Boasting over 300 islands, countless white sandy beaches and home of one of the friendliest people in the world, Fiji is fast becoming a place for many to relocate to or even work from whether it is a for a short period or a long stint.
For a foreigner, coming and setting up in a new country may at times appear to be a daunting task but this should not stop you from the adventure of your life.
Officially known as the Republic of Fiji, the country is an island nation with 330 islands of which only 33% are inhabited. The country has over 900, 000 people living in the country with the capital being Suva City which is based in the largest of the islands, Viti Levu. Fiji’s closest neighbor towards the West is Vanuatu with Tonga the closest from the East whilst Tuvalu is our closest neighbor from the North. The farthest island in the archipelago is Ono-i-Lau.
Fiji has two major islands - Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Most of Fiji’s economic activities occur on Viti Levu which has most of the infrastructure such as Fiji International Airport in Nadi, Fiji’s principal port is in Suva City, the Sugar Cane industry is mainly centred in Lautoka and most of the banking institutions, business houses as well as overseas organisations are based in the country’s capital - Suva City. Compared to other Pacific Island countries, Fiji is the most developed with it being labelled as the Hub of the Pacific and also has an abundance of mineral, forest and fish resources.
Permits & Visas
Inorder to reside in Fiji, you will need to have the correct paperwork which would mean you will have to liaise with the Department of Immigration. The country has four permit categories which allows people to apply and these are
Study in Fiji
Work in Fiji
Live in Fiji
All applications are submitted to a work permit committee who will then assess the applications. The Committee sits on a weekly basis and it is made up of representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Fiji Police Force, Prime Minister’s Office as well as the Ministry of Justice and the Chief Immigration Officer for Permits.
To get a local license, you would have to head to the Land Transport Authority or LTA. The Agency is a statutory body of the Fijian Government. They also have a website which has live chat (www.lta.com.fj) and it has live chat in case you have any queries. However, if you have a full license from your country of origin, you can drive on Fiji roads for six months before heading down to LTA if you are looking at staying longer in Fiji.
Fiji has a wide variety of chain stores which provides for high end shoppers as well as those that are health conscious.
In the country there are retail outlets such as Courts Fiji Limited, Vinod Patel Home & Living, Subrails Furniture, Carpenters, Rups Big Bear and many other small shops which sell appliances and furniture for the home, hardware tools and basically anything needed in a home.
Looking for grocery, there are a few family owned outlets around the country. New World Supermarket is a family owned franchise in Fiji which recently became International Grocers Alliance or IGA certified. These IGA outlets sell a whole range of high end produce as well as food which are mostly sold abroad.
Another huge food retail company is Morris Hedstrom with outlets all around the country. This company also has a huge building in the heart of Suva (Fiji’s capital) called MHCC which houses a food court, shopping centre as well as a luxury shops like Prouds Fiji, Tappos and Jacks.
There are numerous variety shops all around the country which caters for other needs like spices, sweets, materials, customs tailors, shoe shops and many more.
Renting in Fiji
Since 2007 a rent freeze has been in place in the country which basically means that landlords are not supposed to make any changes to the rentals without the approval of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC). FCCC is a Government statutory body which looks after issues such as rental, competition in the market and even price controlled items.
According to FCCC, the Rent Control section of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 (FCCC Act 2010), reveals that there is no distinction between residential properties rented to expats and locals. The price of rent is attributed to the standard and facilities provided in each property. By law the first price is set by the landlord and tenant and does not need the intervention of the FCCC. Any increase thereafter is subject to the control of the FCCC and the rent freeze order currently in force. This implies that no increase is allowed during the period of the freeze and this has been in force since 2 March, 2007.
Depending on where you are employed, renting will be determined according to the location. Some issues to consider would be the location of the property and its proximity to the basic amenities, security, neighborhood, road condition as well as the distance from your place of employment.
Getting a house to rent in Fiji will not be a problem as the country has over seventy (70) registered real estate and over 200 salespersons in the industry. Apart from this, the country has its very own website property.com.fj which is dedicated to listing properties for rent and for sale and currently allows all licensed real estate agents, salespersons and even private sellers to list.
Fiji has around 700 primary schools and 150 secondary schools in the country. Education in Fiji is free through right up to secondary school level. The education system is Fiji is managed by the Government and the curriculum is set by the Curriculum Development Unit.
