This blog on New Caledonia is for those of you who ever wondered what life on a tiny island in the South Pacific might be like. Tired of bracing winter winds, the stress of an inner city or simply dreaming of a life change? This is a blog about what happens when, in the words of Yogi Berra, "you come to a fork in the road, [and] take it".

13 March 2007

Cost of Living in New Caledonia

Photo (our driveway) by Laurent Guiader, 2006.

A reader wrote to me last week about life in New Caledonia. He wanted to know more about what life is like, and in particular if there are any English-speaking schools, for example. After a little research, I can confirm that there are indeed no English-speaking schools on the island. All education is carried out in French. There are language schools to learn English, Spanish, what have you, but there are no public or private English-speaking primary or secondary schools. (Anyone wanting to move here and looking for something to do? ... Start an English-speaking school for the English-speaking population!)

But another question he had was whether or not it really is expensive to live here. I'd written about the high cost of telecommunications here (and expensive bread), but I took another look at our expenses for 2006 and came up with this, for any of you who might be interested:

Average monthly expenses
(for a family of two adults, one teenager and one baby)

Automobile: Gasoline - 64,17 €
Automobile: Parking - 2,33 €
Bills: Cable tv - 83,83 €
Bills: Cell phone - 30,00 €
Bills: Electricity - 100,25 €
Bills: Internet service - 90,25 €
Bills: Newspaper - 4,00 €
Bills: Telephone - 48,42 €
Bills: Water & sewer - 75,00 €
Clothing - 92,75 €
Customs - 6,00 €
Dining out - 166,42 €
Groceries - 769,83 €
Healthcare - 172,75 €
Hobbies: outings - 200,00 €
Hobbies: movies/dvds - 20,00 €
Personal care - 50,00 €
Postage - 22,00 €
Rent (three-bedroom house, 165 m2) - 1500.00-2000,00 €

Want to see the prices in your local currency? Go to Universal Currency Converter to convert from euros ... and try not to scream when you see how much rent is (and reassure yourself - this is less than what it costs to live in a three-bedroom flat in central Paris!).


Ruth said...

How disallusioning! Perhaps my sisters and I cannot afford to "retire" in NC after all. By comparison, how are the average wages?

Mary Deardorff said...

I am trying this once again. I have not been very succesful at getting though.
We were spoiled rotten by our family in NC and I guess I didn't realilze how spendy living on the island is. It is very beautiful and can't wait to return.
My sisters are Ruth, Elaine and Johanne.
Thanks for your Blog
Mary D

Anonymous said...

message for mary deardorff : hello were you in thailand in 2005? is your family live in new caledonia?
if yes please leave a message to, many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info it has been very difficult to get some straight forward facts. We are a family of six looking to move to New Caledonia from USA. I speak a little french and am an RN my husband doesn't speak french and is a general contractor. I have no problem having my children attend a french speaking school. How much does a private school cost? What is the average car payment? Do you need a car or could you get around with public transportation. What would a General contractor or skilled construction superintendent make? What would an RN make? I can not find these answers anywhere. ALso how do I find job postings?
Angella Perron

Julie said...

Dear Angella,

Thanks for your questions.

What kind of private school would you like to send your children to? That will help me track down a price.

Used cars can be bought on the island for a good price. I can send you some sites on this.

I'd have to research how much your professions would be paid on the island, but a bigger question is how you would get working papers. Are you both Americans?

Please send me an e-mail at for more.

All the best,


LNC said...

what about jobs and wages n all that?u gota average on that really wana move there aye let us no at cheers man

Anonymous said...

Hello can you advise whether you can access private tuition for children? I am concern that the only schools you have in NC are french immersed with only a couple of schools able to provide English and Spanish as optional language lessons.

Abigail said...

Hi Julie
Thanks for creating your very interesting blog. How does one find a job in NC? the only useful internet sites I have found so far is 'pole-emploi' and even the newspaper 'nouvelles caledoniennes' didnt seem to have a jobs page.I am English (a translator) and my partner is a builder/carpenter. I see the main stumbling block to living in NC seems to be the very high rent - its not impossible that some jobs might come with accommodation though. I have some friends who have got a 3-year posting over there he is a gendarme maritime. As we are currently living in Brittany the French schools etc is no problem. If you have any tips on where online they advertise NC jobs would really appreciate it. thanks

Julie said...

Hi Abigail,

Have you considered working with the SPC? See for postings, including for translators.

Kind regards,


Sinkerman said...

I guess the cost of living is relevant to wages and also where you come from. I live in Australia so don't find this excessively expensive. The rent is a little more but comparable to city prices here.

Can any expats tell me the best schooling options. My family do not speak french (yet!). My kids are only 5 & 7. My husband wants them to go straight into a local french school - I'm not sure if this would be too overwhelming and they'd slip behind or if they would flourish. Any opinions?????

Thanks so much

Julie Harris said...

Hello Sinkerman,

Funny you should ask! I'm currently looking into schools for our 5-year-old as we are returning to the island in August. If you email me, I'll send you what I am finding out!