Living in Fiji can be just about what you make it. It can be cheap
or expensive depending on the lifestyle you chose to follow. If you
want the city life but on a smaller scale, then Suva, the capital, is for
When I was
reseaching an island to move to, Fiji kept popping up in the top five for
cost of living, quality of life and friendliness of the people. But living
in L.A. at the time, I knew I wanted a slower pace. To be on island
Suva is good
though as a change from big city life to island size city life and from
there you can find smaller quieter places not on the tourists tracks.
offers night clubs, apartments and houses from $250 to "luxury" flats and
homes ranging around $3500.
if you let the owner know you plan to live at the residence for a long
time, you can work a deal. Other then that, they see your face and automatically
think you have money.
There are a
couple of big supermarkets that feature imported foods and products.
The price is high. Almost $4 for a head of lettuce or cabbage from New
Zealand or Australia.
You also have
the traffic, noise and crowds in Suva. On the positive side, there
are the government offices and the American Embassy and you get to mingle
with mostly professional expats at the happy hour bars. Just stand
on Victoria Parade, the main thoroughfare, and you're bound to see if not
a familiar face, a foreign one.
On the other
side of Viti Levu, the main island and biggest of the group, is Nadi (Nan
di), the jet city, called this, I imagine because it's where the airport
is. There are night clubs, a good supermarket and a small community of
expats. Suva on a smaller scale. Lautoka, the sugar town, is north
of Nadi, and called the sugar town because of the large amount of sugar
cane farms and the ever present sugar train shugging through.
a seaport town and some cruises leave from here.
is quieter and slower than Nadi. A quaint place where you can
find lace mosquitoe nets and unique pots and early century kitchen do dads
that can only be found here in second hand shops. Rents are cheaper.
Not many expats.
down southeast of Nadi but still on the west side of the island is Sigatoka
(Sing ga toka), a small one road town. It was a one bridge town before
hurricaine Sina (1992) destroyed half of it. It was one lane with a stop
light on each end. Traffic going to Nadi had to wait until traffic
going to Suva cleared. The government was building a four lane bridge
when I left.
Sigato is the
last city before going into the interior or "salad bowl" as its called.
Thats where the majority of the vegetables on the island are grown.
market is great though Saturday is best. You can buy three heads
of cabbage or lettuce for fifty cents. A bunch of bananas for fifty
cents, bunch of string beans for the same price.
a supermarket where you can buy a head of lettuce from New Zealand for
almost $5. But why?
nothing to do in Sigatoka but in Korotogo (koro tongo, named after the
village) there's a couple of ma and pa Indian run stores, friendly locals
and a few expats. Let it be known that I spent five years in Fiji
and never ventured further than Korotogo. I went on a few tours but
I haven't seen anymore of Fiji. Plan to though, on my next trip.
The Reef Hotel is located here on the coral coast as the area is called.
It has a nice restaurant and a great bar for afternoon drinks or night
dancing. Coral coveres the beach but there are plenty of spots to sunbathe
and the ocean, protected by the reef, is clear and great for swimming.
Or just sit on the beach and watch the sun set.
mostly Methodist and don't go to the beach on Sundays.
You may find
a few Indian families and some tourists. Mainly, you will have it to yourself.
a month, you can get a three bedroom unfurnished flat with a large fenced
yard. These new flats are about seven years old. They have
hot water and lots of flowers and fruits trees in the yards. These
are in Korotogo on the backroad. If you plan a long stay, try bargaining
the price down.
can be a very laid back mostly hassle free stay but as with all paradises
nothing is perfect.
to associate with the locals. Good. But just like home, pick
your friends wisely. Don't let just anyone into your house.
Things can go missing. If offered a free carving (gift) by Fijians
on the street, say not thanks.
They say its
free then ask your name, carve it on the piece tahen want to charge you
$75 or more. It's illegal. If you refuse, they act threatening.
Remember in Fiji, like home, nothing is free.
learn to like grog.
Getting a job
in Fiji is almost impossible. I lucked up and got a teaching job.
I taught high school English in the interior. Thlis was after I had
my degree sent down. They want to see the original. They did
provide me with a free two bedroom barely furnished house. We had
a generator that came on for a few hours at night. No hot water,
outdoor non-flush toilet (a big hole with commode over it). I did
manage to save some money and really got a chance to mingle with the locals
and see the Fiji tourists don't see.
there is more of a need for accounting, science and math teachers.
To start a
business, you need a Fijian as your partner and permission from Immigratin.
You may also be asked to deposit $1800 as bond. (If all fails, they
want you to havae airfare out). Their approval could take from a
few weeks to years.
If you just
want to work there, you have to have some skill that a local doesn't and
you are to train them to take over your job in three years. This can be
extended. You can always try though, but have enough money to carry
you through all the hassals and paperwork and explaining. If you're
creative, perhaps you can come up with some unique job ideas of your own.
All in all,
Fiji is a great place. Reminds me of America 30 or 40 years ago.
But its changing as is everywhere. Still, Fiji is the way the world