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Possible transfer to St. Thomas

 
FIZZER600
 FIZZER600
(@FIZZER600)
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Hello,
I saw this forum in google and I'd thought I'd give it a shot. I may be transferred from my job in San Francisco to St. Thomas. All relocation expenses will be paid by my company and I will be given 25% COLA adjustment if I decide to accept. My main concern is if I will be able to 1)get by on my salary of about 70K plus OT and 2)Be able to purchase an affordable home/condo. I have 2 kids and I will be the only one working for awhile so before I decide to accept I want to make an informed decision. By the way, I love motorcycles, are the roads accessible for my 600CC streetbike?

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Topic starter Posted : March 20, 2006 3:15 pm
HipCrip
(@HipCrip)
Trusted Member

FIZZER,

From what I've seen, a $70k salary plus OT would put you at the higher end of the income scale in the USVI. See the info at https://www.vimovingcenter.com/employment/wages.php for ideas about earnings in a variety of occupations. I know a lot of people manage to live here on less, but it involves tradeoffs and sacrifices.

You can find the average current prices for food and housing http://vimovingcenter.com/cost_of_living/ Compare them to what you pay in SF to get an idea of how far your money will go.

Sorry to say that, IMO, STT is about an bike-unfriendly as is gets. The roads are narrow, curvy, and steep (yes, I know you have those in SF too). However, these roads are not that well maintained, blindspots are prevalent, and the drivers who are familiar with them can tear through at breakneck speeds. Add that to heavy downpours that come out of nowhere (and can pass just as quickly as they come) and tourists who tend to forget we drive on the left down here, and it can get intense just driving along in a car! I am a biker chick from way back, but you'd never get my behind on a motorcycle on STT. Search for a recnt post on helmet laws for a discussion about bringing a bike in to STX, which is a lot less mountainous than STT.

--HC

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Posted : March 20, 2006 6:08 pm
FIZZER600
 FIZZER600
(@FIZZER600)
Guest

Thanks for the response. The food seems to be about the same as any SF supermarket (I use COSTCO, its much cheaper). I'm employed by the federal gov so I'm not worried about work. My main concern is whether or not I could buy a house or condo with 97% or 100% financing? I can easily afford my current 1300 with my current salaray. Its impossible in the SF Bay area where condo's start at 400K and houses at 600k, That's why I'm leaving. I would appreaciate some feedback from some realtors, if possible. I don't think I could give up my sportbike, maybe just restrict where I use it or sell it, my job is paying for the relocation. Thanks.

FIZZER600

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Topic starter Posted : March 20, 2006 10:22 pm
tyson7777
(@tyson7777)
Active Member

I completely agree with HipCrip on the roads, St. Thomas is not a good place for a motorcycle. I hate to sound like a downer here but you say you are leaving becuase of the housing prices. I am afraid you won't be much (if any) better off in the USVI. My husband and I are currently looking to purchase a house on St. Thomas. We have spent the last few weeks with a realtor looking at houses. Your average house,no frills,that usually needs work, will start at around $450000 and there are very few to choose from in this price range. Those that do list and are in good condition sell within days of being put on the market. There are much better options in the $600000-$800000 range. If you want to buy an "average" condo, you are going to spend about the same price plus have to pay condo fees. We looked at several condos in the $375000-$450000 range and they were only 2 bedroom. I would assume you would be looking for a 3 bedroom since you have two kids. This will probably run you more. These condos had monthly fees that ranged from $250-$550. You would think with those fees the grounds would be well kept but unfortunately most times this is not the case. They need paint and cosmetic repairs. We also checked into 97%-100% financing. From what we found if you are a first time buyer you may qualify for the 97% financing from a bank. There are some mortgage lenders that occasionally do this also. However, you must pay mortgage insurance on this financing. This is quite a hefty fee on a $450000 mortgage. I can send you the names lenders that I have spoken to if you are interested. They can give you more specifics on this as I am not very well versed in this area.

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Posted : March 22, 2006 3:27 am
HipCrip
(@HipCrip)
Trusted Member

We worked with a combined real estate agent/mortgage broker when buying our last condo, and were able to only put 5% down without paying for PMI (primary/principal mortgage insurance). This model of financing works by taking out a primary mortgage for 80% of the cost, then taking out a secondary mortgage for the remaining 15%. The interest rate on the secondary mortgage was about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 percent higher than the primary mortgage. It worked very well for us as the interest from both mortgages is deductible from our taxes.

We were fortunate that interest rates dropped and the condo' value rapidly appreciated during the first year we owned it. In less than a year after we bought it, we were able to refinance and roll both mortgaqes into one that had a lower rate. Once again, we didn't neet to pay PMI thanks to now having well over 20% in equity due to the newly increased worth of the condo. (Bless the timing of the glorious housing bubble.)

I think this 80/15/5 model would open the doors to home ownership for a lot of people who want to relocate here -- it can be a bear to try and pay for the big move to get down here and still have 20% to put down on a home with a traditional mortgage. Perhaps Island Ed or Alexandra (or others in the know) can tell us if there are any USVI lenders who offer it as an option.

