Does my Instagram feed inspire you to consider island life – maybe an extended stay on St. Croix?
Well it must because I’ve had a number of really interesting people reach out to me. I must exude the Covid dream life. I guess I have portrayed my Insta-self as “living the Covid dream” – on an Caribbean island across the street from the beach, surrounded by my loving family in our homesteading compound, where I work remotely, entertain and educate my ten-year old, keep a garden, and maintain proper self-care with daily workouts and meditation. Firstly, it is not all rainbows and butterflies. I’ll have to tell you about the invasive boa constrictor problem we’re currently facing or the gungalow infestation, but that’s another blog post. The fact that I’ve written about cockroach remedy should clue you on to another pitfall of tropical living. Don’t get me started on my power outage routine to make sure I make a stateside Zoom call without them knowing that I am gassing up and pull starting a generator and running extensions cords through the house to power my router, computer, and a standing fan so I don’t melt away during said meeting. There is definitely a plus to living a minimalist lifestyle on a tropical island for sure, but it is not for everyone.
It is our home, our island – pre, current, and post-Covid. And we are lucky, privileged, and blessed to be here in this moment.
The Caribbean Dilemma, a recent article in the New York Times hits home as islands are opening to American travelers. Visiting your tropical island paradise could mean bringing coronavirus to a place that is ill prepared to deal with it. Yet, not spending your tourism dollars on that same island could mean deeper economic woes and more isolation for all the island’s population. I do like the idea of extended stay travel visits and now is a perfect time to do it! Barbados got it right, offering year long visas for those that come with a virtual job.
If you are working from home and the kids are schooling from home, why not move your home base? It’s safer for the residents of where you are going and you get a unique experience that you may not be able to do some other time or place.
When I was in 3rd grade, my mom captained a boat for drop off on Antigua and told my dad to meet her there with the kids. My parents were in a rough spot in the marriage and maybe some salt, sand, and sea could mend things. My sister and I attended a British school where we spelled things with an added u, like colour and labour; we were beat on the knuckles if we misbehaved. We wore uniforms and were 2 of 3 of the only white kids attending classes in the little yellow school house buildings. It was life-changing for me and traumatic for my sister at the same time, who was struggling with learning disabilities that weren’t being addresses and a bout with dengue fever. I became an island girl at that point that year and wrote about this experience 20 years later for my application into the Peace Corps, where I wound up on another island in the Pacific, falling in love with an island boy from the Caribbean, who eventually shared his island with me here on St. Croix.
Why Choose St. Croix?
St. Croix is a different kind of lifestyle. There are some people that just come here to expat and stay in their bubble and take pretty pictures for Instagram on the beach, there are others that want to be in touch with nature or want a more simple way of life or integrate into the culture. Island life is not for everyone, truly but if you are in the second group, you might like it here. Pre-Covid, I would tell people considering the move that the first year is the hardest because it is such a transient community that people will wait to see if you are staying before they really let you into their circle. Our island children gain and lose friends way more than in the States, so parents protect that heartbreak of losing friends. I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer until I found St. Croix so I like to tell my son that when people move away, it just means we have more places to visit.
How’s the Internet Service?
Pretty good! I work remotely and as mentioned above, the power goes out every so often and with the mildest of tropical storms. But the good news is that Broadband VI is not affected by the power. We’ve had a few internet outages, but all were fixed quite quickly. Even after IrMaria, there was service. Some critical remote workers choose reciprocity by paying for both Broadband VI and ViYa services. Make sure you have a generator or alternative power, as WAPA may be your biggest problem.
What about Covid-era travel to St. Croix?
Our island’s medical resources are not prepared to handle a HUGE outbreak here and as of this writing, numbers are escalating. We were slow to get Covid cases, but maybe it was just that we didn’t have tests. Personally, we are isolated and keep our contact circle very tight. We are privileged enough to have that ability, so it also our responsibility. I hope that the type of travelers that come to our island would do the same and do everything in their power to prevent the spread and help minimize it. The good news is that even once you land and quarantine yourselves here, there is nature and home projects and BEACH and garden and internet until you can venture out. Sometimes my heart aches for people trapped in urban apartments without nature around them.
What are the downfalls of moving to St. Croix?
- Medical resources are sub-par, governmental agencies run something like that in a developing nation, riddled with inefficiencies and corruption.
- Business dealings are often held up with bureaucratic messes.
- Island crime is high and law enforcement is underfunded or not properly utilized.
- Cost of groceries is high, relying primarily on imported goods.
- Bugs, rodents, snakes – tropical living is full of creepy crawlers.
- Hurricanes – be prepared to prepare for hurricanes. St. Croix is still recovering and rebuilding from Hurricane Irma & Hurricane Maria in 2017.
- We are in the black hole of stateside companies for services like insurance and shipping. We aren’t domestic, we aren’t International. Statesiders can’t always figure out how to make things work for us.
- Schools are not known for their stellar ratings, but with Covid – maybe those reading this have already figured out their remote homeschooling/virtual schooling gig.
So, ready to take an extended visit to St. Croix?
Find a place to stay – scrub the St. Croix Facebook groups or connect with a rental agent.
Ship your vehicle or find yourself an island beater.
If you are shipping yourself stuff, consider a freight forwarder service like VI Cargo or Paradise Freight
*Just a note that US Postal Service mail considers us domestic, but UPS, FedEx, and DHL consider us international.
Make sure you have St. Croix internet service from Broadband VI and ViYa Virgin Islands.
PLEASE please self-quarantine yourselves when you arrive and protect the Crucian people by not bringing any unwanted and/or accidental Covid with you.
Good luck and happy travels!