Thinking about movi...
 

Thinking about moving, but have some concerns. Thoughts?  

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mountain man '79
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June 27, 2013 7:41 pm  

Hello Everyone,

My wife and I are discussing a possible move to STT or STX. We have traveled to the islands and others multiple times and we both agree that we are ready for a change. We are tired of the cold snowy winters. We are both lovers of the beach and the overall climate of the islands.

We have two daughters (a 5 year old and a one month old). I think that this could be an amazing experience for both of them. The slower pace of island life is certainly a welcomed change, even though it will take a little getting used to.

We have looked into many aspects of island living and purchased some informative items to help as well. However, I am a firm believer that the best information you can get is straight from the source, the people. That being said, we have concerns or rather reservations about moving to STT. To whoever reads this and decides to comment, we thank you.

What kind of income would allow us to live somewhat comfortably? I am looking at this from my current standard of living: 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home. 2 cars. 2 kids (one in private school the other daycare full time). Satellite TV, Internet, cell phones, etc.

Work seems to be rather scarce in the islands (to be expected). However, does anyone think or know if having higher education has any advantage to helping locate work?

How does a cistern compare to having city-managed water? (e.g. cleanliness)

Crime seems to be a rather large issue on any of the islands. Has anyone seen a distinct improvement in this area? Why is the homicide rate so high year after year?

This last area of concern is a sensitive subject for many. So I hope not to offend anyone and if I do, I whole-heartily apologize. Many postings I have read address the topic of race. According to many of these posts, white people are generally not welcome, especially as transplants. Personally I do not care about what others think of me, however, I do care about how my family is treated.

Any information anyone can provide me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


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AandA2VI
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June 27, 2013 8:58 pm  

***DISCLAMER***
All of the following opinions are that of A&A2VI and based on MY experience only. HAHHAHA!

Hello Everyone,

My wife and I are discussing a possible move to STT or STX. We have traveled to the islands and others multiple times and we both agree that we are ready for a change. We are tired of the cold snowy winters. We are both lovers of the beach and the overall climate of the islands.
The weather here is awesome IMO. I too hate the cold!

We have two daughters (a 5 year old and a one month old). I think that this could be an amazing experience for both of them. The slower pace of island life is certainly a welcomed change, even though it will take a little getting used to.
I dont have kids nor want them but I see kids running around at Hull Bay just loving island life. I think finding a safer neighborhood would be the key to raising kids here. It also seems that people seem to watch out for each other, at least IME on the North Side. I think the islands would be a great place to raise kids and learn how to treat nature and not to be too involved with having designer clothes and stuff.

We have looked into many aspects of island living and purchased some informative items to help as well. However, I am a firm believer that the best information you can get is straight from the source, the people. That being said, we have concerns or rather reservations about moving to STT. To whoever reads this and decides to comment, we thank you.
You will need to be bring lots of $ and an OPEN MIND. Thats IMO all you really need.

What kind of income would allow us to live somewhat comfortably? I am looking at this from my current standard of living: 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home. 2 cars. 2 kids (one in private school the other daycare full time). Satellite TV, Internet, cell phones, etc.
I have a 2bdrm 2 bath on the Northside. Maybe 900sqft ish. No kids, two of us.
We pay the following monthly:
Rent: $1400
Choice Internet: $57
Dish with HBO, SHO and similar: $50
Cell Phones: $120 for AT&T for unlimited everything.
Electric: $150 average.. we do a lot to conserve. One load of laundry a week (both electric) TV- 3-4 hours day average, charging of cell phones and computers. No dishwasher, microwave etc. Only thing left plugged in when were away is the fridge.
Groceries: $400 month average
Gas in two cars: $150-200ish

Work seems to be rather scarce in the islands (to be expected). However, does anyone think or know if having higher education has any advantage to helping locate work?
If its in the medical, government or repair trades, yes. Anything else, no. IME it is a lot about not being a newbe, people seem to be hesitant because of turn over which is understandable.

