We did it! He did it! She did it! They did it! You can too! This is how to and even a little of why in there as well.

To make this change from your homeland in the Northern Hemisphere, where most of us lived and endured, you need to go south and west, cross over the equator and then you can breathe deeply again. The air is pure and clean and the waters are crystalline. You don’t need to make a bigger deal of it than it really is. It is just a move and people move all the time. Yes, it is a different country and further away, but nothing is that far away on earth today. People run off to paradise all the time when they take a holiday to Tahiti or Fiji or even that lovely little island group called "Tonga." They pack a suitcase and get on a plane and fly to where life thrives. 12 hours more or less from most places up there will have you in a whole new world.

Now, if you want to live here in paradise; "just do it," to get Nike about it. After you arrive, just declare the place your home, and then stay there. That is accomplished by not using your return ticket. So, moving to the South Pacific is as easy as taking a holiday/vacation and merely continuing on with that experience. I know; there is a little more to it, but only as much you want to make of it.

To be fair, know that different countries require different things of you to allow you to legally take up residence for more than 6 months at a time, and so does Tonga. There are choices in how you can temporarily live permanently. For instance, Tonga has renewable long term residency visas starting out in two year stretches, but many people are content to fly out after their 6 months, stay overnight somewhere and fly back right back for another six months. You can do this endlessly. In fact, some folks without a residency visa fly every six months to Fiji, about an hour’s flight and costs around $500 USD, and fly back the next day or when it suits them for another six months stay in Tonga. The Tonga government will probably change that after reading this, but for now this works for those who don’t want to fill out paperwork.

The other way to become a more permanent resident and never have to fly out again is to apply for a residency visa, which is renewable and, conditionally, good forever. Tonga seems to be the easiest to qualify for such a residency. They have basically two kinds of residency visas; one is working/business and the other is nonworking/retired. The nonworking visa requirements are simple; just show an assured income of $15,000 Tongan dollars, or about $8000 USD/CA/AU in annual income. Most retirement or disability incomes suffice. Sometimes they will just accept a bank account that has enough in there to support you for a couple years or more.

The other visa offered in Tonga is a working/business visa where to qualify for that you need to invest $50K Tongan dollars or about half of that at $28,000 USD.

You can see that getting the legal right to reside is not too expensive in Tonga. Of course, if you just arrived with your suitcase and decided to stay as a more permanent resident, you would have to work out with your homeland banks how to wire transfer those sums over - best to arrange that before flying out.

I could make a bigger deal of this move to paradise, but it isn’t really necessary. After you live here you see how simple it was to achieve, then suddenly you think you are still not far enough away from that crumbling tower up there. Of course, there are issues in any move of what to do with your stuff. The best solution generally is; just sell it and all of it. The cost of shipping what is valuable has to be weighed against replacing it. Cars for example, talking about used ones, are cheaper to buy in paradise than the cost to ship yours and then yours probably has the steering wheel on the wrong side. Anyway, it is fitting that driving on the other side of the world would be on the other side of the road, the right side.

All household goods are available in these island countries. Most of the electric power is 220-240 volt, so 110 v appliances don’t work without a voltage drop device. Sell the old stuff and take the cash with you and buy new or used gear in the land where you intend to live. Everyone has their favorite things they can’t live without, so then ship them, but sure enough you actually can live without most of these things because for some reason living suddenly becomes the most important thing and many things lose their cling. Kind of like going to Heaven, you don’t even need shoes anymore. Thongs and a pair of Crocs or even the $10 Croc replicas are good enough to go to the opera in Tonga. "What opera?" The wife just said with a little displeasure for she admittedly misses the opera. (Nothing is perfect) I told her I was writing about the "phantom" opera in Tonga. OK, so some things we are missing, but the local native gigs make up for it and are quite an experience. If these native in full costume shows were ever taken on the road to London, NY or San Francisco, they might be a bigger hit than the played out Phantom of the Opera. I know; nobody really liked that one; they just pretended. The point I am making is; you can’t have everything, but some things you will never miss while living here that you can’t live without back home today. TV is one of them.

