It’s a dream for many — picking up and moving to the Caribbean. And every year, many people do just that. Of course, moving to any island has its own benefits and challenges — and we’re here to help. Our new How to Move series asks Caribbean experts some of the most important questions about moving to any island. In the inaugural edition, we talk to Peter Briggs, broker/owner of John Foster Real Estate, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Why should I move to St Thomas, USVI ?
Some of the most beautiful water, beaches, boating, fishing, diving, and sailing in the world. Fantastic year round climate.
And can I live there? What are the residency laws, etc?
Yes, 30 days and you can obtain residency (with voter registration and driver’s license). You will no longer be able to vote in the USA, however will be eligible to vote in the Virgin Islands.
What are the advantages of living permanently vs part time?
Besides being able to enjoy all of the above all year long, you will find a friendly, relaxed pace of life, within a small town atmosphere, yet also be stimulated by the many visitors, businesspeople, and new residents from all walks of life, and many cultures. Convenient island hopping is a blast! For those with qualifying businesses, the US Virgin Islands also has an Economic Development Commission (EDC) and tax beneficiary status, which if combined with residency, offers up to a 90-percent exemption from (mirror) federal tax code (liability) to our own Virgin Island Internal Revenue Bureau for both your business, and dividends passing through to your personal return.
How much does the average home cost?
Our average residential transaction is just over $500,000 and residential vacation villas start at about $ 700,000.
How much does a beachfront condo cost?
Vacation rental condos range from $ 150,000 – 500,000.
How much does it cost to build a home?
Basic construction is at $250 per square foot, with higher quality design & construction at $350-400 square feet.
What are the real estate taxes like?
Relatively low. Approximately $ 750 per $ 100,000 of valuation.
What are income taxes like?
Identical to the United States, as we mirror federal tax codes to our own Virgin Island Internal Revenue Bureau, where as a resident you will be required to file instead of with the IRS.
Can I work here?
No problem for US residents … see income tax filing (above).
What’s health care like?
We have good facilities, and excellent physicians. Air medical insurance is affordably available, which in case of emergency,will fly you to your doctor/ health facility of choice.
What’s it like for kids?
They will love it here if they enjoy the water. We have excellent private schools (Antilles & Montessori) rivaling some of the best in the US (SAT exam scores and college placement).
Can I bring my car? What’s the duty?
Yes, shipping runs +/- $ 1100 for small / medium car (preferred due to our limited parking), and duty 2.5 percent on foreign- made cars less than two years of age.