How does a cistern compare to having city-managed water? (e.g. cleanliness)
Cleaner, IMO. We put a little bleach in the water but other than that we have a brita filter on the faucet and I would think the water has less junk in it than city water. You will want to conserve so you dont run out but its easy to check and see where you're at.

Crime seems to be a rather large issue on any of the islands. Has anyone seen a distinct improvement in this area? Why is the homicide rate so high year after year?
Because criminals have no personal accountability and lack of punishment from Police. High cost of living combined with low pay. Respect issues and parents not cracking down on their kids for bad behavior early in life.

This last area of concern is a sensitive subject for many. So I hope not to offend anyone and if I do, I whole-heartily apologize. Many postings I have read address the topic of race. According to many of these posts, white people are generally not welcome, especially as transplants. Personally I do not care about what others think of me, however, I do care about how my family is treated.
Totally not true IME. Once in a great while I will encounter someone who has a tude but really once I start chatting them up, they usually turn out to be very nice. This may piss some people off but IME it is not the west indianers that Ive seen with attitudes... and I am white.

Any information anyone can provide me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Bring lots of $$ and be flexible. Don't expect anything. We are 7 months in and LOVE it.


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Afriend
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June 27, 2013 9:59 pm  

I'll add a few comments:

"What kind of income will you need" - That really depends on YOUR lifestyle. You don't say where you live now but in general you can expect that to maintain the same lifestyle where you currently live you'll spend anywhere from 25% to 35% more in the USVI's. The difficulty comes in wages which generally are significantly lower in the USVI's than for comparable positions back on the mainland. Many people work two jobs in order to make ends meet or they make significant changes in their lifestyle.

If you haven't done so already - use the dropdown menus at the top of the forum page (start on the left and move toward the right) and READ EVERYTHING you find there. You'll be amazed at the amount of information. Also, use the search feature on the forum to bring up hundreds of threads on all the matters you are asking about - Topics like private schooling, crime, cost of living, job availability, even cisterns have been discussed in great detail many, many times.

Give serious thought to making a Pre-Move Visit BEFORE you make your final decision to relocate. If you can, come for a few weeks or even a couple of months - find out what it is really like to live in the islands - IT IS MUCH DIFFERENT than being here on vacation.

Also, save up as much money as you can before making the actual move - the bigger your nest egg the easier it will be to make the transition. You'll need at least 6 month's living expenses to make the move and if you have more that's all well and good. You'll need money to support yourself until you find gainful employment and how long that will take is anyone's guess. The economy in the islands is slow just like it is on the mainland, maybe even slower do to the fact that the economy is based on tourism which is down due to the poor economy.

Crime is a fact of life in the islands - the islands may seem like paradise but they are not heaven.

Good luck in your research and following your dream.


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East Ender
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June 28, 2013 1:12 am  

Re: higher education- it depends in what. If you are in health care or law, yes, it helps. A Ph.D.in oriental history isn't so useful.

Re: crime- porous borders, gangs, gun and people running, lack of enforcement of laws.


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speee1dy
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June 28, 2013 12:41 pm  

the murder rate is actually lower this year than previous. shocking but true. most, but not all, is gang/drug related. there have been a lot of robberies in christiansted lately.
private schools are pricey. at least 15,000. a year per student. stx has good hope country day ( just merged into one school ) and a few others
you can generally find all you need, but if not-shop on line.
groceries are higher and the quality at the stores for fresh produce is not like stateside. you can not always find what you need at one store. i remember one time i was going to make a cake with blueberries, went to 5 places before i found them. one year for thanksgiving i had a hard time finding celery. went to a few stores that time.
i think with your kids at the age they are, you and them will have plenty of fun.
health care leaves a lot to be desired according to most people. locals as well as non locals, if they can, go off island for a lot of health care.
our hospital on stx is having tons of issues-research here for info.
people who live on stt say there is more to do on their island-stx is more laid back. stj is pricier

do lots of research before you make a decision.


