Tahiti is a melting pot of people from the five archipelagos that make up French Polynesia. From throughout a region the size of Western Europe, Polynesians come to Tahiti for work, medical care, university, and the international airport.
Meanwhile, people from France make up roughly 20% of the populace, adding to the island's cultural complexity and enabling one to experience the best of both worlds.
I keep waiting for someone to act like a jerk. Nearly nine months so far in Tahiti and Mo'orea, and yet every interaction has been pleasant, even when there is congestion on the road in and around Pape’ete. It's as if no one knows how to be rude. Please only come if you are kind, too!
For those of us with biophilia, Tahiti is a mecca. Since the island is mostly forested and surrounded by coral reefs, it's obvious you're part of a social and ecological system. There's something comforting in knowing that all these colorful fish, rays, dolphins, whales, etc are living alongside us.
There is a different mindset towards animals in Tahiti. Whereas in America we euthanize stray dogs and cats, here they peacefully coexist. They look well-fed, like pets. The island is also shared with countless roosters, hens and chicks. While driving, you often need to slow down for all of these animals. In fact, on some coastal roads at night, you need to swerve to avoid crushing giant crabs. To learn more about the natural environment of French Polynesia, go here.
If you consider working remotely from Tahiti or Mo'orea, you may wonder, “But who would I know?” First of all, my outfit, Work From Tahiti (WFT), can connect you to other residents. Second, if you enroll kids in school, you can quickly develop a sense of community through the parents’ network. Finally, you may find that attending one of the many churches, even if you’re not particularly religious, enables you to make friends.
Tahiti has a wide range of stores, on par with mid-size towns in the U.S. You can find pretty much anything you need, with the exception of some types of higher-end clothing. You are not going to find many upscale boutiques. But you will find plenty of stores selling electronics, household items, sporting goods, and groceries. Bring electronic devices with you because they tend to cost considerably more in Tahiti. If you like a one-stop-shop for groceries and other items, go to the French hypermarket Carrefour, which has several locations in Tahiti, though none in Mo’orea. In Mo’orea, the closest equivalent is Champion, located on the northeast coast.
It is certainly helpful if you speak French. According to Wikipedia, during the 2017 census, 73.9% of people aged 15 and older reported that the language they spoke the most at home was French. That said, you can get by without speaking French since most adults speak some degree of English, especially those working in restaurants, hotels, and shops. Make sure to learn at least a few Tahitian words and phrases because using them is appreciated, and helps you to understand greetings and pleasantries conveyed by locals.
If you can afford a rental car, by all means, get one. There are numerous places you will want to visit in Tahiti and Mo'orea, and having a car makes doing so much easier than relying upon taxis or buses. Although some neighborhoods are walkable or bikeable, on balance, you will find that places of interest are spread out, such that you will need to go in a vehicle.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get around by car. The compactness of Tahiti and Mo’orea makes getting from one point to another by car very quick. And the lack of traffic makes driving nonstressful (unless you need to go into Pape’ete during rush hour in the morning, or out of Pape’ete during rush hour in the afternoon). For rental cars, buses and taxis, you can find details at Tahiti Tourisme, Lonely Planet, and Frommers. Note that Uber and Lyft do not operate in French Polynesia - yet!