Pitcairn Island: Live the Dream in Paradise?

Pitcairn Island
Pitcairn Island.

Escaping modern big business capitalism to live on a tropical island is a dream for millions across the planet. And you can do it on a remote archipelago slap bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Would you take the trip?

Pitcairn Island

Here’s a small selection of four volcanic islands at 18 square miles (47 km2). They are:

  1. Pitcairn
  2. Henderson
  3. Ducie
  4. Oeno

The population is the lowest under any official national jurisdication, with about 50 people living there right now.

Its official classification is as a British Overseas Territory, with us Brits occupying the place since around 1850.

The island even has a UK postcode: PCRN 1ZZ. Although the calling code is for New Zealand: +64.

Now if this makes you think “ZOMG! I’m going!” it’s not as easy as that. To migrate there you have to pass the jurisdiction’s official checks.

For example, you must have at least NZ$30,000 per person in savings. Plus, you have to build your house when you get there, which’ll set you back about NZ$140,000.

Do you know how to build a house, with working plumbing etc.? Exactly. Locals may help you with that, but it’s really down to you.

And this place is properly remote. “In the middle of nowhere” is a phrase bandied about without much consideration these days thanks to modern technology such as GPS.

But Pitcairn Island most definitely is in the middle of bloody nowhere.

Pitcairn Island on a map
We zoomed out as far as possible on Google maps. The red marker is Pitcairn Island. Yeah?

Just getting to the place is an astonishing feat of modern technology. There’s no airport on the island, so you must:

  • Get a flight to Totegegie Airport in Mangareva. You can get to there from the French Polynesian capital of Pepeete.
  • You then get a boat to Pitcairn Island. But the service only runs once every three months.
  • The boat trip takes about 32 hours. And it’s rough seas, so you’ll be bouncing around until your arrival.

Then, you’re in! Well done. You’re at one of the most remote places humans live.

Tourism is welcome, so you can make a visit to the island if you fancy just visiting for the experience of it all.

And, yes, they’re decked out with internet access. But the use is limited on a monthly basis to 25 GB. So if you like film streaming and online gaming, that’s gone in a couple of days.

For TV entertainment, only two channels can broadcast per household. But why would you watch TV with all the wildlife and beautiful views around!?

Now, the reality to all this needs serious consideration. If you’re thinking this is your dream come true, then first off you need that cash to fund the stay.

If you have a family, you also have to consider the long-term consequences of shifting all the way out there. Such as, do you really want your kids growing up on the place?

It’s a major step away from the many luxuries of modern life we all take for granted. Most of that lot will be there if you live on the island.

We can’t help but think many people would get out there and then be bored within a few years. And then what?

Factor in the climate crisis and you have to wonder if the place is even going to be there in 100 years.

But the one thing that typically puts many people off, upon detailed research of Pitcairn Island, is the major sex scandal from 2004.

A third of the island’s population was charged—all men (including the mayor)—with sexually assaulting minors over a long period.

All of them were convicted in one way or another. So the happy paradise was, in fact, plagued with a horrific issue for a long time.

It’s trouble in paradise. The way of life out there, cut off from the wider world, led to a some alternate version of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

Pitcairn Island has, for its part, challenged what happened and made significant changes.  But it shows that even out in the middle of the South Pacific, you can’t really escape from the troubles of the world.

You can still apply if you want. Go all the way out there and settle up on a beautiful remote island!

But with even as little as 50 residents present, the foibles and mentally unstable nature of humanity can follow you even to the middle of the Pacific. No matter how pretty the sunsets are.

Or, you know, you just might not get on with the people out there. For one random reason or another.

Our advice? Cripes, don’t trouble yourself. Move to a new location in your country where it’s nicer and revel in the new scenery there.

4 comments

  1. The funny thing about Pitcairn is that a lot of the people who used to live on it emigrated to Norfolk Island. Really. I flew in there once on an RNZAF journalists’ junket (aka “come and have a look at our Skyhawks at NAS Nowra”, but the Hawker Siddley C-1 Andover they were taking us across on couldn’t cross the Tasman without refuelling. So we dropped in to Norfolk, arriving just as they were celebrating their ‘arrival anniversary’ day. Everybody on the aircraft got royally welcome and fed with the result that the pilot felt he needed to do a small amount of aerobatics over the beach afterwards by way of thank you. Because the Andover passenger seats faced backwards as a safety measure it was, shall we say, an interesting experience from inside the aircraft.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Initially I just thought, “Right, I’m bloody moving there!” But the logistics of it all make me realise it’s not possible. So for now I’m planning on Scotland instead.

      I had to Google Norfolk Island and that looks terrific as well. I just had a Google. Chatham Island. That’s the one I’d go for. Although not using the flight method you just described, sounds a bit rough.

      Maybe I should give NZ’s migration process a go and shift on out to Norfolk. NZ is desperate for copywriters, right? I’m sure I’ll be welcomed with open arms.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I kind of live on the Chathams, in a bureaucratic paper kind of way. Sure, these islands are 800 km east of Christchurch, but they are also part of the Rongotai electorate, which is the main one in south Wellington. The police there (one constable) are part of the Wellington station. Any court hearings needed there are often held in Wellington. So from a governmental viewpoint they are an integral part of the capital city, where I live. I know there’s that small matter of 1000 km of storm-tossed ocean, swept by freezing Antarctic southerlies, between the two places. But what’s storm-tossed ocean compared to the power of bureaucrats?

        Liked by 1 person

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