pros and cons of moving a family
I feel that many posts suggest it is a mistake to move to the islands with a family. Not all of these posts seem to be from people who have actually done so.
Some of my reasons for wanting to are:
We have traveled to the islands several times with the kids and they love the idea of living there.
Getting the opportunity to show them more of a world view while being a part of the U.S. (meaning we can open businesses without having to wait 3+ years to become a resident somewhere).
Taking the road less traveled.
Being able to simplify if only in the loss of material possessions.
Teaching them how to live differently from the average American, without the pressure to conform like here in the states.
These are just a few things that I think would be "easier" to teach or do there as opposed to here. I find it hard to do that in the states because of our friends and current lifestyle.
I would like more definitive reasons why not to....or why to if that is your stance.
Thanks for any input!
I lived on St. Thomas between 1981 and 1990, coming from Massachusetts at 11 years old. Before that, we visited the VI every year, for two weeks, from 1972 to 1980.
"We have traveled to the islands several times with the kids and they love the idea of living there."
I remember the snowy day my father asked my younger brother and I if we wanted to move to St. Thomas. Of course both of us immediately said, "Yes!" I really feel that if you take your children there, that you should explain that life will go on (i.e. school, work, etc.) and it will not be just one huge vacation.
"Taking the road less traveled."
I have seen so many people come and go while I lived on STT. Usually continental transfers do not last more than six months, but of course these are generally not families, whom will usually try to make a real go of it.
"Being able to simplify if only in the loss of material possessions."
You do not need to get rid of everything. My father fortunately left a lot of material possessions with my mother (who was divorced from him in the late 1970s) and also with his sisters. Many items from my childhood are still in the family, and I am grateful for that. My father took a tremendous amount of items with us, in a container, and so can you.
"Teaching them how to live differently from the average American, without the pressure to conform like here in the states."
I feel I was much more free to express myself in the VI than in the States. Be warned although - local kids can be just as rough on a new continental as the kids in the States can be to a new transfer. The diversity in STT is good, IMO.
I would not trade my time in the VI for anything. That said, be aware that by the time your kids are 15-16, there is a good chance they will get into the night life. My father allowed me to drink since I was a young child, so it was not much of an issue for me, but even the "cleaner" kids end up experimenting, at least somewhat, from a young age. It is simply the availability (anyone remember Burger King selling Coors?) and non-enforcement of laws.
One thing I strongly suggest: get a dog, preferably two. We always had two Great Danes (five total) to guard our property, and despite the fact that I never even saw keys for the doors, we were never ripped off. A close friend of mine and his family moved about 20 houses down the road from us, and was robbed twice in their first year on the road. They did not have a dog.
Be aware that you will not be on vacation. Living on the islands is not much different than living in the States, when you really get down to it. I would STRONGLY suggest getting a small boat for your kids. I would suggest what I had when i was thirteen: a 13 foot Boston Whaler - they are expensive, but unsinkable. Remember: there is really not much to do on "The Rock"
Tamara: I don't think we have suggested it is a mistake to move here with children, just that it takes extra thought. Frequently adults (and children) love "the idea of living here." But the reality of living here is different from the idea of living here.
If you can't help your children take the road less traveled in the states, why do you think it would be easier here? Why can't you change your friends or your lifestyle there? I am not sure a change in scenery helps with those. 😉
I don't have children, if that makes a difference.
I thing what people are trying to tell you is that living on an island is notbetter or worse than where you are now , it's just DIFFERENT. Having kids just makes it more DIFFERENT. You still have to earn a living, commute, do everyday chores like clean house, tend to the garden, do the laundry, iron clothes, shopping, pay bills, get the car fixed, wait for the appliance repair man,, etc. You kids will still have to attend classes, do home work, study, etc.
Do your research before making the move, find out for yourself if island life suits YOU. It's sounds a bit like you are a little "fed-up" with life where you are now and moving to the islands rarely fixes that. Island life, by itself, is not a panacea. If you can't solve your problems "at home", you probably won't be able to solve them in the Caribbean either.
