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Old 05-19-2008, 07:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam I Am View Post
Honey, if you can live 6 months on STJ, you just go! It is my favorite spot in the world so far ...
St. Croix just wasn't a good fit for us ...
It's a different way of life for sure, though...for sure.
Heh ... love the enthusiasm . Thanks. It's got my attention.

I have wondered about St. Croix. Certainly land costs a LOT less. But Intuition tells me it's just not the perfect fit. Going with my gut, I think. I'm all about the Park.

" ... different way of life ..." is a Good thing ... one of my cautions about STJ is the amount of money Others there have ... as plain and simple as I am, it has turned into a discomfort even here in the San Juan Islands where rabid development and neuvo-rich Californication has become the new norm ... used to be all beards and flannel shirts and chain-saws, which is more my level. I don't rub elbows with the Rockefellers well. If they can ignore me, I guess I can ignore them though. I just love to be alone in the woods mostly.
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Old 05-20-2008, 02:23 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
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You know, each of the islands has it's own flavor. There are parts of St. Croix that are still relatively "wild" and sparsely populated. You owe it to yourself to try them all on for size. Who knows, maybe it will be exactly what you're looking for, and the land and housing is certainly cheaper. We took a 10 day trip to St. John a couple of years ago and ended up kind of on the south side overlooking Fish Bay, which really wasn't the optimal view and the mosquitoes were unbelievable. The only thing I would say is build high - the utilities through WAPA are exorbitant and you need to catch that sea breeze for sure. Then again, everything on STJ is exorbitant. Captive audience of vacationers who don't want to go over to St. Thomas for necessities, I suppose. It surely is a lovely place, though.

Please keep us posted of your adventures. I don't know how much actual business you've conducted in the islands, but no matter where you go - take a big book. Like War and Peace. "Island time" doesn't even begin to explain it!
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Old 05-20-2008, 05:21 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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nullgeo: You didn't answer my original question as to whether or not you have ever been here.

I think you're going to have a very hard time justifying putting a VERY simple home on a VERY expensive piece of land where land prep and building materials are VERY costly. I realize you're in that sweet daydreaming mode but the only way you can even begin a decision-making process of such magnitude is to visit and get a first-hand peek at reality.

Read between the lines of the Bongo Bongo blog - forget that these guys were building a large villa. Point - we have a Home Depot now on St Thomas. Before Home Depot arrived, any small home project or simple repair job generally meant a trip to three different hardware stores scattered all over the island just to get basic parts, bits and pieces to complete the project. Now we have Home Depot. Guess what's changed? (Now listen carefully - can you hear the signature tune from "The Twilight Zone..?")

Lots of luck to you. Cheers!
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Old 05-20-2008, 08:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam I Am View Post
You know, each of the islands has it's own flavor. There are parts of St. Croix that are still relatively "wild" and sparsely populated. You owe it to yourself to try them all on for size. ... The only thing I would say is build high - the utilities through WAPA are exorbitant and you need to catch that sea breeze for sure. Then again, everything on STJ is exorbitant.
...but no matter where you go - take a big book. Like War and Peace. "Island time" doesn't even begin to explain it!
Yes, I will definitely visit ST. Croix, as well. I hope to find my "cyber-impression" changed

Quote:
Originally Posted by STT Resident View Post
nullgeo: You didn't answer my original question as to whether or not you have ever been here.

I think you're going to have a very hard time justifying putting a VERY simple home on a VERY expensive piece of land where land prep and building materials are VERY costly ...


Read between the lines of the Bongo Bongo blog - forget that these guys were building a large villa. Point - we have a Home Depot now on St Thomas. Before Home Depot arrived, any small home project or simple repair job generally meant a trip to three different hardware stores scattered all over the island just to get basic parts, bits and pieces to complete the project. Now we have Home Depot. Guess what's changed? (Now listen carefully - can you hear the signature tune from "The Twilight Zone..?")

Lots of luck to you. Cheers!
Right, I did miss the answer to your initial question ... and that answer is: "nope, I have not been" ... and yep, I know better than to make decisions without spending extended visits. I lived in Hawaii for some time. Prior to moving there I spent many long visits after initially going there in the service.

