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Visiting for a week, with relocation in mind. Need advice.

 
moving
(@moving)
Advanced Member

I am considering relocating to the Virgin Islands. I will be travelling there for a week in August and want to accomplish as much as possible in that time (drop off my resume, check out apartments, grocery stores, internet cafes, etc). My goal is to really get a feel for what life would be like to live there and at the same time, set myself up for an eventual move (should it feel right), as much as I can.

What is the most cost effective way to get around St. Thomas? Do you haggle with cab drivers, what is the going rate, is it safe, etc? This will be the only trip I can afford, so I have to get the most out of it and as cheap as possible.

I will be staying at a resort hotel on the East End (geared towards couples - yuck - I just broke up) but don't plan on spending my money on dining out. Any cheap restaurants, cafes, etc that can be recommended?

Is there any must have literature for my trip to help me get around?

Is there a local language/dialect other than English that I should expect to hear?

Are there any secrets for SAVING MONEY on this trip since my goal is to explore and research rather than vacation (although a vacation sounds lovely right now)?

Any and all advice is appreciated.

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Topic starter Posted : July 27, 2010 9:51 pm
Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
Trusted Member

Come down, rent a car, get off the hotel property, and don't worry about cheap meals.
(If you're worried about saving a few bucks on dinner, you probably shouldn't be making the move.)
Dining out is a great way to meet locals at their watering holes and strike up conversation.
The best literature you can read is this unfiltered message board and its attached articles.

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Posted : July 28, 2010 12:28 am
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

moving; I do not know of any resorts geared toward couples on the east end. But I will say, if you are trying to get over a painful relationship, you might want to do that back home. There is nothing cheap on St Thomas and you cannot "haggle" with the legit cab drivers, although there is a secondary "gypsy" taxi market. Please spend some time reading through the posts here. You will get some very helpful info. 😉

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Posted : July 28, 2010 12:32 am
DUN
 DUN
(@DUN)
Trusted Member

Nothings cheap(by stateside standards, it's OUTRAGEOUS HERE!).
You can rent a car for $54/day.(don't know the weekly rate, should be better).
You can't haggle down the taxis, they are the island elite, if you do the math, you will see they make $250-$300 for a trip from the airport to the hotels in 45 minutes!
They have lots of political power despite they pay little or no taxes!

You could buy a disposable grille,eat @ the beach, shop at the supermarkets & only pay 2-3X what it would cost in the states to have it served.
A disposable cooler (or bring a collapsible one) will allow you to buy 12 packs of beer/soda(you will need to buy ice everyday).
There is a guest house in Bolongo that charges $60/day, there is also a weekly rate(don't know what the rooms look like, it looks like a large home).

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Posted : July 28, 2010 12:46 am
DUN
 DUN
(@DUN)
Trusted Member

Oh, and if your really hungry (but can hold back your thirst) Hooters across from Havensite has all U can eat wings Monday for $9.99(I think).
You can also eat @ Pizza Hut downtown for $7.50 all u can eat pizza 11-2 (I think). & $2 bottomless soda(or don't fill up on the bubbly soda & ask for water TAP WATER).
After all that bread, you won't need dinner!

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Posted : July 28, 2010 12:51 am
moving
(@moving)
Advanced Member

Neil: You're right on. Def want to get off hotel property (that's kind of the point of the trip). Was hoping to gain some insight on the local watering holes.

East Ender: WHY would I prefer to get over a break up at home versus St. Thomas? Just throwing that out there.

Dun: Thanks for the practical advice. As far as wings are concerned, I'm from upstate NY. No one can touch our wings 😉

Overall, sounds VERY expensive. Thanks for the heads up.

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Topic starter Posted : July 28, 2010 3:59 am
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

It is very expensive!! Be prepared. It will be difficult to get around to see the island without a rental car. I wold try to get one for at least a day or two.

About the "break up" comment. Some people come here trying to get away from some bad situation back home. That almost never works out.

Come down, look around, and have some fun.

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Posted : July 28, 2010 11:14 am
moving
(@moving)
Advanced Member

Getting a rental car sounds like the way to go. I understand that cars drive on the left side of the road...? That freaks me out a little...

