Young couple with kids considering USVI, insight appreciated!  

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Emibujold
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May 14, 2016 2:46 pm  

Hi All-
My husband and I are in our early 30s with a 1-year-old and 3-year-old. We spent some time before having our children sailing the Pacific and then living (on land) in Micronesia and really enjoyed the way of life. We're considering returning to the island lifestyle. Micronesia is a bit too remote and we're interested in learning more about USVI. My husband has sailed much of the Virgin Islands, but long before we had kids so he wasn't viewing it in that light. Of course, we'll take a trip and spend time there before making a permanent move, but I'd be grateful for any local insight and to learn from your experience. Here is more info on us and the areas we have questions about:

+ Kids will be school aged soon, how are public schools vs private?
+ Walkability is important to us
+ My husband works remotely and will keep his current job, but it does require a good and consistent internet connection
+ A safe neighborhood is a priority- there is crime everywhere but overall we want to be in welcoming and family oriented neighborhood
+ Access to a marina in a plus but not essential
+ We've experienced limited availability of goods and don't have a problem with it
+ We love the outdoors and would like to have easy access to recreation, land or sea- beach, paddleboarding, fishing, hiking, etc.
+ How is housing availability? Renting and buying?
+ Are there issues between locals and expats and how can we do our best to be mindful of that?

Thoughts on these things or anything we've missed as well specific places and neighborhoods you would recommend would be much appreciated!

Thanks, Emily


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OldTart
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May 14, 2016 3:04 pm  

+ Kids will be school aged soon, how are public schools vs private?
+ Walkability is important to us
+ My husband works remotely and will keep his current job, but it does require a good and consistent internet connection
+ A safe neighborhood is a priority- there is crime everywhere but overall we want to be in welcoming and family oriented neighborhood
+ Access to a marina in a plus but not essential
+ We've experienced limited availability of goods and don't have a problem with it
+ We love the outdoors and would like to have easy access to recreation, land or sea- beach, paddleboarding, fishing, hiking, etc.
+ How is housing availability? Renting and buying?
+ Are there issues between locals and expats and how can we do our best to be mindful of that?

Thoughts on these things or anything we've missed as well specific places and neighborhoods you would recommend would be much appreciated!

Thanks, Emily

First, there's a ton of information in the drop-down menus top of this page which will answer many of your questions. Many people new to the forum miss what's right here!

1. You would have to visit the schools on whichever island you choose to live on to see for yourself which would best suit your children. It's a subject which has been discussed at length on this forum and is an important issue.

2.. Walkability is tricky. You can certainly find different areas on all the islands on which you can walk and hike but "neighborhood" walking, and being within an easy walk of stores, etc. isn't so easy and you need cars to get around.

3.. Internet connections are improving and several people manage to work remotely but you may find the reliability and speeds somewhat less than those to which you're accustomed.

4. Plenty of safe neighborhoods on all islands.

5. Marinas on all islands.

6. Easy access on all islands to the outdoor activities you mentioned.

7. Housing on all islands, all different kinds, both for sale and rent. Inadvisable to purchase real property until you've lived here for at least a couple of years and have figured out whether or not island living suits you.

8. There are very few "expats" here but many transplants. It's a multi ethnic mix and successful integration simply entails observing and accepting different cultures just as you would do when moving to anywhere rather foreign.

Read up on all the islands to get a better idea of which might suit you best. Good luck with all the research!

PS: One more thing you should be aware of is that the USVI isn't included in the Affordable Health Care Act, there is no affordable individual health care insurance to be found and the biggest group insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is pulling out of doing business here very shortly.


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Scubadoo
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May 15, 2016 1:31 am  

So you'll want to confirm your husband can also keep his current health insurance with his current job. or at least get on another group plan through his job.


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Spartygrad95
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May 15, 2016 2:42 am  

Access to healthcare and schooling options will be your biggest pitfalls with a family. We moved here (STT) two years ago with an infant son. We have been lucky with healthcare, both of our jobs provide it, at least for now until BCBS moves out. For us, public schools are a non starter here. We are looking at options now and they are expensive. Montessori or Antilles are most convenient for us based on our jobs and rental but will cost you between $7500-9500/yr for a kindergartner. And it just keeps going up. Parochial or other religious schools are also available at much lower costs but still talking $4000+


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stjohnjulie
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May 15, 2016 8:38 am  

I agree, healthcare, schooling, and walkability, will probably be your biggest challenges. Since healthcare wasn't on your list, I'll just comment on the schooling and walkability. My experience is coming from St. John, and I have a almost 15 year old and a 5 year old, both born here.

