Call it a sign of the times, but these days we are getting more calls on our small island than ever from folks who just want to get out. With the ever-increasing pace of western life, the skyrocketing cost of living in most western countries, pollution, and a general sense of discontent about the powers that run western countries that have largely abandoned the welfare of the middle and lower class. But where to go?
Meet Greg, a man from Arizona who took matters into his own hands. At 58 years of age he was fed up enough to turn his back on the United States and a lifestyle that he felt was no longer affordable or pleasant. Greg left town. And he did not just leave town to go to Mexico, or another South American country that seemed close and convenient enough to escape to. Greg did his homework. He wanted a country that was English-Speaking, where there were no guns, where the population had not been colonized and had developed a dislike for Caucasians due to a past of exploitation and greed. He wanted a place where living was inexpensive, land laws were straightforward and where he could afford an acre in walking distance to the beach. He wanted solitude, but not to be completely alone. There needed to be others who shared his dream. He wanted to live off-grid, and reduce his ecological footprint as well. Greg, in short, wanted it all.
Today we find Greg on a small island named Koro Island in the Fiji group, and he sits on the deck of his small but comfortable house, overlooking about 100 acres of lush forest, and he smiles a lot. His house, which he built with a local crew and with skills he acquired as a carpenter in the US, cost him about $30K. Add the cost for his land, about $40K, and he is looking at having no monthly utilities (his solar panels provide ample power, and he uses water catchment off his roof. He is looking forward to his social security checks, which will provide him with a modest income, enough to supplement the food that is growing on his land. He recently acquired a still, together with some neighbors, to make some alcohol for his evening hours.
Greg found Koro Island through a friend who already lived on the island, a single lady in her 50’s from Portland, who is another likeminded soul in recovery from western civilization. Linda moved to Koro 4 years ago, built a beautiful home with a stunning ocean view one Bay over from Greg, does volunteer work in the local villages and lives of her social security as well ($400 per month). Her gardens produce ample fruit with the help of a local Fijian caretaker, and she plays guitar, makes beer and bakes, and enjoys her time among the trees, wild parrots and horses.
And there are others. Neal and Hwei-Ying from Scotland and Australia, who sailed for 5 years before settling on Koro, after leaving their corporate chains behind, to find a spot for their house above the Bay, where they now live with their dog and pet Hawk, tending their huge organic garden.
Sean, a geologist from Western Australia, whose house in Australia produces enough solar power so he can sell it back to the electric grid, which makes his payments for his home on Koro.
Marlen from the US, whose retirement dollar stretches much further here and affords her beachfront living and her daily dives in the Bay, her boat and an abundance of food tended to by her gardener.
The Busco family, with their 6 kids from Washington, who are still working on their dream on moving to Koro. Their plans are in place.
Matthew and his family with 4 kids from Hawaii who packed up their house years ago and settled in a beautiful geodesic dome, and who are hoping to attract more likeminded folks to their vision of an intentional community.
Samantha and Juanco from England and South America, who just had their first child on the island, and who have lived on Koro for a few years. They run a small coffee shop and country store, look after the library and live very modestly in makeshift structure on their own acre of paradise.
Is it an easy transition? No, Greg says, it does require planning, discipline and work. It requires at least a small cushion of financial security. The younger ones still go home to their respective countries to earn an income, but all have 5-10 year plans to settle on Koro Island. Out of 450 1 acre lots about 80% are sold, which makes Koro Island the most successful off-grid development in Fiji. About 40 homes are built these days with another 4 on the drawing board for this year. While the economic downturn has killed many real estate dreams, on Koro it seems the meltdown has only encouraged owners to work harder and settle sooner, rather than witness the collapse of the engrained structures of the Western world. Interest in Koro is higher than ever, as people realize the value of off-grid living, of living in harmony with nature and the security in growing one’s own food.
The stories one hears on Koro Island are of a common thread – those who make the leap go through stages, from elation of leaving the West behind to hardship and realization that living in a different culture and in an environment which is dominated by weather, nature, daylight hours can be hard and taxing, to a sense of appreciation and love for the new found home and culture. Do they think about giving up and going home at times? Of course, since the conveniences of city life cannot be denied. But the thought quickly fades when one watches the light of the setting sun on the Bay, when one hears the singing of locals at work, or when one talks to friends and neighbors about the daily work over a beer down by the water.
So, you ask, could this be for you? Koro Island is a rural island, with a once a week flight and ferry connection. There are small shops, and phone and Internet is available. Any other island could hardly rival its natural beauty. There are wild parrots, horses and waterfalls in abundance. There are inexpensive places to stay. The water and air is warm year-round, and the Fijians are some of the friendliest people on Earth. There are few diversions – no TV, movie theaters, shopping malls or commercial things. BioFuel is made on the island with local coconuts.
To learn more about Koro Island, join our online community of Facebook with thousands of photos and dozens of video interviews. Our owners come from 26 countries in the world, a truly international community. You can own a one acre lot/property form $25,000 and up, and properties can often be financed as well, with as little as 10% down. Even completed homes are for sale.
Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info, if you want to visit the island or talk to someone who has been involved in the project for more than 12 years. We’d love to hear from you, and good people are always welcome on Koro Island.
To hear the voices of the people that have made the leap, listen to the videos attached to this article.