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Relocating to St. Kitts

New Road
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Relocating to St. Kitts

OK - I've been watching this forum for a while and have some questions... thought you might be able to help, cause you are such a helpful bunch! I've been to St. Kitts a few times, and really love it there.

I'm considering making a move there. I know finding work is difficult, so is getting citizenship due to the $$$. Has anyone done this, contemplated this? I'm in desperate and need of advice, suggestions, tips, help and anything anyone has to offer! I'd love to hear the pros and cons. So if you have anything to share on this topic, please help me out!!!

Thanks-

Desperatly seeking St. Kitts

Basseterre, St...
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1. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

I too have considered relocating to St. Kitts. My father is from St. Kitts so I am able to get citizenship this way. I put in my paperwork in September and have yet to hear anything! It could take up to a year.

The other problem you will find is getting employment while you are there. You will need a work visa.

You will definitely need a car while you are there and food and accommodations can be expensive. The cost of living is very high and depending on your trade I don't think the salaries are very high.

I'm sure you will hear from Shiggidy Girl soon with her perspective....

New Road
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2. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

Wow Liz, good for you! I hope it works out for you, sounds easier for you then for me with your dad being from St. Kitts and all - my stupid parents aren't from St. Kitts - how rude of them, they could have made my life a bit easier!! HA HA!

Keep me posted though I'd love to hear about the process.

I guess I'm most concerned with the little details too, like how the heck do you pick up and move. How do you have the bluk of your stuff sent to the island, how do you acquire housing from afar. How do you apply for a work visa, do you have to have a promise of employment first?

What if you just want to go for an extended period of time, and stay with friends for a while.. until you figure that out, is that allowed?

What do you have to do with money and stuff (taxes)if you give up your US address.... what about the proceeds from the sale of a home in the US, do you owe the US money if you don't put it back in a house here, or do you go to SK and open an account and put it there....

Are these crazy questions.... sorry. I spend a lot of time thinking/talking/dreaming about this!!!!

Thanks!!! Any and all help is appreciated!!!!

Nevis
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3. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

I'll try to answer some of your questions and I hope you get a chance to read them as sometimes the moderators on this forum delete posts that are not related to tourism.

First - you cannot just pick up and move to St. Kitts. If you plan on staying for an extended period you must apply for permanent residency which requires that you invest at least $250,000US in property or a business that will provide jobs for the locals. Assuming you are not going to invest in a business you must also prove you have the financial means to support yourself since you will not be allowed to work on the island without a work permit. The residency process can take up to a year or more during which time you may not reside permanently on the island - normally a non-resident will be granted a 30 day visitor's visa that is renewable for additional 30 day periods up to a maximum of 6 months in any calendar year. There is, however, no guarantee your visitor's visa will be extended. You will hear stories of people who stay 6 months leave the island for a day and return for another 6 months. While this occasionally happens it is not "legal" and if done can be cause for deportation. Residency is not the same as citizenship which is a completely different process and can take up to 7 years.

Having residency does not give you the right to work on the island. For that you must obtain a work permit. To get one you must first find an employer who is willing to sponsor you and you possess a unique skill. Your potential employer must prove to the Labor Ministry that there are no locals qualified to fill the position. position. The work permit process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Work Permits, when granted, are good for one year and there's no guarantee they will be renewed. Similarly, even though there may be no qualified locals there is no guarantee the government will grant you the Work Permit. Technically you may not live or work on the island while the Work Permit is being processed but some applicants do remain on island as a non-working visitor - if you try this don't get caught.

Now, assuming you are approved for residency I'll try to answer your other questions.

Personal Belongings - You'll have to ship your personal belonging much the same as if you were relocating to another town or city from where you now live. If you plan on shipping furniture, etc. you must first arrange to get it to a major port like Miami. Using a freight forwarder your goods will be sent by container ship to St. Kitts where you will have to have a local agent clear items through customs and arrange delivery to you new residence. Goods you import into St. Kitts will be charged import duty (around 30%) on their value (unless you apply for and are granted "First Arrival Privilages - which is a one time exemption of duty on used personal belongings - again no guarantee this will be granted.