That's just it...I don't have any problems at home. My dh and I have businesses that are still doing well despite the financial crisis. We all have great friends (kids and adults) that we socialize with very frequently. We have a great home-a dream home almost. We don't mind the weather where we are, but still get to experience the four seasons. We aren't trying to run away from anything.
Life is good!
What I would like to offer my children is something different in the way of "world" view. Different from a vacation. Different from an in-depth social studies, history lesson, or one hour special on the travel channel. A different way of life than what is considered the "norm" in the states.
I am sure that living on the island will be much harder than what my day to day life is like here for many reasons that you have all made clear. Please know that I am not in a fantasy world about moving to the islands and being on permanent vacation.
Thanks for the input, guys!
What do you think is wrong with the "norm" in the states? How old are your kids? Reading your original post and your reasons, I don't think a single one of them will be met here any better than where you live now, and I don't even know where you live now.
There's no different world view here. We're a tiny little part of the US. Our politicians may be a little more corrupt than some places, but we fall under the US government, with it's advantages. We have a traditional infrastructure, with a few flaws. As to the road less traveled, well than can be interpreted various ways, but we are not "off the beaten path" as the phrase implies. Jets and cruise ships full of tourists attest to that. As to the loss of material possessions, the kids have cell phones stuck to their ears and ipods and computers and TVs in their rooms. They have all the usual toys. And lastly, families here strive to give their kids the "American Dream" with all the usual pressures that go along with that. Just my opinion, but I would be hard pressed to come up with any advantages to raising kids here. Obviously they would enjoy the beach, year 'round.
Why not just take them for a month long trip in the summer to an actual different country and rough it a little and really get immersed in the culture and the lifestyle. Go somewhere and live like a local for a month or two and that will be more then enough to give them a different world view.
Or just require them to get involved with local chartiable organizations and that should also give them a very different "perspective" then the one that are living. Juanita is spot on in her comments. While the culture is different here, it's still America. My mother from an early age got me involved and it is always been a gift that I have been grateful for.
Why would you want to change your life if its so wonderful. Why would you want to risk bringing your children to somewhere that could be a total disaster. It just doesn't sound logical. I think that's why so many people assume you were unhappy at home. It sounds like you want a escape. Let the kids grow up and if you still want to come then come.
Also I just really don't think your children would in anyway get a world view from living on a small Caribbean island. You will definitely get a much better idea of life in this particular region, but its also a region that is very insular.
The islands are extremely religious, but then you've got two bars on every block and drugs easily available anywhere, more so then stateside. I'm sure you've read about crime and one of the realities here is you have to be able to take care of your own. You cannot rely on the police like you do stateside. You cannot call them in an emergency and expect to show up is 15 minutes let alone 4 to 6 hours and maybe never. You have to think about things like how far away is the hospital and how quick can I get them there if one of the two ambulances is down, or both or busy or just won't come to my house. How strong is your marriage as well? Because I can tell you the islands can be very tough on them.
There are so many reasons in my mind not to bring kids here, especially especially if you have a good life at home and everyone is happy.
So if she has a good life in the States & is happy at home she should stay there & if she's unhappy at home she should stay there because moving here won't cure her problems??? :S
Well said, Trade. That logic has bothered me too.
Wow! Such hard headed negativity and doses of reality. We moved down here with our 2 "younger" sons who were 20 and 15. The 20 year old got a job right away and found that while he and his friend dug 9 holes one morning to plant palms, the Cruzan part of the crew dug 2. He couldn't stand the "laziness" and returned to the states. He loved the warmth and beach, but the pay was so pitiful he had to return to the states to make a decent living.
Our 15 year old stayed for a year of school here and was so bored--he hated the ocean, hated soccer, and ended up spending his time playing video games. The kids here at the (Christian) school were really rough on him, too, and eventually he, too, ended up returning to the states to his friends and school.
That said, I think if we had been better parents earlier on, if we had moved here when they were much younger, if they had not been indoctrinated with "American" teenage values, they might have done well. I know another family who are very close knit and whose teen agers are much better adjusted. This is a great place for adults and kids can do well here once they adjust, but I think the culture shock is much harder on them than on adults.
