Imagine if you could combine Paris with Hawaii. That gives you a sense of what Tahiti is like: native Polynesians, French people, boulangeries, hip restaurants, amidst a lush, mountainous setting, with shimmering turquoise waters, and a warm, laidback culture.
Actually, it's better than that. Because unlike Hawaii, many French Polynesian islands are surrounded by barrier reefs, creating stunning, calm lagoons. And unlike Paris, the style in French Polynesia is casual; even the fanciest places are what I'd call "flip-flop chic".
Tahiti is only 8 hours away from California. That’s only three hours more than Hawaii. Yet French Polynesia has far fewer people and is way more beautiful.
Larger than New York City, Tahiti is a lush, mountainous island surrounded by coral reefs. There are enough cool places to keep it interesting indefinitely. Not to mention the other 117 islands of French Polynesia that you can visit while here.
Unlike in Hawaii, the indigenous population is preponderant in Tahiti, so you get plenty of opportunities to experience the warmth, authenticity, and easygoing nature of Polynesian culture. At the same time, people from France make up roughly 20% of the populace, so you get to experience the best of both worlds.
The fact that the United States chose Bora Bora as a military supply base during World War II has contributed to a positive sentiment towards Americans. French Polynesia is a place where Americans are liked!
Fiber optic cable is becoming widely installed in northwestern Tahiti and northern Mo'orea, so you can find housing with internet that is fast enough to do Zoom calls and stream Netflix. And the fiber optic is reliable since power outages are rare. In fact, if you’re from California, where planned power outages often occur in autumn due to wildfire risk, you may find that electricity and internet are available in Tahiti but not back home!
Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii, so from November to late March, it is only two hours behind the U.S. west coast. From late March through October (during daylight saving time), Tahiti is only three hours behind. If you work west coast hours, you’re done early enough in the afternoon to go exercise, practice hobbies, etc.
You will never get bored in Tahiti. In its shimmering blue waters, you can snorkel, scuba dive, surf, paddleboard, kayak, row, jet ski, wind surf, kite surf, fish, or swim with sharks, rays and whales. On land, you can hike, bike, do yoga, play tennis, stroll through gardens, visit ancient maraes (temples), attend theater productions, go to the cinema, and eat at world-class restaurants and cafes. To top it off, Mo’orea is only 30 minutes away by ferry.
As the capital city of French Polynesia, Pape’ete is endowed with state-of-the-art medical facilities, including the largest modern hospital in the South Pacific islands. Services tend to be available at rates affordable enough to astonish Americans.
Even if you plan to live in Tahiti for only 1 to 3 months, there are well-regarded international schools that accept transient students, from preschool through middle school, even if they don’t speak French.
The crime rate is incredibly low, making Tahiti a relaxed place to live and raise kids. Although theft occurs, violent crime against expats is virtually unheard of.