Housing - It is very difficult to obtain housing without actually being "on-island". While it can be done it is not a wise move unless you are very familar with the island and the various neighborhood. You are much better off making one or two pre-move visits to scope out areas and personall inspect the residences before purchasing or entering into any type of long term lease. Think about it - you wouldn't move to another city ("back home") without personally checking things out so why would you even consider doing that in a foreign country. Just because you envision an island with sunshine, palm trees and sandy beaches doesn't mean you are moving to paradise. Relocating to St. Kitts is no different than moving to any other location in the world - you have to do your research first hand - don't rely on others.

Money Matters - You will still be responsible for filing a tax return for all earnings you had while a resident of the US. Thus if you have a taxable gain on selling your house you will have to file a tax return reporting that gain. If you have US based investments (savings, stocks, bonds, 401k, IRA's, etc. - any profits, earnings, withdrawals, etc. are taxable in the US regardless of where you live. You really should check with your tax advisor to find out what is particular to your situation. You will not be liable for US taxes on money you earn from employment on St. Kitts (assuming you have a Work Permit). If you wish to transfer money from a US account to a St. kitts account that can be done by check or wire transfer. If you transfer more than $10,000 from a US Bank you will have to fill out certain forms as the bank will have to report the transfer to the IRS and orther US governmental agencies. You may not bring in more than $10,000US in cash to St. Kitts at any one time.

If you are seriously considering relocating to St. Kitts (or any other Caribbean island) you should get a book called "The Settler's Handbook". It's geared to living in the US Virgin Islands but much of what is written applys to must island. It is a MUST READ for anyone contemplating a move to the Caribbean. You might also check out the following website: www.vimovingcenter.com - again geared to relocating to the USVI's but contains lots of pertaiant information.

One thing you should know - living on an island is far different than being there on vacation - you still have to support yourself, you have to do everyday chores like grocery shopping, laundry, errands, etc. Life on the islands is not necessarilly better or worse that where you are now it is just different. Housing and groceries are more expensive 9everything has to be imported) but wages are often lower than what you are used to seeing.

Do your homework and good luck in your quest.

Basseterre, St...
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4. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

Caribsurfer:

I couldn't have said it better!

St. Kitts ALWAYS seems wonderful when you're there on vacation....

Seatle WA
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5. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

Another consideration is that when on vacation, there's not enough time to do everything you want to. When living in St. Kitts -- which I did for four years -- you have nothing but time. There are very limited options for recreation and entertainment other than outdoor activities. Little arts culture (theater, opera, museums, classes), not a lot of organizations to join -- you really, really have to know how to amuse yourself. For me this was a good thing and I got quite involved in volunteer work, but it can be a huge challenge to wake up every morning thinking, "What am I going to do today?"

Texas
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6. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

CaribSurfer,

You seem as though you speak from experience. Like skb4me, I to am considering making a move to somewhere other than the US mainland. I've thought about the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. I've traveled extensively and will be making my first trip to St Kitts this year. I will be making this move in about 5 yrs and I'll be 55 then. I would have money for investing or buying/starting a business.

Do you have any reccomendations on where to begin looking and the best investments?

Thanks!! Beachbum77

Nevis
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7. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

Beachbum - Ah, yes - been there, done that! What info I give you is general in nature as it's difficult to cover everything in a few short paragraphs.

First off, assuming you are a US citizen you'll find it infinitely easier to relocate to Pureto Rico, the Spanish Virgins (Culebra & Vieques) and the USVI's. Just about every other island or locale will have restrictions similar to the ones described above (FYI - the Bahamas have less restrictions on buying property but require that you have a Bahamian partner if you plan on starting a business).

