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Single Dad & 12 yr old daughter moving to St. Croix needs advice

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wesleyryan69
(@wesleyryan69)
Active Member

I'm a 45 yr old single Dad who is about to move to St Croix with my 12 year old daughter. I've read many posts about what to expect once we get there so I'd like to skip some of the standard questions and focus on a few pertaining to other aspects of life on St. Croix.

I'm looking at up to a $1300/mo rent range. I can't afford private schooling or to home school my daughter so public schooling seems to be the best option at least until we get established. What is a safe area to raise a kid with access to one of the better middle schools? I'm considering a long term rental at The Reef or something on Condo Row. We'd like to either live ocean front or a place, perhaps a residential, that has a great view of the ocean even if it's a distance away from the ocean. It must be furnished with preferably utilities included.

My second question is the job market. I have worked in management for two of the largest companies in North America. I grew up around agriculture, ranching and the oil business but I'm basically a jack of all trades. I can operate any number of heavy machinery, do construction, retail, sales, customer relations, fix computers, install telephone switches, cellular and remotes. So basically the sky is the limit. At the moment, I'm recovering from 10 back surgeries in the past year but I'm well on my way to a semi-full recovery. I have enough money saved up to live 3 years on a $2500/mo overhead so I have plenty of time to return to the workforce full time but not the patience. I'm a workaholic by nature. Is there any future for a top notch continental in the St. Croix workforce?

My last question is in regard to the dating scene for a 45 year old bachelor raising a kid. What's the dating scene like for a guy my age? I look like I'm in my mid 30's. I don't drink much but I do enjoy a few in good company when the opportunity presents itself. I would like to meet someone and begin my life anew. I've been raising kids and working around the clock so much that I haven't found the time to devote to a relationship since I divorced 10 years ago. But now, my kids are grown up and there is time now for me to date again. With the move to St. Croix being a fresh start for this family, I think I'd like to meet someone my age give or take and see where it goes from there.

Sorry I wrote a book. Thank you for your time and consideration. Happiness and blessings to you all!

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Topic starter Posted : September 3, 2014 12:09 am
ChrisMI
(@ChrisMI)
Advanced Member

I wish you the very best! I have to tell you that the fact that at this point over 50 people have read your post and you have no responses to your 3 fairly direct questions is an answer in and of iteslf. Hopefully some of the many helpful Crucians on this board have just been away for the holiday weekend and can chime in with some specific advice you'll find useful.

I am making some assumptions here, and obviously don't know you, but from what you've written I think if you're seeing a fresh new start in a paradice-esque setting, you should look somewhere in the states, and this might not be the right timing for the USVI for you and your daughter. I may be wrong, and of course there may be much I do not know, but there is a time and a place for everything, and those two might not match up with the VI for you from what you're written. Just being candid.

Regardless, very best wishes to you both! Starting a new life is an exciting time, and I hope it ends up being one you both are very happy with.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 2:54 am
Iris Tramm
(@Iris_Tramm)
Trusted Member

Okay, I'll step in and get yelled at by the resident posters who say I'm too negative.

Most people with kids that I know send them to private school. They (or "it" now, since I guess it's combined since the refinery closed ... what "Country Hope" or "Good Day" now?) cost more than college tuition. Public schools are hit or miss. I know some great teachers, but I've heard some horror stories as well. I can tell you that when I first moved here NONE of them were accredited. Meaning you could "graduate", but you still had to take a GED to apply to college. I'm pretty sure that's been fixed now.

Jobs are tough. I'd recommend either having something lined up BEFORE you move, or visiting ahead of time with enough money and time (and patience!) to look for a job. Many, many businesses will not hire you sight unseen unless you are some sort of professional with credentials (e.g., lawyer, doctor, CPA).

Condo row is not terribly safe. I lived there for several seasons and heard more gunshots than all my years in Chicago. A man was once shot to death about 20' from my unit. Not sure about The Reef. Again, housing is something you want to BE HERE to see. Not rent from a distance.

Health care here sucks. If you have injuries you're going to need tx for, you may want to look into doctors and facilities that are available before moving. You cannot get an individual insurance policy. Anywhere. I'm not sure if it's any easier if you have a minor child.

