Fiji, known as ‘the soft coral capital of the world’, is a stunning island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, 2000 miles east of Australia and 1600 miles north of New Zealand.
Characterized by its beautiful beaches, warm climate (the temperature is generally between 77 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit, year round) and laid-back lifestyle, it is not hard to see why Fiji is the destination of choice for many people.
However, it is also important to consider the cost of living if you are planning on relocating to Fiji. In this article, we will take a closer look at the cost to live in Fiji, and what you can expect to spend on a range of expenses.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Fiji?
Arguably the most important factor to consider when discussing the cost of living in Fiji is the housing market.
Prices vary depending on where on its 200 plus islands you would like to live, as well as if you would like to buy a property or rent a property.
As a standard guide, on average, it costs 51.5% less to live in Fiji than it does in the United States of America. If you are looking for an apartment in one of the major cities such as Suva, Lautoka or Nadi, you can expect to pay around FJD 1,000 – 1,500 (Fijian Dollars) for a one-bedroom apartment per month.
However, if you are looking for something more luxurious, or more suburban, you can expect to pay upwards of FJD 2,000 per month. This is around $905 USD per month.
Cost of Food
You won’t be surprised to learn that food costs are also significantly lower in Fiji than in the US. On average in the Fijian supermarkets, 2 pints of milk will cost you around FJD $2.50, and a loaf of bread FJD $1.
However, it is also worth noting that you can save money on fresh fruit and vegetables by purchasing them from local markets, rather than supermarkets. Throughout Fiji, there are numerous market stalls set up by independent sellers, and you will often find the fruit and vegetables to be significantly cheaper in these than in the bigger supermarkets.
For example, 2 pounds of bananas will set you back around FJD $4 in a supermarket, but you can buy a whole bunch from a market stall seller for as little as FJD $2. Similarly, a pound of tomatoes can cost up to FJD $10 in a supermarket, but it is highly unlikely that you will ever pay over FJD $5 for the same amount at a market stall.
If you like to treat yourself to a meal out every now and then, it is unlikely that you will ever pay over FJD $30 per person. Fast food prices are also cheaper in Fiji, with a meal at McDonald’s costing no more than FJD $15.
Similarly, a pint of local beer will be around FJD $5, while imported beer can cost slightly more, coming in at an average of FJD $8. A bottle of wine is likely to cost anywhere between FJD $15 and $20.
Surprisingly, owning a car in Fiji can be quite expensive compared to a lot of other countries. This is because cars are subject to high import taxes.
However, public transport is generally deemed efficient in Fiji, and is relatively cheap. An average one way ticket on the bus can cost around FJD $1-$2, while a taxi ride from one side of town to the other can cost anywhere from FJD $10 to $20.
Because of the availability of public transport, and the high costs associated with owning a car in Fiji, it is advisable that you stick to public transport, as it will save you a lot of money, thus cutting down the cost to live in Fiji.
What About Utilities?
Of course, paying the rent of mortgage is probably your biggest outgoing expense, but it is also important to factor in the costs of your utilities, including gas, water, electricity, cooling and garbage disposal.
Everybody’s use of these utilities differs from person to person, but for an average one person apartment, these utilities (combined) are likely to cost you around FJD $115 per month.
Internet is another outgoing expense and is vital in today’s world: in Fiji, this can cost up to FJD $65 per month.
In total, for your utilities, you can expect to pay around about FJD $200 per month, which is significantly cheaper than many places worldwide. Obviously, if you have a family to provide for, this cost is likely to be higher, as more energy will be consumed and you will need a premium internet connection and package too, especially if you or any of your family members work from home.
What Is It Like to Study in Fiji?
Fiji is certainly an attractive place to live in, but what if you want to further your education, or you have a partner or children who are looking to go to college or university on the Fijian islands?
Perhaps the most famous of all the Fijian universities is the University of the South Pacific, which is also the highest ranking university in the country. It is based in Suva, and accepts both national and international students. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete in Fiji.
University tuition fees range from as little as FJD $300 per year for Fijian citizens and from FJD $600 for international students. However, this cost can be significantly higher if you choose to study medicine, and can even be as expensive as FJD $12,000 per year for Fijian citizens and FJD $24,000 for international students.
There are also a range of other universities in Fiji which are ranked highly in the country, including The University of Fiji, Fiji School of Medicine and the Pacific Theological College.
How Many Airports Are There in Fiji?
Of course, you will need a way to arrive into the island nation if you decide to live in Fiji, but knowing where the airports are also helps if you want to take a vacation any time.
There are 15 airports in Fiji, although the most major one – which receives 97% of Fiji’s international visitors – is Nadi International Airport, on the west coast of the main Fijian island, Viti Levu.
