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sjointer
(@sjointer)
Trusted Member

I decided that I would post a thread that would be part blog/part advice list for people in my situation. I read a similar blog on another website and thought putting my adventures on the forums here would be a nice way to get an interactive and (mostly) uncensored "guide" to relocating to USVI. I'd hope that people would post suggestions to help me, the occasional "troll" to tell me how I'm doing it all wrong, and then everyone could see what worked and what didn't. I will do my best to continue posting here from now until about June 2018, which should represent about one year of moving to and living on St. Croix in USVI.

And so, I begin...

I was given an informal offer of employment to the University of the Virgin Islands at St. Croix, where I will be a professor of computer science. The "informal" offer is basically an email or phone call that academics get to start the negotiation process to determine what will be in the formal offer, which I expect to get an official letter or email sometime before the end of May. My idea at the moment is to relocate to St. Croix by early to mid-June, spend 6 to 8 weeks looking for a different location to rent where I will move to before August 1st and then the academic year will begin.

As I teach and research computer science, one of my main worries is the number of people across these boards that discuss issues with fluctuating power. I know, and many have expressed, what this does to sensitive electronics...it basically halves their life expectancy. So on my "to-do" list, prior to relocating, is to purchase a new computer (because the one I have is dying) and to purchase a uninterruptable power supply for the computer that doubles as a voltage/current regulator. I've also looked into other power line regulators that can be used in line with other electronics as well as one that is wired inline, just after the circuit breaker, which would be purchased down the line, when I purchase a home.

My next issue, which I've read through the forums, regards the fact that my vehicle is new and has a loan against it through Ford. I'd prefer NOT to give up the truck, but others have pointed out in other threads that the lien-holder, in this case Ford, likely wouldn't be willing to allow me to take the truck to USVI with the outstanding loan. This means one of three things: 1- pay the truck off by taking a loan against my retirement account, 2- try to sell the truck off, or 3- store it in Miami, pay off the loan, then ship it when the title is clear in two years (I only have a 36 month loan).

Taking a loan against my retirement account would need to be repaid, and at a significantly higher interest rate than what the truck loan is. My current loan is at 0.9% through Ford Credit, while a loan against a retirement account is typically 6%-8%. Further, loans against retirement may have a shorter time span to pay off. Currently, the time is two years, where as a retirement loan may require repayment in 12 months.

Trying to sell the truck off means I could, possibly, get a small amount back: the truck only has about $25K left to pay off and the reseller value at the moment is $35K, especially in my current location. The downside is that the truck is custom in a lot of areas. It's a 2016 Ford F-150 Super Cab, 4x4 with a longbed, loading ramps, manual telescoping side mirrors, vinyl interior, and a year of SiriusXM. I know the 4x4 is important on the islands, as I've read and heard both here and elsewhere. And, personally, I don't want to give it up. However, the longbed may be an issue on the island, as well as the telescoping mirrors...they already sit a bit further out than a standard mirror, even when "fully closed".

Storing the truck while I pay the loan off means I need to pay somewhere between $150 and $250/month somewhere in Miami while waiting to pay the truck off, and pray that it doesn't get stolen. Further, I'm not certain how I'd register the truck in FL when my new home address will be somewhere in USVI.

Both storing and selling mean that I will need to use public transportation for some length of time, prior to purchasing a new vehicle. Of the three choices, my current selection is 1,3,2, with the idea that it's probably going to be choice 3. Choice 2 is the hardest one to swallow, but if that must be done...I guess I'll need to do it.

Third on my mind is the idea that many other threads have discussed, which is doing a "pre-move visit" (PMV). I did do an in-person interview as part of the process; all academics do an interview where they present a lecture to highlight teaching style as well as well as a research lecture where we highlight our current research track. What I didn't get a lot of time to do was walk around, look into renting an apartment, or any of those ideas. I did meet a woman that gave me her email address to discuss possibly renting a room in her home. Not sure if I will rent a room from her, but it can't hurt to talk/email with her. This is part of my reason for wanting to come to USVI a couple of months early, so it would act as a PMV without actually being one. I don't get to go back to my old job if I don't like it in STX. I stated to people in the interview that, if I choose to come to STX, I am "betting my life", and, knowing that, I still accepted the informal offer. I did like what I saw, but I've been told and I've read on here, to expect higher electricity costs and to change my diet, as food costs are also higher. I didn't discuss, read, or even consider hygiene products until the moment I typed it, but I'd expect to both make changes and have a higher cost.

