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St. Thomas life

Posts: 2
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Topic starter

We just visited the Virgin Islands and fell in love. My husband and I have three kids (4,8, and 10) and a dog. He's all gung-ho about picking up the family and moving from Michigan (where the weather's very drab and job economy stinks) and heading to the island. I'm a little more wary.
Is it really that expensive cost of living to income ratio wise. Or does it work out about the same as it does in the states?
And my 8 yr old wears glasses, needs eye check-ups every six months, and is someone more prone to skin rashes? Is healthcare readily available and how expensive?
Also is work in general, my husband does mostly general laborer jobs, reliable and well paying?
And how expensive are veterinarians down there?

Any other info about moving to the island would greatly help. I think even if it was temporary, moving to St. Thomas would be a great experience for my kids I just want to explore all the negatives aspects of life there before relocating.

Posted : June 9, 2006 4:51 pm
Posts: 10
Active Member


We are doing exactly what you and your husband are contemplating - we move down on July 3rd. We too are moving from a poor economy in upstate NY and terrible weather for half the year. We have been to the island a number of times before and my father has lived there for the past four years, so we are moving with some connections and a job already secured.

There are other threads that you can check out but I thought it would be nice if somebody answered your post directly. It is a VERY big move. We are pretty adventurous people and have kids also (ages 6 and 4) but we have been stressed for six months trying to pull this thing off. The combination of getting details set here, packing, putting some winter things into storage, fixing up a house down on the island long distance, selling our cars, getting health insurance, setting the kids up for school next year - man...we are running out of steam!

Yes, it is expensive. Literally everything is shipped in and has a 4% duty applied to it. All your basic consumer goods are expensive except for maybe rum! Health care is pretty decent actually. There is a growing number of physicians in mid career who have moved down for a change in lifestyle, the cancer center just opened, etc. We know two surgeons personally and they say things in health care are really on the upswing.

The schools - public ones are not terrific (though there are exceptions I am told). Antilles School, the Montesouri School and the private Catholic schools are all good - but then you have the added expense.

Driving is pretty dicey if you are not used to driving on the left up and down steep hills with no shoulder.

On a social front, I don't know that I have ever met a concentration of more interesting, nicer people than those on St. Thomas. We are doing a fairly large renovation on a house and I am telling you person after person we have dealt with have been really great. We love the slower pace even if it can get frustrating if you are in a hurry. There are lots of things that are not perfect about living on St. Thomas, but if you are prepared to enjoy people day in and out and let the island culture shape you (because no one person is going to change the island!), I think it can be a very interesting and rewarding place to live. We would not be moving there otherwise.

I certainly realize that living someplace is different than visting but given how frequently we have been and the fact that we have family there already, I think we are as well informed as one can be without being there yet - just a few weeks.

Good luck figuring it all out Patricia.

Feel free to email me at if you would like to discuss it some more.


Posted : June 9, 2006 6:33 pm
(@Anya Spielberg)
Posts: 9
Active Member

Hi there. I saw your message on the board and wanted to introduce myself. We are moving to St. Croix for my husband's work on July 5th (just found out and have never been there). We have a 7 year old boy. In the thick of making all those moving decisions. What made you pick St. Thomas over St. Croix. We actually had a choice and weren't sure about the advantages of each. We aren't too traumatized by the move as we have lived in Costa Rica and Panama before. Very different from our home in Portland, Or, though. I wish you the best in your move. The car and pet situations are the ones we are currently struggling with the most.

Posted : June 16, 2006 2:21 am
Posts: 28
Eminent Member

hi anya,

we're moving to st. croix july 15 (from brooklyn but am originally from lake oswego, OR--small world!). i've looked into the pet situation quite a bit so pm me if you need some info.


Posted : June 16, 2006 3:50 am
Posts: 10
Active Member

St. Croix seems great. I wish you both the best of luck!


Posted : June 17, 2006 1:24 am
Posts: 3030

Hello Patricia,

Its been a while, but for eye glasses figure around $175-$200 for basic single vision lens and frame, up to $300-$500 for specialty lens (polycarb/ultralyte, transitional etc.) and frame. Sometimes there are specials. An eye exam is around $50-$60 for an optometrist and $100+ for the ophthalmologist. There aren’t any pediatric ophthalmologists on St. Thomas that I am aware of.

As for your child's sensitive skin; sun block, hats, sunglasses would be important and also using repellants to help avoid bug bites from mosquitoes and no-see-ums. If they are not used to the heat then heat rash or prickly heat might be an issue for them until they get acclimated. There is a dermatologist and an allergist; I say ‘a’ because I can only think of one of each on St. Thomas, there may be others.


Posted : June 19, 2006 10:02 pm
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