Renting vs. Buying
Hello.. This is my first post! I am visiting STX in July and plan to make the move if all goes well, as I expect it will. I am wanting to rent initially on a short term basis and eventually buy a condo. My question is, are people willing to rent on a month to month basis while I am home shopping? Also, why is Mill Harbour so cheap... Bad side of town? Thanks for all of your comments! Mvaught from Indiana
Hello mvaught, and welcome to the forum.
I'm not sure I understand your question....When you ask if people will rent month to month, I get that, but by adding "while I am home shopping" loses me.
Do you mean you want an "occasional" rental for a month at a time, or do you mean you just want to rent a place for an unspecified time, whereby you could give 30 days notice to terminate the agreement?
Either way, the answer is yes. There are several places where you can rent short term, but you will pay more, and plenty of places where you could work a month to month deal, but again, you will pay more than if you just rented a place for say...6 months.
Mill Harbor is fine. It's located near some projects, but it's gated and I don't think they have much trouble there. There are people on this forum that live there, so maybe they can tell you more.
Hi Mvaught. When we all move here it's very exciting and there is a strong urge to buy here and complete the dream. But it is strongly in your best interest to wait a year until you buy. Many many people only live here a couple and years and then go back stateside for a whole host of reasons. It's always a good idea to wait till the honeymoon period of island living wears off before you buy, and because you are really need to get to know the island and figure out what part of it you love and which part is really practical for you to live on, etc...
One of the biggest downsides to buying here is and always has been a longer process to sell a home here, unless you price it to sell (which usually means you will take a hit, unless you've been in it ten years). It is not unusual for a well priced house to sit on the market a year or two. The locals build their own houses, generally, so the market is just from transplants.
If you start research this board you will see this advice over and over. It's always better to wait and rent for a year before you buy a home or business here.
Also a good time to start your homework on condos, almost all of them have much much higher condo fees then stateside because the hurricane insurance is included in them. There are a precious few at $600ish a month but most are more in the $800 to $1200 range. So always look for the fees on the listings you look at.
Thank for taking the time to be so specific! This is a terrific forum with a wealth of knowledge to be had... I'm staying on Pcay in July and plan to explore all sides of the STX. I'll have my wife and two year old in tow in the fall when we take the leap. Do you feel one area is more kid/family friendly than another? I would really like to be in a downtown area that is close to lots of shopping and dining.
You won't have a problem finding a property you can rent month to month. With the economic downturn, there is a lot more vacancy than there used to be. One thing for you to know up front is that very few rentals allow pets. If you have pets, start your property search early and talk to everyone you meet as word of mouth is the best way to find pet-friendly rentals. If no pets, that makes it far easier. Also if you are going to buy a condo, there are only a few complexes that allow owners to have pets and there is usually a size limit.
You usually get a better rental rate if you book a 6 month lease to start and then let it devolve to month to month if you are still looking for the right property to buy. You would probably like to spend a little time here to select the complex you prefer and that could take a few months to really settle in and see what fits your new island style life. Also, most purchases take about 2 months to close here once you have an accepted contract unless it's an all cash deal and even then some take a while to close due to having to give tenants notice to vacate.
Mill Harbor condos are located on what is commonly called "condo row" a short distance west of the main town of Christiansted. The complex is getting dated and many units haven't been renovated. Add to that some of the highest condo fees per month of any complex and you get declining values. Very few of the units have an ocean view even though they are technically a beach front complex. There are some great units in the complex. The ones you see at very low prices probably aren't the cream of the crop. Some people like buying cheaply and fixing one up. The question is if you can ever recoup your upgrade costs if the complex as a whole isn't moving upwards in sales prices.
Since you asked about kid-friendly locations, I'd suggest you search outwards from the areas where the better schools are located as there is very limited busing for school children and parents more often commute their kids to and from school and activities. That can really eat up your free time if you live at a distance from the schools. You will see many threads on this forum explaining why you should expect to enroll your child in one of the private schools once old enough. Planning ahead for this expense is also wise.
Unbelievable how thorough all of these responses are!!
I'm definitely leaning toward a one year lease for the first year to feel out the island and living situation. My daughter is just now two years old so grade school is still aways out. My biggest concern at this point is that grocery shopping and entertainment for the three of us is within a short drive or ideally, walking distance.
I would prefer to be within a half mile from the beach and I'm budgeting $1200 in rent to accommodate this... Is this reasonable to think I can be affording all of these requests on this rental budget?
I'm in the process of selling my home and a rental property prior to the move and my initial July visit. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where my rental property search should begin?
Thanks to all...
Right now I have a 2-BDR, 2-BTH condo advertised for rent at Colony Cove (on the beach a few miles west of Christiansted) at $1200 per month and that includes some of the utilities other than water and power. You can read about it on the classified page. It's close enough to walk to a couple of beach front restaurants and some other restaurants and shops on NorthSide Road, but a car would be handy if you are carrying much back (and also a 2-year old). More often condos at this location rent around $1500 in the current economy.
To be very near to restaurants and shopping as well as the beach will give you limited housing options to choose from, but it's not impossible. When you come down to check out the island, a couple hours' exploration through the stretch of the north shore zone from Judith's Fancy to Gallows Bay will educate you much better than reading a hundred posts. That stretch includes a variety of large and small grocery stores, assorted condos and some private residences that sometimes include rental apartments. It's near the beachfront and will best fit the combination of characteristics you've requested. Also, there are some safari taxi vans that run along the NorthSide Road route which might help with returning home with bags of groceries after a walk to the store. By car, you'd be within about 15 minutes from the vast majority of things you'd want to do on the island.
Most the condo complexes have swimming pools and some have grassy play areas to help keep a toddler entertained. Some have beaches as well.