In retrospect, would you move again to Vanuatu?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Vanuatu, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Vanuatu so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!


In retrospect, yes we would move again to Vanuatu. That's not to say we haven't had our fair share of problems to deal with. Cyclone Pam being one of the many hiccups. But on the whole, expats are tough, if one wasn't, Vanuatu isn't the place to live. Our only disappointment is the unfriendliness of the expats. We so looked forward to the comradely of people in the same situation.
A diplomat's wife once said to me, it's the most unfriendly place her hubby had been posted to. Sad, but true. I would be very interested to hear if other expats have found the same problem here.
But, as above at this stage in our lives, we can't imagine living anywhere else. :heart:

Gee that's rather sad to hear.   We are hoping to move to Vanuatu in the near future, will be visiting again next week, but were hoping that we would meet friendly expats when we move over.    It would be good to get some opinions from other expats wouldn't it.

Yes sygeorgio, it would be nice to hear from others. Please don't let me put you off, despite the unfriendliness, we will never leave, unless, god forbid, we had no choice. I suspect if you are going to be working here, or have kids at school, you will meet other expats. Because with work and kids gives you something in common. If you are coming here to retire, be prepared for enjoying each other's company.
Will you have kids at school, or will you be working?

Neither!   Planning semi retirement.   But having moved countries twice, we know how hard it is to make friends with local people, who already have their life long circle of friends,  but thought an ex pat community would be different somehow.   How long have you lived there?   It sounds like you are really happy which is encouraging.

Several years now. Ok, there are some frustrations, which you will no doubt experience. But there's no such place as Nirvana, anywhere you live.
We too thought we would make friends easily with the expats, we had no trouble in our mother country, but in hindsight, the friends there are friends we have had for 30 odd years. I guess it's not as easy to make new friends as one gets older.
It appears most of the expats are already in their little cliques, so not interested in welcoming others. At the end of the day, it's a lot of work making new friends.
When are you coming over?

We are coming over for a week next week Thursday for a "look, see, decide" visit and will decide when(if) to come over to the prospect is a bit daunting, even though exciting!   We hope to meet some realtors and perhaps talk to a builder....which from what I can understand (for the latter), can be difficult!

My wife and I lived there 1972-75, when the Islands were called the New Hebrides in English and Nouvelles Hebrides in French, administered as a joint protectorate by Britain and France. We enjoyed our stay there, and if we had our time over we would gladly do it all again. A friend of mine has been trying to collect stories about those days, which illustrate the kind of place it was then for us expats.

I wouldn't go back now, because I bear a grudge against the post-independence governments. They confiscated (stole) our half-acre block of suburban land - a fact we discovered when we wanted to sell it, years later. Not nice! I guess the local politicians went through an anti-expat stage at the time. The official policy seems to have changed for the better, and I'm glad to see that.

Hi I live down Devils Point Rd and we have a fabulous community of expats who socialise with each other; support various charity projects some of us are involved in but yet we all have our own loves as well. I built there 10 years ago and have always found the expats - as well as the locals - to be very welcoming down there. Maybe it depends on where you end up living.

I know you have probably already left Vanuatu but suggest you speak with Rod Neilson at island Property. He is very helpful.

A kind thought, Bukura, but it's way too late now! Even the theft didn't spoil our happy memories of our life there. Politicians are crooks are all over the world, after all. We bought the land in the first place because we thought it might be a nice place to retire, when our time came. The theft can serve as a warning that the government is not to be trusted to welcome foreign retirees. Pity.

I might have missed something but am not sure how an experience in the 70s has relevance to how things work 2016?

Bukura :

I might have missed something but am not sure how an experience in the 70s has relevance to how things work 2016?

No subsequent government has offered to pay me out for what was stolen. If my grandfather stole money and left it to me in his Will, I would feel obliged to pay it back. Wouldn't you?

Thanks Bukura!    We have indeed already left Vanuatu but having spent two weeks along DP road, we have met some really lovely people living along there.   Busy exploring building options at th moment.

From our many visits to Vanuatu,  and the experience of living in other countries, the old saying, Birds of a Feather flock together. If we are excepted for residency, we have no major expectations of having a group of friends. Life has taught me that there are a few genuinely lovely folk in this world, they accept you as you are, the size of your bank balance, often perceived wealth, or not makes no difference. I would sooner meet one or none of them, to having a group of fair weather pals.  Treat everyone as you would like to be treated is my motto, be they locals or otherwise. If you are a dependent type Vanuatu could be a step too far.

We bought with the view to move to the Island of Espiritu Santo. But over the last 3 years our thoughts and what we were told about settling in Vanuatu changed. All signs for us pointed in other directions. We are currently selling. Our argument for Santo (as the locals call the Island) Is based on our own experiences. We love the isolation, we're not huge on mixing into the typical Stereotype of Ex-pats who mix at the golf club and share gossip, however it's a small Island and when there's not much else to do... well let's leave it a that. We see Santo as a place where if you want a holiday home and travel over from Australia for a getaway then its great..... But here's where I have the argument. For the cost of flying to Vanuatu, you can fly to better destinations - Phuket, Malaysia, Bali etc. My question is... "what happens one day when you've sold up to live on a tropical Island and you realise you're tired of the same old beach?  For us it's better to own property in a more bouyant market and rent an Island property... you can stay up to 4 months in Vanuatu per year.... That's long enough for me.

We were looking at quite a modest house to purchase, we were well warned by many locals, you come to Santo with the expectation of not making money on the purchase, being based in NZ and working on their $ value, we found out two important things, we were advised not to purchase until the legal side of things was sorted time to extend the lease, secondly, NZ dollar fell dramatically, after calculating what needed to be spent on an older home, plus the extra cost of stamp duty. Well, as you say, it possibly makes more sense to rent. We are older and need to preserve some money as a buffer against medical emergencies. Unless you have a property or business making Vatu, you would certainly be better off in other centres , not perhaps Bali! Depends on your outlook, I have a Facebook friend heavily into conservation, he spends much of his time in the Solomans, working with science boffins and other conservationists.  Having lived through a couple of major natural happenings in Vanuatu, along with seeing from afar the impact of  Ambae, I think you have to love Vanuatu for what it is, a string of tropical islands, inhabited by some very resilient people of all races. The difference is not what I can get out of this place, but what can this place give me if I offer my time, skills etc, to the community, both expat and local.  There are a million beaches , but if I had purchased, my bit of beach would have been like an extension of my property, not to keep it to myself, but to safe guard it from erosion, keep it clear of rubbish, ensure the "residents" were able to hide in a rocky outcrop etc.  if these things don't tick all the boxes, then it is better to move on. Good luck with your house sale.

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