My interest in STJ, and my caution, are both based in large part on my life in Hawaii — and on this little island where I have lived in the NW for many years. Good and frustratingly bad. Pluses and minuses. I have lived with the affliction of multiple trips to the mainland hardware stores for every little plumbing repair. (SJT has Multiple hardware stores?! Lucky! We here have none, nada, zero!)
Racism? — check.
Island time, low-productivity/low efficiency? — check.
Unbelievably high prices for many things? — check.
The list goes on and on. That's island life. Some of us are just naturals for it, where most are not. I am a veteran islander. This island where I have lived the past 9 years (1/2 size of STJ and 1000 population) is probably, almost certainly, much more expensive for concrete, for example, than even STJ. The mixing companies charge us exorbitant fees for the time it takes to run out here. The little car ferry can only carry about 20 cars at a time, so only a max. of two-partially loaded cement trucks ... no on-island supply. (Why two partially loaded trucks instead of one full? — balance the little boat, side to side ... many tricks to living here )

You're very right to point out the absurdly bad financial investment of a very simple home on very expensive land. But it still costs me less that way to live as I prefer. I did it here, too. Most of the homes around me are $$ million + ... My cabin is an anachronism, but admired by most. I have not maximized my investment potential. But I am living as I like, and for far less than my affluent neighbors. If we all made our decisions purely on maximizing potential, only the very rich would own ALL the nicest spots on earth. tch. Poor folks love a great view too

And, nevertheless, through my plodding development of neat, simple features, my investment has gained approximately 3x in the last 9 years. Hence the $$ ability to consider STJ next. For example, this little "cabin" is built to carry any amount of additional weight one could ask for in a second floor (God forbid!) ... and the house is placed in the permitted building envelope so that there is double the footprint still available for adding those "guest wings" and "servant quarters" that nobility is so fond of having.

The two things I most need to learn about are 1.) the specific 'feel' of SJT, through extended stays ... and 2.) the reality / stability of the land pricing (that is: will it crash?) I'm no "sweet day-dreamer". I daydream, but with intense research and calculation with a very sharp pencil. I have (profitably) lived the "tropical island dream" and the "NW wilderness island dream" and all the expense and inconvenience and gossip-mills, etc. that go with. And I won't even bother with the expense of a STJ trip unless my advance questions "pay out" with the right answers.

Thanks for all the thoughts so far!
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Old 05-21-2008, 08:38 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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"And I won't even bother with the expense of a STJ trip unless my advance questions "pay out" with the right answers."

Now I'm confused but trying not to be argumentative. I don't see how any of your advance questions can pay out with the right answers unless you come here in person.

You certainly can't evaluate lots for sale without being here. The government agencies with whom you would have to deal aren't exactly on the ball where email communication is concerned nor, for that matter, where any real communication other than in-person face-to-face is concerned. I can't see that anything you could learn in advance could in any way result in that pay-out which would warrant your setting foot on this soil.

Your experiences of "island living" could, I suppose, be helpful in some respects and maybe you'll find that this territory will fit you (and you it) like an old leather glove, I just don't see how you can even be serious about a home-building project here when you've not been here. Islands, their terrain and their folks are very dissimilar. Cheers!
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:54 PM
 
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"Now I'm confused but trying not to be argumentative.”

Au contraire, it would seem And it is I who am baffled — by your apparent denigration of my simple questions.
“You certainly can't evaluate lots for sale without being here.”

Certainly I can do some valuable ‘pre-evaluations’ of property before spending many thousands of dollars on a trip. This is the age of the internet. This IS what people do. When most folks have an interest in a place or product, they go to cyber-space first as part of their research. Not a bit unusual — nor unproductive. I did the same for the property I now occupy and which I have been exceedingly happy and financially successful owning.

“The government agencies with whom you would have to deal aren't exactly on the ball where email communication is concerned nor, for that matter, where any real communication other than in-person face-to-face is concerned”.

Meanwhile, yesterday I had a very pleasant and productive phone conversation with the USVI - DPNR in STT about building codes, procedures and more. I found them very friendly, helpful, informative, encouraging and professional. More so on every count than where I am now.

“Islands, their terrain and their folks are very dissimilar.”

Islands are indeed different from one to another — just like all places have distinct personalities, each to their own region. And I have profitably proven in the past, repeatedly, that my intuitions are worth following. I am not asking questions in Haiti or the Faulklands. I don’t need to go First to STJ to know whether it is worth asking questions about. This is perfectly legitimate and valuable research.


“I can't see that anything you could learn in advance could in any way result in that pay-out which would warrant your setting foot on this soil.”