With my older son, I didn't even consider the public schools. I had heard too many horror stories. He started private school on St. John and attended from pre K until 5th grade. It was extremely costly. And with the advantage of hindsight, was a terrible fit for him, and our family. I have had a major shift in my thinking when it comes to private vs public. And having 9.5 years between my kids has given me time to reflect on a lot of things 🙂

My youngest son started in a private preschool taught by a retired teacher from the public schools. It, Bright Beginnings for Early Explorers, is a tiny fraction of the cost of the private school my older son attended, Gifft HIll School. I could not be happier with this school. It has exceeded my expectations in every regard. The teachers are fantastic, the facilities are fantastic, and I don't think I could have found a better school anywhere.

If you read back on some older posts, you'll probably run across some of my posts. But just to highlight some of my thoughts, and the reason why I've shifted over the years, has to do with how I feel about being a transplant, and how I want my children brought up in the place where they were born and continue to live. I see so much separation on St. John between the locals and the transplants, and that is NOT something I want for myself or my family. I didn't come here to live in a transplant bubble. I am here because I like it here, not just the natural aspects, but the social aspects too. Even if I don't want to go as far as to say Gifft HIll encouraged a separatism, I do think it fosters it. And there was constant trouble with hiring almost exclusively off island transplants, which lead to super high turnover and all kinds of other issues. My older son lost a teacher, or two, all but one of the 7 years he attended.

Are there problems in the public schools, you bet ya! For me, one of the biggest is that corporal punishment is still being used to some extent. They say they don't do it any more, but I am almost certain that it is in some cases at least. I don't agree with this form of punishment personally. And that will be made clear when my little guy starts JESS this fall. And my little guy is pretty well versed on when he should be 'telling' on behaviors that are not in line with what is acceptable.

I believe that most of the issues that the public schools have can be helped immensely by parental involvement. I am fully aware that it is my job to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's my job, as a student's parent, to support and reinforce what is taught in the classroom. And if I see a problem, to make it be known and try and HELP solve the problems in a constructive way instead of just make a big unproductive fuss. Having a child that succeeds despite any challenges is that the kind of child I want to raise.

Walkability is something that is limited on St. John. If you live in town, it can be done, but is not convenient. We have few sidewalks. Lots of steps, bumps, obstacles, that make strollers useless. Having to keep watch over two kiddos, and carry groceries to your apartment, would be a hassle and a bit dangerous. I can't give you much input on that issue on STT or STX.... but there are a lot of wonderful contributors on this forum that have and will be able to chime in more.

I can't think of any other place in the world I would want to raise my kids. When we find ourselves in the states, it is more glaringly obvious how living in this small, Caribbean, community has shaped them as human beings. Friendly, kind, and always ready to make a friend of any age, any gender, any race.

Good luck! This may be the right place for you, and it may not be. But no one is going to force you to stay if it just isn't the right fit for you.


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speee1dy
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May 15, 2016 3:03 pm  

sounds like you all were made for island living. i hope you come down and enjoy.


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CaptainMalibu
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May 15, 2016 3:17 pm  

sounds like you all were made for island living. i hope you come down and enjoy.

I agree with all of the comments made here but this one the most. It sounds like you have the knowledge, experience and flexibility required to enjoy whatever lifestyle the island has to offer. All of my children are grown but if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options as there are many resources and some many ways to challenge and educate children that most traditional classrooms. Not that I have anything against educational institutions as I myself have been in the private school business for a long time.

Given your previous experiences, you'll do just fine.

Good Luck!


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Emibujold
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May 19, 2016 6:07 pm  

Thanks all for your comments! We're hoping to do a scouting visit this summer. Looking forward to it.

Emily


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LiquidFluoride
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May 19, 2016 8:34 pm  

if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island 😉

There was a [URL="http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/abinazir/2011/06/15/what-are-chances-you-would-be-born/"]1: 400,000,000,000,000[/URL] chance of you being born: what have you done with your miraculous life today?


