Karen

One way to spend a day in the Caribbean

Each island in the Caribbean has it’s own feel, it’s own flavor, it’s own style!  St Thomas has the cruise ships, St Croix has some great golfing, St John has hiking and camping.  They all have shopping and great SCUBA diving!  But when you want to get a stamp in your passport, the easiest way to do that is to enjoy a day on Jost Van Dyke.

White Bay

White Bay

Jost Van Dyke (pronounced yost) is one of the smallest of the British Virgin Islands.  Jost’s population is about 220 people.  However, it has some of the most popular bars on it.  Foxy’s, One Love, and of course Soggy Dollar.  Soggy Dollar even has a web cam http://soggydollarbar.com/ 

Renting a boat for the day is how you get there.  There are several different boating options from a ‘bare boat’ to a three cabin yacht.

However you get there, it’s always a great day!

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Karen

St John Carnival

St John Carnival time is here!  Fourth of July weekend every year is cause for double celebration here in the US Virgin Islands.

Each island has its own Carnival to celebrate celebrating!  Jouvert (pronounced joo-vay) means first night.  Jouvert kicks off Carnival weekend with a parade commencing at 4am.   Colorful costumes, local music and food means everyone has a good time.

carnival-2009-7-225x300

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Karen

St John Hiking

Well, the last hike was so much fun, we went again.  This time my brother and his family are on island so it was a great way to spend the day together in the sun without just sitting on the beach all day drinking (which is ok too!).

For this hike, we took the car ferry from Red Hook on St Thomas to Franks Bay on St John.  The people ferry is now $12.20 per person round trip and the car ferry is $53 round trip.  Since there were five people going and we were headed to the east end of St John it made a lot more sense to ride the car ferry.

Our destination for this hike was Rams Head.  This is a part of the island on the east end that when viewed from the trails looks like a charging ram.  It is an easy to moderate hike.  There is a parking area at the top, a smooth downhill walk to a sandy beach (perfect for a picnic lunch after the hike), after the beach is the Salt Pond, then a moderate trail to the top of Rams Head.  The views from the top of the trail are fantastic!

Make sure to bring plenty of water.  We had a beautiful but overcast day and even I went through almost a gallon of water.  After the hike we went to the car to bring down our packed lunch and enjoyed the rest of the day on the beach.  My friend and my brother went for a long snorkel.  I took a nap on the beach 🙂

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Karen

St John hiking

I will be heading to St John this morning.  St John is a short 20 minute ferry ride away from St Thomas.  The ferrys run every hour on the hour from both directions.  Going to St John is a great way to spend a few hours, an afternoon, or you can make a whole day of it.  Some just go for lunch or dinner and come back. 

It is looking to be another beautiful day in the Virgin Islands and a friend and I will be hiking so I can get some exercize!  (ooohhh boy, its been a while).  We are going to take the 8 am people ferry and start out on a 2 mile trail.

St John is 2/3 National Park.  The Rockafellers used to own the island.  The Rockafellers donated  most of the land to the Government for use as a national park.  This means that  most of the land on St John can never be built on and will remain as beautiful and untouched as when Columbus first discovered it in 1493. The park service has made many hiking trails and there are several maps to help you choose where you want to go.  There are old ruins and petroglyphs and beautiful beaches to see, just pick your trail.

We picked an easy one for my first time hiking in ummm, well, years.  The trail begins just outside of Mongoose Junction when you head toward the National Park entrance/info center so we can walk to it from the ferry.  Wish me luck!

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Karen

Finally a homeowner!

I am finally a homeowner myself here in the beautiful US Virgin Islands.  AAAHHHHHHH…the wonders of homeownership.  The cleaning, the spackleing, the painting, the renting…Oh, did I mention I now have apts to rent?  Well I do. 

There is a very nice 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment on the lower level.  It has a large kitchen and is about 1000sf.   It will be available to rent Nov 1.

I am fixing up the 3bedroom, 2.5 bathroom main unit now.  It will be ready mid to end of Nov.  It also has a large kitchen, wrap around porch on the main level and a balcony on two of the bedrooms.  It is about 2600 square feet. 

Both have beautiful views from Inner Brass off Magens Bay all the way to Tortola and St John.  Windows on all sides, so there are great cross breezes!!  The house is on 8/10 acre and is mostly fenced at the end of a dead end road.  Both come fully furnished.  I will accept pets, but if the pets are not taken care of, the owner has to go!

Contact me at islandrealestate@joimail.com for more info!

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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

Welcome To The US Virgin Islands Real Estate Blog

Welcome to the first and only St. Thomas Real Estate Blog. My name is Karen Korsgren (“Island K”) and I work for Remax Dream Properties in St. Thomas.

I sell real estate in the US Virgin Islands as well as the British Virgin Islands but I concentrate on St. Thomas because that is where I lay my flip flops. I’ll be posting articles on what’s happening with real estate in the Virgin Islands as well as local news.

I hope you like the blog and look forward to helping you answer any real estate questions you may have. I would like to give a B.I.G. shout out to those wonderful ex-pats at BrandIdentityGuru.com and StThomasBlog.com who made this awsome blog possible.

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