Cisterns: We mostly collect our water in cisterns for home use. Some housing located in
the town areas are serviced by WAPA who provides desalinated water from their distribution plant. This is usually rationed during times of drought. If you run out of water, you will have to call a water
truck to deliver water to your home. This can cost from $190 to $365 dependent upon how much water you order. All homes using cisterns must also have a pump to pump the water into the house. Learning
how to prime a pump is something that may come in handy.
Climate: Sunny & beautiful, like all the best days of summer all year! However if you live near the sea your metals will rust much
faster. One of the things that can be affected is your computer hard drive. An air conditioned room will help.
Hurricane season makes up for all the great weather we have here. Generally the
better the view the more threat a hurricane will be to your residence. Check out the FEMA website
to know how to prepare yourself and your family. Every family member must own his or her own personal flashlight for when the power goes out!
We drive on the left. We also have a few rather peculiar habits. Mostly on St. Croix, honking is the island way of indicating a hello, or an acknowledgment of some sort. All the islands have drivers
who stop in the middle of the road to load or unload passengers or talk to friends. You have to be aware of this habit and drive cautiously. Also pedestrians & animals must be watched for at all times,
driving carefully and at the speed limit is recommended.
Groceries: These islands are over 1000 miles from Miami. We don't have any big trucks shipping us goods via the Interstate. We also
have no trains. So everything must be shipped either via air or sea. Most is by sea. Because of the distance and the method of shipping, groceries are much more expensive here than most statesiders
would expect. A few examples as of March 2000: a loaf of wheat bread, $2.65, a quart of milk, $3.50. There is no lack of good quality foods here, but they have high price tags. Growing your
own vegetables can save you money. We've got year round growing season! And of course you can always order stateside items, deliver them to Miami and ship them here via Four Star Air Cargo.
Internet: No problem
mon! We've got great Internet in the US Virgin Islands! Just check out VIAccess for the best quality Internet in the Islands. Also they have a great new service...ask about high speed wireless connections.
Jobs: If you really want to
live here, you might consider being an entrepreneur. There are not a lot of office jobs, or very technical work. There are always tourist related jobs available in season which is Nov-May.
Another thing to consider is that you won't make as much pay as you did in the states. The economy here is not as robust.
Medical Care: Get good insurance. It's always important to be
protected in case of emergency. C.E. Brathwaite and Associates, Inc.
can help with all your insurance needs. We have hospitals on the islands but due to our smaller size of population they cannot offer every service you might need, you might have to go to Puerto Rico or the states in an emergency.
News Papers: Each island has newspapers unique to their particular island. St. John has the
& The St. John Times, St. Thomas has the Virgin Islands Independent and St. Croix has the Avis (also sold on St. Thomas). On all islands you can find the Daily News and the humorous Island Melee. Other newspapers include: Nautical Times, The Island Trader, St. Thomas Source (online only) and several others geared mainly towards tourism.
If you don't have it, you should get it. Things move at a slower pace here, you have to get used to it, and learn to live on island time, or just go crazy. Fast food isn't as fast as you remembered it!
People: It may take you a while to understand the accent. You may never understand all of the natives here. There are many different groups of people originating from the other Caribbean islands,
Europe, & India and etc. As a result you will find many different dialects that comprise part of the diverse cultural population in the islands. Be prepared to listen carefully. And if you can't
understand someone, they probably can't understand you either, so be tolerant, it's a different culture and you are the newbie here!
Power: For the most part WAPA (Water and Power Authority) does a very
good job considering they aren't on the North American power grid. However there are a few problems with surges and occasional outages. A good surge protector on expensive equipment will save you the cost of
replacement in case of a power surge. APC surge protectors are very good.
Public Transportation: Open air safari buses usually run 'town to country' routes all day and generally cost $1.00 and
up. Taxis are also available, these are usually vans with more than just one passenger and are generally air conditioned.
Smiling: It doesn't happen when you walk into a room, it happens after you
say, "Good Morning", "Good Afternoon" or "Good Night". Don't take a serious face for rudeness, it often just means concentration. This isn't California, that's for sure, dude! :)
Snail Mail: The U.S. Postal Service is here and they are really outstanding. I think you'll find the postal service here is better than some of the stateside offices. There is door to door delivery
in certain locations. And they deliver Express mail also which is less expensive thqan courier service such as UPS and Fed-Ex. One of the courier services that doesn't deem us "International" is DHL and
has a fairly decent rate into the VI...exiting cargo however is higher.
Taxes: Income taxes just like in the states but you pay it to a different government, the Virgin Islands Government. No sales
tax. But there is a gross receipts tax for businesses and exicise taxes for items to be resold in the Virgin Islands.
Travel: You may want to take a cruise yourself one day to go down island,
Treasure Isle Cruises
offers some great bargains on cruises, they get last minute deals directly from the cruise ships.
Telephones: No problem mon! (Most of the time, sometimes you'll get a message all circuits are
busy, but not too much.)
Television: Sorry, no Web TV here! We've got WTJX Channel 12
a PBS affiliate that is exceptional. And WSVI Channel 8, affiliated with ABC. Depending upon where you live you may get both, one, or neither of these stations without subscribing to cable.
- Antilles Wireless:
St. Thomas only, and only if you are able to receive the wireless signal. This option offers less channels but also offers easier sign up, and lower prices. All you have to do is give them a call and they'll come out and see if you are able to recieve their signal. 340-777-1669.
- St. Croix Cable TV: Must go into the office to sign up for some reason. 340-778-6701.
- St. Thomas-St. John Cable TV: Also requires you to go into the office to sign up. 340-693-8685.
Words: You thought you were using English? Well, the West Indians have language that originates from before Queen Victoria ever took the throne. Check out the Dictionary of Caribbean English
for a few pointers.