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Which island to choose?

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imaspeicher
(@imaspeicher)
Active Member

We visited St. Thomas in June with the intention to get plans/ideas to move there. As we were there we had suggestions of checking the other islands out before we made a decision. However, we didn't have the time or the money to check out St. John or St. Croix. We'd appreciate insight on each of the islands...things we need to consider: moving with two dogs, jobs. We are used to having a house with a fenced-in yard in a small town but have open space nearby. Any ideas or opinions on the 3 islands would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Topic starter Posted : July 25, 2013 9:59 pm
JulieKay
(@JulieKay)
Trusted Member

Have you read the topic on the menu above regarding this?

https://www.vimovingcenter.com/which_island/

It's hard to tell you which island. Each has it's own vibe and lifestyle, which also varies within each island. It's what works for you and your family and what you enjoy.

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Posted : July 25, 2013 10:10 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Hello! Welcome to the board.

Before I offer you my trifling opinions, let me ask you a question... What did you think of St Thomas? Did you find the housing and job market to be something with which you could live?

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Posted : July 25, 2013 10:11 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

stj is more expensive, but to do serious shopping you have to go to stt.
stt has the most to offer as far as shopping, much more crowded
stx is more peaceful, not as much shopping.

please read these boards on crime, cost of living etc... plenty of info

what is your age?

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Posted : July 25, 2013 10:49 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

People with dogs move to all three of the islands all the time so that in and of itself shouldn't be a driving factor in deciding "which island". More importantly is whether or not you are planning to rent or buy. Many landlords (on all the islands) don't allow pets so that will limit your renting options. Obviously, if you purchase your home having pets won't be an issue.

As far as availability of jobs, that depends on your skill set, your employment history, experience and earnings expectations. What type of employment are you seeking? That could have a bigger impact on which island rather than the fact you have a couple of dogs. You probably already know this from your June visit but salaries for jobs in the VI's are often lower then they are for comparable jobs on the mainland. On the other hand housing costs tend to be higher. That's the Catch-22 of living in the Caribbean.

Let me add one other comment - you've been to St. Thomas. Let's assume you liked what you saw. That doesn't mean you'll like St. Croix or St. John as they have completely different "feels" so even though you like what you might read about the island from your research and/or responses you get on this forum you should still consider making a Pre-move visit (PMV) to those islands BEFORE you decide which one is right for you. I realize you said you "didn't have the time or money to visit St. John or St. Croix" but you would be doing yourself a disservice by not visiting those island, assuming you are still considering moving to one of them. The added cost for the PMV will be money well spent.

Good luck following your dream.

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Posted : July 25, 2013 10:50 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

You say that while you were here you didn't have "the time or the money" to visit St John and St Croix so I'm wondering when you were thinking of moving here in terms of your financial status. It's usually recommended that just a baseline amount of money to get set up here is $10K and even that's a very lowball amount. Even for a reasonable 1BR apartment at minimum $1K/month eats up $3K just in first, last and one month's security and on top of that are deposits for WAPA (electric), internet service, cable/satellite TV, etc. You have to have at least one car wherever you live on whatever island and the best you can realistically do on a used vehicle is $4-5K, then insurance on top of that. Even in a furnished apartment (and in a $1K//month place the furnishings aren't likely to be much) you'll need linens and a slew of other household purchases. Finding jobs may take you a while so you need money to live on until that's accomplished. Realistically, $10K will barely cover those essentials.

Have you read all the information available at the top of this page in the drop-down menus? If not, it's in your best interest to do so as there's a wealth of information there which will help you better understand about living here.

Good luck!

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Posted : July 26, 2013 1:13 am
rosesisland
(@rosesisland)
Trusted Member

You mentioned that you ar used to "small town" living. For me, STX is more of a small town, rural feel with lots of wide open spaces! I'm on STX. Never liked the crowded feel of STT, especially when 5+ cruise ships are in port. There are the same things to do on all three islands.

But, if ya'll didn't have enough money to take a ferry from STT to STJ for the day, then, you may should rethink your decision to move to the islands until you have at least 15k for move and set-up and waiting on getting a job. Jobs here are few and far between. We aren't dependent on making a living here to live here. I'm retired and my husband works off island 6 mos. per year.

Anyway you slice it, if you figure you'll need a dollar here, multiply that by 3!!!

