Year One  

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sjointer
Posts: 55
(@sjointer)
Advanced Member
Joined: 2 years ago

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!"

37 Replies
stjohnjulie
Posts: 826
(@stjohnjulie)
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Joined: 11 years ago

Well eating mango with juice all over your face and dripping down your hands is the traditional way to do it I hear.

With my youngest son, we strip him down and send him outside. That way we can just hose him down. Not unusual for him to have a slight orange stripe down the front of his body during mango season.

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sjointer
Posts: 55
(@sjointer)
Advanced Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Well eating mango with juice all over your face and dripping down your hands is the traditional way to do it I hear. But I prefer to do it the easier way. Sounds like you're all prepped for the mango eating contest at Mango Melee though.

The Viya triple pack is for VOIP phone.

Oh yeah! I'm ALL OVER that! All this talk of mangos makes me want to run to the store and grab a couple right now.

VOIP sounds like a great option. I've used it once at a past company, and I liked the clarity. The only question I have is why the calls are limited to "local calls" only. As I understood it, VOIP doesn't need to distinguish between local and long distance, because the data travels faster over IP than over standard land line.

With my youngest son, we strip him down and send him outside. That way we can just hose him down. Not unusual for him to have a slight orange stripe down the front of his body during mango season.

My mom did this to us as kids, although it was over watermelon.

So, I just put down the security deposit on a place in Beresford Estate. I'll pay the first month in June and I basically have a destination to put down for sending my things over. As Alana33 repeats, I did NOT rent the place, sight unseen...but sorta. One of the men I met when I interviewed agreed to go out to the place and take a look around. He texted me a little over thirty pics of the place. He apparently stayed in the Estate for his first couple of years on the island and enjoyed it. I could, if I wanted to, walk down to the beach and fish, although I'm read on another thread here that Frederiksted is over-fished, and I might want to take my fishing trips to another location on the island.

My friend also told me that the location is very quiet. I'm looking forward to that change, for certain! My next door neighbor, as an example spent every day from a week before Christmas until just before spring break (3 months) yelling at his girlfriend...nightly, before finally breaking up with her. There are a few new neighbors from about spring break as well who like their music LOUD on the weekends. I doubt that I'll have a problem with too quiet. The ocean air will be a little worrisome for my computers, but I'll take any suggestions and figure it out over the next few days.

The moving plan now is: I've given notice at my current place in Murray. I'll take a "roadtrip" to Dallas, TX to attend some lectures on cyber security, then I'll head to Miami, drop my stuff off, bounce around Miami for a week, then fly out the same day my things leave on the boat. Not sure what I'll do for the first few days when I don't have the vehicle, but I'll figure that out when the time comes. As has become clear to me, I need to chill out and not necessarily plan every single detail. Plan as much as possible, but also plan on being flexible.

When's the mango eating contest? I definitely want to be part of that!

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Scubadoo
Posts: 2239
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Joined: 5 years ago

Let's hope your friend checked out the neighborhood for barking dogs.

Mango Melee is the Sunday after July 4th this year.

Innovative does have unlimited calling to US for a few dollars more than basic. Market pricing I guess. Or maybe just paying more for off-island bandwidth.

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sjointer
Posts: 55
(@sjointer)
Advanced Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Let's hope your friend checked out the neighborhood for barking dogs.

Mango Melee is the Sunday after July 4th this year.

Innovative does have unlimited calling to US for a few dollars more than basic. Market pricing I guess. Or maybe just paying more for off-island bandwidth.

He told me he lived there in the past and that it hadn't changed much. I don't think barking dogs would be a big problem, personally. Although, I admit they aren't just outside in my past. When I worked on Curacao in 2001, there was a pack of dogs that showed up at my door for food for a bit, but no real barking issues.

I expect to be on the island, so I'll be looking up Mango Melee to enter!

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stjohnjulie
Posts: 826
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Joined: 11 years ago

My mom did this to us as kids, although it was over watermelon.