Along these lines, some time after cancer stole my wonderful first wife of 30 years, who I married in my teens, I “met” another lady by internet through a non-romantic site associated with Deafness. She was born profoundly deaf. I lost most of my hearing as part of damage sustained in military action as a youth. I wanted to learn about ASL (American Sign Language). We enjoyed our research connection sufficiently that we began a personal line of communications as well, following intuition, thousands of miles apart. Only after considerable cyber-time and questions and answers did we decide to meet. She traveled west. I traveled east. We camped together in Montana. This summer will be our 11th wedding anniversary. I am now fluent in ASL ;-) Bonus!

I think I ask perfectly good questions. My marriages and real estate balance sheet support that opinion.
Thanks for the entertainment
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:32 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 16,652,893 times
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Nullgeo -

I'm gonna walk where angels fear to tread, I guess - please forgive - I actually happen to know STT Res via another chat forum, who has lived on STT for quite some time...and I lived on St. Croix.

I would never presume to tell you how to go about buying property, where, or who to deal with, but I will tell you this - the USVI is quite unlike anyplace I've ever been. I'm not widely traveled, but these islands have a flavor all their own, and of the 3 (or 4, if you count Water Island), there is very little that remains the same.

I would seriously encourage you to visit, and visit for an extended period of time. It's not just the island time, it's not just the government agencies, it's not a lot of things and it is very difficult to explain. The islands are one place that I think it would be entirely impossible to be apathetic about as a resident - either you love it, or not so much. I never met anyone who said "it's okay" - they gushed on and on, or they said they were ready to head back to the real world.

You've also mentioned that you are retired - while the VI is working on it, the medical care isn't such that you should waste the postage to write home about it. There are air ambulances to San Juan, but to get to go to Miami you either have to buy a policy that costs a fortune or be drawing your last breath to get the less expensive transport to take you there.

While I admire your sense of "can do", I would really caution you against comparing this adventure to anything off the coast of Oregon or Washington or wherever. It is different, and the real differences are incredibly charming at first and incredibly nerve wracking later on. The attrition rate of continentals is horrid because it's so unlike anything we've ever seen.

The other reason I think you want to make a trip is that while STJ is a park, it is also a tourist mecca...and as such, you cannot drive in downtown Cruz Bay without just wanting to come unwound, especially during high season. There are LOTS of tourists - and they invade most every area of the island. Not that there's anything wrong with tourists, I'm one myself now, lol! But if it is serenity you want you may or may not get it, be it high or low season, college break or not.

Although you and STT Res seem to be verbally sparring, I hope you will take a resident's word to heart and a former resident of an area close by to heart. I always said when I lived on STX - it's like everyone knew some secret that I didn't know, and would never know...although the islanders are friendly enough, they are very reserved. Not that there's many islanders on STJ - or at least they didn't hang at Woody's. I'll caution you about utilities, which are just ridiculous. And yes, I will caution you about the crime on STT, STX and STJ and the apparent inability of the police to follow up on the simplest task. They are undermanned, underpaid, and undertrained...when you get robbed at gunpoint and they tell you to drive yourself to the police station because it's "too far" for the officer to drive, something's wrong. And I know that first hand, it's a true story, it happened...things that just wouldn't be acceptable anywhere else are kind of the norm.

Go lightly here - it is charming, it is wonderful, and I can do it for about 10 days now. Any longer and the charm turns to chore. I will agree there are those who are cut out for it and those who aren't, but even the tiniest task becomes monumental for no apparent reason.

I'd have to say I'm sticking with STT Res on this one - you need to visit for a very long time even if it is a "waste" of thousands...because we wasted way more than a few thousand to move there when we could have had about 20 spectacular vacations for what it cost.
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Old 05-22-2008, 12:05 AM
 
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Sam I Am ... I appreciate your input, enthusiasm — and admonitions. You seem a helpful, sincere person. I am about to let this thread go — as it has gone off-topic without achieving my goal: information about building codes and conditions on STJ — but not without pointing out a few things in response, hoping that someone may yet have additional on-topic contribution to the building questions.

My thread title and initial post are purely about building issues. STT responded with a few helpful, generic bits of information, but also questioned if I knew what I was getting into. I responded pleasantly and expanded with some assurance that I have been in circumstances that relate. You offered a great referral to a relevant blog — I responded appreciatively, pointing out my goals were different than the bloggers’. That noted, you wrote, enthusiastically, “... you just go!” and encouraged me to visit STX, as well. You offered to refer me to a realtor. Great!

