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Trouble in Paradise: The Ever-Growing Cost of Living in the Virgin Islands

Living in America’s major cities is already expensive, especially after factoring in how much cheaper it is to live outside of urban areas in the country. Unfortunately, it seems that city costs of living are only getting worse, according to the findings of a recent quarterly study. The United States Virgin Islands is no exception.

According to rentdata.org, the Virgin Islands (VI) has the 9th highest rent in the country out of 56 states and territories. The Fair Market Rent in the Virgin Islands ranges from $970 for a 2-bedroom apartment on St. Croix, VI to $1,523 for a 2-bedroom unit on St. John, VI. For FY 2019, the rent on St. John for a studio or efficiency apartment is $1,034 per month and $2,059 per month to rent a house or an apartment with 4 bedrooms.

The average Fair Market Rent for a 2-bedroom home in the Virgin Islands is $1,205 per month. Additionally, approximately 15% of Americans qualify for some level of housing assistance. The population in U.S Virgin Islands once hovered around 108,612 people (before declines following the territory’s financial crisis in 2017 and hurricanes Irma and Maria), meaning that there could be around 16,292 people in the Virgin Islands who could be receiving housing benefits from HUD.

The Median household income in the USVI is $37,254, almost $20,000 less than the national average of the USA according to fas.org (The Federation of American Scientists). While the Virgin Islands wages are lower than the national median, the overall cost of living is substantially higher according to numbeo.com:

  • Rent prices in the U.S. Virgin Islands are 15.14% higher than in the United States
  • Restaurant prices in the U.S. Virgin Islands are 25.41% higher than in the United States
  • Grocery prices in the U.S. Virgin Islands are 33.49% higher than in the United States

The territory is facing a financial conundrum which sees many of its people struggling to afford bare minimum needs for survival. When Virgin Islanders can no longer afford to live in the Virgin Islands, can it still be considered their home? Trouble in paradise isn’t just the rising cost of living, it’s finding a solution to the growing housing crisis that has become an increasingly urgent matter.

Photo credits to the original publisher.