Moving to Fiji
Expats moving to Fiji will find a Pacific paradise rich in culture, with pristine beaches and wonderful places to explore. Though it has a difficult political situation, living in Fiji can both be exciting and rewarding.
Fiji is located in the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of more than 330 islands. The largest island is Viti Levu, which hosts Suva, the capital, as well as Nadi (pronounced 'Nandi'), the second largest city in Fiji.
Since 1987 the political situation in Fiji has been somewhat turbulent. However, since democratic elections in 2014, the islands have started seeing a resurgence of employment opportunities. Expats are often employed in management, education, tourism and the NGO sectors. It can be difficult for foreigners to get a work permit for Fiji, so potential expats should ensure that they have their documentation ready before they move.
Most expat jobs are based in Suva, Nadi or one many surrounding island resorts. For those based in Suva or Nadi, it’s easy to escape on the weekend. Expats can head to 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 on the surrounding coral reefs. Fiji is also a regional hub, and heading to the nearby Pacific Island countries of Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati or Vanuatu is easy.
For those moving to Fiji with children, there are several international schools in Suva and Nadi that teach various curricula to students from more than 40 countries. While Fiji has both public and private healthcare options, most expats use small private hospitals in Suva and Nadi. These offer a good basic standard of healthcare; however, they are limited in terms of their diagnostic, specialist and surgical abilities. Thus, expats should ensure they have health insurance that includes repatriation to hospitals in Australia and New Zealand if necessary, especially in complicated or emergency cases.
Expat accommodation in Suva and Nadi is relatively expensive because of the limited housing stock, and it can take time for new arrivals to find suitable accommodation. Potential owners and tenants should ensure their houses have suitable security arrangements, a back-up power generator and air conditioning. Power outages are common, especially after storms that lash the islands in the summer months, and houses need to be able to withstand them.
Fiji has a number of international banks that offer services to expat clients. ATMs, debit and credit facilities are available, and most banks offer Internet banking services, although expats will need a residence visa before they can open an account.
Its unique mix of cultures, natural beauty and tropical lifestyle make Fiji a great destination for resilient expats.
Full name: Republic of Fiji
Population: About 890,000
Capital city: Suva
Other major cities: Nadi, Tavua, Labasa
Neighbouring countries: New Zealand, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna
Geography: Fiji is made up of 332 islands (of which 106 are inhabited) and 522 smaller islets. Viti Levu (where the capital Suva is found) and Vanua Levu make up about three-quarters of the total land area of the country. The islands are mountainous, consisting of thick tropical forests.
Political system: Unitary parliamentary republic. Fiji was previously governed under military rule; although Fiji is now relatively stable, there are still chances that civil unrest could flare up.
Major religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam
Main languages: English, Fijian, Hindi
Money: The Fijian Dollar (FJD), divided into 100 cents. Expats can open a bank account in Fiji once they have a work or residence permit, although many continue to use an international account as well. ATMs are readily available in the main cities and credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas.
Tipping: Not required. 5 percent for good service, left in communal tip jars, is sufficient.
Time: GMT +12 (GMT +13 from November to January)
Electricity: 240 volts AC, 50Hz. Power point fittings are the 3-pin Australian/New Zealand infused type.
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 does exist in Fijian cities, but much of the infrastructure is not well-developed. Most expats opt to buy or hire a car during their time in Fiji. Road conditions in the main cities are of a fair standard, but when one moves outside the main city, the roads can become poorly-maintained and dangerous.