Is a House Right For You?

When purchasing here, remember “buyer beware”. At this time, St Thomas does not require a sellers disclosure or a termite warranty. A home inspection is a very good idea especially for anyone new to the islands because there are certain things to look for that do not occur in most areas of the United States.

For example, almost all homes in the US Virgin Islands use a cistern. A cistern is basically a well that is built into the foundation of the house. The cistern holds water that is collected from the roof when it rains and is then pumped throughout the house to kitchens and baths. Drinking cistern water is not recommended as everything on the roof ends up in the cistern. There are, however, several ways of filtering the water to make it drinkable. Checking the cistern and gutter system for leaks and checking the filtering system (if any) is just one reason to hire a home inspector.

Now that you have decided to own real estate on St Thomas, do you want to buy a house, a condo, or a piece of land to build on.

In the US Virgin Islands, multi-unit houses with a main house and one to three apartments are typical. This is wonderful if you are looking for an investment property or just someone else to help you with your mortgage. A financial institution will consider 75% of your rental income as personal income. This means you can qualify for more house. You do still have to come up with the down payment which is typically twenty percent.

The extra unit(s) can be rented short term (vacation) or long term (yearly). The nicer the house the better chance of renting short term to vacationers who would like a unique island experience. This would also mean you can stay there when you visit if you are not quite ready to be on island full time.

There are people on island who caretake villas for a living. They can keep your calender (for short term rentals), interview tenants (for long term rentals), be the maid service, gardener, pool boy, and repairman. Your basic goto guy.

Ahhh, but that is a blog for another day…


  1. July 4, 2008 @ 10:33 am

    BIG Kahuna Said,

    Great article Karen!

    Nicci and I bought a “wholehouse” water filter system. This includes charcoal, Micron and UV filters. The system cost $1500 and then another $600 to install. Well worth it as we have crystal clear water now.

    As far as home inspections go “buyer beware” on that as well. Our inspector missed all kinds of problems. We didn’t catch them until our walkthrough and by that time it was too late. I would recommend that you be there for your inspection (we could not) and ask lots of questions. I would also hire a termite company to inspect on your own.

  2. June 22, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    Brenda Stringfellow Said,

    I looking for best options to live in the VI for a few years. I plan on getting a job w/the Gov. and would be there a min. of 4 years. What is a good plan for living there. I can afford to buy a house but would that be a good idea. I would want to stay in the 200k range. But renting is what I had in mind unless buying would be cheaper in the long run instead of throwing rent money out the window.


  3. September 14, 2012 @ 9:36 am

    Karen Said,

    If you are in the $200k range I would suggest considering purchasing a condo. We have some very nice one bedroom condos available. Some are waterfront or beachfront. Since you may leave in 4 years, you can rent it out if you don’t want to sell it.

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