So many people come to St. Croix with a dream lifestyle in mind: waking up to a gentle sea breeze, daily sunkissed beach strolls, weekend beach parties and endless summer. While all these are definite possibilities, moving and living in St. Croix is just like moving and living anywhere else. Life happens here, too, and you need to secure employment, housing, and other amenities to get settled.
We hope to ease your transition by answering some frequently asked questions on relocating and living in St. Croix.
Do I need a passport and working visa to live and work in St .Croix?
St. Croix is a U.S. territory, U.S. Citizens can come and go freely without the need for a passport or working visa to gain employment. Although for identification purposes, social security cards, drivers licenses, and other personal documents will come in handy.
As a U.S. territory, St. Croix has the same immigration regulations as the mainland U.S. As such, you will need a passport and a U.S. visa to enter if you are not an American. You will also need a work visa and a resident alien status if you plan to work and call St. Croix your new home.
What is the currency in St. Croix?
St. Croix’s currency is U.S. dollars. Most businesses accept credit cards as well as travelers checks. There are several ATM machines throughout the island. We have the luxury of no sales tax on anything purchased in the island or anywhere in the rest of U.S. Virgin Islands. In many cases, if you order something from a stateside vendor, their website will not charge a state tax. The same thing typically happens when you call and place an order to a freight forwarder.
What is the time zone?
St. Croix observes the Atlantic Standard time zone (UTC – 4:00) all year round, and does not follow Daylight Savings Time.
Can I bring my pet?
Absolutely. If you are traveling from the US mainland, there is no need to quarantine your pet. However, you should have your pet’s health documents ready within 10 days of travel. You need to secure a health certificate from your vet with up to date rabies shots and clearance from any infectious disease. Also check with the airlines as some travel dates may be restricted.
If you have an unusual animal for a pet (such as any type of bird, sugar glider or ferret, among others), you need to check with the Department of Agriculture if you will need an import permit. If you do, you need to submit an application and pay a $25 fee and wait for a week or two for approval. Importing all kinds of snakes isn’t allowed in St. Croix, unfortunately for snake lovers, because of health and environmental issues.
Will my cell phone work on St. Croix?
If you’re with AT&T Wireless and Sprint, it will. It is best to ask your provider if they cover U.S. Virgin Islands, but most have surprisingly high roaming charges.
Are there public payphones?
Yes, there are, mostly in public areas such as hotels and shopping areas. Phone cards are widely available in gas stations and grocery stores. Local calls are at $.35/5 minutes, while U.S. mainland calls are charged with long distance rates.
Can I ship household items to St. Croix?
Yes, you can. There are several moving companies and freight forwarders operating on island, and they can ship your belongings via boat or air if you need them sooner. It is best to contact several moving companies to inquire about costs and shipping time as they tend to vary per provider.
What are my employment options?
Since St. Croix is a popular destination, the tourism and hospitality sector employs a lot of people. Popular jobs include hotel and resort staff, sales, wait staff, boat-mates, bartenders, and retail sales. There are a few employment agencies on the island you can contact to learn more about professional job openings. You can also inquire directly with business establishments that you are interested in, and ask if you can send them your resume.
Aside from tourism jobs, there are also employment options in health, government, education, law, and private enterprises. In some cases, wages on St. Croix are lower than stateside averages, but competence and dependability go a long way for island lovers determined to make it work. As a cost of living is higher on St. Croix than in the mainland, it is common for islanders to have more than one job.
New and exciting opportunities are blossoming from the recent installation of island-wide fiber optic internet. St. Croix recently was named a top Remote Working destination.
Do I need my own car to go around?
While public transport and taxis are available in more populated areas, a car is still the most convenient mode of transportation on the island. You will most likely need a car to go the grocery, schools, or run errands around town since very little of the island is easily reached on foot. Take note that people drive on the left side of the road in St. Croix.
If you are coming from the mainland and want to bring your car, you can have it shipped via any of the cargo companies in the island. You should know that your U.S. mainland license plate isn’t valid in St. Croix or in any part of USVI. Thus, you will need to have it registered and pay customs duty for importing it upon arrival.
Also, consider your car’s capabilities when bringing it to the island. Most roads on the island are paved, but there are dirt roads (some very steep) leading to more remote homes across the island. Some people opt for an "island car" - a car with considerable wear and tear that won't leave you cringing each time you hit a pothole or back down a driveway lined with thorny bougainvillea.
With this in mind, you should seriously consider if it is worth bringing your car or just buying one in St. Croix that fits your budget. There are several car dealerships around, as well as personal ads from people selling used cars. Craig’s List for the USVI has heated up considerably for jobs, cars and personal items for sale during the past few years.
Is my drivers license valid in the island?
U.S. licenses are valid for 90 days after arrival. Drivers licenses from elsewhere aren’t valid, thus the need to secure a temporary and/or permanent license.
What types of schools are available?
If you are moving with children, you will find a selection of private, public and parochial schools on the island. The University of Virgin Islands also has a campus on St. Croix.
What types of housing are available?
St. Croix enjoys relatively cheaper rental rates than the rest of USVI. A one-bedroom apartment in St. Croix, for instance, costs around $800 a month; but is within $1,200-1,800 on St. John or $950-1,500 on St. Thomas. There is a wide range of housing available from apartment complexes, single detached houses, and villas. Blue Sky Real Estate represents large and small Caribbean real estate properties located all over St. Croix. Whether you are interested in a luxury home, undeveloped land, condo, fix-upper, commercial property, a hilltop perch or a beachfront oasis, Blue Sky Real Estate can help.
Where can I apply for mortgage in case I decide to purchase a property?
Local banks and mortgage lenders have similar lending options as those in the mainland. Conventional, FHA, VA, jumbo, and conforming loans are readily available. It is best to contact financial establishments (some are listed below) directly to see what they have to offer. Interest rates are at an all-time low, so if you’re considering purchasing a property in St. Croix, there’s never a better time than now.
- Bank of St. Croix
- Capital Mortgage
- Flagstar Bank
- Schaffer Mortgage
- Coastal Financial
- Banco Popular
- First Liberty Mortgage
What type of property insurance is needed?
All home loans require earthquake and windstorm insurance, which is about 2-3 percent of a structure’s replacement value.
How much is property tax?
Property taxes in St. Croix are lower than U.S. mainland rates, just 60 percent of assessed value multiplied by 1.25 percent. If you live in an area utilizing the municipal sewer system, a small tax is levied. There are no, water or school taxes as well unlike in the mainland.
Are there transfer taxes?
Yes, there are and they are usually paid at closing. Transfer taxes are imposed on all real estate deals, with rates of:
- 2%for properties up to $350,000;
- 2.5% for properties up to $1 million;
- 3% for properties up to $5 million; and
- 3.5% for properties more than $5 million
Are there other costs from purchasing a property?
Aside from those mentioned above, buyers are also responsible for costs of as-built survey or certificate, appraisal, recordation of deed, attorney’s fees, and bank processing fees. Sellers are typically responsible for the transfer stamp tax and termite inspection/treatment.
If I decide to lease my property, what’s the rental income like?
There are several property management companies in St. Croix to choose from. After maintenance expenses and management commissions, owners can generally expect a 50 percent net of the gross rental income.
Blue Sky Real Estate offers property management services including screening applicants, paying bills, handing repairs, marketing online, checking inventory, assessing arrival/departure conditions, and staging property for maximum impact and income. Contact us to find out more.