If you want to travel from Nadi International Airport to the city of Suva, which is on the other side of the island, it will take you between 3 to 3.5 hours in a car. However, the city of Nadi is just over 10 minutes’ drive away from the airport.
Return flights from Australia to Fiji are around USD $300, while flights from New Zealand will set you back around USD $700, and from Los Angeles to Fiji you can expect to pay around USD $900 for a return flight.
Tips on Saving Money While Living in Fiji
As you may have already noticed, the cost to live in Fiji is significantly cheaper than living in the United States. Therefore, saving money is definitely easier than back at home in the States. However, there are still some tips worth noting which can help you save money which you may not have been aware of before.
- Market Stalls vs Supermarkets
From a convenience point of view, supermarkets are much easier to shop at than going around market stalls. And on top of that, you know that foods will be properly stored and prepared, and that they have to adhere to certain health and safety and hygiene standards. This is great for peace of mind as well as knowing exactly what substances you are putting into your body.
However, fruit and vegetables can cost you significantly more in supermarkets than on local market stalls. And in Fiji, there are an abundance of markets in almost every town and village, and plenty of them in cities too.
Many of the market stall workers sell fresh produce, such as coconuts, bananas, tomatoes, lettuce, grapes and more by the bunch, or by the pound, and at a much cheaper price than the supermarkets do.
By shopping at local market stalls, you are also helping the local Fijian economy, and reducing your carbon footprint – what’s not to love about that?
Most people have had a gym membership at some point in their lives, and going to the gym can be a great way to keep in shape and keep yourself fit. A gym membership in Fiji will cost you around FJD $45 per month.
However, you can save money in Fiji by exercising outdoors – the climate is temperate year round, and early mornings and evenings provide cooler temperatures, making it ideal for going for a run.
There are also lots of fitness parks in Fiji, which are free to use – including weights-based machines, such as leg presses and chest presses. You can use these, free of charge, 24.7, and top up your tan while working out as well!
And why not end an early morning run along the coast with a dip in the sea – surely that’s more appealing than using a shared shower at a gym or fitness center?
- Eating Out vs Eating In
Gorgeous beach restaurants and stunning cafes line Fiji’s coasts, and it’s easy to see why these places are so attractive to eat at.
Despite the relatively cheap cost of eating out in Fiji, it is still cheaper to cook at home and make your own food – it is even cheaper than ordering take out meals to be delivered to your home, too.
A good quality three course meal for two people in a high end restaurant can range anywhere from FJD $40 to FJD $170, while a fast food take out meal can cost around FJD $15.
Obviously it is nice to go out for a meal or treat yourself to a take out meal every now and then, but if you eat out or order take out regularly, it can cost you a lot of money in the long term.
We all love a nice coffee in the morning, and what better way to drink a coffee than by watching the sunrise on a beach in Fiji?
There are plenty of chains in Fiji, including Starbucks, where you can get your caffeine fix from. There are also a range of independent coffee shops, too.
However, an average coffee – let’s say you order a regular cappuccino – will set you back around FJD $5. Not overly expensive, right? However, if you order one every day before you go to work, that can cost you FJD $25 a week, or FJD $100 a month, or even FJD $1,200 a year – that’s a lot of money to spend just on coffee!
However, if you visit the supermarket and buy ground coffee or coffee beans that you can grind yourself at home, you can expect to pay around FJD $5 for an entire bag, which will make a lot more than one coffee!
You can also pick up a new coffee machine for around FJD $200, which, although it is quite a large investment initially, can save you a fortune in the long run, if you take that extra few minutes every morning to make yourself a coffee at home.
You’ll also help to save the planet too, if you drink using your own mugs at home or purchase a reusable travel mug or thermos flask, rather than using disposable paper cups which coffee chains and shops serve their take out coffees in.
Overall, Fiji is a great place to live. There are very few language barriers (Fiji has three official languages: English, Fijian and Fijian Hindi), so if you are planning on moving from the United States to Fiji, the chances are that you will not have to learn a new language.
Additionally, the cost to live in Fiji is much cheaper than living in the United States, by over 50%. There are also numerous ways in which you can save money living in Fiji, such as buying your fruit and vegetables at market stalls rather than at the supermarket, or by investing in a good quality coffee machine to save you buying a take out coffee every morning.
Transport is also cheaper than at home, and although the convenience of having a car is ideal, it can cost a lot to run one in Fiji, given the high import taxes on cars.
As long as you earn a reasonable amount of money – the average monthly salary in Fiji is FJD $2451 (after tax) – then the cost to live in Fiji is completely justifiable and you will be able to enjoy a comfortable life on this tropical paradise of an island in the South Pacific.