should we do it?
My husband and I are two professionals living in OH. We have twin 4 yo boys. We are tired of the rat race. After working hard to obtain the "American dream", the house, cars, nest egg, etc. it isn't too fulfilling. We love to sail, we love the beach, after each vacation, it is harder and harder to go back to work. But should we "give this up" and move our sons to live and grow up in an entirely different life just so their parents can leave the rat race? Please help. It is harder and harder to go to work every day, and I just changed jobs to try and re-energize myself. I want to do what is best for the boys, what is it???? How are the schools there, what would their life be like?
Public schools are horrible and dangerous you would have to pay for private. Depending on island and school you would be looking at $3k to 10k a year per child. It is not cheaper to live here then where you are. Cut back what your version of the american dream is and enjoy your life instead of working hard to buy more stuff. If you cant be happy there you will not be happy here. In many ways it is harder for people to live here and adjust (it is a different culture and lifestyle), not just to be able to afford to live here. It is not just a vacation or a Caribbean paradise....life is life.
You will also lose your stateside support system and having two boys that would be hard. If you have a close family it is expensive to go back and forth.
Read the board (the complete board) it is an invaluable source of information. If you're still interested come for a long pmv and live like locals not like tourists and try to find jobs, schooling, a place to live etc... Talk to locals about how they like it here and what are the hurdles etc.. And especially to other moms. Good Luck.
Betty has given you some good advice.
My experience is people who want to relocate (not just to the Caribbean but anywhere) because they "are tired of it all" or they want to escape "the rat race" rarely find the happiness they seek. The reason is, regardless of where they live most people still have to earn a living, commute, pay bills, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, do everyday chores, etc., etc., eyc. In other words, relocating doesn't let you escape from everyday life.
Also, living on an island is not the same as visiting for a week or two while you are on vacation. The reality is the cost of living is generally higher and salaries are often lower than they are "back home". That's the catch-22 of island life.
Ask yourself, would moving to another city in your home state make life any better for you? If not, what makes you think moving to the islands would be any different.
You are already concerned about "giving things up" to relocate. Are you sure you can do that? Unless your "nest egg" is quite large you may have to lower your standard of living so you no longer have what you consider "the American Dream".
Do as Betty suggests, read everything on this forum and the VI Relocation web-site (and I mean EVERYTHING). It will give you a much better insight into island life. Do your homework. If, after doing your research you still think island life is for you than make an extended pre-move visit (stay for several weeks or even months) trying to live like a local not as a tourist. That will help you to make a decision that is right for you.
Remember, living on an island is not better or worse than where you are now, it's just different!
Thanks for your wonderful advice. Neither my husband, nor I, need "things" or expensive possessions to exist happily. It is difficult to not get caught up in the American way of life where everything is so busy, so fast and time gets away so quickly. To down-size would be an option, except that I want something special for my children. I don't necessarily want what middle class America has to offer for them. They would still be surrounded by kids with the latest gadgets, playing video games all day, texting their friends from class all day, watching TV all day, expecting more and giving less. Surrounded by unhappy people living the rat race. It is difficult to raise children in the US that don't have these expectations without your children seeming like total outcasts. I suppose we could move to Mayberry and live simpler lives, but your right, there is still work, taxes, etc. In the islands, we would be surrounded by beauty and beautiful things. Life, I hope could be simpler. We could live slower and have more time as a family. There are so many demands from our time here. Not just work, but commuting time, expectations from friends, co-workers, etc. And when the boys start school, homework, extracurricular activities, parent groups expecting time commitments. Those won't go away in "Mayberry.
I don't know if this will help or not, but my husband & I had the same motivation to move here--beautiful weather and a slower pace of life. We haven't been here long, but are really enjoying it so far. The critical differences are we are probably older than you and your husband (45 & 53) and we don't have kids.
We spent three months here before deciding to move and that made a big difference for us. Everyone is correct, it's not like an extended vacation, once you get into a routine. I haven't started working yet, but I imagine it will become hectic just as it was in NYC, but perhaps without the same amount of edge.
