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STJ moving, input wanted
Alright, I feel like I have been posting on here more than I'd like, but as our move to STJ is quickly approaching I realize I have LOTS of questions. Here is our current dilemma:
We had booked a place to stay for 9 days in STJ. We realize that is pretty ambitious to hope to find permanent housing within those 9 days (we booked it 6months+ ago). We can get a full refund on the place we booked. So,
We found two places that will offer us reasonable pricing for a one month stay. We would feel more secure in finding housing with this length of a stay.
Place 1 is on STT (Charlotte Amalie). We WANT to be on STJ. How long does it take to get from Charlotte Amalie to STJ? If we are planning to be focused on trying to find housing/jobs on STJ, should we even consider it? We would have to ferry over to check Connections out every few days, to view apartments, etc.
Place 2 is on STJ. However, it is in Coral Bay, and ideally, we would likely look for housing in Cruz Bay. This is the more expensive of the two rentals- but trying to figure out if being on STJ is worth the extra cost, even though it isn't in the area we will be hoping to find a long term rental.
Part of me wants to take the cheaper housing on STT just to keep costs down and have more in savings, since I am sure unexpected costs will pop up along the way. However, if I want to live on STJ, it makes sense to spend more in order to be on my island of choice, make it easier to view rentals/network, etc.
Any input/advise?! What makes the most sense??
Stick with your original plan of 9 days if in Cruz Bay where you prefer.
You'll be able to figure things out and if you need help, either your rental owner can help, you can check out bulletin board at Connections, ask a local realtor for help. Engage people you meet.
2nd plan - go hang out in Coral Bay as long as you have your own transportation at that point in time. Ditto as above.
If STJ is really where you want to be, forget staying on STT, especially all the way in Charlotte Amalie and all that entails just getting back and forth and travel expenses and time unless you're considering living there as an option.
I agree, forget about staying on STT if you are sure you want to live on STJ. You could ferry back and forth, but that can get expensive and time consuming.
What time of year are you coming? And what is you budget for temporary lodging and long term rental?
There is a bus that runs from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay but it can sometimes be a bit unreliable for the simple reason if it breaks down, getting another bus in service, or fixing the broken one takes time. BUT, hitchhiking on STJ is common practice and it's usually not too hard to get a ride to most places. Bonus of doing that is you meet people along the way and get leads on housing and jobs that may not be posted anywhere.
We are coming next month. We fly in the 20th of June and plan to stay on STT two nights before ferrying over to STJ (incase anything goes wrong with our Jeep being shipped- so yes, we will have a vehicle).
I may stick with the 9 day rental- I am just concerned that won't be enough time. We could always book another place on Air Bnb for a week if we need to find another temp housing situation.
We were hoping to keep it around $1,600 for the temp. month while we look. Both the monthly rentals we found were close in that range- the one on STT around 1500, STJ was 2200 (I know this is still very reasonable for a month stay on STJ! Just wanting to be frugal as possible to make our savings go as far as possible.
For a long term rental, 1200 would be our maximum budget per month- but I would feel more comfortable around 1,000. This is another reason I am concerned about only having 9 days to find something- rentals seem pretty limited within this range in STJ- STT not so much.
First, I agree with others that if you really want to live/work on STJ then don't even think about staying on STT and "commuting" to STJ.
Second, a 9 day rental is very "short" to find both work and more permanent housings so I'd opt for a month long "temporary' rental - you'll find it less stressful. And, it doesn't really matter if that temporary rental is in Cruz Bay or Coral Bay. The island is small (only about 20 sq. miles in total area, 2/3's of which is the National Park) and those two towns are only about 9 miles apart - 20 minute drive between the two and besides during your "research time" you'll be driving all over the island looking at employment and permanent housing options.
Third, your "temporary time" is a fact finding mission and even though you want to do it as inexpensively (or frugally to use your term) as possible the reality is you are going to probably end up spending more rather than less until you get settled. While you you don't want to squander your resources you'll find the money you spend during your "research time" will be well spent and, in the whole scheme of things won't amount to very much. Remember, the goal is to discover what island life is really like and if it is something you can really live with.
Good luck with your move.
How long does it take to get from Charlotte Amalie to STJ? If we are planning to be focused on trying to find housing/jobs on STJ, should we even consider it?
Well, it depends a little bit on what time of day you go over. If you take the Red Hook ferry, you would have to deal with the hassle of traffic in addition to the ferry time. Assuming you take the safari bus instead of paying for taxis, it would cost less but add time. The average trip would be about 40 minutes each way, could be a little quicker or a lot slower with traffic. There is a ferry that sometimes runs from downtown Charlotte Amalie but service is limited to certain times of day, and sometimes it doesn't run at all even when scheduled.
In any event, I agree with everyone else -- it's a huge challenge to stay on STT and try to line up anything on STJ. It will exhaust you at best, and once you've added in the ferry and taxi costs for two people, the remaining savings really won't be worth it. Driving back and forth from Coral Bay every day would be way less time, and less taxing.
To move to STJ, you need to be on STJ, meeting people and telling everyone you are looking for a place to live, at every opportunity. If it's a challenge to afford the initial transition, keep in mind that it may not get any easier anytime soon.
Normally I would say go for the 9-day stay, but you are arriving right as STJ Festival (Carnival) events are ramping up. So if it takes a little longer to find housing and you need a new short-term place, it may be hard to find one for that first week of July.
If you rent for a month, you'll have less pressure to choose an option right away and a better chance of finding the right place. If you rent for nine days, you could get lucky, or you might wind up having to choose something that doesn't quite work just so you have a place to move into.
Finally, don't expect to find much in the $1,000 range near Cruz Bay. A few years ago it wasn't unreasonable to find something in that range, but in the last couple years many landlords have been converting long-term rentals to AirB&Bs. Because there are only so many apartments on St John, rents have gone up fast - it's a real problem for those of us living here. For a place that's realistically big enough for two people, expect to be on the higher end of your range.
Good luck, and let us know how it all works out!
Does your max long term budget of $1200 include utilities? Either way, that is going to be hard to find. Places that rent for $1200 or less a month are probably in the highest demand for single people who don't want to have roommates. Having a vehicle is a huge plus since it will open up your possibilities quite a bit. But you shouldn't expect much with a budget that low.
If you were coming a bit later, just after July 4th, I would say your 9 day rental would be a safe bet. But since your 9 day stay, arriving June 22 or so, you would have to check out right in the middle of one of the busiest times on St. John where short term inexpensive rentals can be scarce. The island in general is going to be on party mode from June 28 until July 5. I wouldn't expect to have a lot of delays in getting call backs/showings/etc. Great for networking, not so much for getting things done. Just something to take into consideration.
I've had friends who come to STJ to work for extended periods of time and they have had luck low balling a Airbnb listing for a month rental that had lots of openings. Never hurts to ask.