It's still a Friendly Island!
As you may tell from my name, I am really into Sport Fishing and Cruising by power boat. I had the pleasure of visiting St. Maartin the first week of December 2008 as part of my research as I am looking forward to being an Expat from Canada. My trip there involved studying and touring the island to see if it's a place I'd enjoy living at and also to analyse a local boat chartering business. I was very impressed by the island, I surveyed the stores for provisions and costs and found everything I would possibly need at reasonable pricing including very good choice of groceries, clothing and very well stocked Marina Stores and Boat Yards. I didn't look into furniture as I intend to live on a boat and perhaps try to do house/villa sitting for security purposes for absent owners.
I went almost everywhere on the Island, stayed in Philipsburg and wondered through it's shops and along the beach. Traveled the island daily taking in Simpson's Bay,those people are crazy getting blown into the water by the jets,and I really enjoyed having drinks and lunches along the waterfront and seeing all the Mega Yachts. Marigot is a very nice area but I found Grand Case more charming and to my liking. I also studied all the marinas on the island and found that Anse Marcel is perfect for my style of living. I toured the rest of the island inland and also offshore with swimming in Happy Bay and eye goggling at Orient Bay. I found the island and the water absolutely beautiful and everyone I met (and I met alot of people) were very friendly, helpful and spoke very positively about the island.
I've read this forum pretty thoroughly and yes, currently there is alot of concern about criminal activity and economics. Coming from my area in Canada which is relatively very safe (I don't even lock my doors at night) this was a major concern for me. But I have studied other islands in the Carribean with the same intention of immigration and I find that the risks on St. Maartin are not as bad as other islands and not to far from the norm of any major city. The economic situation is a bigger concern at the moment as a possible tourist business owner and how that might impact upon greater criminal activity. However, during my stay there I did feel safe, saw lots of police presence and even got a ticket for going the wrong way on a one way street to beat the bridge traffic...lol...don't tell me you guys don't do that too.
I've applied for my Directors License while I was there, if it is approved that will lead the way towards my Work/Residence Permit and then I hope to be able to take you all cruising in the deep blue seas or enjoy a drink along the waterfront.
Cheers and Merry Christmas everyone!
PS: For direct comments or questions the following is my email addy - email@example.com