These are the Government sponsored schools. Apart from these, expats usually send their children to a select few schools in the country which have a curriculum that meets global standards or are International Baccalaureate - Suva International School, Nadi International School, American International School Nadi and Suva Christian Community Schools.
Following pre school, primary and secondary education, children in Fiji then progress to either vocational or Tertiary education. The country has three major Tertiary institutes - University of the South Pacific (USP), University of Fiji and the Fiji National University (FNU).
Fiji has two options - public health services or private health services. For public health service, this is provided by the Ministry of Health and there are four Divisional Hospitals with 21 sub divisional centres in the country. This service is provided to all those residing in the country and at times may see those seeking medical attention waiting patiently for their turn to be seen
However, at the same time, the MIOT hospital which was formerly known as Suva Private Hospital is based in the country’s capital - Suva. This is usually frequented by expats as well as tourists as the waiting time may be shorter and also has world class service and doctors attending to those present. Most overseas based organisations prefer that their clients or employees use MIOT Hospital.
Local News sources
The country has two competing newspaper outlets - Fiji Times and Fiji Sun. The Fiji times is owned by the Motibhai Group of Companies whilst the Fiji Sun is owned by the Sun (Fiji) Limited. Apart from this mediu, there are two major radio station companies in Fiji which also broadcast news hourly namely Fiji Broadcasting (owned wholly by the Government of Fiji) and Communications Fiji Limited which is a public listed company. There are numerous online news portals in the country which also have news and the latest events in the country such as Fijivillage.com, FBC.com.fj. . Apart from this, the Fijian Government also has a Department called the Department of Information, which covers and publishes all events and Government related functions.
The country has access to the internet with only only censorship being the Online Safety Bill targeted at cyber bullies, irresponsible social media posts. Other than these, you will be able to access all overseas news sites.
Cities and Towns in Fiji
Fiji has 2 cities and 13 towns. This individual towns and cities have their own attractions which visitors to the country will be rearing ti discover.
Suva is the capital of Fiji and the main hub for the country’s economy. The City has the country’s port of entry as well as all Government offices are based in the city. Apart from this, Suva has British colonial buildings, such as the Suva City Library as well as Victorian-era Thurston Garden. Suva also has a wide range of Shopping centres and outlets.
Known as the Sugar City, Lautoka is the heart of the Sugar Industry and is the 2nd city in Fiji. The city name when translated means “bulls eye” and comes from a duel between two chiefs with one of being victor and yelling Lautoka after spearing his opponent. Lautoka City is well known in the country after bagging the award for cleanest Municipality.
The small township is just minutes drive away from Lautoka City and is known as the Soccer town of Fiji. Being home to some of Fiji’s wealthiest families, Ba Town has a population of over 14, 000.
Now known as the gateway to the West, Lami town is fast becoming a hotspot with many developments and companies turning to this seaside town as a place to set up or to expand to. This small town is becoming a hikers delight with the likes of Mount Korobaba and Joske’s thumb.
Labasa town is the largest town on Fiji’s second largest island - Vanua Levu. It falls within the Macuata Province and is referred to as Babasiga. With a population of over 27, 000, Labasa is the centre of business for the Northern Division. It also boasts Fiji’s floating island.
This is Fiji’s old capital and Fiji’s historical port township which was developed in the 19th century by Americans and Europeans. They built warehouses, residences, stores and even educational and religious institutions.
Known as the Hidden Paradise of Fiji, Savusavu town has over 3,000 people living in the township which is located on the Southern part of Fiji’s 2nd largest island - Vanua Levu. Originally set up as a port for trade, it is now fast developing into a tourist hotspot.
Rakiraki town is known locally as Vaileka and is home to many famous politicians and business families. Located in the Ra Province, Rakiraki town is home to over 3, 000 people.
With a population of over 5, 000, Navua Town is found within the Serua Province. Lying on the Navua River just minutes off the Queens Highway, Navua has become a pit stop for many who are travelling to the West or even returning to Suva.
Fiji’s gateway to the world is Nadi Town as its boasts the country’s very own International Airport. This is the tourist capital of the country as it boasts hotels, resorts and even timeshare villas. Nadi also has become a melting pot of cultures with the advancement of the tourism industry.
Nausori town has a population of over 47, 000 people and is situated 19 kilometres out of Suva City. Nausori is home to 3 provinces namely Tailevu, Naitasiri and Rewa. nausori is also the home of second international airport in Fiji.