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Thunderstorm
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Joined: 16 years ago
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June 7, 2007 7:36 pm  

Hi there,
I have been lurking around this board—as well as several others—for some time now…trying to educate myself. Sorry in advance for the length of this post, but I am hoping to provide a little background on myself and my situation.
I am a 37-year-old male that lives in the Midwest, USA...where I have lived my entire life. I have been to STT a handful of times on vacation, and love the island. The climate, the culture, the warm and the friendliness is amazing. I recently decided that it’s time for a change in my life. I am tired of “dreaming” about living on STT. It’s time for me to start making some serious plans to accomplish my goals and realize my dreams. In my opinion, the only difference between a dream and reality is action…and it’s time for me to take action and make this happen.
I have read so many posts suggesting that people make an extend trip to the island (PMV) before moving. Here is my dilemma…or challenge. I need to make some friends prior to a PMV to sort of show me the “reality” of the island. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that this is the right time and the right place for me, probably not forever, but at least for several+ years. I know in my heart I am ready for this change.
My challenges: a job, and place to live. I’m not the spoiled type that needs life handed to them on a silver platter, just a way to make this work. I have several thousand dollars saved up to make this happen, but I don’t know if that is enough.
My job skills are looked upon as somewhat simple (I worked at McDonald’s for over 15 years…working my way from flipping burgers to being a general manager of several stores). I am very concerned about finding a way to make a living once I make the move. I do not really care if I work 40, 50, 60+ hours a week, I’m just looking for something that can support me. No matter how many thousands I have saved up, I realize that money will be drained quickly without employment.
Then there is the question of living arrangements. As long as it is safe, and somewhat close to work, I really do not care what the place looks like. I realize that there are SO MANY people who post on BB’s that have no real intention of moving, they are just fantasizing of the “good life”. That’s not me. If I can find a way to make this work financially, I’m there.
ANY help would be appreciated, and the sooner the better. I recently started back to college to earn my degree in business. I have a full ride academic scholarship and have to register for classes in the next several weeks if I am to retain it. I love school and learning, but it’s not where my heart is right now. I am ready to meet new people, experience new things, and embrace a side of life that so many people what, but are afraid to take a chance on.
Thanks in advice for any advice, I need to make this happen. It is time to stop dreaming, and to start embracing the energy of life and people I have always felt when I have been on the island.
Norman


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Thunderstorm
(@Thunderstorm)
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June 7, 2007 8:55 pm  

Please folks, just a little advice and help is all I'm asking for.
Best regards


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Becky R
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June 7, 2007 9:38 pm  

Norman, I'd suggest that you make reservations at Villa Fairview - make friends with Ronnie. He is known to be a wellspring of information for the newbies....I think making friends will be easier than you think, and with fast food experience as a manager, perhaps you can find something in that field or in the restaurant field in general. I can guarantee flipping burgers isn't going to pay your full way through life on STT.

Same advice holds true - be prepared with a lot of funds to tide you over. Be prepared for some sticker shock and culture shock - coming from the midwest, I can identify with you there, and it's not cheap to reestablish yourself, even in a fully furnished cottage or apartment. Unfortunately, you most likely will not find your job or housing on this board and that's the center point of life...maybe scoot over to the classifieds and post something there unless you have already - and be ready to take a job in a field completely different than anything you've ever known....but also remember you could be sliding backwards in the eyes of U.S. employers if you take something different.

My personal suggestion to you would be to take a long vacation and acquaint yourself more with the island, maybe during a break, but continue furthering your education. STT isn't going anywhere, LOL! I am assuming you are single from your post, which will make the transition easier....but perhaps one more year of school and then reevaluate? I also remember what it feels like to need that change in your soul and would never discourage you from pursuing your dream, as long as you realize that not every dream comes true in every way.

I would imagine you have a certain standard of living in the midwest - bear in mind that standard will most likely change significantly - and decide if you really want change that badly. Sometimes change is great, and sometimes not so much - you may not find what you want, or you may spend the rest of your natural days on STT.

