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!"