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Why do most people leave the VI after living there for a while?
I am curious to know why most people end up leaving the VI after living there for a year or more? Is it money, too slow, seasons never really change?
I have been here a number of years, and will likely remain a number more, but I will not live here "forever." I have enough money, I like living at a slower pace, and I prefer minimal seasonal variation, but there will come a time when I am no longer willing to make some of the trade offs that living here entails.
What I resent most is that I don't feel safe in my home, and that I pay exorbitant prices for inferior goods and services. These failings are largely due to the ineptitude of local decision makers, and the overwhelming majority of residents who continue to re-elect the same incompetent individuals. Crime is becoming normalized as more and more people are victimized, and that inevitably leads to an acceptance of crime (leave your car windows down so thieves don't break the glass --or -- you were robbed, but not physically harmed, so you're "lucky".) Local business owners fear competition, but they fill the election coffers, so our government enacts regulations that effectively shut out reasonably priced quality goods from our market (it would be cost-effective for some businesses with outlets in Puerto Rico to peddle their wares here, but that would inevitably harm local businesses with crappy merchandise and surly staff.)
Plenty of places in the world are inhabited by poorly educated people, but the people in those places tend to want opportunities to rise above the circumstances of their birth. In the VI ignorance is perceived as part of the "culture", and education and opportunities are viewed as "colonization." One day I will wake up and know it's time to choose a new place to call home, one that respects it's young people enough to educate them well, so when they're adults they're qualified to manage the executive, legislative, and judicial aspects of their local government.
I choose to live in the Caribbean in planning for my infinite future, to try to grow accustomed to the heat...
We've lived on STX for 6 years and will continue to stay here for the foreseeable future. We feel safe in our home and can afford to absorb the additional costs assocciated with island living. We like the people with whom we work and socialize, love the weather, the slow pace and the beach. The culture here is different. As mentioned above, there seems to be less emphasis on "getting ahead". Drugs are a huge problem, which makes crime also a problem.
Seems to me people leave for one of 5 reason: 1.They just don't like it. 2. Can't afford living here. 3. They only planned on staying for a specific amount of time. 4. They miss family in the states. 5. Health problems.
Serious health issues would mean a return to the states for us. We're both in good health but we are in our early 60's. My dad lives with my sister in the states and will be 86 this spring. So any health problems, either for him or for us would probably mean a move back to Kentucky.
Bottom line, living here mean trade offs, just like living anyplace.
The sense of adventure that drives people to pick up and leave their homes to move here is usually what causes them to pick up and leave the islands. Gypsies will be gypsies.
It's frustrating for those of us who have put down roots; our newest friends are the most vibrant in many cases and they are almost certain to leave within a few months or years.
There is the rule of the sixes: A few of those who stay 6 days might stay as long as 6 weeks; a few of those might hang on 6 months; rarely someone will stay 6 years, at which point the well rooted people might take notice of them.
i think alot of people leave due to the high cost associated with living here, the high crime and the politics of the island. some people with health issues leave for that reason and those with kids who can not afford the private schools ( about 11 grand a year ) leave to get the same if not better education for free in the states. lack of jobs has also been an issue.
We lived on St. Thomas for 3 1/2 yrs and still own our condo so we plan on coming back from time to time. We moved to St. Thomas for an opportunity within our company and left for the same reasons. Loved living on St. Thomas and miss our friends who are still there. I can understand some folks getting fed up with some of the challenges that Island living presents. It took me a few months after leaving St. Thomas to get used to having anything and everything available 24hrs a day and cheap in comparison. Cost of living in the states has gotten even cheaper in most areas so that might play into peoples logic who leave the Islands right now. I live currently on Hilton Head Island SC which is not exactly a shabby place and I only pay $2500 per month rent on a 5 Bedroom 6,000 sq ft home with a mother in law suite, on 1 1/2 acre lot of land and right across the street from the beach. Don't even want to think what my current home would cost me in the Islands. People go to the Islands for adventure, change of pace and something different. They get all of those things in the Islands but for some it just does not live up to their expectations or they simply enjoyed it enough and it is time to move on.
Wow, some great responses!
Dntw8tup especially hits on some of the things that irritates me the most. Culture is important but sometimes ignorance masqurades as culture and that is the thing that bothers me the most by far.
I also like the "gypsies will be gypsies" response and the rule of 6's (I'm in year 6 and have roots...uh oh). By 6 years you know how to deal with and get around most of the inconveniences of life here.
Some people leave because they underestimate what island life is really like. They come to the islands to "escape" from some perceived problem or combination of problems such as a dead end job, low salary, an unattractive family life, debt, few friends, long commute, etc.; in other words a general dissatisfaction with their life in general make then fed up with the "Rat Race" and they convince themselves they need a simpler lifestyle. That, of course, is a really a euphemism for "I think I can learn to give up the conveniences of stateside living even though I 've never actually been to the island but what the heck it has to be paradise". .