As for the dating scene. Hell, I hardly know you, and I'll have a drink with you. If you're 22 and cute and working at a bar and want to drink beer on the beach at night with a bunch of stoners working the seasonal hospitality circuit, it's a great place. If you're a middle-aged professional (which, alas, I am), there ain't NOTHIN'.

I've lived here on and off (meaning some years part-time; I like the summers in the States too much) for 12 years.

Best of luck to you and your daughter.

IT

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Posted : September 3, 2014 10:36 am
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

I'll also get whacked for this, but here goes:

I also was a single dad of a daughter here on STX from the time she was 11.

Not all girls are the same, but for the sake of your daughter, forget about dating until she has moved out of the house.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 10:57 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Wait a few more years until your daughter has left the nest. Adolescence is difficult enough without adding in a move to a completely new environment. You may find a job quickly but you may not and that money you've saved up will fly through your fingers in no time. How much better to sock it away safely for your daughter's further education ...

Have you done a PMV or has your knowledge of the islands been garnered solely from online sources?

Please carefully re-think as, on the face of it, this is not a good plan at all. Good luck!

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Posted : September 3, 2014 11:57 am
wesleyryan69
(@wesleyryan69)
Active Member

Thank you for your posts. Times are bad all over. People from all over are flocking to Texas for work. 50 people are competing for the same job and only 1 in 10 are worth hiring. Where I live in North Central Texas, 80% live below the poverty level. Public schooling is terrible. The influx of so many people has caused a dramatic drop of funding to public schools. We also have a big problem with illegal immigrants. You wake up to go to work and some days you don't even come home. Our governor, who grew up in the same county, is corrupt and has allowed oil companies to rape the land and destroy the drinking water with contaminants. Even in the nicest neighborhoods, drugs are only two houses away. If you move to places like Dallas, the cost of living is comparative to the VI, gated communities are desired to live in and the only view is a concrete jungle. Weather temperatures fluctuate sometimes 70 degrees. Which is a killer to anyone with arthritis. Personally, if I have to choose between struggling here and struggling in paradise, I'll choose paradise any day.

Iris, I'd love to have a drink with you when I get there. I love meeting friendly people and enjoying the simply things in life.

CruzanIron and Old Tart, I've kind of resolved myself to not dating until the kids are all out of the house. It doesn't mean it wouldn't be nice though. Cruzan, any advice you can give me from the perspective of single fatherhood in the VI would be greatly appreciated.

Old Tart, I've been to the VI once before in the early 90's but I intend to come over for a month, scope things out and establish us before I bring my daughter. If things aren't what I hoped they'd be, I'll look to other places. I'm stubborn to a flaw though. Once I set my mind to something, I stick with it. I doubt any amount of negativity or bumps in the road can't be overcome with a great attitude, dedication and hard work. This is my dream and nothing worth having in my life ever came easy.

Best wishes!

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Topic starter Posted : September 3, 2014 12:03 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

i am just kind of curious as to why you would move down here with no job lined up with a child. the job market is worse than most places stateside except maybe detroit.

what is it about st croix that draws you here, have you ever been here?

there are a few gated communities but that makes them no safer than any other community.

i would certainly visit before you even think of moving and bring your daughter and stay for a month to get a feel for the island and the community.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 12:18 pm
Jamison
(@Jamison)
Trusted Member

The public schools here are better than most give credit for. As far as a 12 yo girl, if she likes to run around barefoot, let her hair get messy and doesn't care about the new shinny thing, she will do okay here. If she like new clean clothes, make up and has a busy social life (for a 12 yo), this ain't the place for her.

I can't really speak of what it's like way out east, but as far as the west end, I know plenty of single mothers about your age, who moved here and are doing what you have.

With the money you have stocked away and the drive to find work, you'll be fine. I think this would be a great place to raise a kid.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 12:19 pm
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

Oh, schools here are a little different than up there in another way - public school students have to wear uniforms.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 12:23 pm
wesleyryan69
(@wesleyryan69)
Active Member

I don't have to work right away. I trade online and have a source of income. It just isn't a large one.

I'm accustomed to competing for jobs. I've worked all over and I've never had a problem finding work. Most people are lazy, have very few skills or any desire to learn any more than they have too. I can do any number of things in a corporate or blue collar setting. And lazy I am not. Nor was I raised in a unionized state where workers have protection or a 9 to 5 job. 100-150 hr. work weeks are the norm for me. That's how I got hurt to require these surgeries in the first place. I don't want that any more. It cost me my marriage and I've practically paid child care to raise my kids. It's time to slow down a notch and enjoy the simple things more. Even if we don't stay permanently there, I can at least say that I followed my dreams and gave it my best shot. Most people can't even say that or have the courage and/or stupidity to even try it.

