16 Reasons Why I Love Living in Niue
My partner Dan and I have been living on the peaceful, chilled-out island of Niue (pronounced new-ay) for almost three months now.
In 11 short weeks we've managed to move into our home (after five weeks of couch surfing), get into the groove with our new jobs, order our car, make friends, explore the country and have a decent crack at learning the language.
Living in Niue has been a massive change for us: learning how to cope when the grocery store runs out of supplies; missing the luxuries of home; understanding a Polynesian language spoken widely and rapidly; a 21 hour time difference; and what to do with those 3am Maccas cravings on an island that has no fast food outlets.
But to be honest, there are so many upsides to living out here that it makes all the tricky stuff easier to handle. From being surrounded by the kindest people in the world and breathtaking scenery, through to cruising around a tiny island paradise in the tray of a truck and soaking up the eternal sunshine, life in Niue is simply like nothing else in the world.
Here are 16 reasons why I love living in Niue:
1 // Our home is a massive cottage surrounded by wild jungle overgrowth with peek-a-boo ocean views in Alofi, the capital of Niue. There are coconut, papaya, banana and lime trees offering beautiful fruit in my backyard and we share the property with a gang of wild chickens and roosters who strut around like they own the place [which they do]. We have space, privacy, and peace. Oh, and a hammock.
The house is a 2-minute walk to my school, comes fully furnished, has swimming pool access, is owned by the world's best landlord, and costs significantly less than the average rental on the Gold Coast.
Paradise? You betcha' ass.
2 // I teach a grade five class of 13 students who are the most polite, respectful, adorable, curious, enthusiastic kids that you could ever meet.
Every morning I'm greeted by their cheery faces while they sweep and clean the classroom without complaint, and bestow upon me gifts of coconuts, porridge, sweet rice, fruit, homemade coconut bread, flowers, drawings and bracelets.
Friday is a fun day filled with traditional crafts, sport, swimming, assembly, and social singing - it feels like a party every week! Honestly, teaching these kids is a joy.
3 // I start work at 8 am and finish by 2 pm, leaving me plenty of time to go snorkelling, stroll into town, or go for a swim.
Work/Life balance? Perfecto mundo.
4 // Niueans are the kindest, most generous and laid-back humans I've ever encountered. Seriously.
For example: Need a car? Here, take mine for the weekend. Forgot your lunch? Please, eat my sandwich. Running late? Don't sweat it; we've got your back. Take your time. Missing something? Borrow whatever you like from me. Feeling sick? Take 3 days off school; we'll look after your students.
Blown away? Daily. Grateful? You betcha.
5 // The average water visibility here is somewhere between a fish tank and perfection. So is the temperature.
Even as we approach winter, the water still sits around 26 degrees and is always crystal clear. Needless to say, my bikini is a permanent fixture in my wardrobe.
6 // I wear Havaianas. Every. Single. Day.
This is a dream come true for me.
7 // With only about 1,300 people living in Niue, everyone knows everyone and there is pretty much zero crime.
In fact, the island is so small that you can drive around the entire country in an hour. We don't even lock our doors, that's how safe it is.
8 // Diving with sharks, sea snakes, tropical fish and dolphins is all part of a normal day here.
9 // Alcohol is (relatively) cheap so drinking is affordable and a great source of entertainment on such a sleepy island.
The hangover? Not so much...
10 // Sunsets that take your breath away.
11 // Sundays are a mandatory day of rest and everywhere is closed, so you have to chill out half of your weekend.
I have mad love and respect for any country that forces its people to relax and enjoy themselves, even for only one day a week.
12 // Free wifi. It may be temperamental at times, but for a free service, it works pretty damn great. I'm not complaining.
13 // There are so many isolated caves, chasms, falls, jungles, coves and reefs all waiting to be discovered.
Walking or swimming in them makes you feel as if you've been transported back to the days of the dinosaurs. The environment is here is so pristine and wild, you have to see it to believe it.
14 // The nightlife here is restricted to Saturdays when the Alofi Rugby Club opens its doors and turns into a makeshift 'nightclub'.
Cheap drinks (or a sneaky BYO, they don't seem to care), bare feet and shorts, shaking your ass to upbeat island-style tunes, then all finishing at midnight in time for the Day of Rest? Yep, that's my kinda party style.
15 // The simple and easy pace of island living allows you to stop and appreciate the most important things in life.
There's only one TV channel and nothing is open after 6 pm, but this just allows more opportunity for quality interactions. Like, actually having conversations with your partner, cooking a meal together, or playing cards.
In Niue, less is more.
16 // All the free coconuts in the world.