Samoa is an exotic Polynesian island, close to the equator, that has always been looked at as an extremely exotic island paradise. For those looking for the ultimate expat place to call home, Samoa definitely tops the list, here are some tips for those seeking residence status on this beautiful island paradise.
Samoa is made up of two islands, both of which are volcanic and active in nature. The islands are very close to the equator, and because of this its temperature does not vary that much. Temperatures are usually warm in the 70 and 80 degree range. Although Samoa does not have four seasons, it does have a dry season and rainy season. During the rainy season the islands can be inundated with rains and sometimes cyclones (hurricane like storms) can hit land causing destruction.
Since the islands are located near the equator, the days are usually equal in length with the nights. The water around the islands is beautiful and usually clear.
Samoa has been under the control of the Germans, the United States, Japan and New Zealand over the last one hundred years, however today the small country has a stable and secure parliamentary democracy with a decent economy. While infrastructure is available especially in most tourist areas, there are other areas that lack or have limited infrastructure.
For those American expats looking to visit or stay in Samoa, you are allowed entry for up to 60 days, it should be noted that if you are classified as a non citizen, but an American national, you will need to request a visa before you travel to Samoa. Once on the island, visitors can apply for extensions at the immigration department. For more information on visa and residency requirements, please visit Samoa: The Treasured Islands of the South Pacific.
Tax rates are considered to be moderate to high on Samoa. For companies that are doing business on the island, but are not considered to be residents of the island, the tax rate is 48 percent. For companies that are considered residents of the island, the tax rate is 39%. For individuals, tax rates can vary from a low rate of 10 percent, all the way up to 45%. Other taxes include a dividend tax, a tax on royalties, tax on interest and a Value Added Tax (VAT).
It should be noted that tax incentives do exist for certain companies looking to do business or start up a manufacturing plant on the island.
Medical care on the islands of Samoa are usually adequate for most types of illnesses and injuries, however if you are seriously ill or injured, you will want to seek medical attention in New Zealand or your home country. For most medical services, doctors and hospitals expect cash payments at time of service.
If you are going to live on the island for a short period of time, you should purchase travelers insurance that includes not only medical care, but also includes medical evacuation.
Purchasing and investing in real estate can be complicated in Samoa, it is best to consult with a real estate lawyer on the island. Land holdings are categorized into three distinct categories, freehold, customary and public land. Over 80 percent of the land in Samoa is owned by its indigenous people, while this land can be leased to individuals and businesses, it is usually never sold. Public land is not available as well for sale and freehold land is usually restrictive and difficult to purchase outright.
For those looking to live on the island for a short period or even long period of time, your best bet is to rent or lease. Prices are usually affordable to moderate for renting and you should consult an agent once on the island.
While you can find basic necessities on the island fairly easily, other types of items can be difficult to find, mostly due to the fact that practically all items have to be imported. Tourism is a thriving industry on the islands and you should find many shops and markets devoted to tourists, however when it comes to household items, you may be disappointed due to the fact that many brands are not represented on the island.
Entertainment on the island is quite good, as there are many places to enjoy one self. You can find plenty of restaurants, places to have a drink or cocktail and plenty of recreational places to enjoy the surf and sand. If you love water sports, you will enjoy Samoa as well for its wonderful marine life rich waters.
Cost of Living
The cost of living on Samoa is classified as affordable to moderate. While housing is not that expensive goods can be. Since most items are shipped in, the cost of goods is fairly higher than on the mainland. Samoa also has a very high tax rate which can make it difficult for those that are working on the island or starting an enterprise.