Hello, my travel FAM! Today I wanted to share my experience of living in New Caledonia, which is a small island in the Pacific. Located between Tahiti and Fidji, this island seems the perfect place to live. I know that many of you are dreaming to live on an island and escape winters! I am right? hehe! And it is totally the same for me. I have always dreamed to live on an island in the Pacific.
But I have to admit that my experience was mixed. Of course, there are many advantages but also several big disadvantages of living in New Caledonia. In this post, I wanted to be 100% honest and transparent with you. And not showing you only the best sides of my experience through perfect Instagram photos! I need to say that this is just my personal experience and obviously it is subjective. Everyone has different experiences. If you wish to move to an island one day or if you are just curious about what this island’s life looks like, this post is for you! 😉
What I loved when living in Nouméa
The weather is amazing all year
I went there during “winter” but the temperature was always around 25° Celcius. It was totally a European summer for me! The water of the sea was always warm, it’s possible to enjoy the beach all year round. When you are living in New Caledonia, it’s safe to safe that you are always in summer!
The beaches are beautiful
There are beautiful beaches, made of clear water and palm trees. Ok, the beaches in Noumea are not like the Maldives, but it is really pretty. Also, there are cool activities to do: paddle, diving, kitesurfing or hiking.
I met amazing friends
When I was there I met amazing people I’m still in contact with. When you are traveling, you always meet new friends around the world ant that’s the best part!
The island life is cooler than city life
Everything is slower, the rhythm of life is cooler. After work, you can go to the beach and watch sunsets while eating tapas. On the weekend you can go diving or just enjoy the beach. It’s very different from life in France.
What I didn’t like when living in New Caledonia?
Everything is so expensive
Everything is so expensive in New Caledonia. When you are going for the first time to the supermarket you almost have an attack! All the prices are two or three times more expensive. In fact, it’s understandable because almost everything is imported, as this is an island. But it’s hard to afford living there, you need a good income. Also, if you want to buy a car, an apartment, or clothes, you will pay way more. And if you want to order on the internet, you will pay a tax.
It is hard to explore New Caledonia
When you are living in New Caledonia, 99% of the time, you are living in the Capital, Nouméa. Because most of the work opportunities are there. But Noumea city is not pretty in itself, it looks like a disaffected city.
So, if you are living in New Caledonia, you will quickly want to explore around. But the only places that are easy to visit are the small islands near Noumea: Ilot maître, phare Amédée or duck island. And sincerely these are not the prettiest ones. The most beautiful ones are the loyalty islands and the Pines island. And guess what? it’s really expensive to get there! More than 180€ per person to take the boat or a flight to these islands. And the flights are often canceled or late. Also, if you want to explore the north of the island, you will need a car.
And I even not talk about the hotels. The ratio quality price is really bad in all the New Caledonia. There are only a few hotels on certain islands, that have clearly the monopole and the prices are too expensive. You can count around 250€ per night for an average hotel. To compare to luxury hotels I’ve stayed at in the world, it’s really overpriced. The best option is actually to bring your own tent and camp on a beach or stay at the locals’ houses.
You are far from everything
If you want to travel you are far from everything, except Tahiti, Fidji, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. But the flights from New Caledonia are also really expensive. If you don’t have a big budget, you can quickly have the impression to be blocked on this island. To go back to France it is around 30 hours of flight and 1500€.
I didn’t feel safe in Nouméa
Ok, I will be really honest, sometimes I didn’t feel safe at all in Nouméa. The first reason is that men are putting drugs in your glass when you are hanging out in bars with your friends. A girl that I know personally has been drugged a few months ago. Fortunately, she quickly came back home after been drugged, because she was feeling sick and then she had a total blackout until she woke up. You can search on the internet and the forums, it’s not a secret. If you are a girl, you need to be really careful when you are hanging out in Noumea.
Another reason is that I could not walk alone in Nouméa without being stopped by men to talk to me, that honk when seeing me, slowing down their car, or whistle. I don’t talk about one time, but every single time I was walking alone in the streets. And I was wearing long dresses and flat shoes, nothing provoking. Seriously, certain men have no education and respect for women.
