When you purchase a home on St. Croix, there are bound to be hidden treasures left behind. Having just closed on our second island home, I’m experiencing this treasure hunt in real time.
One thing you need to know first is what to expect in nearly all St. Croix homes for rent and many for sale: most come furnished. And when I say furnished, I mean down to every fork, sheet and towel. All you have to do is show up with your clothes and toiletries (although my new home came complete with half a tube of toothpaste!). Picture a vacation rental, where everything is supplied for a week-long trip.
Some of my favorite finds left behind in homes we’ve purchased are a set of comfortable (ugly) lounge chairs, a beaded lamp shade, pretty curtains and too many more things to list. More often than not I (unfortunately for my taste) find an abundance of wicker furniture, outdated upholstery and dated artwork. Most often you find practical things . . . an iron and ironing board, hair dryer (for my once a year use in the tropics!) and handy small kitchen appliances like a hand mixer.
Some of the strangest? Semi-permanent hair dye in florescent pink or purple and a dream catcher.
So if you are a first time island home buyer, here are some reasons you may find things left behind …
Separation Of Stuff And Self
Most people who move to the Caribbean are not hoarders (there are exceptions!). But for the most part, you’ll find a community of minimalists on St. Croix. On that first major move to the Caribbean when you pack one suitcase to live from, you develop a healthy separation of stuff and self (read: you are not defined as a person by the pile of junk you tote around).
When we moved from the U.S. mainland to St. Croix, we shipped two pallets worth of stuff. It was amazing how well our family of four did in the two weeks or so we waited for those things to arrive. Our kids seemed to play better with just a few toys, and my husband and I were scratching our heads wondering . . . what was in all those boxes we just paid to ship?
Someone Paid To Ship It
Particularly if the sellers of your home were leaving island, they have intentionally left behind items you may find useful. At some point, someone paid shipping all the way to St. Croix (the southern and easternmost point of the United States), to get it there. Having those up-charges in the back of your mind does make it harder to just throw things in the trash. Especially if the seller made or is making an international move, taking many things with them may be cost prohibitive.
The exception to this one? If the seller was moved by the military / government or a major company, all their moving expenses are almost always reimbursed and professional packers do the legwork for them. If that’s the case for your home, don’t expect to find anything left behind! The professional moving services are thorough and take everything except for the perishable foods they trash.
Move Out Made On Island Time
St. Croix is “the don’t hurry” island (at least according to Cruzan Rum). So a closing date may have sneaked up on a seller and caused them to inadvertently leave things behind. We just managed to close on our island home a month earlier than originally scheduled, so I assume some of the things we’re finding were meant to be taken by the seller.
Laid Back Island Life (i.e. laziness)
About six months ago, we moved back into our first island home, which had been rented out for 18 months. I was pleased to see a few nice additions left behind from the renters . . . a tiny table that fit perfectly into a corner of a bathroom, curved shower bars installed and a set of television trays. But as I studied some of the other things I’d first felt excited about . . . a microwave, fryer, steam mop, etc., I realized they’d left them behind because they were broken. And while we have residential trash pick-up at that house, electronic waste must be personally taken to the dump. (P.S. The fryer was still full of used cooking oil . . . gross!)
This really backfired on me with a few things. I ended up with 10 or so duplicates of small kitchen appliances that my renters left behind and with which I too moved back. I sold them to friends and island acquaintances only to find that some weren’t working. While I had done my due diligence in testing them, they didn’t actually do their job. For example, a paper shredder ran it’s motor when plugged in, but didn’t actually shred anything fed through it.
In our new house, we’re keeping the tenant space open for our personal use, so we’re eliminating the secondary kitchen and re-purposing that space. A set of second major kitchen appliances to sell, right? So far the fridge is a dud, which we paid to have hauled away, since we don’t have a vehicle large enough to accommodate it. I was stoked about the amount of Tupperware I thought was left behind in there, when I realized it was only a collection of mismatched lids.
So what to do with all the treasures you find left behind that aren’t right for you, but you hate to throw in the trash? Take them to one of St. Croix’s non-profits like the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center Flea Market at Basson Triangle or their new west location. Closet-to-Closet in Peter’s Rest is a great place to take clothing left behind. Queen Louise Home for Children and the Lighthouse Mission also accept donations of clothing, bedding and toiletries. Sell the big tickets items on Virgin Islands’ Craig’s List or one of the many Facebook groups like St Croix Vi Buy Or Sell Your Stuff 24/7.
A side story on those ugly chairs I mentioned at the beginning of this post, which proves what a (wonderfully) small island St. Croix really is. We inherited a mauve set of lounge chairs when we bought our first island home, which we negotiated to purchase furnished. Aesthetically they were awful, but when you sat in those ugly old chairs, they enveloped you in softness. The fabric was ridiculous to have on an island . . . thick and corduroy feeling, and worst of all, pink. They absorbed sweat (or often wetness from swimsuits) and were obviously prone to mildew. But I remember having a respiratory sickness at one point and needing to sleep partially sitting up . . . those chairs were my saving grace! Anyway, I finally convinced my husband to sell them and a field worker from HOVENSA (the company which formerly owned St. Croix’s oil refinery) showed up to buy one. He lived alone and didn’t care what color the chair was, only that it was comfortable. So my husband won they bet that they were even sellable. A couple of years later, some friends of ours who had recently moved in together, were arguing about a hideous lounge chair that he loved and she despised. On a long shot, I asked our friend where he got the chair. He said his buddy at the refinery sold it to him when he left island. Exact. Same. Chair. (and argument!)
Ready to find your dream home in the Caribbean, complete with unexpected treasures? Contact Chris and Kerri Hanley. As the top broker on-island year after year, Chris is the authority on Virgin Islands real estate. Download their free St. Croix Event Guide to find the ideal time for an extended visit: