we are new here, we are a married couple of 20 years and are considering relocating to St Croix or St John in 5 months. We lived in Hawaii for 10 years and the last 4 years in Australia. After finding this forum I am really nervous about the crime. We certainly are not out late but we have lived in very safe places so this really scares me. I should also add that we would want to pay not over 1500 per month. Any advice would be so appreciated. I’ve also been told that being a blonde female may be particularly challenging there. We are trying to decide if Kauai would be a better choice.
I think a little more background would be helpful as the USVI’s are very different than Hawaii. There is a lot of information on this site on crime so I won’t try and comment as my wife and I are relative newcomers ourselves. We’re nearing retirement and STX will be a seasonal thing for us. My sense is most places can be safe or not depending on how they are approached. My wife was cautious about STX due to some of the stories she heard, I think she’s slowly getting more comfortable it just takes a little time to settle in and establish boundaries. Personally I really enjoy the somewhat unpolished nature of the island as well as the natural beauty and range of things to see and do. My wife and I have vacationed in Hawaii 5 or 6 times over the past 30 years and always seemed to like the Big Island the most but I (we) find that the Caribbean is a little more exotic feeling, in a good way. Most people strongly suggest 2 or 3 PMV (Pre-Move Visits) as the best way to help make a decision, this is good advice. As a final thought, St. John is a better vacation choice as it’s incredibly beautiful but but I feel it’s a little too small to actually live there, the population is around 5k, it’s also more expensive if budget is a key decision criteria.
My wife and several of her friends are blond. My wife’s biggest “blond issue” is finding her brand & shade of hair dye in-stock at Kmart.
Crime is here like everywhere else, but the population is low. Lower population equals lower crime compared to most places which are more populated. Like anywhere else, common sense goes a long way.
We’ve been full-timers on STX for three years, we were seasonal for several years before that. Looks aren’t an issue here, but attitude definitely is. Treat others as you would like to be treated, and you’ll be fine, even if your a blond!
$1500 a month? That will probably be your greatest challenge here. I can’t imagine a decent place in Kauai being more affordable than here.
Brenda: Did you find being called haole difficult? LOL. I had a choice of moving to Oahu or St Thomas many years ago and found that Hawaii was just too remote for me. You can reach the mainland from the USVI much more easily.
I'm not sure why you picked St John (the most expensive island) and St Croix, but omitted St Thomas...If you are really stuck with $1500 a month for housing, you will definitely need a pre-move visit to see what is available in that range. The VI is very expensive for housing, food, electric, and gasoline. Also, there is the concern about health insurance.
Will you need to work?
Thank you, I’m so appreciative of all advice and really am taking it to heart. We did live on Summerland Key prior to Maui for 5 years and I was thinking that it may be the same type of atmosphere as the Virgin Islands. I think the safety factor was something I only just found out about so was a bit overwhelmed as we are quite unfamiliar with areas where safety can be an issue. We are both right around 47, plan on working, we are quiet and respectful so it sounds as if we will be fine as soon as we know which areas to avoid.
My wife and I are in our middle 60’s so we’re both sensitive to safety. There was an interesting post a while back on a 20+ year crime study, the bottom line was the vast majority of crime affected young men, between the hours of 6:00pm and 6:00am. The numbers apparently reflect very real but concentrated drug and gang warfare issues. So with a little care the vast majority of that can be avoided, there will always be risk but being conscious of the reality should help. That said, the people we’ve met have been truly welcoming, which has help make our arrival on the island remarkably easy.
Thank You so much. I’m so glad to hear that we will not have issues with the color of my hair. I feel silly now.
We will be bringing 15,000 with us, we will have to find employment so I was hoping the 1500 would be a decent goal, would 2,000 be a more realistic goal?
it’s funny because we have moved so much and experienced so many places however we have always moved quite rapidly, maybe since we aren’t moving until July I just have too much time to overthink.
Even if you do find a suitable rental @$1500 mo. - certainly possible especially unfurnished with no utilities included -- expect to pay 1st, last and security deposit --$4500 - and likely deposits on electric, cable and internet. Furnishing an apt. with what you aren't shipping ahead can be spaced out timewise, looking for house sales, consignment shops, store closeouts etc. but can still be an unexpected expense. At least one vehicle is a necessity as soon as you can find one really.
So $15,000 can be used up fairly quickly before the paychecks start coming in. Unlikely to find housing in your budget range and employment on St. John for sure. St Thomas may offer a better economic opportunity, STX is a quieter island in most respects, and a PMV would be a worthwhile expense to gauge your expectations.
No idea what 'you heard' about blonde women here -- unless they have more fun?
yes, we will need to find employment.
I did experience the “Haole” situation but only on one end of the Big Island.
we currently have private insurance being in Australia and was assuming we would keep that and also thought that insurance may be a benefit of working.
Thank You for all of your help
Unless you are going to be expats of Australia your insurance will probably not last long in the VI. Your only option will generally be group plan insurance through employer. St Croix is still winding down recovery from Maria, the refinery startup is stretching some resources, and tourism and snowbirds are on the rise so you may find some demand in some skilled employment areas. Do as much homework as you can on job possibilities just be aware or if you have read the forum you will have seen that most employers will not entertain candidates that are not already on the island.
in addition to the 15,000 we will have an additional 8,000 in about a month after arrival.
