Question About Expe...
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Question About Expenses

Posts: 9
Active Member
Topic starter

If I do a cost of living comparison, it says that I would need to make 41% more there than I do here to match the cost of living. I know you all often talk about how expensive everything is down there. My question is, how then can anyone live there? Especially folks who are working service sector jobs and hospitality which aren't known for paying tremendously well. Are incomes typically higher down there as well? If not, I just don't get it.

Posted : October 14, 2011 3:01 pm
Posts: 94
Trusted Member

It depends where you're from. I'm from the northeast. I've been to the islands twice for a PMV. A lot of food prices were cheaper than the NY/NJ area. Except for a few items like milk and eggs which can cost 2 or 3 times what they are here. Electric is crazy high. But then there's no state income tax, sales tax and I think federal tax. That may offset monthly expenses a little bit. Gas can be a dollar more a gallon but if you're on STT, your driving distance is going to be a lot shorter. You'll have to read this message board and do some digging and decide if it's doable.

Posted : October 14, 2011 3:37 pm
Exit Zero
Posts: 2460
Famed Member

Some expenses are more - depending on where you move from some may be less - no winter expenses, usually much lower clothing expense, commonly a much simpler lifestyle overall with less emphasis on materialistic possessions.
The Federal income tax is the same as anywhere in the USA - no Local income tax - people often do have a second job to supplement income, especially the newer arrivals.
It takes an adaptation in many ways - particularly if you are raising a family. There is a lot of hard work to be done ahead of time researching the reality of living in the VI and it isn't any easier here than living and working stateside but the weather and people and slower pace of life can be beneficial - but it certainly isn't for everyone.
This forum and the info in the entire site can only give you a glimpse into the everyday life - many people do come and stay for years and probably many more move here and decide it isn't what they were looking for and move back. It doesn't mean they had a bad time here or didn't enjoy or benefit from the experience - it just didn't fit the long term goals for their lives.
Common everyday people do live here, work hard and find it a wonderful place - find ways to cut some expenses and afford others - in that sense I don't find it much different than making a life anywhere else.

Posted : October 14, 2011 4:41 pm
Posts: 9
Active Member
Topic starter

Thanks WGAF and Exit Zero. I live in St. Louis, Missouri which has a lower cost of living compared to the coasts, but it's balanced by the fact that incomes aren't as high for the same positions either. I'm still at least a few years away from being able to do anything, but wonder if it's even a possibility. I would probably have to make a career change as I don't know how many information security jobs there would be, so I would probably not only have a cost of living increase but a decrease in income as well. But yes, I'll be investigating it more as time goes on.

Posted : October 14, 2011 5:02 pm
Posts: 8868
Illustrious Member

rising WAPA cost is forcing a lot of businesses to close which puts those people out of work. the government has already lowered pay by 8 percent and is thinking of laying off 500-800 people come december. this leaves you with a high unemployment rate. high unemployment rates equals more crime, statistically. food will probably be 2-3 times what you are used to paying.

WAPA is about .48 per kilowatt. look at your past electric bill and times it by this and let us know the difference. our last bill was 250.00. we do not have dish washer dryer or air. my dads last electric and gas for a month in alexandria va was less than 200.00

if you have school age children, most people put their children in private at a cost of more than 10,000 per year per child.

Gas is the same if not higher than stateside-always higher than where my family lives.

incomes are NOT typically higher here.

Any other questions, just ask

Posted : October 14, 2011 5:21 pm
Posts: 380
Reputable Member

Some offset higher cost of living by lowering their standards.

Posted : October 14, 2011 5:39 pm
Posts: 39
Eminent Member

Bob, I recently moved here from Denver. I have found that prices on some things are about the same and other things are quite different. Here is a rundown of current prices and places I bought (what to me) are senseable everyday items most everyone uses:

Cost U Less store (kinda like a Sams or Costco but no need to pay a membership fee)-

- 26 oz cans Hunts spag sauce- $1.69 ea
- Penne pasta from italy- 4 one pound packs-- $6.79
- Crystal light lemonaid 18 pack - $7.69
- 5# flour - $2.49
- Honey Wheat bread- $2.69
- 8 pack stewed tomatos $7.79
-Kraft deluxe mac+cheese-$2.19
- 2 one pound boxes cheerios - $7.59
-24 pack water - $14.99
-2 lbs sliced salami- $7.49
- 1 lb kraft chedder cheese- $5.39
-12 pk charmin double rolls - $8.99
-Purex laundry soap (100 loads)- $12.99
-24 pack raman noodles -$5.29
-24 pack V8 juice- $17.29
-18 eggs -$3.79

