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Pulling the trigger on relocating!  

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SaraSherman63
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April 1, 2014 2:33 pm  

My husband and I are pulling the trigger and relocating to STT. SO excited, and also panicking a bit.

We have a short term rental for when we arrive, so that we can look around for longer term housing. We'll be arriving first week in May. Should we get a PO box right now and start sending stuff down? I think getting the jeep shipped from the states will also be one of our biggest headaches.

What do you think are "First things first" to do??


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ChrisMI
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April 1, 2014 3:42 pm  

Getting your jeep shipped down will be the complete opposite of a headache if you call Meme St. John (International Logistics). It costs money of course, but she will handle everything for you, all you have to do it pick it up the day after it gets on the island. Couldn't be happier with our service form her. I assume this is a not old Jeep that you already have?


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OldTart
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April 1, 2014 5:28 pm  

I'm not so sure you can get a USPS PO box without being here physically, and where you end up living may be a factor in your final choice anyway. However, to start out you may want to use one of the private mail services to ship down boxes. Fortress Mail Service is in a good location by the hospital. Their number is 340-776-3678 so you might want to give them a call. They accept USPS deliveries as well as UPS, FedEx and DH.


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SaraSherman63
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April 2, 2014 3:35 pm  

Thanks for these tips - great stuff!

As for finding a more permanent place to live, do you think realtor is the way to go, or just craigslist/Island Trader it on our own?


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mtdoramike
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April 2, 2014 4:09 pm  

Thanks for these tips - great stuff!

As for finding a more permanent place to live, do you think realtor is the way to go, or just craigslist/Island Trader it on our own?

I agree, Meme is tops and the only issue you will have is getting you Jeep to the shipping yard, as long as you have all documentation and later picking it up. Have you even checked into this process, if not, you better get started because It could take two weeks to get your car on islands. It depends on when they leave port. Now, once you get on island and your vehicle arrives, you can drive around the islands and believe me, you will find a bunch of for rent signs posted along roads in the areas you want to live in.

But I would suggest a realtor, especially if you aren't sure where you want to live.


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East Ender
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April 2, 2014 5:20 pm  

Sara: First, you have to figure out where you want to live. Then you can focus on ads, word-of-mouth, etc. to find places. Not that a realtor wouldn't be helpful, but a lot of properties aren't listed. You didn't say if you have work lined up, but if so, that is another great avenue for finding housing. Someone always knows someone who knows of a place.;)


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OldTart
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April 2, 2014 6:49 pm  

As far as where you'll end up living much depends on where you'll be working too. Sometimes the shortest distance between two points can take the longest travel time when you're dealing with commuter traffic! Once you're here. craigslistvi is an excellent resource along with the Daily News, the Island Trader and, as Mike pointed out, driving around and looking for "for rent" signs.


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SkysTheLimit
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April 2, 2014 7:40 pm  

Figure out which part of the island you'll want to live. Then ask around at the local watering holes. Word of mouth works pretty well here.
Also have a realtor or two show you some properties. Then you'll know a potential deal when you see it.


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SaraSherman63
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April 5, 2014 1:16 am  

Great stuff, thank you all so much!!

Question about bikes...do people have and use them? Hubby and I love riding here at home, but don't know if it would be worth it to ship them down.

Also, getting a bank account on the island is one of our first priorities, but people will still take our cash, right?


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ChrisMI
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April 5, 2014 1:41 am  

Welcome! Bikes are great!....but not in St. Thomas. It's an extinct volcano where the roads have no shoulders. On 95+% of the roads bike riding is a death wish. Not exaggerating. Maybe a little. You might not die, you might just be paralyzed or lose a limb.

There are a couple of places you could take a bike to in order to ride it, but it is nothing like in the states where you can actually ride bikes to places unfortunately.

Good luck on the bank account. Wish I had some good advice, but all our banking experiences have been just awful. Took 10 months to get our checks, and they still won't add my wife to our account or change our address to where we actually live, in the VI. Cash works great 😉 I keep waiting for a camera crew at either bank I 'work' with to jump out and say "Gotcha! Wasn't this hilarious!"......but no camera crew ever comes out.

Bring your sense of humor!


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Linda J
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April 5, 2014 11:16 am  

Re banks: We had a good experience with Banco Popular. We always tried to use the ATMs and avoid the teller lines.


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CruzanIron
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April 5, 2014 11:39 am  

With FirstBank, I can change my address on line (I've done it 3 times) and I order checks on line from third party check vendors - much cheaper than ordering from a bank, and it took 6 days to get them.

