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Where to Live near University

 
sdove
(@sdove)
Advanced Member

What a wonderful resource this message board is!! I need some advice...

My family and I are trying to relocate to the USVI, preferably St. Croix. I, however, am not brave/impulsive enough to just pick up and move with no job, no place to live, etc. I currently work as clerical support staff at my local university in "small-town" Oklahoma and am currently looking for work at UVI. I've had some "nibbles" from on-line applications I've submitted, and if I'm offered a job with a salary I can survive on, I'm on the next plane! 🙂 Does anyone know how easy/difficult it is to get a job at the university?

If I'm offered a job, our current plan is for me to come ahead to the island and go to work, while my husband and teenage daughter "close up shop" here and follow me down once I've found a suitable place to live. My husband has years of experience in the restaurant industry and is hoping he can find work pretty easily once he gets there. Where is the best place to look for 1) a furnished efficiency that I could live in initially, and 2) a larger place with at least 2 bedrooms? Are there many available rentals mid-island, or should we stick to C-sted or F-sted? Also, I've rented a car when visiting the island in the past, but am wondering if a car will be essential when it's just me, or if there's any kind of bus system on the island for traveling to/from work.

Again, I'm mostly asking about St. Croix right now and would most likely be working for the university. I'm really hoping that my education/experience will make me employable at either the university or the refinery, preferably the university. I've been told that employees of the refinery are actually provided with housing by Hovensa. Can anyone confirm or deny that?

Lastly, have I completely lost my mind to be considering moving half-way around the planet at the age of 44? 🙂 :@) I fell in love with St. Croix from the moment I stepped foot on island!! It feels like a surreal sort of dream to be considering actually reaching for a dream instead of just talking about it. Any advice or results from a similar experience would be so greatly appreciated!!

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Topic starter Posted : August 10, 2010 2:41 am
sdove
(@sdove)
Advanced Member

Hmmmm...okay. Maybe something simpler. 🙂 Has anybody here relocated to the island with school-age children? If so, what has your experience been with St. Croix's public school system? I have a daughter who just started 8th grade today. Did your child(ren) find it difficult to integrate into the schools and adjust to island life? I'd really appreciate any info I can get. Thanks!

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Topic starter Posted : August 12, 2010 4:32 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

Hi sdove,

I'm surprised you haven't gotten any responses, since you mentioned in the first post bringing a teenage daughter. The school issue is often a hot topic on this forum. Do a search (all dates), and you will find opinions, some very strong, about the schools here, both public and private. Generally, a lot of people suggest private school for new transplants. I don't have kids in school here, but I would definitely agree with that, just based on things I've heard from kids and parents.

As for housing....that's where I can help.:D

We have a small apartment complex, centrally located on St. Croix. We offer small to large apartments, short term or long term, so we might be able to help you out with both your efficiency for yourself and a 2 bedroom, 2 bath for the family. Please check out our website at http://www.virginislandsrentals.com . I try to keep the availability page up to date, but don't rely on it. Please inquire about dates when you know a little more making the move.

Welcome to the forum, and good luck with the job.

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Posted : August 12, 2010 4:50 pm
sdove
(@sdove)
Advanced Member

Thanks so much for your response Juanita! I also expected to have more replies; it's obvious that there is a lot of knowledge to be gained from the people who frequent this forum. I will definitely keep an eye on your website! And I'll research more in the forum on the school topic! Many thanks for your imput and well-wishes!

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Topic starter Posted : August 12, 2010 5:36 pm
nforbes
(@nforbes)
Trusted Member

Hey there,

I've lived on St. Croix all of my life and i can say that it is an awesome place to live. Definitely search through the site for school info - you are going to want to send your daughter to a private school. I went to Good Hope, which is way out west, and my family lived mid-island. Country Day is mid-island and is a great school. They are costly. You will need a car here. The University is located on Centerline road, which the busses do travel on but if i've learned one thing it's not to rely on public transportation on this island. Taxi's will travel that route often. The further west you live, the less expensive the housing is. When you get into more bedrooms, the price goes down. I've seen efficiencies and 1 bedrooms range from $475-1200. 2 bedrooms - $1000-2000 and so on. We do have many restaurants and hotels here, but getting into hurricane season, it's doubtful how many will be hiring. The Buccaneer Hotel hires people often, he may want to check that out - it is out East, though - pretty far from the University.

Employees of Hovensa, from the states, are usually provided with a housing allowance and/or per diem. The jobs for Hovensa are skilled - electrical, engineering, contractors, etc...and you will need a Transportation Worker card (TWIC) in order to apply and work for them. I haven't heard about local employees getting a housing allowance.

Living here and vacationing here are, as you probably guessed, very different. Good luck with the University job - i don't know anything about the rate of return on sending your application in. Try www.career.vi and www.vidol.gov for more job searches. People usually do not hire if you're not on island, keep that in mind. This board is great, definitely utilize the search feature!

