Question for Newcomers
Sometimes people post here who are thinking about moving to the USVI and feel we are unwelcoming or unfriendly when we try to honestly answer questions. The thread re a/c is an example.
Is anyone here who recently moved to the USVI after using this board to research the move? Maybe Novanut?
After being here for a while, can you tell us if you think we were helpful? Did you find the reality of moving/living here the same as you expected after reading this message board? Was anything really different than you expected? Can you think of one or two things that you said to yourself "wow, they were right?"
I really wish people who use us to do research would report back - did they move? If not, why not? And how they are doing.
I researched this board for 4 months before I moved here. I got tons of apartment/rental help and ultimately found my first place.
I didn't know what a PMV meant until I was already living here. I just packed up and moved.
I was skeptical to the sticker shock and WAPA warnings. That was one of those "damn they were right".
I think I would have moved here with or without this board. But having it was such a great resource. Thanks Islander!
I started reading this board many years ago -- I can't remember when, but I'm guessing at least 2004 (way before registration was required to post, so my username dates from the time I actually started packing boxes). I can honestly say, I probably wouldn't have been able to move down last year without knowing what I have learned here -- or, if had tried it, I would have had a lot of unpleasant surprises (and I've lived in the Caribbean before). There is simply no other source of information like this one for moving *anywhere*. Where else are you going to find out that you need to wear a shirt with sleeves to the BMV when you get your driver's license, for example?
That said, back when I began reading, there was a lot more helpful information and a lot less snark. In those days, islander, EE, and other long-time posters hadn't yet tired of answering the same questions so many many many times, and they had a wealth of information to share, which they did very eloquently. They still do, but they don't post it as much -- and why should they; it's in the archives.
As someone looking to move, I found it pretty easy to pick out the useful threads and ignore all the off-topic BS after a quick glance. No doubt many of our current visitors are doing the same.
An aside: I do wish the search feature were set up more logically -- it's not intuitive that the default setting is "last 30 days"; nobody looks at that -- they just click Search and then post when they can't find any answers about car shipping costs, for example. It doesn't take that long to do a full search of the archives, and having that be the default setting would benefit everyone. A few updates to the FAQ would be great as well.
I have been following this board for a few months now, and can honestly say that I have found TONS of useful information. I'm not quite a newcomer yet - my PMV is scheduled for the end of October and hope to move permanently by the end of the year. I have learned useful important things and small incidentals (like how to control mosquitos :)). Keep the information coming for those of us who can't get enough of it!
Counting the days. . .
I got all my answers on this message board from how to ship my stuff to proper greetings. I would have never gotten my huge dogs here without help from BeckyR. Just about all advice was dead on.
We used the board for about a year before moving here. There is so much to be taken from the people who have lived here for years, yes ok, sometimes people are quite opinionated and grouchy but hey who isnt. The way we approached the forum and the advice offered was to believe it to be accurate until we could see first hand for ourselves. My biggest "Oh I cant believe thats true" was that the island is not like the states, not as advanced. I quickly believed it when we came for our PMV (3 weeks) and saw for myself that it really isnt at all like a state! This is not the place for type A personalities! If you are type A, do NOT go to BMV.....I have never seen anything like that in any place I have lived! Last time I was there was when we bought my daughter a car, the computers were down, AC was either broken or off, people were starting to bang on the plexiglass windows ,and lines were out the door at one point so the security guard locked the door. I remember thinking to my self that it had to be a fire hazard and I hoped to God that no one had a gun! 6 hours later I left with title and plates in hand!!!
If there is only one piece of advice that people should take away from the forum is to come for a PMV, and dont do it like you are here on vacation. You need to go into town when the normal commute time is to see how long you sit, and do it on a ship day :-o. You need to experience what I call "scavenging for food" or better know as grocery shopping! One store has great meats but sucky produce, one has really high prices on a staple item so you go to another that you know is less expensive for the same item, one I would only buy canned goods from. Oh, and when you find something that you use frequently, buy 2 or more cause next time you go back it might not be there!
Just dont come here with rose colored glasses on. Yes, its paradise that we live in but there are alot of things to consider before taking the plunge.
We dont regret moving here at all!!!
Funny, I was just thinking the same thing this morning. Wonder if we are all being of any help to the folks moving here?
I can say as a long time resident and long time poster here I gain new information often here. And I feel that I can always count on someone knowing the answer to some off the wall question I have.
So thanks to all. And, heck, reading the snarky is even fun. Still don't have cable ::-0
I didn't know of this great resource untill I had been here for a few years but have found this and the sister sites valuable for information and opinion about the here and there people. I learned a lot and enjoy my cyber friends.
Great thread, Linda. I wish Islander would pin it at the top.
I found this board to be a great resource. When we were doing our renovations last year I took the advice to use Tropical Shipping, the "If you see it buy it" to be so true. I've even had the pleasure to meet a few of the posters on this board.
