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Buyer’s Guide to the US Virgin Islands

Buyer’s Guide to the US Virgin Islands

Cost of Living, Property Taxes & Considerations for Buyers

With our sunny climate and unique culture, the US Virgin Islands is an increasingly popular destination for remote workers, retirees, and second homeowners seeking real estate. For Americans in particular, the beautiful US Virgin Islands is a coveted destination for a beach home. Before buying a home, it's a good idea to consult our buyer's guide to for information on the cost of living in the US Virgin Islands, tips for negotiating, local info & more. Prepare yourself for making the jump into our tropical Caribbean waters.


All About Living in the US Virgin Islands

Areas

The US Virgin Islands are comprised of three major islands - St John, St Croix, St Thomas - plus Water Island, the littlest of the US Virgin Islands.

St Croix Real Estate Market Info
About St Croix: The largest and best-known of the US Virgin Islands. St Croix has an abundant coastline and excellent waterfront access for beach activities. St Croix is frequented by travelers and retirees seeking relaxation, coastline, and local cuisine.

St Thomas Real Estate Market Info
About St Thomas: St Thomas has a wonderful community atmosphere, with great shopping, nightlife, golfing for those who like a little more activity on the island.  Between the beautiful views and the buzzing community, St Thomas is an easy choice for a destination home.

St John Real Estate Market Info
St John: St John is the smallest of the three main islands, with about 60% of its land dedicated to Virgin Islands National Park.  To visualize, explore our St. John Map. For those looking for privacy and easy access to the lush hiking trails in the park, St. John is an easy pick.

Demographics

According to the 2010 census, the population of the US Virgin Islands is as follows:

  • St Thomas: Population of 51,634
  • St Croix: Population of 50,601
  • Water Island: 182
  • St John: Population of 4,170

Cost of Living in The US Virgin Islands

Cost of Living in the US Virgin Islands by Sea Glass Properties



USVI Property Tax Info

The Virgin Islands’ tax program is one of the most competitive tax benefits packages in the world. All the tax laws in effect in the US are “mirrored” to the US Virgin Islands, with VI residents paying income taxes to the islands instead of the US. For those who qualify, this can result in up to a 90% reduction in income taxes and a 100% exemption on property taxes. Depending on the type of property you own on the U.S. Virgin Islands, you will be required to pay a percentage of the property’s assessed value in taxes. Below are the tax rates by property type.
  • Residential Property – .003770
  • Land – .004946
  • Commercial Property –.007110


Utilities in the Virgin Islands:

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) generates and distributes electricity to approximately 55,000 customers throughout the territory. It also provides desalinated, potable water to 13,000 customers in the major commercial and residential centers. Because of its reliance on fuel oil and continually escalating crude oil prices worldwide, WAPA’s customer rates are generally higher than in most regions of the United States. WAPA charges about 56 cents per kilowatt versus an average of 12 cents per kilowatt state side. Basically, electricity is pretty pricey here in the Virgin Islands, but lowering your WAPA bill can be as easy as using ceiling fans rather than air conditioning units, using LED or CFL bulbs, washing clothes in cold water, using a clothes line, and letting dishes air dry. Additionally, you can consider a long term investment in a solar water heater. Learn more about WAPA.


Considerations for Buyers

Is Buying Right for Me?

The top four reasons people decide to purchase a home have nothing to do with monetary considerations; such as having a place to raise and school their children, a place where their family will safe, adequate living space for growing families, and to have a sense of ownership and control over the property.

Additionally, there are several monetary positives on the side of home ownership, such as tax incentives and the building of equity. If you can afford the upfront costs of buying instead of renting, buying is a great long investment. An advantage to homeownership  is the chance to build equity through the property’s value. You also have the advantage of a set mortgage payment that won’t fluctuate the way rental prices do. Rather than renting and helping your landlord pay off his mortgage, each mortgage payment you make helps you save for the future. And if you ever do sell the home, you could walk away with a lot of money in your pocket.

This does, however, come with annual maintenance and repair costs in addition to the time you’ll spend hiring workers or doing the projects yourself. When you rent, you have much less to worry about when it comes to the actual property. If anything goes wrong or needs replacing, your landlord is the one who has to sort it out (and pay the bill). But on the flip side, owning provides you the opportunity to do as you like with the property such as tearing down walls, building additions, owning a pet, or hosting visitors. With a home, the property is your oyster!

Negotiating Price

Be prepared to negotiate price when buying a home by researching answers to the right questions. You need data points and information to work from, including what price similar homes have recently sold for; how far above or below asking do they normally sell for; how long do homes stay on the market compared with the home you’re buying or selling? It is esstntial to be clear on these questions, the real estate market data, and your budget so you can act swiftly yet intelligently when the right opportunity arises. Learn more about 5 Essential Negotiating Tips for Buying a Home.



Making the Move

Congratulations -- all is said and done and you are ready to make the move! Sea Glass Properties is here to help. Explore more articles from out blog including:  

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