Only you know what is best for you - but as far as getting acclimated and getting started, I would think Ronnie would be an excellent place to start. Good luck to you!


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jay
 jay
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June 7, 2007 9:56 pm  

First of all, I do not think you will have a huge problem finding work....I do know that some of the big projects like the Marriott time share projects are always looking for laborers and they pay between $10 and $15 per hour. Not sure if that is your kind of work but is a much needed workforce. As far as housing, you can easily find a small apartment for $800 per month if you look around.
I would suggest like the previous post, come down for a couple of weeks and go to job sights and talk to them about work and set up a start date and find an apartment while you are here. Because its the "low season" lots of apartments stay empty for a while and you can probably set something up to move in in 30 days or so. You can buy a beat up island car for 7 or 8 hundred dollars and use it to get to and from work. Food here is not cheap but if you like pasta, you can eat cheap as anywhere else.
I would just say if its what you really want, go for it. As they say........Live your dream, don't dream your life.....
If the labor trades are not your thing, restaurants are plentiful here and most can use a good honest hard working person to help run a kitchen.
Good luck to you and I would be happy to help however I can, if you need papers mailed to you or anything like that.....you can find them on line though.....Take a look at www.vidol.com (virgin islands dept of labor websight), they list jobs there and what the pay is for those jobs.
Good luck to you!!!!!!
Jay


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Thunderstorm
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June 7, 2007 10:04 pm  

Thank you so much Becky for your response.
I have been saying, “Someday I’ll do this” for to long now. It is time to poop or get off the pot. I will try to get a hold of Ronnie at Villa Fairview, seems like a nice chap form what you describe. Yes, I am single…so the stress will be much less. I was always taught that discussing money was taboo, but honesty is the only way at this point to make my way. I have 10,000 saved up at this point, without digging into investments or retirement. I REALLY want this to happen. I just need to find some folks to give me a helping hand (rather a push in the right direction). I am hoping that someone who is honest and hardworking can find some place to live and work in STT. “Flipping burgers” doesn’t cut it is my biggest fear at this point. I could surly go to school for a few more years and further my education, but I am tired of “covering the bases” at this point. Poor and happy is better…in my opinion—then $$$ and unhappy. I know this is what I what…NEEED to do. I just am prying that a job and a place to stay will fall into line somehow so I can make this happen.
I have no delusions here…It is not going to be “the love boat” simple, but it is worth it.
Thank you so much for your help and advice. If you have any other suggestions, PLEASE tell me.
Best regards,…and deepest respect…
Norman


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Thunderstorm
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June 7, 2007 10:08 pm  

Thank you Jay....
Do you liove on the island? Becky do you live there? I would be happy to provide $$ if I come down there if anyone could spend a few hours face to face to meet me and give me some pointers (a smiling face is a great motivation!).
With deepest respect...
Norm


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jay
 jay
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June 7, 2007 10:22 pm  

Yes I do live here (STT)...I moved here about 5 months ago and I love the island, just wish I had more time off to enjoy it.
It was probably a bit easier for me as i had a support network in place before I got here so you are right to want to meet with some folks before the move.


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Thunderstorm
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June 7, 2007 10:38 pm  

Hey Jay,
You have done exactly what I’m trying to do…find some kind of a support network. If you ever have time to call (collect) and give me some advice on jobs or apartments you see, PLEASE do call. I want—strike that—need to make this happen. :> I can always be reached at normanlantis2001@hotmail.com.
Thanks again for taking time to respond…
Best regards….and deepest respect...NORM


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Trade
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June 7, 2007 10:47 pm  

Go to a place that writes good resumes. It's not expensive to have done. You have a good background which, if presented properly will show you're a hard-worker & motivated since you worked your way up from the bottom to managing several stores. Good managers are not easy to find here.

