Hi - Long story short. Husband wanting to retire to STX in a year or two. He is confined to a wheelchair - paraplegic. I am very hesitant. Doing a lot of research and asking questions. He wants to build a house to accommodate his needs (have built 2 homes) and add a space for an Airbnb that would cater to handicapped/wheelchair users - thinks there is a “niche”. Or add space for a rental. Again I’m hesitant. Issues - Healthcare- know that is extremely limited right now. (He is very heathy at this point.) Accessibility - very old posts imply that this can be a very big issue even today. PMV are being talked about and will happen if he truly wants to pursue this. But, I wanted to get a feeling from others who actually live on the island. Please be very honest. I don’t want to burst his bubble - but need realistic opinions. Thank you.
Retire - Husband in Wheelchair
Certainly do a PMV so your husband can assess the limited wheelchair opportunities he will have when he leaves the house. his quality of life may be impacted enough that the decision will be easier, one way or another.
If you started TODAY to implement his plan it will be at least 2 years - if that is a concern as well even a PMV may not help.
Just the process of finding, buying land, plans drawn and approved, finding a contractor [especially now with so much hurricane rebuilding], site prep, cistern building and overall construction, inspections, with inevitable delays of materials and labor, not to mention expected cost overruns may even make 2 years an optimistic prediction. Building a house here and not being on island to carefully watch over the project is a real concern too, so having a rental suitable for him will be a necessary expense if you really want to do this.
Not for the faint of heart or short wallet. I am not pessimistic, have lived here over 40 years and only stating realistic ideas, it sounds like a great plan if you want to make it happen !!
Thank you for your honest response! I am a detailed person - he’s not. So I think of exactly what you stated. I appreciate the information.
Another thing to consider on your PMV is that although your home could be accessible, much of the VI isn't.
I’m doing an addition now. We waited over a year because of the hurricane recovery. Plans were approved in November. Excavation took three months (equipment breakdowns, manpower shortages, original excavator misjudged and wanted an additional 5k over estimate. We let him go and had to find another guy to finish the work).
Windows & doors have been ordered, a minimum of four months for delivery is expected. Travertine tiles & tub currently out of stock, and expect at least two months for those (through Home Depot).
Steel (rebar) in high demand, cement deliveries need to be ordered at least a week in advance.
I built the original 700sqft structure in 2014, well before Irma & Maria jammed up the works. From design to completion took two years. Minus design & permits, From November to now, I have the cistern floor poured and the forms are half done for the cistern walls. This time, since we are now full-time residents, were only having a shell built and my wife & I are taking it from there. Couldn’t afford it otherwise. Prices of everything is far higher than in 2014.
All you need is money & patience. Living on site, watching the pace everyday, I’d say remaining patient is the hardest part. Lots of unfinished homes all over the island. You’ll either adapt and finish-it (someday) or flee!
As per Jumbie,
I had a full head examination last year. It seems it’s half full... as opposed to half empty 😉
Why not consider an adaptable home that is already built? We bought a villa in a HOA community. It is a stand alone and all on one level, near ground level, with parking right in front. Ramps could be easily added. We bought it because I am 65 & my wife is 60 so the single level building in a safe, beautiful location was a definite draw. I can give you the name of a very good RE Agent to meet with during your PMV if you like.
Building a house could be a big exercise in frustration. We have friends who just waited 9 months for their windows to be delivered for the place they are renovating.
It's also important to note that depending on your degree of mobility getting off the island in the event of a major storm could be a big problem. So it's important to have a hurricane resistant building that can sustain you afterwards for possibly many weeks. (BIG Generator, water supply, plenty of storage space for supplies, etc. That was also a big draw of the place we bought)
As far a healthcare, I don't know your age. Medicare is available and AARP UHC supplemental insurance is available also.
You will enjoy the good stuff if you just get past the frustrations and delays of relocating. Best wishes!
Building a home in the Caribbean is a challenge- our home took 3 x’s as long to build than the architect’s original estimate and cost twice as much as the contractor’s original estimate.
Building here is a labor of love and as stated by others you need very deep pockets and lots and lots of patience.
there are a lot of places that are not wheelchair friendly. especially down town.
Not sure about STX but STT is definitely challenging for the handicapped and disabled.
Beaches don't have handicap ramps. Handicap parking is limited and sidewalks, when in place, can be difficult to navigate.
Individual health insurance is also an issue because there is none unless you work for the VI government, company that provides it or have Medicare. Hospitals here still struggling after back to back hurricanes and some procedures can't be done here.
Almost 2 years after hurricanes, contractors and laborers are in still in very high demand. Prices have increased IMO for everything.
This may not be the right time and place for you.
Do a pre-move visit, first to assess your options.
Thank you all for the responses!
As per some suggestions - the focus is now on buying something that could be adapted for his needs. We have seen some properties that could work without too much construction.
Fish bait - I would be interested to know about your villa and the name of the RE agent you have.
It is a concern about healthcare - he’s 60 this year. But he’s in good health. We have 15 acres that we run some cattle and horses on - so he’s adapted and done a lot.
Thank you all for your responses.
Lack of adequate health care was a major contributor to our decision to leave STX after living there for 2.5 years. For example, I had some cardiac issues and the only cardiologist on island could not see me for 3 months. And, they had no halter monitors. I had to go to the Mainland to be checked out. It turned out that everything was ok with me, but not being able to get a diagnostic work up on island was very anxiety provoking. I do not want to be a Debbie Downer but you also have to consider the time and expense should you purchase a home and then decide that the Island is not for you two in the long term. When we decided to sell our home, several realtors told us that on average it takes a year to sell a home in STX. Because the demand for housing is high right now, we lucked out and got an acceptable offer within 3 weeks of listing. Even then, closing took four months, for a zillion reasons. If you decide to move after your visit, I encourage you to rent a home for a year prior to purchasing so you can get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of island living. Best of luck to you and your husband.
Allydo, I'm sorry, I just saw this post.
Our agent is the owner of Calabash Real Estate, Honnie Edwards. You can find her company online. She's done a good job as both a rental manager and an agent and has a good reputation on the island.
Our villa is in gated, guarded community on the Northside, 10 minutes from Cane Bay. I thought it would be the kind of thing you are interested in because it can be adapted with a couple of ramps, and the rest is all level, it's safe and friendly, parking is right there and the HOA takes care of EVERYTHING outdoors. They will even close the steel storm shutters for you and reopen them. You don't even have to be there. Storm warning = all shutters closed. (You pay for all that of course) They are not all on one level but one design is. They've been there since the late 80's.
It would be quite a change from owning a ranch but looking out from your back gallery across a golf course fairway surrounded by palms to mountains in the distance can be pretty cool.
Best of luck!