Home Depot-
2 burner gas grill (nice) $99
Propane tank $64.97 -- exchange is $35 I think

Marina Market--
Oranges .59 ea
Apples- $1.99+ lb
Bananna .99 lb
Milk $8.00 gallon
Paper towels $1.19
Tonic water $2.79
Gilbys Vodka $5.99 a fifth 🙂

Day trips to Magens Bay, Cabrica Point, Cowpet Bay, Secret Harbor, Crown Bay, St John, and Mountaintop-- PRICELESS ! 😎

Posted : October 16, 2011 12:17 am
Posts: 681
Honorable Member

If I do a cost of living comparison, it says that I would need to make 41% more there than I do here to match the cost of living. I know you all often talk about how expensive everything is down there. My question is, how then can anyone live there? Especially folks who are working service sector jobs and hospitality which aren't known for paying tremendously well. Are incomes typically higher down there as well? If not, I just don't get it.

I am a local attorney and can barely afford to live here. I have a backup tent to live in just in case.

And, no, I'm not kidding.


Posted : October 16, 2011 3:25 am
Posts: 9
Active Member
Topic starter

Thanks for the responses everyone. PMH, I can't say that I pay close attention to prices, but I can recognize from your list that some things are very close to the same while others are 2 - 4 times as much. I do go to Costco sometimes and bulk is the way to go. I guess you can change your diet a little with it not costing much more. I don't mind lowering my living standards to a degree, I've done that several times in my life to be where I want to be.

And Iris, that's kind of what I was wondering. I work in the IT field and while it's a decent job, I pretty much just get by without any real luxuries. After seeing all of the comments about how expensive it is down there, I thought maybe only wealthy retirees move there. I still have to make some scouting trips there.

Thanks again everyone,

Posted : October 17, 2011 12:55 pm
Posts: 8868
Illustrious Member

on the spot, i dont know how much lower my standards can go

Posted : October 17, 2011 8:00 pm
Posts: 380
Reputable Member

LOLOL me neither, and I'm not even there yet. 🙂 Probably straight off de plane and gyan bush!.

Posted : October 17, 2011 8:49 pm
Posts: 8868
Illustrious Member

lol back at you. that was funny, onthespot

Posted : October 17, 2011 10:35 pm
Posts: 551
Honorable Member

I'm doing fine, but I've always lived hand to mouth, I guess. I'm doing well enough to have been able to take a trip back to the states and a vacation, too. I have someone to share most expenses. I don't have kids or any loans. I do have a credit card and a couple of store cards for extra bills. Yes, it's expensive here, but you adapt. I love my apartment and my vehicle is an island car -- runs strong, good brakes, but not so much to look at. We stay in sometimes and sometimes we go out and party and sometimes we go out for date night. I can do it and I'm sure someone else can, too.

Posted : October 17, 2011 10:57 pm
Posts: 70
Trusted Member

Visnorkler- thank you for that! I have always lived like that too. I'm not afraid to live by candlelight or eat ramen. You sound a lot like me and it's nice to hear from someone that it isn't impossible! :@)

Posted : October 17, 2011 11:05 pm
Posts: 208
Estimable Member

Just to clarify the incorrect tax wise we have a mirror tax code - so we pay federal tax rates it just stays in the USVI Treasury. 10% surcharge on C corporations over federal tax rates just in case you thought we were business friendly down here. There is a hidden 4.5% gross receipts tax on all businesses (akin to a hidden sales tax). There is a 4% excise tax on good imported for resale - so total hidden sales tax is 8.5%. Customs duty on good imported (regardless if you paid customs into the mainland US already.


Posted : October 18, 2011 1:00 pm
Posts: 2138
Noble Member

The gross receipts tax is the tax that keeps on taxing. Wholesalers pay it, and then retailers pay it again, so the tax is added twice to the final sale price in many cases.

Posted : October 18, 2011 1:07 pm
Posts: 208
Estimable Member

And we get twice as many public services for our dolllar too! LOL

Posted : October 18, 2011 1:42 pm
Posts: 1057
Noble Member

FYI Home Depots price for exchanging gas cylinders is out of line. Unless prices have gone up dramatically the cost to refill a tank while you wait at either of the gas companies on Hess Road is around $20. I thought GBH was out of line charging $25.


Posted : October 18, 2011 6:33 pm
Posts: 5
Active Member

ooh this topic is making me a bit nervous and I'm from NYC where everything is expensive! I am fascinated by the discussion as I am planning to move to VI in a few short years. Thank you all for the info.

Posted : November 9, 2011 12:04 am
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