Our journey from Texas to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Our several year plan from planning a move, finding jobs, and building a house in the islands. That was how we started the blog, but we have now completed the house, or mostly at least. There is always something more to do.
When we started the blog, Emily wrote most of the posts. You will also notice that she did not use our names. She was worried that her law firm in Dallas might find out she was planning a move. Initially (2006) we decided on a 10-year plan to get to the islands. That goal was quickly condensed to five years and in the end we were here in St. Croix within two years. Early in 2008 we came down for vacation and Emily spoke with a law firm and they basically asked when she could start. She accepted and our lives were forever altered. She was in the middle of getting her yoga teaching certification so we delayed her start date until she was finished with that and after she was able to take the USVI bar exam.
We had plans to build immediately, or at least shortly after arriving, but upon arrival the US and the world economy tanked. What money we had shrunk quickly to 50%. So while we never stopped planning, talking, and thinking about building we also didn’t stop looking at houses that were on the market. In the end, we never found that perfect house so we pushed the construction. From the time we hired our architects, Design Lab, it took nearly 14 months to break ground. The construction estimates from builders came back at nearly two times the amount we expected. So we spent months making alterations to the plans to get within a more reasonable budget. Getting our construction loan from Scotiabank also slowed us down considerably, probably adding 4-5 months to the process.
We broke ground in late December 2010 and moved into the house at the end of January 2012. While we stayed within 5% of our budget, it did end up taking longer than expected to complete. Our contractor, who we hired to build the shell, told us he could complete the shell in 5 months. In the end, the shell took about 10.5 months. Some of that due to the rain we had, some due to the contractor. I controlled the finances and procured all the materials. Emily and I also did quite a bit of work. We also had a friend, Jouni, who helped out for five months with all the finishes.
We are excited to have made it through this process and are happy with our wonderful new home. There are definitely things I would do differently if I were to do it again, but I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.
Chad was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Texas after graduating from college. Shortly after his arrival in Dallas he met his future wife Emily. Chad’s main passion in life outside of his love for his wife, 3 dogs, and a cat, is soccer. Chad was lucky enough to get to play for the USVI national team for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 2011. When he is not playing soccer or working on the house he spends time in an HR function for a Fortune 500 company.
Emily is a full-blooded Texan and never lived outside of the state prior to moving to St. Croix. When she met Chad she informed him she would never leave her beloved state. Part of this statement was targeted at the state of Pennsylvania, but mostly it is due to her love of all things Texas, including UT. While she spends a large part of her day in the role of attorney, she refuses to be defined by it. Emily would prefer to spend her days baking and doing/teaching yoga. As a certified instructor she teaches the occasional private class. Emily also spent three plus years on the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center board of directors. Somewhere in that free time she manages to train for the occasional marathon and is learning to speak italian.
Hi Nathan, the best advice I can give on moving to the Virgin Islands is to visit first before you make any decisions.
That is the plan. We like to do a week or two of looking around. Hope to be there later this year. Thanks.
My husband and I moved to the island back in August not realizing that our health insurance could not be used outside the U.S. We have tried getting quotes for international insurance to no avail. We have a small business flipping properties but no LLC at the moment. I have heard that you must have a business in order to get health care here. Is this correct? If so, is there anything else I can do in order to get coverage?
Hi Teresia, I suspect it depends on what type of insurance you are trying to get. When I moved to St. Croix I purchased an individual policy through Marshall & Sterling. At the time there was not a requirement for me to have a business.
Chad just want to thank you for a great blog!
My husband and I are currently set to visit St. Croix in March for the 3rd time in 5 yrs. I am definitely going to venture out with a realtor (Amy) this visit and commit to a land purchase.
Hi Emily and Chad!
I found your blog online when searching for yoga in St Croix. Very helpful blog in all ways for ppl wanting to know more about moving to an island, I love it!
I just came out of my yoga teacher training, and me and my boyfriend are talking about relocating to St Croix or St Thomas. I was wondering if you know of how easy/hard it is to find a yoga teacher job on the islands?
I would really appreciate an answer!
Thank you for an amazing blog!
Hi Emily and Chad!
I’ve devoured your blog over the last few months! My husband and I have vacationed on the island for the last five years, and we’re planning on renting and spending at least a year on St. Croix with a hopeful arrival date sometime in January 2017. We’ll be on the island the week of July 4th to drink rum and ask questions, since living is very different than vacationing. My big question for you is this: Have you been happy with your insurance coverage through Marshall & Sterling? While we don’t have financial or career concerns, pinning down decent health care is something that stresses me out. I’d be most appreciative if you could point me in a good direction. Thanks so much and I hope to hear from you soon!