Best,

Nikki

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Posted : August 12, 2010 6:35 pm
sdove
(@sdove)
Advanced Member

Thanks Nikki! I appreciate the info and the "heads up" regarding the public transport system on island. That's exactly the kind of info I am looking for so that I can make informed decisions on where to live, should I bring my car, what kind of education can I expect my daughter to get on island, etc. I haven't made such a big life-decision since I moved from OK to Alaska when I was 23. I'm not quite as impulsive (foolish?) at 44! 😀

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Topic starter Posted : August 12, 2010 9:33 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

I can't help you with St Croix, but it has been my experience that most UVI jobs, unless they require special knowledge and training, go to locals.

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Posted : August 13, 2010 12:19 pm
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

Just wanted to add my two cents for Juanita's place. In my opinion, it's a great starting point for those who have just moved to STX. I moved here a little over 2 months ago and lived there. I was warned not to choose a rental via the internet, but I heard from others who had success with Juanita's apartments, so I took a chance, and it worked out great. Juanita and her husband are probably the best landlords you'll ever have. They're really more like good neighbors. The area is safe (you could probably leave your doors unlocked) and quiet, and the 2-bedroom apartment we had was huge. We moved out less than a week ago, and we only did so because we wanted a cooler location (cooler as in temperature, that is!).

Anyway, good luck with your move!

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Posted : September 8, 2010 12:47 pm
Joanna
(@joanna-cssweb)
Advanced Member

I expect you will definitely want a car. Juanita is right about getting more apartment for your money in the West End. A temporary rental when you first move and/or a longish pre-move visit would be a good idea, especially with teenage daughter and not knowing your employment situation fully. Many good rentals are not advertised and/or unavailable if you are not there to meet the landlord.

We have a furnished 2 bedroom/2 bath duplex apartment which we rent between our annual winter visits. Our last two tenants work at UVI (professor and grad student doing research) and very happy with the location -- on the hillside above the sea just two minute walk to the West End beaches, local family resorts, and wildlife sanctuary -- south of the town of F'sted. Our apartment will be coming available mid-November for approximately 3 months, so feel free to keep in touch if that would be helpful as a temporary or PMV situation. Although we haven't met Juanita, she has been on this forum for years and often gives generous and helpful advice. IMO you should definitely check out her apartments.

Talk with lots of people with teenage children (not us, we don't.), and lots of people period. Falling in love with the island on vacation (which we did in 1985) and living on St Croix are very different experiences. We love the adventure of it as property-owning snow birds with many local friends, but many folks get too frustrated with some of the differences. My impression is that coming without a definite job can be really tough and at risk of being unsuccessful if you don't have sufficient resources otherwise.

Good luck with your transition plans!

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Posted : September 8, 2010 6:41 pm
sdove
(@sdove)
Advanced Member

Again, good advice from everyone! Thanks so much! It looks like our moving plans will be more long-term than we had hoped -- 3 to 5 years. I'll finish my Master's degree in Accounting in 3 years and my daughter will graduate from high school in 5 years. Meanwhile, we plan to visit as often as we can for as long as we can and get to know more about actual life on the islands. We've got some friends who are planning to move down there very soon, and I know that personal knowledge gained from their experiences will also be very valuable.

I still keep an eye on this board (obviously), and we're still keeping our eyes open for those "perfect jobs." Should one come along, who knows what we will do then. But until/unless that happens, I'm going to finish the education I've started. My husband is hoping to go to work for Home Depot soon and hopes there might be future transfer potential to the islands with them. I've only been able to find a Home Depot on St. Thomas though. Anyone know if there is one (or plans for one) on St. Croix?

Thanks again to everyone for your insights and advice. We really appreciate it!

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Topic starter Posted : September 8, 2010 8:15 pm
divinggirl
(@divinggirl)
Trusted Member

The Home Depot on STX is being built....so far only dirt being moved around but hopefully some actual building will begin soon!

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Posted : September 8, 2010 10:04 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

🙂 Thanks, guys!

We are all anxiously awaiting Home Depot! I drove by the site yesterday, and obviously it has been cleared and there was heavy equipment sitting around but nothing was going on. Maybe it was Labor Day "second day". LOL While we were in the 'hood, we drove by the Diageo distillery. WOW! Pretty hi-tech looking for little ole STX.

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Posted : September 9, 2010 11:52 am
SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
Trusted Member

I was talking to one of the project managers for Diagio and he couldn't say enough good things about Benton Construction. They built the Diagio warehouses out next to Cruzan Rum under budget, ahead of schedule, and did it safely.

Way to go James!!

Maybe Home Depot should hire them. I'm hearing 2012 opening for Home Depot. We shall see.

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Posted : September 9, 2010 12:03 pm
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