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Topic starter Posted : September 3, 2014 12:37 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Personally, if I have to choose between struggling here and struggling in paradise, I'll choose paradise any day.

I think that the majority is trying to impress that it's simply not "paradise". Coming on a vacation is vastly different from living here. But it's good that you're planning on a month's PMV as this will offer you a more realistic perspective. All the negatives you write about where you live now are (apart from the weather) all here - plus. If you weren't bringing your 12 year old daughter I'm sure there would be way less caution expressed.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 12:49 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

I applaud your sense of adventure! St. Coix is a great place to live and raise your daughter. Now is the perfect time to move here and get established before the next boom cycle. There are many options for housing from condos to houses and prices have never been more affordable but are now starting to rise.

As far as work goes, there is always opportunity for those willing to actually work hard and put in a full day, especially if you are multi-talented. Most jobs are not advertised so getting your social network up and running quickly is important.

I can't speak personally about the public schools other than to say that I know several families who have kids in public schools that do very well and are happy. The largest private school, Country Day, is outrageously expensive but some of the church affiliated schools are much cheaper as long as you can tolerate the religious indoctrination (or just fake it like some do).

As was mentioned in a previous post, healthcare here can suck if you're seriously ill or in need of specialized care but you don't sound that bad off.

Don't pay too much attention to the negative comments here on the board, especially regarding crime on the island. Yes, it happens but it will not often affect you personally. Your daughter will benefit from the slower place of life, the lack of junk food and by experiencing a very unique way of life that is often miles apart from the mainland. However, she will likely pine for the trappings of the fast life once she gets into her mid-teens.

Don't look back, only forward. I'm glad I moved here 10 years ago with my family.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 12:53 pm
wesleyryan69
(@wesleyryan69)
Active Member

The public schools here are better than most give credit for. As far as a 12 yo girl, if she likes to run around barefoot, let her hair get messy and doesn't care about the new shinny thing, she will do okay here. If she like new clean clothes, make up and has a busy social life (for a 12 yo), this ain't the place for her.

I can't really speak of what it's like way out east, but as far as the west end, I know plenty of single mothers about your age, who moved here and are doing what you have.

With the money you have stocked away and the drive to find work, you'll be fine. I think this would be a great place to raise a kid.

Lol, you just summed my daughter up to a T. I'm afraid I've raised a tom boy. She likes the girl things too but she's not afraid of a little dirt.

That's what I would like too. Just to meet some people in the same boat as me. I'm 45 but I don't look like it. And I'm young at heart. My daughter wouldn't have me any other way.

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Topic starter Posted : September 3, 2014 12:54 pm
wesleyryan69
(@wesleyryan69)
Active Member

I applaud your sense of adventure! St. Coix is a great place to live and raise your daughter. Now is the perfect time to move here and get established before the next boom cycle. There are many options for housing from condos to houses and prices have never been more affordable but are now starting to rise.

As far as work goes, there is always opportunity for those willing to actually work hard and put in a full day, especially if you are multi-talented. Most jobs are not advertised so getting your social network up and running quickly is important.

I can't speak personally about the public schools other than to say that I know several families who have kids in public schools that do very well and are happy. The largest private school, Country Day, is outrageously expensive but some of the church affiliated schools are much cheaper as long as you can tolerate the religious indoctrination (or just fake it like some do).

As was mentioned in a previous post, healthcare here can suck if you're seriously ill or in need of specialized care but you don't sound that bad off.

Don't pay too much attention to the negative comments here on the board, especially regarding crime on the island. Yes, it happens but it will not often affect you personally. Your daughter will benefit from the slower place of life, the lack of junk food and by experiencing a very unique way of life that is often miles apart from the mainland. However, she will likely pine for the trappings of the fast life once she gets into her mid-teens.

Don't look back, only forward. I'm glad I moved here 10 years ago with my family.

