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Thinking of Moving

 
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

I hope this post finds everyone doing well and healthy. 

I recently moved to Puerto Rico 6 months ago, and I am considering moving to St Croix. 

I work for the federal government so I will have a secure job there. 

I am wondering if I can afford to afford a comfortable lifestyle there. By comfortable 
I don’t mean a glamorous lifestyle.    

Would be did a family of 4 and my wife doesn’t work. We have lived in the rural areas the majority of our lives so we don’t need Costco’s etc. 

I make gross 100k a year, and bring in another 38k net a year.  

I also have savings to afford 20% down for a 400k house.  More if needed for a property that may provide some rental income.  

Total expenses currently is 2k a month for cars, insurance, phone etc. Not including the current rent and utilities we are paying will leave us with about 6k of disposable income for house, utilities, food, gas etc.

Also need to find a way to get our Labrador there as well as Shipping 2 cars there.

Any opinions, advice, etc would be appreciated.

Thanks   

 

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Topic starter Posted : March 30, 2021 9:34 am
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Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
Trusted Member
Posted by: @knowlesstak
SEE ANSWERS 
 
WELCOME TO THE VI!

   

Would be did a family of 4 and my wife doesn’t work. We have lived in the rural areas the majority of our lives so we don’t need Costco’s etc. 

I make gross 100k a year, and bring in another 38k net a year.

THIS IS MORE THAN ADEQUATE - BUT YOU'LL PROBABLY WANT TO CONSIDER PRIVATE OR PAROCHIAL SCHOOL FOR YOUR KIDS. HOME SCHOOLING IS AN OPTION, TOO.

I also have savings to afford 20% down for a 400k house.  More if needed for a property that may provide some rental income.  

400K IS DO-ABLE BUT REAL ESTATE HAS JUMPED UP IN THE PAST YEAR. A LOT DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH TIME YOU HAVE TO DO IMPROVEMENTS ON A FIXER UPPER.

Total expenses currently is 2k a month for cars, insurance, phone etc. Not including the current rent and utilities we are paying will leave us with about 6k of disposable income for house, utilities, food, gas etc.

IF YOU BUY A HOUSE LOOK FOR ONE WITH SOLAR INSTALLED - OR PLAN TO INSTALL  SOLAR THAT WOULD LIKELY HAVE BATTERY STORAGE. PRICE OF BATTERIES AND TECHNOLOGY IS IMPROVING EVERY DAY. VI ELECTRIC RATE IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST IN THE WORLD. MOBILE PHONE SERVICE CAN BE SPOTTY. INTERNET IS OK - MANY COMPLAIN ABOUT SPEED BUT IT'S PRETTY DEPENDABLE. 

ONE THING YOU'LL FIND IS THE TAXES ARE MUCH LOWER IN THE VI. PROPERTY TAXES ARE ALMOST NON-EXISTENT (LESS THAN $1500/YEAR FOR $400k PROPERTY). YOU USE IRS TAX FORMS AND PAY THE VI'S IRB. NO SALES TAX BUT SOME PASSED ON COSTS FROM EXCISE TAXES ON BUSINESSES. FOOD GAS PRICES HAVE SOME MARKUP BUT NOT A BARRIER TO LIVING IN THE VI.  

DOCTORS ARE GOOD ON THE ISLAND. HOSPITAL IS A WRECK.  IF ANYTHING SERIOUS YOU'LL FLY TO PR OR FLORIDA WITH HELP FROM VI DOCTORS.

Also need to find a way to get our Labrador there as well as Shipping 2 cars there.

AMERIJET WILL FLY YOUR DOG FROM SJU TO STX. ALSO POSSIBLE TO FIND A PRIVATE PLANE/CHARTER.

CARS ON THE NORMA.

Stevenson Formel Freight Services (normahfreight.com)

Any opinions, advice, etc would be appreciated.

Thanks   

 

 

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Posted : March 30, 2021 2:24 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

Here check this out, not sure how accurate, but probably close.

 

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Puerto+Rico&country2=Us+Virgin+Islands&city1=San+Juan&city2=Christiansted

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Posted : March 30, 2021 3:01 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

@gators_mom

Thank you so much for the responses!!!  

Very much appreciated. 