We have close friends here who put their children through the Country Day School (in St. Croix) and both thrived beautifully and were accepted into Ivy league colleges. But, as was noted above, they also paid a lot to do it. Unless you have your retirement saving complete, that is something to think about because chances are good any extra income you earn in the states would go into retirement savings, while here it most likely would go to school tuition.
Also, you'll notice as you read the posts that things like groceries, electricity, etc. are more expensive. Taxes are a different story. If you own a home, the taxes are much lower (at least coming from the NJ area, they are). I'm not a tax expert, but I believe if you become a resident (183 days on island), there are no "state"/local taxes on income, only federal. I suspect folks would say renting is not inexpensive, but compared to the NY/NJ area, the rents are quite reasonable for the amount of space. If you are living in an urban area in OH, you might find the rents tolerable. If you are in suburban or rural area, it's probably more expensive.
I'll echo the advice above, reading these boards will be very helpful to you. Best of luck in your search! Kim
I moved here over a year ago. I own a corporation in the states. I was totally burned out and moved here on a whim. I moved here against all advice with a disabled mother and a 4 year old. I have 5 adult children that I raised in the states. It is expensive to educate your children here unless you home school. I have my little boy in Good Hope School 3 half days a week. Next year he will go 5 days for kindergarden. It is very expensive but if I could not afford it I would home school and live here anyway. In my opinion it is a wonderful free place to raise children. Remember I have already raised 5. I still have the stresses of running a business and caring for a disabled mother and being a 50 year old mother raising another child but I can go sit on a beautiful beach when ever I wish, I can garden and be outside all year round. I feel happy and more relaxed. I love it here on STX. It is not for everyone. I miss many things about the states but as time passes I miss those things less. When ever I have to go back to the states for business, we are never there more that a couple of days without our little boy begging to go back to his island.
If you do decide to move here I would suggest renting for a year and not bringing all of your belongings, just to see if it is right for you. I am older and more settled and I don't know if I would have felt the same about the island if I was younger. Having been a very frequent visitor to the other Virgin Islands, I know I would not have been happy there either. St. Croix is very different and a perfect fit for our odd little family.
I don't post very often on this message board but after reading mosquitobates post I felt the need to offer my opinion. After having raised 5 children in the states, the youngest being 23, I would never want to raise another child there. Have a good night.
What island? Many have successfully raised children here who DO make it into top US universities but school is expensive here. I know of many Antilles School students (St. Thomas) who had a lot of scholarship money given to them when they went off to college on the mainland. Nobody can say whether it will work for you or not. Only you can figure that out. I personally loathed living in the States but I wasn't raising children.
Another thing to figure out is if your careers there would provide a good living here.
Betty is right...
I know that it's a hard decision, but...do what's right for your family, and YOU!!! STX is really laid back and beautiful. Time to sit back and drink some pina coladas!!!
If you can, put in for tuition assistance for your children. I have a few friends who have.
Good Luck!! I'll see you at the Divi!!!
I second East Ender - the "kids" are identical - except they can drink while still in HS.
If I were you, I would research moving to a small mainland town - no commute etc etc. Or, move down for a while - don't think of it as a permanent thing - try it for a year. Don't burn your bridges stateside.
A lot of people think that the VI is an alternative to the rat race. You might both be working long hours in underpaid jobs to finance the school fees and the overpriced commodities - same rat race different location.
It works for some, but it doesn't work for quite a few families. We were glad to leave - started out enjoying it and then the negatives began to wear on us.
i'm not sure if it's possible or not but try to listen to am1000 radio or 93.5fm radio, they both have good listener call in programs in the am, you have TopTalk on am 1000 and free speech on 93.5fm i know free speech can be heard on the internet but i'm not sure about top talk, these 2 shows are a great way to understand the ebb and flow of island living and the issues we all face here, and no don'twaitup i don't have any financial stake in either company.
Here is the link for Radio One: http://www.amg.vi/radioone/ (AM 1000) I agree that anyone thinking of moving here should listen to some of the talk shows. Also read the online newspapers at www.virginislandsdailynews,com and The Source (onepaper.com?)