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Posted : July 26, 2013 2:18 pm
imaspeicher
(@imaspeicher)
Active Member

Yes, I have...I kind of wanted opinions of people that actually live there...what it's like, difficulty of finding a home or apartment to rent with dogs, etc.
Thanks.

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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2013 5:13 pm
imaspeicher
(@imaspeicher)
Active Member

We didn't get into looking into housing like I had hoped (ran out of time). As for jobs, we didn't get much information except some hourly wages, etc. We talked to a couple people that moved there from the states. We enjoyed St. Thomas, it was suggested to us to look at the west end..never made it there while we had a rental car. Personally I thought parts of it were a bit too crowded and wasn't sure if St. John or St. Croix had that same feel.

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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2013 5:15 pm
imaspeicher
(@imaspeicher)
Active Member

Thanks. We are late 30s, early 40s. Not much of a shopper....only do what I need so that isn't much of an issue. Thanks for the info. 🙂

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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2013 5:17 pm
imaspeicher
(@imaspeicher)
Active Member

Thanks. As for employment, I'm a teacher currently (not sure I want to continue that route). My husbands and my skill set are pretty good and we have options for employment that way. We were planning on renting, just because I don't know how easy it's going to be to purchase a house right when we move and get a new job.

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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2013 5:20 pm
imaspeicher
(@imaspeicher)
Active Member

Thanks. We spent a few days celebrating our anniversary and relaxing and didn't spend every day on the hunt so to speak. I have read some of the drop down menus but wasn't sure how recently they were updated and figured this was my best avenue for getting updated information. We appreciate the info on the cost considerations for moving down there.

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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2013 5:23 pm
imaspeicher
(@imaspeicher)
Active Member

Thank you. I appreciate your views on St. Croix, I also wasn't real thrilled with the amount of people on St. Thomas...that's why I'm considering the others more now than before.

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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2013 5:25 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Trusted Member

It sounds like you actually came "on vacation" not on a true Pre-move visit. You really want to visit like you are living her. Stay in a condo/housekeeping unit, do grocery shopping, clean house, do the laundry, etc. so you get a feel for what life is really like in the islands. Spending time at a resort drinking piña coladas while relaxing on the beach is NOT what daily life is like.

Good luck.

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Posted : July 26, 2013 5:32 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Never liked the crowded feel of STT, especially when 5+ cruise ships are in port.

I've never felt "crowded" at all in 30 years of living on STT but have never lived in town, either! Very much a haven of small communities all over the island once you get out of the commercial district. When I have to go there for business I feel as though I'm in the middle of Manhattan and breathe such a deep sigh of relief when I'm out of it and back to the peace and quiet of my little aerie!!!

OP, I should caution you that the West end of the island is very remote, and amenities like stores and gas stations are quite a haul. No jobs out there either and your commute would be a long one.

Frankly you will have a problem finding a rental which will accept two dogs. Not impossible but very limiting. I live in a very pet-friendly area (I have indolent cats) but there's zero tolerance in this peaceful 'hood for yappers and free-running (or escape artist) poopers. "No pets" is pretty standard in rental advertisements.

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Posted : July 26, 2013 5:34 pm
rosesisland
(@rosesisland)
Trusted Member

I have chosen not to buy. I'm retired and don't ever want to own again. That way I not stuck if I want to move or get sick and need to be near family. Sold two houses last year and now, I'm free to call some else for the repairs and headaches.

When did you visit STT? Remember during the season, it will be a whole lot busier. I still stand by my opinion that I feel it is too crowded for my liking. Manhattan also is too crowded for me and seems as if, old Tart, that having to breathe a sigh of relief when getting out of the business district that you have felt that crowded feeling on STT during your 30 years there...just sayin.

I fully agree that living here, working and dealing with everyday life is a world of difference than anything remotely like it was for you on vacation. So, before you make a permanent commitment to move down, come down and don't do the usual vaca things. Find out the hassles of getting electricity turned on, getting a driver's lisence, car insurance and setting up a bank account and not having use of your own money for Two weeks and yourvchecks will arrive anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks later. The islands have a lot of educated people living here so compitition is great for good jobs.

I personally know 9 families on STX renting with pets, cats and dogs, some large as mine is. Yes, it limits you but, maybe it's easier to rent with pet on rural STX. I don't know.