I think that most of the time when the tone seems a little unwelcoming or unfriendly is when posters are trying to be cautious. For example, I don't think that it is a good idea for a family with small children on a shoestring budget that have never been to the islands to suddenly get this romantic idea in their head to sell everything that they have and move to the islands. On the other hand, someone young and adventurous who would like to make a go of island living that also has a backup plan might have an easier time adjusting.
It was through this board, and the months spent on island renovating, that my husband and I have decided to delay our island move until the 2 youngest are out of high school. I don't think that it was mean spirited of posters to state the obvious. Most of the reasons for relocating were wishful thinking and also personally selfish. My children attend wonderful schools, have a neighborhood full of lifelong friends with deep roots in our home town. We are fortunate enough that we are able to spend our free time in STT with the kid's. We are getting to know all of our great new neighbors and the kids are starting to form new relationships with their island friends.
I am not saying that our relocation date is set in stone because who knows what life might bring our way. But I would like to thank all of you that didn't promise a rainbow just because we wanted to move to our personal paradise.
I hesitated to weigh in on this thread simply because I have a lot of things that need to get accomplished today.
I don’t think that new arrivals are in a position yet (at least in any meaningful way) to answer your question regarding whether their expectations equal the reality. Their expectations are their realities. They can give you feedback as to whether the information they received about phones, grocery stores, mosquitoes, BMV, shipping etc etc etc was accurate but certain aspects of living here take a while to sink in.
I think that it would prove far more insightful to ask that question of the people who have lived here for quite some time and of the steady stream of people that move away from the Virgin Islands - kind of an exit poll, if you will.
I've learned a lot from reading this forum - use USPS and VI Cargo, how to ship a car, where to buy water, where to buy what, what restaurants have specials on what nights . . . even driving directions. I once started to compile a manual but I set it aside and never got back to it. There is certainly enough material in this forum for both a "how to" manual as well as a novel 😉
The most important thing I have taken away is probably to greet people properly and to pause for a response . . . to have patience and just smile more . . . things that even help me when I'm back in Baltimore since I'm just a part-timer here 🙁
[ Warning: Reading this may cause drowsiness, fatigue and a desire to become hostile towards your fellow man. Proceed at your own risk. ]
Great Idea Linda! Going on my third week and starting to settle in, especially since my rental car arrived this morning and allowed me to give my tired old dogs a rest. Now begins the adventure of exploration (like Columbus?). Was pretty nervous about getting behind the wheel and keeping left. Baby steps; picked some roads around the area with low traffic. Came back to the apartment, regrouped, and tackled the town; C'stead. Not as bad as I had feared (yet). Only got hairy when I got in the way of a very large truck with a larger horn. Since he was going to win I chose to gun it... Found my way to Cost U Less and Sunny Isle (and lunch!). Got one of those go phones from Radio Shack, thanks to the tips I received here (none of the $15. cheapies, BTW). When I got back to the car I looked up and saw the rain clouds forming and decided to find my way back to the casa. Didn't want my first left handed adventure to be in a downpour! All the chickens ate my breadcrumbs so I only made a few wrong turns getting back. Success!
The first couple of weeks here were kind of a strain since I had those banking headaches (holding my check forever) and no way to get survival cash. My state bank card, Wells Fargo, advanced me a hundred from the First Bank ATM and then promptly shut down the access since I didn't notify them prior to leaving (another question answered earlier from this board). I'm glad that security measure was in place but that meant more meals of PB & Ritz! Plus all the rain (much needed, of course) from Erika made even the walking trips to Schooner Bay market (uphill both ways) quite soggy. But then the sun came through the clouds yesterday when I checked my funds availability and finally got the bank gods' blessings! In celebration, I dined on a scrumptious breakfast of eggs, toast and coffee! What a treat! And today, transportation, communication, life is good...
Next on the list is locating an island car (cheap, reliable) and putting my name in at places that might have use for a multi-media guy with lots of experience in that stuff and drives an island car...
