Suva, Fiji Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Suva, Fiji

Suva, Fiji 10/20/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this is my second post overseas.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

East Coast USA. LONG. Did I mention long. The international airport in Fiji is in Nadi, roughly a four-five hour drive around the island or a 30-minute flight from Suva via commuter plane. From Nadi it is about a 12-13 hour flight to LAX. Because of the arrival time in LAX (late morning/early afternoon) all the morning flights to the East Coast have finished so you are doing about a 8-9 hour layover in LAX if you want to take the red eye to NY, IAD, or ATL, and then you have another connection to your final destination. You are looking at about two days of travel time. Take a rest stop in LA and your body and mind will thank you.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is a very mixed bag and causes quite a bit of drama within the Embassy community. Simplest way to describe housing is this: the housing is adequate. Some houses have pools, and nice yards, but the big issue is all houses are small. There is not a lot of storage space, and anything stored outside will quickly be covered in mold and mildew.



Housing is expensive in Suva, and housing that meets standards is limited. Many international and diplomatic groups are competing for houses, so price does quickly become an issue. There seems to be no real middle class in Fiji, therefore you have either really run-down houses or very, very expensive houses.



The two main areas are Tamavua or Domain. Domain is about a 10-15 minute cab ride to the embassy. Domain houses are closer to downtown/waterfront and tend to be smaller and older, but the yards are bigger, and the houses tend to have some character. Tamavua, while closer to the embassy (some within walking distance), and bigger, you are further away from downtown and traffic can be bad. Depending on the house, road noise can be an issue.



All housing is leased. Expect to have bugs and geckos in your house. You will run your dehumidifier all the time. Expect houses to be older and quirky. You won't have a lot (if any) storage space. If you are coming from a location that had big, modern houses you might feel disappointed.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Limited and pricey. While the land is good for farming in Fiji, locally grown items are limited and almost everything is imported. And when items run out it can be awhile before they show back up. Expect to pay US $50-60 for a case of Fijian beer. Expect to pay more than US $10 for a pint of strawberries (when you can find them). Get the name of the butcher on the other side of the island and have meat delivered. That being said, bananas, limes, mangos, pineapples that are local are some of the best you will ever taste. Also, Amazon Prime Pantry will become your friend.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Use your consumables! Check with the CLO on what you should bring. Stock up on beer, wine, and liquor. Also, read the bio security rules on what you can/cannot bring in. There is no diplomatic exemption and bio-security will be at your house when your consumable/HHE shipment arrives. They will inspect boxes and confiscate items.

Also note that Fiji just recently changed their rules and now does not allow your HHE, UAB, POV to start to move until you are accredited. That can take a month. So for example your UAB may not arrive until 2-3 months after you arrive at Post. HHE from the US can take 6+ months. It seems like this can cause a lot of stress for new staff.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Again limited. Lots of curry houses. Holiday Inn has a decent wood-fired pizza. Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH) has a decent restaurant. Bulacino has locations all across Fiji; when we left the Suva location was closed but hopefully will reopen. They have a great breakfast and lunch. They also have bagels on occasion. Governors House has a good breakfast and they have a lot of Fijian film memorabilia. Daikoku is a decent Japanese restaurant. Of course, there is McDonalds and Burger King. No delivery options available.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

It's the tropics. You will have ants in your house. You will come to love the geckos in your house that eat the ants. Some houses had issues with rodents. Embrace any feral cats on your property and they should help with the rodent population.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch, so know the rules and restrictions. I had someone send something from the US to me via Fijian Post and it took about a year to arrive.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available, inexpensive, but quality depends. Most people have part-time household help. You will also want a gardener to come once a week. Being the tropics your yard will need someone. A coworker attempted to do his own yard work and that lasted one day.

