On Island Time
If you’ve ever dreamed of retiring or spending your winter days on a luxurious island, Helen Faith has some advice for you.
Helen and her husband, John, now live full time on St. John, located in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The couple had purchased several investment vacation rentals over the years, so they always had a winter retreat at their fingertips and spent their summer days at their southern Indiana home, where they thought they’d spend the rest of their lives.
“Our home in Indiana was so special to us, so we tried living on St. John for three years before we committed to selling it and moving full time to the island,” Helen explains.
The move, Helen says, was a challenge. “Everything on an island is a logistical challenge. It was a two-month process to ship our belongings to St. John.” Helen explains that since St. John does not have its own airport, all essential furniture had to be shipped first to Florida, then put on a barge to St. Thomas, and then put on another freight to St. John. In preparation for the move, the couple sold most of their belongings.
Like moving their items to the island, the experience of building a home on the island was equally as tricky. All materials must be brought to the island and labor is difficult to come by, since the population is only between 2,000-3,000 people.
“You definitely have to learn sacrifice and patience to move to an island. The states have so many conveniences we take for granted, like supermarkets,” Helen says while on a quick two-day Louisville visit, she scheduled some dental work. “On an island, you need to depend on yourself for maintenance; labor is always very busy. You have to learn to work with what you have. There is no such thing as following a recipe, for instance—you learn to make a meal with what is offered at the store on that given day. You can’t have food delivered for dinner; there is no fast food. You have to be able to sacrifice conveniences, such as consistent electricity. We have frequent outages…at least one every week or so for up to four hours. You have to be flexible and patient—Island Time is REAL!”
But that, Helen explains, is the trade-off. While the mainland economy offers many conveniences for the consumer, the fast-paced, high-pressure work environment is unsustainable—and exactly what made them want to head to the islands.
“In the states everyone is rushing around to get a job done. That’s why you move to an island, you remove the pressures of immediacy. You have to accept the lifestyle and learn to enjoy it. It is more relaxed, there is no traffic, you can swim at an amazing beach whenever you have free time, it is 80 degrees all winter long. The quality of life makes up for the inconveniences.”
John and Helen have since built a cottage they rent out to visitors that features a private pool and one of the best views on the island. While the rental and the weekly tasks of maintaining their home keep them busy, they still find time to take a beach swim a few evenings a week. After all, they now live on island time.
If moving to an island is not in the cards for you, consider taking a trip to one of these top warm weather destinations.
• Charleston, South Carolina
• St. Augustine, Florida
By Megan Seckman