This anti-TV talk could take me hours and pages, but yes, they have satellite TV in these islands and you can have it, all you want, but the distraction outside window of what nature is showing, the ocean scene, the whales passing by below or natives in canoes fetching your dinner tends to distract us from what some faked up bizarre life situation is playing on the Tube.

If you are able to secure a pension or a retirement income of any kind, you can probably live like a king in Tonga off of that income. Once you have a house, paid for, and some garden growing you can live well on less than $1000 USD per month.

Some people live from what grows in their back yard and swims in their front yard. No one ever starved in these islands. Actually, quite to the obvious contrary, indeed. For hundreds of years and way before money was introduced out here, and way before imported ugly corned beef was brought in, people lived quite well and actually, frankly and unwittingly, lived much better, much healthier. People live fine in paradise that have never had any money. In fact, there is an interesting correlation; the less money you have the better your health and life, if health is the core key to a good life.

If you can conjure up enough cash to meet the annual requirements for the retirement visa ($8000 USD) you can live so cheaply that you don’t even need that amount. In the islands you can live very well with little more than a traditional fale as these grass huts are called along the beach. Grass huts can work pretty well actually, and they have some very fancy ones. Some of the highest priced hotels use them as guest cottages, so you could suffer like their guests too, and they pay thousands for the experience. Granted, the gold fixtures and fancy extras are part of the hotel experience, but what’s a plain toilet cost? To build a grass house can be cheap. Ask any native how much they paid a thousand years ago, even a hundred, even fifty. Zero is the price then and now, if you learn how to DIY.

When I have asked some folks when the last time you were physically together with your loved ones, many say, well, years, in some cases. When I ask how far away they live, most say over 600 miles. My point is; if they didn’t see them because the drive of 600 miles took too long, then they can justify the move to paradise because it takes about the same time to fly there or back, that being all day, same as driving the 600 miles. Yes, it costs more to fly, but at least you can do it. What you save in living expenses might allow two trips per year. Check this out.

Cost of living: On the island property advertised here you can figure your living costs and zero for power (thanks to solar system) and zero for water (thanks to rain catchments system) and zero for food that grows there, but add all you want to your imported appetite. Pickles, sweet gherkins, and Canadian real maple syrup are two items you will pay more for than you might ever have had to before. These are luxuries and there are many more of these kinds of things that are not local, so they have to be imported, which is freight and duty added to their original cost.

There is mobile phone service most everywhere, so cheap phone is a given. Gas for the propane oven and hot water heater is about $25USD each month. Food is wild and free from the yard and from the purposeful garden; you just have to buy or find the seeds. Fish is fresh from the sea and free, unless you buy it from the fish vendor. The open native market in town has about everything the garden has and much more. Some things are so cheap, like bananas, that even though we grow them, we still buy them at the market. We have hundreds of free coconuts, but they are up the tree, (called the tree of life and for good reasons - in WWII, they used the coconut water in lieu of blood plasma) so for about 60 cents each, we can buy them husked and ready to drink or eat. There are some tasty foods native to the islands that have local names that sound like Monsanto pesticides, but they are over the moon tasty, and with no chemicals. We use passion fruit vines as a decorative cover for a water tank and the fresh fruit is the bonus.

Food and healthy diet "R US" is how to see the additional benefit of living in paradise. So many people have healing stories about throwing out the big pharma medicines in lieu of some strange leaves and teas. To put it bluntly, you are not going to get genuinely healthy food in our homelands, just not possible given what has transpired over the years there. Even if you live on the farm, something is messed with there, GMO food being one big factor. The soil is played out, or the radioactive fallout from Japan in the soil is played in. A book could be written about that situation, but in the islands, no fallout, no GMO, no depleted soil or generally, not any pesticides either.

As ever,
Robert Bryce