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Old 01-20-2008, 09:11 PM
 
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Smile Great Place to live in the Virgin Islands

Can you tell me where the perfect place to live in the Virgin Islands would be and why you feel it would be a perfect place to live.
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Old 01-21-2008, 04:02 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
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I would expect you are talking the U.S. Virgin Islands.

It all depends on what you want, your outlook on things, and your financial status. Others may tell you that it can be done making minimum wage and I think that's a crock...

St. Thomas is very urban and very much like a tropical mainland city in many respects - it also has more crime, more tourists, more traffic, more everything. It's easier to get in and out of St. Thomas than the other islands. A number of stateside chains are there now so shopping is infinitely easier. And still expensive.

St. Croix is the big island and is more laid back and slow. You'd better have employment before you get there or you'll have to hustle. On any of the islands you still may have to hustle to make ends meet. SCUBA diving is spectacular.

St. John is the most natural in many ways because most of it is national park donated by the Rockefellers. Be a trust fund baby if you want to live like the masses because the masses seem to have some bucks behind them. Land and home sales are astronomical. Building cheap is going to run you $300 sq/ft. minimum. There are lots of people who make it, I'm just not really sure where they live or with how many people since the rent is so high, groceries are unbelievable, and there's nothing other than the tourists to keep things alive. Lots and lots of money there, also an incredible amount of beauty. There are some commuters who live there that catch the ferry to St. Thomas to work.

Water Island - not only do you need money, you need a boat to get where you're headed. If you want to be left alone, there's your spot. Heaven help you if anything goes wrong, though...you're kind of on your own.
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Old 01-22-2008, 06:16 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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Your age, marital status and financial situation are all important factors in trying to answer your question.

I'd like to add that seeking perfection is a problem. The attrition rate for newcomers is huge. Many young people come to the islands for seasonal work in the hospitality industry and their expectations are generally realistic - working often a couple of jobs and having a couple of days off here and there to enjoy the sun and the sand and the beautiful waters.

Others have a totally unrealistic dream of Paradise, thinking they can easily relocate, land a job and make enough money to spend most of their time on an extended vacation of sorts.

Best bet is to do as much research as humanly possible and then, if you're still interested in relocating here, make an extended pre-move visit (at least for two weeks and preferably longer) to get a taste of what living and working here is really all about and the lifestyle changes you may have to make. Good luck and cheers!
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Old 06-25-2008, 04:38 AM
 
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Hello Sam-I-Am and, especially, STT Resident. I have an (almost definite) job offer to work at a private school on St. Thomas as a high school teacher. I have read a lot of mixed reviews about the island(s). My main concerns are crime, especially the violent sort, and the public schools. (No, I don’t think I’d be able to afford to send my son to the school I’d be working at.) I am a very adaptable/flexible person, having lived about a third of my life abroad (mostly in Europe), and never been overcome by the need to exercise my “Americanness” by shopping or eating in specific places, or even speaking English. I would prefer to not live in a gated community, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway. But will my family and I be safe just anywhere on St. Thomas? In what area of the island would you recommend I looked for modest, but safe accommodations?

Next question: race relations. I definitely subscribe to the “When in Rome…” theory and have no qualms in saying “Good morning” to everyone I meet, which seemed to be an issue for some other people writing in these forums. But, can I expect to have anyone say, “Good morning” to me? I have read from many people that the islanders don’t like “mainlanders”, especially “white” ones. I am relatively light-skinned (Mediterranean-looking), and my wife is relatively dark (of Cuban/Ethiopian decent). My two kids are obviously of mixed race, and don’t speak English (yet). As far as I’m concerned there is really only one race, the human race, but will we be made to feel alone in that opinion? Sometimes kids of mixed (black/white) race are rejected by everyone.

Finally, out of curiosity, do you know much about what is happening musically on St. Thomas? My wife and I are both very fond of salsa dancing, and I am also currently a musician in a salsa band. Any chance of being able to pursue those hobbies on St. Thomas? One unhappy visitor mentioned that there is no night life and gave the impression that it’s not safe to go out at night anyway. [/font]

Any feedback on any points I’ve mentioned or otherwise useful information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

-Q.
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Old 06-25-2008, 05:28 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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quironillio: before you make any decision on whether or not to accept a job offer, please come here for a few weeks for a PMV (pre-move visit) so you can get a feel for island living and see whether or not it is for you and your family. If you were a single young man then to come here on the wing would be easier but coming with a family is a whole different ball game.

As far as "safe living" is concerned there is no good answer. The mountainous terrain doesn't lend itself to any sort of typical neighborhood layout and you can find a hut close to a mansion! Your main preoccupation with finding somewhere to live would be ease of commuting, ease of getting your children to school and where, etc. You will HAVE to have a vehicle here, preferably two with a family.

Race relations won't be a problem. Caucasians are in the minority of course but I've had few problems stemming from my race over the 25 years I've been here.

I believe there is some salsa dancing here in a couple of smaller spots. Not much, though!

I can't stress enough how important it is for you to invest the money in a pre-move visit. The public school system here is not at all good and your (I presume one is school age?) child is going to have an even more difficult time fitting in when he/she doesn't speak English. I'm surprised that the private school at which you're thinking of working doesn't offer you a substantial tuition reduction for your children.

Housing for a family is going to cost you around $2000/month, our electrical costs are around 3X the rate in the US mainland, you will need first, last and security to rent. You'll need at least one vehicle so your ante is already way up there. Make that PMV (maybe the school will pay for part of it?) so you can familiarize yourself with the island before you make a very costly decision.