They only way for you to really determine what particular island suits your needs is to visit them. I personally spent over 10 years visiting more than 25 islands before I found my piece of paradise. When making these fact finding trips try to stay in housekeeping or efficiency units rather than full service resorts so you get an idea of what island life is really like - after all living and working on an island is far different from being there on vacation. Once you narrow you choice to a couple of islands you'd be wise to spend several weeks or even months living on the island before you purchase property or invest in a business.

Do as much research as you can. There are literally scores of websites that will give you information about living and working, investing in businesses and building a home in the islands. Do google searches with such topics as "Living in the Caribbean", "Building a home in the Caribbean" , etc. and you'll find tone of information and first hand reports. For starters check read everything on the following web-sites:

www.vimovingcenter.com

www.beachshack.ai

escapeartist.com/efam/59/Moving_To_Carribean…

Next get a copy of the Settler's Handbook - it's geared toward living and working in the USVI's but much of what is written applies to all island. Read "Don't Stop the Carnival" by Herman Woulk - it's an old book but gives you an idea of what island life is like. On the "beach shack" web-site there's a section that list other books that anyone contemplating a move to the Caribbean should have in there library.

As for where you can find the "best investments" I'm affraid there's no simple answer to that inquiry. I can tell you this - whether you are investing in land or a business you must due your due diligence very thorouhgly - do it yourself and don't rely on the word of others. I don't mean to imply that people in the islands are dishonest but rather outsiders are sometimes blinded by the palm trees, sand, torquoise waters & sunshine. Immigration, title and inheritance laws on most islands are complex so you will also need the help of a local attorney to assist you. Be careful who you choose, most islands are small and almost everyone is related to everyone else. You don't want your attorney to be the brother-in-law of the person who is selling you the business.

In summary, do your home work, personally inspect everything and every aspect of your relocation process, don't try to do things long-distance as there's no substitute for on-site visits. Be patient, if you are in a rush DON'T DO IT.

Good luck in following your dream.

Texas
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8. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

CaribSurfer,

Thanks for the input. I'll certainly check out those web sites. If you'd be so good as to allow us to take this offline, I'd love to chat with you further.

Please email me @ beachbum77@yahoo.com if that would be possible.

Thanks

South Shore St. John
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9. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

Good Afternoon, skb4me

You've gotten a lot of good advice, the only thing I can add is to suggest that you might consider contacting one of the resorts about employment, before going down. They would then handle the legal working permit paperwork with the government for you. Starwood Resorts, Rosewood, Marriott and whatever chain owns 4 Seasons, would be good places to check out, as they all have properties on the islands. You might also want to contact the actual resorts directly. Keep in mind they need handymen, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, accoutants, computer geeks--not just bartenders and maids, so if you've no hotel experience, you still might be qualified and desireable.

I've lived on St. John in the US Virgins for the last 11 years (even educated a daughter down here, no small feat) and know that the Westin is always bringing people down. Finding qualified personnel from up north who can handle the Islands is Graeme's biggest headache.

I would caution you against the lock, stock and barrel move. Consider putting your things in storage up north for 6 months and trying it out before you leap if it's at all possible.

Remember, you won't be a tourist any more. You will be a member of a foreign community with different work ethics, morals and values. I find it wonderful, wouldn't change it at all, but then I don't get upset when the power goes out. If you do, then proceed with caution.

And I know no one seems to talk about this, but I will: If you're white, keep in mind that YOU will be the minority down here, so you'd better not have a racist bone in your body. You'll NEED (and I would hope WANT) Black friends. And if you're Black, you'll still be a foreigner. Don't expect to be accepted instantly because of skin tone. You'll have to earn your way too.

Having said all that, it's a wonderul experience that I wouldn't change for the world. I hope you go for it if you can. Much luck.

New Road
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10. Re: Relocating to St. Kitts

Thank you all for your advice... I'm in such turmoil over here.... I would like to do a trail run for a few months... but have to think about that.... as for my skin - white as they come... but I have plenty of local Kittian friends and I DON'T have a racist bone in my body, so NO worries there!!!! I think I'm West Indian deep down... I keep reading all your thoughts, and they are all appreciated!