I've only been in a branch once in the last 5 years, to update a signature card.


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OldTart
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April 5, 2014 1:12 pm  

Question about bikes...do people have and use them? Hubby and I love riding here at home, but don't know if it would be worth it to ship them down.

If you're a serious rider it can be done and there are a few riders out early in the morning, particularly on the East end, on some pretty high-tech wheels. If not a serious rider probably best not to bring them as they'll just sit around gathering dust and rust! Just FYI, Magens Bay in the early morning is a popular spot for locals getting exercise. Lots of runners and walkers and swimmers and it's beautiful there at that time of day - plus no entrance fee if you get there before 8AM.


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East Ender
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April 5, 2014 1:50 pm  

Like OT said- there are serious biking-running-swimming groups ( hey, sounds like triathletes!) that you can join, but for general transportation, no...


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RandyNTaj
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April 6, 2014 3:15 am  

We're going through some similar thoughts...it's good to see the discussion about logistics and moving to USVI! I've been wondering that if things fall into place for us--- if we should be bringing things like bicycles, motorcycles...etc.... as transportation is a big issue, and what I've spent some time looking at is whether or not to bring my SUV, it's an INFINITI QX56....and I'm not seeing encouraging signs. I see there is a Nissan dealer in STT but nothing on STX...and while it's not had issues, some shops won't touch it for routine maintenance as it's 'dealer specific'...... so now I'm debating whether it'd be worth it to bring the 7000# behemoth if I can't get oil changes or service....and it can't go without.

Good to know on the bicycles...we'll leave them with the girls at their colleges. Going to miss riding a bit as CO is a mecca for mtn bikers....but it doesn't sound sane to ride on the roads there....and somewhat similar story with our motorcycles.

Going to keep reading on things as we have to investigate shipping our belongings via crate, shipping container...and USPS. Thanks to all for keeping discussions going!


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speee1dy
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April 6, 2014 10:39 am  

bring your own vehicle


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rosesisland
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April 6, 2014 10:48 am  

Get the jeep here ASAP as you will need transportation. Meme is the very best, IMO, too. With Meme and International Logistics, you can, for small fee less than mailing USPS, pack tons of stuff in your vehicles. All others say customs doesn't allow that and that is BS as they don't want to fool with it.


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AandA2VI
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April 6, 2014 2:45 pm  

Bring your jeep, keep your stateside banks, leave your bike.

It would have been SO nice to have a car right away. We found an island ride for $2500 our first week and my crv two months later. Was stressful not having car. If you don't want to spend 3-5 days figuring out all the logistics of getting it registered pay the person who was was mentioned above.

No need for a local bank. They all suck IMO and you'll wait in LONG lines in all of them... Maybe except for Scotia. I've gone with friend into all of them and it was horrendous - banco popular the worst with a nearly 1.5 hour wait to deposit a rent check when landlord was outa town. BF and I each have a stateside account and then a joint stateside account that we use to pay bills, transferring electronically what we need to. Most places have direct deposit anyways. WAPA and ATT we pay online. Rent we use a stateside check and give it to our landlord a week early so it clears on time. I'm sorry but if a renter won't take my stateside check then that's too bad for them. There's a LOT LOT LOT of places for rent and landlord are hurting to get people in. I know 4 nice rentals right now and rent is WAY cheaper than last year when we were looking. 2bds on northside with view will run u $1000 -1200 average, last year $1400-$1500. We started at 1400 and landlord reduced it $100 to keep us from moving. It worked plus we have a killer view and a super cute place. There are for rent signs everywhere. Lots more than last year! Just drive around and use the island trader. Use CL but lots of scammers so be aware.

IMO your either gonna do the "The City" - East or "the Country" - North/West.
East is close to red hook and usually busting with stuff to do and convenient to everything. More of a younger party scene in red hook.
North is quiet - it's call the country, people have goats, there's only one place to party - Hull Bay and I LOVE IT lol. At night mostly the sounds of frogs and crickets. Very rarely sirens or gunshots.... Rarely....
Not never lol.

I've seen people with bikes here. IMO they're nuts. It's IS VERY DANGEROUS driving let alone walking or biking. Honestly it is my only botch about STT. People drive like idiots here so be ready. Sell the bikes, come down and if you decide you do want to bike, order new ones from amazon. I'm betting you'll decide not to. You know what's fun thou? PADDLEBOARDING, surfing, kayaking swimming, snorkeling, scuba and hiking. I do all those but no way you're getting me on a bike lol.After all it's an island and this is what most do for exercise. I betcha hiking to Sandy beach down by Botany Bay will kick your ass 10 times a bike ride lol.