Beyond the truck, the computer, textbooks, and clothing (which I expect to be dropping some off at Goodwill where I currently live), I don't expect to bring anything else. I'm single, with no dependents. The furniture I have here will be sold on Craig's List, or put out in front of my current apartment with a "free stuff" sign on it. I figure I can get everything else on the island at one of the many furniture stores I saw while there. I also expect to cut down on some of my food cost by fishing. Since it's just me, I figure I can make a standard size fish in the area last about a week, assuming the freezer doesn't go out...

Of course, I'm hardly a good fisherman, so I guess I better learn to change my diet to keep food costs down as well.

Some errata: I don't own a home here, which is Murray, KY. I am familiar with high humidity, as I've working on Caribbean Islands twice before making this move: one in Curacao before September, 2001, and once in Haiti about 6 months after their earthquake in 2010. I know that I need to renew my passport because, although I don't need it to get onto USVI, I'm pretty certain that customs would have ben much more difficult leaving USVI without it. I also believe that USVI isn't part of the RealID system that they are putting into mainland airports, which means all travel off USVI will require a passport. As I stated during the in person interview (which, of course, you aren't aware of unless you were part of that interview), I'm not looking at relocating to USVI as "moving to paradise". Frankly, a lot of the things that people state about the islands that make it "paradise" simply don't impress me. I'm born in Los Angeles and went to graduate school in Dallas, TX. I do like my current living situation, where I live in a small town and I'm 90 minutes away from a large city (Nashville, TN is 2 hours, Memphis, TN is 90 minutes). I figure the situation will be similar at USVI, but not quite. No "real" major city on the islands, but that's fine too. And, since I know someone will ask: I'm "running away from" my siblings. My dad's been gone for 14 years, and my mom went 12 years before that. Since then, my siblings and I haven't really been on the best of terms and I have no expectation that it will ever improve. My sisters couldn't afford to visit me in KY, so there is no way they're going to be able to afford to fly from Los Angeles to St. Croix...no way in all of creation!

Please give comments on anything I'm forgetting to worry about...ERR...consider carefully at this initial point of: "YEAH! I'm moving to USVI!"

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 3:44 pm
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Noble Member

You don't really need a 4x4 on STX unless you are planning on actually driving off road or perhaps hauling a big trailer. The long bed is probably not an issue, the mirrors may be problematic in some areas. I am surprised that spending between $150 and $250/month would be more cost effective than a higher interest car loan. What does the math say? Plus, you will for sure need your own transportation once you are settled on STX regardless and it doesn't sounds like you can be paying for two vehicles. Bringing a vehicle from the states if you have the opportunity, especially one made in the US that won't have import duty, is generally recommended over buying local. You may be better to sell the more expensive truck and by something less expensive, perhaps smaller and more island appropriate and shipping that to STX.

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 4:17 pm
Gator's Mom
(@Gator's_Mom)
Prominent Member

Do you have TIAA-CREF?

You should be able get a maximum 5 year loan to pay off your truck.

And remember, this 6-8% loan is paid back to your retirement account with interest - you're borrowing from yourself.

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 5:28 pm
Edw94
(@Edw94)
Eminent Member

I am in the middle of making arrangements to ship my Jeep, which has an outstanding loan. Granted, my loan was not as much- but, call your lien holder and explain your situation. It's worth a shot.

We were told by many people it probably wouldn't be approved. Our lien holder was willing to work with us after talking on the phone about our plans. We had to sign a contract stating we would continue to make payments, have full coverage, and provide them with our housing/employment information once we get it figured out on the island.

Good luck!