The very best of luck to you and feel free to ask more questions. Cheers!
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Old 06-26-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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Hi STT Resident. Thanks for being so helpful. You didn’t say much about crime or safety—you don’t seem to consider it a major concern. So what about all the crack and shootings? Is it simply not true? Exaggerated? Limited to only certain “hot spots”? From what I gather from you, the real problem is that it is prohibitively expensive. I’ve seen ads on the VI online paper advertising two-bedroom apartments for $1500 or less. I’m not looking for a vacation resort with ocean views and a swimming pool, just a safe and relatively convenient place to live. It seems prices are cheaper on the west side of the island. Is that so? And if so, why? Is there something about the west side that makes it less desirable? On an island that is only 30 sq. miles, can commuting really be a problem? What about using a moped to commute instead of a car? What is public transportation like? How expensive and readily available are taxis? I wonder if it wouldn’t be cheaper to take a taxi a couple times a week for family outings rather than buy and maintain a car. Yes, your presumption was correct, I have one school-aged child. The school has offered me a discount on tuition, but it would still come to about $500 a month to send my child there, even with the discount. What is wrong with the public schools?
Thanks again, -Q.
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Old 06-27-2008, 08:40 PM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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quironillo: to try and answer your questions as they were posed!

1. Crime and safety. Of course we have crime here as does pretty much anywhere. To get into any discussion on it on a forum inevitably leads to some heated exchanges. The same applies to anywhere else - stay out of "bad" areas, don't go looking for trouble or drugs and don't get sloppy drunk! Be aware of your surroundings and don't invite trouble by ensuring that you have adequate lighting and locks where your housing and personal property is concerned. Yes, we have some crack problems here and yes we have some shootings - and they all make headline news because we're a very small community.

2. Yes, you can find a 2BR apartment for $1500/month and less and sometimes even a nice house in that price range - but the location and the access might be less than desirable which leads to

3. Prices are much less on the West end because the West end is far removed. There are no stores (well, maybe one small convenience store out there somewhere and maybe one gas station) but any commute to work (and a car is a necessity) is going to be a long one and "convenience" isn't an adjective one could apply to living out there which leads to
4. This island which is at most 13 miles long by four miles wide is a mountainous volcanic island. The terrain is very hilly, no shoulders on the road and adequate lighting on only the major roads. To get from the East End to the Northside (say Dorothea, Hull Bay) can take minimum 40 minutes even though, as the crow flies, the mile distance is minimal. Which leads to
5. That moped question. The answer to that is an emphatic no unless you have a death wish. There are a couple of moped rentals on island which cater to tourists here for just a day but as a general mode of transportation they're not viable. They can't maneuver the steep hills and, figuring in the points made in #4 along with road slickness when a shower comes along - a recipe for disaster and even worse if you even think about driving at night.
6. Public transportation is unreliable at best and the VITRAN buses and the safaris run proscribed routes on main roads and it's unlikely that you would be fortunate enough to find a rental at a reasonable price on a main road. You HAVE to have at least one car and, figuring in a wife and children, two. Forget public transportation!
7. Taxis charge per person and you can get an idea of taxi prices by going to Virgin Islands Now where you can find a link to St Thomas taxi rates. That said, that may not be of much use to you since you're not familiar with the territory!
8. What is wrong with the public schools? A whole lot which can't possibly be answered in this context and relies on your own research. The Virgin Islands Daily news can be accessed online as can our online newspaper, St Thomas Source.

Trying to answer your questions is a daunting task but I hope I've given you a few pointers and that you'll not only continue to research but that you will, if this move does still seem something you're interested in after further delving, make an essential pre-move visit.

In all honesty, if you can't afford to make a PMV and you're already baulking at taking advantage of the schooling discount that's been offered ($500/month does sound very high even for the prestigious Antilles School) and buying/maintaining a vehicle, you should probably ditch the idea.

It's extremely difficult to answer many of the questions you've asked. I can only lead you in a certain direction and provide you with some research tools. Then you have to do your own research. Has not the potential employer given you any assistance?

Cheers!
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:19 PM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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quironillo: did a double check and actually that $500/month tuition for your school-age child would, at Antilles, be in the ballpark as the tuition there does run about $14K/pa sans discount for teaching staff. Cheers!
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:17 AM
 
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Default Moving with Kids

I moved here almost a year ago with two children ages 2 and 6. It is
veryexpensive! The only way that we could possibly afford it was that my husband's job is government, so they paid for all moving and living expenses. It is a very beautiful Island, but you can not move down with stars in your eyes. Transportation is a must, we have had problems with our "Island" car and had to rent or rely on taxis which add up quickly. Public transportation is only on main roads and not as reliable as in the states. Our groceries, gas, and electricity bills along with mortgage are (I'm estimating) 4 times as much as in the states. Along with my husband's (by most standard's) high paying job, I am working 3 of my own. There are plus' mostly that our entertainment of playing at the beach is free (unless at Magen's), we love the weather, and have met a bunch of nice people. Would I take my children out of a wonderful school district away from their friends and family, only to put them in a questionable area (albeit a beautiful one) again? Definitely. But do your research and I highly reccomend a visit.
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Old 07-17-2008, 10:44 PM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
20,519 posts, read 22,551,554 times
Reputation: 21388
quironillo: So did you come here to check everything out? We exchanged a couple of private mails, you said you were coming to check everything out, mandana offered her "take" and then you disappeared. Always helpful to others to know whether it worked out or not, Cheers!
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