realistic advice wa...
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realistic advice wanted- stressed to the point of breaking

Posts: 23
Eminent Member
Topic starter

I had posted earlier of my and my husband's goal of moving to USVI in 3 to 6 years, particularly STX, and opening our own BBQ business after a bit. We are both chefs, I will be eligible for a transfer in November, if that doesn't work out in the long run, we are both highly trained and experienced executive chefs and anticipate no problems getting jobs in busy season even if it means taking sous chef positions or whatever we need to do.

We had decided this timeframe to save our cash and finish paying our student loans. I don't think I can handle waiting that long. As work becomes more stressful for me, due to elimination of hourly cooks because of downsizing and more critical demands from management, my job is no no longer fun- no, wait, forget fun-no longer gratifying, just the sheer stress of trying to feed up to 10,000 people daily on an extremely downsized staff. It is not the physical labor I mind, it is the stress from corporate, of trying to get blood from stones, yet we are somehow managing. I am tired of 12 to 15 plus hour days with no thanks. It has taken its toll on my physical and mental health. I wish I could find a different job, but the pay is really good, (no jobs available here that even come close) .I am looking at the means to an end and will stick it out. My husband is no happier (he is also corporate) put it this way: his corporate offices mandated shutting off the a/c in its units to save money. This is Kansas, where it easily is 100 degress plus in the summer, where streets buckle from the heat.This move is everything to us, we are soooo tired of the rat race.

What can we realistically look at as far as $$$ for our move?

Our bare minimum for the 3- 6 year plan was $15,000 to somewhere around $35,000 to include shipping boxes by air , inexpensive new furnishings, our airfare and temporary housing while we look for a 2br apt. I have convinced my huband that we can still save our money, -make the move earlier than planned and continue paying our student loans from there- I mean- what's the difference what address our monthly student loan payments comes from?

OK, that's my "poor me" rant and rave, I just know a better quality of life is out there and I am so ready for it. Thanks, all, for listening.

Post Edited (08-24-04 22:34)

Posted : August 25, 2004 1:15 am
(@Jessica Morse)
Posts: 29
Eminent Member

Good Evening Chef Kendra!

My husband and I are targeting a move to St. Thomas. Our goal was to move there in October of 2005. We just returned yesterday from our pre-move visit. We've realized that to do the move correctly we're going to need more money than we originally planned. We live in Austin Texas and have good paying jobs, we're both very happy in our jobs but that is probably because we have had 2 near death experiences in the last 6 months. We found that life is too short to not make the best out of the present. Yes, it is very important to have a goal about where you would love to live but if you want to do it the right way, you're going to want to have atleast 6 months worth of income to take care of the bills. God forbid you dont find a job right away, or you get to STX and you find that your standard of living is double what you're used to in Kansas. Our visit to STT put things in perspective. We're paying $1600/mth for a great loft in downtown Austin right now, $1600 probably wouldnt get us much in STT. We looked at places that were around the $2000 mark and they didnt compare to what we have now. We are willing to give that up to be near the beauty of the island. We also found that there are ALOT of transitional areas that could be an issue. Living on the Islands there are more chances of getting robbed because the population is so small. Just while we were visiting there were 4 home robberies where the robbers tied up the homeowner while they stole all of their belongings. We also heard that people are feeding dogs posionous food to kill your pet so they have a better chance of breaking into your house.

Hopefully you and your husband have visited the island and lived the island life for atleast 2 weeks so you can truly get a "real" feel for what it's like to live there. It isnt all paradise but it is beautiful. We stayed in an effeciency, went grocery shopping (that was an experience in itself), rented a car and drove every square inch possible to get a feel for all parts of the island. There is so much to do to prepare for such a big move. Especially if you're going to spend the money to move there.

Please dont take all of this as a negative because it's not. It's reality. Of course you have crime in every city stateside but your chances of getting hit are greater because of the small popluation. Just take everything into account before you give up your life in Kansas.

There is so much more to my pre-move visit. I'm planning on posting my journal in a few days.


Posted : August 25, 2004 2:24 am
Posts: 23
Eminent Member
Topic starter

Thank you Jessica for taking the time to reply. No we have not spent time pre move yet, - that is planned for next spring or fall, however we have visited many other islands and think we have a good feel for the lifestyle We originally researched Aruba, but think it is too "touristy" and defienitely too arid for us, and want to retain our citizenship. We did love driving and exploring the island, grocery shopping in Aruba, even though it was way overpriced comparitively to the US , but we loved the local products.Yes, the crime on USVI does concern me, I read the local island news on a regular basis. I am from NYC (born & bred until 3 years ago) and yet the crime on the islands concerns me more- it somehow seems less random, more personal, or maybe just more sinister and pre-planned-from what I read in the local news.

My husband and I agree, no move unless at least one of us has a guaranteed salaried position(with the yet to be determined amount of money to start us out with). Six months $$ backup sounds good, but my husband is very concerned about this, so it will surely have to be at least $15,000 to start with to make him feel comfortable. Me, give me a job contract and enough for 6 months living, I would be fine.

Such good luck to you- I can't wait to read your journal..

Kendra aka Chef Kendra

Post Edited (08-24-04 21:52)

Posted : August 25, 2004 2:50 am
Posts: 230
Estimable Member


It seems to me that your first step is to decide whether or not you want to continue working for your current employer. Personally, I would never work for an employer that mistreated me, and it sounds like you're being mistreated. Are you reading the want ads every morning and keeping your eyes and ears open for other jobs? You chose your employer, and you can choose another.

As far as crime goes, we have three main islands. St. John, a very wealthy island, has virtually no crime. St. Croix has more and Saint Thomas even more. If you read the paper, you see that a lot of it occurs in the projects. Often the victim knows the assailant, is out looking for trouble, has left the door unlocked, or has left valuables in view and unattended. (I see the latter all the time, and I could make money by robbing people! I see several cars every day that I could steal!) House robberies are very carefully planned and are unlikely to occur where the property is well-lighted, hiding places are few, and so on. There is no reason to let crime deter you from moving here.

Your cost of living is to a fair extent in your own hands. You can live in a one-room apartment or something much more spacious. You can find jobs on the weekends for which you get paid cash. You can cut your grocery bill by growing some of your own food or by learning about native plants and going into the forest and picking fruits or picking what appear to be weeds growing along the roadside. There is free food growing all over these islands, and most people don't even realize it!

You're doing the right thing. You're reading and learning. The more you know, the farther you can go in life. Try to be patient. Each day, try to figure out a little more what you want. If you put forth effort, things will work out in time.

Posted : August 25, 2004 9:46 am
Posts: 315
Reputable Member

As a former fellow chef I hear you laud and clear. Sadly I consider the restaurant and hotel industry a slave industry. I am sure many are in human right violations. Low pay, no pay, abuse and no benefits is the norm. One good thing for you is you get paid well. If you can tranfer with your current employer to the VI they actually might spring the bill for the move. Something to consider and less money out of your pocket. Check and see if they have possible possitions open sooner. Onces on the Island you can always look for another job. The advantage is you are more secured. Perhaps if the hotel is large enough they even provide temporary housing. I grew up in the restaurant industry and worked in it professionally over 10 years. I decided to leave it and change profession all together. Yes sometimes I miss it and then I read stories like yours which remind me why I left the industry. Don't rush things. Take your time to get the information to perhaps speed up your move.

Most of all stay positive and good luck


Posted : August 25, 2004 1:21 pm
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