Also, hire a pool company to clean your pool if you have one, as your pool will not be maintained for you.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a "prison gym" (as it's called) at the Embassy.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Some places take credit cards. Anyplace that does take cards will charge an additional 3% fee (even hotels and resorts). While we were in Suva there was a rash of credit card numbers being stolen. Use the ATM or cashier in the Embassy. Don't use local ATMs - just assume they are compromised. Fiji is mostly a cash economy.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Everything is in English.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is the primary language.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Very much so.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful. RSO does not permit use of buses for Americans.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Fiji is a right hand drive country, but you can bring in a left hand drive as a diplomat. You can only sell your left-hand drive car to another diplomat. A lot of people had SUVs, but a small car will work fine. Quite a few people end up ordering a used car from Japan. You will see lots of Priuses in Fiji.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Hahaha. All internet is cellular-based (there is some fiber to the home options, but limited) and it's all capped. You will see average download speeds around 5mb. For cellular, there are two companies Digicell and Vodaphone. Which you use depends on your house and where you live. One house may get Vodaphone fine but right next door or down the street they can't get a signal so its Digicell. We used Digicell and had the highest packaged (100gb a month). You will hoard your data until the end of the month and then stream away. Unless you want to top up constantly you can forget Netflix, Hulu, etc.



I mentioned fiber. Yes, it is being rolled out in some areas. My understanding was if it wasn't in your area, the local telecom will be happy to run fiber to your residence, you will just pay for running the fiber on the whole street, so plan on paying for all of your neighbors to have access. Speeds are much higher than the cellular options, it is still capped.



Satellite tv is available though the channels are limited. You can get set up pretty quickly, average is about a month after arrival.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Digicell and Vodaphone are the only carriers.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

There is one vet in Suva located in Lami Bay that everyone uses. Getting animals in and out of Fiji is expensive and complicated. Read all the rules, and then read the rules again. All incoming animals must be quarantined at your expense. The quarantine period can be from 30-120 days. Fiji Airways is the only airline serving Fiji from the US. All animals must ride in the cargo hold.



Fiji Air doesn't allow animals on the domestic flight from Nadi to Suva so you will need to drive your pet between those two points. To export your pet you have to have it cleared for export by BioSecurity. You will then need to drive your pet to Nadi and turn it in hours before your flight, since Biosecurity will meet you at the airport to check the paperwork and then place a seal on the crate. Plan on your pet being in its crate for at least 24 hours. It is a long and complicated process. Be prepared to spend at least a month before your departure to get all the paperwork in order.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Those who choose to work try to get one of the limited jobs in the Embassy. There is no bilateral work agreement between the US and Fiji. Fiji also has a high unemployment rate so you would have to have a skill that is in short supply to get hired locally. Plan on fighting trying to get a job at the Embassy or not working at all. With limited internet telecommuting is next to impossible.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are some, but not as many as you would expect. There is a group of women who volunteer to take items to the local hospital.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Pretty casual. Short-sleeved shirt and khaki pants are fine for work. Shorts and tee shirt all other times. If you wear a suit you will stand out (besides with the heat and humidity you will sweat a lot).

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime is a big concern. Considerable security measures will have been taken to ensure your safety in your home. Use your alarm! Most crime is targeted towards locals however expats have had concerns. Listen to the RSO.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is very limited and basic. Pretty much anything that can't be fixed with a band-aid plan to be medevaced to Singapore (10+ hour flight). I think everyone who has served in Fiji has been medevaced for something at least once.



There is a small health unit at the Embassy, but the services they offer are limited. Suva Private Hospital is the approved hospital, but as I said if it is something a bandaid can't fix you will be on a plane to Singapore.



There is Zika in the country (but outside of the major cities). It's not really an issue unless you are hiking through the jungle. For divers there is only one decompression chamber in the country (located in Suva) but during out time there the chamber was broken. I don't know if it has been fixed but just be aware if you get bent while diving you might be in trouble.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very good. Occasionally you will see people burning yard waste but the air is pretty clean (just don't get caught behind a bus).

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Good chance you will be out of luck. Ask or at least don't plan to eat out.

View All Answers


5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The big issue is people think of Fiji as a paradise with white sand beaches and crystal clear water. While it is in Fiji, those picturesque landscapes aren't in Suva. Suva is a rainy city. The infrastructure is limited. There is "Fiji Time" as staff and Fijians do things when they get to it. Expect things to be accomplished in triple the amount of time it normally would take (if it is accomplished at all). People arrive thinking one idea about Fiji and are quickly disappointed by reality.