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Spartygrad95
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May 19, 2016 10:56 pm  

if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island 😉

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.


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OldTart
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May 19, 2016 11:51 pm  

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Really? "Leave It To Beaver" reruns obviously had a major impact on your impressionable childhood mind if this is what you really believe.


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Spartygrad95
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May 20, 2016 12:32 am  

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Really? "Leave It To Beaver" reruns obviously had a major impact on your impressionable childhood mind if this is what you really believe.

Just the Eddie Haskell character. That is it.


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CruzanIron
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May 20, 2016 12:52 am  

if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island 😉

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Waitsminnit. My wife is supposed to work?


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watruw8ing4
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May 20, 2016 1:03 am  

if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island 😉

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

America!! Proudly sending children to school since the 16th century.


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Spartygrad95
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May 20, 2016 1:03 am  

if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island 😉

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Waitsminnit. My wife is supposed to work?

If we wanted healthcare for all of us my wife had to work. It was not affordable to have family coverage with my plan.


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Spartygrad95
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May 20, 2016 1:06 am  

if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island 😉

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

America!! Proudly sending children to school since the 16th century.

America wasn't in existence until the 18th century. You must have been homeschooled. The accessibility to homeschooling has diminished since the majority of families have both parents working was my point.


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Scubadoo
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May 20, 2016 1:31 am  

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

Really? "Leave It To Beaver" reruns obviously had a major impact on your impressionable childhood mind if this is what you really believe.

Ha Ha! First thing that came to my mind as well.:D Only home schooling there was Ward being hard on the Beav.


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watruw8ing4
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May 20, 2016 2:13 am  

if I were to start on the island with younger school aged children I would consider home school options

I think its the only option, but then I'd say the same-thing about the states as well.. strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense.

there's a few other reasons as well, unique to this island 😉

We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work.

America!! Proudly sending children to school since the 16th century.

America wasn't in existence until the 18th century. You must have been homeschooled. The accessibility to homeschooling has diminished since the majority of families have both parents working was my point.

Q: "strangers raising our children, why did we ever start that non-sense"?
A: "We started this when the lie of the American Dream collapsed and both parents were forced to work"

Your point contradicts history. Homeschooling pretty much died out in the mid-19th century, long before most moms went in the workforce, because of compulsory education laws. It didn't start to make a comeback until the 1970's, which is also a time when more moms started entering the the workforce. Kind of bass ackward from what you said.

The area the colonies were situated in had been called America since the 1500's. Where do you suppose they got the "America" part from when It became the United States of America in the 1700's? We started sending kids to schools in the 1600's. (my bad, typo in previous post). I learned my history in public schools. But I'm sure home schooled kids learn this as well.


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Alana33
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May 20, 2016 3:20 am  

I'm sure all this dialogue is helpful to the OP's original questions. (Not)


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Spartygrad95
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May 20, 2016 8:12 am  

Homeschool away. I would if I could.


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Mpphawk
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May 20, 2016 9:19 am  

Glad I found this site and topic. My wife and I have very similar situation. 30 and 32 children 3 and 5. We grew up in small town of Iowa and moved to south Florida area 6 years ago. Love the water and anything to do with outdoors. Would like to have the activities Florida provides us but with a slower pace, small town feel. My wife and I'm thinking the Islands would provide that for us. I could be wrong though. Planning a trip to St Croix soon and can't wait.


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speee1dy
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May 20, 2016 11:10 am  

just come with an open mind. relax and enjoy


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LiquidFluoride
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May 20, 2016 11:42 am  

just come with an open mind. relax and enjoy

bring a job with you if you can...

There was a [URL="http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/abinazir/2011/06/15/what-are-chances-you-would-be-born/"]1: 400,000,000,000,000[/URL] chance of you being born: what have you done with your miraculous life today?


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Spartygrad95
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May 20, 2016 11:51 am  

just come with an open mind. relax and enjoy

bring a job with you if you can...

And your guns, and your healthcare.


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OldTart
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May 20, 2016 12:05 pm  

Spartygrad, I think the joy of living here is wearing a little thin for you. Nothing wrong with that, just getting a sense!


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