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 5:34 pm
sjointer
(@sjointer)
Trusted Member

You don't really need a 4x4 on STX unless you are planning on actually driving off road or perhaps hauling a big trailer. The long bed is probably not an issue, the mirrors may be problematic in some areas. I am surprised that spending between $150 and $250/month would be more cost effective than a higher interest car loan. What does the math say? Plus, you will for sure need your own transportation once you are settled on STX regardless and it doesn't sounds like you can be paying for two vehicles. Bringing a vehicle from the states if you have the opportunity, especially one made in the US that won't have import duty, is generally recommended over buying local. You may be better to sell the more expensive truck and by something less expensive, perhaps smaller and more island appropriate and shipping that to STX.

The truck was built in the U.S., so thank goodness I don't need to worry about the import duty. I didn't actually calculate the cost of the loan before I posted, I just assumed that storing in Miami would cost less than an interest rate jump of 7 points. I did just use the bank loan calculator at bankrate's website, which is telling me that my loan payment will go down over my current payment schedule ($1425 vs $1110 monthly). I'm guessing that I'm doing something wrong, because that isn't at all what I would have expected.

Do you have TIAA-CREF?

You should be able get a maximum 5 year loan to pay off your truck.

And remember, this 6-8% loan is paid back to your retirement account with interest - you're borrowing from yourself.

I do have TIAA-CREF, both through my current and future university. As I am thinking about it, based on how my retirement is performing, paying myself 6-8% is far better than the fund itself is doing. It's probably a better idea to take out that loan than I thought. I have an email to TIAA now, but they haven't responded yet. I stated the rate of 6-8% based off when I had a 401(k) from a different employer years ago. Even if the rate is 15%, I should still be better off taking out the loan, paying off the truck, and bringing it with me directly...I need to get them on the phone...STAT!

I am in the middle of making arrangements to ship my Jeep, which has an outstanding loan. Granted, my loan was not as much- but, call your lien holder and explain your situation. It's worth a shot.

We were told by many people it probably wouldn't be approved. Our lien holder was willing to work with us after talking on the phone about our plans. We had to sign a contract stating we would continue to make payments, have full coverage, and provide them with our housing/employment information once we get it figured out on the island.

Good luck!

I suppose it won't hurt to ask Ford, but since there isn't a true Ford Dealership on the islands (according to Ford's website...but that's another conversation), I'd suspect that they'd say no simply because they have no way of repossessing the truck if I default on the loan...not that I intend to default, though! Somehow, my Ford account is locked, so I'll need to call them anyway.

Thank you all for your advice on these topics. I think this "semi-blog" is going to workout spectacularly!

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 5:55 pm
Rowdy802
(@Rowdy802)
Island Expert

Metro Motors
located @ Golden Rock STX (also on STT)

https://www.facebook.com/Metro-Motors-VIInc-135189376514451/

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 6:05 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Noble Member

Be sure you check your vehicle. I also brought down a Ford F150. It had a VIN starting with 2 because it was assembled in Canada. I had to pay import duty.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
the sinners are much more fun...
You know that only the good die young.
BJ

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 7:08 pm
crazyinca
(@crazyinca)
Trusted Member

That was the longest blog or whatever you called it I think I have ever read here shhheeeeessshhhh. To me a big move like that and your biggest concern is your truck, this is a big change and there are much more pressing issues to concern yourself with. Sell the truck, take the truck either way find where you are and go with that. Concentrate on the fact that you have a job lined up in a beautiful area. Really doesn't sound like you have much to lose for trying. Best of luck

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 9, 2017 9:40 pm
stjohnjulie
(@stjohnjulie)
Prominent Member

And in regards to the truck... don't forget about road tax, 16¢ a pound. Sounds like your truck might be kinda heavy 🙂

Also sounds like you REALLY LOVE your truck! Do you love it so much that when you see it get dinged up, paint fade at a much higher rate that you will be really sad? If so, you might want to let it go. I have personally never even considered getting a new car the entire time I have lived here for just that reason.

