Cost of Living in St. Croix: Is It An Affordable Retirement Destination?

St. Croix is one of the islands that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands. This small island offers varying landscapes, with dry, almost desert terrain in the east, fertile land in the middle, and the Blue Mountain and rain forest area at the western end. 

St. Croix is also known as the “twin city” for its two towns, Christiansted on the northeast part of the island and Frederiksted on the western end.

It’s the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, situated near the Caribbean island chain’s eastern end. St. Croix is a small island measuring 82 square miles. According to the last U.S. Census in 2010, the population in St. Croix is 50,601.

Are you considering relocating to St. Croix?

Daily expenses in St. Croix is considered high, compared with some of the other islands in the Caribbean. The following information will help to give you a better idea of the finances you would need to make it work.

What is the Cost of Living Index?

Four people snorkeling diving in crystal clear water at St. Croix, Virgin Islands

The cost of living index is a formula used to weigh the prices of goods and services in different cities worldwide. 

This total tells you where a country or city is in the range of affordable to expensive in comparison to other areas. 

The cost of living index for St. Croix isn’t available on its own. It is part of the index for the United States Virgin Islands. It is 89.52.

Food & Dining in St. Croix

A photograph of an appetiser from the Chez Bamboo Restaurant, Spanish Town, Virgin Islands. It shows a round glass plate holding prawns, fried bread, corn, calamari, lemon wedges and two sauces. The plate is sitting on a dark red tablecloth

St. Croix embraces dishes from the various cultures that make up its population. You’ll enjoy a fusion of Caribbean, Indian, African, European, and Latin American dishes. 

Of course, you’ll have lots of seafood to choose from, and locally grown herbs and spices bring mouth-watering flavors whenever they are on a plate.

Prices are similar to what you would expect to pay in most U.S cities. 

Restaurants

  • Casual meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $26.50
  • 3-course at a nice restaurant: $19.00
  • McDonald’s combo: $9.00

Groceries

  • Milk (1 liter): $1.52
  • Loaf of white bread (550 g): $3.54
  • Rice (1 kg): $4.43
  • Eggs (12): $4.00
  • Cheese (1 kg): $9.91
  • Chicken breast filet (1 kg): $15.80
  • Beef round (1 kg): $11.75
  • Tomato (1 kg): $5.69
  • Potato (1 kg): $ 2.07
  • Water (1.5 liter): $2.00
  • Bottle of wine: $11
  • Domestic beer (0.5 liter bottle): $2.57
  • Imported beer (0.33 liter): $3.00
  • Cigarettes (20 count): $5.00
  • Coke/Pepsi (2 liters) $3.91

The Cost of Transportation in St. Croix

An image showing a twin propellor sea plane landing on the ocean in St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Despite the island’s size, you should consider getting a car if you want a reliable transportation mode. Buses don’t run on Sundays and aren’t as frequent as you might be accustomed to, depending on where you live.

The residents of St. Croix have four effective modes of public transportation.

  • Taxi
  • Bus
  • Taxi Bus
  • Tour Services

If you’re considering options outside of public transit, you may want to look into buying a car.

Purchasing a car

  •  A Toyota Corolla Sedan (or equivalent new make and model)

The cost of purchasing a car like this is $38,000.

The cost of a liter of gas is $0.78.

Getting around using public transportation

  • One-way ticket (local bus): $1.00
  • One-way ticket (taxi bus): $2.50
  • Taxi start (normal tariff): $15
  • Taxi 1 km (normal tariff): $4

Housing & Utilities in St. Croix

A photograph showing one of the harbours at St Croix U.S. Virgin Islans, with a row of beach chairs on golden sand, clear green water, and a dozen boats

Of course, you should expect that one of the most vital and often significant expenses is housing and utility bills. Homes and apartments available in St. Croix are similar to prices you’d find in some U.S. cities. You may experience property shortages as the country is still recovering from the last hurricane, and relief workers take up many vacancies.

Below you’ll find the average monthly rent payment for various bedroom counts in houses and apartments, as well as the necessary utility expenses.

Related: Living in Hawaii Pros and Cons

Apartments

Located in the city center

  • 1 bedroom – $1,700
  • 3 bedrooms – $2,925

Located outside the city

  • 1 bedroom – $1,250
  • 3 bedrooms – $2,766.67

Homes

Homes in St. Croix have designs you’ll find in many Caribbean locations. The cost of renting a home will depend on where it’s located, with beachfront properties rented at a premium.

The monthly rent’s average cost will depend on the number of bedrooms and their proximity to the water.

Prices for a 2-3 bedroom house in St. Croix can range anywhere from $3,000 to $12,500.

Related: Cheapest Places to Buy Property in the Caribbean

Utilities

The average cost for cooling, electricity, garbage, and heating for an apartment is $392.25.

You should expect to pay $83 for the internet.

Employment & Income in St. Croix

Due to the island’s size, St. Croix’s job market is considered part of the U.S. Virgin Islands job market. That said, employment opportunities are known to be diverse yet limited. There are various job options in the region, such as skilled and high skilled jobs, private, government, technical, and non-profit sector jobs.

The government is one of the region’s largest employers, employing almost 11% of the workforce. If you’re considering moving to St. Croix and you’re not ready to retire, there is a high demand for high skilled jobs, such as software or chemical engineers, medical professionals, and school teachers.

Of course, being situated in the Caribbean, tourism is always one of the primary industries. The job market continues to stay strong, with foreign investment increasing at a steady rate. The tourism job market is experiencing slow but steady growth.

The average yearly salary for jobs in St. Croix is $52,518.

*The minimum wage is the same for all of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it is currently $10.50.