Also remember Fiji is a small rock in the South Pacific. You have to fly everywhere and it can be expensive.

View All Answers


6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Tropical.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ISS is the only accredited school in Suva. If you are expecting a rigorous school with lots of homework, forget it. Kids love the school as it's laid back, and it's not uncommon to see kids barefoot. We had some concerns about ISS (there tends to be a good amount of teacher turn over) but when we got to our current post both kids tested very night. We're not sure if it's the teachers or we have smart kids.

One thing to consider with ISS is it is good for elementary and middle school. The consensus is high school gets very iffy, so keep that in mind if you will have high school-aged kids.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Very little.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Most people hire nannies.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are some activities offered by ISS. Swimming, soccer and rugby are very popular.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community is very large, with the Australians and Kiwis (New Zealand) being the big players. The Aussie HighCom has quarterly "sausage sizzles" (parties) and are fun to go to. I think overall the morale (as a whole) is good; people come to Fiji because it's Fiji and to take it slow.

For the Americans, I would say the morale can change depending on the season. Being a small embassy people are usually working two - three desks, so stress levels (especially during transfer season) can be very high. For entry level officers they only get one R&R trip, so working two-three different desks with only one R&R could add to the stress level.

View All Answers


2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Single people will probably be bored out of their mind. For couples without kids its ok. It's a much better post for families.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

While not generally accepted, there is a decent-sized LGBT community.

View All Answers


4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Mostly between Fijians and Indo-Fijians. You can read up on the history.

View All Answers


5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Seeing white sand, crystal clear waters (like in the postcards). Auckland is a 3 hour flight, Sydney 5 hours. Hong Kong and Singapore are about 10 hours away. Honolulu from Nadi is only 6 hours (and is much cheaper to get to then Los Angeles). I Keep an eye on Fiji Airways as they offer deals occasionally to these locations.



If you are a diver or snorkeler you will be in heaven. So many options to choose from. Do the shark dive from Pacific Harbor/Bequa Island.



Now, here is a trick. Once you get your Fijian MFA card and drivers license a lot of the resorts offer "locals rate" - usually 50% or more off of the regular price. Take advantage of the offer.



One more thing to be aware of is Suva is on the Eastern side of the island (rainy side). All of the resorts are on the Western (dry) side. So to get to a resort you will drive 3-5 hours to get there. To get to the Mamanuca and Yasawa Island chains (where the real pretty resorts are) you have to take a boat from Nadi or a helicopter/sea plane. So add on time and cost for that. But once you get out there it is the most breath taking scenery.



Closer to Suva visit Leluvia Island. It's about a 45 minute boat ride from a landing near the airport. It's a bit rustic (generator power that is turned off at midnight) but it is absolutely beautiful. Quite a few people went out there all the time to get away.

View All Answers


6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Take the Yasawa Flyer (boat) from Nadi to the Yasawa Islands and stay at a resort (the location where the film The Blue Lagoon is in the Yasawas). Take a jet ski to the island where the film Castaway was filmed. Do the shark dive from Bequa Island. Go to Leluvia during whale migration season and maybe you will get lucky and see humpback whales swimming by. Go to the rugby stadium in Suva and watch a rugby game (Fijians love their 7s!)

View All Answers


7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are some neat wooden crafts made in Fiji. Go visit Max at the Suva Handicraft market (just ask for him). He knows everyone at the Embassy and will give you a good price on items. Plus you will get explanations on how items such as cannibal forks and war clubs were used!

View All Answers


8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You're in the South Pacific, a place where people save up to visit their entire life. I guess Fiji really isn't high on Washington's radar so the stress level can be low.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How difficult it was. I had family who visited us who said "you don't get enough differential to live here."

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

It depends. My family really liked Fiji, but for me it was a stressful tour. There was a good crew during my tour so that made it better. I guess the best answer is been there, done that. Just think long and hard about what you are wanting from your Fijian experience. If you are expecting to sit around the beach after work all day you will be very disappointed. If you are coming from a "modern" post, you will probably be disappointed. If you just want to come and "get off the grid" so to speak you will probably be happy.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Hope to get anything done in a timely fashion.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Patience, and sunscreen.