Plus, people are drinking a lot in Noumea. There is a huge problem with alcohol and violence against women there. Can you believe that the government has to remove alcohol from the supermarket at midday? Also, there are many car accidents unfortunately, driving there is not safe.
Moreover, New Caledonia is suffering from pollution provoked by the exploitation of nickel, many 4×4 on the island and the overpopulation on the coasts.
Last but not least, overfishing is causing many recent shark attacks on the island. Sharks have no more fish to eat, to they come closer to the coast and attack people.
A mixed experience in New Caledonia
To conclude, if you can afford an expensive trip, New Caledonia can be a great destination for your next vacation! You should visit the Ilse of Pine and the loyalty islands. But moving to New Caledonia is totally different. It is not totally the definition of paradise. And it is a little bit far from what I expected. But it is just my own experience! Maybe you would love to live there 😉 You can also read my post about all the advantages and disadvantages of living on an island, in a more general way!
Have you ever lived on an island? Or are you dreaming to move to an island? Let me know in the comments 😉
I would love to move to an island and leave the city life! Thank you for this post! 😉
Interested in moving to New Caledonia, appreciate this post. I’ll have to contact my relatives on the island to see what the job market is like to see if it’s a viable move.
I was born in Australia and wanted to move to another country for several reasons I don’t want to mention here. But I changed my mind about moving to another country and am considering moving to an island instead, and one island I am interested in is New Caledonia. I’m learning French, so I can fit right in. 🙂
I live in Saipan… It a shithole as well. ravaged by typhoons ands no one fixes their house with the money they get from FEMA. And the food sucks and all the indigenous women have huge asses. LOL.
If that’s the truth, I have lost interest in moving to NC. I recommend Azores. Especially the islands beyond the main island.
Thank you for your comment. At the moment we are looking to move to French Polynesia 🙂
I read your post and found a very interesting view of New Caledonia.
I lived in Noumea for 13 years starting in 2000.
I would like to note that for the first 5 years, all communities felt good about each other. The doors of the houses were most often left open even when the owners were away. The cars were left open and no one ever went inside to get anything.
After those few heavenly years, evil came. Drugs, unemployment, young people looking for money by stealing from houses, stores… make graffiti everywhere, act like they have all the rights.
Say a word about their bad project, they attack you in front of passers-by or customers. They break the windows of your cars, claw around with a metal, at night, in retaliation for your words.
The police know the groups all around the city. They arrest them one day, and the next day they are back on the street to start their evil plans again.
The police said: The High Commission wants us to release them, otherwise it will lead to negative relations between the natives and the whites. Let the world know that we are racist, colonialist and let’s arrest certain categories of people.
Too many young people don’t want to work, delinquency is very high. You have to see how many k…. are in jail in Nouville. But this is not new. It is said on the island that the autoctones are waiting for the money from France sitting under the coconut tree sipping a beer.
This island has it all, but it is so expensive and wages are so low for the majority of the people who live here. Not much tourism, mostly because the cost of living is too high as a tourist from New Zealand told me. We are neighbors and few people can afford to come for a few days vacation on this island.
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Hello Yves, thank you for your feedback! See you soon on the blog 🙂
This is my subjective experience of Noumea.
Noumea is like Darwin. The downtown of Darwin is clean, while the downtown of Noumea is scruffy. The beaches of Darwin is pretty but useless- you can’t swim in it- it’s either killer crocs season or killer jelly fish season. While Noumea’s Anse Vata and Baie d’ Citron is beautiful, beaches in downtown Noumea is still underwhelming compared to many Australian beaches, namely Noosa Beach or little known Glenelg Beach in Adelaide.
The shopping scene:
Forget Pacific Fair. Forget Chadstone Mall, Melbourne. The “centre commerciale” are joyless places catering to locals. Unless you are in the mood for Chinese made Hawaiana products, Noumea is not a shopping destination- be prepared to be dissapointed.
The party scene:
Why get drugged in Noumea while you can get drugged in Surfers Paradise?
Noumea is no Paris. If you come expecting French sophistication, or Champs-Élysées flanked by coconut trees- be prepared to be enraged by the insipid offerings. So save your money, pack your French dictionary and jet off to Noosa, Queensland. The same experience can be had at this beautiful hidden gem.
I would love to visit new caledonia to see my family there.
well when I grow up