In 1999, I travelled to Fiji. I know that it might not be very far or particularly exotic for you, but for me, living in the mountains of North Carolina, it was not only a 20-hour journey but some of my friends thought I was heading to Mt. Fuji, Japan. We’re more familiar with Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean on this side of the globe.
After getting there, honestly, I was a bit disillusioned. We stayed at some of the nicest resorts I’ve been anywhere in the world, but the postcard picture I had in my head of what the South Pacific looked like wasn’t matching up with what I was seeing—brown water, brown sand. I was a bit disappointed.
As I was there on a trip with a group of travel agents, I had no input as to where we went, so I soldiered on, admiring one resort after another until they blended a bit.
Then, about seven days into the trip the magic happened. We arrived on Fiji’s Suncoast and I was in love. In front of us, each about one kilometre away, were three gorgeous, green islands. In between were coral reefs, sand bars just beneath the surface and the best snorkelling anywhere in the world. This was the Fiji I had travelled half the world to see.
I simply couldn’t get it out of my head when I got home. In 2001, I returned to pick out a lot—at an amazing price. My mom, always the pragmatist, asked why I didn’t buy a place in Florida. One, Fiji was actually cheaper than a run of the mill apartment inland in the Sunshine State, and two, to be perfectly honest, there were too many Americans. Part of why I fell in love with Fiji was because it was so wildly independent.
I have a view of three different islands, my neighbours are eclectic—Kiwis, Aussies, Brits—and I also make $76,470 in a year from this vacation rental. My dream is paying off.
So, my best advice to you is to find a place you love. Figure out all the reasons that you love it. The rugged hiking on Tasmania, the fresh outdoor, healthy lifestyle of Perth, the cosmopolitan outdoor living of Sydney?
If there’s something that’s a bit off, even if it’s just the fact that it’s too expensive I’d back off. Don’t push it. It’s like a relationship—you want a really good fit. You’re not likely to find perfect and some can use that as an excuse to never realise their dream of owning a home overseas. So, keep it realistic. Some places are good for a visit. Some places are meant for a lifetime.
Look at the world with fresh eyes open for that special bargain. Find a place you love, then buy that same experience, or even a better one, and profit from other travellers who love it as much as you do. Just like I did.
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