We love it here and if your kids are younger, if you are a close-knit family, and if you are able to afford trips back to the states from time to time, this can be a great place to be. Do your research, definitely do a prolonged PMV if you can, and come with your eyes wide open. If it is a good fit for your time and place in life, Do it!
Good Morning everyone and thanks again for taking the opportunity to reply. I see your point(s). I even think we are a little crazy for considering leaving, but yet I still find myself doing so. I especially appreciate noOne and antiqueone's comments that say we can do it!
Keep your comments coming!
It always amazes me when people on this message board say don't bring children here. When I was growing up my parents moved me all over the states. I was not always happy about it. Especially when I was a teenager. The culture shock I experienced moving from the east coast to the west coast was an experience that totally traumatized me. Guess what? I adjusted. I was made fun of. My clothes were different. I talked funny. Kids can be brutal. All children are different. Some adjust better than others. Looking back on those days now I am grateful for the experience. I can adapt to almost any situation. The only draw back I can see to bringing children here is having the money to put them in private school. I think public elementary school is probably fine here but middle school/jr. high is brutal anywhere. Both in the VI and the states. There are lower cost private schools on the islands that also give financial aid. It is possible to give your children a good education here.
Some else that bothers me is that it seems that many of the posters on this board feel that children must be coddled and never have any adversity in their lives. I have to ask how are they going to learn and grow if we keep them so protected from the ills of the world. How are they ever going to meet the challenges of life if they know no change. I know I grew and learned the most in my life when things were not so good. Life is tough. It is not all wearing the right clothes, having the right friends, the latest video games, and going to the perfect college. Children need challenges to develop problem solving skills. They need adversity to learn how to support themselves and deal with what the world will throw at them in life.
Tamara is a grown adult with a husband and children. It sounds like she and her husband both own businesses. That shows an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of adventure. Why would they want less for their children. What is the worst thing that can happen if they move to the VI? Maybe they will hate it here. Maybe they will lose all their money and have to struggle. (Oh My). Maybe they will have to borrow money to move back to the states. Maybe their kids will be made fun of at school. Maybe they will be a victim of crime.
Maybe they will love it. Maybe they will enjoy the beauty and adventure of these islands. Maybe their children will discover other cultures not only in the VI but through travel down island, (french, dutch, hispanic). Maybe they will learn to adapt and overcome some adversity that will draw them closer as a family.
The possibilities are endless. Good and Bad.
Tamara, only you and your family can decide. It seems to me that you are doing your research. You are intelligent and it is your family.
I love it here. With a child. I know quite a few statesiders who have raised their families here and will tell you it is a wonderful place to raise children. I also know some young adults here whose parents brought them here as teenagers. They were angry to be uprooted from their friends and brought to the island. The returned to the states for college, worked for a while. Married, had children and now are back on island raising their own families here. I have tried to get these people to post on this message board and I tell them all the things that are said here about how you should not bring children here. I also try to get my cruzian friends to post on this board. I do get them to read it occasionally and they all just shake their heads and ask me why I read this stuff.
With all that being said, I am not putting any of the other posters down or discouraging their advice. Some of it is very accurate and helpful but not the full picture. Everyone has different experiences here. I wish more posters would talk about their experiences of moving here with children. I know there are a few on the board but do not want to get into the discussion for various reasons. Kruzcandy, (don't know if I spelled that right) I know that you are Cruzian and you returned to St. Croix from the states with a child. Do you have any thoughts or advice?
Well Tamara, good luck to you and your family whatever you decide. Take care.
Thanks so much Tammy! I sure hope JJ is hanging in there while you are in VA. I was hoping you'd post!
The way you described the reasons about us wanting to move are right on. I just can't seem to put it into words so eloquently as you.