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 10, 2017 6:51 am
NYC to STT
(@NYC_to_STT)
Active Member

We had a brand new Subaru with a loan on it when we moved down. It was financed through JPMorgan Chase - they partner with Subaru and handle all of their financing/leasing. They gave us no trouble shipping it down here, we just had to fill out some paper work. The fact that there is no Subaru dealer here didn't bother them - it just means that we were foregoing warranty protection if we ran into serious problems.

The car is now paid off, has had no issues, and we are very glad we brought it with us.

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 10, 2017 12:07 pm
sjointer
(@sjointer)
Trusted Member

Be sure you check your vehicle. I also brought down a Ford F150. It had a VIN starting with 2 because it was assembled in Canada. I had to pay import duty.

I just double checked the VIN inside my door. It starts with a 1, which I believe means that it is assembled in the U.S.

That was the longest blog or whatever you called it I think I have ever read here shhheeeeessshhhh. To me a big move like that and your biggest concern is your truck, this is a big change and there are much more pressing issues to concern yourself with. Sell the truck, take the truck either way find where you are and go with that. Concentrate on the fact that you have a job lined up in a beautiful area. Really doesn't sound like you have much to lose for trying. Best of luck

Yes, I'm long winded. I also wanted to answer as many questions that I could anticipate with, at the least, the initial post as I could.

I actually am accepted the informal offer. They are now typing up the formal offer which will be sent to me...somehow...and then I sign it, send it back, and then start the relocation process. I believe, and for myself I've personally insured, that if you're going to move anywhere you should have a job lined up. I remember reading a post from a younger woman (she was 25, I'm going to be 45 in 6 weeks) where her intent was to just hop on a plane and move. She did apply for jobs but hadn't really secured one. Not my personal cup of tea. I need to know how I'm generating income as well as where my expenses are before I make a move, and again, especially to an island.

Did I mention I'm long-winded? It comes with the territory. The main part of my job is to teach (preach?) for 45 minutes or so to blankly-staring students...at least that's my impression at my current position.

And in regards to the truck... don't forget about road tax, 16¢ a pound. Sounds like your truck might be kinda heavy 🙂

Also sounds like you REALLY LOVE your truck! Do you love it so much that when you see it get dinged up, paint fade at a much higher rate that you will be really sad? If so, you might want to let it go. I have personally never even considered getting a new car the entire time I have lived here for just that reason.

I forgot about that road tax, however, one of the features that the newer model F-150's highlight in their commercials is that the body is made of "military grade" aluminum ("what does that even mean?" to quote one of my current colleagues). The reason I wanted the truck new, regardless of relocation, is that I wanted to be responsible for everything about it. Murray, KY gets hail. The way I see it, the truck's getting dinged eventually. So, since the body is aluminum-ish, is there anyone in USVI that sells one of those suction-cup-like devices used to pull out small dents on your own?

I also wanted to point out that my reason for "concentrating" on the truck is two-fold. 1- the selfish reason: it's the first time I purchased a brand new vehicle, and it was a custom job. The only amenities in the truck are the ones I wanted and 2- The truck represents my most expensive debt at the moment. I'm happy to have it paid off in a couple of years, which I will then turn towards homeownership. It's not really about the truck (aside from 1-), but about the expenses I have which need to be accounted for in the moving process.

Metro Motors
located @ Golden Rock STX (also on STT)

https://www.facebook.com/Metro-Motors-VIInc-135189376514451/

I've actually read some "bad" things about these guys elsewhere on this forum. I also know that the actual Ford dealership, on STT, is also less than reliable. I should point out that I couldn't find the Ford dealership on Ford's dealership locator, but that maybe from the fact that I put in the Kingshill (?) ZIP Code and not a STT ZIP Code.

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 10, 2017 5:46 pm
sjointer
(@sjointer)
Trusted Member

So, I've made a couple of phone calls, both of which involve the truck.

My first call, inspired by Gator's Mom, was to TIAA-CREF. My concern about the truck is that I will need to pay it off before relocating it, and that I would need to take out a loan against my retirement in order to do that. I would have been fine taking out that loan, even though the interest rate would have been higher, because, as Gator's Mom pointed out, repaying a retirement loan, including the interest, is basically a repayment to yourself: the money and the interest you pay on it go back into your retirement account.