Thanks! I'm not discouraged in any way. Life is what you make of it. I must get my daughter out of here. She needs to know that there is more to life than this place. Here, all she has to look forward to is drugs, poverty and teen pregnancy. There is absolutely nothing for a kid her age or even a young adult to look forward to. I've already lost my oldest daughter to the way of life here. Granted, I could lose her to that way of life any where we live but here there are zero options. She's so smart, beautiful and talented. The world is her oyster. I don't want this armpit of humanity to destroy her innocence like it did mine and her sister. She's not going to wind up a strung out, toothless meth freak with babies by multiple fathers who aren't even man enough to hang around and support them. I won't allow that. She wants to become a marine biologist and she can't study marine life first hand living in the dust bowl of North Central Texas.

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Topic starter Posted : September 3, 2014 1:15 pm
toninski
(@toninski)
Advanced Member

Do not be discouraged by some of the negative remarks. I moved here 3 years ahead of my husband with our three kids while he worked his last few years before retiring at 50. I got scared off the public schools so I bit the bullet and placed them in private. I had to work two jobs as a professional in the medical industry to afford it. I would probably go to pearl b Larsen public school if I were to do it all over. I find most of the public school students are being challenged academically much more than I saw in California before we left.

As for life here, our kids love it and there are plenty of things to keep them occupied. I have a 14 year old daughter, a 12 year olds on and a 9 year old daughter. The sense of community is amazing and it reminds me of what it was like growing up in a small town in the 70s. There is soccer, swim team, triathlons, school sports, dances, etc....and to throw in the rich culture of this island is the icing on the cake for our family. We are all scuba certified, except the youngest who has to wait until 10.... We have learned to sail, skim board, surf...well, not me,.....all things we did not do in snowy Northern California.

Yes, island life has challenges, but I still am so happy I left the rat race and came to a place where neighbors, and even strangers help you, just because.

There are amazing orthopedic doctors here, and you can absolutely get good care. My kids are healthy, and so are we, but I work in the medical field, so I see up close how good some of the doctors are. The wait at the hospital is awful at times, but it was that way in the states in some areas too.

Good luck in your venture....we love it, and have no regrets.

My hubby and I would meet you for a drink on your visit to help you out as much as we can!!

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Posted : September 3, 2014 1:29 pm
Jamison
(@Jamison)
Trusted Member

The public schools here are better than most give credit for. As far as a 12 yo girl, if she likes to run around barefoot, let her hair get messy and doesn't care about the new shinny thing, she will do okay here. If she like new clean clothes, make up and has a busy social life (for a 12 yo), this ain't the place for her.

I can't really speak of what it's like way out east, but as far as the west end, I know plenty of single mothers about your age, who moved here and are doing what you have.

With the money you have stocked away and the drive to find work, you'll be fine. I think this would be a great place to raise a kid.

Lol, you just summed my daughter up to a T. I'm afraid I've raised a tom boy. She likes the girl things too but she's not afraid of a little dirt.

That's what I would like too. Just to meet some people in the same boat as me. I'm 45 but I don't look like it. And I'm young at heart. My daughter wouldn't have me any other way.

If you come down "lookin' for chics", you will find nothing outside of a Santo WH. People have to get to know you. Nobody really trusts quick here, because it's so transient. If you're a good dude and patient, you'll meet women and plenty of great people. Nothing moves quickly here.

Take your time, spend it with your daughter and it'll come to you.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 1:32 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

I'd suggest getting your daughter immediately into watersports. Swimming, diving, windsurfing, sailing, etc.

Personally, and I know many do not agree because of the cost and labor, I believe at least a small runabout is desirable for your family. This is not-so-much on STX as there are not many other islands to go to, but if you were in STT/STJ the close proximity of tens of islands is nice. Keep in mind that with a watercraft you will generally not be welcome in National Parks.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 1:43 pm
rosesisland
(@rosesisland)
Trusted Member

I think it's wonderful to have your daughter experience more out of life than north central Texas. I'm from Arkansas. I came here in '95 exactly one month to the day before Marilyn hit and I lost most of my things I brought. I brought my daughter albeit she was 21 at the time and cute and had no problem finding work. It took me 3 months to secure a decent paying job, but, not in my field. I think me having a BBA got my foot in the door. But, like you, I had money saved. Not much, but, around 25k and that went fast, very fast.

