which island ??
Retired veteran with pension, looking for simple quiet island life. Born in Key West, live in Miami, so tired of the concrete jungle. Looking for one bedroom, or studio. Just me and kitty. Love all the islands, only one I haven't visited is St. Croix. Any suggestions as to which island would be the best, as far as tranquility , simple life would greatly be appreciated. My current rent is 1500 monthly , not including utilities .
St. Thomas is the most populated and has the most variety of shops and services.
St. John is least populated (2/3’s of the island is an uninhabited National Park) but it is also the most expensive island. Your $1,500/month rental budget and pension won’t go very far.
St. Croix is more rural than St. Thomas so might be the one that best fits your needs.
You’d be wise to make a Pre-Move Visit to each island and decide for yourself which one you like best.
Good luck following your dream.
PMV is strongly recommended. STX will probably be your lowest price option generally and certainly has much to offer. At the moment housing is in short supply on STX due to Maria cleanup still winding down and refinery starting up. That's keeping rents up for the time being at least.
Life on a Caribbean island isn’t necessarily “simple”. - it has it’s own set of challenges. What non-islands think as “simple” is often degreased of inefficiency. If your idea of “simple” means being able to wait several days for your repair man to show up to fix your refrigerator (if he shows up at all) only to tell you that he needs a part that has to be shipped in from Miami and will take another 3 weeks unless you are willing to pay a $100 Fed-Ex bill to ship that $25 part then you’ll love the “simple” island life. Or other examples like waiting in line at the bank for 30 minutes trying to cash a check or make a deposit or having to go to 4 different grocery stores and still not finding everything on your shopping list - again the island definition of “simple”. Ther’a no such thing as getting something done quickly.
Anyway, that doesn’t really answer your question. As was pointed out in some of the earlier replies, STX is much more rural and less populated than St. Thomas (STT) so life there will be “simpler”.
After living and working here for over 40+ years I am living a 'simpler' life these days. But I know how frustrating some tasks can be.
NoT usually simple:
Dealing with ANY Govt. office
Any car problem ----- also yearly registration[can use an expediter$$]
Hurricanes -- prep and aftermath
Medical problems - this is a big reason residents move off the island
Any Banking - I am totally only online
House maintenance - especially plumbing or electric that exceeds my ability
Appliance degradation - climate and WAPA
WAPA - can be frustrating if not prepared
Postal efficiency - lines and delivery wait times
Food Shopping - expensive and limited
Water worries - current drought
Online capabilities -- not easy,fast or perfect
Actually nothing is perfect so it is a matter of acceptance and personal decision making. Finding a peaceful residence, enjoying the beach and water, having realistic island expectations, using your time to feel fulfilled and not isolated and building a social network within the framework of your financial means will be the goal -- it is fairly expensive to live here - on all levels -- except for "keeping up with the Jones" [which practically no one cares about".
Simple living here is a matter of low expectations and not allowing stress to intrude.
There are days even I get frustrated until I remember where I live.
Being retired makes living here far easier. Although I guess that could be said of anywhere.
After Maria, I was spending a huge amount of time digging new drainage guts along the sides of my washed out driveway and cleaning up/fixing my property. Spent a lot of time driving around looking for fuel, food, ICE (oh glorious ice), and other stuff to fix other broken stuff. Volunteered time to help out some neighbors and repaired and cutback brush on the road I live on. I don’t know how anyone went to work everyday and also dealt with everything that had to be done at home in the aftermath of hurricane Maria. Owners of businesses especially. Many had both their homes and businesses torn to shreds.
Being retired, Most days I don’t know what day it is. My week is usually cut up into, days prior to, or after Sunday brunch.
Food shopping can take half a day due to driving to no less than 3 stores, but I accept that now. Usually everything I want, I find eventually. Think of food shopping as a “quest”. Finding odd items you like will provide a euphoria only Jackpot winners know!
I’ll agree with most of what Exit Zero wrote, especially about medical care and insurance options. However, I also have a theory about living here. Fact of the matter is that if things weren’t a little (perhaps a little more than little) screwy, most of us wouldn’t be able to afford to live here. It is an incredibly beautiful place with kind of a small town feel (STX). If it was completely squared away though it would be jam packed with people and unaffordable for everyone but the super-rich. So like others, Ive learned resistance is futile. You’ll either adapt and overcome, and learn to embrace the many faults here, or you’ll bailout!
I live in FL. Soon to live on STX. I'm in both places a lot.
STX is no more expensive than FL big city living. You just spend your money on different things. I grocery shop differently in the VI - but I don't necessarily spend more money because I buy different things. I eat out more on STX because it's less expensive than comparable quality where I'm living in FL.
It's easy to meet people on STX - and lots to do if you're a joiner.
You know all about hurricane prep - no better no worse than FL except the power, internet and cell service go out for months and not days. Live where you can hunker down - and not have to evacuate - and hope the roof stays on.
Housing on STX is in short supply - you may have to wait for a place to become available and/or be prepared to pay more than $1500. Electricity is expensive - but water usually comes from a cistern and is free unless you're in town on city water or in a metered condo/apt. Choose someplace that offers generator power as backup if you can.
Health care is a really serious problem - for you the nearest VA hospital is in Puerto Rico. There are good doctors on STX and STT - but they can only do so much without adequate hospital services.
Tranquil and simple - don't know about that. Different than Miami for sure. There's lots of hustle and bustle on all three islands right now.
Fact of the matter is that if things weren’t a little (perhaps a little more than little) screwy, most of us wouldn’t be able to afford to live here. It is an incredibly beautiful place with kind of a small town feel (STX). If it was completely squared away though it would be jam packed with people and unaffordable for everyone but the super-rich.
True dat. Just look at some of the other islands out there. I'll pay the island time/island life tax to make it more affordable and keep that small town feel instead of lifestyles of the rich and famous.