At some point in everyone’s life, we all daydream about packing up our lives in the U.S. and moving to St. Thomas or another Caribbean tropical island. Whether the idea of moving stems from being snowbound for too long or a vacation to St. Thomas you’d like to make permanent, there are things you need to know and consider about moving to St. Thomas before you pack up your belongings, car, pets… your life.

The best advice from those who have already moved to St. Thomas is to make a pre-move visit even if you’ve spent a vacation there. Vacation mode is different from real-life so it’s important to see St. Thomas from the everyday life perspective.

As a general rule, one week is the shortest amount of time you should allot to your visit. Ideally, a three to six week stay is better to get a real feel for living on the island.

While you’re there, you’ll be busy with finding a home or apartment, checking out the car situation and learning about living on St. Thomas in general. Here are some frequently asked questions about moving to St. Thomas.

Can U. S. citizens live and work in St. Thomas without any special paperwork or visas?

American citizens do not need to obtain any official documents to live or work in St. Thomas. Americans can freely travel and work in St. Thomas, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, to prove U.S. citizenship, you should have a Social Security card. U.S. passports aren’t required, but are a good idea to have, as well as identification like a driver’s license and a birth certificate.

Is it easy to find a place to live on St. Thomas?

It can be more difficult to find housing during the high tourist season because of the influx of seasonal workers also looking for a place to live. Tourist season runs from mid-November through mid-May.

Should I ship my car to St. Thomas?

Shipping your car to St. Thomas is a personal choice. If your car’s value is worth the shipping costs, then consider taking it with you. If shipping costs would exceed your car’s value, then consider leaving it in the states and buying a car in St. Thomas.

Keep in mind that St. Thomas has steep and winding roads. Most are paved, but some are dirt. If your car has the power and brakes to handle these driving conditions, think about shipping it. If not, it’s best to buy one once you move there. Also, salt air is hard on cars so parts are susceptible to corrosion. Check in advance on the availability of your car’s spare parts in St. Thomas. If they’re hard to come by, it might be wise to buy a more common brand.

Since St. Thomas is not part of NAFTA, a car assembled in Canada is subject to higher fees to bring on the island. Check inside of the driver door to see where your car was assembled. Clearing customs and licensing the vehicle can be an all day ordeal. Consider hiring someone to handle it for you, especially if you don’t know how the process works.

Are there any of my belongings that I should not bring with me?

If you’re moving to St. Thomas think about leaving certain valuable items behind, selling them, or entrusting them to family. Termites can damage antique furniture. Delicate items can fall victim to mildew. Finally, St. Thomas is an island and can be hit by a hurricane. Anything that you couldn’t bear to see harmed, might be better off left behind.

What is a cistern?

A cistern is a necessary container for water storage and is required in all St. Thomas homes. Just like in the states, your living options include buying or renting. Either way you go, you’ll need to know what a cistern is. If you’re building, approximately 10% of the total building cost will go toward the cistern. It’s kind of a big deal.

What are other perks of moving to St. Thomas?

Moving to St. Thomas means living year round with a consistent climate, ranging between the upper 70s and mid-80s without severe rainstorms or snow. In St. Thomas, you can enjoy island living and water activities 365 days a year. And even though it’s a U.S. territory, there is no sales or state taxes, but have the same laws and legal system of living stateside.

Cartwright International has been moving families, retirees and individuals to St. Thomas for years. With our experience, not only can we ensure a smooth and hassle-free move, also we’re here to answer all of your questions so you can feel at home living the island life. Learn more about moving to or from the U.S. Virgin Islands and get an estimate today!