I feel that kids I encounter in my line of work are sometimes just "soft and whiny"...LOL! Not that all kids in the states are, but I feel society in America is soooo over commercialized, inundated with materialistic values of more, more, more stuff rather than striving for a more enlightened life through personal happiness and contentment with your surroundings. I feel that my dh and I are able to achieve this because we are adults and are not so easily swayed, but our children on the other hand have only known these "American dream values". I want more for them. More adversity and ability to take risks, not live in fear of the unknown. Not always be a part of the majority.
Part of what has made my dh and I this way is that we both lost parents in childhood. I lost my dad at 6, he lost his mom at 14, I lost my mom at 23. We don't feel familial pressures to stay in one place. Dh had himself emancipated at 17 and moved out and made it through many obstacles as a young adult. I left NC and moved to CA to go to college not knowing a soul there. We are risk takers and we have lived in the worst of conditions (by American standards, mind you) and know we can get through anything....I'd like my children to know that and not be scared of a challenge.
I suppose I could up and move to anywhere in the states to just "start fresh" but since we are born and bred beach people who just happen to live in the mountains away from the ocean now, the VI's just seemed like a great place to do that.
Also, keep in mind that due to a very fortunate real estate investment we will have the money to do something most only dream about doing. Our children are open to the idea and will be starting 5th and 6th grade so changing before middle school years seems like the best time to do this if we are ever going to. They may change their minds if we wait another year. This also gives us time to try it out and if it isn't working for our family, we'll move back to where we live now before they start high school. Thanks for letting me babble!
Thanks again, Tammy for your words of support! Have a great trip back....
My husband and I have been traveling throughout the caribbean for years. We have five grown children and a 13 and 10 year old at home. We also own several businesses locally stateside, but thought that we would try out our entrepreneurial spirit in St. Thomas. We love the islands and the culture, but weren't willing to completely relocate. We purchased a "fixer-upper" last year, considering that we are in the building trades and that our 3 oldest sons work for our company, we thought that this would be a great way to immerse ourselves in the island culture and also see the realities of island life.
So far so good. We have an open enrollment at our stateside schools which means that we can combine our local schooling stateside with a qualified tutor on island. We just got back after a 2-1/2 week stay and my children were actually ahead in class work. This was only stage one of our renovation, we had electricians and plumbers get the guts of our unit up to todays standards. We plan on returning in May or June to begin our next stage.
I can't speak for anyone but myself, but we enjoy our time immensly on island (although my husband does get a little adjitated at the lack of inventory at Home Depot). I don't see us moving full time anytime soon. My children really cherish their neighborhood friends and sports teams that they have played on for years. That's probably my biggest drawback. At home I can tell them to come home when the streetlights go on. On the island I stay with them at all times.
With that said, I do think that my husband and I will eventually relocate to STT or STJ and that we will continue to have extended stays with our family. Maybe my views will change somewhat if my children would establish lasting friendships in STT, but for now, their friends on island consist of vacationing children. My husband and I have been meeting so many wonderful people and are invited out regularly. The kindness and friendliness from most has been terriffic. Looking forward to returning in 6 to 8 weeks.
"These are just a few things that I think would be "easier" to teach or do there as opposed to here. I find it hard to do that in the states because of our friends and current lifestyle."
If peer pressure is what prevents you from living the way you want to live, maybe all you need to be content is new friends.
I grew up on St. Croix until I was in the 9th grade. My mother decided that she needed a change of pace, and was having difficulties in finding a job. (It wasn't until she was already in Georgia for 6 months, a good job came through). When i first moved to Georgia it was in the middle of the school year in December. I was an island girl, born and raised. Being accustomed of spending the summers at the beach, on boats, and enjoying the outdoors. It was a big "culture shock" for me to moved to the states in the middle summer. When I finally enrolled in school, I was happy about finally being able to meet new friends.
