Salary to live comfortably
Hi there! I was recently offered a position on STX but the salary is about 12k less than I make currently. I've searched the forum and the net but can't find anywhere that compares my area (DC) with USVI. Can anyone tell me what's a good salary to live comfortably? I'd need at least a 2 bedroom furnished apartment or house, I'll bring my own car, have pets, single, eat pretty healthy, which is kinda expensive here not sure about there.
Cost of living varies so much from person to person in any area. Take a look at real estate listings (Craigslist just to get an idea) and see what it will cost to rent or buy the kind of place you want to live in. Then add about 30% to your grocery and utility bill. Most people don't mind having a more modest home in the islands since the natural beauty is everywhere and you can be out in it year round. Healthy groceries are expensive unfortunately but not much more than in NYC, not sure about DC. 🙂
Welcome to the forum!
How much someone needs to live comfortably here depends on too many things for any of us to just throw out a number that would be accurate for you and your situation... If you're barely getting by now, it may be a challenge.
Would you be comfortable (your personal definition applies) living on the salary offered in Washington DC (also a high cost area, but in other ways)? If you currently earn 12k more than you would need to be comfortable in DC, there's a pretty good chance that any adjustments you need to make won't significantly impact your lifestyle.
You can get an idea of rentals (or housing costs) in some of the classified posts or on local real estate sites that also handle rentals.
There are also a few threads that reference other places (the Boston area and Hawaii come to mind) that might give you an idea if you know how costs there compare.
Skim through the threads over the past few months for threads that might be relevant.
Best of luck!
I moved from western NY a few months ago and will give you my perspective based on that. If you will be making over 75k, you should be fine and be very comfortable as a single person. Not sure about rents, but think about 1200-1500 minimum for furnished but selection is not that great right now, but I think it's getting better, electricity is very expensive. Vegetable and fruits are reasonable, just need to know where to shop and realize that they go bad quicker here. Most meats are previously frozen or frozen and about a dollar more a pound for chicken breasts, steaks a bit more. To bring your vehicle down 800 to ship to Florida, 1800 to ship on island, 600 tax based on weight, new registration 160 but better than anything you will find here, vehicles are way overpriced. Also it needs to be a US vin# or your paying customs tax. As for your pets can they be brought in cabin, under seat? If not, no major airline carrier is bringing pets to the island in cargo due to temps. There is a company that will bring it on amerijet for about 1500 out of Miami that I had to use due to covid resrictions. All in all I would think if you live in or near DC, your total costs will be the same. Feel free to throw out some more questions, this is a great group and will help you out as best they can.
After living in the Caribbean for 15+ years here’s a general rule of thumb that I’ve often given to people contemplating a move from the US mainland to a Caribbean island: You can expect it to cost you between 25% and 35% more in the Caribbean to maintain the same lifestyle you do back in the mainland. In your case since you live in DC (which is generally a high cost area) you’ll probably be on the lower end of that range but it is still going to cost you more.
So, if you are going to make $12k less on STX than you do in DC you are going to have to make some changes in your lifestyle. Those changes might include renting a smaller apartment or getting a roommate, eating more budget friendly foods (less steak - more chicken and veggies), cutting back on the number of times you dine out, driving an older car, etc.
You are in the process of discovering the Catch-22 of life in the Caribbean - compared to most areas on the mainland the Cost of Living in the Caribbean is higher while wages are lower than where you now live.
What all this means is, as daveb722 said if you will be making upwards of $75k (Or more) or more you probably won’t have too much difficulty making the adjustment but if your new salary will be under $75k the adjustments you’ll have to make to your lifestyle might prove to be more than you are comfortable doing.
Good Luck making your decision.
On the up side, if you go out for drinks fairly often they are MUCH less expensive in the VI. 🙂 Those $20 cocktails in bigger US cities really add up lol. Also if you like gold jewelry you are in luck.
Given the OP is looking for a 2 bedroom furnished apartment I'd think the rents will be closer to $2K/Mo. for a nicely furnished place with view, most folks coming to the USVI from the mainland want a view. Expect to pay $300-$400/Mo. for electricity and $80-$100/Mo. for internet, not sure about TV but that's likely $75+/- a month (we only have Netflix). Auto insurance, for our 2019 Jeep Cherokee is about $1,600/Yr. I find food prices to be variable, if you must eat like you did in the states, it's likely more expensive. We eat differently and it's not too crazy. Rum is cheap, wine isn't bad but the selection is more limited. Stress-levels are much lower, people are friendlier and the restaurants are amazing (and likely cheaper than DC).
Make sure the car has no loan/lien on it or clear it with the lender, and check country of origin for tax costs, -- pet friendly apts are not as available everywhere and may be not allowed in any condo, food costs will be higher, I will try to post some guides below.
Look at your budget now, double it. Electricity is extremely high. Food is usually double. New cars are 20k higher in a lot of cases. Rent is about 2k how many people in your household. How many pets. What do you do Do you live by air conditioning