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Relocated post: Advice/help  

 

Bone
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May 10, 2013 2:11 pm  

Hey guys, sorry if this seems a little ridiculous. I am thinking about moving from where I live now, I live in KY working at a hospital as a maintenance mechanic (boilers chillers and the like) I was thinking about selling everything I had and trying to move out to the islands. I saw that regional medical center on St. Thomas was hiring, I was thinking about trying that.

I was just wondering how hard it is to find a job there or place to stay, I mean I can ship my van to the island and live in it with my wife until we can find a place or something, but I'd rather not obviously ha. Is it a very hard to get settled in there? Is it very dangerous crime wise or is it mostly just tourism scams, can any one just fill me in on the situation.

If there is already a thread that deals with these questions please direct me to it, and sorry for being the typical newbie haha.

I know it sounds hasty but I am pretty much a big dreamer and couldn't live it down if I didn't try something like this. How else would I get there?


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VT2VI
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May 10, 2013 2:18 pm  

The search forum will give you most all of the info you need. I have been reading back over the last several years and have very little unanswered questions.

F-F-F-Freezing in the great white north


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OldTart
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May 10, 2013 2:19 pm  

The first thing which would really help you is to go to the bar at the top of this page and, starting from "Home" on the left, go all the way through to "Message Board" on the right, reading everything along the way. There's a lot there to absorb but this is why this site was set up - to give people such as yourself at least a good grounding before going further. And no, you can't live in your van here unless you quickly want to see the inside of a barred room with concrete floors! 😀 Good luck!


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Afriend
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May 10, 2013 3:36 pm  

Follow Old Tart's advice about using the forum search feature and reading ALL the material under the various dropdown menus at the top of this page. There's so much material there it will take days if not weeks to read and absorb EVERYTHING. You'll find answers to all your questions and hundreds more you haven't even thought of yet. This website and forum have been around for a very long time and every topic imaginable has been discussed in great detail numerous times.

Now to give you some general answers to your questions:

1) Finding a job on any of the islands is not much different than finding a job back in KY - it depends on what type of job you are seeking, your skill level, past experience, your personality and, of course, how you stack up against the other qualified candidates who are applying for the same position. Suffice to say, the economy in the islands is going through the same slump as the economy on the main land so factor that into the availability of jobs. You'll also find that, in general, salaries in the island are generally lower than they are for comparable jobs in the states. You'll also find that housing and other living costs are going to be higher than "back home" so factor that in your decision to relocate.

2) Getting settle is different for everyone - the more research you do before making the move the easier it will be. Likewise the more money you have saved up to tide you over until you get fully established the easier the transition will be.

3) Like everywhere else there is some crime on the island(s) and, no, it's not just tourist scams. St. thomas (the island you refer to in your post) has a population of around 52,000 (there are roughly 125,000 residents in the combined USVI's) plus there's an influx of over 2 million tourists each year. With that many people there's always some crime.

4) No, you can't live/sleep in your van. It's not all that difficult to find suitable accommodations as long as you have the money to pay the rent or purchase a home. You just have to know that housing will probably be more expensive than it is back in KY.

Now, one more point. You indicated a desire to "sell everything trying to move to the islands" - that's not a good idea. You'd be much better off making a Pre-Move Visit (or PMV as it is known on this forum). Come for a few weeks, or even a couple of months, and get a first hand look at what it is like to live on the island of your choice. Don't come as a tourist but rather stay in a "housekeeping unit" and try to live like a local - shop for groceries, do daily chores like cleaning the house, doing the laundry, driving during rush house, do some banking, shop for food and household products, check out utility costs, etc. In other words do the same type of things you do in your daily life back in KY - after all you'll be doing those same things if and when you move to the island. After you make the PMV you'll be in a much better position to determine if island life is what you think it is.


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STXBob
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May 10, 2013 3:47 pm  

Afriend makes good points. I would just add that there is a LOT more crime in the USVI than in the states, on average. Search the forum for plenty of discussions. And many employers will be hesitant to hire you if you don't live here yet.


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blu4u
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May 11, 2013 4:28 am  

1) Finding a job on any of the islands is not much different than finding a job back in KY - it depends on what type of job you are seeking, your skill level, past experience, your personality and, of course, how you stack up against the other qualified candidates who are applying for the same position.