Linda, as you know, I've been hovering around on this board for years, sometime injecting IMHO's but mostly just drinking the fountains of knowledge available for the picking. My first trip to the islands was back in 04 to visit a guy most of you know as Island Paul on STT. He and I had been swapping emails for quite some time prior to that and finally I couldn't stop the drooling to get there. Had a wonderful week there but was not very enamored with the traffic, narrow, twisty, dangerous road and all the junk cars and dumpsters. All in all, though, I had the bug. So back to these board I went and read up on STX. More laid back, slower, not too many twisty, hilly roads or dumpsters. After almost a year I decided to give STX a go. Got on a bus from Roswell to Orlando (won't go into that), hopped on a plane to STX and arrived at night. Just me. No luggage, very little cash, just crazy to get away (Just ask Island Paul and my family how crazy). It gets worse. Took a taxi to a place I'd read about called Off The Wall (from one of your posts, Linda) insanely hoping to meet up with you or one of the other board members. NOT! Used my last $5. for a beer, felt a little better and then slept on the beach until it started raining. Moved to a nearby bar that was closed and slept the rest of the night on bar stools. Next morning I walked from there to Sunny Isle hoping to find work. No passport, license, SS. Don't know why, but the DOL thought I was crazy too. Wandered around awhile and then saw the hospital around the corner and walked over. Told them my story and they were convinced I was. Took me up to the booby hatch, gave me some great pills, contacted the family and in a couple of days My brother, who lives in Nashville, arrived to spring me. He's always known I was crazy. Spent the rest of the week talking, eating and driving on the left until it was time to return to sanity. Back home the family took me back, although I don't know why after what I'd done. Must have been that love thing. Kind of got back to normal, got employed, started a business (O.M. Productions) and kept reading this board daily. Kept looking for jobs here as well. Crazy? You bet. Finally got to the point where the kids were grown and moved away, the empty nest syndrome took over and the marriage started falter. Don't get me wrong, she's a wonderful woman and we (I think) still love each other (at least, I do her), never had any knock down drag out fights and led a "fairly" normal life, well, almost normal. But we just started drifting apart over the years until it came down to the "D" discussion back in the summer. We talked about it and agreed that we were drifting and it was time for a change. My change, of course, was STX. I sold the Nova which provided some starter cash and took the plunge. Got an unbelievable flight rate of $350 from Alientown to here. Visited with Dan and worked an even better rate for rent in exchange for some house painting. So on 9/1/09, I came, I saw, I loved it.
Am I still crazy? Probably. But my lust for island living was/is too strong to ignore. I'd lived in the desert with the spiders and snakes (and centipedes as big as your arm) and the dusty dry heat for over 30 years and had enough. Will I go back? Only time will tell but there are no current plans to do so.
So, Linda, et. al., that's my crazy story and I'm sticking to it. Probably wouldn't be a good idea to put this on the 'Moving Stories' section since it would, most likely, bring the men in the white coats knocking at my door. This may bring them anyway... That's OK. Everyone needs a hobby...
And it's all this board's fault! :}
Now, when's the next get together so I can get to meet you all and you can get to meet this funny looking old f**t in the jacket that ties in the back? Maybe at Off The Wall (must be Freudian)?...
Hey, what ever happened to HipCrip? I really enjoyed his insights.
I used this board prior to our move, and it was very helpful. We moved here in July anyway! LOL! We are struggling to find adequate work, however we otherwise are doing okay.
Novanut, thanks for the story. Hip Crip is a she and I don't know what happened to her. I liked her posts as well.
I miss not hearing from Islander too, especially about the get togethers...
When I was reading the board before we moved I didn't really believe negative posts. After having moved here, I understand both the reality that the negative sounding posts were expressing (crime, costs, delays, etc.) and the reluctance to believe that stuff when it tarnishes your cherished dream.
After having moved here last April I found the board really helpful in answering lots of day to day questions before I had a social circle to fulfill the same purpose. Thanks a lot for the resource.
I think we will probably move back to the states at the end of the school year. But I don't regret having come down. It has been an adventure with lots of wonderful parts.
I have found this mesageboard very helpful. I don't live on the island but have family on STX and it's in "our plan" to move there one day. Tthe info I have found here is better than scouring the newspapers or other websites when it comes to relocating. People here are honest, open and most of all have a wonderful sense of humor about the trials and tribulations of island life.
I remember you from long ago too, as well as the other "4 yearers". I haven't had online access for the past three years since I moved here. I can see I have missed a lot of posts! I've been lurking for the last 2 weeks catching up on the board and people.
First, the get togethers (for stx) were a dream that I had started (with help from Islander, my ex and Linda from Michigan) as a plan to meet people from the board as I visited here and eventually moved here. That first get together would have been August of 2005. People from here provided the things that vacationers couldn't and vice versa. I was wanting to make it an annual event that was set in stone so people could plan on it when it came to buying tickets in advance. I always thought summer because it is usually a more flexible time of year for most. I promise to work on that issue. AND GET THE BANNER BACK!!!! (Linda from MI we have to work on that one. Maybe you can ship it to me so it will be on island, unless Islander has it back now. One good one a year seems about right but it is always fun to have little ones...
You remember you were the first place I was invited to for a glass of ice tea. How have you and yours been? I found since my move here that the board insight was very helpful. Many of the issues that I had questions about 4 years ago have been answered with time. It was nice having read about them though. Instead of questioning why something is done that way or this, I sit back and observe. It has helped me to be patient. More that 'well, I've read about this and I'm not the only one that's going through this'. I cracked up at the post about the traffic pet peeves. So many times I think to myself, only on Stx or it can only happen here, or *snicker* people in the states just wouldn't understand. I'm glad I was prepared for this.
Most of all, I am enjoying my life here. I could be anywhere else but it wouldn't be here.
Eve, thanks for the update on the get together's. Looking forward to the day I can attend. Welcome back to the board...
Thanks Novanut. Glad to see you have finally made it down here.
AandA2VI's recent comment called to mind this old thread.
Would love to hear new moving stories from folks that have made the move in the last couple years!!
OMG. I miss Trade.:-(
EE, me too!!
I really really really miss Trade!