I began by saying all of this because, while on this board, I've seen people make comments about the public school systems as being the one reasons to not bring kids here. When I finally enrolled in school, i found that I was more advance than a lot of the kids in my class. When I say advance I'm talking about in English (Literature, not really Writing because I still had the tendency of writing the way I spoke, something my aunt a school teacher tried her best getting out of me, lol) Science, Math, and Social Studies. Some of the stuff that I was doing in my classes down here, wasn't being thought in the classes in Georgia as yet. I was ahead of the curriculum by 3-4 months, or the next school year. All of my teachers had good things to say to me, about my manners, and my academic skills. Now on the other hands, things in the public school system in Georgia were advance than St. Croix, being the technology classes (we didn't have many at the time), the computers in the classes, the (sometimes) new textbooks.
Now I'm not bashing living state sides, I loved my time living in Georgia. Instead of my summers at he beaches and boating, I did Six Flags and White Waters. But eventually I decided to move back to St. Croix, because I missed "home". I had my son after living here for a while, and i haven't really decided whether to send my son to private or public school. I don't really see anything wrong with the public school system down here, my biggest concern is the government needs to spend more time, money and energy in fixing up the schools. On the subject of teachers, some teachers are good, and wiling to put in the extra effort, some are just there for the pay check. But is that any different than in the states? Kids will be kids, here on islands and in the states. I remember while in Elementary school, we had a new transfer, a girl from Texas, her family decided to move to the islands, they had no family from here, they were just like you guys, wanting to get away for different reasons. Some of us kids teased her because of the way that she talked, come on we were only in 2nd grade or 3rd, and weren't use to being exposed to many state side kids. We were skeptical of allowing her to get close to us, because we weren't sure if she was staying or going. Eventually we warmed up to her, and she became a good friend to us. When I moved to Atlanta, I was teased and made fun of ( I was in 9th grade) because of my accent. Some thought it was cute, others just laugh. Some people asked me questions that i didn't mind, because i was proud of my "home", some asked ignorant (ignorant to me of course) like is everyone in the Virgin Islands virgins (always made me smiled), do you guys where clothes there, how did you get here on the boat, is English your first language, do you guys live in trees?
I loved living in Atlanta, but i missed "home" and that's why i decided to move back. Would I move back to Georgia, yes, I'm not saying in a heart beat, but most definitely, i would love my son to be exposed to something different. Tamara, if it's in your heart to move the the VI then go ahead and do it, but just leave room in your heart for disappointment, because some place different is not for everybody. You will go through some of the emotions that i went through when we first moved to Atlanta (missing family, frustrations of not being able to do things that you are use to doing and others). if you haven't been to the VI before, do a PMV like everyone on this board suggest. Check out the schools, check out the areas that you would like to live, talk to people that live here, the "born here or the raised here" and the newbies or the been here for years lol. For me the VI will always be in my heart, the place have its problems, but at least it my home, and what place doesn't.
I AM WITH YOU ON THIS! I AM MOVING WITH MY CHILDREN 5,9,13. I ALSO WANT THEM TO SEE AND EXPIRIENCE MORE OF WHAT IS OUT THERE IN THE WORLD, MORE THAN WHAT IS JUST IN FRONT OF THEM.
I DONT WANT THEM TO GET SUCKED IN TO THE "AMERICAN DREAM" LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE BOX FOR A WHILE, PEOPLE ASK HOW LONG WILL YOU BE THERE? I SAY UNTIL I FEEL LIKE COMING BACK, MAYBE IT WILL 6 MONTHS, MAYBE 6 YEARS WHO KNOWS WHEN THE ADVENTURE WILL END. I DON'T WANT TO BE 60 AND TALKING ABOUT THINGS I WISH I HAD DONE, I WANT TO BE 60 AND TALK ABOUT WHERE I'VE BEEN AND WHAT WE'VE DONE AND WAHT A GREAT LIFE OF SEEING THIS WORLD WE ARE IN. DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY. I TOO HAVE A GEAT JOB, I LOVE MY JOB, A GREAT HOUSE, BUT I DON'T WANT TO LIVE THE SAME DAY OVER AND OVER AGAIN, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN GROUNDHOG DAY?