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margaritagirl
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June 28, 2013 1:12 pm  

mountain man, I sent you a PM.


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mountain man '79
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June 28, 2013 3:04 pm  

I want to thank everyone for their responses thus far. It has been both refreshing and eye opening for sure. I cannot say that we have been dissuaded, but we are certainly a little more cautious about this move. Truly this biggest issue are our children. Education is important in that they get a good basic education. The rest of it is up to us as parents.

I have some new questions. IN regards to the criminal activity, is it in certain areas or neighborhoods? Is it somewhat segregated from other areas? As for the robbery issues, is this geared more towards tourists, or pretty much everyone in general? Guns sound to be prominent on the islands, is this true? Also, are the gun laws strict?

Thank you again to everyone for you input and feedback.

Respectfully,

Mountain Man '79


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Alana33
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June 28, 2013 3:43 pm  

The is no one location that is completely exempt from crime nor any one segment of population, IMO.
There are areas that are less likely to be targeted but even high priced, gated communities can have thefts, break-ins.

In my present Dorothea/STT location, I have not had any problems in the 10 yrs. I have lived here (except for fruit thieves - see https://www.vimovingcenter.com/talk/read.php?4,205873 ), nor any at my rental house in Estate Mandahl/Mandahl Peak where I lived prior to my move to Dorothea.
My tenants have had no issues over the years as well.


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mountain man '79
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June 28, 2013 3:48 pm  

It seems that STJ is now in the running. This has become an increasingly difficult decision to pick an island. I honestly never thought that would be an issue. I am not complaining. Just enjoying that this is the hardest decision thus far. However, I do imagine that there will be difficult choices ahead.

As for the job market, my wife is a teacher and I work for the government. We both have college educations and extensive experience. I am of the impression that my wife should not have much trouble, but I won't be as lucky. Can anyone confirm or deny these thoughts? Also, what does a teacher make down there?

Thanks again.


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Alana33
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June 28, 2013 4:13 pm  

I am prejudiced. St. Thomas is, for me, the best location.

Prices are higher in STT than in STX for rentals and gas but less than STJ. Groceries, cost of WAPA and other things are about the same from island to island tho STJ can have higher grocery prices and less of a choice. Most people living in STJ will find it necessary at some point to hop on the barge to come to STT to shop for items they cannot find in STJ. Some make a weekly or monthly stocking up trip.

Schools are limited in STJ so kids may end up having to take a ferry to commute to school in STT. STT has lots of options for schools, private, parochial and public, depending on your budget and childrens ages as well as your expectations.

Jobs will be easier to come by on STT if you have a particular skill set. Do you want to live in STJ and work on STT?
It means commuting by ferry and having transportation via safari bus to get to your job location which increases your costs, if the safari actually goes close to where you need to go.

You have access to STJ with just a ferry ride or car barge away to spend the day exploring the island and access to easily explore the BVI and all their islands (passports required) via the ferry, day sailing trips or other various tours/excursions. The closest offshore place to STX is Buck Island and one has a lengthy sail or boat ride back and forth between STT/STX (if/when they have a STX ferry running back and forth to STT). STT is 36 miles sea buoy to sea buoy from STX. Best way to travel between STX & STT is the seaplane. There are tons of beaches to explore on all 3 islands and lots of options which depend solely on your needs and budget.

Just remember, if you are an impatient or up-tight person, island life may not be for you. It is not suitable for all everyone as it is.
Good Luck on whatever you decide.


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OldTart
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June 28, 2013 5:45 pm  

It seems that STJ is now in the running. This has become an increasingly difficult decision to pick an island. I honestly never thought that would be an issue. I am not complaining. Just enjoying that this is the hardest decision thus far. However, I do imagine that there will be difficult choices ahead.

As for the job market, my wife is a teacher and I work for the government. We both have college educations and extensive experience. I am of the impression that my wife should not have much trouble, but I won't be as lucky. Can anyone confirm or deny these thoughts? Also, what does a teacher make down there?

Thanks again.

