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Old 07-20-2008, 12:18 PM
Location: Tennessee
3 posts, read 25,477 times
Reputation: 14


My wife and I have been, and still are considering moving to St. Thomas. We lived and met in Key West, Florida. We know what "island living" is like.
My research about living in the Virgin Islands brought me to these conclusions:
1. It is sooo laid back it's chair is ready to tip over! While that may sound good, it does have it's draw-backs. Take for instance getting your car registered, getting your phone turned on, etc. Be patient! It takes time there. If your not used to "island time" it can be frustrating.
2. Because everything is "imported" it is more expensive. That means everything (except for rum!).
3. Unless you are living downtown ("Tourist City" w/ constant cruise ship passengers) you will need transportation. If you decide to bring your car over from the mainland, check to see how much of your auto is made from imported parts (Japan, Korea, Sweden). The more "imported" the auto the higher the import fees. Check into scooters as an alternative (don't forget a helmet)
4. Pets will not be subject to quarintine. Be careful to check with the airline. A direct flight is almost mandatory due to high temperatures in the plane's cargo hold.
5. Most water for living is supplied by cisterns. Simply put, it is rainwater collected into giant (usually underground) tanks. While this may sound very inconveinient, it takes very little time to adjust to keeping tabs on water usage. Why all homes in America don't use this system as a back-up water resource is beyond me.
6. Always leave yourself an exit strategy. While the dream of "island living" sounds perfect, it is very hard to for some people to adapt to. Learning to be "laid back" takes time and patience. It took me about a year living in Key West to finally get it. Try leasing an apartment for six months or so. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Have a way out.
7. St. Thomas is not a third world country. They have most of the conveniences of the mainland. It is my understanding that Home Depot recently opened a location there. That reminds me of an incident living in Key West in the late 1980's. When Taco Bell opened on the island it required a police presence for three days to control the traffic issues. Nowadays they pretty much have everything in Key West for better or worse.
8. Most jobs on St Thomas are tourist related. If you don't mind waiting tables, bartending or working in the service industry, you should have no problem finding work. Most high paying jobs do not exist in the islands. Giving up money for a lifestyle is my take on that. Some or most may not be able to adapt to this.
9. I have narrowed my personal search to St. Thomas because it is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Croix and St. Johns do not offer the neccessities that fit our situation.
10. Because the U.S. Virgin Islands are U.S. territories you do not need a passport or Visas. The islands also offer you all rights and priveledges of living on the mainland. I will add this. GET A PASSPORT!!! You are only a hop, skip and jump from the British Virgin Islands. You can literally see them from St. Thomas. Why go to all the trouble of moving to the islands without being able to go to all the islands. Why rule out Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Tortolla, etc? They are all just a short, inexpensive ferry boat away.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
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Old 07-20-2008, 02:51 PM
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 60,615,256 times
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Can't reply at length to this one but the scooter idea is not a good one and isn't recommended. St Thomas and St John are volcanic islands with steep hills, no sidewalks and limited visibility. That coupled with slick roads after showers makes scooter riding extremely hazardous. St Croix is flatter but, even there, scooters aren't recommended as a method of transportation.

There are high-paying management jobs here and several large corporations but a "newbie" is going to have a hard time finding such a position as the attrition rate of newcomers is extremely high. That said, if you have a good work ethic and don't fall into the alcohol/drug trap then there are plenty of opportunities but it's also wise to remember that the majority of workers maintain two and sometimes even three jobs to support themselves and their families.

Living in Key West can't in any way prepare you for "island living." You'll just have to trust me on that one.

Good luck and cheers!
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Old 07-20-2008, 03:37 PM
Location: Ridgway/Saint Marys, PS
947 posts, read 3,301,070 times
Reputation: 452
I dont have any plans to visit or move to the USVI but I just wanted to point out that threads like this are why I am on this forum, people provide some very valuble opinions, information and insight that I have simply never been able to find anywhere else all in one place.
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:26 PM
Location: Tennessee
3 posts, read 25,477 times
Reputation: 14
Thanks for your input SST Resident.
As a person looking to return to what I think "island life" is, I would be very interested in knowing what the nuances are that I should either be aware of, or look forward to, compared to Key West. I realize that St. Thomas is not connected by a road to the mainland. That, to me anyway, is part of the intrigue of living on St. Thomas.

Also, thanks for the heads up concerning scooters. In Key West scooters (and bicycles) are the transportation choice. It must also be noted that Key West is flatter than a board. Based on my visits and your knowledge of the St Thomas, I will check the scooter idea off my list.

Last but not least, I think you are right on about the high paying jobs. It has been my experience that the high paying jobs (management, corporate, lawyers, doctors, etc.) are available but the companies involved are hesitant to hire "newbies" until they are assured that you are not one of the many that move to an island become discouraged or unable to adjust and leave. I remember working three jobs one summer in Key West just to keep afloat. It was worth it to me at the time. I was younger and loved the life.
Another very important point you have made is the drug and alcohol problem. Many people love the dream of the island life. They move somewhere like Key West,and by your mention, St. Thomas and decide to just check out. It is very easy to get caught up in magic and spell of these places. I will say, with no hesitation, if you are running away from one of these problems and are trying to start over, moving to a tropical island is not a good idea. The problems will only be amplified.

I look forward to more of your insights!
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:52 PM
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 60,615,256 times
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djpopdod: It's difficult to explain the "nuances" - you really have to be here to understand that although this is part of the US in a sense, it's completely different in so many ways. One of the most important things for anyone thinking of coming to live here is to do an extended pre-move visit (PMV) of at least 2-3 weeks. Find your way around, go to the grocery stores, banks, post office, etc. and generally try to live for a few weeks as though you ARE living here (that doesn't mean going to the beach every day!) Unless you're footloose, fancy-free and just looking to come for a few months of seasonal employment, a PMV is a must.

