Moving to USVI

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Feb 3rd, 2015, 09:08 AM
  #1
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Moving to USVI

My husband and I are interested in moving to the USVI. He has been to the USVI several times, and I have just traveled through once on a cruise. Yes, I am one of those annoying people who got back on the cruise ship saying " I want to move here asap".

I totally recognize vacationing somewhere is different than living there. I have traveled pretty extensively and understand and expect things to be different than what I am used to. My favorite experience thus far is living 6 months in S Korea using a squatter toilet

Our 5 year plan is this: To pay off all my student loans, and spend a month next year on one of the islands to get a better feel of what daily life is like. I do understand part of that is having a job, but that is not realistic since we'd only be there a month. The following year maybe do the same. Then we would sell everything including our house before we moved down.

In making this transition we both would be leaving pretty good jobs. He is an engineer and I work for my family business. The money is good, but we aren't passionate about our jobs or our lives here. We've been talking about making a move for years, and it recently hit me....I am an adult, and I can do whatever the hell I want. I only have one life, and nobody but myself is stopping me.

I would really like to open a guest house and he would like to start a fishing/tour company. I know the USVI has more than one island, but I'm wondering if there are many successful guest houses, and what are some of the issues people run into. My husband is extremely handy with pretty much anything (I am so lucky!) and I am not handy with anything but I am determined and I have first hand experience in building a business.

Sorry for this long and winded post. Does anybody have any experience in starting a business on the USVI that they'd like to share? Any preferences regarding islands? I hear financially the USVI isn't doing well (ie. cutting off services like trash pick up). Any first hand experience or predictions for improvement? Comments on safety? Etc.

I'm tagging more than the USVI in case anyone wants to chime in. Maybe there are other islands that would be more suited for what we are looking to do.

Thanks!
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Feb 3rd, 2015, 09:14 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Visit the Virgin Islands Relocation Website at: www.vimovingcenter.com

There's tons of information there. Start at the top of the Home Page and click on the various drop-down menus and read EVERYTHING you find there (there's so much material it will take you weeks to read it all). Also visit the VI Relocation Forum (there's a link on the Home Page) where you'll find 10,000+ threads covering every conceivable topic regarding living/working in the USVI's. You'll find answer to all your questions and hundreds more you haven't even thought of yet.
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Feb 3rd, 2015, 10:11 AM
  #3
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Thank you!
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Feb 4th, 2015, 05:47 AM
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FYI - as US citizens you and your husband will find it infinitely easier to relocate to the USVI's, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra as you'll already have residency/work status.

Relocating to any other island has the the same challenges as immigrating to any other "foreign country". You CANNOT just show up one day and expect to take up residency and/or work. First, you have to "apply" for residency which usually entails making a substantial investment (think upwards of $350K to $500K) in real estate or a in a business that will provide jobs for locals. You'll also have to prove you are in good health, are of sound character and have no criminal record and that you have the financial means to support yourself WITHOU working.

Second, Residency DOES NOT give you the ability to work. For that you'll need a Work Permit which is often difficult to get. You must have a "unique skill" and find an employer willing to sponsor you. That employer must advertise the job and prove to the local Labor Department that there are no "locals" qualified to fill the position. Normally you may not reside on the island while the Work Permit application is being process (which can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months). Even if those required are filled there's no guarantee the Work Permit will be issued. Once issued you must pay an annual fee (usually in the $1,000's). The Permit is good only for that person for that job and must be renewed annually and there's no guarantee it will be renewed. If your spouse is granted a Work Permit there's no guarantee that you will be granted a Permit.

One last comment, it's expensive to live in the Caribbean. Living expenses are higher than they are "back home" and wages for comparable jobs are lower - that's the Catch-22 of living/working in the Caribbean. Starting your own business will have it's challengers. There's an old adage that goes something like this: Q - How do you leave the Caribbean with $1 million? Answer - Come down with $3 million.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 08:57 AM
  #5
 
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I see this as two part. Whether you can figure out how to work legally in the islands. Secondly whether you will truly adapt to the live style as a permanent change.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 11:55 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Definitely checkout the relocation board RoamsAround linked. There are 4 main US Virgin Islands...

P.S. You said your husband in an engineer, but we don't have any trains.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 03:40 PM
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What #4? (St Thomas, St John, St Croix, and?)
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Feb 4th, 2015, 08:05 PM
  #8
 
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#4 - Water Island!
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Feb 5th, 2015, 06:17 AM
  #9
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Thanks for all the input. I just mentioned he's an engineer (I should have said mechanical) because he is SUPER handy. We haven't had to call a repairman on anything that has broken in our 1930's home. Whether it's the water tank, the heater, my car, etc. he always seems to figure how to fix it. I'm hoping with these skills if we bought a fixer upper we would be able to save money by having him and a friend do a lot of the work.

Is there much need for a good handyman on the USVI?

I'll keep researching and going through the VImovingcenter website.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 06:51 AM
  #10
 
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Is there much need for a good handyman on the USVI? - The VImovingcenter forum is the best place to get answers to that question. Lot's of USVI residents frequent that forum who can give you meaningful responses.
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