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Big Kahuna

Moving To St. Thomas US Virgin Islands – Top Ten Tips – Part 3

Before you read on make sure to read Moving To St. Thomas Part 1 and Moving To St. Thomas Part 2 and Moving To St. Thomas US Virgin Islands – Everything You Need To Know. I’ll wait…

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…I hope you had a chance to read all the comments, over 200 of them because most of the answers are there.

So here we go :)

1. How much money do I need to live in St. Thomas? Who the heck knows? What’s your lifestyle like? Here’s what we do know, St. Thomas is expensive. Everything comes in on a container so it’s all marked up, a beach chair that sells in the states for $30 is $50 here. A gallon of milk can run you $7 yet a bottle of rum can run you $6. What do you drink more of? There is an entire post dedicated to grocery pricing here:

If you’ve ever been to Manhattan it’s that plus some. So if you’re moving here from cowland get ready for some high costs, probably 35%-45% more cost of living. I personally would have at least a half a years salary in hand if you intend on moving here. But we know a lot of folks who came on a plane fair :)

2. How much is rent? Where do you want to live? How many bedrooms? Pets? All this comes into play. Expect higher rents than the states for sure. You can rent a small studio for about $900/month and then it goes up from there. But Electricity will run you 3 times the cost of the states (currently at .32kw). And if gas prices rise so does the electricity as WAPA (Water and Power Authority) makes electricity from gas here :(

Oh and most rentals aren’t exactly legal. What’s that mean? It means they’ve added extra apartments where one was so you may or may not be on a shared electric meter. You’ll have to work that out with the landlord. I always tell people to pay per square foot if you’re on a shared meter.

Here are some rough rental costs:

Studio: $800-$1200

1 Bedroom: $1000-$1600

2 Bedroom: $1200-$2000

3 Bedroom: $2400-$5500

4 Bedroom: $3500-$6000

Contact our friend and realtor Karen Korsgren for all your buying, selling, rental needs:

Here’s a couple of other places to look:,

3. Employment! Tourism and government is the only industries we really have here in St. Thomas. So if you’re looking for a job in the bar, restaurant, hotel, boating and general tourism industry you will be able to find a job. And if you’re actually reliable you’ll be able to keep it. The pay here is low. Lower than most states so if you get a job say at an insurance agency you’ll probably make less and pay more for everything else. You want to live on an island? That’s the price ;)

Here’s a couple of other places to look:,

4. Buying or Building? Will you be buying or building? Right now building is VERY expensive. I’ve been told by builders that a yard of concrete sells for $2000, yikes! And get ready to throw your budget out the window because it will be more than planned guaranteed. Oh and add 4-6 months on to the projected deliverable if you’re lucky ;) If you think building is a headache in the states then don’t build because it will be 10 times worse here.

Buying works the same way as the states with the exception of what they call a stamp tax. Transactions in the US Virgin Islands require 2% to 3.5% government transfer tax or stamp tax. All property transactions over $350,000 require a mandatory 2.5% stamp tax. You can negotiate this with the seller. In a down market a buyer can usually get a seller to pay it but in a good market…

The US Virgin Islands,which include St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Water Island, are unincorporated territory of the United States. Thus, purchasing property in any of these islands grants you the same guarantees and Constitutional protections and rights that you would have in anywhere in the United States.

Things to consider:

a. Cistern – A cistern is how you get your water supply. Our gutters on our roof catch the rain and then funnel it down into a holding tank. So if it doesn’t rain for a while you will run out of water. Water costs run me $340 for 5300 gallons and we have two 10,000 gallon water tanks so you do the math. We have a complete micron, charcoal and UV light water filtration system which cost around $1500.

b. Electricity – We pay 3 times the average cost in the states or about .34kw. But be forewarned our system in the US Virgin Islands generates electricity from gas. So when gas goes up so does your electric bill. Two years ago when gas hit $5/gallon our rates were .52kw.

c. Insurance – Hurricane insurance is ridiculously expensive! For $500,000 replacement fee expect to pay $14,000/year or so. Replacement fee is what it would costs to replace whatever was broken/missing but not exactly what a builder may charge you at the time of repair. That’s where the insurance company can really stick it to you. It may suddenly be a lot more money in labor/materials after a hurricane :( We use Tunick Insurance at: 340-776-7000.