If you're coming to STT for a visit or have a definite time you'll be moving, state that on the cover letters of your resume & set up appointments for after you arrive. Send them to the major hotels here such as Wyndham Sugar Bay & Marriott. You might find other management type positions. Ronnie can help steer you in the right direction & his place is priced right.

It's not difficult to get to know people here & you'll never know if this is for you or not until you give it a shot. It's like an itch that won't go away until you try to do it. You can also take classes at UVI if you move here.


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jay
 jay
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June 7, 2007 10:48 pm  

Norm, you can PM me here on this sight with any specific questions


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Thunderstorm
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June 8, 2007 4:13 am  

PM sent.
TKS Jay


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Thunderstorm
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June 8, 2007 4:32 am  

89 posts…but only 11 responses….please folks any help or info is welcome! If you have something to add, PLEASE DO!!!!!!!!


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glynnswife
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June 8, 2007 12:38 pm  

I have a friend who has a studio for rent in Bolongo for $800/month. Nice apartment within walking distance of Bolongo Beach.


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jay
 jay
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June 8, 2007 1:00 pm  

Hey Norm, thats not a bad area....lots of potential jobs around there too...several restaurants and not far from the Marriott....


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Alexandra
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June 8, 2007 3:33 pm  

A full scholarship to complete a business degree? And all you'd have to do is continue with that for a couple years (meeting lots of people and having new experiences in the process) and then you would be better equipped to make a good living in the islands or anywhere else? But you want to throw away that opportunity to rush to the USVI immediately?

Many people who want to move here make it a long range goal and do what has to be done for a few years to make it possible. This might be a good plan in your situation. Others jump in and come here with no skills to get jobs that are likely to pay a wage high enough to ever be more than one missed paycheck away from disaster. Those people often wind up returning to the mainland.

So if you rush to come here rather than complete your degree... and if you decide you don't like it here or if you can't make enough to live on... you might then be one of the people who return to the mainland. But you would have missed the chance to complete your degree and set yourself up with better job opportunities, no matter where you ultimately live in your life. Not everyone has the shot at a college education, much less one paid for by a scholarship. So if this is truly your situation, I'd counsel you to get the degree and then come down to the islands if you still want to.

Make another trip to STT between college quarters and live it like a PMV rather than a vacation. Check out the kind of jobs you would qualify for now versus ones you would be considered for if you had the degree. Then look at the lifestyle in the islands each would make possible. It's not hard to see which would be more pleasant and allow you more freedom to enjoy the islands.

Best of luck.


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Becky R
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June 8, 2007 4:20 pm  

Alexandra and I have agreed! I would say this is a red letter day - drinks all around! Only difference is that T'storm is 37 years old - perhaps his extensive background would serve him as well as the business degree on island or in the States, but now so many places want a college degree. I would imagine any company that is stateside based would appreciate that little benefit and wherever you are, it can only be a feather in your cap and a plus on your side.


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Shawn
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June 8, 2007 9:45 pm  

Thunderstorm,

What questions do you have that you need answered to decide whether or not you make your move? I'd be happy to answer specific questions.


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Thunderstorm
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June 9, 2007 2:33 am  