This very true. If you are "employable" state side then you'll be employable in the Vi. What's diferrent is the type of industries availalbe. For example someone with a MS in ChemEng may find more work in NJ than STT.

If you have mechinacal experience that qualifies you to work on water source systems (i.e. Hospital Boiler), then you may well qualfy for quite few private and public sector facility positions. THe VI NEEDS smart motivated techies.


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Bone
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May 11, 2013 3:22 pm  

Thanks everybody for the great info!

I have been reading the pages as requested and I have pretty much all the info I need.

I have been doing some research and honestly the prices aren't too different than the prices here in Lexington as far as housing goes. Plus where I live is rural anyway so septic tanks and cisterns I am very well acquainted with as well as rough roads ha ha. I was paying 600 without utilities at the last place I was staying and it was WAY away from town or any stores or anything and the closer you get the higher you pay. Searching on craigslist I have found a few on St. Croix for 700 and couple others.

The crime where I live is really bad and is mostly drug related, pills and all that comes with them.. I've had break ins happen where I am at so I am accustomed to looking over my shoulder and I'd much rather look over my shoulder on the beach than in the woods ha ha.

I may plan a trip in July to come stay for a few weeks, I can't make an extended trip because of funds and the Job I am in now, I would probably save up for a year or so and find a small 1 bedroom for 800 or so and try to pay six months in advance.

I saw that they needed a director of management information at RLSH as well as just a mechanic, I run the pm systems and networking at the hospital I am at now, so hopefully something like that would be available, if not my wife and I could probably find some sort of hospitality to work to keep stable until I could land a Job such as that.

Would it be advisable to purchase a dinghy and live on St. Johns and commute to Thomas by dinghy, or do most people take the ferry and do a dollar ride or something like that??

Thanks again for all the help.


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Bone
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May 11, 2013 3:30 pm  

1) Finding a job on any of the islands is not much different than finding a job back in KY - it depends on what type of job you are seeking, your skill level, past experience, your personality and, of course, how you stack up against the other qualified candidates who are applying for the same position.

This very true. If you are "employable" state side then you'll be employable in the Vi. What's diferrent is the type of industries availalbe. For example someone with a MS in ChemEng may find more work in NJ than STT.

If you have mechinacal experience that qualifies you to work on water source systems (i.e. Hospital Boiler), then you may well qualfy for quite few private and public sector facility positions. THe VI NEEDS smart motivated techies.

That's awesome, I will have to look into that. I got the Job I am at now right out of high school, I have been here for four years, worked as Maintenance Technician for the majority of it, well technically that's still my job title but they have put me on this PM system recently so I have been doing networking and the like, but yeah I have knowledge of boilers and chillers, HVAC systems and plumbing.. just not too knowledgable on electricity other than ballasts and receptacles and common stuff.

I'm super excited, doesn't sound like it should be too hard to find work there if I just put the time and effort and keep persistent.

I also know quite a few languages, I can hold basic greetings and conversation in Russian, Japanese, Thai, and Spanish.. I am fluent in Icelandic. I am currently learning French Creole which hopefully will be a big boost to getting a job there.

Are those the dominant languages there? English, French Creole, and Spanish?


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East Ender
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May 11, 2013 3:55 pm  

Bone: You would probably make more money working for a private a/c company than the hospital. I believe that the MIS job requires a computer degree if not an advanced degree.


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Bone
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May 11, 2013 4:01 pm  

Alright, what are some major companies there that I might want to look into? Is there some sort of directory on the net somewhere I could check this out on?

I'll google some different stuff, but just didn't know if anyone here knew of any good ones personally.


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STXBob
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May 11, 2013 5:19 pm  

Bone: You'll do just fine with English only. Knowing Spanish is a bonus.

Some people recommend a long PMV, in a housekeeping situation, but I don't think it's necessary. I think most people can figure out in one week if this is the place for them, as long as they're researching, and not just being a tourist the whole time. You can window shop for groceries and other items instead of actual shop. You already know what it's like to wait in lines, cook, etc., so no need to do those things unless you really want to. You'll learn far more in the first week of a PMV than in the second week. Also, examine your tolerance for adventure and new things. If you adapt easily, then a shorter PMV will be fine.


