When I first went to Fiji, I was a little ambivalent about it. I was part of a group of travel agents on an educational trip sent there to check it out for clients back home. We spent most of the time in Denarau, visiting the popular tourist resorts. There’s no denying they’re divine…but they didn’t give me that picture-postcard image I had dreamed about. I could have been anywhere.
Then, about a week into the trip, the magic happened. We made the three-hour journey to the northern tip of the island. As soon as I arrived on Fiji’s Suncoast, I was in love. This was the paradise I had been picturing…crystal clear waters, lush green islands, twinkling coral… My heart sang.
We spent our days relaxing…snorkeling untouched reefs, lounging in hammocks, and generally soaking up the beauty around us. One morning, the resort owner asked if anyone wanted to go and see where he had some land set aside for an expat community–Aussies, Kiwis, and the odd American or two. I took him up on his offer.
I’m not sure I can adequately describe what happened to me when I scrambled up the hill and saw the beauty below me. If it were a Hollywood movie, choirs would have been belting out long, glorious notes, the clouds would have parted, a ray of sunshine would have shone down and a voice from above would have said, “Beth, you’re home.” Nothing of the sort happened. In fact, the people I was standing beside there on the top of the hill had no idea anything out of the ordinary had occurred at all.
But I was changed forever.
You see, I love to travel…at that point I had already been to 34 countries. I love cafe culture, museums, art galleries, and walking for miles, taking everything in. I’m an art history junkie—I’ve even been mistaken for a guide (and tipped!) in both Athens and Italy. But, something changed when I stood on that hilltop. I found a place where I didn’t need to do, see or go. I found a place where I could just be. The only place on the planet where my soul felt at rest.
So, a year later, when I came into a little money, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I bought my piece of paradise and built a home there. The plan was for the resort owners to manage the property for me. I never really thought about making serious money, I was just happy to have my costs covered.
Then the resort sold and the new owners didn’t want to manage my single property. So I had to find a way to make it work for me. And, as a result, my life has changed and grown in ways I could have never expected.
I found that renting out your home to tourists from around the world is easier than expected…but a lot of money slipped through my fingers those first few years until I learned the insider tricks that get guests clamoring to stay.
Nowadays my occupancy rate for my Fiji home sits at around 85%. In high season my property can rent for over $500 a night. It’s been a wonderful ride for over a decade—and I look forward to many more years making travelers happy and my bank account healthy.
That trip to Fiji changed so much for me–including my career. I now have 14 rental properties on top of my Fiji home that are ticking along nicely, each producing a healthy profit as well as covering their mortgage payments.
Meanwhile my beloved Fiji home, the one that started it all, is making more than those 14 combined. That impulsive decision of the heart turned out to be the smartest move I ever made…
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