Is it Expensive to Live in the Virgin Islands?

If you're thinking of moving to the U.S. Virgin Islands, you should know that the cost of living will likely be higher than you're used to. In fact, some estimates show that you'll pay between 20% and 40% more to live here compared to the cost of living on the mainland. However, the sticker-shock you experience will depend on where you live right now, as some U.S. cities are more expensive than these Caribbean islands. For instance, if you live in Miami or Los Angeles, it might actually be cheaper to live in the Virgin Islands by comparison, but that's not so much the case in places like Gainesville, Florida, or Knoxville, Tennessee.

How Much Does it Cost to Live Here?

On average, a single person living in the U.S. Virgin Islands can expect to have between $2,200 and $3,000 in estimated monthly expenses, including rent, food, utilities, transportation, and other costs. An average family of four will spend between $5,000 and $7,000 per month on the same things. Depending on your budget and preferences, this number could be much higher or much lower. It can also vary depending on which island you choose to live on; their size and accessibility help to make St. Croix and St. Thomas a little cheaper than St. John.

Why Is it Expensive to Live in the Virgin Islands?

A lot of the higher cost of living comes from the overall higher cost of all tangible goods, from appliances to gasoline to clothing to groceries, because everything has to be brought in by plane or boat (or both) from the mainland. That fact also drives up the price of housing, as all of the materials that go into building a house also need to be imported.

Housing costs in particular are also higher because of simple supply and demand. There's only so much land and so many houses to go around on these islands, so prices naturally rise due to demand.

How Much Do People Make per Year?

Incomes will vary widely by job, as they do anywhere, but the median household income in the Virgin Islands is around $40,000. The biggest employers are the federal government and the tourism industry.