5. Pets :) We have 2 parrots and bring them to and from St. Thomas every year. You can bring them on Delta or Continental as a carry-on. We need to get a health certificate from our vet within 7 days of travel. I’m not sure about other pets but I know you can bring them with no worries, check with your airline for that info. Do to public health and environmental concerns importing pet snakes into the territory is not allowed.

There are some places that will allow you to rent with a pet. I’m not sure of them but contact our friend and realtor Karen Korsgren for all your buying, selling, rental needs:

6. Crime :( Don’t go looking for it and it probably won’t find you. Yes we have a high murder rate but chances are it’s one bad guy killing another. It’s very rare that you hear of an innocent person being murdered but it happens… If you go looking for drugs you’ll put yourself in a bad position. If you’re walking around drunk in a bad neighborhood you’ll put yourself in a bad position. Be street-smart and know your surroundings and you’ll be fine.

7. Cars and License! Buying a car in St. Thomas is expensive. They know they got you by the short hairs because of the cost to ship it here. So cars are typically 15%-25% more to buy. That said if you own a nice car it may be worth it to ship it here.

It can cost around $1000-$1500 to ship a car from Miami. Check out Tropical shipping at:

St. Thomas is basically one extremely curvy, giant hill. I strongly recommend a 4 wheel drive vehicle here especially when it rains. Expect to replace brakes twice a year and transmissions also get pretty roughed up. Oh and our roads are full of potholes that usually go unfixed or fixed wrongly so they re-appear :)

Things to consider:

a. Can you get parts for your car if you bring it here and can someone fix it? I brought my Infinity QX4 here and there is literally only 1 guy that can fix major things on it. Things like regular maintenance, brakes etc. are no problem. We have most major dealers here like Ford, Honda and Toyota.

b. You’ll need a VI license plate for your car. Your stateside license will not work here.

c. You’ll have to clear customs. You can call the Customs Office at (340) 714-1600 for more information.

d. You’ll need the title to your car.

e. Road tax: You must get a Bill of Lading from the shipping agent when the car arrives in the USVI. For more information call Internal Revenue office at (340) 714-9332.

f. Insurance is required in St. Thomas. You must get your vehicle insured before requesting a moving permit. We use Tunick Insurance at: 340-776-7000.

g. You’ll need a permit to move your car: Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a permit to move your vehicle from the dock. The permit allows you to move a non-registered vehicle from one point to another.

h. Take your vehicle to the DMV to get your vehicle inspected. Bring with you, receipt that you paid the road tax, title, proof of insurance and stateside driver’s license.

i. How to obtain a VI drivers License, click here:

8. Motorcycles & Bikes: Bringing one or buying a motorcycle is the same as the car above. Here’s the deal, the roads here are pretty bad. All windy and up and down hills. You can’t get over 40mph in most spots. The rain makes things doubly worse. People drive like complete idiots here with safari taxi’s stopping and letting out tourists in the middle of the roads. That said I think owning a motorcycle or standard bike is crazy here. But to each their own :)

9. Education: I’m pretty unfamiliar with the public school system here. Everyone I personally know sends their kids to private schools: and to name a few.

10. Health Care:Not good enough. Period. It’s getting better. Talk to any doctor or nurse from the states and they’ll openly tell you it’s not good. Anything serious and I would leave the island for the states. We have the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital: We have many primary doctors and facilities.

Again make sure to read Moving To St. Thomas Part 1 and Moving To St. Thomas Part 2 and Moving To St. Thomas US Virgin Islands – Everything You Need To Know.

Hope this helps and remember most of this is just my experiences and opinion :)

Before you comment or ask a question please read ALL THE COMMENTS as the answer is probably already there.

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Big Kahuna

There’s Only One Place To Be Saturday December 19th…

And it’s face down at one of the stops on Rockin’ Around Red Hook bar day/night.

rokin redhook

We are going to kick off this holiday season in the Virgin Islands visiting our old favorite bars, new favorite bars and maybe some forgotten about bars in Red Hook, St. Thomas! You must have a t-shirt to participate. Pre-order with Brigitte, or (message her on FB people, Brigitte Berry de Garcia!) for $20 or get them the day of for $30. Grab a group of friends or just join on your own….see you on the 19th!

Pick your shirt up between 1 and 4pm at the Marlin Deck, American Yacht Harbor (Area where Lattes In Paradise is located). If you can’t pick your shirt up until after, let Brigitte know.

The event starts at 3pm however, you don’t have to “start” at 3pm. American Yacht Harbor will have bands, store sales in the afternoon… also…there’s a rumor Santa Clause will be on the Marlin Deck around 2:30. Ashley Photography is donating photography services with your picture with Santa, and anyone in a shirt will receive a free 5×7 of them with Santa.

Shirts will be ordered in S, M, L, and XL. First Come first serve. We’ll also have a limited amount of XXL.

You must pay in advance to get the pre-sale price.

Portion of the proceeds will to go Nana Baby Home.

Start Time:
Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 3:00pm
End Time:
Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 12:00am
All Betty Forders Must Attend This Mandatory Meeting!
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Big Kahuna

Book This St. Thomas Villa For Christmas Or New Years And Save $1,500

Yup, it’s our villa and this is shameless self promotion. Go to our website: and check it out.  It normally rents for $9,950 for either of those weeks but if you email me at and use the code “Big Special” you’ll get 15% off or $1,500. That’s not chump change you know. So hurry and rent this St. Thomas Villa now.

Here are some pictures to look at in the meantime.

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Big Kahuna

Check Out Our St. Thomas Tee Shirts and Tank Tops

Have you seen our Tees and Tanks? Click here to check them out and order:, help support the St. Thomas Blog:

betty ford iguana-drunk



betty ford logo

Click here to order:

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Big Kahuna

Why I’m Not Listening To Radio Joe 106.1 In The US Virgin Islands

Facebook is a social network. It’s a place to meet and communicate. IT’S NOT A PLACE TO SPAM YOUR BUSINESS. A lot of people don’t know that, especially businesses trying to promote themselves. You first have to introduce yourself and open a line of communication. Then you’ll spark the interest of the person you’re trying to reach.

This morning I got a chat message from a stranger called Joe Blaster at Radio 106.1because he “friended” me on facebook. Here’s how he opened the conversation:



First off EVERYONE knows in the US Virgin Islands it’s a big time no no not to say Good Morning, Good afternoon or Good night before you say ANYTHING. He should know this given the market he’s in.  Secondly why would I listen to him? He’s shown no interest in me? He’s just screaming his message at me, all in caps. I don’t even know what type of music they play?

Here’s the rest of the conversation:


dude or dudet, why do you just spam?



I am just letting you know, have a problem ?


yea, all you do is promote yourself by spamming others. try communicating first like a real human, then maybe I’ll listen and promote you. maybe introduce yourself? You know, non spam stuff.


i dont need to introduce myself, this is facebook and its for promoting. this is a social network. have a nice day.  RADIO JOE 106.1 FM. THE BEST MUSIC ON YOUR RADIO , BYE.

-Huh? What happened to the word Social in Social Network? It’s not called a spam network.



-Yea dude, we spread the word by creating a real interest. I didn’t run around St. Thomas yelling at strangers. We wrote intersting articles and gained readership through natural word of mouth. Call me crazy ;)

Moral of the story…Social networks like facebook and twitter make it easy to communicate. But do it right by showing a real interest in the person you’re reaching out to. You’ll not only gain a customer you’ll also gain a friend.

Radio Joe has been defriended. How did that work out for him?

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Big Kahuna

Ashley’s Birthday Benefit – Nana Babies Charity Event


Please join us on Thursday, September 24 from 8-11pm in The Room (American Yacht Harbor, Red Hook) to celebrate the life of our dear friend Ashley Holdcraft

Ashley was the young lady that was struck and killed by a car in Red Hook August 10, 2008. In her memory and on her birthday, we will be hosting a charity event for Nana Babies Children’s Home, a local orphanage that takes in children from abusive, drug addicted or sexually molested homes.

DJ Shov will be hosting and we’ll have Stoli O & soda features as well as Tuaca shots (Ashley’s favs!)

We’ll be doing an inexpensive raffle for prizes donated from local companies including:

East End Cafe
The Cellar
Cafe Amici
Havana Blue
Senor Pizza
Knots Away
Journey’s Spa
New Horizons
The Saint
Caribbean Saloon
Paradise Point
Robert’s Grille
Royal Caribbean
AH Riise
Keep Left
Surf Shop

Tickets are 2 for $10 or 5 for $20


You do not need to be present to win the prizes, as this is to raise as much money as possible for the charity!

