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Wanting/Waiting to Make the Move to the US VI  

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catonaharley
(@catonaharley)
Active Member

WOW!!! this forum is full of suggestions for a "newbie" like me who is in planning stages of "the big move". The comments I have read on these threads is, at times, a tad harsh...but it is straightforward honesty (or at least I hope it is).

My dream life is to live on an island in the sun, without needing a passport to go "home" for family functions. I love Grand Cayman, not St. Maarten.

I am a disabled (female) former firefighter who has a certified medical assist dog; so moving all 22 pounds of her won't be as tough as others with "basic" pets would have it. Under the Federal law for Americans with Disabilities...it is illegal to refuse a service dog ๐Ÿ™‚ Besides, Bella Luna is a big wuss. She rarely/never barks, is fully trained to hand commands and walks on her hind legs when she's sick of being on all 4's lol. Plus...she is an "attention hound". She thinks people are around just to pet her.

I have yet to fully research which island I want to move to; I just know I am going to do it sooner than later. I have a few months of chemo to go through before packing it up (not in). And in that time, I hope to receive many, many recommendations from past and present Islanders.

I do have few criteria....

nice safe, quiet neighborhood - nothing too touristy or over built
on or very close to the water - flat land
I prefer a 2BR house as opposed to an apartment - but will consider all options
a fun local establishment where I can get an awesome steak and colorful drinks (2 is my limit) and hear some decent music
a really, really good pizza joint would be a plus!
Is there a Dunkin Donuts on any of the islands? LOL
It would be great if there is a dog park for Bella to run off leash.

Other than that, I'm open to reading and hoping to receive many suggestions y'all may have, as I will not take offence to your words (even if they are harsh).

Everyone has to start somewhere, and your forum group seems informed, opinionated and interested in helping out a total stranger.

PLEASE, add your two cents to help me make the biggest move of my life.

Thank you all, in advance!!!

Cathy

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Posted : December 11, 2011 7:48 am
Iris Tramm
(@Iris_Tramm)
Trusted Member

My .02:

Because you mentioned disability and chemo, as someone who just spent a week in the horror that is the Juan Luis hospital on STX, let me just emphasize -- EMPHASIZE -- that the VI is not a good place to be in need of medical care.

Not. At. All.

Best of luck to you otherwise.

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Posted : December 11, 2011 10:48 am
OldTart
(@OldTart)
Expert

Good Morning, catonaharley,

I can only echo the previous poster's concerns about the medical care here. This is one of the primary drawbacks for retirees thinking of moving here, Apart from that, St Croix might be a better choice for you than the other islands. St Thomas and St John are both volcanic islands and thus are by nature mountainous, while St Croix is a coral atoll and has way more flat land. St John is VERY expensive, St Thomas is next in line while STX definitely offers the best bang for the buck. The downside (and it's not a downside for everybody) is that STX is quite isolated. STT and STT are separated by a 15 minute ferry ride with the British Virgin Islands only a 45 minute ferry hop away but STX is pretty much out there on its own and the only way to get to STT from there is a flight.

Hopefully you've read all the information available on this site apart from the forum? Go to the bar at the top of this page and start going through everything and you'll find more information than you ever even thought of researching!

Bella Luna looks adorable. All the best to you both and happy researching!

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Posted : December 11, 2011 11:12 am
Iris Tramm
(@Iris_Tramm)
Trusted Member

Apart from that, St Croix might be a better choice for you than the other islands. St Thomas and St John are both volcanic islands and thus are by nature mountainous, while St Croix is a coral atoll and has way more flat land. St John is VERY expensive, St Thomas is next in line while STX definitely offers the best bang for the buck.

That said, even on STX, a nice, quiet, safe, 2-bedroom house, near or on the water, that permits a dog (I know she's a service dog, but you're still going to run into people here who will force you to litigate that point -- landlords and condo associations on this island are, for the most part, not terribly dog-friendly), and is handicapped-accessible, is going to run you well north of $2K/month (plus WAPA) -- if such a place even exists.

I don't mean to discourage you, but just be aware that, IMHO, you've set up quite a challenge for yourself with that criteria.

Again, if you require any kind of specialized medical care, you will want to ensure that you have sufficient resources to get back to the States in the event of an emergency. You do not want to rely on the health care available on island, which is rudimentary at best.