Not sure why you picked STJ as in the running as STT would in my opinion be the obvious choice of a home base. Your wife may not have a problem finding employment in the school system either public or private on STT (private for many reasons way better than public). Be assured that the machinations of whatever government you work for bears precious little resemblance to that which you'll find here and if you're talking local government choices, think again. No way that a newbie either has or will ever secure a major government job here unless that person has been here for several years. Federal government could well be different but I guess that's not the case otherwise you wouldn't be posting here.

Apart from all else, the schooling of your children is going to be a hard nut to crack. Many couples who've either lived here most of their lives or moved here and miraculously found the love of their life, leave here when their children reach school age. The private schooling here is awesome and I don't think there's any question about that. But it's very expensive.

The very best advice I can offer you (I moved here in 1984) is to make a concentrated pre-move visit, details of which you'll find in the pull-down menus top of this page. Posts from several years ago are today as relevant as they were back then where newcomers or wannabees are concerned.

Good luck!


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AandA2VI
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June 28, 2013 6:11 pm  

I am prejudiced. St. Thomas is, for me, the best location.

Prices are higher in STT than in STX for rentals and gas but less than STJ. Groceries, cost of WAPA and other things are about the same from island to island tho STJ can have higher grocery prices and less of a choice. Most people living in STJ will find it necessary at some point to hop on the barge to come to STT to shop for items they cannot find in STJ. Some make a weekly or monthly stocking up trip.

Schools are limited in STJ so kids may end up having to take a ferry to commute to school in STT. STT has lots of options for schools, private, parochial and public, depending on your budget and childrens ages as well as your expectations.

Jobs will be easier to come by on STT if you have a particular skill set. Do you want to live in STJ and work on STT?
It means commuting by ferry and having transportation via safari bus to get to your job location which increases your costs, if the safari actually goes close to where you need to go.

You have access to STJ with just a ferry ride or car barge away to spend the day exploring the island and access to easily explore the BVI and all their islands (passports required) via the ferry, day sailing trips or other various tours/excursions. The closest offshore place to STX is Buck Island and one has a lengthy sail or boat ride back and forth between STT/STX (if/when they have a STX ferry running back and forth to STT). STT is 36 miles sea buoy to sea buoy from STX. Best way to travel between STX & STT is the seaplane. There are tons of beaches to explore on all 3 islands and lots of options which depend solely on your needs and budget.

Just remember, if you are an impatient or up-tight person, island life may not be for you. It is not suitable for all everyone as it is.
Good Luck on whatever you decide.

What she said lol. I think STT is a good place to start VI living. There is more to do and its a blast to go to STJ for the day or any of the BVIs. I get to do that weekly and I love that aspect about STT. After living on STT I don't think I would move to STX for any length of time. This came as a surprise to me especially as I fell in love with STX so much when I did my PMV there. If STX had the location of STT I would defiantly live there, I like the terrain and food much better but it is just to remote for me at this point.


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STXBob
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June 28, 2013 6:40 pm  

If you travel a lot, then STT is the most convenient.

If you want more elbow room and cheaper real estate, then try STX.

STT and STX both have similar crime levels. STJ has lower crime, but still higher than stateside.

STJ is the most expensive and the least convenient for shopping and other services.


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East Ender
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June 28, 2013 10:12 pm  

As for the job market, my wife is a teacher and I work for the government. We both have college educations and extensive experience. I am of the impression that my wife should not have much trouble, but I won't be as lucky. Can anyone confirm or deny these thoughts? Also, what does a teacher make down there?

Teachers who work for the public schools probably make less than in the states, but many people forget to add on the perks of a territorial job- excellent health insurance, many, many holidays (like 25? or so), vacation, For those who teach for private schools, the reduction in tuition for their children is frequently a draw.

You say you work for the government. Which one and what do you do? There are some federal jobs, but territorial government jobs (unless you have a specialized skill) would be difficult to get.


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Linda J
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June 29, 2013 2:35 am  

If your wife finds a job with a private school, tuition at that school may be waived for your child - which would be a huge benefit!!