Honestly the only concern we currently have is the crime mainly because we just found out about it so it was unexpected.
It seems as if it is beautiful with amazing people you just must stay aware.
I’ve been looking and am finding that about 2,000 will probably get a safe small condominium possibly a bit more.
Thank You for your help
Definitely think about STX or STT as alternatives for daily living. STJ is a wonderful place to visit and you can do that anytime from the other islands though much easier and inexpensively from STT.
Access to health insurance and health care in general is a real and serious issue in the VI. Though, because of the refinery and its workers, on STX you'll find first class walk-in medical care. The hospitals were severely damaged during the storms and have not recovered. Accessing health care will more likely affect you in the VI than crime.
Wages are surprisingly low - you might easily find yourself working for health insurance. Government jobs take a big chunk from pay checks to support GERS (the VI's failing retirement system). The cost of most things is about what you'd find in any big coastal city in the US - except for electricity, which is one of the highest rates per kw hour in the world. Property taxes and car insurance are extremely low. You've got Home Depot, Cost U Less and well-stocked local grocery stores.
Spirit Airlines can get you from STX/STT to FL for cheap now if you get rock fever.
You're travelers and you've lived on an island before - you'll do fine in the VI.
Yes, with the correct residence visa. They have a record number of Americans also retiring there. Amazing healthcare. Only issue is, with the numbers moving there the prices of homes have all gone up.
Costa Rica is very nice, we’ve done a couple of family vacations there, it’s not cheap if you want to live in the desirable areas and you will need to be comfortable living outside the United States. My wife and I considered it but ultimately decided we wanted to be inside the US territory, simply a comfort zone thing. Roatan was another really nice spot, but has the same issue of being outside the US and Rock Fever was something most of the expats that we met talked about.
As for a rental costs example on STX, East of Christiansted, our property has 2 stand alone cottages, we rent one and keep one for family and friends. They are each about 800 sqft with nice views, each is fully furnished with laundry and recently updated so very livable. The unit we rent is currently occupied by a retired couple (however younger than ourselves) that property manage our place (and I think several other properties) for a reduced rent, which is a perfect win-win as we are seasonal residents. Historically, before the property management arrangement, the cottages rented for about $1,400/mo, plus utilities.
I think, if your patient and willing to be creative there are possibilities to be found. We’ve met a number of people looking to rent, the key thing for us was trust and support for looking after things when we’re away. We had (have) no interest in a VBRO type of thing, I don’t think we’re unique in that regard. Best of luck in your search.
Rental rates are extremely high on St Croix for the foreseeable future. The refinerie starting back up along with lots of stateside contractors. St John has always been very expensive. Best bet probably is St Thomas.
The hospitals were severely damaged during the storms and have not recovered.
Property taxes and car insurance are extremely low.
On the bright side FEMA is going to pay for a new Hospital from the ground up on STX.
I've not found car insurance to be that low, at least not compared to what I pay in the states for comparable coverage. The minimum liability coverage in the VI seems to be a lot lower than what's required in the states which could leave folks under insured if they don't realize it.
I agree on the car insurance. We’re paying about 20% more on STX than we paid north of Boston for similar coverage. While property taxes are very low, home insurance is crazy expensive, even discounting the hurricane coverage. Without hurricane coverage it still 50% higher than the Boston area.
I'm originally from Woburn. Where did you live "north of Boston"
Hi, we lived in Boxford for 16 years, sold our house in November of 2018 and have been renting in Rowley, until I retire in early 2021. We also have a summer home in Edgartown (Martha’s Vineyard) where we have deep family roots going back 3 generations, so we see this as our extended family home base. At the same time my parents bought land on St. Croix in the 1960’s but never ended up building, but I have great memories of visiting STX during the summer of 1968. I’m currently excitedly counting down the days until I retire and can reinvent my life again, this time 100% focused on family and community, rather than industry and customers. That’s not a complaint, I sincerely enjoy what I do but after 43 years I know it time for the next chapter in my life.
When insuring your home in STX calculate the value to insure as the replacement value of the structure - not what you paid for the property. Many come to the VI and overpay for home insurance because they want to cover their investment rather than their potential loss (which is really all you can insure here).
So assuming a $300,000 purchase price for a 1,000 square foot home - first remove the price of land from the formula.
$300,000 - $100,000 (cost of land) = $200,000 is the price you paid for the structure of your house.
Then make sure you know the insurance square footage replacement value of your home structure. After Maria, Lloyd's calculated square footage value at $150/square foot (as I recall) for under roof finished areas of an average house - so they would put a maximum loss value using that calculation at $150,000.
Ultimately, $200,000 (price you paid for structure) x 80% (full coverage in VI) = $160,000 - $15,000 deductible = $145,000 maximum insurance payout.
I would insure for $200,000 to assure full coverage at 80% if there is a storm loss.
My sister had a home in Boxford years ago and I have wonderful memories of going to Edgartown with a high school friend. Her mothers family was there so we would go visit her Uncle and Aunt. Its a beautiful place.