Caribbean Journal, October 2, 2015
We continue our How to Move series with a look at the market in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Ever thought of moving to America’s Caribbean? We talked to Amy Land de Wilde, broker/owner at Coldwell Banker in St Croix, to find out how. To contact Amy, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why should I move to St Croix, USVI?
What attracts most people to consider a move to our beautiful island is the perfect year round climate, the striking crystal-clear blue waters and an escape from the faster pace of life up north. But what they discover when they get here is much, much more including a wonderful tight-knit and welcoming community, fabulous restaurants where dining is truly an event, endless water sports activities including world-class diving and fish-filled snorkeling, a deep sense of the island’s rich history and culture that is zestfully celebrated and the inclusive friendly attitudes of those who have already made the leap! Hooked yet?
And can I live there? What are the residency laws, etc?
If you are a U.S. citizen, then it’s a snap. You can be a Virgin Islands resident after 30 days. You will no longer be able to vote in the presidential elections, but you’ll find yourself involved in our local politics where your vote counts. Citizens of different countries will have to consult with their consulate.
What are the advantages of living permanently vs. part time?
If you’re lucky enough to be able to become a full-time resident, you’ll be able to continuously reap the benefits of our more relaxed lifestyle, the boundless natural island beauty, clean air and water, sense of community and much, much more. You’ll have friends with boats and be able to take advantage of activities on a regular basis that visitors wish they could do more often! And if there’s that special something that you’ve been wanting to try for years, we can pretty much guarantee one or more people here are already doing it and would be happy to show you the ropes – be it kite boarding, jewelry making, fire dancing or perhaps a more sedate activity like a thoughtful book club. Whatever your interests, island living fosters the creative nature within. And for some who are not quite ready for retirement and thinking of relocating their business here, there may be very attractive tax benefits of up to 90% federal tax abatement for 10-30 years www.usvieda.org.
How much does the average home cost?
There’s not an easy answer to this. The median cost of a home on St. Croix is $275,000. Prices are based on location, size, view, waterfront or not, amenities such as a pool and quality of building materials and finishes. You can count on spending at least $375,000 for a basic home with a water view and prices go up from there.
How much does a beachfront condo cost?
You can still purchase a beachfront condo for under $100,000 on St. Croix with prices going as high as $1,000,000. Because most are not new, you can count on doing some updating. Also, condo fees in the Virgin Islands may be higher than you’re used to because our insurance cost is high. Our property taxes are low, though!
How much does it cost to build a home?
Basic construction is at $250 per square foot, with higher quality design and materials being upwards of $350-500 per square foot. Other factors that will heavily influence building costs are the accessibility and overall slope of the building site.
What are the real estate taxes like?
Very low! The millage rate is 0.00377 per $100,000 in value for condos and homes and .004946 for undeveloped land.
What are income taxes like?
Identical to the United States, as we mirror federal tax codes to our own Virgin Island Internal Revenue Bureau. As a resident, you will be required to file here. All tax dollars owed are paid locally and stay in the Virgin Islands.
Can I work here?
Absolutely, if you’re a US citizen, it’s easy. And St. Croix is the perfect place to reinvent yourself and climb a new “corporate” ladder! Be a first mate on a boat, serve cold rum cocktails to thirsty patrons or if that sounds a little crazy, we also have more traditional careers as well. Find your niche! If you are not an American then you will be required to secure a resident alien status, work visa, student visa and/or temporary visa – as you would have to do in order to live and work in the United States mainland. The same federal immigration regulations that exist in the US mainland are in use in the Virgin Islands. For more information visit: Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
What’s health care like?
We have excellent physicians in a broad range of specialties and we have affordable access to air medical insurance in case of an emergency that can’t be handled here. It is advisable to check the availability of treatment options if you have special medical needs.
What’s it like for kids?
St. Croix is an excellent place to raise children. They make lifelong friends, our private schools are excellent and graduates get into the best U.S. universities. Children raised here feel like they all have extended families since we are so inclusive! If it takes a village to raise a child, then our island is the entire village.
Can I bring my car? What’s the duty?
Of course! Your ride is easily transported by any of our freighters, such as Crowley Transport, Paradise Freight, Tropical Shipping, or VI Cargo. There are several variables that affect shipping costs and shipping time. These include weight, location from which you are moving, and dimensions and make of car. There are also duty taxes depending on where your car was made and its weight. For example, a U.S. made car, which is identifiable by the vehicle ID number (VIN) starting with 145 is duty free, but Mexican and Canadian made cars are 6% and all other countries are 3.5%. There is also a road tax, which is $0.16/LB. And incredibly enough, it could take as little as 5 days to get here and cost a little over a $1,500 to get here. In this instance, size matters to your wallet and parking will be easier if you keep your ride small!
Caribbean Journal, October 2, 2015