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Moving to St. Thomas USVI: What You Need to Know


St. Thomas balances sophistication and tropical flair so well, it is easy to see why many plans to relocate to the island. Before you pack your bags and board the first plane to the USVI, here are some of the most important things you need to know about moving here.

Shipping your car to St. Thomas can be expensive

Before bringing your car to St. Thomas, do consider a couple of factors. Check out shipping costs – they can be favorable depending on the make and model, but it means you’ll have to get the car to Florida – the most optimal drop off spot. Next thing to consider…is your car fit to survive the driving conditions on the island, where most roads are steep and winding, and a lot of low riding cars bottom out?

Also, consider that spare car parts for fancier makes and models might be hard to come by on St. Thomas. This can be an issue because roads can be rough and cars on the island are exposed to salt air, which speeds up corrosion issues. Lastly, customs and licensing can take some time, especially if your vehicle was assembled in Canada.

If you don’t want to go through all these additional steps, consider buying a car once you get to St. Thomas instead. New vehicles here are more expensive than on the mainland, but if you don’t purchase the car from a local dealership, they won’t honor the new-car warranty from the Stateside dealer.

The water supply on St. Thomas comes from cisterns

Unlike in the mainland US where water usually comes from rivers, lakes, and streams that feed a public water system, rainwater is the resource on St. Thomas. Rain is funneled from the roof of your home into a cistern – a concrete tank underneath the home. In other words – you supply your own water.

A cistern is basically a tank that stores water for all your household needs – laundry, bathing, and drinking. Most people add a small amount of bleach to their cistern on a regular basis to keep bacteria down. As for drinking the water, many of us have ultraviolet filtration systems on our water supply to make the water potable. Others have more basic filtration systems. Still, others purchase drinking water. It’s up to you how best to gauge your tolerance for cistern water. And, when it comes to purchasing a home on St. Thomas, you’ll want to find out how big the cistern is on the home, and inquire about its condition. Any leaks? Has it been sealed recently? Sealing ensures the integrity of the tank and needs repeating every 5 or so years.

If you are building your house in St. Thomas, an estimated 10 percent of the building cost may go toward a cistern – the bigger the better.

You might want to rethink bringing valuables to St. Thomas

Tropical weather, as well as the risk of hurricanes, can wreak havoc on some of your most valued possessions. For example, precious wooden furniture might get damaged by termites – which are a frequent pest here. Artwork needs to be well framed as the humidity and the salt can take a toll. TVs and computers tend to have a shortened life span here, especially in waterfront homes, courtesy of the salt air.

Do you need help in relocating to St. Thomas? I can be of assistance. Talk to me at 340-690-9995 or fill out the form here so we can start planning your move accordingly.