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Posted : December 11, 2011 12:52 pm
OldTart
(@OldTart)
Expert

That said, even on STX, a nice, quiet, safe, 2-bedroom house, near or on the water, that permits a dog (I know she's a service dog, but you're still going to run into people here who will force you to litigate that point -- landlords and condo associations on this island are, for the most part, not terribly dog-friendly), and is handicapped-accessible, is going to run you well north of $2K/month (plus WAPA) -- if such a place even exists.

I don't mean to discourage you, but just be aware that, IMHO, you've set up quite a challenge for yourself with that criteria.

Again, if you require any kind of specialized medical care, you will want to ensure that you have sufficient resources to get back to the States in the event of an emergency. You do not want to rely on the health care available on island, which is rudimentary at best.

It may be a little more difficult to find a place which will accept a service dog (or any animal for that matter) but, with all due respect, it's highly unlikely that the owner of a property would go so far as to litigate the point, nor an attorney who'd even take such a case. Service dogs aren't exactly a new phenomenon on the block and the laws protecting them and their owners are quite explicit. And the OP made no mention of what's affordable for her nor that she needs a place which is handicapped-accessible. There are many rentals which fit the criteria currently being advertised on STX ...

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Posted : December 11, 2011 1:10 pm
billd
(@billd)
Trusted Member

there are NO Dunkin D is STT

you did not mention what you would be doing

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Posted : December 11, 2011 1:26 pm
Iris Tramm
(@Iris_Tramm)
Trusted Member

It may be a little more difficult to find a place which will accept a service dog (or any animal for that matter) but, with all due respect, it's highly unlikely that the owner of a property would go so far as to litigate the point, nor an attorney who'd even take such a case.

As an attorney with ten years of experience litigating on STX, I respectfully disagree. Further, it wouldn't be up to the property owner to litigate, it would be up to the poster with the service dog. The landlord or HOA would just say: "So, sue me." Or, more likely, they would invent some sort of excuse why the property was suddenly not available and it would be up to the poster to prove that this was a pretense for discrimination.

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Posted : December 11, 2011 2:06 pm
OldTart
(@OldTart)
Expert

As an attorney with ten years of experience litigating on STX, I respectfully disagree. Further, it wouldn't be up to the property owner to litigate, it would be up to the poster with the service dog. The landlord or HOA would just say: "So, sue me." Or, more likely, they would invent some sort of excuse why the property was suddenly not available and it would be up to the poster to prove that this was a pretense for discrimination.

No doubt you're correct and, of course, attorneys get paid to represent defendants regardless of a suit's merits or outcome. ๐Ÿ˜€ I still highly doubt that finding a place which can accommodate a 22 lb dog is going to be an issue, period. We're not exactly talking about a 200 lb behemoth here - one of my cats isn't far from that weight!

OP: Bill is correct about the Dunkin Donuts. Not anywhere in the VI. You won't have any problems finding the sort of restaurant/bar you're looking for. Pizza places come and go. There are a few places on all the islands where you can sneak a dog in for some playtime but those are the sort of details to get into later on when/if you decide to move here and on which island you'll settle.

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Posted : December 11, 2011 2:24 pm
Iris Tramm
(@Iris_Tramm)
Trusted Member

No doubt you're correct and, of course, attorneys get paid to represent defendants regardless of a suit's merits or outcome. ๐Ÿ˜€ I still highly doubt that finding a place which can accommodate a 22 lb dog is going to be an issue, period. We're not exactly talking about a 200 lb behemoth here - one of my cats isn't far from that weight!.

It's not about the size, it's the fact that it's a dog. I've been a renter the entire time I've been here and have looked at/lived in rentals all over the island. Half that time, I had a cat, and it was hard enough to find rentals that would accommodate that. Most rentals just have a blanket prohibition on dogs because they are perceived as barking, pooping, furniture-destroying liabilities. I love dogs, mind you, and know a lot of people here with dogs, but they all own their own houses.

Now, once you identify your dog as a service dog protected by under the ADA, you may have no problem. My gut tells me, however, that you're going to run into a lot of places that will actively look for a way NOT to rent to you once they find out you come with a dog, even if that means saying, "well, go sue me then" -- because they will predict that you aren't going to actually go through the hassle of hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. (Was certainly not on my "To Do" list when I moved to the island.)

Are there exceptions? Sure. I actually know of a private house rental that probably would have accommodated you. But places like that don't advertise, aren't common, and they don't come cheap.

My advice would be to fortify your checkbook and then get in touch with a local real estate agent who has local knowledge about property owners and any disability accommodations you might need and can pre-screen places for you.

Also, no dog parks that I'm aware of, although there are lots of beaches to run on. I believe you're supposed to keep your dog leashed at the beach, but this is routinely ignored.