Childcare Expenses in St. Croix

Childcare in St. Croix is comparable to many U.S. cities. Below you’ll find the monthly and yearly private care and primary school rates. 

·         Preschool/Kindergarten (Full Day, Private): $1,300 (monthly, one child)

·         International Primary School $18,000 (yearly, one child)

Healthcare & Medical Expenses in St. Croix

Since St. Croix is a U.S. territory, residents of the island have access to Medicaid. If you don’t already have health insurance, you should purchase some so you don’t have any concerns if you have any medical issues. St. Croix does have its own hospital, the Juan F. Luis Hospital (JFLH).

General health care costs are very high, including medicinal insurance, non-prescription medication, hospital stays, and doctor visits. As an uninsured patient, the average price of a doctor visit is $85, and a private hospital stay which includes food, diagnostic tests, medications, nursing care, and related costs, is $2,602.

Related: Expat Insurance

Clothing & Shoes in St. Croix

You can find the main shopping areas in the twin cities of Christiansted and Frederiksted. The shops are either in a historic building or near them, many of them situated on the harbor front. Here are some of the prices for clothing suitable for a tropical environment.

Casual Clothing

  • 1 pair of jeans (Lee, Levis, or similar): $57
  • 1 summer dress or spring skirt (Zara, H & M): $60

Shoes

  • 1 pair of running shoes (Nike or Adidas): $83
  • 1 pair of men’s business shoes: $50

Taxes & Legal Information

Taxes and legal information in St. Croix are based on U.S. Virgin Islands legislation. There is no state income tax, nor is there any retail sales tax.

Property Tax

There are two types of property tax in St. Croix, one for homes (0.00377 x purchase price) and the other for land (0.004946 x purchase price).

Hotel Tax

Any rentals that have a period shorter than three months are subject to a 12.5% hotel tax.

Gross Receipts Tax

There is a 5% gross receipts tax for business owners, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors on income over $9,000.

Entertainment

There are lots of things to do to keep you entertained in St. Croix, regardless of what your interests are. Whether you’re an art lover, enjoy wildlife or want to explore the deep sea, there are many activities to do! Enjoy live music on a sunset cruise or snorkel at Buck Island; you won’t run out of things to do.

If you want to keep it low-key, the cost of a ticket to the movies will cost you $8.75, and a monthly gym pass will cost $105 per month.

Related: Moving to St. Croix

What to Expect Before Arrival

You don’t want any surprises once you’ve arrived in St. Croix, so you’ll want to know all of the costs involved in getting set up and what your monthly expenses are.

Immigration Costs

If you’re a U.S. citizen, there are no immigration costs to be concerned about since St. Croix is a U.S. territory. For people living outside the U.S., you will need a valid passport and a work visa to start, and then you can apply for your resident alien status; the cost for this is $220. 

There isn’t a set fee for a work permit in St. Croix. Work permit fees are salary-based. When you apply for the permit, you advise immigration of the compensation you will receive, and the permit fee is a percentage of that.

Can I Use USD in St. Croix?

Yes, you can! As mentioned previously, the island is a U.S. territory, so the U.S. dollar is the currency.

How Much Cash Can I Bring into St. Croix?

The maximum amount you can bring into the country in cash, money order, or check form is $10,000. You must report any amount over that maximum to customs upon entry.

How Much Does it Cost to Live Comfortably in St. Croix?

Based on some of the numbers provided above and the feedback from those actually living there, the estimate is that you can live comfortably on $2,937 per month.

The cost of living is relatively high in St. Croix, being comparable to some U.S. cities; this isn’t an island where you get more out of your dollar; many of your expenses will be the same as it were at home. It will be necessary for you to have a plan for generating an income while you’re living in St. Croix. 

How Much Do You Need to Retire in St. Croix?

The cost of retirement depends on the type of lifestyle you want to live and whether you choose to buy or rent your home; however, $2,937 per month seems to be a good starting point.

If you are comfortable living an economical lifestyle, you can survive on less, without spending much on entertainment every week. For those who prefer to enjoy leisure activities or a nicer home, you’ll need to add at least $100 extra per month. 

Sample Monthly Budget

  • Housing: $1,250
  • Utilities: $392.25
  • Transportation: $20
  • Entertainment: $10
  • Gas: $50
  • Food: $100

*Total Monthly Expenses: $1,822.25

Final Thoughts

You can definitely experience an excellent quality of life in St. Croix. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you have the bonus of no immigration red-tape to navigate through! 

As long as you’re okay with the fact that you won’t be able to vote in a Presidential election after you relocate, you’re good to go. Unlike some islands in the Caribbean, you won’t be able to rely on the strength of the U.S. dollar since the currency is the same.

Relocating to St. Croix is the perfect choice if you’re ready to experience island living to its fullest. 

This means making sure you pack your patience and mentally prepare yourself for a slower pace of life. While there are many things that this U.S. territory has in common with its mainland counterparts, the fast-paced culture isn’t one of them.

If you live in a state that gets winter weather and you’re ready to escape to somewhere warm, consider St. Croix. You might not experience a significant change in your cost of living, but you’ll experience temperatures averaging in the mid-80s and never have to travel too far to get to a beach. What could be better than that?

Related: English Speaking Caribbean Islands

References

Plan your move to St. Croix. Retrieved 19 March 2021 from https://www.gotostcroix.com/guides/st-croix-relocation/  

Cost of Living in St. Croix. Numbeo.com. Retrieved 19 March 2021 from https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/St-Croix-Us-Virgin-Islands

Cost of LIving Review U.S. Virgin Islands. Xpatulator.com. Retrieve 19 March 2021 from https://www.xpatulator.com/cost-of-living-review/US-Virgin-Islands-All-Areas_1013.cfm