Tickets can be purchased at East End Cafe, The Cellar or by calling Kristy at 340-201-7674

All donations are welcome and if you are a local company that would like to donate a prize, please feel free to Kristy!

The Room
Free Admission
Thursday, September 24, 2009
8:00pm – 11:00pm
The Room
Red Hook
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Big Kahuna

The Best Return In St. Thomas

Our advertisers get a lot of hits to their websites. On average we get over 2200 visits per day and we’re hungry for another advertiser. It ain’t easy writing stories almost everyday. C’mon now, you know you want to be on the most popular blog on St. Thomas.



Or you can support us by buying one of these great t-shirts/tank tops (click here):

Pick up that coconut and start the telegraph.

I’ve got 2 spots on the blog for our $89/month plan. You’ll get one of those nice squares on the left or right with your logo or picture that leads right to your website or facebook page. They look like this:

Caribbean Saloon – Click The Photo For Live Music, Sports And Events

Help support the blog and your business, send us an email to:
If you sign up by 9-28-09 we’ll do a special write up on your business.
Check out all our programs here:
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Big Kahuna

Dreaming of Island Life – On the Verge of Making it a Reality

A few days ago I asked if anyone would like to guest blog. Here’s one that just came in from LL. Let’s help her out:

Let me preface this by stating that I am writing this nearly bug-eyed after spending the greater part of the last three days pouring over web sites for clues about life in the USVI and how one can make a living there. This is what led me to, which has very useful information I might add, and your open call for guest posts. I figure I’ll share my dilemma in the hopes that you and your readers can offer some valuable information for one on the verge of packing it up and coming to live in the islands.

So here is my story, I am a barely thirty-something single gal who is ready to give up the rat race, or at least try a different way of life for a time. With a lucrative yet no longer fulfilling IT Mgmt career I am hankering to give up that particular pressure, the mortgage, and the useless colder seasons in the East Coast for a constant commune with sun and sea and a renewed passion in some line of work. And that is how I got it in my head this week that I would move to St Thomas and teach for a spell…starting ASAP!

Having visited St Thomas and St John once in 2007, I must admit I fell in love! My first visit to anywhere in the Caribbean, I was in awe of the surroundings and struck by the way island living seemed such a natural state…albeit I was on vacation ? In contemplating the USVI as a more long-term residence, my own list of perceived pros and cons are vying for attention in my brain. I figure many of your readers who relocated to the Virgin Islands dealt with some of the same concerns, have the benefit of experience gained from actually making the leap, and would be so kind as to share the wisdom.

So how about it then? What are the top 10 benefits or draw backs of living in the Virgin Islands? Any teachers have something to share about that experience?

Are there just 20-somethings and couples as transplants or will there be other ‘30 is the new 20’ -year-old single professionals for me to befriend?

Are there cost-savings to be had compared to the main land?

Would you do it all over again?

As you can see I’ve got questions for days, what I need is answers people…or at least good links:) I’m still a bit traumatized by the post on this site about lizards, cockroaches, spiders, etc. since I am on the extreme end of the squeamish side so if there are any recommended places to live where I could avoid that completely do tell ?

Much obliged, your future neighbor…perhaps…


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Big Kahuna

Guest Post For The St. Thomas Blog

Want to become a really famous rock star blogger ;) Well here’s your chance!

Send us over an article/story about anything related to St. Thomas, the USVI, the BVI’s etc.

Make it interesting but don’t make it an ad for your business. You can write about anything you want except self promotion.

If we use your article and you have a website will make sure the world knows and we’ll link back to your site and give you mad props.

C’mon tourists, locals and everyone in between. Email me something now!

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Big Kahuna

Duckaneer Crash – The Today Show On NBC Wants You!

Here’s an email we received:

To passengers involved in the Duckaneer bus accident on July 1st in St. Thomas:

The NBC Today Show would like to hear about your experience. If you were a passenger on the Duckaneer when it crashed, please email Today Show producer Robert Powell at:

All emails will remain confidential.

So if you’re interested send him an email. Who knows you might get face to face with Matt Lauer.

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