The high cost of living on St. John

Technomads The first question people ask is "How can I find a job on St. John so I can live there forever?"

The second question people ask is "How's the cost of living."

The answer to the first is, "Work at it." The second is, "Very".

Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard spent about six months living on the island while they plied their trade as software developers.  They call themselves Technomads and delight in seeing the world while logging on and building their business wherever they are. They have published a successful iPhone app showing cell phone coverage around the USA.  

While on the island, they rented an efficiency apartment for $700/month.  That included electricity.  They had to buy propane for their stove.

Staying connected cost about $240 a month.  That covered Hughesnet for Internet (via DishandDat Choice WiFi), two iPhones and a Sprint data card.  "Connectivity is what makes our digitally nomadic lifestyle possible."


But man does not live by bits alone.  He also needs bites.  Food!  What about food prices, you ask?

"On St. John, groceries cost roughly 1.5x – 3X stateside prices,” they found. 

“This markup comes from a combination of everything having to be shipped in, lack of economies of scale, and it being high tourist season on a destination resort island."

Some examples:

  • Can of black beans $.95
  • Bag of tortilla chips $7.99
  • Iceberg lettuce $3.09
  • Box of cereal $6.99
  • Bananas  $.99 a pound
  • 1.75 liters of rum $8.49

The Technomads said they expected high food costs, but were not prepared for that they found. "We spent the first couple of weeks in sticker shock. The only good deal was the rum."

In talking to a lot of St. Johnians, Chris and Cherie said they found it seems folks lose weight after moving to the island.  "The St. John diet plan," they called it.

4 thoughts on “The high cost of living on St. John”

  1. Hey there.. thanks for writing about our St. John experience and quoting from our cost of living blog post.
    Just a little factual correction.. while we were on St. John, we used Choice WiMax as our primary internet, and an iPhone for tethering as back-up. Our connectivity costs on island were actually around $75/mo (plus our normal 2 iPhone regular plans at an additional $170). The Hughesnet and Sprint datacard were what we used from our little RV before coming to the island.
    We loved our time on St. John, and are now back stateside roaming around looking for a vintage bus to live in next 🙂

  2. Very interesting post and blog. I enjoyed reading about their STJ journey. My husband and I talk about doing something similar when our son is a bit older, taking a few months to live (simply) on STJ.

  3. We also spent the winter living on St.John, I can associate with all that you have reported on this article, while my husband made great money on the island I found that the expenses were just too much for us. (unless just keeping your head above the water is what you like). We had a disadvantage tho, our little 12×12 apartment had no kitchen so being creative for cooking was pretty difficult (we had an electric skillet and we washed the dishes in the shower! slept on a futon and had 4 channels on the tv 2 of which were the island showcase channels, all for 1000 a month! I believe had we had true living conditions we may have stayed, my husbands job made it difficult to get to very many activites which was sad,he was on call almost every night, we had a great view just couldnt get there very often. If given the chance again to make it work?? its possible, but the living conditions would have to make it more favorable for me to go back I never felt clean with the 30 sec showers. In the article you say how ppl tend to lose weight..YES for sure but when I got back to the states I ate like a PIG..I guess I was starving! ha ha
    Nice article. We too are on our next adventure, this time in Naples,Fl across the street from the beach access… Tho the water isnt quiet as beautiful..Im looking forward to walking out the door and having the beach all to myself!
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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