Q – What is a Cistern?
A – A cistern is a well for storing water under your house. Since St. Thomas does not have a source of fresh water, a system is put on the house where rainwater is funnelled from the roof into the gutters and the gutters lead to the cistern. The water is then pumped from the cistern throughout the house into toilets, sinks, and showers.
Q- Can I drink the water?
A- That depends. Some homes have a filter system and you can drink the tap water or water from the fridge. Most larger restaurants will also have a filter system, but if in doubt, order bottled water.
Q- What is a septic system?
A- If you live in town you will most likely have city waste disposal, if you live in a condo complex the complex will have a waste disposal plant, but if you live in a house you will probably have a septic system. The septic tank is where waste collects from drains and toilets and is attacked by enzymes that break it down.
Q- How much are utilities?
A- Again, that depends.
ELECTRIC- Our electricity from the Water And Power Authority (WAPA) is expensive here ($.48/KWH). If you run the A/C constantly you will have a large bill ($400-$1500/mo). Most places have window units or split units so you are cooling only the room you are using.
WATER- if you are on a cistern then water is free unless it doesn’t rain enough and you run out. In that case you will need to purchase water and have a truck deliver it to your cistern ($350 for 5250 gal). If you are in a condo complex or in town the rate is between $.05-$.10/gal.
GARBAGE- if you live in a condo complex they may have dumpsters on site, otherwise there are dumpster sites located throughout the island.
Q- What is a ‘split unit’?
A- It is an air conditioning unit where the blower is inside (most likely high on a wall) and the compressor is outside (much less noisy this way). These units are typically more energy efficient than window units because they are newer, only a small hole in a wall is needed for the power and condenser hose and it does not take up a window space.
Q- Can I buy a house/condo and rent it out, but stay in it when I want?
A- YES! Many people purchase here because they LOVE vacationing here. You can rent it long term (3-12 months at a time) or short term/vacation (nightly/weekly) for less than 3 months.
Q- Can I make money on my rental?
A- Yes and no. First you have to determine what your budget is. See if what you like and can afford would be desirable as a rental. Then decide if you want to do long or short term rental. Long term renters give you a steady income every month. With short term rentals you can charge more, but there is a lot more in weekly maintenance, supplies, and advertising.
You have to decide what you will be offering, find out how much it should cost you, and how much you will need to charge for rent.
Most places will not necessarily make money in the first years, but eventually, you should see a profit. It is just like any business though. If you do not put anything in to it you will not get anything out of it.