THE BLOG

Moving From California To Fiji

02/03/2012 07:38 am ET | Updated Apr 04, 2012

I'm calling it our Plan B, but it's really my Plan A. I want to keep renting our small yet lovely apartment in Los Angeles and build a fabulous house in Fiji where my son lives. So I can watch my baby grand daughter grow up in the flesh without having to make do with Skype and two weeks' vacation a year.

As writers, husband Colin and I can operate anywhere as long as we have Wi-Fi. We're doing pretty well at the moment, although we still have a way to go to raise a 20-percent deposit for a home in LA. We could build a fabulous detached house in the town of Savusavu (with Wi-Fi) for less than $40,000, plus the cost of the land -- much, much cheaper than California.

And if things went south on the work front, fruit, vegetables and fish are abundant, so we wouldn't starve. No one does there. But Fiji has a tropical climate and that means bouts of biblical rain.

My daughter wasn't convinced the place was paradise when we arrived for our first visit. Rain was pouring down and there was a power cut as soon as we unpacked our bags. She would snarl, "Paradise, question mark." But by the time we left, she was beaming and calling Fiji, "Paradise, exclamation mark."

My biggest concern about extended stays in Fiji (four months at a time on a visitor's visa), would be access to good medical care. Even paradise needs medicine. Thanks to Naqaqa Giving Foundation (NGF), Savusavu now has a clean, well stocked medical center where a consultation with a doctor costs just $5.

If you're thinking you can't afford to go to Fiji, paradise needs volunteers. You could take the trip of a lifetime there that costs you nothing but your time and knowledge. In some cases, where people bring much-needed skills and expertise to this island state, NGF will fund flights and provide accommodation.

Dr. Suzanne Donovan M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA, recently gave lectures on infection control, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and tuberculosis in developing countries to NGF staff and medical students. Since her return to Los Angeles, Dr. Donovan provides infectious disease consults via Skype.

Many Americans are making Fiji their second home. Is there a medical downside for a westerner looking to spend long periods of time in Fiji? Dr. Donovan says, "Fiji is a safer country to visit for an extended stay than other places like those in Africa, Central and South America because of the absence of many serious diseases like malaria. But the intrepid traveler may encounter typhoid in Fiji. And you have to realize that the Cadillac level of health care available in the US isn't available in a developing country like Fiji. If you have a recurring illness, take your medication with you and be aware that you might be in trouble if you have an acute medical problem. Having said that, I was very impressed with the spectrum of health care I saw available in Fiji."

Administrative costs of this not-for-profit foundation are covered by its founder, author Gavin de Becker, who has a home there. All the money donated goes to those in need, providing health care, education and infrastructure ‒ including electricity ‒ to remote villages in Fiji's northern islands. For every dollar and item given, NGF matches those donations.

Gavin says, "I see Fiji's role on Earth as being a place for healing -- healing from modern stresses and maladies. To drink in the lush green all around you... well, a week of being in Fiji provides enough fuel for a year spent in the modern world. Every day, I'm amazed and grateful that we're able to facilitate volunteers coming here at no cost to them. We see people contribute their energy and get back what only Fiji could give them."

For more information on how other people have helped the charity and to see if your skills could benefit Fijians visit this site.