerely,
The currently landlocked, wanna-be island girl

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2017 7:24 pm
sjointer
(@sjointer)
Advanced Member

Operagirly,

I understand the idea of having island fever. It seems like a dream come true. I'm currently in the running for a position on STX, myself. At this point, though, I'm not fully certain I'm going to take it. My issues:

- 25% pay cut and a cost of living increase. As I understand it, this is the usual case when relocating to the islands. And, given that you have your heart set on tending bar, I would add that you may want to consider other service positions, just in case. If your goal is to get to USVI BAMN (by any means necessary), then consider taking other server positions, or try applying to the resorts in addition to the standard "off the beaten path" bars.

- Sahara Dust: apparently, it's a bigger issue than I thought. I was lucky enough to interview last week; apparently, this isn't a huge issue in April. As I understand it, though, this "dust" idea can wreck havoc if you have allergies or (in my case) asthma or other lung/breathing conditions, not to mention clothes and computers/electronics.

But, I do understand where you're coming from, because I'm right there with you, including the single, no children concepts (I do have some debt, though). I do want to go, but I'm not exactly certain that I could withstand those two, among other, issues. My "poker instincts" tell me that if there is even a hint of doubt, fold and fight another day.

I guess I could go on more cruises...

Then again, the biggest pots I've won have occurred when I said (to pph from my sister): "Put it in a bucket...fk it!"

I would advise you to not "fly by the seat of your pants". You are contemplating a move to an island in the Atlantic, and buying a ticket home isn't the only cost. When I told people I was interviewing on STX, everyone's eyes lit up. And that's well and good, until hurricane season, and that's only the start of the list. Most people on the board advise a "pre-move visit" (PMV), to get a better idea of how life is like living on the island. At the very least, I would strongly suggest a week's vacation before deciding if the environment is something you really want to do. A week in 90%+ humidity, at that, if you find a way to go on the trip between May and July.

I'm lucky in that I got a free trip for my interview process. I'm certain I would not consider doing what you consider doing: up and leave everything I've ever known over a stylized dream of what life on an island at the Equator is like. As you've said, that's something you can stomach. All I can do is urge you in the strongest possible terms, from a person that is in the "move to the islands" line right next to, "Slow your roll, doll. The island isn't moving anywhere. Take some time, take a breath, and think about it all." I was on STX for three days and saw two bubbly blondes in bikini tops serving beer to the boys in the one bar I visited...you won't be the only one there.

All the best in all you do while staying true.

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Posted : April 24, 2017 10:16 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

before anyone else says it. The virgin islands are in the Caribbean Ocean not the Atlantic. but it's all good. Just like expats, and such. No big deal, but someone will make a snide comment on here about it. Just ask VICanuck, does he say Transport or tractor trailer? Eaves drops or soffit? as my wife is Canadian and says the strangest things at times. it's funny how things are the same but people use different terminology interchangeably.

A good one to research is Badminton, we say it in the states Bad Mitton. WRONG. it's Bad Minton, listen to an english youtube video and how they pronounce it, it's so funny. Anyways, I went way off tangent, getting a head cold before I come down to the island Friday, hope some good breezes and bubbly blondes, oh wait, my wife won't like that, some salty bartenders have the kind urge to give me a double all week while I'm there.

Good luck on your potential move, I say if your under 25, go for it. Why not, just have Mom hold onto the plane ticket home.

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Posted : April 24, 2017 10:57 pm
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

The virgin islands are in the Caribbean Ocean

Caribbean Sea:D

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Posted : April 24, 2017 11:20 pm
sjointer
(@sjointer)
Advanced Member

And the Caribbean Sea is located where?

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Posted : April 24, 2017 11:28 pm
sjointer
(@sjointer)
Advanced Member

And the Caribbean Sea is located where...

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Posted : April 24, 2017 11:29 pm
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

Between Mexico, South America, Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles

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Posted : April 24, 2017 11:54 pm
stjohnjulie
(@stjohnjulie)
Trusted Member

So new question......if you were going to recommend a fun bar/local watering hole that embraces weird, silly, bubbly blonde bartenders (say that 5 times fast!) with some sarcasm and somewhat salty language (all in good fun of course, I can hang with the best of them), where would you recommend? I'm thinking a Cheers-like atmosphere where everybody knows your name, but I'm open to any fun venue with awesome people and good honest fun! _ Any suggestions?
l

That pretty much describes any place that isn't fine dining 🙂 I have some friends that moved from STJ to STT and they hang out a lot on the East End/Red Hook area. Lots of restaurants and bars in that area. Just pull up google maps and type it in and look at all the little pins that pop up. You would be best off being here if you want to find a job. I was surprised you even found an offer/interview not being here first. That isn't the norm. As long as you have enough $ to get here, and back if you need to, I still say go for it. I moved to STJ when I was 25, without a clue, and found it suited me just right. Be persistent, be a hard worker, don't expect things to be like the states, and give it a try if it's something you really want to do. All the best!

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Posted : April 25, 2017 6:39 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

Just ask VICanuck, does he say Transport or tractor trailer? Eaves drops or soffit? as my wife is Canadian and says the strangest things at times.

I would say "semi" and "eaves trough"...for what its worth!

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Posted : April 25, 2017 11:04 am
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

I am onboard with @ stjohnJulie - plenty of places to get a job with your described personality on STT. Absolute reliability, unquestioned honesty and dedication to improving the business while getting along with the other staff and keeping the regulars coming back while attracting new patrons is a solid checklist for keeping any job here.
Not getting caught up in the "party Life" is often the biggest problem new young staff faces here - [in my experienced opinion] - coming here for just a 'busy season' will turn out to be a short expensive adventure though. seeing how it goes is a realistic viewpoint - island life and bartending here certainly isn't for everyone and will have some frustrating moments or even days and weeks.
Many of us have moved here - done the newbie dance - formed good friendships, found new interests and created a comfortable niche of job, housing,community involvement and security that has kept us here for decades.
Go for it if you seriously want a change and have the perseverance to succeed and some modest $$ reserves.
If the sandal fits you must commit

Ignore the off topic comments - some people are just bored it seems.

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Posted : April 25, 2017 2:07 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

Just ask VICanuck, does he say Transport or tractor trailer? Eaves drops or soffit? as my wife is Canadian and says the strangest things at times.

I would say "semi" and "eaves trough"...for what its worth!

Sorry I meant trough not drop.. just got my script for this damn cold 🙂

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Posted : April 25, 2017 2:11 pm
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