Bring money and be ready to spend it. We spent $20k in first two months. You'll be less since you brought your car. Ours were $6700 for both and then $4200 for first last and security., the rest for everything else... We rented unfurnished, it wasn't the plan but we found the "furnished" places too expensive or not good. We moved here last January 2012 with 4 suitcases and two cats.

I don't think it's expensive to live here after the initial costs. I only make about $1000 a month and still afford to go out, have fun, take lots of trips to other islands, and have $ for stateside trips too. It's all about being smart with your money as it is anywhere. I do split all the bills down the middle with my boyfriend.

I will never get the people who make a big deal out of things. Be nice and friendly and have low expectations ad you'll do fine.... If you're high maintenance rethink the move lol.

Sorry for so many edits, typing on my cell plus I suck at spelling lol.


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Alana33
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April 6, 2014 3:27 pm  

Good advice from a couple that have successfully relocated recently and adapted to the peculiarities of life in de tropics in STT.
Finding a good commuting distance between where you work/play/shop and where you live will help keep you sane.
STT/STJ is not bike riding friendly as mentioned.


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SaraSherman63
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April 6, 2014 7:35 pm  

Great stuff, guys, keep it coming!

I'm now wondering this: We have 2 cars, one crap and one new-ish. We were planning on selling the crap car (Grand Am) and buying a jeep to ship down to STT or find a vehicle on island. The crap car isn't bad, just 10 years old and 130k miles on it. Should we ship that one down and let it get trashed on the potholes? We were planning to get rid of it anyway...thoughts?

Also, a note on the commute. I guess I'm not too worried where we live because we're used to a minimum of a 30 min commute now. 45 min to an hour if there is an accident or construction, so I'm more interested in finding a place to live where we like, especially if I'm planning to work from home.

Getting mixed reviews on the on-island banking...definitely hearing no on the bikes, great info.

I personally am also concerned with finding a great yoga studio to continue my practice, so if there are any yogis on these boards that can recommend a great teacher, let me know!


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RandyNTaj
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April 6, 2014 8:25 pm  

Here's a question for you--- if Banco Popular is on STT and STX....their website shows over 20 bank offices in FL. Why wouldn't it work to go to the Miami or other FL branch prior to leaving the mainland to open your account or move money around?


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AandA2VI
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April 6, 2014 8:49 pm  

Randy I have no idea on that. I choose not to use island bank accounts because well it seems like a major PITA.

Sarah in your case and IMO I'd sell both and buy two used cars stateside and ship them. From an Eco standpoint I hate to see cars brought here just to die. We're small islands and don't need more junk please. Jeeps are OK but id suggest looking into do a Honda CRV. I've had three of the 2000's and my island car here is a 97 crv. They are PPERFECT island cars!!! The transmission is ROCK solid, SO important here on our insane roads and they last forever. Parts are easy to order on rock auto and easy to have work on not no mention so roomy, have a back hatch and room for scuba/snorkel gear and $50 lasts two-three weeks! I was never an import girl but I'll never huy anything other than a CRV. All have on demand 4wd too and perfect clearance. Cheaper and longer lasting than a jeep. We have two company jeeps and their 2010s and always breaking down. You should be able to find a used CRV for 4-5k plus 3-4k to ship it. You MIGHT be able to find a car or two here for that but it can take time. One thing to keep in mind is that it's starting to taper off a bit for off season. June-October you WILL find man more cars for sale than when I came in December - high season. Maybe bring a CRV or the similar and fun one here? Just be prepared to wait a few months for it. Many of the cars you'll look at will have mechanical issues that will need to be fixed too. Island life is tough on cars.


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AandA2VI
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April 6, 2014 8:57 pm  

Wait what's te newish one? I misread. And there's LOTS of yoga here just mostly on beaches better than a studio lol.


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speee1dy
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April 6, 2014 10:29 pm  

Banco popular is not like a stateside bank even though there are branches in the states. If you ever need to have money wired to the bank it is not as easy as stateside banks. If you live on Stx I would recommend bank of st croix. It is like a stateside bank and the people are friendly. And that is a big plus


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Alana33
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April 7, 2014 12:43 am  

I use Banco Pop as love drive thru plus they have about 5 locations. 3 with drive thru. In STT, anyway
Have had them for yrs. Never been in line for an hour.
They've been good with wire transfers, getting me my checks in a timely manner and other regular transactions.
Frankly, if the lines too long and I don't want to wait, I'll come back another day.
Ditto for the line at the Post Office.


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