I think it is a good idea to move to the US Virgin Islands for a number of reasons. Many people don’t understand that the US Virgin Islands is an US territory and no passport is required to visit or move there. I’ve wondered many times why it took me so long to find it, being an US Citizen. The USVI is nicknamed “America’s Caribbean” and it holds true to its name.
The US Virgin Islands comprise three main islands in the Caribbean and they are situated between Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands. Cruise boats frequent the harbors in St. Thomas and St. Croix daily. There are non-stop flights out of Miami and other airports and travel time is about as long as it takes to arrive in Nassau, Bahamas. I have been to both places and I can say the USVI is a much better experience for many reasons. We recently visited St. Croix and we noticed that there were as many Danish visitors as there were Americans.
The USVI was owned by Denmark until 1921 when the United States purchased it for just over 20 million dollars. The Danes still love its heritage and many tours originate from Copenhagen, Denmark. Denmark is a small country. Why don’t more Americans who live in the mainland come to visit these unspoiled islands? I wondered this many times when we were walking on desolate, while sand beaches and we didn’t see anyone. It was unusual to be on a beach in some areas where there were any people, much less tourists. I found it very friendly and it was comfortable, having laws similar to the US mainland. The main difference was that cars drove on the left side of the road. I see the Bahamas as a tourist trap and I wish I knew of the USVI sooner.
Why would a person move there? I also asked myself the same question a number of times as we considered our options. One deciding factor was that it was an US territory and recognized US laws. No passport or special requirements was another factor in our decision. It is safe and happy. The education system is good. It has VA medical facilities and regular civilian doctors who accept insurance my family receives through the government. The USVI has a good university with locations on both islands. Our kids might choose to go to school there or in the US Mainland as many island kids do.
One other positive about moving to the USVI, that does not affect us, is residents don’t pay US income tax to the IRS and no tax return is required. I think many US corporations have chosen to relocate to the islands because of this reason. There is no sales tax and property taxes are very low. Employer taxes seem to be about the same as the US, as far as I can tell and employers/employees pay into social security and medicare, etc. The cost of some goods seems to be higher than the mainland because of the cost to get items to the island but many people order online and receive goods in the mail. Gas is more expensive but about the same price as California. It is probably cheaper than New York gas. Real estate prices aren’t very expensive and much less than most places on the west coast of the US.
All in all, it seems to us that the USVI is a good place to raise our kids and live out our lives. We love the slow pace and the friendly way of life. We are lucky, in that I receive a pension from the Army and Aubrey and I are both in college studying full-time. We aren’t dependent on a job that is on the island. Our opportunities for continuing a photography business and art gallery are much better than in Austin. There seems to be an overall need for many businesses that are common on the US Mainland and I can see that many other people could be more successful by relocating to the islands.
I don’t want to move to an overpopulated tourist destination but I can see that many Americans should visit and think of relocating to the Virgin Islands. People are often taken back by our intentions to move but I don’t think they understand how close this beautiful US territory really is.