Island Hopping - 10 islands in one week

Island Hopping - 10 islands in one week and why St John is still the Best.


This week, I was fortunate enough to get a little time off and get in some Island Hopping and had a chance to compare islands and research Caribbean service styles.   I could title this article “Why you love to hate Caribbean Service Style”, but I am not grabbing headlines with click bait.  I will tell you why that when you arrive, you think the service is lazy and when you leave, you think it was amazing and why you can not wait to come back and get some more.


An amazing week is easy to have with St John as a home base.  Wednesday, we went boating in the British Virgin Islands.  Leaving St John on a calm sunny morning, and heading out to sea is breathtaking.  The cool breeze coupled with the warm sun as the clear blue water slips beneath you under the boat.  It’s transcendental.  That day I took us to Tortola, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke and a quick stop at Flanagan Island to finish the day.  The dark green steep hills of Tortola, the Rugged outpost and mind boggling clear waters of Norman Island, the beach life of Jost Van Dyke and the lonely majestic reefs of Flanagan Island all offered in one day what some people are not lucky enough to experience in a lifetime.  Still, at the end of the day, we wanted to come home, to St John.


Friday, we literally hopped our way to Nevis, another tiny island 158 miles South East of my home in Coral Bay.  That trip took us by Car to Cruz Bay, by Boat to St Thomas, by Taxi to the Cyril King Airport, by Plane to St Maarten, By Plane to Antigua, By Plane to St Kitts and by Boat to Nevis.  What a day!  St Thomas, a necessary evil for St John was hectic and practical. St Maarten was brief on this trip, with it’s looming over development and multi national culture clash all ready to bring luxury to the beach.  Antigua proudly embracing it’s European roots and preparing for cricket matches with cheese on baguettes whilst a regatta begins just off shore.  St Kitts with its fiercely proud history and independence (independent since just 1983 – a moment in history too large and so recent that men reminisce about it with a twinkle in their eye…because they lived that midnight moment.) And Nevis, with it’s small island feel and it’s single peak, a symbol of natural pride and self reliance.


So what did I learn about in such brief glimpses?  Besides that we are lucky to have the opportunity to travel and experience such beautiful places.  Besides that you can find diversity and kindness everywhere?  Besides that each place can be so close and so far from each other; geographically, culturally, practically and most important that ever subtle VIBE?  What I learned is that although Caribbean Service style may sound like an oxymoron, in fact, I believe service in the Caribbean to be some of the best in the world.   To be fully served without pretentiousness and with casual style takes a talent unknown to the modern fast paced world.  It is this key combination of casual attitude and full attention to detail that creates a world class experience.  Day after day, travelers arrive carrying stress and quick judgment.  It takes unbelievable talent to turn that around, a talent found throughout the Caribbean, but mostly on St John.


Even with my visit to the 10 very different islands this week, St John remains the best.  I can say this with the confidence of experiencing hundreds of islands and destinations across the globe.  St John has the unique quality of being the best of everything.  The best beaches, the best food, the best service, the best accommodation options, the best access, the best infrastructure and the nicest people. 


I will continue to travel with an open mind, and hope that one day, I may find a better place, but for now, St John remains on top.    

St John Vacation Rentals vs St John Long Term Rentals

The Enduring Strength of the St John Rental Market


Even as the economic roller coaster permeates real estate and financial markets globally, here on St John, the real estate rental market refuses to burst.  Both long and short term rentals on island continue to command high prices in what seems to be a reflection of the steady stream of demand and extreme shortage of supply. 

Gorgeous St John Rentals are in high demand, both for short and long term.  This stunning short term rental has sold out for Nov - June for the last 10 years.   

Short term rental villas have solidified their position in vacation accommodations on St John.  Even with as many as 900 properties available for weekly vacation rentals on island, occupancy for this season was strong and projections for next season are strong from a poll of booking agents and owners, with most properties already booking up or nearly sold out for the 2017 high season.  With short term vacation rentals, owners who have good property management can expect nearly 100% occupancy for Nov 1 - May 1.  And it does not turn off like a switch.  The summer months can see as high as 80% occupancy on average for June and July.  August and November average at about 50% occupancy.  It is no wonder that investing in real estate on St John has it's advantages.  The short term market provides a viable stream of income to the owners who also want occasional use of their homes and can be the best option for owners who want their home professionally maintained and cleaned weekly. 


Getting a long term rental with a view like this isn't cheap.  Many simple homes such as this rent for as much as $2000/month for a one bedroom apartment with a year lease.

Long term rentals are difficult to come by.  The extremely high demand, coupled with the limited inventory have set monthly lease rates (on year long leases) to an average of $1800 for a one bedroom apartment plus utilities.  Furnished apartments go for even more.  With rates this high, many owners have built small apartments below their homes or on their properties to capitalize on the additional income stream.  Some have developed small apartment buildings or condos on vacant lots to target this lucrative market. 


All in all, owners and buyers can take comfort in the fact that properties on St John can and will continue to provide real income from rent, be it year leases or weekly guests.  Get in touch with me if you would like to further discuss the rental possibilities of properties here on St John.


St John Real Estate Market Conditions

The Real Estate Market on St John is ACTIVE.  I have been out showing quite often lately.  Buyers are from across the spectrum; People looking for retirement homes, people looking for investment vacation rental property who might do a 1031 exchange, locals looking for a homestead, buyers looking to re-locate to the Virgin Islands, land speculators.   This among a mini boom in construction meant it was time to get some statistics to quantify the feel of the market.

The Facts

There are 156 homes currently on the market.  Average listing price is $2.011 Million

In the last 12 months, 42 homes on St John sold at an average of $1.023 Million.   

Compare this with when the market was slowest; the same period May 2, 2010 - May 2, 2011 when 21 homes sold for an average price of $1.4 Million

Average Price, Number of Sales and Percentage of Sales Price for Sold Homes on St John between May 2, 2003 and May 2, 2016


What we are seeing is two main important factors.

  1. The average sales price is near its low point over the last 12 years
  2. The number of sales transactions is on the rise, in fact has doubled since the low point on the market if looking at volume.  

What does this mean for the market?  What I see on the ground is playing out on paper.  There are deals to be had, and buyers to take them.  Ultimately, there is currently 3 years of inventory of homes for sale on St John.  What we can expect is that, if buyers keep taking advantage of deals, as we are seeing with near bottom end average sales prices, inventory will dwindle, which will drive up prices and demand.  You can not build the homes people are buying for their sales price!  So when people ask me if there are any deals, I affirmatively can say YES.  There are deals and they wont last if the market continues this trend.

Now, a lot of buyers are not in the $1 Million range.  To be clear, 20 of the 42 homes sold in the last year were under $750K, and 12 of those were under $500K. 

Serious buyers should be prepared with financing and allow a licensed realtor such as myself answer all of their questions.  Reach out today to let me set you up with a MLS portal so that you can scan St John Real Estate Listings on your own

Jared Warren
Associate Broker    
Re/Max Island Paradise Realty, Inc.
PO Box 646
St John, VI 00830-0646
Cell Phone -  (340) 626-8229
Office Phone - (340) 775-0949

Treasurer - St John Board of Realtors

Voted "BEST REAL ESTATE AGENCY ON ST. JOHN 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015"