I had wanted to relocate and do some travelling prior to my last relationship. This is less of an "escape" and more about getting back on track with the plans that I had started previously. Every challenge that life brings our way is an opportunity for growth. Right now, I need a little space, to focus on myself and gain new perspective. As tempting as escapism is, "wherever you go, you go with you" ... even if it is paradise.

The reason for my visit is to check it out - to see if the Virgin Islands is a place that resonates with me. If it is not meant to be, it is not meant to be. Without looking into it, however, I will never know and perhaps miss out on a great opportunity.

This is my favorite quote from J.B. Priestley:

"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning."

Thank you for your thoughts.

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Topic starter Posted : July 28, 2010 11:39 am
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

Driving on the left is less of a big deal than it sounds like. You'll get used to it before you know it!

Not to bug you too much about the personal side of things, but... if you're hoping to someone new after you take some time to focus on yourself, be aware that most people say it's difficult for singles to meet people here. There are certainly people who have met their spouse here, but there are many, many others who have had poor luck in that department. There just isn't a large pool to choose from!

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Posted : July 28, 2010 12:28 pm
aussie
(@aussie)
Trusted Member

There just isn't a large pool to choose from!

If you're a single male, it's not much of a "pool" at all. More like a footbath. 😀

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Posted : July 28, 2010 1:03 pm
billd
(@billd)
Trusted Member

The tome of your request says "CHEAP, CHEAP". If you are that close on money then STT is not the place to come to. When you get started you will need about three months rent (4-5000), a car unless you want to be only on the safari routs, and then there are the utilities.

The only "couples" place on the east end is Pavilions and Pools. If you are paying more than 100 a night then you are not in the cheapest place you can be at. You can get a separate room with bath for about 100. Go to VRBO and look up guest rooms.

The safaris are either 1 or 2 dollars depending on where you are going. Town or county.

The language is English with a Caribbean slant to it. Sounds like you have not done your homework as you would have know what the island culture is like. There is some Spanish and a little French. You will be able to communicate very well.

Cab drivers will barter but not much. Don't expect to get a 20 ride for 10.

good luck.

billd

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Posted : July 28, 2010 2:14 pm
moving
(@moving)
Advanced Member

Not to bug you too much about the personal side of things, but... if you're hoping to someone new after you take some time to focus on yourself, be aware that most people say it's difficult for singles to meet people here.

In the future, I am sure that will be a consideration, but for now it sounds like a welcomed change of pace (not dating, that is). I should probably throw myself on a deserted island - J/K.

billd - Thanks for the info. Please keep in mind, this IS me doing my homework...

Sounds like my hotel is, in fact, not in the East End. I just booked my trip yesterday, so I'm really just starting to get the ball rolling. I apologize for any miscommunication.

I don't mean to sound CHEAP... I just want to be efficient. This trip is going to be about grabbing a sandwich rather than a four course meal...

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Topic starter Posted : July 28, 2010 2:42 pm
Jennn
(@Jennn)
Advanced Member

Moving, it basically sounds like your doing the right things. One thing you absolutely need to do though is read through this message board like it's a book. You will find answers you never thought to ask. Also save up about 10k before moving here, you will need it or close to it to get established here. Enjoy your PMV and get out and talk to any locals that will talk to you, most will at any happy hour. It will help answer your questions and getting a job here is about who you know, so the sooner you start to know some locals the better.

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Posted : July 28, 2010 3:20 pm
moving
(@moving)
Advanced Member

Do you still think that I would need 10K to start up, even if I moved with a job in hand? I know, I know, now I sound really cheap...

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Topic starter Posted : July 28, 2010 5:54 pm
chefnoah
(@chefnoah)
Trusted Member

I moved down with MUCH less. I had a job upon arriving, and that helped with budgeting. You will need 1st month's rent and deposit to get into a place. My roommates drove me around for the first few months until I came across a good deal on a car.

The first "slap in the face" is when you go to pick up some beer, soda, chips, and salsa and it comes to $50.

If you're flexible and can be organized with the way you operate, I think it's doable. On the other hand, if you lose track of your priorities, you could end up in a bad way quickly.

Noah

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Posted : July 28, 2010 6:05 pm
SapphireBeach08
(@SapphireBeach08)
Advanced Member

I'd suggest hitting the happy hours in Red Hook since you're on the east end. The happy hour food is pretty reasonable and you'll meet a lot of locals.

