10 Best Islands to Live On for Starting Over

December 28, 2014

You want isolation? You want to punch the reset button? These are the places to go for the most farflung fantasies. You won’t be coming back for long weekends.
Best Islands for Retiring Early | Best Islands for Raising a Family

Read more in our Ultimate Best Islands to Live On Guide.

Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Tonga | Move to an Island


Dedicated expats who make it here typically live in the Vava’u group, where beachfront homes are available for less than $100,000. Even locals can’t own property (per the Tongan constitution), but long-term leaseholds are common. So are sailboats.
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Vancouver Island | Move to an Island

Vancouver Island

It’s great for restless professionals. Find a literal change of scenery with all the seasons, new careers and none of the culture shock. Your first step is to see if you qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, a navigable path through the immigration process for doctors, engineers, managers and other professionals.
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Tuvalu | Move to an Island

Tuvalu, Fiji

It’s so remote that Fiji, 500 miles away, seems like a relative metropolis. About 10,000 people live here. The attraction for some is how social status is achieved: through kindness, not wealth.
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Lombok | Move to an Island


Our No. 1 island in 2012 is still gaining recognition for its expat migration. It’s the new Bali for those who are curious about Indonesia.
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Hvar | Move to an Island

Hvar, Croatia

This is called Croatia’s sunshine isle. There are claims of it being the sunniest place in Europe, with 2,715 hours of sunshine a year. To which we say: Where do we sign up for that job, counting sunshine hours?
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Roatan | Move to an Island

Roatan, Honduras

A new beginning doesn’t have to mean a new hemisphere. Largest of the sunny Bay Islands, Roatan has enough amenities — Internet everywhere, roads to some places — to make it livable, but this isn’t Dallas. Varied landscapes — interior mountains, healthy encircling reefs — and a mixed population keep things interesting. Direct flights to and from multiple U.S. cities (including Dallas) keep visits stateside within reach. Cabin fever, homesickness — Roatan cures both.
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Palau | Move to an Island


The name evokes islets of emerald green fringed in blue seas — distant blue seas. Teeming reefs and World War II shipwrecks make Palau one of the most coveted diving and snorkeling destinations on the planet. Ease of immigration and affordable housing (ocean-view homes from around $200,000) make it easy to live here. But from the “bustling” hub of Koror (population just over 13,000) to the remotest coral atolls, it’s the open-hearted people that make it worth staying.
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Dominica | Move to an Island


We’re not asking why you might want to start over — that’s between you and the bank you robbed. But Dominica’s “Economic Citizenship” program makes it possible to become a full-fledged voting national of the island nation. The required investment — $100,000 for a single applicant — may seem substantial until you consider the returns. You get a whole new point of view, out across the so-called Natural Island’s rainforests laced with waterfalls, hot springs and bright-red parrots — not to mention a whole new identity.
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: New Zealand | Move to an Island

New Zealand

We can name plenty of reasons New Zealand is a top pick for getting a fresh start: good roads, public transportation, accessible health care and solid school systems (for the total family makeover). But the No. 1 reason? Lifestyle. Thanks to safe, friendly communities, and endless outdoor activities, not to mention cultural diversity, even Kiwis who live overseas often move home to recharge. Zach Stovall
Best Islands to Live on for Starting Over: Florianopolis, Brazil | Move to an Island

Florianopolis, Brazil

Nothing says “fresh start” like Brazil. Positive reports calling lush “Floripa” one of Brazil’s best cities to live in has lured residents from around the world, creating a vibe as cosmopolitan as it is tropical. Good infrastructure, job possibilities in high-tech and tourism, and a seemingly universal willingness to celebrate anything at any time make life here convenient as well as sweet. Plus, the island has 42 beaches.

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