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"Getting Stoned with Savages." The description of Suva is spot on.

View All Answers


Suva, Fiji 04/18/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Baumholder, Germany

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Texas! From our home in Suva: a 20 minute flight to Nadi, an 11 hour flight to LAX, then a 4 hour flight to San Antonio, Texas.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived in Suva for 2.5 years now.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My spouse works for the US Embassy, in Suva, Fiji.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most banks and embassy families are in single family homes - not many live in apartments. Many houses have pools, and housing sizes vary greatly.
Most expats live in two areas of the city: The Domain and Tamavua.
Commute time in Suva is never more than 20 minutes to ANY one point.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

For local produce (pineapples, papaya, watermelon, lettuce, carrots, bananas, coconuts) prices are very cheap.
Meat is almost double the price of State-side pricing. Fish is very cheap (and tasty). Lobster, crab and shrimp are almost non-existent as they are shipped to the resorts first.
Anything imported is quite expensive, such as canned goods, cheese (is insane), berries.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

1) Patio furniture! Patio furniture is insanely overpriced here.
2) a BBQ. Also overpriced here, and we spend a lot of time having folks over, playing outside by the pool.
3) lightweight/fashionable rugs for the home. The indoor/outdoor rugs are great for this area/climate.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's (barf). More expensive than State-side, but not too pricey.
Nando's - excellent rotisserie chicken & fries. (an Aussie franchise) Mid-range in pricing.
FatBurger - good burgers & wings, but pricey.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

During some seasons, ants are a problem, but they don't bite.
Mosquitoes are definitely a problem, which means that Dengue is also a factor here.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We work at the Embassy, so we have our own mail (pouch) service.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very inexpensive and they are wonderful - especially with children.
We pay US$20 USD per DAY and we pay on the high-end.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, we have about 3 decent gyms, but not one of them is air-conditioned (which can be very miserable here).
Gyms cost half the price of a Stateside membership. There are also oodles of fitness classes and groups throughout the city.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We have cut back on using cards due to some issues with our cards getting hacked. Most places accept cards.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Non-denomination, Assemblies of God, LDS, etc.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None, but it's nice & polite to learn some basics.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I believe so. Fiji has very few acceptable sidewalks, and only the larger/newer buildings would have wheelchair accessibility.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Expats typically only use taxis. Buses are a bit sketchy, and trains don't exist.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Do NOT bring a convertible - it will be broken into. Sad, but true...
A small SUV is perfect for here, but smaller cars are also fine. The #1 car on the roads in Suva is the Prius - they are everywhere.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It's available, but not always "high-speed".
The cost is somewhat lower than State-side but you are limited in your usage each month.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

If you can, have your cell phone unlocked before arriving here, then simply buy a local sim card. It's worked very well for us and many of our friends.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

From the States, quarantine is 30 days and very expensive (we brought in pets; the process was horrendous, but it's do-able).
There are only 7 vets in 331 islands, so getting a good vet in an emergency can be quite difficult. Suva has 1 full-time vet and the SPCA has rotating vets - many times the SPCA is left without a vet for several weeks.
We typically hire a house-sitter to stay with our pets when we travel as kennels don't exist.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really. Obtaining a work permit has become easier over the years, but it's still not promising.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty! Fiji is still a developing country, so there are many groups here that welcome volunteers. Many of Suva's social groups are focused on helping local schools, hospitals, etc.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Much more casual than Stateside.
For men, suits and ties are rare. Most men wear a Bula shirt (similar to Hawaiian shirt) with khakis.
For women, skirts and dresses need to be just a few inches above the knee and shoulders mostly covered.
Open-toe shoes are acceptable for everyone.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Petty theft/crime. If it's not nailed-down, it will be stolen.
Most expat housing is well-secured with high fences and alarm systems. The good news is that violent crime is relatively low - criminals only want what you have - they want nothing to do with you.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Mosquito-borne diseases are a concern (dengue, zika), although most expats live in housing that either has A/C or screened windows, which helps tremendously.
There is a private hospital which does a nice job, but there are also many medevacs throughout the year for various reasons.
I do not recommend a life in Fiji for anyone who has chronic health problems, as that can be a definite problem.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Healthy! Very little pollution.

