If you are planning on relocating to St. Croix, you will need to decide which of your household goods, furnishings, and personal effects you will ship to the island, and how you will ship them. If you are bringing a minimal amount of boxes worth of items, you may be able to get away with shipping your items by standard USPS mail to save money. On the other hand, if you are shipping furniture or lots of boxes of household goods and personal effects, you will want to make arrangements to have your items transported by cargo ship.
To get started, decide what you are going to bring with you to St. Croix. The most difficult part of moving for some is determining what to ship to and what to leave behind. You can find the basic household goods you will need to get by here on the island, but you won’t be able to find everything you want. Obviously, we have furniture stores on the island, as well as a few ‘big box’ stores such as Kmart and Home Depot; but, your options for furniture, decor, and housewares are going to be very limited. You will find that some of the larger online retailers will ship to the Virgin Islands, but some still do not, and some charge very high shipping fees. Therefore, I recommend that if you have specialty items, or unique housewares, decor, and furnishings that you love, bring them with you – because you will likely not be able to replace them in-kind once you get here.
Once you have decided what you will be moving to St. Croix, you can decide which shipper you want to use. There are several reputable shipping companies that specialize in getting household goods and personal effects from the U.S. mainland to the Virgin Islands, and getting them through U.S. Customs upon arrival. Before packing your household goods, I highly recommend that you contact the shipping company of your choice for instructions on how to properly pack, weigh, inventory, and label your boxes of household goods for shipment. This will be important for both the movers and shippers, as well as for your goods to clear customs on St. Croix. Your shipper will also help you determine whether you will have a Full Container Load (FCL) or a Less-than-Container-Load (LCL), which will determine the type of forms you will need to submit with your shipment. Keep in mind that the cost for shipping ocean freight is usually calculated per cubic foot, and by weight for heavy objects, so you will need to know the size and weight of your boxes of household goods and personal effects.
To make things easier on yourself, you can hire a moving company to pack, transport, and arrange shipment of your household goods. While this is the easiest route, it is also the most expensive. Some of the cargo shipping companies offer pick up services themselves across the United States, so you can make arrangements to have them pick up your packed household goods and transport them to the port for shipment. When we moved to St. Croix from Phoenix in 2013, it was cheapest for us to pack the boxes ourselves (about 80 in total) and hire a separate transport company to truck the boxes from Arizona to the cargo port in Florida. From there, our shipper loaded them into a container (as a LCL) and shipped them to St. Croix. Then we splurged and paid a local moving company to bring our boxes from customs at the port on St. Croix to our island home.
Moving can be very stressful, but choosing a cargo shipping company and having them walk you through the process makes it much less stressful. Here are a few more packing and shipping tips to make your move a bit more easy and efficient:
- Get plenty of packing supplies before you start. You will need lots of packing supplies including boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, newsprint, markers and labeling supplies. You can buy a wide range of packing supplies from your local home improvement or office supply stores, or you can get used boxes from local shops or grocery stores.
- Make sure everything is wrapped well and use strong moving boxes for packing. Make sure fragile items are extremely well padded using bubble wrap, foam, and/or newsprint. Tape all of the seams of the moving boxes, and make sure they are filled to the top using packing materials to fill any unused spaces at the top so that the box its shape and does not crush when another box is placed on top of it.
- Keep a detailed inventory of the boxes and furniture you are shipping. I recommend numbering your boxes as you pack them and creating a spreadsheet listing the box number, room of the house in which it goes (i.e.: Kitchen, Master Bedroom, Bathroom), general contents (i.e.: Clothes; Pots and Pans; Linens), the box weight, and size/measurements of the box.
- Know what items your shipper will NOT ship, and anything that is NOT allowed through U.S. Customs. Hazardous, flammable, and explosive materials should never be packed; it is dangerous and illegal for movers to transport them. Perishable items, such as plants and perishable foods should not be moved either, and are forbidden by the Department of Agriculture. Firearms and ammunition are highly controlled and will not be allowed through customs without a proper permit.
For more information about relocating to St. Croix, or to contact some of St. Croix’s reputable shipping and moving companies, please check out the links below. Remember, if you plan and prepare in advance packing and shipping your household goods can be easy and efficient.
– Jennie Ogden, Editor