Buyer’s Guide to the US Virgin Islands
Cost of Living, Property Taxes & Considerations for BuyersWith 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
AreasThe 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.
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.
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 InfoThe 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!