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

The only seasonal problem here is mold.
Anyone with a severe food allergy would have to be very careful eating out. Most restaurants don't understand the severity of some food allergies.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's almost always nice & warm here (although the locals are dressed in fleece at 75F!).
Fiji is lush and green, due to it's rainy seasons. The only bother is rough rain spells - sometimes a few weeks' of rain at a time is rough, especially for spouses who are not working.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is only the International School of Suva here, and we are quite happy with it. As a former teacher in the States, transitioning to this school was my biggest concern. The school community (kids & parents) are very welcoming. Our children are very happy, they are getting a good education, and they are getting a wonderful daily dose of culture as the school is comprised of over 40 different nations.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ISS does not have much to offer for children with special needs. They do have a learning support group that helps with ESL, and other minor learning challenges. There is virtually no assistance for children who may have physical challenges. (If you have a specific need, contact the school and they will help you assess whether your child would thrive at ISS).

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are several daycare options, but most expats are very happy with Little Ones and Kids First (both are found on Facebook). I'm not aware of exact pricing, but I do know that pricing is half (or lower) of Stateside pricing.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes and for great prices. Soccer, rugby, netball, AFL, martial arts, gymnastics, dance classes (traditional & island style).

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Suva has a large expat community and they are very welcoming. Even though it's a small city and you're limited to the island, you can only be bored if you choose to be. Expats are mostly happy here, although every community has to have it's negative-Nellys hanging around...

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Many BBQs, cocktail nights, formal fundraisers, you name it. It's very easy to assimilate into the expat community here.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

A great city for families & couples. I'm not sure about singles, as I honestly don't know many.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

My guess is no, as Fiji is still very conservative.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

We have seen less racial and religious prejudices here than in the States. Suva is very multi-cultural, and everyone gladly celebrates Diwali, Ramadan, Christmas, you name it.
Within the Fijian culture, women are still not as respected as they should be.

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

1) The people we meet. Fijians are always smiling, always humble, always putting others first.
2) Downtime on the islands! Although Suva is a port (no beach!) it's quite easy to island hop and spend a weekend in paradise.
3) Learning to take life at a slower pace. It's a rough adjustment, but it's wonderful when you finally cross over!

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Driving up to Colo-i-Suva rain forest. A 15-minute drive from Suva. Hike through the rain forest, and cool off in the waterfalls!
Take the Navua River day tour (30-minute drive from Suva). Go up river to a waterfall. Come back down river and spend lunch in a village, meeting the locals, eating a lovo lunch, and visiting their one-room school.
Hop on a boat and stay at Leleuvia Island. Unplug, enjoy the fabulous beach.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Beautiful handicrafts, such as Tapas, wood carvings, jewelry, "Bula" wear (tropical printed fabrics).

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The slow pace of life is very nice (although "Fiji Time" is typically the biggest part of culture shock when expats transition to Fiji).
Fijians are very welcoming and they love children. Our children have much more freedom here, as crimes against children are extremely rare. Our children also run barefoot and have a lot of play/downtime at school, which we think is very important in their young lives. Children's activities are also very inexpensive (my son's private guitar lessons are US$5 per hour!).
We enjoy the year-round warm temperatures (but you also have to endure the rainy season as well).
We appreciate that our children are learning about true poverty, first-hand. This is something they can never truly understand from reading a book.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

You probably could save some money but we spend what we could save on travel.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That I would have to get very creative with cooking. Sometimes basic staples and spices can disappear off shelves for months at a time. Luckily we have lots of fun online cooking/recipe sites these days!

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Make-up, fancy dresses, high heels. Life is casual here. Relax.
Bicycles (there isn't much space to ride them as sidewalks are so shabby).
Convertible autos.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrellas, light rain jacket, flip flops, mosquito repellent with DEET, monthly feminine products (very limited supply here), any prescriptions, bathing suits for the family (they aren't easy to find here for everyone).

View All Answers


5. Do you have any other comments?

We are incredibly happy with our life here in Fiji but Fiji isn't for everyone. I don't recommend Fiji for those who may be dependent on first-world products, privileges and lifestyle.

View All Answers


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More