From what I am calculating we could certainly afford to live here, but as you mentioned the cost of real estate is high.  Which is should be to be living in the Caribbean.  

I have thought about and agree with the solar power.  That would offset the electrical costs and go towards a higher mortgage payment.  

We sold our house recently in Texas and the wife still has PTSD from the large renovations we did to increase the value.  Was worth it but not sure she is ready to start another fixer upper at this time.  LOL

Seems like all logic leads toward renting for a while and wait for a good deal to come across (fingers crossed.)  Of course prices will also probably go up as well.  

 

 

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Topic starter Posted : March 30, 2021 3:08 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

@daveb722

Thank you sir!!

That puts it into perspective for sure. 

i jokingly told friends I had to buy shot glasses to ration out the milk for the kids when I saw a gallon of milk was almost $7 in PR compared to less than $2 in Texas. 

Looks like we will have to ration out the bread to!!!  LOL

I don’t smoke but crazy to see how cheap they are there  

Thanks again for this information!!

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Topic starter Posted : March 30, 2021 4:33 pm
daveb722 liked
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

Honestly, since your so close, grab a short plane ride and come over for a week, check out all the things you would buy in PR.  Take your latest electrical bill and multiply KWH by .42, visit a few realtors for rentals or join a FB group.  STX check in, st. croix 00824 or st. croix 00824 as rentals are found there.  Unfortunately the schools aren't the best and private school is over 10k or more I believe.  Grocery shopping is fragmented, I go to 2-3 stores to get what I need.  If you need healthcare, be prepared to see a drop off in some instances (mostly choice and finding specialists).  

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Posted : March 30, 2021 6:39 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

@daveb722

Great advice sir thank you. My wife and the kids went over there for a week three weeks ago as a scouting trip. They fell in love with it. It’s also nice because we don’t speak a lick of Spanish in Puerto Rico.

 

We didn’t do a price comparison as you suggested so darn it looks like we might have to go again. Ha ha.

We did meet with one realtor but I like your suggestion about the Facebook group. That’s a great resource to know. As far as schooling we’ve been homeschooling for a while so it’s not really an issue at this time.

The Other big factor I heard is the insurance  you need for hurricanes. I’m hearing it’s 1.5% to 2% of your home value per year.

 

Please 

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Topic starter Posted : March 30, 2021 7:47 pm
Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
Trusted Member

For home insurance in the VI, you insure replacement value of the structure. A typical hurricane claim will pay 80% of the replacement value less the deductible. There is a claim penalty for under insurance. There is no advantage to over insuring. Lloyds usually is the reinsurer. We negotiated directly with lloyds on our hurricane claim in 2017.

the home owners portion of your insurance is similar to mainland though not as inclusive or generous in terms but adequate to satisfy a mortgage company.

USAA may have different/better policy terms if you qualify.

1-2% of replacement value of structure seems right.

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Posted : March 31, 2021 5:09 am
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

@knowlesstak home insurance on my modest 350k home is over 5k, with a 5% deductible max 5k I believe.  Typically you insure for 80% of the value.  I was going to raise it to 90% but it drove the price up to over 6k and I shopped around, not much choice here and you want to be sure you go with a good company as I know of one that went bankrupt after the 2017 hurricanes and some people got nothing.  Car insurance is pricey as well for what you get.  about 50% more than what I was paying in NY.  But with all that, it's a great place.  Feel free to reach out to me in a PM, we bought in 2015, moved here permanently exactly 1 year ago today.  The group here is amazing and know the island better than I.  

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Posted : March 31, 2021 8:16 am
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

Well it looks like my request to transfer to St. Croix has been approved. 

We will be part of the island family!!

Time to find a good rental for starters with 3 bedrooms. 

See ya’ll (Texas accent) soon!

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Topic starter Posted : March 31, 2021 4:17 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

@daveb722

Excellent information thank you sir. 

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Topic starter Posted : March 31, 2021 4:17 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

@gators_mom

Thank you ma’am for the information!!

 

I like the name also. Spurrier and Tebow were so much fun to watch in The Swamp. 

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Topic starter Posted : March 31, 2021 4:20 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

if you make that much, why not stay in puerto rico. things are cheaper there. and a lot of us go to puerto rico for medical 

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Posted : April 6, 2021 3:40 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

@speee1dy

Very valid point that I have considered.  