TIAA-CREF told me that my current account doesn't allow for loans against the balance, only withdraws at a penalty.

OH SNAP! (not exactly what I was thinking, but there could be minors reading and I want to pretend that my language is better than it really is)

It turns out that individual organizations can set rules on the accounts, and one of rules set by the state of KY is that a person cannot take out loans against a retirement account that is used to avoid paying into the state public pension system. Now, at this point, I could get political and say what KY's been doing with the public pension plans...but I'm not going to be living in KY three months from now, so, to quote one of my sisters (yes, the sisters that I'm "running away from"): "put it in a bucket...fk it!" (IT'S STILL CLEAN!) When I informed the agent on the phone of the amount I needed, $25K, she informed me that I would need to withdraw basically all of it, because TIAA-CREF would make the tax payment immediately. I would still need to pay off an additional 10% penalty at the end of the year on the original amount, and not the money I received.

In other words...I can't use my TIAA-CREF account from my current employer to assist with the move, so "option 3" is gone. That was yesterday afternoon. I intended on posting this last night, but my computer at home decided it was protesting by not turning on until this morning...fine, BE that way!

So this afternoon, based on some encouragement from Edw94 and NYC to STT, I figured I'd pray for the best and call Ford Credit. At first, the man on the phone didn't understand exactly what I was asking for, but he eventually figured it out, found the information I needed and told it to me, which I'll summarize because of the "Gotcha!" that's in it.

I waited on the phone for a few moments, part of which was spent listening to the automated recording that I couldn't press a button to skip giving me a detailed account of how much I owe.

It's $37K, not $25K..I KNEW something was wrong yesterday.

Ford Credit tells me that they have no problem getting me the documentation that I need to relocate the truck with. The turn around time is, according to them is 2-4 days. I need to state where the truck is leaving from (port of call), where it will be located on STX, and I need to purchase marine insurance.

I need to purchase WHAT?!

To travel overseas, I need to provide proof of marine insurance to Ford Credit, apparently just in case the boat sinks, or leaks, or whatever else they expect. What I do know, is, my current car insurer doesn't operate on USVI. I expect they won't offer marine insurance, or offer it at a oppressive premium. My insurance won't be valid the minute I set foot on STX, so I likely need an island insurer prior to moving, since, I expect, that those insurers will offer marine, flood, and maybe even hurricane sub-policies as part of car insurance...again, at a premium. I'll need full coverage no matter what, I may as well add that on.

So, I get my first choice of relocating the vehicle. Anyone heard of or know about where I might get marine insurance?

On a better note, I've spoken with my future colleagues at UVI, trying to find out what I'll be teaching, and with which textbooks. I'm hoping they can get me desk copies that I can pick up when I arrive. UVI will be open, in part due to summer classes and, for another part, that UVI runs a cybersecurity introduction camp for local middle and high school students. I expect to be part of that next year, and I'm looking forward to that interaction. I've read on these forums that public education on USVI is...inadequate (I'm being nice). One of the "cures" for inadequate public education is to get a limited involvement with public universities in some fashion. As a professor at UVI, I'll be looking forward to that opportunity as well.

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 10, 2017 6:41 pm
Afriend
(@afriend)
Reputable Member

You should be able to get the "marine insurance" from your overseas shipping company. It is pretty much the same as purchasing the added value insurance from the carrier who moves your furniture instead of accepting the standard $.50/pound coverage that's included with the move.

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 10, 2017 7:11 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Noble Member

Although I am probably suffering from *inadequate education* I find myself 'staring blankly' at a simple google search for "car shipping marine insurance"
There certainly seems to be plenty of info available and if you can work out the lien with your loan officer just a matter of price.

https://www.schumachercargo.com/marine-shipping-insurance.html

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 11, 2017 12:14 am
Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
Noble Member

You;ll need to have your new island insurance before you can get it inspected and registered.

https://www.vimovingcenter.com/car/

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 11, 2017 1:07 am
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