Fiji is a stunning and idyllic Pacific island nation that boasts of pristine beaches, turquoise waters and lush greenery, making it a paradise for tourists and nature lovers. With over 330 islands, Fiji is a treasure trove of natural beauty, from its coral reefs and white sand beaches to its verdant rainforests and waterfalls.
Most expats choose to live on Viti Levu, the largest island in Fiji, which is also the hub of commerce and government, and home to the capital, Suva. Viti Levu offers a wide range of experiences, from bustling cities to quiet, secluded beaches and traditional Fijian villages, making it an attractive destination for expats looking for a unique cultural experience.
Living in Fiji as an expat
Though it has a turbulent history, living in Fiji can be both exciting and rewarding. Since 1987, the political situation in Fiji has been volatile. But with the successful implementation of a new constitution in 2013 and the first peaceful democratic elections in 2014, Fiji has started enjoying stability and a resurgence of employment opportunities.
The education, tourism and NGO sectors are the biggest expat employers. But it can be difficult for foreigners to get a work permit for Fiji, so potential expats should ensure they have their documentation ready before they move.
Most expat jobs are in Suva, Nadi or one of the many surrounding island resorts. There is also plenty for expats to see and do during their leisure time. Expats can head to the dozens of resorts sprinkled around Viti Levu, explore the island's remote jungle interior, or travel to one of the smaller nearby islands. Many spend their weekends sailing, surfing or diving in the coral reefs.
Cost of living in Fiji
While the cost of living in Fiji is relatively low, expats should be careful when negotiating their salaries, as the costs of accommodation and education can quickly add up. Expat accommodation in Suva and Nadi is relatively expensive because of the limited supply, so it often takes time for new arrivals to find suitable housing. Expat parents will also need to budget for the exorbitant cost of international schools in Fiji. Luckily, locally grown food and restaurants are affordable, which helps keep grocery bills down.
Expat families and children in Fiji
Expat families moving to Fiji with children will find a few international schools in Suva and Nadi that teach foreign curricula. Competition for international schools is notoriously fierce, though, so parents should start the application process as soon as possible to secure a place for their children.
While Fiji has both public and private healthcare options, most expats use the small private hospitals in Suva and Nadi. These offer a good basic standard of healthcare; however, they have limitations in terms of their diagnostic, specialist and surgical abilities. Expats should therefore ensure they have health insurance that includes evacuation to hospitals in Australia or New Zealand.
When it comes to being out and about with the family, Fiji has something for everyone. Most resorts have many activities to keep the little ones engaged while educating them about Fiji’s rich culture and traditions. Beach days, hikes, kayaking and island hopping are some exhilarating pursuits expats can look forward to.
Climate in Fiji
The climate in Fiji is tropical marine, characterised by the wet and dry seasons. Fortunately, the weather is typically warm throughout the year. Perhaps, the only downside to living in this idyllic Pacific island country is the humidity and constant rain during the wet season, which can cause mould.
Though not perfect, Fiji has a lot to offer adventurous expats. Its unique mix of cultures, natural beauty and tropical lifestyle make it an incredible destination for those looking for something different and an even better quality of life.
Essential info about Fiji
Full name: Republic of Fiji
Population: Approximately 910,000
Capital city: Suva
Neighbouring countries: As Fiji is in the South Pacific Ocean, it has no direct neighbours. The closest countries include New Zealand in the far south, Australia to the west and Papua New Guinea to the northwest.
Geography: Fiji consists of more than 300 islands, with only 100 inhabited. The islands are mountainous with thick tropical forests.
Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Major religions: Christianity, Hinduism and Islam
Main languages: English, Fijian and Hindi
Money: The official currency is the Fijian Dollar (FJD), divided into 100 cents. Most expats use one of Fiji's multinational banks. ATMs are readily available in the main cities, and credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas.
Tipping: Not expected but appreciated
Time: GMT+12 (GMT+13 from November to January)
Electricity: 240V, 50Hz. Plugs are the same as those used in Australia and New Zealand.
Internet domain: .fj
International dialling code: +679
Emergency contacts: 917 (police), 911 (fire and ambulance)
Transport and driving: Traffic drives on the left-hand side. Public transport in Fijian cities is extensive, but its infrastructure is underdeveloped. Most expats opt to buy a car and hire a local driver during their time in Fiji.