Tamara, I can really appreciate you wanting to move to the islands as an educational experience for your children, but the USVI's? They will learn very little about the rest of the world, and there is not much "local" culture compared with other Caribbean islands. One thing I felt that I gained from the USVI's was the opportunity to meet people from all over the US, of interest to me because I'm not from there, but not much use to you. The currency, TV, radio, food etc are all American, even half the workforce (except the Police, and you will quickly come to wish they were American!) Now, if you want to move somewhere with a beautiful climate, scenery, and a more laid-back lifestyle, then that would be a good reason to move to the VI's.
I'm sorry if I come across as saying don't bring children, I don't mean to. What I am saying is moving with children (or pets or an aged parent) brings with it a whole extra set of challenges. Some people roll with the changes and do well. Some get here and are overwhelmed by things they never considered.
Take ambulance service, for example. On STX we have, at most, 2 ambulances in service at any time. And remember STX is 23 miles long and 5 miles wide at the widest point, with mostly 2-lane roads. It is not unusual to have one only ambulance staffed and in operation. The staff is trained and, from my experience, do a good job - no problems there, but if your child is having an asthma attack, or has fallen and broken a leg, and the ambulance is on a run, they will not respond until they are finished.
When we lived in Louisville, I never thought about this, if I needed an ambulance, I called 911 and one came immediately. Period. On STX everyone has their own plan for getting to the hospital if no ambulance is available. Everyone thinks about this. And even if the ambulance comes, if you live in the country on bad roads or driveways, the ambulance won't risk driving to your home, you must meet them at the end of the paved road.
This is just one of a hundred differences between living here and living in the states. You can't be aware of or plan for all contingencies, but the more you know the better chance to make an informed decision about moving here.
And that's what I mean to convey.
Morning everyone and thanks again for all the great replies. We aren't packing our bags and belongings until we've been for an extended PMV and that only comes after the house sells. So don't think we are doing anything rash....
My hope for life on the island is to enjoy a beach paradise with my kids while they still want to do this with us. We are at a time in our lives where we will be able to afford to do something a little out of the ordinary. We also plan to travel to many more of the islands, thus expanding the "world view" aspect I mentioned in my original post. The Caribbean history and culture fascinates me and living in the middle of it would give us an opportunity to see more.
If dh's work plan actually works out, he may do just as well or better there than he does here in the states. We have also factored into our budget the cost of private school education. We aren't willing to sacrifice our children's education, health, happiness, or safety in this little pursuit of ours. We have to be certain we are able to meet all those criteria adequately on our PMV or we won't make this move. In the meantime getting feedback from all of you folks, both positive and negative, is necessary research. I am sure it can be frustrating for those of you who are already there and feel all of us dreamers just have stars in our eyes. Thanks for indulging us with your knowledge!
Maybe you could plan on spending the summer there, after that you will be able to make a more informed decision without disrupting the kids & their school.
I dont think there is anything wrong with "dreaming" as long as you keep your feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds...and that being 60 thing that stephaniev spoke of in an earlier post...well, I've also heard that we only live once, so I think she's right on.
Alot of planning and consideration went into my thought procces as I laid out my blueprint to relocate, however..I do agree, from what I've learned over the past few months of following these threads, that there are quite a few lifestyle changes that come with island living that I would never have even thought of. (Simple things like not running the water while you brush your teeth or buying tortilla chips already soggy!) So as you would with any move, you really want to do your homework on this one.
What's confusing to me is how everybody says how "they love their island" & quote "just another day in paradise" on every other post I read, until somebody from the states shows an interest in moving there. Then it suddenly becomes too hot, dangerous, corrupt, strange critters everywhere......anyway, I still plan on making STX my home someday. And who knows, maybe the locals won't mind another outsider moving in after all (would it help if I mentioned I became a licensed EMT back in '94???)
I'm one of those past 60 who always marched to my own drummer & am very glad I did when I compare my life to my contemporaries who stayed in prominent zip codes & did what was expected of them. It's your life, do what you want to with it. There were no message boards to seek out then so I just jumped in. Worked for me & though I don't have children, I know many who do that did the same thing & carved out a successful life here. Others came & fell flat on their face. It's up to you. No need to justify or apologize for whatever your decision is.