STJ is even more expensive to live and options limited.

For me, STT is too much like NYC, STJ is too much like Disney World, AND, STX is just right.

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Posted : July 26, 2013 6:36 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

STT like NYC? STJ like Disney World?
Couldn't be further from the truth.

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Posted : July 26, 2013 6:53 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

"I still stand by my opinion that I feel it is too crowded for my liking. Manhattan also is too crowded for me and seems as if, old Tart, that having to breathe a sigh of relief when getting out of the business district that you have felt that crowded feeling on STT during your 30 years there...just sayin."

My whole point is that "town" is but a very small area of STT and isn't representative of the whole.

Have you ever lived or actually traveled around STT or STJ for any length of time? Don't for a moment misunderstand me; I have nothing against STX and have spent some wonderful times there and love the different "feel" of it and the topography which is so different from our mountainous terrain here. I've just never understood the opinion of some Crucians who have what I view as a rather distorted view of STT/STJ.

And I can only echo Alana's retort to your analogies (with my jaw dropping to my navel)! 😀

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Posted : July 26, 2013 7:19 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

I was asking how you found St Thomas as a possible place to live. I also have never found it too crowded- except in town in the middle of season or during Carnival. I find I can get most of the stuff I need, but maybe not everything I want. Things are expensive- ALL things are expensive- but looking at the view often makes up for that. I had a friend who hated it on St Thomas. She was from the plains and felt confined by the mountains. She went to St Croix and absolutely fell in love.

I think the VI is mostly an emotional destination. I dreamed of living in the Caribbean for years. You either love the weather, the water, the sun, the activities or you don't. If you are a teacher, you can teach anywhere. Will you like living here or St Croix? I don't know. You can try it and find out. Don't burn your bridges back home- if you don't like it after 6 months or a year, you can always go back. 🙂

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Posted : July 26, 2013 10:20 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

IMO, STT is great since so many things are available here, as well as easy access to STJ to spend the day, explore the National Park and thier beaches or head over to the BVIwith their islands are just a short boat ride away, easier flights coming in and out. Not so easy from STX. Sure town can be a zoo in "high season" but you can plan town trips around low cruise ship arrival days which I do. Then things drop off and most cruise ships head to different destinations in early May - Nov. Our "busy" season is short! There's lots to do and see in STT, lots of great people and places. I've had some experience staying in STX from time to time but STT is where my heart is. Don't know why people living in STX feel the need to put STT or STJ down. I could say to all of you "Move to STX and leave our wonderful STT and STJ, alone! However, it is your choice, based on your likes, needs and peferences. Just be prepared, it is expensive and "island living" is not for everyone as has been stated many times before.

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Posted : July 26, 2013 11:30 pm
Ms Information
(@Ms_Information)
Advanced Member

I was asking how you found St Thomas as a possible place to live. I also have never found it too crowded- except in town in the middle of season or during Carnival. I find I can get most of the stuff I need, but maybe not everything I want. Things are expensive- ALL things are expensive- but looking at the view often makes up for that. I had a friend who hated it on St Thomas. She was from the plains and felt confined by the mountains. She went to St Croix and absolutely fell in love.

I think the VI is mostly an emotional destination. I dreamed of living in the Caribbean for years. You either love the weather, the water, the sun, the activities or you don't. If you are a teacher, you can teach anywhere. Will you like living here or St Croix? I don't know. You can try it and find out. Don't burn your bridges back home- if you don't like it after 6 months or a year, you can always go back. 🙂

I guess I could be anywhere in the VI and be happy. My impressions of St Thomas go back to a trip when we had spent a week on Tortola and then a week in a villa on Coral Bay on St John. Hurricane Lenny was creeping in and we had no experience with major weather systems. We took a taxi from the St John ferry to the airport while people were trying to get off the island. We were offered double for our airplane tickets...fools....But.. this was not our first or last time affected by cruise traffic on St Thomas. It was always a shock. I understood that if I lived their, I would need a place to hide from the congestion. However I would still need to deal with the total mess downtown sometimes...... We decided instead to go live on St Croix. That says more about us than about any island. Decide what you want....