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Posted : December 11, 2011 2:52 pm
BeachcomberStt
(@BeachcomberStt)
Trusted Member

Cathy,

You didn't mention your disability. Does the house/condo/apt. need special accommodations to fit your disability? For example, a ramp & widened doorways for a wheelchair, or handrails in the bathroom.

As mentioned before, Stx is flatter than Stt and Stj.

There is a Cancer center on Stt 340-775-5433, whereas, Stx doesn't have one. Stt is closer to Puerto Rico, where a lot of residents go for healthcare if they can't find it on island. Some even go to BVI's.

Are you going to be driving on your own (have your own car)? Because the govt. does have a service to pick up disabled persons and take them where they need to go and then take them back home. On Stt it's called Dial A Ride. Phone # 340- 776-1277. (Transportation service for the disabled)

Here are some community organizations that might be of help & their phone #'s:
-Disability Rights Center Stx 340-772-1200
-Disability Rights Center Stt 340-776-4303
-Virgin Islands Family Information Network on Disabilities (V.I.F.I.N.D) 340-774-1662

You can also peruse the USVI Telephone Diectory www.viphonebook.com

On Stt, there are no dog parks, like in the states. Some people with dogs do let their dogs off their leashes on some beaches and other places. There is high population of wandering dogs and I wouldn't want my dog getting mixed up with one. (I don't have a dog, but if I did, I would have my dog on a leash at all times!!!)

I don't know where in the states you are from and what you consider good pizza. There is Domino's on Stt & Stx. I don't even consider that pizza here & in the states. So, that would be up to your liking. I always look forward to my yearly visit to the states to get my fix on the pizza & food I grew up on. Some pizza down here doesn't even come close to what I'm used to, but I do like Pizza Amore & Senor Pizza, here on Stt. But others have their own favorites. Same goes for favorite steak. Depends on your liking and taste buds. And above all, what your wallet can afford and what island you decide to move to.

Hope this helps ๐Ÿ™‚

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Posted : December 11, 2011 3:11 pm
jbatl
(@jbatl)
Advanced Member

I will only ring in on pizza. I have been very pleased lately with the pizza shack at Divi on STX. They have quite the pizza oven and the know how to use it! Their hours can be erratic and service, while with a smile, can be inconsistent. That said, I never expected to find pizza as good (to my taste, anyway) on the island.

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Posted : December 11, 2011 3:16 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Cathy: My two cents...You are a good candidate for a crowd favorite, the PMV, or Pre-Move Visit. Basically, it is a longish stay (10 days to two weeks) during which you act like a resident. You look at housing, you check out shopping, you visit banks, the hospital, the laundromat, whatever you would do in your "regular" life. This way you can get a feeling for yourself of the ups and downs of living in the VI. Welcome to the board! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Posted : December 11, 2011 3:52 pm
HappyFace
(@HappyFace)
Advanced Member

For Iris,
The ADA Laws do not protect the service Animal, The law protects the person with a Disability, that use a service animal. The Disabled person does not need to get a lawyer, because this would be a Civil Rights Violation. the Disabled person only has to file a complaint with the Dept of Justice. All Property owners and HOA are required to follow the Law with a few exceptions that you can find by searching the web.

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Posted : December 11, 2011 4:11 pm
lily1025
(@lily1025)
Advanced Member

My .02:

Because you mentioned disability and chemo, as someone who just spent a week in the horror that is the Juan Luis hospital on STX, let me just emphasize -- EMPHASIZE -- that the VI is not a good place to be in need of medical care.

Not. At. All.

Best of luck to you otherwise.

i don't think i know how to do this quote thing right, BUT, tramn could you pleeease inform us of your experience at juan luis hospital. it would help a lot of us considering medical care off island. thanks in advance!

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Posted : December 11, 2011 9:01 pm
BeachcomberStt
(@BeachcomberStt)
Trusted Member

Cathy: My two cents...You are a good candidate for a crowd favorite, the PMV, or Pre-Move Visit. Basically, it is a longish stay (10 days to two weeks) during which you act like a resident. You look at housing, you check out shopping, you visit banks, the hospital, the laundromat, whatever you would do in your "regular" life. This way you can get a feeling for yourself of the ups and downs of living in the VI. Welcome to the board! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I agree with East Ender. Do a PMV to what island you think is best for you after you have done your research online and the books you can order from this site. Welcome Cathy, hope this board is helpful to you ๐Ÿ™‚

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Posted : December 11, 2011 9:59 pm
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