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Posted : July 28, 2010 7:18 pm
Jennn
(@Jennn)
Advanced Member

I think you could do it with less as you're just a single person and you won't need a big apartment. But it depends on what you'll have when you come. Most landlords want first & last month's rent and deposit (one month's rent). So you need 3 months rent up front. You'll need deposits for utilities. You'll need money to buy a car or money to ship yours down (I believe you need around 2k for shipping, customs, etc). To buy a fairly reliable island car I would suggest you need around 4 to 5k. You can get one for less but it is almost always going to need a ton of repairs. Without a car I would suggest living very close to your work and at least one grocery store. It can be done but it is a huge pain. As a single lady I would want a car, we definitely have crime here.

The other hard part is finding a job from stateside. Generally, that doesn't work out. Nurses, teachers, and a few other fields are always in high demand and get hired from stateside. But our economy is in a slump just like stateside and even before that it can take months to find a job, especially when you don't know anyone. When you are new, employers want to see that you live on island, because so many people say they are coming and don't come.

I wouldn't worry about sounding cheap. We all try to live cheap as we can down here because everything is higher then stateside. If we find a bargain we're all excited about it. Living here means trying to live more simply. That being said getting things down here can be harder then in the "normal" world.

So you can do it on less money, but its going to be much easier to succeed here if you can save up more first. First come down and see if you even think you would like living here and then worry about the rest. Good Luck.

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Posted : July 28, 2010 8:04 pm
Brian Emerich
(@Brian_Emerich)
New Member

first a car is almost a must if you really want to get around at your pace, there are cheap public safaris but you need to know how they work and only good during the day for the post part.
not sure where you are staying but for economics you should try to get a unit with a kitchen believe or not some are cheaper then a straight hotel room and food is a big costs.
there is the "island trader" and "the source" on the net paper for the islands and the local daily news I think have some web posts
WORK what are you looking for, there are always jobs for starters here, so many come thinking they want to live here and then find out this may be paradise but you have to work to live and that takes away a lot of the fun
As anywhere you must be careful where and when you travel different parts of the islands but common sense sees most people through fine.

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Posted : July 29, 2010 11:33 am
divarn2003
(@divarn2003)
New Member

Hi,
I just left St Thomas and I am excited. This was my first rip to an island of any kind, if you have never been to one be prepared. I stayed at Bolongo Bay through Hotwire. The room was nice and I got a good meal at Iggie's for about $20. I found my apt on Craigslist for $1050 (2br/2ba...harbor view) and it is by main street. I do no have a car but the safari stops right down the hill from my apt, providing transportation for me to work and my daughter to school. I suggest you find a place now as other posters have said..rent is about to go up, up , up for winter season. You will definitely need a car, i mean a 4x4 for the island is very hilly. There are now street signs, everything is by landmark and that can be confusing to those of us who grew up in the states. Expect to be seen as an outsider for quite a FEW months until you convince people you are really there to stay, then they will really warm up to you. Also, you will have to have a lot of your stuff shipped do not expect to hop over to Wal mart. There is mainly Kmart and Home depot. As for banking....you will need a local bank. There is no Bof A, Wachovia/Wells Fargo, Citibank, etc. Just Bancopopular and First Bank from what i have seen. You will definitely need at least $5000 in cash before you come here. I am a nurse so i have job in hand, so i am ok to a point. The island is gorgeous, but is it not any easy relocation, also if you decide you do not like it, it will not be easy to leave. I am taking a $32/hr paycut to move here so be prepared for a really low wage even if you are top in your field. I hope this helps a little, Good Luck!!!

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Posted : July 31, 2010 11:23 pm
moving
(@moving)
Advanced Member

Thanks - your input definitely helps. From what I gather from all the posts I have been reading, is that relocating to the islands is a major challenge. But, challenges are not always insurmountable, provided it's what you want. I am excited myself, to go down and see! I will be arriving on the 17th.

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Topic starter Posted : August 1, 2010 3:02 am
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Trusted Member Registered

Diva RN 2003 -- $32 an hour x 40 hrs = $1,280 week x 50 weeks = $64,000 year -- that is an amazing amount of money to give up just to live in STT with no car. WHY?

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Posted : August 1, 2010 4:02 am
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