🙂 When I told my husband about this topic, he said "tell him it's just like how you'd eat a watermelon" A small seedless watermelon at Starfish Market on STJ goes for $9.99 BTW. They have them for sale right now for $4.99. A treat for us!

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stxem
Posts: 865
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Joined: 13 years ago

FYI, if you are renting at beresford manor in Frederiksted, there is NO cell reception out there.

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sjointer
Posts: 55
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Joined: 2 years ago

FYI, if you are renting at beresford manor in Frederiksted, there is NO cell reception out there.

Okay, that is new information. I was given the impression that I could choose AT&T and get some okay coverage. I will know once I arrive. Thank you for pointing it out.

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sjointer
Posts: 55
(@sjointer)
Advanced Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Okay, so it's been awhile since I posted an update, but here it is. I'll try to make it short.

The first issue was that I was told I would be getting a disbursement to assist with relocation expenses. It turns out that, no, it will be a reimbursement once I finally arrive. I was upset about that for a bit, since I was trying to be on STX at the beginning of June. Red tape later and now I will be arriving either June 15th or June 22nd, depending on how quickly I can get my things to Ft. Lauderdale.

The other item of importance is about the marine insurance. Ford credit initially told me that they would be sending me an application that I would need to fill out with the transport company to offer proof of marine/maritime insurance. However, I actually received the permission to relocate my truck on Monday without the need to have the transport company sign off on the marine insurance. The reason Ford gave me is, since I was relocating to the US Virgin Islands, the move was under U.S. maritime law which requires the transporter to offer the insurance on anything vehicle valued over $2500. This is the exact same thing that the transport company, which is Blue Ocean Transport, told me when I tried to set things in motion to relocate the vehicle to begin with.

This isn't to imply that other companies will work out as easily as I did with Ford credit, and you could have real issues if you purchased from a used car dealer. I just thought I'd point out that it wasn't as hair-raising as I expected.

Blue Ocean also put me in contact with Ferrol's Truck Lines on the island. Ferrol's offers a service, for $250 + expenses, where they will take care of all paperwork for you with regards to getting your vehicle licensed on arrival. This is going to save me A LOT of stress with regards to getting my vehicle once it lands; I'll only need to worry about my household goods.

About the household items: one of the things I was told by Blue Ocean is that any boxes would need to be shrink/cellophane wrapped. They offer the wrapping, but I've also found that you can get a 1000 ft roll from Lowes for $20.

Okay. I'm going to bed. Tomorrow I finish packing. Saturday I hop in my truck and drive down to Ft. Lauderdale, which I expect to arrive at on Sunday. Monday I go into Blue Ocean, and, with all luck on my side, I will be posting June 16th about my arrival in St Croix.

🙂

All the best, as always.

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islandjoan
Posts: 1727
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Joined: 12 years ago

All the best, SJointer! I hope all goes smoothly for you.

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Wilycat
Posts: 3
(@Wilycat)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Best wishes for a safe trip. Thanks for your relo info so far. I'm retired so my needs are different in some areas. I'll be watching for your updates.

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SunnyCyn
Posts: 65
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Advanced Member
Joined: 3 years ago

I really e joyed the good nature and the humor of this post. Hope you've arrived well & safely by now SJointer!

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Corvettejack01
Posts: 5
(@Corvettejack01)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Ford's website ONLY recognizes zip codes from the 48 states. The local "dealer" here on ST is Metro Motors and they are shady at best. I buy all my cars from Beth at Beth Buys in Florida. She gets awesome prices and arranges all the shipping. I never buy a car on island.

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East Ender
Posts: 5329
(@east-ender)
Expert
Joined: 14 years ago

First, I wonder what happened to sjointer? After such an active start...now, nothing?

Second, to Corvettejack01: I have bought new cars and had service on them at Metro on St Thomas and have had a very good experience. Sorry about your bad luck. (tu) And as to your advertising....:P PS The OP was going to St Croix.

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