When it is cold at home, or he has a couple of weeks with nothing to do but write his Times column, or when something unexpectedly stressful happens, like winning the Nobel Prize, the Princeton economist Paul Krugman and his wife, Robin Wells, go to St. Croix. Here it is warm, and the days are longer, and the phone doesn't ring much. Here they live in a one-bedroom condo they bought a few years ago, nothing fancy but right on the beach. The condo's walls are yellow and blue, the furniture is made of wicker, there are pillows and seashells. There are tall, sprawling bougainvillea bushes along the side of the road.

"We first fell in love with St. John," Krugman says. "It was New York lawyers who'd decided to give up on the whole thing and live on a houseboat and wear their gray ponytails."

"But St. John went too upscale," Wells says.

"Our complex is more Midwesterners. Retired car dealers and so on."

The east end of St. Croix is something of a tourist spot, but the west end, where they decided to settle, is where the Crucians live, and it has a Jimmy Buffett feel to it that they like. In Frederiksted, the west...

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