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My New Life !

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Nov 29th, 2015, 05:52 PM
  #1
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My New Life !

I am a single 57 year old female who has very recently made a bold decision to , ... sell my stuff and move to the Caribbean , SXM ! I am seriously considering getting a Teaching degree and work there . I am starting to looki at visa's , permits and such . and am wondering if anyone has made a move down there and if so , how was your experience ? Any advice ...

Thankx !
ava007
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Nov 30th, 2015, 02:29 AM
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Good luck! Have you spent a lot of time already in the Caribbean? Which islands?
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Nov 30th, 2015, 07:00 AM
  #3
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Hi , I've been to SXM twice now and really fell in love . I stayed in Philipsburg at the Sea Palace , made some great friends there . Went to Cuba on 2010 , toured around tho really liked Old Havana City the best . Have you been to SXM and if so how was it for you ?
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Nov 30th, 2015, 10:21 AM
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Only been to St Maarten for a day on a cruise. It was pretty and interesting. The people were super nice and friendly. It seemed as if it would be easy to meet other people there, but I would visit other islands before settling on one, and stay for a month or so on any I was serious about.

For me, I love the idea of the Caribbean, but the more I go, the more I think it would not be for me unless I had lots and lots of money or a very, very good and interesting job.

The only island I have been on for more than a day is St Kitts. The first time, I fell in love and wanted to move there immediately. The second time, I still considered moving there, even looked at some properties. The third time and fourth times, decided if I could ever afford it, I would look at many other islands first. Now, a week or so at a time is enough for me.

Since I looked into them, I know more about other islands than St Maarten. If you are American, look at the US Virgin Islands - it would be easier. If you are European, then St Maarten could be workable.

If you have the money to invest for residency/citizenship or a unique skill that others on the island do not have (so that a company would be able to hire you over a local), that would help on other islands, BUT do your homework first.

Google Moving to St Maarten. You will find tons of information about everything from different requirements to jobs, housing, crime, citizenship, etc.

If you are very young and willing to pursue this over a long period of time, saving, getting the education for a job, it can be done. People do it, but they prepare for months if not years. TYou need either unusual job skills or money.
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Nov 30th, 2015, 02:01 PM
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To ava007 - I don't mean to put a damper on your plan but don't "sell all your stuff" just yet. Do your homework regarding visas, work permits and residency requirements.

Are you a citizen of France or other a EU country or of the Netherlands? If not you'll probably find it difficult to work on St. Martin (either the French or Dutch side) unless you first obtain a Work Permit which are not easy to get. You must have a "unique skill", find an employer willing to sponsor you and that employer must prove to the local labor department that there are no "locals" (and that includes French/EU and Netherlands citizens living off-island) qualified to fill that position. Even if you meet all the qualifications there's never any guarantee the Work Permit will be issued. Even if it is it is only good for one year and must be renewed annually and again there are no guarantees it will be renewed.

For what it is worth, you'll find similar employment laws on most Caribbean islands.

If you are a US citizen you'll find it infinitely easier to move to and work in Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and the US Virgin Islands as you'll already have work and residence status.

One other important aspect to consider - in general Living Expenses in the Caribbean are most likely going to be 25% to 35% higher than where you now live and wages for comparable jobs are going to be lower than what you are used to getting "back home". That's the Catch-22 of living/working in the Caribbean - it is much easier if you have a sizable nest egg or other source of income.

Good luck following your dream.
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Nov 30th, 2015, 02:38 PM
  #6
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I plan on getting my teaching degree there , it seems the school one enrolls in assists with accommodations and work as well as certain permits. I spoke with someone from study abroad who suggested I go as a tourist for 90 days tho in the meantime set up my course and all associated as this is what she did , this way she said you eliminate some of the head aches that go along with the red tape . I am only beginning to look into my options . Thanks for your great advise ...
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Nov 30th, 2015, 03:51 PM
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Ava, more advice--

you cannot work a single day without a work permit, including restaurant server, so make sure you have enough to live off of for 90 days

Most jobs will pay for your permit if they hire you, but won't hire unless you show up in person

Standard of living is high! Think average 3 times in States just for basics. You'll need a car probably to get around

visiting extended period was excellent idea, totally different than visiting

Good luck!
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Nov 30th, 2015, 04:49 PM
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I would go on more than two vacation to any destination before I packed up & moved there. Even staying 3 months is a lot different than a holiday vacation at a resort.
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Nov 30th, 2015, 05:52 PM
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Just realized I misread your age. I thought you were 27. Now I see that you are 57.
That is certainly not old, but getting a job gets more and more difficult with age unless you have some extremely special skills or experience. Before spending a lot of time and money to obtain teacher certification (assume you already have a degree in something), be sure there is a need for teachers in your field.
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Dec 1st, 2015, 04:14 AM
  #10
 
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Let me add another caveat - if your plan is to get your Teaching Certificate you'll be FIRST going to SXM on a Student Visa. That means you WILL NOT be allowed to work while you are residing on island and attending classes. That means you'll have to have enough money set aside to support yourself for the duration of your classes. Once you graduate you'll have to apply for residency and, if you need employment to survive, go through the Work Permit Application process as I described in my earlier response. Please note that applying for "residency" and getting a Work Permit are two separate processes. Under normal circumstances you may not reside on the island while your Work Permit application is being processed.

