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Island Apartment Hunt

With the recent searching I’ve done to find an apartment or roommates (or whatever my new plan is for living anywhere but my parents’ house–¬†sorry Mom, it’s nothing personal, just time for me to be more independent), I started thinking about all of the apartments I looked at when searching for a place in St. Thomas.

A few years ago, my boyfriend at the time and I had decided we needed a change of pace, and since some of our mutual friends had made the move to paradise, St. Thomas seemed reasonable, even though our plan was to only stay there for six months (which is the same as one tourist season). It would be a life experience neither of us would probably have the opportunity for, and finding a job was pretty easy since we both had sales experience and a foot in the door at one of the big jewelry stores in the islands.

What neither of us realized when making the move is just how hard finding an apartment after the tourist season had begun would turn out to be.

Our friends who were already there had lucked into a pretty sweet 430 square foot studio apartment, with an awesome landlord who is a certified dive instructor and would take them and any guests out on his boat pretty much whenever they asked. They found this great place through– wait for it– Craigslist (which I’ve already admitted is one of my favorite websites to kill time on). I figured since it had been pretty easy for them to find a place, the same would happen for us and we would start looking once we arrived.

Our friends graciously allowed us their spare futon while we were searching, which had worked out the year before when we had visited for an eight-day vacation. The only big difference this time is we had an additional companion with us in the form of my dog Jasper.

So in this pretty tiny studio we suddenly had four adults and two small dogs. The first couple of days weren’t bad, since it was just like vacation, but after a week of constantly calling and searching and having no luck on the housing search, everyone was a little on edge.

At one point of the apartment hunt, we were so desperate to be out of the studio that we seriously considered a place that was more like a treehouse than an apartment. It was probably the most ridiculous place I’ve ever seen.

Built into the side of the hill (mountain) the place had a front door that consisted of only an iron gate with a padlock. Upon entering this “door”, you were welcomed with a fantastic view of the harbor, as there was a four-foot high retaining wall with no roof as the “hallway.” On one side was a kitchen that was little more than a pile of rubble, a broken sink and a propane tank under a rusty stove. Next to that was a bathroom, which consisted of a shower head suspended over the toilet and a drain in the floor. Perfect for multi-taskers. The bedroom/living room wasn’t much better, as two of the walls were actually just screens and the “bed” area was a thin mattress sitting in an alcove made out of concrete.

Needless to say, we didn’t take that one, and a few days later ended up with a sweet place that had real walls, a beautiful view, and was virtually a mansion in comparison to all of the others (and our friends’ place).

Below are a few pictures of the place we ended up with, and the view I had the pleasure of waking up to everyday.

The only “bad” part of the apartment was driving down this thing. It was super steep, and you had to take a leap of faith heading down it the first few times.

Leaving the island was hard, but in the end it was the right thing to do. I’m just happy to have the memories and while life hasn’t always gone how I planned, I’m able to learn from each experience, whether it was one for the good or not.

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