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Posted : July 26, 2013 11:54 pm
jwidjaja
(@jwidjaja)
Advanced Member

Hi,

my husband and I just moved to STX two weeks ago. We originally planned we'd move to STT but decided not to because the thought of having multiple cruiseships in port during high season with so many tourists crowding the streets did not appeal to us at all. We visited STT and STJ two years ago during low season, there were 2 cruiseships in STT and there was already traffic jam and too many people (IMO). STJ was really beautiful but also the most expensive and job opportunities are probably hardest to find there. SO we settled in STX which is a good fit for our personality and the cheapest of all 3 islands. Technically, we never did a pre-move visit to STX but so far so good (not that I would recommend not doing a PMV at all... please do). STX is quiet, no traffic but not much happening either. And I guess some things are probably more readily available in STT than STX.

As far as rental goes, I checked Craigslist and this forum under the Classifieds... we found a few that allows pets (we also have two dogs - large and medium size) and (maybe we were just lucky) didn't have a hard time with it. I'd email the advertisement posters asking about pets just to see how flexible they are. If they have a big property and you are renting a small apt/cottage off of their main house, they may be flexible - and this has been our experience when we were looking around. Condos are not a good choice, since most don't allow pets. I have to say though this time of year is low season so it may also be the reason why landlords were more flexible to have their property rented or why it was easier for us to find a place...

Jobs are easier to find once you are on the island and start talking to people. I work in healthcare and my husband is an entrepreneur skilled in welding and fabrication as well as cars and boats (power and sail) so we do have the skill set to make a living on the island. The people we have met have been super nice and helpful; the locals probably can give you tips on where to apply or give a contact info on so and so who may know a job opening in your field, etc. You can even begin to network on this forum to see if anybody knows of any openings and what not.

Since we moved from California, the prices here haven't been a big shock. Yes, some are more expensive but we haven't found anything that is ridiculously way more expensive than California (gas, groceries). Electricity, we've been told, is extremely expensive here so we try to conserve as much as we can and see what our first bill will amount to. Luckily we also are renting a house where our landlord installed solar panels and solar water heater to help with the bill.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me.

Good luck!

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Posted : July 27, 2013 1:04 am
mtdoramike
(@mtdoramike)
Trusted Member

IMO, STT is great since so many things are available here, as well as easy access to STJ to spend the day, explore the National Park and thier beaches or head over to the BVIwith their islands are just a short boat ride away, easier flights coming in and out. Not so easy from STX. Sure town can be a zoo in "high season" but you can plan town trips around low cruise ship arrival days which I do. Then things drop off and most cruise ships head to different destinations in early May - Nov. Our "busy" season is short! There's lots to do and see in STT, lots of great people and places. I've had some experience staying in STX from time to time but STT is where my heart is. Don't know why people living in STX feel the need to put STT or STJ down. I could say to all of you "Move to STX and leave our wonderful STT and STJ, alone! However, it is your choice, based on your likes, needs and peferences. Just be prepared, it is expensive and "island living" is not for everyone as has been stated many times before.

I agree with Alana. St. Thomas is the bomb.

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Posted : July 27, 2013 11:25 am
jostvandog
(@jostvandog)
Advanced Member

my humble take on how I explain the USVI to people who don't live here. Again my opinion, just my take. I live in STX by the way.
If I was to compare us to the mainland here we go.
St Thomas-kind of like New York, always something to do, can get almost anywhere in one or two flights or a ferry.
St John-kind of like California, back to nature, a bit left of center (I'm a former California boy so I figure I can say that)
Water Island- a bit like Catalina island just off the coast of California, so near but so far
St Croix-like the South, lots of wide open spaces, and a real community feel.

No island is better than the other,every island has something for everyone its just what you like, the cool thing is you can be at any of them within an hour. We can pick on each other and make fun of each other but nobody else better talk smack about us.

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Posted : July 27, 2013 1:00 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Here is one thing that I do not like about St John: I sit down in a restaurant and I overhear the perky server tell a tourist: "Oh, I never go to St Trauma except to go to Cost-U-Less! It's just awful over there." Then perky server comes to my table and I ask, "So how long have you been here on St John?" and the answer is something like,"Three weeks." Then there are the endless villa builders and owners who have no stake in the territory (don't live here full time, don't have children in the schools, don't participate in voting, etc) who are just too cool.

Just to balance out all the positives about St John.;)

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Posted : July 27, 2013 1:38 pm
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