“Pick Me!” said the Kingdom of Tonga

Looking for a place to settle in the South Pacific that is a little storybook, with perfect weather, white sand beaches, uninhabited islands galore and a sense of humor? Try our Kingdom, right out of “Alice in Wonderland.”

The Mad Hatter is alive and well here. Nothing is very serious, life is a cool breeze with a cold beer–or just plain soda.

We live in a funny place, “fun” being the root word. Full of characters and scenes from Alice’s memorable trip, Tonga is a full length feature with a real King and a very Royal family. Pomp and ceremony, ancient culture and with a grin of the fat Cheshire cat.

Unlike Alice’s encounter with the Queen, this Royal family is the epitome of why Captain Cook dubbed the place; “The Friendly Islands.” Freedom abounds here, maybe to a bit of a fault, as some have complained who are used to a regulation for every thing they do and even think. We are very unrestricted in our personal and business affairs. Unenforced fair play and good will prevail, with very minor exceptions. Their law is English and has a British citizen ruling in their highest court, but the country is an Independent, Constitutional Monarchy with a soft heart. No guns or threats, no terrorists, just tourists.

A major factor is choosing your next homeland is; can you qualify to live there? Some equally (almost) nice places may exist, but the requirements to reside will take a piece of your hide. Tonga’s rules for qualifying for a residence type visa are affordable and easy to live with. A non-working visa can be obtained by showing as little as $6,000 USD per year in “assured income.” To get a business visa, one need only invest as little as $27,000 USD in a business. Try that in St. Kitts.

This bargain entry residency program won’t last forever. Tonga is emerging and suddenly getting the attention of the world; thanks in part to a little political demonstration that turned into a full on painting of the roses red. Now that is put to bed, thanks to Fred (our Prime Minister) the culprits are eating bread—and water.

We, the wife and I and our child of three years, have lived nearly six years in the Vava’u Island Group of this marvelous place called “Tonga.” We may live in what is considered an undeveloped country, but undeveloped or underdeveloped has a new and wonderful meaning to us. Not only does it provide opportunity, but inexpensive living with a home at a small fraction of the price of anything back home that can boast of being on the water overlooking the pristine harbour spreckled with sailing boats and assorted native craft that traverse these reef protected waterways. Twice monthly the cargo ship with all of our imported goods passes by our house where the green islands narrow to the entrance of the Port of Refuge Harbour. The main town is three kilometers away and our business, the Internet cafe is right on the bay. Life is as good as it gets surrounded with an ambiance of “azure seas, blue skies and emerald isles,” to quote the brochure. We say we haven’t “worked” since we got here, even though we head out most every day to what we playfully call the “office.” Work is play and everyday is play day. Friendly, loyal and competent staff tend to everything in our Internet cafe and its many subsidiaries. I broker land and business sales/leasing, part time or as needed. We invented the broker concept out here. Imagine living where there has never been a real estate broker. We never did that before either, so we are untainted and good at it with no greed and no problems.

Our typical day is like most anyone’s that has two or three meals per day and sleeps at night. The difference in living here might be the perpetural scenery and the laid back pace and what we routinely do and how we get around and where we go. In these things we may have a differential gap. We use boats as much as we use cars to transport people and things. To get to work here you might use either since many houses and most of the business are located on or near the water. At this writing, today is Sunday, a day of required rest, relaxation and no business. We took one of the boats, a whaler type with a canvas roof and headed out in the inter-island waterways with the intention to stop in at one of the resorts on an island for a meal and a little socializing. It was Mala Island Resort today. The island group is small in population, under 20,000 people, so you get to know every resort owner pretty well. The welcomes are genuine and there are always some staff to help tie up the boat. Greetings and warm receptions are the norm, then a sit on the veranda with friends while overlooking the big sandy beach below where wife and child would meet up with same of another for a swim in a bluer lagoon than Technicolor could ever imitate. The scene is never tiring with several different hues of blues and greens in the sea below. The placid pools reflecting puffy white clouds stand there waiting for the afternoon trades to freshen and give them a ripple. The picture will distract you trying to engage in a little conversation with friends and visitors. Don’t look out the window at this bliss and expect to carry on an intelligent telephone conversation either.

When it is BBQ time more folks arrive. The food is good and the wine is fine. No TV, so we provide our own entertainment. Interesting conversations abound with topics about everything and from everywhere in the world. Our ride home took us by a cave that we could enter by boat. The late afternoon sun put a ray of light into the prism of water inside the cave, lighting it up from the bottom 100 feet down. The caverns below matched those above. A light show produced and directed by nature with a cast of thousands; all free and just for me. The waterway through the reef protected islands assures a safe and lake like ride home. We decided to out run a rain cloud for fun and planed swiftly through the islands to the right and to the left carving out a curved path through the placid sea within the sea that left the trail of white water on blue. I know, it is too good to be true.

Tomorrow we will take another boat to an island where some folks visiting from Atlanta want to buy/lease some land. With four native boys with bush knives leading the way, we will land on the lee beach in the calm lagoon and cut a trail through the jungle to the raging ocean on the islands windward side. A regular kind of adventure with no fear, for there are no snakes, nor any ugly critters that can seriously harm. Tonga was blessed with only the benign.

These are scenes of many a day in our new homeland, safe and far from the fears and uncertainties of where we came from. No Malaria, no mental hospitals, no welfare systems necessary either, and where “big brother” just means a helping hand; where the police are unarmed and in reserve, not out creating trouble and where people and boats don’t need registration numbers—you are free.

For more on Tonga, just ask Alice. If she is at tea, then ask me… glad to help.

Robert Bryce

PS, no traffic lights either...

“Pick Me!” said the Kingdom of Tonga