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mtdoramike
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May 11, 2013 7:34 pm  

No, you are not a big dreamer, you are impulsive. St. Thomas or any of the islands will eat impulsiveness up and spit you out if your are lucky. HAVE YOU BEEN TO ANY OF THESE ISLANDS SUCH AS ST. THOMAS BEFORE? If not, you are making a big mistake that isn't easily corrected unless you have a lot and I mean a lot of money. You really should do a premove visit for a couple of weeks to get a feel for the island and island living. It is a total change than living in the states. Things are expensive on the islands. A small studio apartment can run you $1000.00 amonth and that depends on where you want to live. The rent goes up from there. Electricity is very high as well and food is high as well because most everything has to be shipped in.

If you don't have a job first, I wouldn't pack up the family and move let alone ship you vehicle down until after you have made the trip and found a job and working. Do you realize to ship your vehicle to St. Thomas will set you back $2500.00. Do you own your vehicle or have it fiananced because if it's not paid off the folks who hold the loan will probably refuse to allow the vehicle to leave the mainland. (You will have to get permission from them to take the vehicle off the mainland).

It takes a minimum of $10,000.00 minimum as a start up budget in order to make the move, this includes airline tickets, shipping your vehicle first last and security deposits for a place to live, utilities hookups, cable and so on. Even $10,000.00 would be a shoestring budget and depends on other factors such as shipping your vehicle if that isn't possible then you could be looking at a minimum of $8000-$10,000 for a half way reliable car. You will also probably have to rent a vehicle for a few weeks until you car arrives on St. Thomas if shipping one down because you car most likely will not be waiting on you when you arrive. It can take a month for a vehicle to reach St. Thomas once shipped.

If I were you and I have been, take a deep breath and slow down. The islands will be there long after you are gone.

If you are a jack of all trades with limited experience in several things like construction, carpentry handymen are always in need here. Trying to find someone who can do little plumbing work, hang a new door, fix or replace a few windows is hard to find at times. At least GOOD reliable handymen are.


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blu4u
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May 11, 2013 7:58 pm  

The amount of $$$ required is dependant upon your life style. Are you trying to set up house for a family? Or, are you willing to start off in a less-than-glamorous room mte situation? Do you like hit the bars and eat out often? Or, will a two eggs and piece of fruit make a meal? Do you need a showy 4x4 or just basic transport? Can you live without cable and A/C and matching furniture (or any furnnitaure), mininal elec and hot H2O? Life can be pretty simple here. $10,000 seems like alot of money for a single guy. Really the only saftey net $$ required is enogh to pay for your return trip ticket back home if thngs don't go as planned.

Actually STT is much more "urban" than most folks expect. Cirme is high, don't let anybody fool you. A daliy Dingy commute is kind of a a hassle. People do it but they normally tie up right in front of thier house (east end) and place of work onthe other isalnd (cruz Bay). Dignying at night is different story.

As far as suggestions go....look at the big hotels and condo complexes. You may also want to be familar with R.O. I don't think it any different than moving form KY to Calf, expect you can't drive your car full of stuff. Spanish comes in handy in the trades.


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Bone
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May 11, 2013 8:00 pm  

No, you are not a big dreamer, you are impulsive. St. Thomas or any of the islands will eat impulsiveness up and spit you out if your are lucky. HAVE YOU BEEN TO ANY OF THESE ISLANDS SUCH AS ST. THOMAS BEFORE? If not, you are making a big mistake that isn't easily corrected unless you have a lot and I mean a lot of money. You really should do a premove visit for a couple of weeks to get a feel for the island and island living. It is a total change than living in the states. Things are expensive on the islands. A small studio apartment can run you $1000.00 amonth and that depends on where you want to live. The rent goes up from there. Electricity is very high as well and food is high as well because most everything has to be shipped in.

If you don't have a job first, I wouldn't pack up the family and move let alone ship you vehicle down until after you have made the trip and found a job and working. Do you realize to ship your vehicle to St. Thomas will set you back $2500.00. Do you own your vehicle or have it fiananced because if it's not paid off the folks who hold the loan will probably refuse to allow the vehicle to leave the mainland. (You will have to get permission from them to take the vehicle off the mainland).