I know you said that the "school" assists with accommodations and the Work Permit process but keep in mind that by "accommodations" they probably mean student housing which you'll have to vacate after you receive your Certificate and for the Work permit they will probably just give you the blank application and instructions on how to file. You'll have to do all the legwork yourself. The school may have a "placement Service" but that doesn't mean they will definitely be able to find you a job.

Again, do thorough research on what it rakes to obtain residency and a Work permit. Consider hiring a local labor attorney to assist you with the process as it can be very daunting and filled with bureaucratic red tape.

Now, as other have said, if you've only been to SXM twice for short vacations consider spending a few months there as a visitor to make sure you enjoy island life - it is very different living on an island vs./ being there on vacation. The biggest challenge is it is somewhat like living in a small town without the ability to easily leave the town and go to the big city for a "change".

Again, good luck following your dream - do a lot of first hand research (not just asking questions on a travel forum or from a school that is trying to "sell" you an course of study - you don't want that dream to turn into a nightmare. in the meantime save up as much money as you can as it disappears quickly in the Caribbean. I know, I've lived in the Caribbean for almost 15 years. Living in the Caribbean has its challenges. It's not for everyone.
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Dec 1st, 2015, 10:00 AM
  #11
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Hi , thanks again for all the info , good stuff to know . I am attempting to go as a visitor for 3 mos tho in the meantime sign up for my course , which is only 6 weeks . I may have to consider Costa Rica , there seems to be a need for teachers there as well they offer in class instruction . I have 1 year to get everything in place and feel quite confident soo far . I simply need to do more homework and see whats out there. How was your experience there ? Did you go to find work or had something pre arranged ?
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Dec 3rd, 2015, 03:28 PM
  #12
 
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ava: The question remains: What is your citizenship?

Good teachers are needed everywhere. Whether you can qualify to teach in a foreign country depends. RoamsAround has given you some good pointers.
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Dec 5th, 2015, 03:40 PM
  #13
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Hi , I am Canadian , thankx again !
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Dec 6th, 2015, 05:29 AM
  #14
 
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ava
You going to the french sifde or dutch side (philipsurg is defintely dutch side) - but since you're canadian you might want to go to french side.

We also fell in love with St Martin (french side) - we didn't like the dutch side that much (too much built).

We have friends living 6 months a year in St Martin who owned a restaurant for about 15 years. They might now some.
I'm going to cul de sac end of jan. I can ask for more info.

Anyway, if it is your dream, just go for it, but yes, if you can retain a safety net, why not...
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Dec 7th, 2015, 08:43 AM
  #15
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Hi Pariswat , I plan on staying ( fingers crossed ) in Philipsburg tho have been to Orient Beach twice and prefer Dutch. I also made friends there and am more familiar w that area . What is the Cul De Sac ? Your friends are soo lucky to have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place . I may look for work there as well ( server )if I can . Going solo will be the challenge . And yes , as you said why not ? Life is too short . I want, no need to see what's out there ! Yes more info would be wonderful , I will look for you in the new year , wishing you all the best on your journey ...take care
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Dec 7th, 2015, 09:43 AM
  #16
 
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ava007 - please look back at earlier responses - with a visitor's or student's visa you WILL NOT be able to work on either the French or Dutch sides of the island without a Work Permit and for that you need, at the very least, a "unique skill". and your potential employer must prove there are no locals qualified to fill the position. Sorry but being a "server" won't meet either of those requirements. Being a server is not considered a "unique skill" and there are plenty of unemployed locals who are looking for server positions.

I'm not trying to be a naysayer but as a non-citizen of St. Martin visiting, living and working on the island are 3 separate matters. The first just about anyone can do easily. Getting residency is more difficult but possible if you have the financial means to invest in property and/or support yourself. The last (working) is more problematic. It is NOT EASY to get a Work Permit.

To answer your other question, Cul de sac is a small residential area/village on the northeast side of the island.
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Dec 7th, 2015, 09:52 AM
  #17
 
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You can't legally waitress without a work permit. My best advice would be for you to work 1, 2, 3 jobs at home in advance and save more money.

Going solo is no particular challenge imo.
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Dec 7th, 2015, 03:24 PM
  #18
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Yes , financially I will be able to support myself for awhile at least ...I was also considering Costa Rica , near SXM , a boat ride away really . Work there is much more opportunistic for English teachers , also it is 1 of 5 popular destinations for this work soo... options are there for me .
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Dec 7th, 2015, 04:01 PM
  #19
 
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The ideal situation is when someone offers you a job in advance and brings you into the country (sponsors you for your working papers). If you can find that situation anywhere, that's going to be a whole lot easier than showing up to try and waitress and look for housing and permanent work.
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Dec 8th, 2015, 04:33 AM
  #20
 
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OH BOY! You need to look at a map. Costa Rica is DEFINITELY NOT near or just just a boat ride away SXM. It's 1,500+ miles. There are no boats or ships that go between SXM and Costa Rica.
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