Nowhere did I write about buying without spending time on-island. In fact I wrote specifically: “The two things I most need to learn about are 1.) the specific 'feel' of SJT, through extended stays ... and 2.) the reality / stability of the land pricing (that is: will it crash?)”

Some responsive commentary then appeared in the thread, including “I can't see that anything you could learn in advance could in any way result in that pay-out which would warrant your setting foot on this soil.” which is illogical at best, and inflammatory at worst.

Nevertheless my good humor remains — and my interest in hearing on-topic experiences. I expanded superficially before in an attempt to deflect the cultural / lifestyle / logistic issues by showing that I am an experienced investor beyond the nominal mainland suburban landscape. I can handle myself. I know a very great deal about differences of cultures and lifestyles. At the risk of being accused of fiction, I will touch on that again only to deflect, one last time, topics better left for other threads other times. Not that I don’t appreciate your, and STT’s concerns for my welfare — I do, actually — but:
I grew up in neighborhoods in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. that rival, each in their own unique ways, the toughness of back-street Saigon, and similar. (I also lived in rural Maine for a time — now That was different! Great!) I have lived many years on several different kinds of islands. I: have been the only man on deck for three typhoons at sea; am fluent in 2 languages, functional in a third; lived in 5 distinct cultures; was a minority in several of those circumstances and endured discrimination; as a boy, ate at the same table with Martin Luther King, a guest in my home; have been assaulted over my skin color and beliefs; was stabbed in an American subway and exchanged hostile fire from handguns to 20 mm cannon overseas, taken damage, been left for dead; nursed and held the dying and dead, cleaned up blood of young and old, strangers and loved ones; brought 4 lives into the world and nurtured them when they were motherless; read “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Go Dog Go” aloud so many times I could recite them from memory; contributed to community; worked at various trades and labor, started businesses; prospered and failed; — but I have never lost at real estate.

If you wonder whether I am venting in anger at anyone — the answer is no. Another time and place, if anyone wants to swap life-experience yarns with me on an equal footing, I am definitely buying the beer!

Whatever the culture and crime of the V.I., I have seen and felt similar. Anyone capable of sneaking up on me with a gun can have my wallet — with a letter of recommendation from me to Army Recon as a candidate. Been there — done that, in a variety of national and international cultures. Of Course the V.I. is different than other places. Thank God for variety! Which variety it may be, remains to be seen — in person — after I get my questions answered about construction and land values — which will happen before I spend a dime on airfare and rental.

Thanks again for your interest. You contributed some on-topic and off-topic points that were valuable to me.

(By the way, I am white.)
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Old 05-22-2008, 12:20 AM
 
7,150 posts, read 9,067,683 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam I Am View Post
Nullgeo -
the medical care isn't such that you should waste the postage to write home about it. There are air ambulances to San Juan, but to get to go to Miami you either have to buy a policy that costs a fortune or be drawing your last breath to get the less expensive transport to take you there.
Another example of your gracious concern and worthwhile information. I am, however, covered fully, for life: even dental, hearing aids, prosthetics, you name it — anywhere in the world, by the military medical system. They authorize emergency care anywhere ... they fly me from wherever I am, including Timbuktu, to the nearest American military hospitals. And I have rebuilt my health to a point where I may endure well with my very active 96-year-old mother's genes.
thanks again
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Old 05-22-2008, 02:09 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 16,652,893 times
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Null...

If either STT or myself has offended you in any way, I apologize for both of us. I feel quite sure you know yourself better than we do, lol! Again, I'm sorry. Perhaps some of your comments were taken out of context or I wasn't reading carefully enough - I'm easily distracted!

I hope you know that whether on topic or off, the conversations on a forum often take twists and turns and by allowing a certain amount of that we can glean extra information in decision making. I've just seen the attrition rate to the USVI up close and personal and am now a great proponent of long visits to any area if it is vastly different than anything I personally have known in my lifetime. I'm in the south...I wouldn't move to Seattle or Minneapolis or New Orleans or Boston now without being a little more cognizant of what might cause my boat to flip over. So many people have the dream, and for many the dream and reality just don't line out in the end.

Again, no offense intended and I hope none taken. If there's any further info I can help you with, please know that I will do my best.
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