I don’t think it’s that much money when you factor in the cost of living etc, but I don’t know which was why I was asking about the financial part. However if I stayed in Puerto Rico then my monthly income would go down about $1500. USVI has a higher TCOLA, and high state taxes. 

The big factor is the language barrier. It will take a long time to fluently learn Spanish for me. In St Croix we are looking forward to getting involved in the community where we can donate time and money to the worthy causes that may be needed.

We do love PR. The people are amazing and so many things to do. We have always lived in the rural environment, and a smaller island to us sounds better. Sometimes less options are better. 

Wife and kids have been born and raised in one city. We threw caution to the wind, and this is part of that adventure. Maybe it won’t be as we thought, but at least we won’t ever have to say what would life have been if we didn’t try something new. We have worked hard our entire lives, and never had handouts. We had our dream home etc but it wasn’t real living. My kids now see stingrays, octopuses, Tons of fish, go on hikes etc. Instead of growing up on a couch playing PlayStations and being on their phones all day long. That’s the dream. 

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Topic starter Posted : April 6, 2021 6:38 pm
Alana33 and scout77 liked
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

@knowlesstak i think you already have made your choice. make sure you get skymed or one of the other medical flight services. i know people who have needed them.

 

enjoy the experience 

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Posted : April 7, 2021 9:22 am
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

Well just got back from St Croix 2 days ago. Feels like home already. Locked up a rental for the next 7 months, and will be moving in May. 

Did some comparison between the Pueblo grocery store in Kinghill and Plaza East. Plaza East seem to have better prices especially buying bulk. Is there a better grocery store or stores I should go to?  

Can anyone recommend a good store to buy lines and towels or would I be better ordering online and having it shipped there?  

One more question is drinking tap water from the cistern. Heard mixed reviews and that people recommend buying bottle water. No issue there just hate having to buy water all the time. Is there a good place to buy a water dispenser that accommodates 5 gallons on water. 

Tips other tips such a a good place to get dog food, cat food, or any other basic non food items would be appreciated. 

Thanks 

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Topic starter Posted : April 20, 2021 7:36 pm
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Trusted Member

I've never been thrilled with La Reine Pueblo,  the one at golden rock seems better to me.  I shop at both Pueblo and Plaza East,  sometime one is a little cheaper than the other depending on the item or sale or you might find something at one and not the other.  Cost-U-less is good for somethings as well, especially bulk.  Plaza West/AKA The market is OK for the occasional longer drive, definitely larger store. 

 

Kmart used to be good for towels and OK for linens but last I checked the whole department was gone from Kmart East.  Have not checked West.  The new shop next to Foodtown has towels and linens but if you can order and have shipped and can wait that's probably best.  Macy's used to ship, have not checked since last year.

Cistern water can be fine to drink depending on your cistern and treatment.  The cistern should be chlorinated regularly and cleaned periodically and a good filtration system is best.  Otherwise I think it's most economical to refill your own water bottles at the filling machines.  Home Depot has water dispensers.  Cost-U-Less might have one as well.

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Posted : April 20, 2021 11:18 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

@Scubadoo

Excellent. Thank you for all the advice. 

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Topic starter Posted : April 21, 2021 6:22 am
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

@knowlesstak Sampson House in downtown christiansted has great towels, since you have a bigger family cost-u-less (near plaza east) will be your best bet for groceries, Quality for vegetables and specialty items. Watch Plaza East for food dates, have had a few problems there, I really try to stay away from that place for various reasons.   I'll drive to Plaza West (now the market) before doing my shopping at East, cleaner, friendlier.  

For Cistern water, unless filtered they say not to drink.  I have 3 filter system and uv light to kill anything else otherwise we only used it to shower and wash dishes originally, but buying water is a pain. 

As for dog and cat food, I find Kmart has a better selection than most.  But depending on what your dog eats, you'll need to find it and buy an extra bag as there's times your store will be out of it.  I was just in Kmart, towel selection is non existent.  Good for woman's clothing and some odds and ends, but nothing like it used to be.  The kmart out west is much better and has more selection.

Welcome to St. Croix 🙂

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Posted : April 21, 2021 7:34 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

I wouldn't shop at either Pueblo unless I absolutely had to. Both are the worst grocery stores I've ever encountered. I will shop at Plaza East but only because I have to eat to survive. The Market is okay but I often can't be bothered to drive out there unless I'm out west for some other reason like going to the beach.

