Owning a home on St. Croix is in some ways just like home ownership anywhere else in the United States, but certainly there are some key differences and general knowledge that you should know. Because the U.S. Virgin Islands are a territory of the United States, the same ownership laws apply. You can buy title insurance (I strongly encourage ALL buyers to obtain title insurance) that will protect you against any defects in the chain of title prior to your purchase. Another real benefit to buying in a U.S. island is that you do not need need to “apply” for the privilege of purchasing a property as in other non U.S. islands. Nor are there any restrictions on “speculating” in terms of requirements to build on the property within a certain period of time after purchase. You may buy property and “hold” it as an investment as long as you like.
Comparing St. Croix vs. Stateside
Apartment vs. Rec Room
Many properties here have an apartment, either attached or detached. Apartments can provide an additional source of income to offset some of your carrying costs or can be Ideal living quarters for a “house sitter” if this is a second/investment home. If you live on island year round and do not want to rent out your apartment, it is great extra space for all the friends you will have visiting you in paradise!
Cistern vs. City Water
Nearly all houses have a cistern, with the exception of the few properties that are connected to city water near Christiansted and Frederiksted. You can think of a cistern as a water tight storage tank usually located where a stateside house would have a basement. Rainwater is collected from the roof and funneled down various downspouts directly into your cistern. If your cistern runs dry, water can be purchased by the truckload from several water delivery companies.
Carport vs. Garage
Most houses do not have garages as the need for sheltering your vehicle from the winter weather is not an issue in the islands and the benefits do not outweigh the cost of construction for many owners. However, many homeowners opt for a less expensive way to protect their vehicle from the sun by building a carport.
Hypolon Roof Coating vs. Asphalt Shingles
While most houses in the states utilize asphalt shingles as a roof covering, it is almost non existent here on St. Croix. The most common roof coverings are hypalon, metal and tile. Hypalon is an elastomeric roof coating that is applied directly to the plywood roof surface. It can be rolled on much like paint. It requires re-coating every 3-5 years. Metal in the form of either a corrugated galvanized or standing seam product is another type. It can be custom ordered in a variety of colors. Keep in mind that while many of the colors are attractive, white will be the best color for reflecting the heat of the sun. And unlike many stateside homes, most houses here do not have attics to insulate the house from the heat radiated through the roof. There are many types of tile available on the market, including clay and concrete.
Exposed Rafters vs. Attics
As mentioned above, most houses here do not have attics, rather exposed rafters and beams that are aesthically milled and finished. Some have sheet rock ceilings that can help insulate from the heat of the roof.
Concrete Construction vs. Wood Frame Construction
While there are many wood and steel framed houses on the island, concrete block and poured concrete remains the most prevalent type of construction. Also, unlike many stateside houses, the exterior shell of the houses is generally a finish plaster. Insurance premiums tend to be higher for non concrete structures.
House Shutters for Protection vs. House Shutters for Decoration
All houses on St. Croix need some form of hurricane protection. While the shutters attached to the houses in the states are for decoration, ours are for storm protection. There are a variety of products available for storm protection, including roll down shutters, wooden shutters, accordion shutters, hurricane impact glass, aluminum and clear panels and fabric shutters.
Tile vs. Carpeting
Wall to wall carpeting is seldom used in the tropical climates due to the obvious issues with moisture and humidity levels. The most common flooring is tile.
Showers vs. Bathtubs
Very few houses have bathtubs in them as water conservation is part of the island lifestyle.
Native Landscaping vs. Manicured Lawns
There are very few large grassy lawns. Most owners choose to let the native “grass” take over and keep it trimmed. Sod lawns are both expensive to install due to importing and expensive to maintain due to the large amount of water needed to keep it green. For those houses with a well, landscape watering is not as much an issue.
Septic Systems vs. City Sewer
Most houses, with the exception of those connected to city sewer, must have a septic tank. Governmental agencies sometimes require sewage treatment systems instead of a septic system depending on your proximity to the ocean. While upfront costs may be more than a traditional septic, you have the added benefit of clean waste water that is suitable for landscape irrigation.
Generator vs. No Generator
Most homes have generators due to the occasional power outages as well as the loss of power due to hurricanes.
Unpaved Neighborhoods vs. Paved Neighborhoods
Many neighborhoods do not have paved roads as it can be cost prohibitive to homeowners associations. The neighborhoods without paving typically grade the roads each year. There are several exceptions to this, so if paved neighborhood roads are a must, please let us know.
Unfurnished vs. Furnished
Most properties are sold furnished or partially furnished as the cost of shipping the furnishings to the states often costs as much or more than the value of the furniture. Sellers will typically only bother shipping items of significant monetary or sentimental value. Unless a property has an assortment of valuable furniture and/or antiques, we typically do not negotiate the inventory as a separate part of the sale, rather as part of the purchase price.