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St. Croix, The Good and The Bad

After being on island for over a year, I thought it was about time to compile a list of both the pros and cons of living on St. Croix.  We were recently invited out by a couple who are seriously considering moving here and they wanted to know the same things.  I’ve mentioned the good along with the bad here and there but it’s been scattered across so many blog posts and videos that I figured it would be helpful to place it all here.

The bad:

  • Power outages and spotty cell coverage.  People also grumble about internet availability and speed but I’ve only really had a couple of issues and am able to upload my videos without a problem.  Though, Facebook video takes about a million years to upload.  Please let me know if you have any insight on this.
  • Health care.  As I’m not ill or older, I haven’t had much experience with the hospitals here but I haven’t heard the best things.  A few people I spoke with say that there is quality care out there but another person told me their parents had to leave because there wasn’t a specific specialist that they needed on island while another one told me that when they visited the ER, it took a better part of a day to see anyone.
  • The political climate.  Without going into too much detail, it’s not in the best state.
  • The very many stray {and often abused} dogs…and cock fighting.
  • It can be a more expensive lifestyle if you’re not careful.  Everything is generally more expensive.  You’re not likely to have central AC either.  I go into detail in my e-book about how we keep costs down.  We actually spend and live with less than we have in any other place we’ve lived.  It IS possible.
  • High crime.  However, keep in mind that much of it is gang/personally related.  I do not personally feel unsafe in town.  As with any place in the world, you need to be mindful.
  • As we don’t have children I can’t speak from first hand experience.  I’ve heard both sides of the story about the educational system.  The quality of our schools really depends on who you speak to.
  • If you’re not resourceful, you will find island life to be difficult or impossible.  We’ve had several people leave island because it’s just not for everyone.
  • Lack of modern conveniences.  You have to adapt.  It’s not unusual to go to several different grocery stores to find what you need…and sometimes, you still won’t find it.  Oh, I could lament about the loss of Trader Joe’s forever but it’s important to remember that what the island lacks, it more than compensates with its natural lush beauty.
  • Potholes galore + corrosion = why we can’t have anything nice.  I kid.  Sort of.  We’re luck to have found our “island beater” Josie who has been our favorite truck ever.

The Good:

  • After people see that you’re here for the long haul, your island family will welcome you with strong and steadfast arms.
  • The tropical weather which yields sunshine all year round.
  • Having a bad day?  The water will wash it all away.
  • Nature and being surrounded by it.  There’s always a new beach to discover or another place to hike and explore.  I’m still working my way through my list!
  • World class cuisine.  From a family that’s been churning local ice cream flavors for over 100 years to contemporary fine dining, there are even regular festivals {like Sunset Jazz or Jump Up} and events to celebrate the industry like Taste of St. Croix and St. Croix Food and Wine.  There’s even local beef and lots of fresh seafood.  Oh, don’t get me started on all the amazing seafood!
  • The rum is free flowing, if you’re into that.
  • The rich culture.  Crucians are a proud and beautiful people and this is exemplified by the blend of language, food and tradition.
  • Tons of local farms and produce.  There’s always a fresh fruit rotating in season or new exotic one to try.  I’m a big fruit-fanatic and there are still ones I haven’t had the pleasure of tasting or discovering.
  • Diving/snorkeling, horseback riding, reggae shows, sky diving, swimming, hiking/camping, touring, boating, excursions, island hopping, festivals…there’s always so much to do!  The celebration of LIFE is very apparent here.
  • It’s a simpler way of life.  It’s not important that you shroud yourself in designer labels and pimp out your car.  That was probably one of the most exhausting things about the mainland.  I’ve never been one to care so much about material possessions and St. Croix gets that.  It organically aligns with my minimalist approach.  However, it is a bit of an adjustment when I’m stateside because island life is so casual.  This bit is comically striking to me.
  • Lastly and probably most importantly of all for me, it helped manage my depression and anxiety like nothing else ever has.  I truly believe that the golden rays of sunshine and clear blue waters are the best medicine.

I’ve said it before but even paradise isn’t perfect.  I find that people either love it or hate it here.  It’s a place of perspective. We knew pretty immediately that this was home.  It’s not like that for everyone.  One of our friends left because they didn’t like how hot it was and what an effort day to day can be {depending on your outlook and circumstance}, I had another friend leave because it was “too expensive” but like I mentioned before, it all depends on how you lead your life and what your priorities are because we spend less now than ever before.  Another friend left because life was “too slow and boring.”  Yes, everything is on “island time.”  We lived on an island, stateside before moving here and thought that was really slow but it’s nothing compared to here.  You get used to it and adapt or you get frustrated, grumpy and leave.  As for the “boring” part, I imagine that if you’re not someone who enjoys warm weather, the beach or being active, it’s probably not a place that you’ll feel comfortable in.  If your daily shot of Starbucks, hunting down couture and keeping up with the Joneses is something that’s important to you, St. Croix probably isn’t the best place for those things but what it will gift you instead is an abundance of good vibes, peace, serenity, love and the ever hypnotizing sway of the palm fronds and eternal crash of the waves that may lend you as much comfort as it does me.

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