Best Islands To Live On: Expats Inspired by Islands

These expats say it's our fault. Islands is the reason they moved to places like Fiji, Australia, and Belize. Should we be sorry? You be the judge.

Best Island to Live On | How to Move to an Island | Expat Advice | J.J. Brito, Fiji
J.J. Brito, Fiji
Islands Inspiration: "I saw this piece of property for sale on Viti Levu while flipping through the classifieds in Islands magazine: 'Fiji land, from US $19,000.' At the time, I was looking for my next island move, having already lived in places like Kauai and Dominica. But this just looked too good to pass up. So I got off the boat, flew to Fiji and scouted the property. It's where my bungalow now sits." Where I Moved From: "I was living on my sailboat." Best Advice: "You can easily do without some things to make it possible to live in a place like this. My wife and I have no car payment. We don't have cable. We use our time to work in the garden and make household items like bamboo lanterns and coconut-shell coffee makers. We have Islands to thank for this life."
Best Island to Live On | How to Move to an Island | Expat Advice | Fran Solomon-Salomon, St. John (USVI)
Fran Solomon-Salomon, St. John (USVI)
Islands Inspiration: "As a little girl, when my mom asked what I wanted for my birthday, I said 'Islands Magazine.' At about 12 years old, I actually thought I could convince my father to buy one of the islands listed in the back of the magazine. After college, years of saving, and many daydreams with Islands, I came to St. John. Just days after signing the paperwork on my little cottage, my mother found a picture I'd cut out from the magazine when I was a little girl. On the back I'd written 'I will live here.' On the front was a photo of Trunk Bay." Where I Moved From: "The small town of Belzoni, Mississippi, also known as 'the Catfish Capital of the World.' How's this for coincidence: My maiden name is Solomon and I married a French Salomon (same pronunciation)." Best Advice: "Some people move to islands thinking it will be just like home, except with more beaches and fewer worries. It doesn't really work that way. On an island you might not have a bathtub, or washers and dryers, or central air. If you're thinking of making a permanent move, take an extended trip and stay in a home, not a resort. Make a list of the things you must have for day-to-day life (car, central air, health insurance, bath tub, etc.) and figure out how much they'll cost. For some, giving things up is a blessing. For others, it's incomprehensible."
Best Island to Live On | How to Move to an Island | Expat Advice | Joshua Aydlette, Honolulu (Hawaii)
Joshua Aydlette, Honolulu (Hawaii)
Islands Inspiration: "The Best Islands to Live On issues have influenced us in big ways. They had so much information about what to expect, what not to expect, prices on real estate, how to get things done. Islands magazine made my wife Jessica and I think, 'Why not us?'" Where They Moved From: "We moved from Charleston, South Carolina to Honolulu. I was born and raised on James Island, just outside of Charleston, and Jessica hails from the small town of Christiansburg, Virginia. Leaving the South for the first time was a huge event, but we figured to get where we wanted to go in life, we needed to just do it or stay home and keep dreaming. We're doers, not dreamers." Best Advice: "We 'grocery hunt' here. Oahu's prices are higher than in the South. So throughout the week we watch the sales. It takes us a full day to grocery hunt — stopping at stores all around Honolulu. We've learned to pack a cooler for refrigerator goods. Our other moving advice is that anybody can do it. We both came from blue-collar backgrounds. We’ve lived paycheck to paycheck, lived in the rough parts of town, had our water/power cut off, so we've been there and done that. During the time leading up to the move, nothing went our way, which lead to doubts. But with jobs lined up already, I knew that once we got to Honolulu, knew everything would work out. It did. In the first two weeks, we found our long-term rental, got our 3-year-old accepted into one of the best schools on the island, and my wife picked up an extra part time job with a marketing company. I think all the hurdles leading up to moving day were just tests to see if we really wanted it. We held firm to our goal and wouldn't be deterred.”
Best Island to Live On | How to Move to an Island | Expat Advice | Willow Reed, Belize
Willow Reed, Belize
Islands Inspiration: "I subscribed to the magazine through Facebook and was seeing imagery of these beautiful places every day. At the time I was running a pub in England. The pictures reminded me there's another world out there. I'd been to Belize and loved it, so that's where I focused my research. So I bought an island." Where I Moved From: "I was in Somerset, U.K. The first place that came up in my Belize research was Virginia Caye, known then as 'the southernmost tip of the Cockney Caye Range.' It was the right price, had some infrastructure, and I just had a feeling." Best Advice: "If you sit down and plan, plan, plan until everything is perfect, you'll never make the move. The fun is in the journey. And I'm having quite a journey, as this four-acre piece of paradise was a restoration project. Virginia Caye had been left to deteriorate after an unsuccessful attempt to turn it into a 'millionaires island resort.' That's how I was able to buy it. Now I'm all about wheelbarrows, muscles and sweat. But the cool blue sea is open 24/7. There's nothing like it."
Best Island to Live On | How to Move to an Island | Expat Advice | Kelly N. Saunders, Whitsunday Islands (Australia)
Kelly N. Saunders (right), Whitsunday Islands (Australia)
Islands Inspiration: "In the June 2009 issue of Islands, I read a Live the Life interview with a contractor who moved to the Whitsunday Islands. It was called 'Living the Dream' and it triggered my final and official decision to move to Australia. Once the visa was in my little hands, I saved every penny and sold every possession. I figured it's just geography." Where I Moved From: "I went from Richmond, Virginia, to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays." Best Advice: "Read everything you can and absorb it: the local customs, the streets, types of foods, holidays. It took a while for me to get used to everything being the opposite in Australia. Summer is winter. Winter is summer. You drive on the opposite side of the road and walk into stores through the opposite door. Bumping into people gave me a good chance to laugh at myself — and that's good for you. Because nothing is super easy, but there are wonderful people around the world who will help you along the way."
Best Island to Live On | How to Move to an Island | Expat Advice | Eric Woltkamp and Patrick Coffey, St. John (USVI)
Eric Woltkamp and Patrick Coffey, St. John (USVI)
Islands Inspiration: "We became interested in moving after reading about the USVI in Caribbean Travel and Life. When that magazine was rolled into the new Islands, our interest only grew. We wanted to stay within the U.S., so the USVI was a natural choice in the Caribbean. St. John is a 'small town' island with friendly people and, of course, beaches and warm weather." Where We Moved From: "At this writing we're still constructing a home in St. John so we can move from our full-time residence in Evanston, Illinois (the first city directly north of Chicago)." (Updates can be found at www.seasthedaystj.com) Best Advice: "Paradise has its beauty and its quirks … and it all comes with a cost if you plan to build. Whatever amount of money you think you need, double it. There are shipping costs, supply shortages, and surprises in general. Everyday living is costly, too, because we have to take ferries to shop on St. Thomas, and electric bills run several times more than in the U.S. But the sun shines a lot more here. It's a reason we moved, and it's why we're going solar in our home."