Part 2. Making it happen.
In the past few weeks I have been asked quite a few times how to move to Saint John, so here’s part two of the answer in Moving To The Caribbean. Check out part 1 here.
My normal answer, “just do it, don’t be afraid. If you really want to move, just make it happen,” actually isn’t really that helpful. I’ve now lived on Saint John for over 9 years, and to me, it’s normal. It’s normal to have a list of errands and only get half of them done, that’s a successful day. It’s normal to find various bugs (scorpions, tarantula, acid spiders, etc.) in my house; in my kitchen no less. It’s normal to drive on the left. It’s normal to conserve water, not buy certain products because of their cost, and it’s totally normal to spend an average Tuesday here:
Let me back up. I moved to Saint John when I was 20, by myself, fresh out of college and not ready for a serious job yet. I spent my first year working at Maho Bay Campground, which some of you may fondly remember, and then after that started to get serious about living and making a life for myself here. Living here actually isn’t easy. But if you can let the difficult things go and really continue to appreciate where you live, it’s not so bad! (think awesome actually)
I got lucky and met Joe here 7 years ago. Single life here is hard because it’s such a transient place that you might fall in love with someone whose plan is to leave in 3 months. ouch. Luckily for Joe and I, neither one of us had a plan to leave and when we finally did leave island, it was a (mostly) mutual decision. It was time to go. And when we came back, we were both SO ready to come back. I remember the car barge back over to Saint John in our rental car with our dog on my lap and all our luggage in the back. I couldn’t be happier. That first ferry ride to Saint John when you are moving here is one you’ll never forget. Saint John is absolutely my home.
The actual moving part is pretty easy too. Let’s simplify it. I’d recommend visiting first and trying to “live” here, look for housing, talk to locals and see if it still feels right.
If it does, sell as much of your stuff as possible back home. And then when you think you’ve sold enough, sell more. You don’t need a lot here. Buy an open ended ticket. Ship the necessities. Book a stay at a budget hotel for the first two-four weeks. Then do it. Move down, find housing, get a job, and enjoy life in the Caribbean! Being open minded about said job and housing will ease the move. Maybe you will have to wait tables for the first six months, but you’ll probably meet someone along the way who will tell you about an incredible job opportunity that you are PERFECT for. That happens all the time here.
The hardest part right now is going to be finding housing and you really can’t rent an apartment without actually BEING here. Apartments cost a pretty penny and are few and far between right now due to the amount of people living here and moving here. Our living situation is a little funny and very island typical. When Joe and I moved back from Charleston, we needed a cheap place and fast. That’s where word of mouth and friends came in very handy. We moved into what we lovingly refer to as the shack; a wooden 500 square foot cottage nestled on a hillside in the center of the island. It’s cheap, it’s private, it’s safe, and when we are working 7 days a week during high season; it’s all we need. However, that’s a hard transition to make when moving from America. But if you’re up for a change and comfortable with living minimally for a while, you can do it. Not every apartment here is as islandy and quirky as ours. You can find a nice apartment with tile floors and two bedrooms but you’re going to pay around 2k per month for that, plus utilities. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a one bedroom thats nice and in a good location for around 1,200 but that’s hard to find. Again, an open mind about what is “nice” will help out immensely here.
Jobs. Everyone wants to know about jobs. Here’s the deal. If you can show up on time every day, and control the drinking (it’s an island pasttime) you can get a job. And again, you most likely won’t get a job until you’re here. If you stay here for over a year and can do the above while networking; you can find a great job. Maybe even a job you really really enjoy, I know a lot of people who live here and really enjoy their jobs. A lot more than in the states, especially because office jobs are hard to come by and are not very highly coveted.
What is coveted; working on the water. See my excerpt in “What’s it like living on Saint John” for more on this.
Dogs. You have two huge furry dogs in the states and you want to bring them with you. My advice. Leave them there with a trusted family member until you’re sure you want to be here and you’re sure it’s healthy for them to be here. Even with smaller dogs, it’s really stressful for them to travel all the way down here and back again when it doesn’t work out. And for dogs not used to the heat, it’s hard to get used to. Our dog is a rescue from the local shelter and the travel back and forth to Charleston was A LOT for her. Think of their best interests, before you make that big decision. I know a lot of people who have “moved here” and only lasted a month or two, that’s a quick turn around for dogs. That being said, if you’re sure. Bring them! Dogs love the beach, the freedom here, and the local vet is fantastic.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is,”Just do it, don’t be afraid. If you really want to move, just make it happen.” It’s really worth it in the long run.