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.
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.
I moved here 3 times and left twice.
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.
just a side note. i have been going through the local avis for work related info and there is a shocking number of violent crimes reported. i have been going through the last 6 months or so and it seems every day there is another violent crime/murder.
Because there are other interesting places to see and live in. Why stay in just one, even if this place is great? 🙂 Life is short, see as much as you can.
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.
Br1K...funny you bring up DC, I live 15 minutes south of DC in Fairfax, and its great here, the only crime I see are people being pulled over for speeding (if thats even a crime!) however, I know the island is small, but are there places that are good? I mean, it seems like everyone is making St. Croix out for being a tough place, and if thats how it is then ok, but I don't know.....so is that how it really is?
Great post Afriend...
I think a lot of people don't come here as much as they run away from "there." When they get here they realize that it wasn't "there" that they were running from, it was actually themselves. But that is a hard fact to accept so they run away from here to the next "there" hoping that the true reason for their misery really isn't themselves.
Wow! Some great responses here!
Looks like the main thing is crime, which has increased in the states where we live due to unemployment approaching 14%. We have five indoor Labrador retrievers which we are going to be bringing with us (um yea....should be an adventure in of itself, we are suckers and used to do Lab Resuce until we realized we had too many that we held onto), and 4 yrs reserves of cash to live on. I also own two guns a Rueger 1022 rifle and a Glock 45 handgun, sounds like I should be bringing those with me? What are the gun laws there, and how hard is it to get a concealed weapons permit? I would think having 5 dogs would deter anyone from breaking into a home, as when UPS comes it is a 30 min calm down session?
Also why have those over the 6 yr itch have stayed?
We now live 45 mins from any major amenities (forget to get smokes today and now scouraging hidden packs, maybe I should just quit?), don't really have many friends as we are so far away from the city (but hate large crowds) and basically shop on-line for anything but groceries. We are still where we are as we are saving now for our boat budget, one where we can sleep overnight in it. There are also many times where I don't even make it to the city for two weeks at a time, as I work from a home office, and have no real desire to socialize with the masses. We dont have kids no plans to have any. We used to live in Jackson Hole, WY and miss the small town feel, and we left thinking that we needed all the chains and big city amenities, well we did for about 6 mo's and now long for the times of going to a bar and plopping down with all the people we knew and chatting.
So what then, are the reasons people stay there then? I love to hear the good with the bad.
We are not saying we are going to live there until we are dead, I just turned 40. But I have the, "you only live once attitude" and have 10 acres of vacant land in the Tetons, and lakefront land on a lake in Northern California, and pops lives on the outer banks of NC for other places to eventually find another home. I am tired of 6 months of shivering!
There is a plethora of great responses here, but I feel that one reason that many leave has been omitted - vices. Simply put, everything bad for you is extremely cheap and easy to find, and everything good for you is expensive and hard to obtain. Most of the reasons listed previously apply to families and those middle age and above. The younger crowd tends to have a much more simple (and common) story. Simply put, this island chews up and spits out a lot of 20-somethings. Yes, the job market is terrible now but even 4 years ago when jobs were plentiful, young adults would arrive and leave by the planeful, mainly due to drugs and especially alcohol. Since liquor is so unbelievably cheap on island, it has turned more than one into an alocholic and even at cheap prices can drain up finances, especially limited ones. Add to that a "there's never any weekdays, only weekends" mentality and 5 dollar shots of Jager, and many just can't hack it. Functional alcoholism is a way of life down here; we live on an island inhabited by enablers.
I moved to St. Thomas a little over 4 years ago now, and while some who have posted before me would seem to turn their nose up at me for being new blood, I feel quite acclimated. When I moved here I was only 21 years old, and had absolutely no intentions other than to have the best time possible. Lucky for me, I've grown, as have many of my friends from my early days on island. Many more though have left island either physically or mentally - I suppose the novelty of drinking before noon on a workday just never wears off for some.
This post paints me as somewhat of a downer, which isn't the case. I personally don't think its a bad thing when youth is not wasted on the young. The issue is how often youths are getting wasted.
VIcaptain is correct. For many young people, the islands are permanent spring break. There are very few inhibiting forces at work here. Parents are a long way away and kid feel like anything goes. I've seen several cases where mom or dad comes down and convinces someone to come home. In one case, a very lovely young woman was fast sucumbing to daily, steady drinking. Her mom and dad double teamed here and now she's happily living in the states. Many of the young people here are simply marking time, not going forward in their lives and often going backward.
5 dollar shots of jager! VI Captain you need to go to the Happy Shack across from Crown Bay. They have $3 shots of jager 😀
I am pretty sure ViCaptain meant 5 shots of Jaeger at $1 a shot!
IMHO & FWIW,
I visited STX more than six years ago and spent the other five trying to find a way to get back. Much of my research involved this board and friends who have lived her and on STT.
Now that I'm here (since September) I feel that I have come home. The new friends I have met, the warm, welcoming crucians I have become associated with are all part of why I feel this is my new home. Having lived in the East and the South West I can honestly say this life far exceeds any other place I have lived or visited. Yes, there is crime. Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there is racism. But tell me a place on the globe where this does not exist? I live here because I enjoy the people; the climate and the opportunity to live out my life in a manner I choose. Will I live here in a year; two, more? How long is a piece of string? In my years in the states I have come to learn that where you live is not as important as where you feel comfortable living. That place, for me anyway, is here. I moved here with my eyes wide open and those who don't do their homework should expect nothing more than what they get. Right now I am living my dream and enjoying it to its fullest. Tomorrow is another day and the sun will rise in the East.
Like the potholes in the roads, life is full of them. Learn to go around the ones too big to straddle and enjoy those roads where there are none.
Crime, inferior health care, cost of living (including food and electricity), inferior education (unless you can afford private school), racism (by both sides, native islanders and newcomers), corruption (why continue to pay for so many corrupt, do-nothing politicians (seems more prevalent here than in most places), island fever (you can only drive around the island so many times before you get bored, lack of employment opportunities (does the island need another real estate agent). The beaches are great but there are great beaches all over the world
Sometimes less can be more.