It takes a minimum of $10,000.00 minimum as a start up budget in order to make the move, this includes airline tickets, shipping your vehicle first last and security deposits for a place to live, utilities hookups, cable and so on. Even $10,000.00 would be a shoestring budget and depends on other factors such as shipping your vehicle if that isn't possible then you could be looking at a minimum of $8000-$10,000 for a half way reliable car. You will also probably have to rent a vehicle for a few weeks until you car arrives on St. Thomas if shipping one down because you car most likely will not be waiting on you when you arrive. It can take a month for a vehicle to reach St. Thomas once shipped.

If I were you and I have been, take a deep breath and slow down. The islands will be there long after you are gone.

If you are a jack of all trades with limited experience in several things like construction, carpentry handymen are always in need here. Trying to find someone who can do little plumbing work, hang a new door, fix or replace a few windows is hard to find at times. At least GOOD reliable handymen are.

Well as I said earlier, I understand I was being hasty... which was dumb but now that I have recieved more info and read more stories the idea is sinking in and I'm not as flighty about it and am putting more serious thought and strategy to it. I have been working on a year to two year plan for getting over there since I've read this site. Like I said, I would like to be able to save up enough before I get there to get a 1BR 1BTH deal and pay it off for 6 months to a year, then look for the job whilst there. It will take a while to get to that point but I'm a firm believer in "As a man thinks, So is he." So I believe with enough determination and right attitude and just generally keeping focused I should be able to get there comfortably.

The one thing I don't get is how to get a Job before I move down there, because half of what I am reading is that it's near impossible to find a job unless you are on the island and the other half saying have a job before you move?

As I said before it is near impossible for me to do a month or so visit, any money I would save towards that length of a visit would have to go to the move itself. However I could probably do a two week deal with minimal problems.

As far as capability I know I could find a job no problem, I was more or less worried about lack of positions because it would seem to me that the VI is a very sought after place to live and work :P.

From what it sounds like, I could find a decent job working with some company on water systems or hvac, and if it really is that hard to find someone to do simple around the house work like windows and stuff like that then I could open up a little business or something like that or just do odd jobs when I am not at work. That's the problem here where I live, EVERYONE is a mechanic/handyman. So the positions fill up too quickly, but then again I'm from the country ("The sticks" if you will) and that's pretty much how everyone here makes a living... either that or they go work at a factory.


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Bone
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May 11, 2013 8:12 pm  

The amount of $$$ required is dependant upon your life style. Are you trying to set up house for a family? Or, are you willing to start off in a less-than-glamorous room mte situation? Do you like hit the bars and eat out often? Or, will a two eggs and piece of fruit make a meal? Do you need a showy 4x4 or just basic transport? Can you live without cable and A/C and matching furniture? Life can be pretty simple here. $10,000 seems like alot of money for a single guy. Really the only saftey net $$ required is enoght o pay for your return trip ticket back home if thngs don't go as planned.

I do have a wife, but no children. Both of us are VERY content with simple living. We would be fine living off the land and making a lean-to shelter so a simple 1BR 1BTH deal is fine by us. None of our furniture matches anyway, We aren't accustomed to anything over the top, we don't eat out all the time or anything like that. Like you said we are fine with eggs and fruit. Heck, out there fresh fish sounds like a delicacy man. The way I see it, if I was on the beach with nothing but a tent and some fishing line and a sure source of water.... that personally to me sounds better than a penthouse room in the most well developed metropolis known to man.

We are just simple and laid back people who will do what we can to help you even if you don't help us. We try to live simply and do the best we can for those around us, besides it feels like stuff is starting to get too hectic here anyway. Theres no sense of community or anything out where I'm at. Which you would think being so rural and small that you would have some sort of communal feeling, but it's all isolated.


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Alana33
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May 11, 2013 9:45 pm  

Maybe you can get Innovative telephone to send/mail you a phone book to see what types of companies are here.
I don't know if they have an online directory but maybe someone here will know.


