The October 2009 International Cost of Living Ranking, which assessed 209 countries, listed Suva, Fiji, as having moved down 99 places in the ranking from the previous year.
While it is true that relatively speaking, prices have decreased in Fiji, in practical terms, the cost of living depends on where on the islands you choose to visit or live.
To simulate a high-flying, New York City-like lifestyle you might head to Suva, Fiji’s capital, and expect to spend almost $6,000 USD a month. Alternately, you can live in one of the smaller towns of Viti Levu or on one of the more remote islands, making do with part-time electricity and use mostly local Fijian products, and pay less than $1,000 USD a month. A cost of living survey conducted by the Fijian government in 2009 concluded that the cost of living index for Suva in July 2009 was 87.4, compared to the New York City index of 100 in 2009, at the exchange rate of $2.06 Fijian dollars to $1 USD.
Prices in Fiji
To give you a general sense of what cost expenditures to expect in Fiji, here’s a list of products and services and their costs in Fijian dollars in 2007 (you’ll have to adjust prices to account for devaluation and inflation): taxi ride from Nadi Airport to the town of Nadi: $F12; draft beer in a local bar: $F2; cocktail: $F8-12; a bottle of decent wine imported from Australia: $F25; a bunch of bananas: $F2-3; six mangoes: $F1; a loaf of whole wheat bread: $F1.20; admission price for a movie: $F2-4; dinner for two at a curry house: $F15-20; dinner for two at a market stall: $F6-10. Most Fijian products and services will be accompanied by a 12.5% VAT (“value added tax”), which applies equally to tourists and locals.
In 2009, the Fijian dollar was devalued by 20%. This devaluation affects the lives of the poorest Fijians (who now have to worry about price hikes in basic amenities, such as flour, rice and tea) to the expats living on the islands (who may be accustomed to imported food and everyday living items). Fuel, which is Fiji’s biggest import item, is also more expensive, which will account for a rise in everything from bus fares to airfares (though expats will find public transportation, like taxis, to be relatively cheap).
Residents and locals might offset some of these costs by buying locally-made products, by growing their own food in private gardens and by curtailing some of their traveling habits.