Karen

Living in the Caribbean

Saw this and just had to post it. Comes close – both good and bad of living on a small island.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-walkins/9-definitive-reasons-why-_b_6496914.html

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Karen

Workin it!

Here I am ‘working’ hard at Mini Mangos using their free wifi. This is a great place to kick back, relax, and have a drink while watching the cruise ship passengers come and go. I just found out that Mini Mangos is also renting out the Galaxy Tab for $20/day from Jont. You can connect using the 3G data network and take it around the island with you all day as your personal tour guide. It has places to go, things to see, stores, etc and how to get there all at your fingertips.

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Karen

Great Opportunity – 2 unit Condo

How many times do you hear about a condo with a separate unit that you can rent out? Well here you go! This beautifully remodeled condo has a spacious one bedroom upstairs with a wrap around deckand gorgeous views of Vieques, Culebra, and Puerto Rico! The lower unit is a smaller one bedroom with all brand new appliances, its own entrance, deck and parking! You can live in one and rent out the other or rent out both!! Add in the beautiful pool area, great location to town, and low condo fees and you have a winner!

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Karen

Vacation Ritz Carlton Style

 this could be your viewWhen you come to a beautiful island, you just want to relax and play in the sand and turquoise water.  No worries about making beds, cleaning dishes, cooking, or finding a place to eat out all the time with enough room for you and the kids. 

Welcome to the Ritz Carlton Club Suites.  At the Ritz Club Suites you have two bedrooms – in the master suite, a king size bed and in the other bedroom are two queens.  Twice a day maid service, and three meal presentations a day so you dont have to find a restaurant for every meal.  If you do find yourself with leftovers or if you feel like cooking, there is a bistro kitchen in the unit.  There is even a washer and dryer since you will be staying for two weeks at a time in the winter. 

Master bedroom

Just imagine being steps from one of the most beautiful beaches on St Thomas.  When you wake up in the morning, your view is of palm trees, white sand, and water so blue and clear you can almost make out the fish swimming in the shallows from your room.

                                       Ritz Carlton suites

 Come on down and see what the Ritz Carlton lifestyle is all about.

 

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Karen

Lets talk Condos

For those who do not know – a condo, or condominium unit, is like an apartment building except instead of renting, you can own individual units just like any other piece of real estate.  Condos are similar to townhouses (explanation of townhouse at end of post)

GOOD STUFF… 

For many people who purchase here, the purchase is an investment and they are not on island to keep an eye on the place.  The purchase of a condo may be the best option for them because the outside maintenance is taken care of.  All you would need to do is find people to rent it to and make sure the inside is ready for any arrivals.  There are several property management companies( www.saintthomasvacationrentals.com ) on island who can “keep your calender” and hire maid service for you.

There is a “condo fee” associated with this service of outside maintenance to pay for materials and labor.  The outside maintenance usually consists of landscaping, amenity maintenance (i.e. pool, beach chairs, tennis court, golf course, gym), parking lots, security, and general upkeep of the outside of the buildings (paint, deck or entrance repair, etc).  General upkeep is something you would have to spend money on even if you had a house.  The condo association is just taking care of it for you instead of you needing  separate numbers for the landscaper, pool guy, painter, etc. 

Purchasing a condo is also an affordable way to buy waterfront property.  For a fraction of the price of buying a piece of waterfront property or a house on the water, you can have a lovely 1, 2, or 3 bedroom home on the water or at the very least, a very short walk to the water.

NOT SO GOOD STUFF…

This is not to say that you can assume the association will act in YOUR best interest.  Please keep up to date with any notifications or meetings and feel free to request accounts of how and when your condo fees are spent.  Outside companies are sometimes hired to manage funds.  Keep on top of them and keep them honest.

Condo fees run from about $200/month – $1800/month.  This amount is in addition to your mortgage and taxes although it typically  includes  homeowners  insurance.  Insurance is expensive here because we are in the hurricane belt.  Ask to see the complexes’ blanket policy and reserve fund. 

There is also a term called a “special assessment” that may be added at any time to address unexpected expenses that come up.  These assessments may be a one time fee per instance, or if it is a substantial sum, the complex may give the option of spreading the fee out over several months.  You can join your condo board to give your input about how the fees and assessments are spent.

Townhouses are similar to condos in that the outside maintenance is taken care of and you have restrictions as to what you can put on the outside.  The main difference is that townhouses typically are tall, skinny structures with two or more floors and one or two walls adjacent to the next town home.  There is not another unit above or below you.   While we do have some structures that would usually be called a townhouse, there is not a separate designation on St Thomas, St Croix, or St John.  All multi unit structures are listed as “condos”.

Stay tuned next time for “Who can take care of my new Caribbean home while I’m not there?”

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Karen

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…

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