Thinking about moving to Norfolk Island?

Thinking about moving to Norfolk Island?

by Rose Evans – Norfolk Island Real Estate

Plenty of visitors to Norfolk Island get a glimpse of ‘island life’ during their holiday and begin to wonder if they could in fact relocate to the island. The peaceful remoteness, the unique cultural history, the unspoilt natural environment, and the friendliness of the locals all play their part in the attraction. The island oozes friendliness, with people greeting one other through wide smiles and even wider open-arm hugs.

Everyone on Norfolk seems to know each other by at least their first name or their nickname. As cars make their way around the winding roads, drivers give each other a friendly wave as their cars pass, driving no more than 50km per hour and giving way to the cows who freely roam. Very few places on earth can boast the sense of belonging to community that Norfolk demonstrates.

After experiencing the charm of the island, you can’t help but imagine yourself living the laid-back island lifestyle, getting involved in the local community groups and activities, and purchasing your fruit and vegies from the grower’s market – well, anything you can’t grow in your own back yard that is! This way of life is refreshing, and a rarity in the busy world we now live in.

Once your idea of relocating to the island transforms into a genuine possibility, the logistical questions all start to emerge.

Where would I live?

Being a popular tourist destination, Norfolk Island has an abundance of visitor accommodation including hotels, self-contained apartments, luxury villas, and houses. But what sort of housing is available to purchase, or to rent long term, and how much does it cost?

Buying a property on Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island has become one of the most desirable relocation destinations for budding purchasers looking for a sea-change. Property prices on Norfolk peaked in 2022, but have followed the global market trend by remaining fairly level throughout 2023. Currently buying a property is very achievable, with market prices well under the Australian CBD prices and equivalent to prices in regional Australia.

Building a home on Norfolk Island

Hiring a local builder who has years of experience and expert knowledge of Norfolk Island will make the homebuilding process a lot easier with a better outcome. From climate and weather conditions to the local economy and communities, local builders know how to build houses that are safe and can stand strong against the elements and work with other local trades that may be needed on your project. Another benefit of hiring a local builder is their extensive knowledge of local regulations and building codes, which will ensure your project stays on track. Make sure you allow at least a year to build your home to ensure time for applications to be approved, materials to be sourced and a window of availability for a builder.

Renting a property on Norfolk Island

Norfolk is a wonderful place to live, but renting on island may be different to other places you have rented in the past. Surprisingly, island rent is much cheaper than mainland Australia, and you have the added bonus that almost every rental property includes furniture, whitegoods and often appliances and kitchenware too. You can pretty much pack some linen, your clothes, and personal belongings then move in! Be aware though that most rentals are long term agreements for 6 to 12 months.

How do I move my furniture to an island?

When purchasing or renting a residential dwelling on Norfolk Island there is one unique difference – almost every property includes furniture and chattels. This makes it quite simple to relocate to the island because you don’t have to worry about freighting large items over. If you don’t like the furniture that comes with a sales property, you can purchase furniture locally or have your furniture freighted over.

Can I bring my car across the ocean?

Once you have found somewhere to live, you may wonder how you get your car to Norfolk Island. Vehicles are transported to the island via the monthly cargo ship where they are carefully crane lifted on and off ships and onto the island pier. The process is long and expensive, costing around $15,000 to get a vehicle to Norfolk from the mainland.  Buying a car already on island is usually cheaper than importing one. There are often second-hand cars for sale privately, sometimes ex-rental cars are for sale, plus there is even a local car yard where you can purchase a late model vehicle.

New and used vehicles may be imported from anywhere in the world. For information about importing a vehicle, please contact Norfolk Island freight services and the Norfolk Island Regional Council regarding vehicle registration procedure and costs.

Will my pets be able to relocate with me?

Plenty of island residents own pets, with the dogs and cats being the most popular domestic companions and it is quite common for people to bring their pets to Norfolk with them. Like vehicles, the logistics of bringing a pet to the island are quite involved and it can prove to be a costly exercise, however if you are an animal lover perhaps money isn’t an issue to ensure your pets relocate with you. Alternately, you may be able to purchase a puppy or kitten from an island litter. For detailed information and the regulations about importing animals, visit the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

What would I do for work?

Working on a remote island comes with its own challenges. There are limited full-time jobs to choose from, however casual and part time work is easy to come by. There are often openings for services and trades, so keep an eye open for advertised jobs. You may even decide to buy a local business. With a population of approximately 2000 people, everyone seems to know everyone, therefore some jobs are filled without being advertised. So, the saying ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ is very relevant in such a small community. If you are retired, then then you have no worries!

Living on a remote island can be a very rewarding and unique experience, especially if you are a nature lover and you enjoy a slower pace of life.

What other challenges do I need to consider?

The lifestyle on Norfolk is very cruisy, so be prepared to chill out and utilise your patience skills. The lifestyle isn’t the only thing that slows down on Norfolk. Long wait times for mail and deliveries can be frustrating. The difficulty in obtaining some items often calls for compromise. Internet speed can be sluggish and sometimes temperamental. But for what it is worth, you won’t be using the internet much as you enjoy the natural environment that makes the island so special.

Groceries on island are priced a bit more than mainland Australia, yet local produce is mostly organically grown and has zero food miles so can be comparable in price. The Norfolk community is focussed on a sustainable lifestyle, so get used to recycling, reusing, and repurposing. One other thing to consider is that the island has limited medical facilities, therefore surgeries, childbirth, and most specialist appointments are not available on island.

Is it possible to relocate to a remote island?

Despite the challenges of relocating, if your heart is set on moving to a remote island, it is definitely possible to relocate. Some valuable advice would be ‘try before you buy’. Moving to Norfolk Island is a big decision, so if you find an opportunity to rent on island for at least three months – then do it. This will give you a chance to experience island life, get involved with the Norfolk community, and check if the isolation is what you expected. It might not be for you, but then again it might just be the lifestyle change you are looking for.

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Norfolk Island Real Estate is located next to the Commonwealth Bank in Burnt Pine. Online. www.norfolkislandrealestate.com  email. sales@nirealestate.com.au Phone. (+6723) 22429 (Norfolk Island) or (+61) 473 387 476 (Mainland)

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Image Credit: Norfolk Island Tourism – photo by Robin Nisbet

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Article content disclaimer: Article first published in Discover Norfolk, Volume 07 Issue 01, 2024. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.

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