I was 44 when I came here and had been widowed for 5 years. Because of Marilyn I had to move and moved next door to the nicest man. He and I married 9 years later and are still together today after 10 years of marriage. We left the island to take care of my elderly parents, one with Alzheimer's and the other with dementia, but, returned two years ago because we feel at home here. I don't want to live anywhere else and I've traveled the world extensively. This IS home!

I've visited the island many times while we were stateside and several time to condo row and never felt insecure. Gun fire is in all towns. When I lived in Little Rock in a nice neighborhood, I could here them. Heck, bring your gun for safety. You may have to jump through hoops but it's worth it to feel secure. Before doing check the laws as they widely differ from Texas.

Best of luck to you and your daughter! Junior high is the time that they start getting those bad influences and a good time to move her, IMO. This could be the greatest experience or gift you could give your child. Life is different here and that is what I love about this place. Rents are at their lowest and I think you will do fine!

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Posted : September 3, 2014 2:24 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

Hey.

Take a break and look at this thread I started, and look once again upon why you are coming:

View of the Virgin Islands

I'm sorry, but I just have simply not found suitable footage of STX to include.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 2:39 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Sounds as if you will do fine as the quality that employers look for is the intelligent, hard-working, can do attitude that you seem to possess. Much in demand and since you are well versed in so many areas, it does not limit your options.

I do not know the public school system in STX as I live in STT but parochial schools are an option/less expensive and I believe that the private schools do offer reduced/hardship (?) rates for qualified students and their families.

Make sure your Health Insurance coverage extends to the VI and keep it as finding it for an independent contractor is impossible and/or extremely expensive if you do find someone wiling to write one.

Once you do your PMV for the month, you should be able to find an affordable, comfortable and convenient rental location. A condo may be best to start off with as
you'll have a beach and a pool, plus with any luck, kids your daughter's age for her to get to know and play.

The worst that will happen is that after a year, you'll decide island life is not for you and move on to something else, somewhere else. If you are as determined as you seem, you should do just fine and your daughter, too. Welcome and enjoy.Good Luck to you both.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 5:27 pm
C_Ray6
(@C_Ray6)
Advanced Member

"The worst that will happen is that after a year, you'll decide island life is not for you and move on to something else, somewhere else. If you are as determined as you seem, you should do just fine and your daughter, too. Welcome and enjoy.Good Luck to you both."

I love that advice Alana. What is the harm in moving somewhere for a year and if it is not for you move on.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 6:29 pm
wesleyryan69
(@wesleyryan69)
Active Member

Thank you for all of your advice. Maybe we'll make it, maybe we won't. I'd rather try and fail than never try at all and regret it for the rest of my life. I can certainly understand why many expect failure. It happens all of the time. But sometimes people make it too and from what I can tell, it is usually those who work hard and don't just expect it to be handed to them on a silver platter. I don't expect paradise in paradise. I expect the same as I do here, hard work to make it in a paradise setting. If you have anything else you can think of which would be helpful, please post it or message me. Many blessings and much happiness to each of you!

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Topic starter Posted : September 3, 2014 8:31 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

just an fyi, the reef ( i dont think ) does not have a lot of kids. i believe they are mostly older people who are retired. the remodeled units are very nice, they have a pool, tennis? gold course. you might be better off trying to rent a house in a neighborhood

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Posted : September 3, 2014 9:07 pm
Iris Tramm
(@Iris_Tramm)
Trusted Member

just an fyi, the reef ( i dont think ) does not have a lot of kids. i believe they are mostly older people who are retired. the remodeled units are very nice, they have a pool, tennis? gold course. you might be better off trying to rent a house in a neighborhood

The Reef has a GOLD COURSE?!?

Sign me up!

IT

p.s. But, seriously, it's way out near nothing except the yacht club and the casino. When I lived out that way (at the YC), I always got the impression The Reef was full of snowbirds and there's no transportation to town from that far out. If I was a 12 year old, I'm not sure I'd want to live there.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 9:13 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Best to decide where daughter will be going to school and then choosing a rental location that is convenient for the commute and access to your work, shopping and play.

You may want to contact a Realtor during you PMV and get a insiders take on locations and neighborhoods. You can check the local papers to see what's available as well as check on MLS.

STX has AVIS and Crucian Trader. They get the Daily News as well but the majority of listings I see there are for STT locations. Crucian Trader is a weeky advertising paper with things for sale and rent. It's free.

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Posted : September 3, 2014 9:28 pm
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