I live on STX and I wonder about raising children here. Of all the VI, I would only consider it here, but have my reservations.
I've lived in fives states, and traveled most of them, and believe Vermont is the best place to raise children and have a healthy life.
My philosophy on all things island has changed so much and again it is hard for me to weigh in on it all. You never know til you try. We lived on island with three kids, one of which has a learning disability for two years. Public schools are not good, but I hate to bad mouth them. It is very difficult for a mainlander to adjust to island schools. Private schools are better, but terribly expensive. My biggest problem with schools is that my child with learning disabilities could not and did not get the right help. After moving back stateside in an area with great schools, I appreciate them more. I now like living in the burbs, in the 'rat race', and having the financial freedom to vacation where ever I want and actually having vacations. Living on island was not a vacation type thing. We did occasionally go to the beach and have a 'vacation' day, but back to work the next day. It just was not relaxing enough. Being so financially tight, we couldn't do what we wanted nor go where we wanted. Now we can and do appreciate the comforts of stateside living, but without regrets of having lived on island. It taught us so much about our lives and gave us a better perspective on what is truly good about life. What we found is that island living wasn't for us, but island visiting was much better. I can't really tell someone to not move to island, but I can say that going in with as much knowledge as possible of the challenges you face will help you enjoy the experience for however long you stay. And I agree, don't burn bridges back home.
To answer a few questions: Yes you can live aboard and even send your children to school on island. I knew of some who did, however they had also homeschooled at other times.
My personal opinion is that island living is for the laid back, flexible, type person. Not for the person who wants to be laid back and flexible (which is me, but I did learn to be more flexible - just not laid back...) And last, you don't know til you try, because no matter what anyone tells you - until you experience it, you can't Know) and that's the end of my completely confusing 'help'.
My children were born here and raised here. When they are young, it was a WONDERFUL experiance! Running around naked, in and out and great beach time with a Mothers group every week, not to mention a weekly group get together at the Tot Lot! Schooling? A horse of another color! We did public school till 6th grade at the best public school in STT, then private...But even at that, I pulled my son out and home shcooled him myself for a while and then hired a Professor from UVI for some 3 years! My daughter did well in Elementary school and was very much a part of this community. Later, I had major problems! Private School is the ONLY answer for mid and high school and then even that can be VERY challenging to say the least!
All in all, my son ended up dropping out and getting his GED on line and now lives in Ithaca, NY and my daughter is 16 with a baby!
I LOVE living here, I have NO intentions of leaving, but raising children here CAN be challenging!
If I were to do it over, I think I would stay in the states for that part of the kids life.
As for my work, I have less free time now than I ever did in the states! Work 2 part time jobs and sometimes more! Hard to make ends meet for sure! I will not tell you what you should do, your experiance may be more promising than mine was, but I would suggest putting a lot of money into the schooling at the best school possible!
i will begin by telling you that i am not married and i do not have any children; however i am a young person that recently decided that stateside living was not for me, not right now anyway, so my boyfriend and i moved to st. thomas. we were looking for something different from what many call the "rat race" i have recently graduated college and i want to explore and experience before entering into that inevitiable race. i have lived in many big cities in the states, but let me tell you, the rat race here is far worse than any other place i have ever lived. i see it and work in it almost everyday. this place is far from paradise.... let me summarize if i may: reverse racism, crime from which there is no suburban escape, high prices for EVERYTHING, damn poor customer service, horrible traffic, constant negativity, pollution, and trash everywhere (no recycling). that is st.thomas. but that is not to say that i few things like crime and high prices don't exist on other islands. as for raising children... i am 23, i would NEVER have a child here and i am glad i wasn't raised here. the USVI are very different from Ohio, but different doesn't mean better. i have been a very positive and upbeet person my entire life, but this island brings negativity out of me that i never knew i could harbor. and yes, there are some good things... no snow, constant gardening, white sandy beaches, more diversity.
it is a hard decision you are facing.... if i were you i would consider moving to the southwest to a small town where your children can be raised in the country, or maybe another island. i hope this helps you!