Alexandra,
Your advice about attending school and getting my degree is spot on…up to a point. If I were a younger man—not that 37 is that old—I would certainly stay the course of going to school. Even though I have only completed one semester I really enjoyed it and achieved all A+’s. However here is the rub…I have been putting off my “dream” of moving to the Caribbean for so many years now, that there is just this little voice inside of me that keeps telling me to take the chance, stop dreaming, and start making this a reality. I realize it is way cliché, but life does seem like it is passing me by while I keep making plans.
I have always been the type of person that once I make a commitment to something, I stick with it. This has been both my strongest and weakest point. When I went back to school, I told myself I would give it my all for one semester, and then make a decision as to whether I would continue or start making plans to make my move. I have lived in the Midwest for so long now, that I certainly would not say this is an easy decision. Life changing decisions usually aren’t.
I have an appointment with the university this coming Tuesday to discuss options…such as online study, or possibly sitting out a semester or two. I love to learn, but living on STT would most certainly be a learning experience. My two biggest concerns continue to be housing and a job. I’m not looking for a mansion on a hill and a power job, just a safe place I can afford, and a livable wage for a hard days work.
My draw to STT is the energy that I have always felt when I was there. There is such a buzz in the air, it’s almost electric! From reading this board, people have reinforced the fact that most people live on the island because they like the lifestyle. Most folks there seem to value friends and embracing the enjoyment of life on the island. It’s that spirit that I’m looking for in life right now. I lived most of my life in a big city—Indianapolis, IN—and so many people there are just sterile in there interactions with the people around them. It’s a beautiful city, but it’s just so unfriendly. I currently live in a small town with a population of less than 7,000. People here are very friendly, but every day is a carbon copy of the day before…predictable as it gets. I love the people, but it’s time to move on. STT seems like it will offer a nice balance between the two. I do not expect things to be all peaches and cream as there will certainly be hard times and homesickness. However, tough times mean opportunities and opportunities mean a path to enjoyment and happiness.
I am not 100% sold on the move yet, but if I can solve the job and housing issue, I believe that I will certainly be calling STT my new home.
Sorry for the long post:<…just trying to provide a little background on why I think this is the right thing for me and that now is the right time.
Best regards,
Norm


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Linda J
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June 9, 2007 9:21 am  

So if you've got the money to come, then come. But you will not be able to nail down a job or an apartment until you are on-island. Your skill set is general and employers will want to see you standing in front of them before offering you a job. And you will definitely want to see any apartment before committing $$$$.

Because so many people talk about moving and never really do, employers and landlords rarely take the time to communicate with potential employees/tenants until they are here.

I usually recommend at least $10,000 cash in hand, but it can be done for less. Largest expense is first, last and deposit on any rental -- this can easily run $3,000. Add utility/phone deposits, getting transportation and living expenses for a month or two and costs add up.

But if it's just you and you are flexible, it can be done. Just don't bring all your worldly possessions with you and make sure you have emergency money for a ticket home.


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jay
 jay
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June 9, 2007 12:11 pm  

Norm, there are some additional housing options that will be a bit cheaper...One example is of course Ronnie's place at Villa Fairview, there is also the same basic option at the Best Western Carib near the airport. They set aside a certain amount of rooms for long term rentals at $800 per month...Those are just two, but I am sure there are more and these would solve the first last and security issue and give you time to search the island for the apartment right for you....


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Becky R
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June 9, 2007 1:36 pm  

T'storm -

Someone may have already addressed this issue - I got caught up in something else and lost my train of thought....if you will use the search feature at the top of the page and just search the keywords you are interested in, like "shipping car" or "bartender" or "utilities" - whatever it is your little heart desires can probably be found in the archives of this board. Things change from time to time, but the basic info remains the same as far as names of vehicle shippers, how to get a job or apartment, what financial expenditures and income to expect, etc. If there is a particular neighborhood on STT that you think might be a player for you, try the name of the quarter or something. It's a lot faster than posting and waiting on answers....and you don't have to read every single thing there is. I doubt you are daydreaming about Kenny Chesney, so there's an obvious that could be skipped over.

Also, have you read the moving stories off the first page? A lot of info can be gleaned from that area as well. As far as accommodations for short term, I don't think you could go wrong with Ronnie - but maybe go to the top right hand corner and click on the vacation board as well and see if there is anything there that catches your eye, maybe on the safari route or something, so that you don't spend all your time looking at a map.

Good luck to you!


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East Ender
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June 9, 2007 1:58 pm  

T'storm: Only because you asked so nicely will I add my advice. 😉 (Sheesh, EE don't forget the smiley!!)