Hi Megan, as for Marshall & Sterling, I was happy with the my coverage at that time. For the past few years Emily and I have both been covered by employers so we haven’t needed to seek out individual coverage. As you know the industry has changed quite a bit over the past few years so the products they now offer may be different. My recommendation is to call a few doctors that you may need to go to and make sure they accept the coverage M&S is offering. We have both had United and that seems to be accepted everywhere here.
I’m so happy I found your blog about your relocation process to St. Croix! My husband and I plan to do the same thing next year. Our story is a little similar to yours by way of we started out with a 10 year plan, which lessened to a 5 year, now down to a 2 year plan. I’ve been researching and talking to other people who live there as well as realtors so that we are prepared upon our arrival. We have been there once before and will be visiting again this year and next year before we make the BIG move! Planning to sell everything and look for something on the North Shore. Can’t wait to get there!! Thanks for your blog!!!
I’ve been reading over all the older comments to get more ideas about our relocation to St. Croix next year. We have a dog and a cat that will be making the trip with us. It has been difficult finding a condo that accepts pets. Do you know of any condos that do allow pets, near Christiansted or North Shore area? We want to rent before we either buy or build. My husband was thinking of having a container home built on a lot. Not sure if that’s the route we will take but it’s an idea to cut down on building costs. Any help or advice on pet-friendly rental condos would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Yvette, finding a place to stay with pets is definitely difficult, but not impossible. Your best bet is to work with a realtor. I believe many of the condo complexes on St. Croix don’t allow pets.
Hi Emily and Chad!
Thank you for writing this blog! It has helped so much with our research. We are in the process of trying to decide on our timeline for our move to the Islands. We are most interested in the Island of St. Croix. I am currently working in Real Estate and my husband owns a Boat Service and Repair shop. We will also have to figure out our career moves as well.
Again, Thank you for blog, as it is very helpful. Danielle & Ryan
HI Emily and Chad,
Thanks so much for offering your assistance via this blog as we have been looking for as much recent info as possible. As with yourselves and a few others that have replied, Hubby and I were on the “10 yr island plan” that turned Into a few month “now or never” life changing opportunity. I have been offered a good job at the hospital and he can continue to work via Internet from the island. Headed down for a 7 day trip to look around, visit the hospital and meet with a realtor..any advice would be very much appreciated. We were both born and raised in Pennsylvania, traveled on vacation to many different Caribbean destinations but still lots of “realistic” concerns. Expat community? reality of island life? Anything you can offer would be much appreciated. Thanks so much Jamie and Don
Emily & Chad,
Good evening; thank you for your efforts with regard to your blog.
My Wife & I are in our late forties currently living in New York State. I may have the opportunity of transferring to St. Croix so no employment issues will be relevant (thank God). My Wife is from a small family, her two siblings live several flight hours away. I am having difficulty in convincing her that “Island Life” and this transfer opportunity may be the exact change/new beginning that we need going into our middle aged years.
Any suggestions or talking points that may assist me in opening my wife’s mind to this new adventure?
Hi Michael, I would suspect a visit to St. Croix will help make sure you are both up for it if you haven’t visited already.
Just want to say thanks for chronicling your journey. Like so many others my husband and I dream of retiring to St. Croix. We just returned from our first visit, loved it, and planning a return trip. I have been pouring over listings for at least a year already, and have selected a few places I’d like to concentrate a search on. Still going back and forth on condo vs. single family. And if single family, we are considering building, and would start the process well before our need to move. Do you think not being there to supervise 24/7 is a disaster waiting to happen? Or not a big deal if you hire the right company? TIA for your reply.
I have a PMV in May to look around and see properties. I’m most concerned about living with toddlers there, most people I see on blogs are without kids or retirees. Can a family have a safe life there? We will homschool so schools not an issue for us.
My husband and I are traveling to St. Croix in October and will be scoping out the Island for possible relocation!
Do you know of any groups of folks that are transplants to the Island that we could hook up with while we are there?
I don’t know about groups, but there are so many people that have moved to St. Croix from the US. You will likely run into them every place you go. When you go out to dinner start a conversation and inevitably you will get your questions answered.
Hello Chad & Emily,
My husband and O are looking for housing in St Croix and we’re wondering if you have any tips or know if any rentals that aren’t outrageous.