Going to Kmart is a complete waste of time. These are among the last remaining Kmarts and will eventually close as most others have on the mainland. We can only hope that we get a Walmart to replace them. I buy all my pet food for my 4 dogs from Chewy.com and ship to Paradise Freight. Its very economical and I get the foods that my older dogs need when I need them. We buy linens and towels online, usually from The Company Store. You'll never find the quality and selection on island. I usually place an order with Walgreens.com or Target.com once a quarter for supplements and such that are nearly impossible to get here.

Regarding water, although we have a UV sanitizer with triple filter system, we still buy the 5 gallon jugs from Mario Water. I have them delivered to my office and bring one home as needed.

You'll soon get tired of the struggle to find what you need and want locally. Even the few national outlets like OfficeMax are ineptly managed and often out of stock on what you need. I've stopped even trying to find stuff locally and automatically source online. If you find a company won't ship here directly via US Postal, they most certainly (with a very few exceptions like Harbor Freight) will ship to either Paradise Freight or VI Cargo.

You'll get used to all this and settle into island life quickly, just keep your expectations very low.

Good luck!

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Posted : April 21, 2021 8:29 am
islandjoan
(@islandjoan)
Trusted Member

vicanuck is so right about Pueblo - they are really gross. Plus if you go to La Reine now, you might need to dodge bullets.  I buy most of my specialty food and vitamin and personal items at www.vitacost.com

You will get 20% off on your first order as a new customer, and they often have 10, 15 or 20% off food or your entire order, which offsets the flat rate $9.99 shipping charge via USPS. You generally get your delivery within a week.

On St. Croix, Quality Food in Castle Coakley has some great stuff too - many items that you cannot get elsewhere on STX.

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Posted : April 21, 2021 10:32 am
rewired
(@rewired)
Advanced Member

@knowlesstak

Welcome to STX!

You indicated that you're moving from PR - the Ikea there would be one of the best place to get good quality linens and towels at a good price (we even brought some from the mainland in a checked bag when we moved a few years ago.

Sampson House has great quality but prices are higher. Consider the thinner 'Turkish' towels unless you need the thicker ones - they air dry more quickly. You can find them at Sampson House or Molly's on Queen Cross.

Depending on where you're renting, we found the best quality meats at Seaside Market near Gallows Bay. We're out on the west end now, and buy most of our meat at Annaly Farm (the local Senapol beef is very good) - you can get local and USDA beef there at lower prices than I've seen at any of the grocery stores.

Start your search for shelf stable and canned goods in the bulk section of the store (most grocery stores have them). A single can of tuna may be $2.50-3.00 on the shelf, but a bulk pack of 12 cans will usually be about $15.00 ($1.25 per can).

Regardless of where you shop, always check expiration dates - all of the stores have pretty bad track records of removing expired products when they stock the shelves...

Life on the island will be a bit of a scavenger hunt, enjoy it!

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Posted : April 21, 2021 6:30 pm
Knowlesstak
(@knowlesstak)
Advanced Member

Thank you everyone for all your insight. It is very much appreciated, and it will make this a much easier transition. 

Very thankful for this forum where people are helping each other. 

Very excited for this new adventure in our lives!!

 

Its strange that I have seen so many wonderful things and experiences in my 7 months in Puerto Rico, but when I visited St Croix for the first time I really felt like I was in the Caribbean. 

can’t wait to be there!

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Topic starter Posted : April 21, 2021 8:47 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert
Posted by: @knowlesstak

Its strange that I have seen so many wonderful things and experiences in my 7 months in Puerto Rico, but when I visited St Croix for the first time I really felt like I was in the Caribbean. 

can’t wait to be there!

Puerto Rico is so big that its sometimes hard to imagine you're on an island whereas St. Croix is only 28 miles x 11 miles so much smaller feel to it.

I personally love Puerto Rico. Every time I visit I start looking at condos in the Condado. That whole area has such a hip, South Beach vibe to it.

After 16 years, we're bored with St. Croix and tired of the lack of progress.

Its only a matter of time before we leave for a new adventure.

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Posted : April 22, 2021 8:26 am
STTsailor liked
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