We get asked this question every. single. day.  Recently though, this question has changed to, “How can I move to Saint John?”  So here’s the deal with what life on a rock is like.  This is Blog Part 1 of both questions because they are related.  You can’t move to Saint John without knowing what it’s like to live here.

 Living on Saint John is awesome.  I love this island and I love that the people here take care of eachother and I love that I can go to the beach whenever I have time and I love that it’s relatively 85 degrees every day and I love that everywhere I go I know people and people know me (granted a lot of people know me as, Joe’s wife, or the blonde girl that captains CatZilla.)   I also love that it took me leaving this place TWICE to really really know that I wanted to be here and make a life for us here.

Leave twice you say?  Yup. Couldn’t wait to get outta here both times!  (also couldn’t have been happier to be back, BOTH Times)  Ahh Island Fever.  It’s a very real thing, which a lot of people don’t understand.

“How could you EVER get tired of this place?”

I’ll tell you how.  All the things that make Saint John amazing are also things that contribute to Island Fever.  It’s Small. It’s expensive.   Everywhere you go people know you or know about you.  It’s sunny and warm 364 days a year.   You rarely have time to go to the beach.  You work, A Lot.  It’s SLOW.  It’s HOT.  I JUST WANT TACO BELL AND TARGET AND REASONABLY PRICED GROCERIES, OKAY?!

Let’s step back for a minute.  Living here is wonderful and weird but you have to adapt.  You also have to understand that it’s okay if sometimes you just need to go to Saint Thomas and sit in the air conditioned dark of the movie theater and pretend you live in the states.   Adapting is a HUGE part of living here, successfully.  A lot of people move down chasing, “The Dream” and forget that they won’t be on vacation while they are here.   We work hard to live here.  Just about everyone I know who has lived here for a long period of time has a college degree, works 12-14 hours a day or has multiple jobs and is relatively happy giving up what would have been an office job with great benefits back in the states. Besides a few of the resort type jobs, we dont have benefits here.  We dont get paid time off.  We don’t have health insurance.  We don’t have a 401k and we definitely don’t have maternity leave.  Some people get lucky and find a job at the Westin or the Ritz and they have those things, but the vast majority don’t.

 You also have to get used to weird things and just get rid of some of life’s comforts that are common in the states.  Most of the people living here get their water from cisterns so there is RARELY an apartment with a bathtub and if you do have a bathtub, you do NOT fill that thing up.  Water is gold here.   Groceries are expensive. SO expensive.  You switch from regular milk to almond milk because for some reason almond milk is half the price.   Produce here is awful, our tomatoes are orange, our oranges yellow, and our strawberries brownish.  And sometimes you just wont find what you’re looking for and you just change your dinner plan.

You are far from family.  One of the hardest things is being away from family when your cousin has a new baby or your sibling started a new job or god forbid something goes wrong and you aren’t there to help your family.  That’s by far the hardest thing, and it makes your once a year trips stateside that much more important. And neccessary.

Bugs.  We have lots and lots of bugs.  Sometimes in your bed, above your bed, and definitely in your kitchen.  Sometimes with you on your pillow.  Leave out a bag of chips on accident; you’ve got a whole colony of ants and if you’re lucky only a small roach in there, but probably a huge one, maybe two.  So just put the chips in the fridge.  Everything goes in the refridgerator here; bread, condiments, salt, especially salt.

I think the biggest thing people don’t get is how much you have to work to survive here.  And if you want to be successful, you really have to work a lot, but it’s the trade off for living here and experiencing a slower life.

“But working on a boat isn’t really work, right?”

“Everyone wants to spend their days on the water, right? “

“This is YOUR JOB?”

Yes, this is our job.  And yes it’s actually work.  While working on the water IS awesome (we DO CHOOSE to do it) it really isn’t all rainbows and sunshine and flat calm water.  It’s 12 hour days, customer service for 8 of those hours, stressful situations, peoples safety in your hands, and lots and lots of time in the sun.

 But it’s also great.  Like really really great. Sometimes in the spring we get to watch humpback whales breach with their babies.  Some days, you’ll have a pod of dolphins jumping and swimming and corralling fish right off the boat.  Some days you’ll snorkel with your guests and show them eels and cleaner shrimp and even get to see an octopus “dance,” and change colors.   And some days the water is flat calm and nothing goes wrong and your guests are great and you end your day with a big, exhausted, smile; SO happy that this is what you do for a living and feeling so lucky that this is where you live.

The trips we do really are the best day of people’s vacation and that’s really special to be a part of.   And days off? Days off can be so incredibly epic.  It’s flat this weekend, want to go to Anegada and eat lobster and snorkel and have cocktails in the most beautiful place on earth? Okay!

Spend your Sunday at Cinnamon or Maho bay playing beach games and drinking cold beer with great friends you haven’t seen in months because you’ve all been working so much. Totally worth it.

Have an afternoon off and decide to hike to Solomon Bay because you haven’t done that in years?

Spend hours under the water at said Bay. Totally worth it.

Watching the sunset on the wall overlooking Cruz Bay with great friends.  Perfection.  Totally worth it.