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The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) or the Virgin Islands of the United States are a group of four Caribbean islands that are overseas dependencies of the United States of America.
These islands are St Croix, St Thomas, St John and Water Island. The capital is Charlotte Amalie which is located on the island of St Thomas.
The largest island is St Croix being 84 square miles, then St Thomas which is 32 square miles and St John being the smallest of the three major islands at 19 square miles. Water Island is only 491 acres. In this article we will explore all the pros and cons of living in the US Virgin Islands.
The pros of living in US Virgin Islands are its low crime rate, stable currency, beautiful natural scenery and amazing beaches. On the other hand, living in US Virgin Islands has its cons such as the threat of natural disasters, poor infrastructure and a slower pace of life.
Read on for comprehensive details of the pros and cons of living in the US Virgin Islands.
Pros of Living In US Virgin Islands
Beautiful Natural Scenery
The views on all the islands are breathtaking. Mountain Top and Drake’s Seat are fantastic spots with amazing views in St Thomas.
Mountain top is 1500 feet above sea level and provides a stunning view the other Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. From mountain top you can see a total of 20 islands.
Alternatively Drake’s seat offers an amazing view of Magens Bay, the other Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands to the East.
Mermaid’s Chair is also a location on the Rock City’s West Coast which is a must see on the island of St Thomas. This area is a small strip that separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is best to visit during low tide if you will like to walk across this strip.
On the largest island which is St Croix, Ham’s Buff Lighthouse is a fantastic spot for incredible views.
This lighthouse was designed and built by the Danish sometime between 1913 and 1915. In 1917, the Danish West Indies was sold to the United States of America.
Point Udall is a location of significance in St Croix as it is the most eastern point of the United States. The Millennium monument was erected in the year 2000 as this is the first place that the American soil experiences the sunrise.
On St John, the Ram Head hiking trail provides several glorious views of the island. It takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the trail.
Approximately 60% of the island is a national park so there are various hiking trails which you can explore and take in the amazing views of this island.
Dependency of A Large Country
There are several positives to living in an island that is an overseas territory of a large country such as the United States. This includes access to health care and education for persons living on the island.
As an example, if you live in the Caribbean island of Grenada and you have a medical emergency, you cannot just go to the United States seamlessly for medical without considering visa requirements.
Virgin Islanders have that ease to go the United States for treatment. Medical visa to the United States of America is discretionary for other Caribbean islands.
Similarly with education, Virgin Islanders have easy access to higher education from the United States.
Relocation Option Available
Individuals in the US Virgin Islands also have the benefit to relocate to a bigger country if they are looking for greater opportunities. Living on a small island limits the amount of opportunities that you have available for example in terms of jobs.
Persons from other Caribbean island who may have a desire to relocate have tough barriers to contend with as you have to consider things such as work permits.
In the US Virgin Islands you are never far away from the beach. Magens Bay is a beautiful one mile stretch of white sand on the island of St Thomas.
In terms of snorkeling, Coki beach is one of the best options in St Thomas. This beach is perfect for beginners and individuals new to snorkeling.
St John which persons can access from Red Hook to Cruz Bay via ferry also has its fair share of amazing beaches. Trunk Bay is the most popular location especially with visitors to the island.
Parking is limited so if you will like to explore, it is best to arrive there early. There are shops there which you can buy food and rent snorkeling equipment. There is an underwater trail that you can follow if snorkeling.
If you want to swim with turtles, then Maho Bay Beach is the perfect spot in St Croix. This beach is popular as well with visitors and locals on the island so it is best as well to get there early.
Honeymoon Beach on Water Island is a favorite for locals and visitors to the island. To visit Water Island from St Thomas you can catch the ferry from Crown Bay Marina.
The cost is approximately USD$10 round trip. There is a shuttle once you arrive in Water Island that can transport you to the beach. There is beach bar available for eats and drinks.
Turtle Beach located on Buck Island is well loved by locals and visitors alike. Buck Island is a small uninhabited island which you can access via a boat or kayak. The beautiful white sand and clear water makes this beach extraordinary.
To the north of the island, there is a lovely spot called the Annaly Tide Pool. These are naturally formed pools where you can enjoy the water and the amazing views.
One has to hike to get to this location and there are areas that can be rocky so wear appropriate shoes.
And remember, if you are visiting the beaches on the island, only mineral sun screen is allowed. There is a ban on chemical sun screen as they damage the coral reefs.
The Islands Are Safe
The US Virgin islands are extremely safe. Nevertheless according toThe St Thomas Source, in an article published August 17th, 2021, the police department on the island of St Croix indicated an increase in armed robberies and carjackings.