First, I know you feel you are sincere and others might NOT be sincere about moving here, but employers hear this same thing over and over. You will need to be here, physically, in person, to find most work. If you don't want to make a look-see visit, then come down, get a place to stay for a couple of weeks, look around, find work and a place to stay.

When you arrive, greet everyone and tell them you are the new meat! You will get more advice than you can shake a stick at. But you will be able to network in this way. Joe will tell you he heard that Sam had an apartment. The lady on the corner will tell you she heard that Wendy's is looking for help, etc.

Settling in is the period when you learn about where the laundry is and how to get WAPA service. You will also meet folks. They will probably be nice, but a bit stand-offish. You will eventually find your way. Best wishes.


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coolchica27
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June 11, 2007 9:29 pm  

Hey Norm,

As someone who has done this move twice, once with the benefit of a professional degree and once without, I had to throw in my ten cents! I agree with Alexandra 110%! Staying in school can only enhance your opportunities!

I moved to a small island (not USVI) in my early 20's and although I had a college degree and a decent job, I did not have the respect, flexibility or earnings my peers enjoyed! Although I am younger than you, I totally get where you are coming from. I too, played the age game, until I realized, God willing, I would grow older anyway--i could do it with or without an advanced degree. The same applies for you--you, hopefully, will turn 41 anyway and the USVI will always be here, but a free education may not.

Now, the second time around, I actually have choices and the USVI is just one of them. It pays off, I promise!

P.S. Indy is not that bad-- I spent a summer there!


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Thunderstorm
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June 13, 2007 10:39 pm  

Good day folks!
Well, I have done it. I officially turned down my job offer in the states today and I am ready to make the move to STT. I have family coming this weekend to get first grabs at furniture and household items, and then I am going to probably donate the rest.
The ball is now rolling and there is no looking back! I’m excited as can be, but a little scared nonetheless—a healthy combination I hope—but I have thought and re-thought this out and the nagging felling that this is the right thing for me is just too strong to dismiss. I am hoping to find temporary housing on the island for the middle of next month. Once that is accomplished, I will book the airfare and head off into the adventure of a lifetime.
A big concern right now—and you wont get this if your not an cat lover—is finding a good home for my to kittens (Mr. Reagan and Mr. Clinton)…a bipartisan group if there ever was one…lol. I would love to bring them along, but from everything I have been reading, it’s not exactly a pet friendly rental atmosphere on STT. I can’t say I blame property owners; there are more than a few bad pet owners that ruin it for everyone.
Once I have secured a rental and booked the airfare, the ball will start rolling quickly, so I have eaten an extra energy bar and I am ready to go the distance! Thanks for all the public postings and private PM’s; they have been essential in making an informed decision!!
I’m sure I will have many last minute questions before my departure, so your continued help will be most appreciated!!!
God bless and best regards,
Norm


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Juanita
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June 14, 2007 1:42 am  

Hi Thunderstorm,

Didn't realize there was a job offer, thought your issue was a scholarship. Also, you seemed pretty intense about lining up a job and housing on STT before making a commitment. You said you needed to make it work financially.

Did something happen that wasn't part of this thread? You started your post on June 8th, saying you were not 100% sure of the move. You said you had a full ride scholarship but your heart wasn't in it "right now". Five days later you have turned down a job and the and family are invited to shop in your closet.

I sincerely wish you luck, but quite honestly, I can't imagine not taking advantage of the scholarship. I know you are going to say this is your "dream". Please elaborate on that. What is it that lures you to the VI that is more important to you than an education, which becomes part of you, and you could bring with you later?

You mentioned "energy" and a "buzz that is almost electric". Sorry, I don't get it. Now, if you had said a laissez faire or "manana" attitude, I might understand better.

Are you planning to pursue your degree here, at UVI? Thirty-seven is not exactly over the hill, but you are running out of good college years.

But, hey, we're all different, and that's what makes the world go 'round.

All the best,
Juanita


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