Re: Renting a room in St. Martin
Date: August 14, 2011 01:16PM
Johnny, do you read and speak French ?
If you do, there are French forums and message boards like this one pertaining to French St. Martin and Marigot, and there you will find lots of others like yourself looking for shared accommodation and roommates. And, they seem to be finding what they're looking for at acceptable Euro prices, so you never know. There are French papers and e-zines I've seen recommended for these purposes.
Those searching range from young people in their early to late twenties looking for employment in the restaurant industry as cooks and wait staff (there are lots of restaurants on the French side as you must know), to couples in their early 30s with young children leaving their stable jobs in France to try a bit of an adventure for a year or two, to people in their 40s living and working a nomadic life (a few months to a few years) before moving on.
I cannot speak to the success rate of their job search - but I have read positive and negative opinions about the local job situation, as on those sites as you'll find here. Advice is given to the proper legalities of employment as well.
The newcomers professional backgrounds and the work they hope to find are both varied : primary school teachers looking to teach, kindercare helpers to run nursery schools, specialist photographers (underwater filmmakers), sports men and women looking to find work in a gym or as beach sport staff at a french hotel, IT folk wanting to work in personal or commercial computer and wireless assistance/repair services, and many trades people. The latter includes plumbers, electricians, home renovations handymen, registered massage therapists (RMTs), artists and painters and others crafts people. Most I've read about either plan to, or have successfully gone on to set up their own business in a way that meets their needs and income basics. One guy in his early thirties with a wife and 2 young kids is considering a year's leave of absence from a decent paying job as a train conductor and move his family to Marigot to work intrepidly completely out of his field. Another with an entrepreneurial streak plans to open a residential cleaning service catering to villas (there are many). Yet another was advertising in search of a pick-up truck rental for some home construction work. I think he found one. Being an entrepreneur seems a definite asset.
As for accommodation, what may be considered a dump by one person might be quite acceptable to another person with different expectations and greater flexibility, so its worth your while to investigate all possibilities and make up your own mind. (I've heard posters renting small apartments for 600- 800 Euros pm on 1 year leases, with differing terms). Shared accommodations for less obviously.
Finally, I emphasise that if you're interested in the above kind of information on the French side of St. Martin, it is crucial that you are able to communicate in French. Some English is spoken but not much, and the everyday language of work is French.
Ideally you'd go on a 'reccie' to check things out and get a feel for the island and set your expectations but if this is not possible, try to read all you can about the island. Understand that it is very different from any small city or town that you might be familiar with, not only in its very small size (which can be claustrophobic after a while despite how beautiful it is) but in the economic, social and cultural sense, and the weather plays a large part in everyday life, especially during hurricane season.
Good luck !