Victims were threatened at gunpoint and valuables such as cash, cellphones and vehicles were demanded. The police have asked citizens to be vigilant and to safeguard their valuables.
Locals and visitors to the island therefore should be extra cautious with their valuables.
Easy Access To Major International Cities
Cyril E King is one of the busiest airports in the Eastern Caribbean.
The airport is located in the capital city, Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas. Major airlines such as Continental Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines provide both connecting and non-stop flights to the island.
Easy To Island Hop
There is an excellent ferry service between the islands and also to the British Virgin Islands.
Additionally, there are routes that connect all the islands so it is easy to move from one island to another if you desire a change of scenery.
Seaborne Airlines also offers sea plane service between the islands. Cape Air provides direct and connecting flights between Puerto Rico, St Thomas, St Croix and Tortola.
The US Virgin Islands is part of the United States. Therefore, the currency used in the territory is the US dollar.
Locals do not therefore have to worry about currency fluctuations and devaluations as other islands in the Caribbean that have their own currencies. It is easier not only to do business with the Mainland but globally.
Excellent Caribbean community spirit exists on the Virgin Islands. People are willing to share with each other.
If you need a ride on the island, someone will offer to transport you to your location. Neighbors still look out for each other and their families as in other Caribbean islands.
Cons of Living On The US Virgin Islands
There Could Be A Loss Of Privacy
While there is a great sense of community which can be helpful, the drawback to this is that there is a loss of privacy.
In small villages and communities where everyone knows everyone and at times this makes it tough to create and maintain boundaries.
Limited Entertainment Options
Generally, the pace on the islands is slow.
You can bar hop in places such as Red Hook and Haven Sight in St Thomas but if you are expecting entertainment such as Las Vegas or South Beach, Miami then you will not get that in the US Virgin islands.
People who love to socialize and who can afford it usually tends to travel to break the monotony.
Shipping To The Islands
While US Virgin Islands is part of the United States, it is treated as an international destination by many companies when it comes to shipping.
Expect to pay international rates from courier service providers such as DHL and FedEx.
Nevertheless, USPS treats the island is as US territory. Facilities such as next day delivery that apply if you live on the Mainland do not apply in the islands.
When dealing with certain companies, there are restrictions on what you can ship to the islands.
Limited Access to Specialized Products/ Services
Although there are popular brands such as Kmart, Walgreens and Home Depot in the US Virgin Islands, the range of products available is limited.
These businesses only have branches in St Croix and St Thomas. St John and Water Island only have local businesses.
If as an example you are taller, you may not easily be able to get your size on the island.
Nevertheless, there are a number of companies that ship products to the US Virgin Islands, so online shopping is an option for specialty products.
The Threat of Natural Disasters
Another con of living in the US Virgin Island is the threat of natural disaster. As an island in the Caribbean, the hurricane season starts on June 1st and ends November 30th annually.
The last major hurricanes to affect the islands were hurricane Maria and Irma both in 2017 which hit the islands as category 5 storms.
Additionally, due to the location of the US Virgin Islands, there is a threat of earthquakes.
The last major earthquake that affected the island was in 1867 which led to a tsunami which caused major damage to the islands of St Thomas and St Croix predominantly.
The road infrastructure could be further enhanced and there are areas where there are potholes. An SUV may be suitable if you are living in certain areas of the islands due to the road network.
Additionally, the health care system is adequate for certain situations. If you require specialized care, overseas experts will be required.
Lack of Job Opportunities
Due to the small size of the islands, the businesses on the islands are limited and hence many individuals tend to work a combination of jobs to earn a living.
On the island of St Croix, the closure of the oil refinery which was the largest private employer on the island left approximately 2000 persons jobless.
This was a huge blow to the economy of St Croix and by extension the Virgin Islands.
The pros of living in US Virgin Islands are that the island safe, has friendly people, beautiful natural scenery and amazing beaches. On the other hand, the cons are that one must be prepared for a slower pace of life and limited access to the amenities and conveniences enjoyed in a large country.
If you are contemplating traveling to the US Virgin Islands or the rest of the Caribbean, cruising is an affordable option to consider. I have recently completed an informative course by cruise specialist, Emma Cruises which you should check out titled How To Cruise For Less.
This course provides detail tips and techniques on how to save money while cruising onboard, onshore as well as the importance of insurance. So if you if you are considering a cruise for your next Caribbean vacation, check out How To Cruise For Less.
Need More Information?
Feel free to browse our website for more content on the US Virgin Islands and the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page. The following are some of our articles which we believe may be suitable for you.
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Living In The British Virgin Islands ( Pros & Cons)
Living In St Thomas (Pros & Cons Fully Explained)