Also, with no road connection, you learn to hunker down in event of a hurricane. We've been lucky since 1995 with only a few minor blow-throughs but in that event there is nowhere to go and you just have to deal with it.

The cost of living is VERY high and increasing rapidly with the current oil problems a major contributing factor. Our electric plant (WAPA) is a mess and our rates just increased 22% with no end in sight in that regard. Power outages are not uncommon and can be a real crimp.

Moderator cut: edit

Last edited by Sam I Am; 07-20-2008 at 06:25 PM.. Reason: sorry...DM with that info, no links to competing talk forums!
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Old 08-06-2008, 12:49 PM
Location: Tennessee
3 posts, read 25,477 times
Reputation: 14
Default Electrical outages on the islands...

Hello SST Resident,

The problems of creating and maintaining electricity on an island have always been around. I have to refer back to my "Key West" days again. The power outages there were very common.

An article in the news caught my eye last week. Some scientists at MIT made a major discovery concerning energy.

They were able to create hydrogen gas using readily available substances and water. The process of "splitting" water into oxygen and hydrogen gases and putting those gasses through a hydrogen fuel cell have been around for awhile. The problem was it required a large amount of platinum (a rare metal) and very caustic, dangerous chemicals to do so. The resulting energy output was very close to the energy input which pretty much made the process a wash.

The scientists at MIT were able to create the same effect with cobalt and phosphate (both abundant and available) and room temperature water. The electrical charge needed to create the effect could be supplied by small solar panel.

The reason I bring this up is because the islands have abundant sunshine that can be used for energy. The problem with solar power has been the inability to produce electricity at night. The "caught" electricity had to be stored in large banks of batteries to maintain energy during the evening hours. That problem has been solved!

This discovery will make electrical lines to a home a obsolete in the next ten years. Every home owner will be able to generate, store, and use all the electricity they need from their own home. The byproduct after combining the oxygen and hydrogen gases together in a electricity producing hydrogen fuel cell is WATER!!! It can be recycled over and over again with 0 greenhouse gases. The scientists estimate it would only take a few liters of water to sustain an entire household. Imagine a complete energy power plant powered by a single solar panel!

You may not have heard about this discovery yet. But I assure you, you will be hearing a lot more about this later. The problems of power outages on an island are well known. This may be a ray of sunshine (pun fully intended) in the near future.

You can look up more information at any MIT site. It is big news. They are making the information public so the private sector can run with the technology and create it into a viable product. There are no roadblocks for the private sector because the science was funded privately from a grant. I know this doesn't have a lot to do with living in the Virgin Islands now but I do think it will change the way things are done in near future.

Things that make you go...hmmm!

Djpopdod ;-)
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:14 PM
2,253 posts, read 6,194,298 times
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Wink Solar?

Despite the high initial cost of equipment, to what extent do people in the Virgin Islands use solar power?

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Old 08-09-2008, 09:55 AM
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 60,615,256 times
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You'd think with our climate it would be a bit of a no-brainer but although there are a few exceptions the majority of homes and businesses are on the grid and that "high initial cost of equipment" for solar is a major contributing factor. The average resident here has to work very hard to make even a basic living (many work two and sometimes three jobs to make ends meet) and simply can't afford the initial investment and the several years it takes to recoup. Cheers!
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Old 09-07-2008, 01:06 AM
345 posts, read 1,154,847 times
Reputation: 107
Originally Posted by STT Resident View Post
Can't reply at length to this one but the scooter idea is not a good one and isn't recommended. St Thomas and St John are volcanic islands with steep hills, no sidewalks and limited visibility. That coupled with slick roads after showers makes scooter riding extremely hazardous. St Croix is flatter but, even there, scooters aren't recommended as a method of transportation.

Good luck and cheers!
lol I love it when the tourists try to take a scooter up jacab's ladder! Or even a car for that matter if its damp
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Old 09-08-2008, 05:44 AM
Location: Miami
284 posts, read 1,005,913 times
Reputation: 251
Default Daily life in the Virgin Islands

part 1
Welcome to St Thomas, America's Paradise.
Crystal clear waters, jewel-like sandy beaches, warm weather and beautuful people beckon.
Come on over, spend a day or a lifetime, you will not forget this experience and I guarantee you this.

You will have lizards and flying roaches in your home even though you keep it sealed. Dunno where the come from, maybe thur the sewage and then up the drains in the bathroom and kitchen

Your electric bill will be over $200.00 at a minimum but this will be the least of your worries.

You will experience frequent blackouts on the hottest and most humid still summer nights, especially when your favorite movie or sitcom is about to begin. The power plant here is antiquated and all to frequently grids shut down leaving parts of the island in darkness. Don't bother calling them, you wont get an answer.

You will meet more rude and obnoxious people in a week than you have in your entire life who will think they are superior to you and always treat you like an outsider.
This is not aloha island. On your arrival, the beautiful girl with flowers will not show up; Instead, they are sending a big burly (and exceedingly rude) taxi driver who hates your guts and loves your money.

You will get poor service in places like banks and utilities.

You will find (or maybe not) normal people an rare and unusual species and so much so that you will instantly want to fall to the ground and worship this wonderful person whom you just met and want to befriend for life.

You will go through the five stages from Anger-----Acceptance in a few short weeks.

You will live on the beach or just a short ride away but will be so busy making a living that you will never visit one.
You will wait for your tourist friends describe one to you, how they spent the day in crystal waters and satin sandy beaches and you will repeat this story to anyone who asks you which beach is best to go to.

You will wistfully glance at the sky at every passing plane, visualising a load of people going back to that promised land called the United States.

------------------------to be continued
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