--HC

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Posted : March 22, 2006 5:39 am
Bassman
(@bassman)
Advanced Member

FZer 600,
I have to agree with Hipcrip. STT is not the the most fun place to ride a sport bike. At least on STX there is a strech of highway that you could open it up on. When you get to STT you'll probably see that a duel sport bike is more appropriate. Just make sure that your tires work in the rain because the hills on STT are very steep. Maybe some road race rain tires. Even when it's not raining you won't be going fast enough to burn them up. Check out the island before you ship your bike.

Bassman

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Posted : March 22, 2006 12:31 pm
Anonymous
 Anonymous
(@Anonymous)
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Many people don't realize that the San Francisco Bay Area has maybe the highest real estate prices in the states. I moved from northern California because of traffic congestion and high housing prices. You will have a different perspective when looking at homes on st Thomas.

Real estate on STT has increased in value dramatically over the past two years. It is still not as bad as the San Francisco area.
The information you are getting is good. You will find that houses and neighborhoods here are not the same as on the west coast. Take your time and look around.

You will learn much from this "board". It is the best USVI relocation source on-line.
There are literally hundreds of discussions here, do a search and see.

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Posted : March 22, 2006 2:33 pm
FIZZER600
 FIZZER600
(@FIZZER600)
Guest

Thanks for the responses. If I decide to accept my transfer I will sell my sportbike and buy a motard(dirtbike converted to dual use). In regards to the house/condo purchase I am looking for a 2 bedroom house/condo. Just a starter will do and it is my first home purchase. I will check with a realtor prior to my move, otherwise I can continue to rent, the prices seem to be inline with the SF bay area and I am getting a 25% cost of living increase if I accept. Thanks.

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Topic starter Posted : March 22, 2006 3:13 pm
robert
 robert
(@robert)
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I too poss coming from a very expensive part of the country-- Fairfield County, CT-- commuting distance from NYC. Where you working? Airport?

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Posted : April 4, 2006 3:56 pm
Marty on STT
(@Marty_on_STT)
Trusted Member

I have lived here for over 8 years and I wouldn't give up either one of my bikes for a car...for anything! Anytime I must ride in someone's car, or, God forbid, have to drive my wife's Jeep, I go nuts with dealing with the other drivers here! The traffic, the taxiis, the other drivers...plus being stuck in a cage! No thanks! I'll stick to my Harley and no traffic...and no parking problems, either!

And it's true that we from the States must learn a completely new way of driving here, but, with a little 'break-in' time, it comes as second nature. Sport bikes are wasted here, as the roads aren't built/maintained for 'em. My Harley does OK, but she'd prefer some open roads. Enduros, Honda Rebels and scooters do very well here (my other bike is a Rebel). Remember to bring a rainsuit! (and keep it in your backpack or saddlebags!)

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Posted : April 5, 2006 4:58 pm
Anonymous
 Anonymous
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I don't think I could live without being able to ride. I don't expect any non-riders to understand. That being said, I'm not the most mechanically inclined person, are the moto mechanics around to service bikes. I can do the basics (Oil & chain) myself but Im clueless to the rest.

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Posted : April 6, 2006 2:55 pm
Marty on STT
(@Marty_on_STT)
Trusted Member

Since Art closed Tropic Cycle, we don't really have any actual bike mechanics. Well, Moto Gnassi, I guess. But there are guys around that know enough about bikes (myself included) that we get done what needs doing. Avoid car mechanics, though. Once you get here, ask around, meet a few people, and you'll find someone that can do whatever work you need. Art can be talked into doing it, but you really have to work him. Griz, if he has the time. Rich, when he's not painting. Vince, when he has the time. Biker John (owner of Charlotte Tamales) when he's not in the restaurant. Toby is good. Myself, on week-ends. But, bikes are pretty simple machines anyway, so odds are that you won't need much anyway. Parts, however...now THERE'S a problem! Haha! Gotta order them off the 'net! And then wait for them to be shipped. What a pain.

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Posted : April 6, 2006 10:06 pm
Anonymous
 Anonymous
(@Anonymous)
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Whatever you do DO NOT put your children in Public school here. I am a new teacher here and the hair on the back of my neck stands up every day. Antilles is Private and highly recommended. Just thought you should know to put that into your cost of living expenses.Hope it helps.

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Posted : April 7, 2006 5:43 pm
STT Resident
(@STT_Resident)
Trusted Member

jb at public school: You posted a similar comment, under another name, at 2:53PM on another thread. We on this board are not amused by trolls...do please troll off.

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Posted : April 8, 2006 4:35 am
Anonymous
 Anonymous
(@Anonymous)
Guest

I'd like to thank everyone for there responses. I've decided that it is not in my best interest to come to the VI. I don't think I could afford to live their with the cost of property, private school for the kids, cost of food and utils, and lack of good places to ride the bike. I've accepted an equally lucrative offer in philadelphia.

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Posted : April 12, 2006 9:55 pm
Marty on STT
(@Marty_on_STT)
Trusted Member

You may not have our weather there but at least you'll get good cheese steaks!! Good luck in Philly.

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Posted : April 13, 2006 1:38 pm
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