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12 Things That Might Surprise You About Life on St. John

People who visit St. John see one side of the island, but you learn a LOT of new things by living here. Take a look at 12 things that people find surprising about living in St. John, and let us know if we missed anything that surprised YOU!

  1. People from St. John are called St. Johnians (pronounced joe-ni-ins).
  2. St. John was a part of Denmark until it was sold to the United States in 1917.
  3. There is no sales tax or state tax on St. John.
  4. Hitchhiking is normal here. We all know the steep hills are tough to walk, so it’s perfectly acceptable, even expected, to pick up people who are walking along the road and take them to their home or villa. Just remember that you should point in the direction that you are going instead of using your thumb to hitch a ride.
  5. Over 70 percent of the island is the Virgin Islands National Park, a generous gift from American businessman Laurance Rockefeller. This means that more than half of St. John real estate is not for sale and never will be. And the National Park doesn’t end at the coastline, there are 5,650 acres of underwater land in the Park, with amazing snorkeling spots for all to enjoy.
  6. Buildings on St. John can’t be higher than 3 stories tall. This means there are no high-rise condos or big office towers on the island.
  7. There’s a big party every December called “Prom” where everyone dresses up and meets at Mongoose Junction for an island-wide celebration.
  8. St. John has very little light pollution, and on a clear night, you can see the Milky Way. The National Park Service offers stargazing events for residents and guests.
  9. The 1-year mark of island residence is a big deal when it comes to employment because of the EDC. There’s a territorial initiative called “EDC” that offers tax breaks to companies that locate on the islands. The EDC tax breaks require that a certain percentage of employees must have been resident for a year or more. This makes it easier to obtain employment on St. John when you have been there for a year or more.
  10. You can go to church on the beach! The Fresh Water VI church meets for worship every Sunday Morning at 10 am at Hawksnest Pavilion right on the crystal blue bay.
  11. Homes on St. John must be built to withstand wind speeds of 165 mph, according to the building code. Every dwelling is required to have a septic tank and cistern, which accounts for about 10 percent of the total building cost.
  12. The Danish West India Plantation Company planted bay rum trees all over the island to produce bay leaf oil. You’ll find bay rum trees across the island today, but be warned- if you chew on a bay rum leaf, your tongue goes numb!
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