In the past week since we signed our lease to winter on St. John in the US Virgin Islands, we’ve been busily making preparations for this new challenge. That’s a big part of the appeal for us about this adventure – a change of pace, and a new set of travel-while-working challenges to figure out. Since going to the island for 5 months is just an extension of our already location independent life, there’s a fine line to be drawn between making our life there comfortable but yet not investing the energy and expense of making it a longer term thing. We are clearly looking at this as just another adventure in our nomadic journey, not as settling down.
As we’re used to towing our little house behind us, and always having everything we need within arms reach – we’re making some mental adjustments to wrap our heads around what life might be like for us this winter.
The first challenge is getting there. We’re currently in San Francisco. And while an obvious option would be finding somewhere to park the truck and house in California, and just flying directly from here is tempting. It doesn’t seem all that reasonable.
We were already planning to winter in Florida, as both of our parents will be there. We have an open invitation to park our truck and trailer at a friend’s place. There’s something quite nice about knowing our house will be somewhat nearby via a quick (and affordable) plane hop from the island if we forget anything. We anticipate we’ll come mainland at least once or twice during our stay in St. John to visit family, friends & clients, anyway – so it makes sense to have our home positioned there to use as our lodging. And we’ll likely want to resume our RVing lifestyle from Florida come spring (assuming we don’t buy a sailboat while there and sail off. *grin*).
And, there’s Kiki. She’s never flown before, and we want to reduce the amount of stress on her for this new adventure. We can get a direct flight from Florida to St. Thomas – whereas it seems flying from most anywhere else we have parking options, it would be multiple hops. Any advice on flying with a cat would be most appreciated.
So, we’re now ramping up to hit the road for a cross-country jaunt to Florida – including getting all new tires, as they were due. The expense of that was not fun considering we’ll be driving and then parking for several months. Truth be told, we’re not excited about the 3100 mile drive ahead of us. We basically just got to this coast after a way too quick trip across country. We don’t like moving around this fast, or making slingshots across the country. But even so, it still seems like the best option long term. We’ll give ourselves a couple weeks, likely taking a respite along the way for a few days to get work done.
We’ve been told to be prepared for island time when we get to St. John. Things move at a different pace (we’re interested to see how this meshes with our Nomadic Standard Time lifestyle). Power is not necessarily reliable, and even though we’ll be mostly missing hurricane season – we’ve been told to prepare for shorter term power outages being a way of life. So one of our preps has been doing a technology refresh this week. I was already on the fence about upgrading my 2+ year old Macbook Pro, but knowing I’d be more dependent on battery power – that was all I needed to justify getting a shiny new one with twice the battery life. (My older 15″ one is now for sale, if anyone is interested.)
We’ve also been considering just how much of our tech we should take with us. What is easy to bring there, what is essential for us and what will we realistically be able to take advantage of. There’s also concerns of subjecting our tech to the high humidity and ocean air as our little cottage has no windows, just screens – and no air conditioning. We’re still pondering what our tech arsenal will ultimately be.
We’ll also have concerns about getting battery back-up options for keeping our connectivity tech operating, assuming we can get a connection at all when power is down. This is one reason why we’re considering bringing components of our new satellite internet setup with us as one of our connectivity options.
The cottage we’re renting is a mostly unfurnished efficiency studio up a jungle mountain road. There’s a mattress, an old couch, a dresser and two chairs there. Nothing else but a full bath, washer/dryer and unstocked kitchen. The island is only accessible by ferry. We have much to figure out – such as, do we plan the expense and ease of renting a 4WD vehicle upon arrival while we get ourselves situated? Or do we attempt to be more adventurous and utilize the limited public transit infrastructure and hitchhiking (apparently common practice) to get around and get all our initial errands run? Long term, we think we’ll end up buying a used vehicle to use on the island, and then sell it before our departure in March.
It does seem we’ll have some help once we arrive from our landlord, who will help us get situated and take us around to get the basics (drinking water, groceries, etc.) before dropping us off. And our friend we’re subletting from is going to pre-ship over linens and everything we’ll need to start off a kitchen there (as she’ll need them anyway upon her arrival when we leave.) That will be a huge relief, for sure!
Anyway, these are some of our logistical considerations we’re currently dealing with as we shift from RVing to temporary island living!