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mountain man '79
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June 29, 2013 2:54 am  

I work for the US Fish & Wildlife Service. I am an HR specialist. I have a Masters degree of Public Administration and a Bachelors in Public Safety/Criminal Justice. I have a rainbow of experience in the workforce; food service, construction, manufacturing, retail, HR, and Labor Law.
Not exactly the most marketable for the islands I imagine.

Any advice would be appreciated.


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sttpepper
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June 29, 2013 4:03 am  

I work for the US Fish & Wildlife Service. I am an HR specialist. I have a Masters degree of Public Administration and a Bachelors in Public Safety/Criminal Justice. I have a rainbow of experience in the workforce; food service, construction, manufacturing, retail, HR, and Labor Law.
Not exactly the most marketable for the islands I imagine.

Any advice would be appreciated.

---------

If you are patient, you will be able to find employment.
You could contact the fish & Wildlife Service in St. Thomas for any Job opportunities they have. As for other HR options, you would need to learn the differences between federal labor law and the local labor laws.

Note: I agree with prior posts that STJ is probably not the first choice since it most expensive and few job opportunities. You can rent a place in STT for first 6 months and move to STJ later if you desire.


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Alana33
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June 29, 2013 11:41 am  

I know that F&W has sent people fleeing so they may have openings if you have thick skin and can deal with incompetency from the head of that dept. DPNR (Dept. of Planning and natural Resoures) certainly has some openings since a couple of their guys are in jail for dealing drugs.


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casalafamigliastjohnvilla
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June 29, 2013 1:59 pm  

Gifft Hill School in St. John is a wonderful private school and they do quite a bit of fundraising which helps fund many of the terrific programs they have. Good luck to your family. www.giffthillschool.org


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mountain man '79
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June 29, 2013 2:19 pm  

I guess incompetency has no boundaries. Too bad to ear about te drug dealing DNR. Definitely worth a look. THanks for the info.


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East Ender
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June 29, 2013 2:40 pm  

Fish and Wildlife here has a small office. They are listed in the phone book under DPNR which is territorial, but they are federal? Doesn't make any sense, but that is par for the course. I think there is a lot of overlap between federal and territorial oversight. I know someone who has to submit reports to the EPA in Big America, but locally DPNR wants hard copies of the same report the feds allow to be sent electronically. The Department of Redundancy Department, I guess.You might want to check to see about other federal agencies like Customs, Justice, Homeland Security, District Court, etc. which have larger workforces. The National Park Service is on all the islands, too.

If you do end up on the east end of St Thomas, http://www.vimsia.org/ is a great school!!


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ms411
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June 29, 2013 11:24 pm  

The University of the Virgin Islands is trying to expand their Marine Science progeNYam, so you should definitively apply there. I think the VI govt gives you credit for fed employment so you din't lose Benson.

Expect a pay cut, though.

I think they post job openings on their website.


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Novanut
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June 30, 2013 1:01 am  

If you can swing it, do the PMV (Pre Move Visit) for at least a couple of weeks on whichever island you choose. You'll get a better feel for it. Pick up the local papers, too.

Good luck!


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mountain man '79
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July 8, 2013 10:14 pm  

Again, thank you to everyone. I am getting the impression that STX has the most crime, STT is the most well-rounded island in regards to something for everyone, and STJ, albeit lower crime rates, it by and far the most expensive. It is safe to say that STX is out. The next step is housing. Rent vs. Own. Renting has its perks for sure. However, owning allows the flexibility to do what you want. Tough choice really. I guess a lot of it would have to do with work more than anything. However, any advice on the housing area would be greatly appreciated. What are some of the things to look out for? What, if any, scams are prominent on the islands?

Thanks again.


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stxem
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July 8, 2013 10:20 pm  

Crime is ABSOLUTELY NO WORSE on STX than STT. I'm so sick of hearing this. Crime rates are equal on both islnds. You are no safer on STT compared to STX.


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