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STXBob
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May 11, 2013 10:00 pm  

Here is Innovative's online directory: http://www.viphonebook.com/


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Afriend
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May 11, 2013 11:03 pm  

Unless you have very specialized skills (think doctor, lawyer, CEO, or other similar type of occupation where an employer would try to RECRUIT YOU rather than where you seek a position) it's very difficult to find work unless you are actually living "on island". You see, employers learned long ago that the majority of people who do not live on island and say they are relocating never actually show-up. As a result most employers don't even bother accepting applications from non-islanders.

Now, I gather from what you've told us about your work history you probably don't fall into that "specialized skill" set where an employer would recruit you so that's why it has been suggested you save up enough to support yourself until you find employment. How long that will take is anyone's guess - some people find employment quickly others take longer and still others never find work. Hopefully, you'll fall into the former category.

Also, don't let the housing costs you read about give you a false impression. For instance, you might read that a 1 BR apartment on St. Thomas rents for say $800 to $1,000. Let's also assume that is the same amount you are paying back in KY. The two apartments may not be al that comparable. That's why most respondents will tell you housing costs are higher in the VI's than they are on the mainland, especially if you live "in the country" where housing costs are low. During your PMV spend some time checking out housing costs so you how much "house" you can get for your dollar.

This may sound harsh but take off the rose colored glasses - you won't be 'living off the land" or " in a lean-to shelter" nor a "tent on the beach" while you fish for your next dinner - those types of places and lifestyle don't really exist in the islands. Another misconception people have is that their life will be simpler when they get to the island. Nothing could be further from the truth - life is not simple - it's different, not simple. You still have to get up every day, do household chores, shop for groceries, commute to/from work, earn a living, pay your bills, etc. In other words you'll be doing the same day-to day chores and activities you do back in KY when you get on island - not much will change. To put t simply, you can't escape daily life - the rats race here just as much as they do on the mainland - it's just a different venue.

Keep doing your research, build up your savings, make your PMV, do more research, discuss all aspects with your wife and then you'll be in a better position to determine if island life is for you. If you do decide to make the move, don't burn your bridges "back home" and put aside enough obey to buy your return ticket if things don't work out.

Keep in mind, that every day thousands of people think about moving to the islands. The majority never get past the planning stage and only a small percentage actually make the move. Of those that move the vast majority leave within a few years, some last only weeks, a few months or maybe even a year and there are some that stay for a lifetime. Which category you fall into remains to be seen - only you will know the answer to that one and only time will tell.

Good luck following your dream.


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speee1dy
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May 12, 2013 11:03 am  

other than rent your two biggest costs here will be food and electricity. our electricity rate is about .55 cents pkw ( or however the abbreviation is ). basic groceries are higher here and while you can use coupons, they don't have them in the sunday paper because there is no sunday paper like in the states. the fruit and vegis you buy at the grcery store do not have the same quality and shelf life as in the states.

stt probably has more options for doing things that stx because stt is closer to other islands.

if you come, please bring your vehicle.

have fun during your research of island living.


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Linda J
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May 12, 2013 11:14 am  

Some of us came, loved it and stayed a long time (8+ years for us). But we had savings and a steady pension income to tide us over until we found jobs. IMO, jobs are easy to find - jobs that will cover all your expenses are not so easy to find. If both you and your wife work, you will find work, but maybe not immediately. The best way to find both housing and jobs is word of mouth. Ric and I came with 4 suitcases and a weeks reservation at a inexpensive hotel. We shipped our cars. Within one week we had housing and our cars off the boat. It took Ric almost 3 month to find a job. I had to go back to Kentucky to finish my job, so I didn't find island work until 6 months after moving.
So it can be done, but, to be honest, the more $$$ you have, the easier it is.


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East Ender
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May 12, 2013 12:28 pm  

" it would seem to me that the VI is a very sought after place to live and work."

Well, it would seem so, wouldn't it? But many Virgin Islanders go to school on the mainland, discover that they can find work, buy a house, have more opportunites and never return.

If you can come down for a week with your wife, search out the air conditioning companies and try to network, visit the grocery stores, see what housing looks like at the price point you desire, etc. Make sure that your dream is also her dream. A happy wife is a happy life.;)


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