They envision themselves in an idealyic life spending all their time sitting on a beach under a palm tree sipping pina colodas. They get to the island only to realize life hasn't changed all that much. They still have to get up every day and go out to earn a living, their new job may not be any better then the one they left, their new boss is just as demanding, their pay is probably less, things cost more, daily chores still have to be done. In other words life goes on - your not out of the Rat Race it's just a different Race at a different venue. Add to that the fact the island is small and you can easily get "Rock Fever" - it's like living in a small town that you can't leave - there's no where else to go.
The thing is if you are not happy with yourself "back home" you probably won't be happy with yourself somewhere else, including the USVI's.
Since there is no exit poll that would be able to categorize why people leave the island in a short period of time, we can only go by word of mouth from friends,neighbors and stories told on this forum. Some people just want to get off the rock, some are ill, some miss family and friends, some expectations were greater than the rewards, some can fit in with the culture, some can tolerate it, and some just hate it. When you vacation in the islands and unwind/relax you can get a false feeling of paradise. When you live in the islands the only thing that might have changed was the weather ( if you had problems where you were they will not go away because of the location). If you are being transferred because of employment you have a leg up. If you come down expecting employment equal to or better from where you came from they will be in for a shock. Island living isn't for everybody, there is no one size fits all.
A neighbor's daughter made an interesting comment (her family had owned and visited stx for 20 years or more before she decided to move down by herself) .... that the things that made her love stx as a vacation spot were the same things that drove her nuts and made her decide she could not live there full time...
I think dntw8up very eloquently expressed the main issues as I see them. And yes, if you look in the Avis every day you will be shocked by the numbers of violent crimes. Before I moved here people on the board explained that there is crime everywhere, but on a small island it just feels closer to home. Yes, that is part of the problem. It is weird to go a casual restaurant with your family (small kids) and hear about the same place getting robbed at gunpoint the next day at 8 PM (a time when you could have still been there) with shots fired. It is beyond weird, actually, it is horrifying. I would feel so horrible if my kids experienced that, ever. So that makes me want to move. Because I hate to think it is too dangerous to go to a family restaurant but it certainly is rolling the dice around here. (Yes, I know everything is a risk. I moved 2000 miles. I am fine with reasonable risks. We still go out. But I worry.)
But also, the crime issue for me is the total lack of community outrage and police follow-up. People just do not expect criminals to be apprehended. When my home was burglarized at noon on a Saturday, more than $5000 worth of electronics and property was stolen and there was so little police follow-up. My husband found the IP address of my cell phone - it had been stolen but was still checking my email on someone's wireless network. He called the cops - this was Sunday, the next day! We thought maybe the cops could go find the phone and all of our stuff would still be sitting there! We could have gotten it all back! However, instead we were told that no one could follow-up until Monday (remember the 24-7 motto! ha ha!), and several days later a wonderful police officer did follow my husband's specific instructions and find the guy with the phone. He got a search warrant - maybe we would get our stuff back now! - and then got transferred off the case. And no one ever followed up for one more second. That was the end. So it wasn't our stuff anymore.
I read a news article in a mainland web site the next week about a guy who did the same thing as my husband. Except he was in upstate NY and the cops followed up immediately and were so grateful for his assistance catching the criminal. So my problem with here is A) there is tons of violent crime and B) there is no expectation of any repercussions to the criminals. The criminals are really in charge. And like dntw8up says, everyone thinks you are lucky if you weren't hurt. Getting robbed is just part of the program.
(I know that some of you who have lived here for a while have not experienced violent crime or property theft. It does seem that you are in minority, but I am happy for those of you whose experiences have been untouched by crime.)
And the inferior goods and services... yesterday I got a flat tire. (Again. There is a reason there are so many tire repair shops!) I bought a brand new tire, and it had white writing on one side, exactly matching my other three tires. Well, the guy put the tire on backwards, so the white writing was under the car. I asked him to switch the tire around, and he seemed a little put out, but seriously... does it even occur to a TIRE SPECIALIST to put the new tire on so it matches the other three? It kind of blew my mind, in retrospect.
But the crime is the main reason we will probably move. When I watch cop shows on TV or cop scenes in movies I feel all nostalgic for functional public safety. Every dangerous city in the US feels safer than here. (I moved here from NYC, upper upper west side, basically Harlem.) We have had so many amazing breakthroughs in policing and forensics but down here it is the wild west and I don't know the sheriff.
Just my two cents.
Crime may be it but it probably isn't the main reason (except for those who were specifically hurt by it).
People move to Wash. DC and have been moving there even when the crime was worse than here (it's better now).
The thing about the islands is - people come here not because they have to but because they want to. It's a "disposable income" thing like owning a sailboat 🙂 There are few jobs, low pay and high costs so clearly majority aren't here to make money. Schools are marginal and services aren't great - so again, majority aren't here for the high "quality of life" in that sense.
That leaves people that enjoy the view, so to speak. And enjoying the view is by it's very nature transient. At some point any view gets old, and it is time to go enjoy another view.
It's not personal - the islands as a location are great. The islands as a country are ok, nothing to be excited about.